The whole world of stuff that gets lumped under the "New Age" umbrella — in the words of Wikipedia, that "decentralized Western social and spiritual movement that seeks ... the attainment of the highest individual human potential ... [and] includes aspects of astrology, esotericism, metaphysics, alternative medicine, music, collectivism, sustainability, and nature ... [and is also] characterized by an individual approach to spiritual practices and philosophies, and the rejection of religious doctrine and dogma" — tends to be much more N than S, but among N's, it's also fair to say than NFs tend to make up the "New Age" core. At the risk of annoying some of the NFs in the audience, I think it's fair to say that the more flaky
any particular New Age practitioner seems, the more likely it is that they're an NF rather than an NT.
The mystical flavor of some N (and especially Ni) descriptions goes all the way back to Jung, who mostly considered the abstract/concrete component of N/S a component of I/E instead, and conceptualized an N preference primarily in terms of a special ability to perceive the contents of the unconscious and to envision, as Jung put it, "possibilities as to whence [something] came and whither it is going." Jung's Ni-dom portrait has a pretty strong mystical visionary
aspect that I don't think a typical INTJ (for example) is very likely to identify with.
And it's not uncommon for MBTI tests — both dichotomy tests and functions tests — to include one or more N questions (or Ni or Ne questions) that I suspect an NF or NP is more likely to choose the N response to than an NTJ. I'd say NTJs are the most grounded
of the N's in a number of ways, with the result that the N responses are sometimes too mystical/flaky/whatever to appeal to an NTJ.
As one example: One of the most well-known MBTI books is Please Understand Me
, by David Keirsey, and it includes a 70-question test to determine your type. The original version of the book included this question:
(a) somewhat annoying
(b) rather fascinating
This was supposed to be an S/N question. Response (a) was supposed to appeal to S's, and (b) to N's. But I thought it was a poor question because, I'm a really strong N but also a pretty strong TJ and, to me, "visionary" has a spiritual new-agey theories-out-of-thin-air connotation, so I chose (a) annoying. I thought the question was better designed to separate NF's from S's than N's from S's. Well, lo and behold, it looks like quite a few NTs (and maybe especially NTJs) must have had the same problem, because Keirsey adjusted the question for purposes of the later version of the book. In Please Understand Me II
, the question now reads:
Do you find visionaries and theorists
(a) somewhat annoying
(b) rather fascinating
I still think the inclusion of "visionaries" makes it a weak question, but it's better than it was.
As another example: As I've said, I'm an INTJ with what I consider strong T and J preferences, and these Ni items from Nardi's cognitive functions test —
- Experience a premonition or foresee the distant future.
- Gain a profound realization from a mystical state or sudden release of emotions.
- Feel attracted to the symbolic, archetypal, or mysterious.
— have too much of a flaky flavor for me to relate to them very well. To identify with that kind of stuff, I think it helps to be an NF or NP (or both), and it probably also helps to be at least somewhat prone to believe in ESP and/or other supernatural stuff — as Jung was. Jung most often gets typed as an INTJ, INTP or INFJ, and the people who consider him an INFJ sometimes point to his mystical bent as one of the reasons they think he was an NF rather than an NT.
FIRST FINAL NOTE: I should probably clarify that I'm not meaning to suggest that I consider it all that likely that an INFJ will have a significant mystical streak (or identify strongly with those Nardi test items) — and, all other things being equal, I think a typical INFP is more likely to embrace mystical stuff than a typical INFJ. (Again, I see both
T and J as, to some degree, "grounding" influences.) But, because I think an INTJ is significantly less
likely to relate to stuff with a mystical flavor, I most often point to INTJs when I'm making the point that I don't really think it's appropriate to characterize IN_Js (or NJs) in those terms.
SECOND FINAL NOTE: And just in case I've given you an overly strong impression that T's have a negative reaction to anything New-Agey, let me re-emphasize that, particularly if you're talking about less fringy/flaky New Age ideas and practices (meditation, yoga, eastern philosophy), you're likely to find plenty of NTs with at least a mild interest.