The 8 cognitive functions of MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) are what make up the 16 different personality types. They’re the building blocks of the entire typing system & arguably the most important part. If you learn these 8 functions, the 16 personalities will be much much easier to identify & you’ll be able to develop a strong conviction in your ability to type other people.
The eight cognitive functions are extraverted thinking, introverted thinking, extraverted feeling, introverted feeling, extraverted sensing, introverted sensing, extraverted intuition, and introverted intuition. In this article we’ll go over each function, as well as the ego functions for each personality type and answer a handful of frequently asked questions. So read on if you’re ready to dive deep.
The 8 Cognitive Functions of MBTI
Ni is associated with individuals who prefer to process information internally and focus on patterns, possibilities, and underlying meanings. It’s a function that’s associated with fire, having strong will, burning desire, & narrow but intense focus.
People with a dominant Ni function tend to have a strong sense of intuition and may also be skilled at recognizing & analyzing complex systems or patterns. They are often able to see connections between seemingly unrelated pieces of information.
Having a powerful intent comes at a cost however, and Ni dominant users can struggle to communicate their insights in a concrete manner. Furthermore, they can get so drawn into their desires that they can miss details, see the forest but not the trees, and forget to stop & smell the roses once in a while. It should be noted that Ni is a perceiving function.
Ne is a function related to water & is the “Yin” to the “Yang” that is introverted intuition (fire). Extroverted intuition is associated with the divination of possibilities, seeing underlying connections in the external world, and are all about tropes or archetypes.
People with a dominant Ne function tend to be highly curious and open-minded, and are often able to generate new ideas and creative solutions to problems. They may also be skilled at making connections between seemingly disparate pieces of information in a way that many people can relate to (memes), even if unconsciously at first. An Ne hero for example, is a master at knowing & understanding the desires of others, whether those people are aware of their wants or not.
However, because Ne operates primarily on an external level, those who rely on this function may sometimes struggle with maintaining focus and following through on projects to completion. This is because their Ne is tied to Introverted Sensing (Si), which is the endurance & discipline function. If you have Ne, you also have Si. It should be noted that Ne is a perceiving function.
Ti is the function of truth & accuracy. People with this function can be highly analytical & logical in their thinking, seeing things as either true or false. They are independent & original thinkers that require coming to their own conclusions. The way their mind functions is like building a Jenga block tower on a single topic, the blocks being conditional statements of Boolean logic questions: “If this, then that” “If this car is black, then all cars are red is false, only some cars are red, but not all.”
They may also be skilled at analyzing complex systems and identifying flaws in existing structures or arguments. This is a great function to have in debates where truth & logic is valued in order to win. Their knowledge also goes deep & they can often be considered thought leaders in their field or challenge the status quo.
However, because Ti operates internally, those who rely on this function may sometimes struggle with effectively communicating their ideas to others while taking into account the emotional or social implications of their actions. Additionally, individuals with a dominant Ti function may sometimes become so focused on analyzing data and information that they overlook established best practices & efficiency. Ti is a decision making function.
Te is associated with individuals who prefer to process information externally, meaning they are more focused on consensus, best practices, and common sense. Like all other external functions, this is also what’s known as a “tribe” function which means it operates best with the input of other people.
People with a dominant Te function tend to be highly organized and efficient; efficiency & getting things to work for everyone around them is what they’re all about. They may also be skilled at making decisions quickly and confidently, based on a careful analysis of available data. This is where the “commander” stereotype is derived from for the ENTJ who is action based.
However, because Te operates primarily on an external level, those who rely on this function may sometimes struggle going in depth on a certain topic & coming to an absolute true or false conclusion. One big drawback is that high Te users can sometimes disregard emotional implications of their actions & overlook the importance of relationships & building social connections. Te is a decision making function.
