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.