What are an ENFP’s cognitive functions? Hold on, what do these letters mean? Why should you care? Is Extraverted Intuition a disease? This article will answer your thirst for knowledge, young Padawan.
One series of 4 articles to tell you everything you need to know to truly understand the goofiest of all MBTI types – the ENFP. Remember, what we call “cognitive functions” refer, here, to thinking processes. So, we’re answering the question “How does an ENFP brain work?”.
After reading this article, you’ll be able to spot ENFPs like squirrels on trees and maybe get the reassurance that you are, or are not, one yourself.
Four posts to rule them all.
We’re going for simplicity here. So, sit back and relax. Let your beautiful eyes browse this page and enlighten your fascinating mind!
If you have no idea what we’re talking about, start here with a simple explanation of the MBTI theory.
If you want to understand how ENFPs function. Focus on this brilliant article 😄
Now, on with the show!
ENFPs' most important function
The ENFPs’ first function is their autopilot mode.
It’s the biggest criteria to be typed as an ENFP.
When you look at something, if you don’t process the information using this mental process…
Now, let’s talk about the ENFP’s dominant function: Extraverted Intuition.
Extraverted + Intuition explained
TOO MANY GIFS!
That’s Extraverted Intuition for you… Too many ideas, going in all directions…
OK, let’s be more precise. To fully understand Extraverted Intuition as a mental process, let’s take a look at the two words separately: extraverted and intuition.
What does "Extraverted" mean, Mama?
We touched on this subject in my previous article Changing Types Over a Lifetime. So, I’m going to paraphrase myself (yes, yes, it’s happening):
Extraversion means being focused outward.
In other words, Extraversion means finding inspiration outside of yourself.
Extraversion = your environment is what gives you stimulation, what makes you feel energized.
NB: Extraversion doesn’t mean sociable or interested in being socially recognized. No, no, no! No. No. And also no.
Check out this article for a full explanation on Extraversion and Introversion.
What is "Intuition" as a cognitive function?
Intuition is probably the most complex function to describe, because it’s the opposite of concrete, it’s abstract. It’s irrational. But at the end of this article, you’ll have understood what it’s all about! So keep it reading…
Not your "gut feeling"
So, in Jungian terms (C.G. Jung is the psychiatrist who theorized the Cognitive Functions used in the MBTI), “Intuition” doesn’t refer to your “gut feeling”.
Why did Jung use the word Intuition, then?
In a way, Intuition as a mental process seems to be coming out of nowhere, just like your gut-feeling-intuition.
When you get the “I’ve got a bad feeling about this” kind of thoughts (#StarWars), in analytical psychology we translate it as “your unconscious has put some information together at the back of your mind. And it’s now trying to make it conscious.”
That’s why it seems to be coming out of nowhere. But it’s not. It comes from your brain. It’s a thinking process you’re not aware of. People who use Extraverted Intuition as their main (perceiving) function filter information through this mental process immediately.
How does Intuition work?
- puts information together at the back of your mind
- and focuses on non-concrete information: such as symbols and meanings
Now you’re like, what’s concrete information? What’s non-concrete information?
Let’s take an example. Check out this table.
Concrete information concerning this table would be: it is made of gilded wood. The four legs are heavily sculpted with wreaths. There’s a face in the middle of it. It is topped with a blue-green marble slab.
On the other hand, if we start analyzing the table, we’ll be extracting abstract information out of it:
“This table was made for Louis XIV. Its costly materials and heavy ornaments send a message of royalty and absolute power…”
That’s non-concrete information. It’s not the kind of information that is perceived by the senses, right? Gilded wood, marble, it’s heavily sculpted => the message behind it is Louis XIV’s absolute power as king.
Intuition focuses on that: messages that are behind concrete information.
Intuition is not specifically “intellectual”, though. You’ll see a bit further in this article.
To sum up…
- By putting meanings and symbols together: Intuition sees new or old patterns everywhere. It turns concrete information into abstract information
- Most of the time (when we’re not dealing with Louis XIV’s tables), Intuition sounds like guessing. Guessing the meaning hidden behind what your senses perceive.
Have you ever met someone who’s always trying to guess the end of your sentences? They’re Intuitives => their main (perceiving) function is Intuition.
But we’re not aaaaall like that, are we?
OK, now let’s put together Extraverted + Intuition…
Extraverted + Intuition = ENFP's autopilot mode
So, based on the information from above…
Extraverted + Intuition = finding meaning (Intuition) in our environment (Extraversion is focused outward).
To fully grasp what this means, let’s play pretend – like we use to do not so long ago. Except that we’re not going to have a cup of tea with the queen of a kingdom far far away but rather we’re going to pretend to act like Extraverted Intuitives.
What it's like in an ENFP's head, using Extraverted Intuition
I am an ENFP.
I enter my friend’s room in College.
I see that my friend has one red curtain and one yellow one.
Extraverted Intuition is launched:
- Something in my environment (an external source), here the curtains and their colors, triggers my brain (=extraversion).
- Intuition finds meaning attached to this concrete information: first thing that comes to my mind: red and yellow are the colors of Gryffindor in Harry Potter! So, the meaning found in the colors of the curtains here is “red and yellow = Gryffindor”.
- As a result, as I enter my friend’s room, I enthusiastically yell: “Hey! You’re staying in the Gryffindor dormitories!”.
