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    Default Personal Evolution in Cognitive Functions

    I've been tinkering with this idea all weekend, and finally feel like I reached an "aha!" moment where I can clearly elaborate my thoughts in some coherent fashion.

    I think the MBTI system has a fundamental flaw, or at least a missing component—that its underlying assumption is that people ("people" as in the cumulate of many individuals) are static personalities.

    On the other hand, you can look at it from another perspective: that MBTI takes the averages of people. So while the average is constant, individuals can be in flux.

    When examining MBTI types and their cognitive functions, one can clearly see the broad pattern used.

    I’ll explain using the ENTP versus INTP:

    ENTP – Ne-Ti-Fe-Si
    INTP – Ti-Ne-Si-Fe

    Obviously, the Extrovert needs to lead with the extraverted of the two dominant functions, and vice versa for the Introvert. The next extraverted function must come tertiary for the Extrovert, and vice versa for the Introvert. It’s such a simple pattern, yet the end result is quite sophisticated!

    Anyway, I’ve been pondering the notion of evolutions in cognitive functions, and mapping out different possibilities. When I first suggested this (over at personalitycafe.com), someone asked me why extraverted functions can turn into introverted ones, and vice versa… like why Se would evolve into Si, and why Ni would evolve into Ne.

    But I am not a developmental psychologist and cannot explain WHY they change—perhaps the brain just matures, perhaps something in the external environment triggers a change, whatever. This is an area where I would like to see more research.

    However, I can posture HOW they change, as I do believe that some cognitive functions are more advanced than others.

    Before I explain myself further, I’ll begin by making clear my assumptions:

    (1) I assume that changes in cognitive function equates to cognitive growth.
    (2) Not all people will experience cognitive growth in all areas. However, this is not a bad thing from a macro perspective. We need different types of people for different aspects of society.
    (3) I don’t mean any of this with the intent to offend anyone.


    These are the evolutions that I believe can happen to a person over the course of a lifetime:

    Extraverted Sensing (Se) evolves to Introverted Sensing (Si)
    At birth, we all begin with Se, the simplest way to view the world. Some eventually learn to take current information and make connections to their already stored databases of knowledge, hence becoming Si.

    Introverted Intuition (Ni) evolves to Extraverted Intuition (Ne)
    As curious children, we are always asking why something is, and begin developing a healthy dose of skepticism that is the Ni. Once we move away from asking why something is, and begin asking why not other things can also be, we then evolve into Ne.

    Extraverted Thinking (Te) evolves to Introverted Thinking (Ti)
    We are taught to believe in an external world of “objective” measures created by science, meaning that we are all taught Te. A developed individual will begin creating his own measures, for even science is full of flaws and biases, and a healthy thinker will realize this and grow into Ti.

    Introverted Feeling (Fi) evolves to Extraverted Feeling (Fe)
    I take an opposite approach to Feeling than I do with Thinking, because the Feeling function is all about making connections with people and sharing in social understanding. When one develops an internal set of social standards, Fi, it is actually antisocial behavior. A socially healthy individual would consider the social standards of others, even at the expense of personal beliefs, and evolve into Fe.


    While I have proposed that certain cognitive features are better than others, this does not directly translate into the notion that taking the whole of all the cognitive features that makes each individual means one kind of individual is better than another. This is just a simple pattern recognition on a micro-scale, and any amendments, additions, and suggestions for key variables I have overlooked would be much appreciated. In particular, I realize I am overlooking the role of shadow functions.

    So please, I am all ears.

