Energy: Intuitive vs. Observant

The second scale in our model is called Energy and it connects Intuitive and Observant styles. In our opinion, this dichotomy is the most important – while the other four scales determine how you interact with the world (Mind), make decisions (Nature), schedule your activities (Tactics), or react to external feedback (Identity), the chasm between Intuitive and Observant individuals is far more significant as it actually determines how you see the world and what kind of information you focus on. It may seem like your decisions are the most important, but a decision is only as good as the understanding that backs it up.

With this in mind, all personality types can be divided into groups of those who favor the Intuitive (N) energy style (visionary, more interested in ideas, focusing on novelty) and those of the Observant (S) energy style (more interested in facts and observable things, focusing on the tried and tested).

Individuals with the Intuitive trait prefer to rely on their imagination, ideas and possibilities. They dream, fantasize and question why things happen the way they do, always feeling slightly detached from the actual, concrete world. One could even say that these individuals never actually feel as if they truly belong to this world. They may observe other people and events, but their mind remains directed both inwards and somewhere beyond – always questioning, wondering and making connections. When all is said and done, Intuitive types believe in novelty, in the open mind, and in never-ending improvement.

One of the best examples of such thinking that we can give is the results of a study of ours where we asked people whether they wish to have been born in the Age of Discovery. It quickly became clear that the Intuitive types would be much more willing to give up the convenience, comfort and predictability of the modern age in return for excitement brought by exploration, distant civilizations, and undiscovered mysteries of the New World.

In contrast, individuals with the Observant trait focus on the actual world and things happening around them. They enjoy seeing, touching, feeling and experiencing – and leave theories and possibilities to others. They want to keep their feet on the ground and focus on the present, instead of wondering why or when something might happen. Consequently, people with this trait tend to be better at dealing with facts, tools and concrete objects as opposed to brainstorming about possibilities or future events, handling abstract theories, or exploring fantasy scenarios. Observant types are also significantly better at focusing on just one thing at a time instead of bursting with energy and juggling multiple activities.

These traits determine communication style as well – Intuitive individuals talk about ideas and have no difficulties with allusions or reading between the lines, while Observant types focus on clarity, facts and practical matters. This is why Intuitive types are likely to find it quite challenging to understand someone with the Observant trait, and vice versa. The former may even think that the latter is materialistic, unimaginative and simplistic, and the latter may see their Intuitive conversation partner as impractical, naïve and absent-minded. Both sets of assumptions can be quite damaging and it takes a mature person to get past them – but statements like these are fairly common.

Finally, it is important to point out that this scale has nothing to do with how we absorb information – Intuitive and Observant types use their five senses equally well – rather, it shows whether we prefer to focus most of our energy on looking for novel, intuitive connections or on observing and utilizing what we already see around us. If you are familiar with the Big Five personality traits, we built this scale on a reworked form of the Openness to experience concept, mostly focusing on preference for (and tolerance of) novelty and ambiguity.

Also, as discussed in our main theoretical article, there are other theories sharing these type acronyms, many of which are based on concepts defined by Carl Jung in the beginning of the 20th century. This scale is one of the most important differences between them and our model. Even though the Jungian concepts of sensation and intuition are likely to have some correlation with our Energy scale, these approaches are fundamentally different and may not be compared directly.

1 year ago
I do have a really good imagination but when it comes to expressing my ideas, I tend to go with something that has already been proved as reliable.
1 year ago
I feel the same way and btw my N/S results are between 40/60 and 60/40. I can't figure out which energy takes my dominant position. :|
1 year ago
Wow.... I never knew how accurate these results are. I have discussed with my friends and family and they all agree that I have the same personality type as Bear Grylls! I always knew I was an adventurer haha ;D
1 year ago
yes, I agree!!
1 year ago
Wow, I hadn't realized that I was an intuitive type until I read this!
2 years ago
This explains a lot to me, seeing I'm 99% intuitive, i tend to dislike very observant people for their simple, materialistic and often closed-minded mindset. These are the people making fun of me for being curious about something and shaking their heads when I do something "out of the ordinary".
4 months ago
Not all of them are close-minded. They simply like to enjoy the present more than xNxx.
2 years ago
"It quickly became clear that the Intuitive types would be much more willing to give up the convenience, comfort and predictability of the modern age in return for excitement brought by exploration, distant civilizations, and undiscovered mysteries of the New World. " That is interesting. After all, this site classifies "S" types as "Explorers". I think that at that time, the concept of sailing abroad and discovering unseen worlds wasn't especially unrealistic, and impractical. It was the hottest trend in lifestyle. Then again, as an Observer, I don't think I'd be okay giving up modern life for it :\
2 years ago
Well, looking at it from an INFP standpoint, I think it's less to do with the exploration of the place itself and more to do with the discovery of the unknown. You can easily explore a place having heard of it, but you discover a place when you know nothing about it. :) Back then, around the time of Columbus, it was a common belief that once you sailed off the horizon, you fell straight off the face of the Earth. Anything not on their maps simply "didn't exist." So whilst sailing abroad wasn't too uncommon (The English needed to for trade), the simple idea that an entire continent seemed to exist without Europe and Asia's knowledge is simply incredible. The world felt much bigger back then, and I think that's the difference. Those with N love pondering the possibilities of what used to be and what will be, whereas those with S seem to accept the known reality and accept the now and can feel perfectly comfortable in the moment. (I'm not entirely sure about the S part, just my interpretation of what I'd read from above :) )
2 years ago
As an intuitive type, I think that although discovering unseen worlds may have been realistic and practical, it's all about exciting new ideas, possibilities and visions about what these worlds could bring.
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