We all strive for a better understanding of ourselves and each other, in or out of the workplace. It doesn’t matter what level of the organization you’re at.
Sometimes we want to communicate better, and develop social relations. Sometimes we want to understand how to work better, and more efficiently.
Sometimes, you may simply have an itch to try your hand at something new, whether that means picking up new responsibilities in your current position, or taking on a completely new challenge altogether.
For years, people have been attracted to personality tests. “What kind of person am I?” Presented as a series of weighted questions, you’re given a “type”, and there you have it! You have been enlightened, the long-awaited revelation of your true inner self.
Except, not exactly. The merit of such simplified personality classifications can be (and has been) debated for as long as they’ve been around, but for many people that’s not the point.
It doesn’t matter if the tests are a snapshot of your psyche at any given time, subject to the ever-changing whims and complexities of human existence. It doesn’t matter that you might be an INFJ yesterday, and a ESFJ tomorrow (well, it sort of does, but I’m trying to make a point here).
The point is, these kinds of tests are simply tools of self-analysis and self-reflection, and process improvement. It’s up to you to use these tools to gain insight into yourself and the people around you, and if you take a measured approach and combine it with a keen understanding of the underlying principles behind the popular concept of a “personality test”, you will probably uncover something valuable.
My goal in this article is to try and provide you with a couple of useful tools to better understand yourself and the way in which you work in the form of a dive into the cognitive functions set out by Carl Jung to describe the 16 different personality types that formed the basis of his psychoanalytic and psychiatric practice.
I’ll be covering:
- What are cognitive functions?
- Why you should try to understand them
- Breakdown of Jung’s 8 cognitive functions
- How the MBTI test relates to all of this
- Applying these principles to the workplace
- A free personality test
- Using Process Street to maximize your potential
By understanding the theory and definitions behind the hugely popular Myers-Briggs test and Jung’s psychological functions that preceded it, you stand to become more familiar with your own personality and by extension, more tuned-in to why you act the way you do, say the things you say, struggle with some things, and excel at others.
You will also be able to use this insight to more readily navigate the complex social arena that is professional working life. Why do certain people act and react the way they do? How can you better appreciate the differences in and between others, and the unique strengths that each individual brings to the table?
What are cognitive functions?
“Experience has taught me that in general individuals can be distinguished not only according to the broad distinction between introversion and extraversion, but also according to their basic psychological functions” – Carl Jung, Psychological Types
Jung believed that people were born with a certain inclination, or a predisposition for behaving in certain ways. He called these predispositions “cognitive functions”, and over the years he developed his model of cognitive functions to incorporate eight separate and distinct aspects, or types of personality.
The eight functions, as Jung defined them, were made up of four separate and opposing pairs. From these pairs of opposing attitudes, Jung believed a preference for one would always prevail.
These preferences mean that we end up acting in certain ways more easily and naturally than others. They feel more natural because they correspond with the natural disposition we have to certain cognitive functions.
That’s Jung’s theory, at least.
Although these preferences may be more likely to arise in and shape our behavior, it doesn’t mean we can’t use and grow our other functions, depending on the situation.
It simply means that it will be more difficult, because using functions that we aren’t predisposed to takes more energy and focus.
Cognitive functions aren’t mutually exclusive; this isn’t about a decision between either/or. They are flexible and fluid, relating to the context of the situation we find ourselves in.
Just like how we can learn how to write with both hands, but will almost always find it’s easier to use our dominant hand.
Why should you try to understand cognitive functions?
Your ability to process information about the world around you on a daily basis will influence how you navigate and survive in the world.
It’s also a tool for understanding yourself, as well as other people.
For example, you are probably part of a team. As part of that team, it’s in your best interests to work together to achieve specific goals, and to minimize the amount of problems and mistakes in the workplace.
In this day and age, teams can be highly interdependent and self-organizing. Many teams, especially agile development teams using frameworks like scrum and kanban, need to run like a well-oiled machine.
Not only is communication crucial between teammates, but other stakeholders and customers must be effectively understood and communicated with.
