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  1. #1
    Lex Parsimoniae Xander's Avatar
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    Default Is function analysis useful?

    Every time I read a thread where people venture into specific function analysis whether it be talking about Ti specifically or trying to predict things based upon the functions position in their order of preference my intuition says there's something wrong.

    Now that seems quite unscientific and it is but those of us who've been through the mill with our intuition probably know that when something doesn't ring true it's best to investigate as most often it's a piece of missed information but every once in a while it's because the thing being viewed is not sound.

    Anyhow, the subject at hand...

    INTP tells you a lot about me. It describes my preferences as a model which I comply to, to a certain degree.

    My last process test
    Quote Originally Posted by Cognitive Processes Results (21/5/2008)

    extraverted Sensing (Se) ************************ (24.9)
    average use
    introverted Sensing (Si) ************************** (26.5)
    average use
    extraverted Intuiting (Ne) ********************************** (34.1)
    good use
    introverted Intuiting (Ni) ********************************** (34.1)
    good use
    extraverted Thinking (Te) ************************* (25.8)
    average use
    introverted Thinking (Ti) ********************************************* (45.1)
    excellent use
    extraverted Feeling (Fe) ********************* (21.8)
    limited use
    introverted Feeling (Fi) *************************** (27.9)
    average use
    Now based on that I'm no where near the INFP that many mistake me for and the whole ENTP "mask" which people think I have is also absent. Now either function analysis is picking up something different, people are generally mistaken about me or function analysis isn't quite the full deal.

    Now personally I have a problem with one of the principles of function analysis and that's the separation of the four functions into eight and then treating them as separate entities.

    If I prefer T most of all and I prefer to use it in the introverted world. Okay that's labelled as Ti. However who says that my preference as to when I apply the same function T to the outer world that it show's anything about my person? It's a preference and not an ability, a repeated choice and not a measure of proficiency. I mean there's carry over, if you're used to analysing things in your head then there's a whole skill set there which is definitely transferable to the outside world. I happen to do quite a good ENTJ impression when roused.

    So basically is this function analysis just a bunch of theoretical mumbo jumbo with little application to the real world? Is it missing the primary roots of the functions in it's focused outlook? Am I missing how this works?

    I mean I know the theory and I've seen people go on and on ad infinitum about the witch, the hero and all that stuff but it just does not seem to hang right. It's like having a wall that's on the wonk, perfectly aligning a picture on that wall to a spirit level and yet every time you look at the picture from a distance it looks on the wonk. The theory just does not seem to marry up with the reality and that bugs me.

    To me the whole point of the MBTI is that it's ill defined enough to not require a precise fit and yet encompassing enough that it enables people to discuss things which aren't very apparent and to a degree where some wisdom can be gained. To add all these hard edges just seems to ruin the whole thing.

    So basically why is function analysis valuable? What's wrong with the approach of just using the types as they are with all their nuances and seemingly different manifestations? Why try to go to the level where you are essentially trying to map someone's personality? It just doesn't seem to work.
    Isn't it time for a colourful metaphor?

  2. #2
    Senior Member VagrantFarce's Avatar
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    The differences between Ti /Te, Fi / Fe, Ni / Ne, Si / Se might be hard to pinpoint at first, but it makes a very large difference to the way a person processes and interacts with the world. It helped me identify my type for certain, since I could recognise my own behaviour in the way the INTP functions inter-operate. It makes it a lot easier to understand the underlying mechanics of each type, to get an idea of how they process and interact with the world, and thus make it easier to identify your own type as well as help others identify theirs.

    Just look at the difference between Si and Se; Si informs a person about past experience as a signpost for navigating and dealing with the world, whereas Se is all about reacting to what is happening right here, right now in the "loudest" possible manner. Si is an introverted perceiving function, which means that that person doesn't get their information from the world around them; this creates an insular, almost stubborn attitude to how things should be. Se is an extraverted perceiving function, which means that that person does get their information from the world around them; this creates a reactionary, "seize the moment" attitude to the world. These are two completely different ways of processing and dealing with the world. If you were just using the four dichtomies, you wouldn't even be aware of this difference and all you'd get is one letter to represent both.