Why do I enthusiastically yell it? Because I am energized by the extraverted intuitive process – that’s why it’s my dominant function. It energizes me the most, so I use it the most. As it’s an extraverted process, it’s triggered by an external source and it’s directed outward. So, it always feels better to let it out.
Do you get the gist?
OK, let’s take another example.
Example 2 – ENFPs always take the joke too far
A friend says:
“I’m going to Hollywood with my friends, George and Steven.”
To that, the ENFP answers:
“What? You’re playing in Indiana Jones 5?”
Why did the ENFP say that? It sounds so random.
Using the same process as before…
- A source external to the ENFP – here the friend – conveys a piece of information: the plan to go to Hollywood with friends.
- The ENFP finds abstract meaning in what the friend says: Hollywood = movies in the ENFP’s brain. George and Stephen – added to the context of movies – makes the ENFP think of famous directors, such as George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.
- The ENFP combines those meanings together and creates connections between them: George Lucas and Steven Spielberg created Indiana Jones together!
- Then, the ENFP adds even more meaning to it. There are already four Indiana Jones movies. So, the ENFP jokingly jumps to the conclusion (“guesses that…”)
- … their friend is playing in the next Indiana Jones movie, because the friend is going to be in Hollywood with George and Steven!
How random was that?
Yep, completely random to you. But not to the ENFP who constantly finds meaning in external things.
And that, baby, is Extraverted Intuition for you. Here’s a picture to illustrate this mental process.
What to take away from Extraverted Intuition?
Extraverted Intuition, we said, is ENFPs’ dominant function. ENFPs can’t even observe the world without using it which makes them the total goofballs they are, as Extraverted Intuition is a mental process that makes people generate new ideas (new meanings) all the time.
Extraverted Intuition is also ENTP’s dominant function. However, ENTPs will probably sound less random as they’re Introverted Thinkers – consider subscribing to our newsletter to hear more about that later.
Because Extraverted Intuition is ENFPs’ autopilot mode, it can take a while for them to realize what this function means. It’s so natural to them they assume everyone thinks the same way!
Scoop: they don’t.
Scoop 2: that’s why the Myers-Briggs personality theory is SO INTERESTING! OMG!!!
MBTI types are actually a description of the cognitive functions a person uses.
So, if one type’s main function is Extraverted Intuition, the first two letters of the types are going to be: E for Extraverted and N for iNtuition.
The two Extraverted Intuitive types.
INFPs and INTPs also use Extraverted Intuition but as their secondary function. Which means it’s not their autopilot mode, but they do use it a lot, too. These four types perceive the world through the same mental process. However, they don’t apply the same filters as to what meanings Extraverted Intuition has generated is important. That’s why they’re different “personality types”.
Knowing the cognitive functions is where the MBTI gets really interesting. A lot of MBTI enthusiasts don’t bother to venture into cognitive territory. They remain at the surface. They’ve read the fun, pop 16personalities.com-style descriptions of MBTI types and missed the real deaaaaaal. But you’re here and you’re not afraid.
I’m proud of you.
Concrete examples of Extraverted Intuition
Now you understand what Extraverted Intuition means and how it works as a mental process. So, let’s make one step towards what 16personalities.com does in their MBTI types descriptions.
We’re going to extrapolate on Extraverted Intuition.
If your brain uses first and foremost Extraverted Intuition, what will the Extraverted Intuition users look/act/sound like?
You will probably (it’s not an obligation)…
- Easily come up with new ideas
- Be good at connecting dots between abstract pieces of information
- Like to jump to conclusions
- Focus on abstract information: meaning, symbols (taken from books, films, songs, all possible external sources etc) as opposed to concrete details
- Be bad with details and naturally overlook them. It doesn’t mean that you can’t work on that, though
- Enjoy novelty and changing environments
- Novelty will energize you and give you new ideas
- Be open to new ideas and exploring them without willing to implement any of them
16personalities.com all the other websites that give long, detailed descriptions of MBTI types go even further in their extrapolations.
They draw conclusions from what we’ve just said above that…
- ENFPs enjoy creative activities (they feel inspired by abstract activities)
- ENFPs love traveling and moving to different places (changing environments energizes them)
- ENFPs can’t deal with routine (they need novelty, again, to feel energized)
- ENFPs like to change jobs / projects often (again, the novelty thing)
- ENFPs can be happy as archaeologists: winning combo of changing workplaces (digging sites) and finding meaning in abstract information (discovering the meaning of hieroglyphs #clichés)
But wait a second.
Are all ENFPs archaeologists? Have all ENFPs who were ever created failed to comply with the establishment of a routine? Of course not. Believing the second list will make you jump to the wrong conclusions: that your friend Dylan isn’t an ENFP because he is able to keep his job and deal with details, and so on so forth.
The only criteria to be typed as an ENFP is to use these four mental processes, in this order:
- Extraverted Intuition
- Introverted Feeling
- Extraverted Thinking
- Introverted Sensing
So, don’t expect all Extraverted Intuitives to be artistic archeologists who can’t deal with routine.
Says the ENFP who studied archaeology among other things, who doesn’t like routine and who thinks of herself as some kind of an artist.
We’ll talk about all these functions in future articles, very soon. How they work, what consequences they on the individual’s behavior, just like we did in this article.
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