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Psychological Types & Functions

Through years of case research, Jung determined the existence of two distinguishing modes of human reaction toward external circumstances, which he found to be so widespread that they could be labeled as a typical human characteristics. He described them as follows:

There is a whole class of men who at the moment of reaction to a given situation at first draw back a little as if with an unvoiced ‘No’, and only after that are able to react; and there is another class who, in the same situation, come forward with an immediate reaction, apparently confident that their behavior is obviously right. The former class would therefore be characterized by a certain negative relation to the object, and the latter by a positive one . . . the former class corresponds to the introverted and the second to the extraverted attitude.

In his division of extravert and introvert, Jung referred primarily to the psychology of the consciousness, or external components. This meant that a person described as either extravert or introvert displayed habitual reactions that were characteristic of their psychological type towards their environment and the people within it. Jung believed it was likely that the majority of individuals favored one attitude over the other, leaving the secondary type to operate at an unconscious or inferior level, manifesting it only as required. The differentiation between these psychological types seemed to be noticeable early in life, such as during the primary years.

Jung understood that alone, psychological types could not possibly cover all existing differences in personality. Each extravert or introvert greeted the world in a definitive, yet instinctual way, utilizing his or her ‘most developed function’. As such, Jung developed four functions identifying different ways in which individuals orient themselves in the world within the parameters of their psychological type:

  • Sensation, which is perception through our senses;
  • Thinking, which gives meaning and understanding;
  • Feeling, which weighs and values;
  • Intuition, which tells us of future possibilities and gives us information of the atmosphere that surrounds all experience.

Jung stated that:

these four types are always combined with the attitude-type, that is with extraversion or introversion, so that the functions appear in an extraverted or introverted variation. This produces a set of eight demonstrable function-types.

The process of living required to some degree adaptation to the world around us and thus, we often developed the attitude (extraverted or introverted) and function (intuition, thinking, etc.) that is easiest or most natural to us. In the course of conforming to our social environment, it is likely that we repressed or pushed away parts of our personality into the unconscious.