    And remember that the eight functions came way before the four dichtomies. The dichtomies were created simply to make the MBTI more accessible. If you really want to understand your type rather than casually take a test, you need to identify your own behaviour in the way the functions interact.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member INTJMom's Avatar
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    Here's another wrench for the works...
    Those percentages are only as accurate and thorough as the accuracy and thoroughness of the test you took... AND the accuracy of the test taker's understanding of and responses to the questions.

    The more time I have spent on this site, the more I have seen that different people interpret words differently, so that even constructing a test with 100% outcome accuracy may actually be a virtual impossibility.

    I frankly have difficulty believing anyone who says they know exactly to what extent they use each of the 8 cognitive functions. Give me a break! Who is THAT self-aware?! I daresay it's impossible to be completely aware of every cognitive function you are using at every moment of every day for a long enough period of time to be able to quantitatively and qualitatively say with the certainty of a scientific experiment which function you use and to what extent. And before you can do THAT, you have to first thoroughly understand and be able to identify the cognitive functions and how they work and behave. I wonder if even Lenore Thompson would dare make such a claim about herself.

    Sure I think a general knowledge of our strengths and weaknesses is helpful and important, but to quantify them and put them in a line from strongest to weakest... I don't see how anyone can claim accuracy.

    But I don't understand the cognitive functions very well... so here's an analogy... how about if I take common everyday stuff like lying, cheating, stealing, greed, honesty, integrity, giving and unselfishness. To my mind, this list is as equally intangible as the list of the cognitive functions. How do you measure them? What kind of questions do you ask to create an accurate test of how often each one of these attributes is used? How do you observe yourself closely enough and well enough to know exactly how much of which you are using at any given time? How about the subtle ways we do things things in our hearts, so that they are hidden from view? How about our blind spots and our ability to deceive ourselves?

    On one hand, I think I can have a general knowledge of the fact that I am honest more frequently than I steal, but to put these 8 in a specific order and then claim I am absolutely right about that order seems absurd.

    That said, I understand that according to the theory, I am Dom Ni, Aux Te, Ter Fi and Inf Se. I have seen how this affects my life, and find it uncanny how this can predict my behavior or even my thoughts at certain times, so I don't completely dismiss the theory either. I just think that people go overboard in attempting to use it too precisely.

    And to answer your question, function analysis has been valuable for me inasmuch as Naomi Quenk's book has been helpful when I get in the grip of Se. My understanding of Tert. Fi has helped me realize why I have such strange encounters with my feelings... so it's all about self-understanding and self-acceptance for me. Oh and also about understanding and helping my children.

  4. #4
    Senior Member VagrantFarce's Avatar
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    The solution is to not rely on tests to determine your type

    Find which functions you relate to, investigate how those functions behave depending on the order you put them in, and choose the type that "fits you best". This will always be the most accurate and sure-fire way of determining your type. It's not a perfect system, but no one is really saying it is. No one with a brain and a sense of perspective, at least.
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  5. #5
    Lex Parsimoniae Xander's Avatar
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    To more closely locate what it is that I'm on about...
    Quote Originally Posted by INTJMom View Post
    That said, I understand that according to the theory, I am Dom Ni, Aux Te, Ter Fi and Inf Se. I have seen how this affects my life, and find it uncanny how this can predict my behavior or even my thoughts at certain times, so I don't completely dismiss the theory either. I just think that people go overboard in attempting to use it too precisely.
    What is Ti to you?
    Where is your preference for Ti?

    I would state that it's irrelevant as you have a preference for T in the extraverted sense. You don't have a preference for T in the introverted sense but this is NOT the same as have a preference against it or it being subconscious any more so than your Te. Ergo it's position is in effect behind Te as a second layer to your function order.

    Myself being Ti Ne, is not a problem but when people start to tell me that my Te is underdeveloped or such rubbish it makes no sense. Firstly since when does the context define the object? Surely whether I prefer to use T internally or externally has no effect on whether I use it or not.