Jung would argue that by understanding the various different perspectives of the individuals in your team, including strengths, weaknesses, and typical behavioral tendencies of specific types of people, you are better equipped to improve performance by using the natural strengths of each team member to your advantage.
Personality type analysis can also help towards identifying weaknesses or “blind spots” in your team.
That’s pretty much Jung’s cognitive functions in a nutshell.
Now, before we start to break down each of the individual definitions, it’s worth mentioning a couple of things.
First, this article is about the psychological definition of cognitive functions, developed by Carl Jung, and not the cognitive functions as defined by neuroscience.
Second, regarding the point of spelling of “extravert”.
The story goes that once upon a time when Carl Jung was asked which of “extrAvert” or “extrOvert” was the correct spelling, Jung’s secretary wrote back something like:
“Dr. Jung says it’s extrAverted, because extrOverted is just bad latin.
And there we have it.
Jung’s 8 cognitive functions
There’s a lot to digest here, so I’ll try and break it down.
If you look at the diagram above, you can sort of reverse-engineer it to understand where Jung’s cognitive functions are coming from.
Introverted or extraverted?
Start from the bottom, and you’ll notice that the bottom two rows are either “introverted” or “extraverted”.
That’s the simplest concept here – is the cognitive function introverted (i.e. happening inside of your head) or extraverted (i.e. happening outside of your head)?
What jung is saying is that our basic functions take on a quality determined by our base consciousness, which is either introverted or extraverted.
The four “basic” functions
Next, you’ll notice four columns:
Each of these are Jung’s basic psychological functions, or cognitive functions, and they represent the different ways that we process information.
Four, you say? But I thought there were eight?
Well, each of them will be classified as either introverted, or extraverted, and in Jung’s framework, usually one will be more dominant than the other.
So there’s eight when you factor in the “introverted” or “extraverted” variation of each.
Judging and perceiving
These four categories each fall into one of two groups, either perceiving or judging. These groups define the different ways how a person actually implements the information, after it’s been processed.
Judging is a more organizational way of processing information. People with this trait tend to be more rigid in their approaches, preferring to plan things out and follow through strictly.
Perceiving is more improvisational. Those who perceive are inclined to seek alternative methods and stray from the beaten path.
Let’s have a look at the eight different variations with a bite-size definition of each:
Sensing – Se (Extraverted Sensing)
The extraverted form of the “sensing” type, which is a “perceiving” trait.
Those who sense are tuned in to the immediate context of the actions that are happening in the physical world before them.
They are quick to notice changes and are good at recognizing opportunities.
They also tend to scan and are good at processing emotions, like visible reactions and reading the situation for “what it is”.
Sensing – Si (Introverted Sensing)
The introverted form of the “sensing” type, which is a “perceiving” trait.
Reliance on past experiences and memories, and will often tend to make astute connections between the past and present.
With this comes a wealth of accumulated data to draw from in relation to these past experiences; for example, when conversing with an individual, recalling the last interaction with an individual of similar demeanor, and using this experiential insight to their advantage.
Intuiting – Ne (Extraverted iNtuiting)
The extraverted form of the “intuiting” type, which is a “perceiving” trait.
Interpreting situations and relationships in terms of their interconnected meanings and values. “Reading behind the lines”, and being able to pick up on obscured meanings, focus more on what isn’t said as opposed to what is said, and spot patterns that aren’t immediately obvious.
Intuiting – Ni (Introverted iNtuiting)
The introverted form of the “intuiting” type, which is a “perceiving” trait.
Foresight and the ability to observe and determine the likely effects of a situation with limited external data.
Strong conceptualizer of new ways of seeing and doing things. Facilitator of transformations and a skilled visionary.
Thinking – Te (Extraverted Thinking)
The extraverted form of the “thinking” type, which is a “judging” trait.
Tendency to segment and organize with the goal of improving efficiency. Very logical and structurally-oriented thinkers.
Deep analyzers and risk managers who are always monitoring requirements and deciding whether or not something is working.
