Extroversion (E) and introversion (I)
Let us start with the first dichotomy – extroversion (E) and introversion (I). It is usually said that extroverts are popular, outgoing, talkative individuals; introverts, on the other hand, are quiet, withdrawn and contemplative. More often than not, this is quite accurate – but do not rush. These differences in communication skills and habits stem from a much deeper level, as extroverts and introverts have different energy flows and thought processes. Some researchers even suggest that the brains of extroverts and introverts process information differently at the physical level.
Extroverts make their decisions by looking at the events, people and objects in the outside world; introverts rely on the ideas and thoughts coming from their inner world. Extroverts draw energy from the action itself – they take a step, then stop and think, and then take another step. As soon as they stop being active, their energy levels and motivation start declining. Introverts, on the other hand, lose energy while being active – they prefer to think, then take a step, then think again. Their thought process is based on various concepts and ideas; extroverts direct their thoughts toward other people and objects. Extroverts think “wide”, seek action, while introverts think “deep”, and seek reflection.
There is another obvious difference between extroverts and introverts that can be used to determine a personality type – actions around other people. Extroverts gain energy from being among people and lose it when they are alone. Introverts, on the other hand, draw energy from being alone with their own thoughts and lose that energy talking to other people. If one of your friends keeps quiet during the entire discussion and then throws an interesting idea into the mix or gives an excellent summary of the debate, while another one has no difficulties expressing their thoughts and it seems that he thinks while talking, it is a safe bet that the former is an introvert and the latter is an extrovert personality type.
It is also sometimes possible to guess with a reasonable accuracy whether someone is an extrovert or an introvert just by looking into their eyes. Introverts’ eyes are usually slightly slanted and their eyelids often cover the upper half of the eye and even part of the iris. Furthermore, introverts have a rather distinct, absorbing gaze, as if “taking in” someone else’s thoughts rather than radiating their own. Extroverts tend to have more open, warmer eyes, radiating interest and curiosity.
Sensing (S) and intuition (N)
The dichotomy of sensing (S) and intuition (N) determines how someone gathers and interprets information. Personality types with a strong S trait rely on information that is new, tangible and clear – in other words, they need something that they can check using their five senses. S personalities do not trust intuition, always seeking details and facts – everything else is not that meaningful.
Intuitive personality types behave quite differently. They trust the information that is more abstract or even theoretical, aiming to link it with other available sets of data (for instance, trying to establish a link or a pattern). These personality types are more interested in future opportunities and insights that seem to flow from their subconscious mind. There are few things more pleasant to the intuitive mind than seeing some data fill in an existing pattern or a template, especially if they were the ones who discovered that pattern in the first place.
This dichotomy results in quite dissimilar communication styles. Sensors prefer facts, directness and clear ideas, avoiding metaphors and hidden meanings. Intuitive types, on the other hand, typically use more complex sentences, expecting the other person to determine the links between different thoughts, connecting them with the bigger picture. In all likelihood, you will never hear an S person say, “You are not reading between the lines”.
It is quite difficult to determine which one of these two traits is dominant, therefore we would suggest tackling other dichotomies first.
Thinking (T) and feeling (F)
Thinking (T) and feeling (F) traits highlight the different decision-making or evaluation methods used by the 16 personality types. In order to determine which trait is dominant, you will have to observe how the individual in question makes their decisions.
Individuals with a dominant F trait tend to make their decisions only after they have immersed themselves in a particular situation, understood all nuances and perspectives, passed everything through their own inner filter and made sure that the decision will help achieve harmony, consensus and balance, satisfying the needs of everyone involved.
In contrast, T personality types try to approach the situation from a more neutral position, trying to find a rational and logical decision that would not violate any existing rules or patterns. Consequently, this dichotomy between thinking and feeling is reflected in communication styles – F personalities are warmer, emphatic and more passionate, keeping their emotions close to the surface; T personalities have a distinguishably “colder” gaze, putting rationality and logic above any emotional argument, no matter how convincing.
Judgment (J) and perception (P)
Judgment (J) and perception (P) traits are usually the easiest ones to decipher. They determine the lifestyle of an individual. J personality types prefer closure, structure, planning and caution; P types are more spontaneous, “going with the flow” and trying to avoid rules and structures, leaving questions open rather than dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.
This particular dichotomy is often reflected in the choice of clothing (some personality types are an exception). J types tend to choose more structured and conservative clothes, paying more attention to this process. P personalities, on the other hand, may sometimes look a bit messy, but they are happy to experiment and try something new.