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.