Extraverted Intuition vs Introverted Intuition, you may wonder: What’s the difference?
BINGO! Else why would you have clicked on this article?
First, let’s put these two concepts back in context.
I, Ennpey, your humble servant, like to explore with you C.-G. Jung’s theories in the field of analytical psychology (diving deep into the unconscious – no snorkeling here!) specifically in relation to the MBTI theory.
So, Extraverted Intuition and Introverted Intuition are two “thinking processes” – cognitive functions, in the jargon – used by individuals to perceive the world.
When, how can it be extraverted or introverted?
Let’s find out.
Perceiving functions: different ways to see the world
Lil’ reminder for readers who aren’t yet super familiar with the MBTI theory.
Perceiving functions are mental processes that help us filter information.
It gives us a focus when we look around us.
- Either you focus on concrete, sensory information and you use “Sensing” as a cognitive function. And so, your MBTI will have an “S” in its type: eStj, iSfj, eSfp, iStp, etc.
- Or you’ll focus on the opposite of concrete and sensory – A.K.A. abstraction, concepts, hidden meanings, symbols. And that’s what C.-G. Jung called, as a cognitive process, “Intuition”.
Then, your MBTI type contains the letter N for iNtuition (because I is for Introverted… SPOILER ALERT) just like in: iNtp, eNfj, iNtj, eNfp, etc.
No one is really aware of what mental processes they prefer (everyone can use everything), until they learn about Jung’s theory or the MBTI, which measures what functions you’re more likely to use.
In this article we’re going to dive down deep into getting on a first name basis with Intuition as a cognitive function, when it’s introverted and extroverted.
Intuition as a thinking process
What we call “Intuition” in analytical psychology is not your “gut feeling”. It’s your ability to connect abstract information together. Check out this section of our previous article for a more detailed explanation of Intuition.
Jung is famous for the concepts of Introversion and Extraversion. He only saw them in relation to thinking processes. Which means, Intuition being a thinking process it can be either be introverted or extraverted.
So, what does it mean?
Intuition as an Introverted cognitive function
Like, what's an introverted thinking process?
At the gate of the mind, there are two possibilities when information tries to penetrate your brain.
- There’s a check/control
The info won’t be accepted just like that, for the fun of it.
- The barrier is open
And all information is welcome.
So, if in order to access your mind a piece of information needs to get through security, you’re using an introverted mental process.
This means that Introverted Intuition doesn’t let in all the hidden messages, all the concepts, all the new ideas…
Who filters? Based on what?
Your unconscious filters according to its own criteria. So, the criteria are going to be different depending on every person. That’s why there are no two same people with the same mind. Two INFJs don’t have the same unconscious, so their version of Introverted Intuition will be different.
However, the process on the whole will be the same, as they all…
- gather abstract information (Intuition) and filter it according to their own criteria (Introverted).
What MBTI types use Introverted Intuition?
INFJs and INTJs have Introverted Intuition on autopilot mode. It’s their dominant function. If it’s not the first thinking process you use, you’re neither an INTJ nor an INFJ.
If it’s the second thinking process you use, then you are an ENTJ or an ENFJ.
Other types can also use this cognitive function, but as it’s not their primary or secondary thinking process it has less impact on how they see the world. Other functions will characterize their behavior more.
Introverted Intuition: the Investigator's Superpower
Introverted Intuitives (especially INFJs and ENFJs) are exceptional lie-detectors. Because Introverted Intuition is great at spotting when something is off. It analyzes all the information and finds the whole in the pattern. Then it draws a conclusion to determine the truth.
It takes concrete information and changes it into abstract information: meanings, concepts, symbols.
Concretely, how does it work?
Step, by step, a concrete example of Introverted Intuition in action
Let’s take a concrete example and pretend we’re INTJs or INFJs.
Say you’ve planned to go to a concert with your acquaintance, Stella.
- Stella gives you your concert ticket. She was in charge of buying them in advance
- Thanks, bruh! You take a look at the piece of paper…
- There’s a spot of fresh ink in the corner
- Your mind doesn’t say “nevermind, let’s go to the concert now YO!”. But rather, it runs a security check on that piece of info.
- It tries to find the meaning behind the ink spot. How come there is one? Usually they are mass printed and Stella bought this one for you two weeks ago.
- There’s a whole in the pattern! BEEP BEEP! WHYYYYY is that?
- You ask Stella why there is fresh ink on your ticket.
- There’s none on hers. She doesn’t give you a proper answer.
- You investigate even more in your head: the serial number on the ticket is 111222333. What’s the meaning of this?
- Another preexisting pattern in your head tells you it’s extremely rare to find such a combination of numbers. You add up this info with the fresh ink. Other information connected to the situation comes to mind: Stella has been slightly weird these past two weeks. She even suggested not going to the concert yesterday…
- There’s only one way to connect all these pieces of information together. Everything is off, because this ticket is off and Stella is trying to rip you off. It’s a fake ticket.
Woaw! Stella is not really a friend. WHAT’S WRONG WITH HER??? WHAT DOES SHE WANT FROM YOU??? HOW DOES THE STORY END?
You’ll never know. This was just a random example.
But basically, Introverted Intuition is the investigator’s superpower.
Sherlock Holmes obviously uses this cognitive function primarily. He’s an INTJ.
Summing up how Introverted Intuition functions
So, that’s how Introverted Intuition works:
- Some kind of information comes through (someone’s talking to you or you’re reading a book, looking out the window, thinking to yourself…)
- You first and foremost try to connect the new bits of information together
- Your unconscious runs a security check: what’s the meaning of this new info? How do I connect it with other bits of info I already have?
- You find the connection and if you don’t… It’s not going to work out. You’re going to find the truth.