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    Supreme High Commander Andy's Avatar
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    When talking about function theory (I like that better than MBTI, which is a copy righted trade mark, and refers to something rather specific) I feel I should point out that it is not considered to be static in adults. There was a thread about typing children not long ago(which I can't find right now) and a rather interesting one on the shadow functions (Which I can: http://www.typologycentral.com/forum...-downfall.html)

    First off, I had to laugh a bit, because your evolved functions are all those used by INTPs, your own type. I don't mean to sound harsh and cynical, but I detect a certain lack of objectivity here. I know that the functions that you yourself don't use are often the hardest to understand, but I really think you would benefit from looking into them a bit more. Your current understanding of them seems a bit off.
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    yeahhh, ditto on the objectivity. i'm sure you didn't mean it consciously but it's really funny that the functions you have are the ones you've judged to be the "better" ones.

    i think you have a neat idea, but i don't think it's this easy to generalize function hierarchy - maybe for a person in a certain place, a certain time, in a certain position, these "maturations" would make sense, but for others, i don't think they necessarily would. plus one of the themes of jungian/mbti theory is balance - INTP balances ESFJ, N balances S, Se balances Si, and so on. it's like they're all on dichotomous scales; they're not supposed to be "better" or "worse" - the objective is generally considered to be achieve balance and thereby be able to make use of whichever functions are better suited to your current situation.

    anyway, i would very much shy away from saying Se is the "simplest" way to see the world. as someone with high Ne, i am astounded by those who can remember everything in vivid detail. that can be incredibly useful, and while i think one could certainly benefit from having Si, it would be most useful to have both functions at hand.

    Ne is great and all too, i'm a fan, but Ni - well, for one, i don't think Ni is about skepticism. (i have enough Ni that i feel ok with saying this) it's more like that "eureka!" moment, or epiphanies. it's like everything's chaos, and finally CLICK and all of a sudden, you've gone deeper. it's subconscious creativity, being able to take a real life pattern into the future. i get your connection with how things are vs. how they could be, but Ni is like an extension of the present into the future. it's knowing how something is so deeply that you know how it's going to be, if i can paint it in pretty aesthetic terms. regardless of its definition, it'd be hella useful in the stock market.

    i'm not really sure i understand the reasoning between T and F going opposite directions. they seem to very much parallel each other. i don't think many children have a well-developed Te at all (except the select few who are doing empirical experiments when they're 8, like konrad lorenz), regardless of what we're taught. plus i think it's less about measures than cause-and-effect, demonstrating order... and then Fi, if i can defend it for a second (lol how Fi of me), can pretty much be a lie detector. tell me that isn't useful. but really, i think it's about assessing value and coherence as well. i do think that kids have a better grip on that, because they're more in touch with their subconscious, but i don't think that it'd necessarily be useful to lose Fi for the sake of Fe.

    anyway, yeah, my point is basically that the functions are best balanced, and they're best when you can use them all. there's no "progress" if you move further towards one than the other; there's only progress when you move towards the middle.

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    I don't really see the E/I shift you've described in the OP. It's just as typical for people to focus on other functions altogether instead of trying to change their energy flow.

    In fact, I would suggest it's far more likely for someone to develop another function with the same energy flow direction in a time of stress/growth, than to try to change their energy flow (e.g., the well-known primary + tertiary defense mechanism). Energy flow is a big deal in terms of helping us feel secure; extroverts naturally want to move outward, introverts want to maintain a safe core, it takes a lot of work/effort/courage to allow yourself to go in the other direction. You want to stay with the behavior pattern and interaction style you KNOW, not the one you don't.
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    It's insanely easy to come up with a rationale for why any function is an 'evolution' of its 'inferior version'.

    It also feels pretty good to come up with an authoritative model with a 'correct' way of thinking or course of action, then to be able to claim that one is following exactly that 'objectively good' course of action (see also: God).

    but uh,

    Quote Originally Posted by Ingenue View Post
    I think the MBTI system has a fundamental flaw, or at least a missing component—that its underlying assumption is that people ("people" as in the cumulate of many individuals) are static personalities.
    Since everyone is going to point out how biased the rest of the post is, I might as well highlight this because it's actually on target.

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    I don't think MBTI says we're static at all, especially when you get into function perspectives.