Fi is related to individual moral judgment & is highly individualistic. It’s often misunderstood for ethics, empathy, & kindness but those are closer related to the following function, Fe. That’s not to say Fi users can’t show these characteristics but they are far more attuned to their own emotions & personal value systems.
Fi users can have a strong moral compass as to what is right or wrong for them & why. Furthermore, because Fi is tied to Te ( if you have one, you have the other), they can develop strong values & beliefs about the world.
A drawback of high introverted feeling however, is being unable to effectively express their inner emotions as they relate to others. Working with the beliefs of others might also be a stumbling block such as navigating best practices or working in an overly structured environment. Decision making can also be troublesome if objective facts & data are not taken into account. Fi is a decision making function.
If Fe could be summed up in one word, it would be group harmony. Those with Fe are well attuned to the emotional states of others & are the true empaths. Fe users are great at being relatable and have the ability to improve the overall emotional state of individuals & groups.
Empathy & compassion are the bread & butter of the Fe dominant user. They are able to intuitively pick up on & understand the emotional needs of others. As long as there is group harmony & cooperation, Fe users are at peace & shine in social environments.
However, because Fe operates externally, it requires the input of Fi users to do its thing. Also directing emotions towards themselves & being aware of their own emotions can be difficult.
Additionally, Fe dominant people might be so busy taking care of the emotional needs of others that they can lose sight of their own needs or priorities. Fe is a decision making function.
Si is associated with steadfastness, duty, endurance, the past, memories, & is an internal function. Strong Si users can be stubborn & hard to budge but that also makes them as strong as they are. They can be stoic & often use past experiences to inform their decision making.
If there was one word to boil down introverted sensing, it would be tradition. They are geared towards doing things the way that they’ve always been done & require a steady routine. They are also attuned to physical sensations & are detailed oriented people.
Like other internal functions, it’s only concerned with itself, therefore is not as aware as to what others are doing. Si users can lack quick reflexes & have difficulty reacting to a quick changing environment or situation. Finally they might be so ingrained into the status quo that it can be difficult to break away into innovation or new ways of doing things. It should be noted that Si is a perceiving function.
High Se users are the ones jumping out of airplanes & lighting their hair on fire. They are concrete people & not concerned with theories or “what ifs”, only “what is”. Whereas Si is the past, Ni is the future, Se is the now.
Extroverted sensing users are highly observant & reactive to their environments. Reflexes are high and they tend to enjoy new or intense experiences. Se users also have keen spatial awareness & understand physics on an intuitive level.
On an axis with Se, is introverted intuition, so they can struggle with long term planning. Furthermore, this means that Ne is in their shadow (more on that later), which makes them completely unaware of the consequences of their actions. It should be noted that Se is a perceiving function.
Ego Functions (First 4) of The 16 Personality Types
The ego functions in the MBTI system of typing are the first 4 cognitive functions.
They are ordered from strongest to weakest & have their own “attitudes”, which we will go further in depth in another article.
Hero or Dominant Function
This is the most dominant or “heroic” function that a person utilizes effortlessly to solve the majority of their everyday problems.
It’s a very optimistic function and sometimes to a fault when it can get carried away with saving the world & taking away from the other functions.
Parent or Auxiliary Function
This is the function related to one’s own responsibility & is a pessimistic function.
It can also become strong in a similar way to the hero but requires conscious effort & expends more energy when using it.
Child or Tertiary Function
This is someone’s inner child function & is very innocent in nature. It’s optimistic like the hero & they often like to hang out together in a person’s years of development.
This is where someone’s fear exists & is their weakest conscious function. It’s also pessimistic but can at times “aspire” to become heroic in short bursts. It’s very draining to use & difficult to master but is where a person’s happiness lies.
All 16 MBTI Personality Types & Their Ego Functions
Below are the function stacks of all 16 personality types. They’re doubled up in pairs with their corresponding “golden pairs” which are their highest compatibility partners.