- => You’ve determined your own truth about that new piece of information
What to take away from Introverted Intuition?
- Reads between the lines: what’s the hidden message? It asks
- Analyzes every piece of information and runs a background check on it, using an unconscious algorithm
- Which makes them excellent investigators and analysts – when it comes to data that’s conceptual, primarily
- Doesn’t like to go in all directions. They want to find a conclusion to their research/analysis. They seek the one truth that fits all their “criteria”, “patterns” they already have in mind
- So, too much stimuli from the outside world is draining to INxJs and ENxJs. They have to perform too many checks. Blah! Let them live in their own, inner, perfect world where everything is already figured out
- Likes to predict/guess how things might turn out. So Introverted Intuitives are into planning. They’re outcome focused
- So, they JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS like mad. God, you’re invited to a dinner in my family, surrounded by Introverted Intuitives. You’ll see what I mean. Again, that’s because Introverted Intuition sees how one thing is connected to another and how – logically – everything should end up in a certain way. So, they think they know the end of your every one of you sentences. They think they can read minds – almost.
Because Introverted Intuition sees beyond the concrete facts and seeks the truth, to me, it sounds like the most “mystical” cognitive function.
Keep in mind that Introverted Intuition is an unconscious thinking process. No one is aware that they’re processing information like that. It’s automatic.
Why it’s Greased Lightnin’!
Concrete activities that entail using Introverted Intuition
- Investigating. A detective connects all the evidence together and comes out with a theory that explains why the pattern works or where it failed and why.
- Interpreting art. You give one abstract meaning to something concrete.
- Writing literature. Literature is adding precise meaning behind the words.
- Academic research. You’re researching and creating new meaning out from studying different sources of information, following one red thread to seek the truth.
- Palm reading and other divination methods: it’s literally connecting symbols together to give them (usually) one meaning. Mediums use Introverted Intuition to connect the dots between what clients say, wear, look like, sound like…
Don’t forget that everyone can use all cognitive functions. The point is that the MBTI measures one’s preferences. So, in other words, your strengths and your “weaknesses”. If you’re an Introverted Intuitive, then your least favorite function will be Extraverted Sensing. There’s always a balance between opposites in the psyche. And these two functions are the exact opposites: one is extraverted, the other one introverted, one is about concrete things, the other one is about abstract stuff.
The MBTI shows that some people are better at certain things and others are better at others. It doesn’t exclude that one can develop and strengthen their weaknesses. That’s actually another reason why the MBTI is interesting and can help you develop yourself. BRING BALANCE TO THE FORCE, YO!
Introverted Intuitions vs Extraverted Intuition: what's the difference?
I’ve got a whole article on Extraverted Intuition, which also takes you step by step in the mind of an Extraverted Intuitive.
So, let’s not be too redundant. In this article here, we’re going to focus on the differences between Extraverted Intuition and Introverted Intuition.
Extraverted Intuition: the unbridled imagination
You got it…
- Extraverted Intuitives find meaning, see symbols in their environment – outside of themselves. That’s extraversion for you, bruh.
- The gate of the mind is open. There are no checks. Ideas come and go in and out of the brain. That’s energizing to the Extraverted Intuitive
- So, they will generate more and more ideas, the more information enters their minds. “What if? What if? What iiiiif?????” is their favorite question. Or “Imagine if!”
- They don’t need to seek the truth. Rather, they combine pieces of information together and see all the possibilities.
- As it’s an extraverted process, they’re open to more and they feed on it. More information from the outside world = more stimulation
The consequences of using Extraverted Intuition
As a consequence to generating more and more ideas from just one thing that enters their brains, Extraverted Intuitives are good at:
- Coming up with original ideas: Extraverted Intuition is the “new idea” light-bulb. It sees something, thinks of something else: there you go, new idea created!
- Saying random things: Extraverted Intuitives see something, connect it to a film they’ve seen, a song they’ve heard, or anything else. They just see some meaning to it and it triggers their brain, and they say it. That’s why ENxx types can seem very random.
- Creating parodies: parodies are created by taking something concrete and normal and by making it absurd, over the top and nonsensical. Extraverted Intuition does that all the time by associating everything and anything to a situation.
- Imagining new worlds: Extraverted Intuitives can have a very rich imagination and it’s not difficult for them to come up with new concepts, even new imaginary worlds… and words!
- Making up theories: in a similar way to Introverted Intuition, Extraverted Intuition can be good at creating new theories as it also connect dots between abstract thoughts. However, Extraverted Intuition doesn’t need to find the truth in a theory. It can just list all the possibilities, because it’s interesting to explore new ideas, even if it’s completely impractical. Introverted Intuition has subjective criteria which limit the theory. Extraverted Intuition is stimulated by it’s openness.
Let’s end this with a meme…
Extraverted Intuition vs Introverted Intuition – In one meme
Ne: Extraverted Intuition – Ne: Introverted Intuition
Introverted Intuition and Extraverted Intuition complete each other.
Extraverted Intuition explores and generate new ideas.
Introverted intuition filter ideas, dives deep into them and extract the truth out of them.
Now, it would make sense if all Intuitives were able to do both, immaright? Opinions diverge on this, but I believe that we use all cognitive functions, but on a spectrum.
So, if you’re an Intuitive, you’ll be able to use both Introverted Intuition and Extraverted Intuition. Else, Introverted Intuitives would never be open to new ideas and Extraverted Intuitives could never decide on one truth.
However, according to the MBTI, you will an Introverted Intuitive if you feel energized by using introverted Intuition. And you will be an Extraverted Intuitive if you feel energized by using Extraverted Intuition.
That’s my take.
So, if you don’t know, now you know, Mr President.
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