    ...Although it's interpreted and imposed and abused that way by some.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ingenue View Post
    While I have proposed that certain cognitive features are better than others, this does not directly translate into the notion that taking the whole of all the cognitive features that makes each individual means one kind of individual is better than another. This is just a simple pattern recognition on a micro-scale, and any amendments, additions, and suggestions for key variables I have overlooked would be much appreciated. In particular, I realize I am overlooking the role of shadow functions.
    So please, I am all ears.
    I think the bolded part is a bit problematic. Are you sure you are really familiar with what all the functions are all about? They are not as simple as they might look on the surface.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ingenue View Post
    These are the evolutions that I believe can happen to a person over the course of a lifetime:

    Extraverted Sensing (Se) evolves to Introverted Sensing (Si)
    At birth, we all begin with Se, the simplest way to view the world. Some eventually learn to take current information and make connections to their already stored databases of knowledge, hence becoming Si.

    Introverted Intuition (Ni) evolves to Extraverted Intuition (Ne)
    As curious children, we are always asking why something is, and begin developing a healthy dose of skepticism that is the Ni. Once we move away from asking why something is, and begin asking why not other things can also be, we then evolve into Ne.

    Extraverted Thinking (Te) evolves to Introverted Thinking (Ti)
    We are taught to believe in an external world of “objective” measures created by science, meaning that we are all taught Te. A developed individual will begin creating his own measures, for even science is full of flaws and biases, and a healthy thinker will realize this and grow into Ti.

    Introverted Feeling (Fi) evolves to Extraverted Feeling (Fe)
    I take an opposite approach to Feeling than I do with Thinking, because the Feeling function is all about making connections with people and sharing in social understanding. When one develops an internal set of social standards, Fi, it is actually antisocial behavior. A socially healthy individual would consider the social standards of others, even at the expense of personal beliefs, and evolve into Fe.
    The answer to this is the notion that functions, as defining type preference, are perspectives; not behaviors. Anybody and everybody can engage in those behaviors mentioned above. If that was type, then you would have everyone starting out as NTJ/SFP, and evolving to NTP/SFJ.
    It's when some of them become preferred perspectives of taking in information and making decisions, that they become associated with type.

    What I would say MBTI's error (and most others using it) is in not emphasizing functions as perspectives rather than behaviors or skills.
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    Senior Member KDude's Avatar
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    Introverted Feeling (Fi) evolves to Extraverted Feeling (Fe)
    I take an opposite approach to Feeling than I do with Thinking, because the Feeling function is all about making connections with people and sharing in social understanding. When one develops an internal set of social standards, Fi, it is actually antisocial behavior. A socially healthy individual would consider the social standards of others, even at the expense of personal beliefs, and evolve into Fe.
    Fi is not antisocial per se. It can concern itself strongly with what it perceives as universal sets of social standards, or feeling that people deserve the benefit of the doubt on an experiential basis.. but either way, these things would enable a "Fi type" to treat people well, more or less, and not be particularly unpleasant by any "Fe" standard. They could co-habitate and even appear the same.

    On the flipside, the person who relates to universal or experiential values (rather than the standards of their social context per se) could also be one of the first voices with enough conviction to risk alienation in order to fix social standards gone wrong (not necessarily the only voice however). There could be tons of examples of this.. I could use a fictional one here to make it quick (although I'm sure there are better realistic examples): Lets say it's 1950's Alabama, at a town meeting, where white citizens are completely unified in their social standards of "segregation" between whites and blacks - a society so broken that even "healthy" Fe is represented by chummy people who are too afraid to lose their friends or break away from what they're used to - and the subject of debate is the town librarian or something who caters to whites and blacks, and believes every visitor is simply an individual, and deserves the respect to check out books. Nothing they say is making her budge - and it would take some type of introverted judgement or thinking for a person like this to come to these types of conclusions. Antisocial? Yes. Does she need to "evolve"? Not in this case.

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