Focus on risk mitigation and avoidance, because of an understanding of the consequences involved.
Thinking – Ti (Introverted Thinking)
The introverted form of the “intuiting” type, which is a “judging” trait.
Analyzers and categorizers, but more based on their knowledge of existing principles or frameworks. Good at checking on and noticing inconsistencies (within their given model) and adept at “figuring out the principles of how things work”.
Will strive to improve their understanding of definitions and terminology, and enjoy expanding formally defined knowledge sets. Also analytically minded, but with a focus on symbolism and representation, as opposed to practical and logical thinking.
Feeling – Fe (Extraverted Feeling)
The extraverted form of the “feeling” type, which is a “judging” trait.
Connector of the dots. Thinks with the best interest of the group in mind, since they are good at perceiving and understanding the needs of others (i.e. their feelings).
Good socializers, and will perform well in a team environment. Have no problem adapting and accommodating for others, and making sound judgements about which of their actions are appropriate or acceptable to their peers.
Feeling – Fi (Introverted Feeling)
The introverted form of the “feeling” type, which is a “judging” trait.
Have strong values, and attach strong importance to these internalized sets of personal rules. Strong attachment to the idea of “truth”, and will often evaluate things based on their connection to “truth”.
Constantly seeking to clarify, test, and validate their values, and evaluating whether or not tasks are compatible with their values. Does it “feel right”?
Bonus: Function roles
These cognitive functions can be mapped to corresponding “function roles” that may help to understand the differences between each of the types.
The Myers-Briggs personality test
You’ve probably heard of the Myers-Briggs test, also known as the MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) test. It’s probably one of the most-marketed and best known personality tests to date.
This test was developed by Isabel Myers and her mother, Katharine Briggs, during the 1940s as a type of self-report questionnaire based off of Jung’s cognitive functions.
It was originally intended as a tool to help people figure out where they fitted into Jung’s theory. As such, the two frameworks depend on similar definitions of cognitive function types and can quite easily be cross-referenced.
Myers and Briggs ultimately expanded Jung’s eight types into a total of sixteen, by allowing for more flexible combinations of the four basic types.
One of the biggest (and arguably perpetual) challenges of the MBTI test is how it takes Jung’s definition of an integrated whole personality pattern, and derives from this definition a series of questions that are intended to tease out a clear picture of the personality type from the test participant.
To do this, and make their questions more definitive, they doubled down on Jung’s idea of opposing personality traits, like extraverted and introverted, and forced participants to choose between these two polar extremes.
MBTI results are presented by a four-letter code, written like INFP or ISFJ.
This approach is a more structured approach to personality assessment, because the results are dependent on fixed values that are attached to each individual answer.
It’s basically a scored system, with your final score representing the personality type you ultimately get assigned.
Jung’s original system was quite different. It wasn’t as rigidly structured, opting for a more open-ended approach that used word association and interpretation to build a more “whole” picture of the individual.
No doubt Jung’s analysis was done on a far more intimate and case-by-case basis, without the dogma of any preconceived theory or bias of any one specific test.
MBTI in the workplace
So, let’s briefly dive into the definitions for each of the MBTI profiles. As you read through the next section, try and see if you can link the MBTI definitions back to their root Jungian types.
These definitions are focused on a team-based understanding of each individual type.
ESFP (The Performer)
Fun-loving individuals that work well as part of a team. Very proficient socialites, and see teamwork as an opportunity to interact and engage in a lighthearted manner.
Perhaps not as task-driven or efficiency-obsessed as their teammates, but they will always be very receptive to the needs of others, and be happy to offer support in whatever way they can.
- Marilyn Monroe
- Elvis Presley
- Pablo Picasso
- Systems Analyst
ISFP (The Composer)
Sensitive and helpful team players who are always seeking opportunities to give back to the team, in practical and pragmatic ways.
They take pride in assisting others and providing high-quality support, and will make a point to listen carefully to all feedback given.
Very good at cooperation and will have no problem accommodating and adapting to shifting needs of the team.
Often prepared with relevant and specific data to aid their fellow teammates with any given problem.
