One of the most confusing things about the MBTI® is the Judging or Perceiving preference. Many people get these preferences confused, or feel unsure about which preference they use. I’m really hoping this blog will make it a little easier for people to understand and figure out the whole J/P mystery.
Judging and Perceiving – What do they even mean?
The J or P preference stands for judging or perceiving. This preference shows how you interact with the outside world. It doesn’t say anything about what’s inside you; only how you interact externally, and how others perceive you.
To understand the J/P preferences, we have to figure out some MBTI® basics:
Everyone has two judging and two perceiving functions:
- The judging functions are thinking and feeling.
These functions determine how you make decisions; based on harmony and people (feelers) or logic and systems (thinkers).
- The perceiving functions are sensing and intuition.
These functions determine how you take in information; through your five senses (sensing) or through patterns and underlying meanings (intuition).
Every person uses all four of these functions. Your middle two letters (for example the ‘SF’ in ISFJ) tell us which two functions are your strongest. In the case of the ISFJ, Sensing and Feeling are the strongest functions. They still use intuition and thinking, but those functions are much weaker than sensing and feeling.
Every person extraverts (shows the world) two functions, and introverts (internalizes) two functions. You can see this in the example of an ENFP below:
You can see that the ENFP extraverts intuition and thinking, and introverts feeling and sensing. The top two ovals you see are the dominant and auxiliary functions. The bottom two functions are the tertiary and inferior functions.
Your dominant and auxiliary functions make up about 90% of your personality; with your tertiary and inferior functions making up the other 10%.
If you are a J personality type then you show the world (extravert) your top judging function (thinking or feeling).
If you’re a P personality type then you show the world (extravert) your top perceiving function (sensing or intuition).
Let’s clear up some misconceptions
A lot of people think that P types are disorganized or messy, and that J types are clean and neat. I want to get this out of the way now; the J or P preference is NO indicator of messiness or neatness. Both J and P types can be messy or disorganized. All the J or P letter at the end of your type means is that you show the world either your judging process or your perceiving process.
Another misconception is that the ‘J’ for judging means ‘judgmental’. J types are no more judgmental than P types; judging simply refers to the decision-making process, and whether or not that decision-making process is shown to the outside world.
J (Judging) Personality Types
If you are an IJ or EJ type, then your first extraverted function is a decision-making function (thinking or feeling).
The decision-making functions are going to make the J personality type seem more decisive. They may seem to others to be better planners who like to have things ‘settled’ and organized. They probably prefer closure in their outer relationships, and they often like to have things decided and not ‘in limbo’. They often appear to be very task-oriented, and might like organizing their projects with to-do lists. Whether they are actually organized has nothing to do with their J/P preference, the J/P preference will only detail HOW the type likes to organize. Do they make their decisions through external interactions (talking, planning with lists and other external tools) or do they make their decisions through an internal, private process.
Since the J preference only describes what someone shows to the OUTER world, they may internally feel very flexible, adaptable, and open to new information.
IJ types will seem less ‘J-like’ than EJ types. This is because IJ types have a dominant perceiving function. Even though this perceiving function is internalized, it will greatly influence their judging process, making them more likely to be mistyped as P types. For example, the INFJ leads with dominant introverted intuition (a perceiving function), but shows the world an auxiliary judging function (extraverted feeling);
E–J types will lead with a dominant extraverted judging function, so they will probably seem the most ‘J’ like of any personality type.
So be careful when typing someone! Introverts are a lot easier to mistype than extroverts.
P (Perceiving) Personality Types
If you’re an IP or EP type, then your first extraverted function is a perceiving function. For example, an ENFP’s first extraverted function is intuition; so this is what they show to the world. An ISTP’s first extraverted function is sensing, so that is what they show to the world.
These externalized perceiving functions are going to make the P personality types seem more laid-back and flexible. Because their most prominent decision-making process (of thinking or feeling) is internalized they will show the world mostly how they perceive things; and although it will be influenced by their internal judging process, their decision-making process won’t be as obvious.
For this reason, perceivers often seem more open-minded, and laid back. They may seem more spontaneous and adaptable.
Since this preference only describes what they show to the outer world, inside they can be very planful or decisive. What may seem like a sudden, spontaneous decision could have been internally planned for months, particularly with the IP types.
IP types have a dominant introverted judging function, which will make them seem more like judgers (J types) than other P types. For example, the ISTP type leads with dominant introverted thinking (a judging function), but shows the world an auxiliary perceiving function of extraverted sensing. Because their dominant function is a judging function, even though it’s internalized, they will seem more like J types than the EP types. EP types will probably seem the most ‘P’ like of any Myers Briggs types. This is because their dominant function is a perceiving function AND this is the function they show to the outer world.
I know this blog is kind of wordy and possibly kinda boring, but hopefully now the J/P preference makes more sense! Have you ever been mistyped by someone? Has this helped you get a better idea of your type? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you!