The superior function is always an expression of the conscious personality, of its aims, will and general performance, whereas the less differentiated functions fall into the category of things that simply “happen” to one.
In addition to the two attitude types – introversion and extraversion – Jung also classified the persons into four function types, according to their preference to gather information (Sensation or Intuition) or to make decisions (Thinking or Feeling).
The way we perceive information will determine our preference. A sensation (S) type will prefer a specific answer. If he asks what time is it, the sensor would prefer to hear 9:58 rather than almost ten. He would prefer to work with facts and figures than ideas and theories. The intuitive (I) type is his exact opposite.
The way we decide determines if we are a thinking (T) type or a feeling (F) one. If we are called to settle a dispute, a thinker would rather settle it based on what is fair and truthful, without taking into consideration the possibility that the decision might hurt sensibilities. He tends to favor the rational route. The feeling type considers a good decision one that takes into consideration the feelings of the people involved.
These four types were the original ones proposed by Jung. A last set of functions was introduced later, based on how we prefer to lead our lives. Judgers (J) prefer structured and organized lives while Perceivers (P) are spontaneous and adaptive.
The two attitude types plus the six function types make up for sixteen combinations. There are tests to determine what type we belong to, the best known being the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. The book “Type Talk”, by Otto Krueger and Janet M. Thuesen provides detailed characteristics to help us determine our friend’s types and ours. A very sketchy description of each type follows:
ISTJ: doing what should be done
ISFJ: a high sense of duty
INFJ: an inspiration to others
INTJ: everything has room for improvement
ISTP: ready to try anything once
ISFP: sees much but shares little
INFP: performing noble service to aid society.
INTP: a love of problem solving
ESTP: the ultimate realist
ESFP: you only go around once in life
ENFP: giving life an extra squeeze
ENTP: one exciting challenge after another
ESTJ: life’s administrators
ESFJ: host and hostesses of the world
ENFJ: smooth-talking persuader
ENTJ: life’s natural leaders
Jung taught that each person has one of the four functions (thinking, feeling, sensing and intuition) as the dominant one. This function is conscious, under the control of the Ego. Its opposite is the inferior function, not controlled by the Ego. The process of individuation (to be explained below) can be seen as the development of the inferior function.