INTJ Ni – Te – Fi – Se
ENTP Ne – Ti – Fe – Si
INTP Ti – Ne – Si – Fe
ENTJ Te – Ni – Se – Fi
INFJ Ni – Fe – Ti – Se
ENFP Ne – Fi – Te – Si
INFP Fi – Ne – Si – Te
ENFJ Fe – Ni – Se – Ti
ISTJ Si – Te – Fi – Ne
ESTP Se – Ti – Fe – Ni
ISTP Ti – Se – Ni – Fe
ESTJ Te – Si – Ne – Fi
ISFJ Si – Fe – Ti – Ne
ESFP Se – Fi – Te – Ni
ISFP Fi – Se – Ni – Te
ESFJ Fe – Si – Ne – Ti
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Find My MBTI Cognitive Functions?
We recommend studying each of the individual functions & trying to identify them in others to get a feel for its associations. This will give you the observational understanding of each archetype & make your own identification most accurate.
Unless you can identify each function on a whim, then it’s best to ask a friend or 3rd party to help narrow down your own function stack. It can be very difficult to type yourself due to projections.
What Are The 4 Functions of MBTI?
The first 4 functions are what’s known as the “ego functions” which we covered briefly above. These are what make up your MBTI personality type.
There however 4 other functions which are unconscious for a total of 8. These are called the shadow functions and are your polar opposite.
What Is The Rarest MBTI Function?
The majority of people are sensors & we live in a concrete, sensor world.
The rarest MBTI types are all of the lead intuitives, anyone who has intuition in the first 2 slots.
The rarest MBTI function however is in our opinion, introverted intuition.
Which MBTI Type Is Most Successful?
Success comes from many forms & it depends on how you want to define it.Traditionally a high Te user can be very successful in business.
However if you see success as being liked & valued by many, you might see the popularity of a high Fe user as a success.
That’s not to say that lead Ti or Fi users can’t be successful though. We recommend that everyone work on their contrasting functions.
So if you are more introverted, work on developing your extroverted functions. If extroverted, work on your inner functions to develop identity & inward reflections.
Which MBTI Is Secretly Very Emotional?
You would be hard pressed to find out that it’s often the Te heroes that are actually the squishy ones.
Te heroes might look cold, calculated, & EFFICIENT on the outside, but all of this houses and is there to protect their baby introverted feeling (Fi).
Which MBTI Type Has The Highest EQ?
If referring to “emotional quotient”, then we will definitely have to say that the Fe heroes & Fe parents are the most emotionally intelligent.
Fe heroes can read the room in a snapshot, while Fe parents might have to put in some effort to develop this skill.
Fe is the function that’s associated with empathy, group cohesion, community, caring for others, and generally putting others before self in the name of harmony.
Was Albert Einstein INFJ?
No, Einstein was an INTP. He was considered a genius due to his Ti hero & his unorthodox ways of solving theoretical issues that comes from extroverted intuition.
INFJs have Ti child, which is optimistic like a Ti hero, so to some they might feel the same.
However the biggest giveaway in our opinion is Se vs Si.
Einstein’s crazy hair & lack of concern with looks is reminiscent of a person with Se blindspot. An INFJ with Se inferior will be very aware of how they come off to others & strive to look their best at all times.
Which MBTI Is Most Independent?
The INTJ is the most independent MBTI archetype. They are wholly pragmatic types which are solely focused on their own ideal futures.
Having Ni hero, also requires them to have freedom of choice, meaning they don’t like to be obligated or told what to do.
The combination of Te & Se, once developed, can make them great with common sense applications such as home maintenance, car repair, and just fixing things in general.
They also lack Fe, which is actually in their blindspot (7th slot in the shadow). So they are not bothered with being part of a community or being accepted by “the tribe”.
Did we miss any questions or have one you want answered? Comment below!
Thank you for reading & we hope you found this article packed full of useful information.
Stay tuned for more articles on MBTI, personality types, & typology in general.