Thinking vs. Feeling

Thinking and Feeling, exploring the differences

The other kind of mental process identified by Jung is judgment, a process of organising and evaluating information, and coming to conclusions. Using the judging process, some sort of evaluation is made and Jung identified two kinds of judgment: Thinking and Feeling. The T-F dichotomy is our ‘output’ scale - ie how we each make decisions.

Both of these can be used in either the outer, extraverted world or in the inner, introverted world. Thinking judgments are based on objective criteria or principles, as Jung describes:

...judgement is reserved as to what significance should be attached to the facts in question. And on this significance will depend the way in which the individual deals with the facts.

Feeling judgments are based on personal, interpersonal, or emotional values as Jung describes:

...adaptation will depend entirely on the feeling value he attributes to them.

Thinking types tend to make their decisions based on data, evidence and rational thought. They tend to be pragmatic and not swayed by antipathies or emotions but prefer empirical data.

Feeling types tend to make their decisions based on values, emotions and impact on people. This is a slightly more illogical way of making decisions (when compared to logical ‘T’s) however ‘F’s can often ‘feel’ situations and so their decisions often take account of the less obvious more subtle issues that transcend the logical. This is not to downplay the importance of this function of decision-making or question its validity but it does make it more difficult to quantify. As Jung himself (a ‘T’) confessed:

…I freely admit that this problem of feeling has been one that has caused me much brain racking.

Thinking types Feeling types
Firm, fair and rational Caring, passionate and emotional
Interested in logical analysis Interested in people and feelings
Make decisions with the head Make decision with the heart
See logical inconsistences Feel how others are feeling
Value truth and logic Value tact and diplomacy
Driven by dispassionate objectivity Driven by passionate subjectivity

So we can see that Thinking types are far more rational and objective in their mode of making decisions. If you are a Thinking type you will tend to value truth and logical analysis over emotion. It will make your approach fair and rational but it may mean that you don’t pick up so well on the verbal and non-verbal cues and the impact of how people are feeling. Feeling types will tend to make decisions based on emotion and the impact on other people whilst you will tend to remove emotion from the equation and make your decisions based on what is right based on objective criteria and general principles.

Feeling types tend to make their decisions based on values, subjectivity and the impact on others. If you are a Feeling type you will tend to tune into how other people are feeling and your decisions will essentially be people based. This may mean you will look for harmony and dislike conflict but it also means you will spot the nuances and see things that would be lost on those who focus only on the logic of the decision.

How Thinking types and Feeling types might experience each other

Thinkers may see Feelers as Feelers may see Thinkers as
Illogical Cold and inconsiderate
A little soft Uncaring and overly hard
Overemotional Insensitive
Irrational Too robotic and logical
Inconsistent Lacking humanity

Engaging with and managing a Thinker, if you are a Feeler

  • Begin with the more logical points, as this will provide a far more helpful foundation for the discussion
  • Outline the cause and effect of the matter, rather than focusing on issues such as how people are feeling
  • Focus on consequences, as this will make more logical sense to the Thinker and remove any emotional aspect
  • Ask what they think to ensure the conversation remains in the realm of the logical and factual, rather than letting it drift into the realm of the emotional
  • Be brief and concise even if the issue is emotionally charged as Thinkers often struggle with the irrationality of making emotional decisions
  • Be calm and reasonable as this is the Thinking approach to decisions making and will be where the Thinker is most comfortable
  • Use more objective language, as ‘loaded’ language, however well intentioned or heart-felt, will not help the Thinker make the decision in the way they need to

Engaging with and managing a Feeler, if you are a Thinker

  • Begin with points of agreement as the Feeler prefers consensus and collaboration to conflict and so this will be a far more helpful foundation for the discussion
  • Demonstrate that you appreciate efforts and value contributions from people
  • Focus on people concerns as this is where the Feeler’s starting point is and so you will be more likely to move the discussion forward
  • Ask how they feel as it is important to recognise and to acknowledge that the Feeler inhabits the world of emotion, values and impact
  • Let them talk as the Feeler will probably want to provide context and evidence of impact and may feel shoehorned if you move straight to ‘what needs to be done’
  • Be friendly and considerate as Feeler’s are ‘people-people’ and it would be easy to transgress an important value without meaning to
  • Allow emotions to come out in the sense of the Feeler may want to vent using slightly more emotional language “It’s not fair,” “That makes me feel like,” etc


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