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
- John Travolta
- Doris Day
- Customer support team lead
- Fashion designer
ESTP (The Promoter)
Enthusiastic problem-solvers who love to uncover new resources for practical solutions to hard problems.
They perform well under pressure, where their skills of adaptability and action-oriented problem solving shine.
Will often be vocal about their proposals and will jump at the opportunity to break down the actionable steps needed to solve any given problem.
- Donald Trump
- Ernest Hemingway
- Real estate broker
- Property manager
- Sales manager
ISTP (The Crafter)
Pragmatic and practical task-masters who could be summarized with the mantra “process over people”.
Keen to contribute to a team environment, preferably with actions that will give them immediate results. Very straightforward communicators and skilled at troubleshooting.
ISTP individuals will tend to get on with things without the need for team validation; they are one of the less communicative types. Rather than talk about a problem, they’re more likely to jump in and get started with working on a solution.
- Tom Cruise
- Clint Eastwood
- Michael Jordan
- Financial manager
- Private investigator
- Athletic trainer
INFJ (The Counselor)
Creative problem solvers, specifically people problems.
They are good at understanding people’s strengths and weaknesses, and as such effective at nurturing and directing human potential.
Typically they will observe and focus on processes that involve the group as a whole, and act as a mediator between differing opinions and approaches, to the end goal of drawing out a balanced and unified vision.
INFJs prefer harmony, and may have trouble in teams made up of highly contested or conflicting individuals.
- Nelson Mandela
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
- Oprah Winfrey
- HR manager
- Corporate trainer
- Environmental attorney
ENFJ (The Teacher)
Great motivators, and will facilitate collaboration and inspiration towards a group-oriented vision of progress.
ENFJs are effective communicators and mediators, often bridging gaps between opposing priorities and opinions.
They are naturally enthusiastic, and will often succeed in aligning, engaging, and encouraging individuals with their goals.
- Margaret Mead
- Martin Luther King, Jr
- Mikhail Gorbachev
- Training or development specialist
- Market research analyst
- Advertising and promotions manager
INFP (The Healer)
As the name suggests, INFPs are great at support roles and excel at understanding the different perspectives of their team.
Effective listeners, they are able to process multiple opposing points of view and are talented at figuring out an imaginative middle-ground that works for everyone.
They are adaptive, creative thinkers who are not afraid of innovation, and will be open to consideration of almost any idea, as long as it doesn’t clash too hard with their own personal values.
- Isabel Briggs Myers
- George Orwell
- J.R.R. Tolkien
- Public relations specialist
ENFP (The Champion)
Strongly grounded in their sense of values, ENFPs are charismatic and bold team players with an appetite for innovation.
They are inspired by people and their ideas, especially those with an imaginative spark. Open-minded, with little regard for the established way of doing things.
Keenly interested in the driving principles behind the ideas of their colleagues, and equally likely to advocate for outside-of-the-box thinking.
- Andy Kaufman
- Robin Williams
- Bob Dylan
- Music director or composer
INTJ (The Mastermind)
Analytical, strategic, systems-obsessed thinkers. Attention to the fine details of process management, analysis, and improvement. Always striving to optimize, and cut inefficiency out of their processes.
They excel at defining goals and aligning these goals with a clear and unified plan of action.
Highly logical and rational in their critique of ideas and project proposals, they desire the freedom to make changes necessary to facilitate their supreme agenda of process improvement and optimization.
Unsurprisingly, they do best in agile positions where flexibility and change is encouraged.
- Mark Zuckerberg
- Elon Musk
- Jeff Bezos
- Top executive
- Computer scientist
ENTJ (The Fieldmarshal)
Also known as commanders, they are the executive-minded individuals who need to feel in control.
Strategic and tactical thinkers with an intuitive sense of what needs to be done, and how, and who needs to do it.
ENTJs tend to have a clear, high-level vision of the systems and processes they are involved with. This allows them to understand and identify process improvements more readily than others.
