(T) vs. (F) – Beyond Introversion and Extroversion

(T) vs. (F)? Last week, we explored (S) vs. (N). Today, we will ask if you are ruled by your heart or your head?  Consider the following scenario:

One of the best students in class asks if he can turn his assignment in late. A single father, his child was sick and he had little time to finish before the deadline. A failing grade will ruin his straight A average.

A typical (T) instructor may sympathize with the student, but their rational side overrides their emotions. Would it be fair to all the other students? Shouldn’t there be one set of rules that apply to everyone? More than likely, the (T) instructor will stick to their policy and decline to accept. Who hasn’t experienced an unexpected event, but still managed to get everything done on time?

A typical (F) instructor may judge each situation differently. They will consider the impact their decision has on the people involved, and allow their compassion to affect the outcome. They may look at the student’s overall performance, the hardship involved and accept the assignment. Don’t we all deserve a break on occasion?

(T) vs. (F) – Thinking vs. Feeling

As you may have gathered by now, (T) stands for thinking and (F) stands for feeling. There is about a 50/50 split in the population for each group.  A (T) prefers to make decisions based on analysis. They take in all the facts to produce objective criteria-based decisions. Other descriptors from David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates in the book “Please Understand Me  Character Temperament Types include:

  • Value principles
  • Firm
  • Impersonal
  • Decide using standards and criterion

An (F), on the other hand, is described as:

  • subjective
  • willing to consider extenuating circumstances
  • open to persuasion
  • sympathetic

It is A Matter of Preference

The key to understanding the difference between the two groups is to realize both have the ability to feel and analyze. The big question is are we most comfortable making decisions based on feelings or logic? The Meyers & Briggs Foundation is quick to point out that those in the Feeling group do not have a monopoly on emotions.

The judge who sentences a man to life in prison because she believes that was what the law requires may experience many emotions as a result. But she prefers to base her decision on the law, impersonal though it may be. It is not that she can’t feel sympathy, only that she believes her job is to uphold uniform standards and her personal feelings should not get in the way.

Likewise, the foundation warns against assuming Thinkers are more intelligent because they rely more on their analytical abilities. Those in the Feeling group can be extremely intelligent. They are simply more comfortable with value judgments.

Keirsey and Bates make the interesting observation that those in the Feeling group may have an advantage. Since schools teach critical thinking, everyone is encouraged to hone their analytical abilities. So the (F) may have already developed some of the (T) functions out of necessity. Society does not provide as much formal training in how to get in touch with our feelings. Many Thinkers will have less opportunity or incentive to explore their emotional side.

(T) vs. (F ) – Common Misunderstandings

Thinkers often label Feelers as too softhearted, wishy-washy and illogical. I have one (T) friend who refuses to engage with anyone who employs “emotional extortion.” Those are the people who appear to play on sentiment to win arguments. Debate anything, the trade deficit, the increase in CO2, the best tuna salad recipe, and they will invoke emotion, often their own personal pain, to gain the advantage. The (T) sees this as exploitation. But, it can also be that feelings are so much a part of how (F)s make their decisions, they can’t separate them in explaining their views to others.

By contrast, Feelers can regard Thinkers as rigid, cold and hard-hearted. I, myself, am slightly more (T) than (F). When I come across some horrible accusation on FaceBook, my analytical side takes over. Could this pic be photoshopped? Could someone be setting this person up? What led to the situation? Where can I get more information? What precedent does this set – trial by social media? My Feeling friends are often too overwhelmed with emotion to think of those things. Some have accused me of condoning whatever atrocity is being described. Nothing could be further from the truth. My rational side just makes my initial gut reaction take a back seat. Until I get a thorough backstory, I am NOT sharing the shame!

Despite such seemingly obvious differences, the (T) vs. (F) bridge is shorter than in some of the other categories. Each one of us has the opportunity to develop our non-dominate preference for more balance within ourselves.

Offline References:

Keirsey, David & Bates, Marilyn (1984).  Please Understand Me Character & Temperament Types. Del Mar, CA. Prometheus Nemesis Book Company.

Sherie Sanders is part of the GovLoop Featured Contributor program, where we feature articles by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Contributor posts, click here.

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Avatar photo Emily Jarvis

I always lead with my heart, and then later rationalize and reinterpret and event with my head. These are some good tips for meeting in the middle.