    Like you I think there is too much detail but I would go as far to say that the detail is tacked on without reason and thus far I can find no reason for it.
    Isn't it time for a colourful metaphor?

  6. #6
    Senior Member VagrantFarce's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xander View Post
    I would state that it's irrelevant as you have a preference for T in the extraverted sense. You don't have a preference for T in the introverted sense but this is NOT the same as have a preference against it or it being subconscious any more so than your Te. Ergo it's position is in effect behind Te as a second layer to your function order.
    So wait, your problem is not that the functions have an extraverted and introverted variant, but the assumption that one absolutely precludes the other? Because I don't think anyone really thinks that.
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  7. #7
    Lex Parsimoniae Xander's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VagrantFarce View Post
    So wait, your problem is not that the functions have an extraverted and introverted variant, but the assumption that one absolutely precludes the other? Because I don't think anyone really thinks that.
    The problem is that analysing all eight functions just seems to lead people off into a fairy land of theory. They argue that someone uses Ti primarily or Te, surely that has nothing to do with T and more to do with other areas.

    The thing is from experience I've seen that people are typed more accurately and faster by observing their habits and having a holistic understanding of the types and how they interact and behave in various situations. I therefore wonder what purpose this analysing where Te is as opposed to Ti and going into reams of details. I have to conclude with the information at my disposal that function analysis as performed on this forum is simply bad practice.
    Isn't it time for a colourful metaphor?

  8. #8
    Senior Member VagrantFarce's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xander View Post
    The problem is that analysing all eight functions just seems to lead people off into a fairy land of theory.
    Well, guess what: when you're discussing typology, you're already in it.

    They argue that someone uses Ti primarily or Te, surely that has nothing to do with T and more to do with other areas.

    The thing is from experience I've seen that people are typed more accurately and faster by observing their habits and having a holistic understanding of the types and how they interact and behave in various situations. I therefore wonder what purpose this analysing where Te is as opposed to Ti and going into reams of details. I have to conclude with the information at my disposal that function analysis as performed on this forum is simply bad practice.
    I still have no idea what your problem is, but I do agree that observation of your own behaviour is the best way of determining your type. But surely, unless you know how the functions behave and inter-operate, how could you possible do this to any degree of accuracy? Relying soley on the dichtomies just creates confusion, with people saying "I'm borderline P/J" or "borderline F/T". It's just too simplistic and doesn't reflect how the system really works.
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  9. #9
    brainheart
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    Yeah, you're probably right, Xander. It's just when you think about things a lot and apply theories to specific situations you end up getting specific and nit-picky as a way of explaining it, which requires some stretching and extrapolation. Hence the fairy land of theory.

    What do you think a fairy land of theory would look like? That's the important question. I see a lot of white space and abstract objects, kind of like a Salvador Dali dream sequence. I think it would give me a headache. I prefer the traditional fairy land- trees, etc. Does that mean I'm mis-typed and Se dominant? Shit, maybe I should re-take the function test!

  10. #10

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    The test has two elements to each function: which of the function traits you possess, and how much you possess them. Some test the how much you possess them with a scale for each attribute, some are just do it or don't do it. Either way you are seeing these two things compressed into a single scale. Someone who does all the traits for the function occasionally gets the same as someone who does half the traits all of the time.

    The other problem is the tests are ambiguous enough that you can answer for the wrong functions by misinterpreting the questions. They aren't all clear things that a person can say about themselves without careful consideration. Also different types see different questions from different perspectives. Read an ENFP and INFJ thread from the past and you'll get the point. Both will believe they possess the same trait and the other doesn't. How does that make a solid platform for a test. In a way it seems like they have all the correct scientific attributes in the test, but have forgotten how the test taker sees the questions. If you are addressing them to humans, they are pretty lame. They're like something out of a feel good TV commercial or promotional campaign.

    And on the topic more...

    I think that Xander is saying typing by knowing the types is the best way. I'd agree. Best way to spot an INTP is to get a feel for the type, meet a few. Function theory is almost irrelevant in typing people. It might be irrelevant in understanding them also, but you wouldn't want to make our mission completely pointless .
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