Despite the clarity of their ideas, they may not see the value of taking the time to clearly explain their reasoning to others, instead expecting a blind devotion to their superior insight. For this reason, they may clash with individuals who have cause to question their authority.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt
- Richard Nixon
- Margaret Thatcher
- Top executive
- Sales manager
INTP (The Architect)
Able problem solvers, with a penchant for complex, difficult problems.
Their analytical, thoughtful minds attract them to the theoretical and philosophical underpinnings of their teams goals and objectives, and they can be helpful at identifying these key principles and generating innovative ideas.
INTPs are skilled at observing existing goals and solutions in order to provide their rational and objective analysis.
- Marie Curie
- Albert Einstein
- Thomas Jefferson
- Software developer
- Market research analyst
ENTP (The Inventor)
Ingenious and innovative, these individuals have an entrepreneurial spirit that drives them to seek new ideas.
They are obsessed with the “best” way to do something, and innovation excites them. Needless to say, they are not preoccupied with following rules or implementing established processes.
Rather, they see value in the pursuit of difficult problems and in exploring new and uncharted territories.
- Nikola Tesla
- Richard Fenyman
- Walt Disney
- Management consultant
- Solutions architect
- Creative director
ESFJ (The Provider)
“Balance” is perhaps the keyword of the ESFJs. They thrive in a team environment and will work towards building an environment of support for themselves and their peers.
They place importance on group participation, and will attempt to involve everyone and make sure their needs and voices are validated. ESFJs are at home in a harmonious team environment.
As task organizers, they will make efforts to hear from everyone before organizing tasks based on the needs and priorities of everyone involved.
- Mariah Carey
- Vin Diesel
- Pope Francis
- HR manager
- Advertising sales agent
ISFJ (The Protector)
Process-oriented and results-driven, ISFJs are not so much interested in leading as they are driving the group forward through their attention to detail and knowledge of optimizations and process improvements.
Effective in supporting their teammates, and receptive to the needs and differences of the individuals around them.
- Halle Berry
- Kanye West
- Elizabeth II
- Financial advisor
- Purchasing manager
- Insurance sales agent
ESTJ (The Supervisor)
With a tendency to take the reins, ESTJs are structural thinkers and good decision makers.
Clear and direct with their communication, they are able to deliver objective evaluation effectively. They don’t waste time beating around the bush.
Very results-oriented, and invested in the productivity of their team and work environment, they lead by example of hard work and process-driven organizational thinking, expecting others to follow suit.
- Lyndon B. Johnson
- James Monroe
- Andrew Jackson
- Chief financial officer
- Hotel manager
ISTJ (The Inspector)
Highly task-oriented, ISTJs are goal-oriented and task-driven individuals.
Preferring to clarify and define goals in as specific terms as possible, they seek established, proven methods for evaluating their team’s performance.
Structured systems and clearly-defined rules are core ISTJ values. They prefer an environment within which everyone has their roles and duties and they stick with those.
Highly attentive to details, and effective monitors of compliance and regulatory requirements.
- Anthony Hopkins
- George Washington
- Warren Buffet
- Financial examiner
- Purchasing manager
Here’s how the MBTI traits associate with Jung’s core cognitive functions:
Free personality test!
MBTI is arguably an oversimplification of Jung’s original types theory, but these kinds of personality assessments can be useful to gain perspective on one’s strengths and weaknesses, especially in a work or team-based setting.
The results of this test will help you understand your personality type in terms of Jung’s 8 cognitive functions, and by extension (and because the profiles are largely compatible) how they relate to the MBTI framework.
To take the test just click on the link below, but if you want to save the test to run your own versions you’ll just have to sign up for a Process Street account, which takes less than two minutes.
Once you’ve done that…
So what’s happening inside this personality test?
Well, the test is obviously presented as a Process Street checklist. The answers are calculated inside Zapier (with a few fancy functions) and then the Process Street checklist is updated with your result using our new update checklist feature.
You can see a public overview of the template here which you can easily add to your Process Street account in 1 click:
The Process Street side of things is pretty straightforward. It’s just 32 questions with answers weighted from 1 to 5, based on Eric Jorgensen’s Open Extended Jungian Types Scales 1.2 framework. The questions and results for the whole test are based on this framework.
Then things move over to Zapier, a third-party automation tool which allows you to connects thousands of different apps together. Each individual automation is called a zap and we’re going to show you how we built ours.
Inside Zapier, things get a little more interesting. We’re still using the Open Extended Jungian Types Scales (OEJTS) framework, just crunching a few numbers and using a few IF statements to get the final results.
My zap is made up of 10 steps:
Those 10 steps are basically doing four distinct things:
- Triggering the zap in Process Street, whenever the task completing the final question is checked;
- Summing all of the answer values relevant for each of the four Jungian type categories, based on the OEJTS framework;
- Doing a simple IF, ELSE statement for each of the four Jungian type categories (also based on the OEJTS framework) which gives us the result of the test;
- Returning the results of the test to the original Process Street checklist.
Step one is easy, just selecting the task that I want to trigger the results to start calculating. Logically, it’s the final task in the checklist:
Step two is also straightforward, as it’s simply looking at the OEJTS formula, and summing the values for each of the questions relevant for each of the four main types. If you’re interested in the formula, check it out again here.
To sum the values for each of the Process Street tasks, I’m using Formatter by Zapier, with the type of event set to “Numbers”.
Then, in the same step I’m using a Spreadsheet-Style Formula transformation to grab all of the relevant values and add them up:
Here’s a better look at what my formula looks like for summing up all the values:
Again, what you’re seeing here is just the result of the specific formula I was using to process the Jungian type index for the personality test result. It’s not that complicated, really.
What I get out of this summing up is a single number value for each of the four type pairs.
Step three simply looks at this number value, and runs an IF statement on it, to see if it’s greater than 24. It does this four times, for each of the type pairs.
For example, in the first pair, which is either Extraverted or Introverted, if the number is greater than 24, the result is Extraverted. If it’s not, the result is Introverted.
The same is true for the three remaining pairs.
Here’s what the zap looks like:
It’s also using Formatter by Zapier, with the event type of “Numbers”, along with Spreadsheet-Style Formatting.
As you can see, the IF logic is very simple. The value there is the result of the test from Step 2, and it’s just saying the obvious, with familiar spreadsheet-style formatting. Exactly the same as how you’d write it in Google Sheets, or Excel.
Finally, step four is as simple as specifying the location where to send the test results, which in our case is the Process Street checklist. Zapier already knows the location from step 1, so the action type is “Update Checklist”.
Pop the checklist ID in there (from step 1, the original Process Street trigger) and specify the forms you want to update with the results, and there you have it.
Using Process Street to maximize your potential
The personality test in this article was custom-built to show off our new find and search function, which works together with Zapier to make your integrations more powerful than ever.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Process Street is a BPM software designed to help you streamline your everyday tasks. It’s the simplest way to manage recurring workflows for your team.
Check out this webinar for a great overview of the power of Process Street:
More Process Street resources
We’ve written a lot of articles, on topics ranging from business process automation to social cognition:
- The Complete Guide to Business Process Management
- Ultimate Guide to Small Business Automation with Zapier
- The Ultimate Guide to Business Process Automation
- Social Cognition and How to Spot a Fraudster
- What Marketers Can Learn from Trump About The Science of Persuasion
- Nudge Theory: How to Influence Decisions Without Ads
- Digital Consumer Psychology: How to Acquire Loyal Customers for Your Startup
- The Psychology of Processes: How to Work with Imperfect Humans
We also have a lot more custom-built templates available, also completely free!
- ISO 19011:2018 Basics (8 Free Management System Audit Checklists)
- 8 Hotel Management Processes to Deliver a ⭐5 Star⭐ Experience
- Marketing Process Toolkit: 10 Checklists to Crush Your Competition
What are your thoughts on the MBTI framework, or Jung’s cognitive functions? Do you think they’re valuable tools for understanding our psyche, or mere novelty pop-science time-wasters? Let us know in the comments!