Mind: Intuitive (N) vs. Observant (S)

Thought at Every Scale

Our second personality scale includes the Intuitive (N) and Observant (S) styles. These traits describe what people are more likely to do with the information gathered from the world around them. Intuitive personality types rely on imagining the past and future potential of what they see. Those with the Observant style are more interested in observable facts and more straightforward outcomes. They prefer to avoid layering too much interpretation on what they see.

91% of those with the Intuitive trait say they like to discuss different views and theories of what the world could look like in the future, compared to 55% of those with the Observant trait.

Being Intuitive doesn’t mean someone can’t be practical, and being Observant doesn’t mean a lack of imagination. They both use their minds and their physical senses well. The difference is the spin they put on their experiences – it’s where their thinking goes after an encounter with their environment. If Intuitive personality types appreciate Observant types’ practicality, and Observant personality types appreciate Intuitive types’ imaginative perspective, they can complement each other in ways that make for unbeatable partnerships.

59% of those with the Observant trait say they prefer art that has a clear theme, message, or meaning over art that is vague and leaves too much to interpretation, compared to 38% of those with the Intuitive trait.

Intuitive (N) Personality

Eyes on the Horizon

People with the Intuitive trait prefer to exercise their imaginations as they seek new ideas and possibilities. They live their day-to-day lives just like any other personality type. But while that’s happening, their minds tend to point inward while at the same time gently focusing somewhere beyond the horizon. Their lives are ones of questioning, wondering, and connecting the dots in the “bigger picture,” and they love the theoretical. They often ask, “What if?” and ponder the possibilities the future might hold.

88% of those with the Intuitive trait say they spend a lot of time thinking about “What if?” scenarios, compared to 63% of those with the Observant trait.

But Intuitive people aren’t always the most practical, preferring instead to give things deeper meaning. There may be a long wait as these personality types allow their imaginations free rein. They may also leap in too quickly to more complex matters. An entire theory can come together in moments, leaving others confused. In either case, they can appear out of touch to the Observant individuals in their lives. For some Intuitive folk, there may be some truth to this observation.

“Things are only impossible until they’re not.”

Jean Luc Picard, Star Trek: The Next Generation

That said, when there’s a need for innovation or a different perspective, people with Intuitive personality types can usually step up and provide a new direction. Practicality can sometimes be overrated, especially when a situation calls for serious change and “coloring outside the lines.” This is where Intuitive people shine. They bring interesting dimensions to life beyond everyday ideas – and take those who decide to go along with them.

83% of those with the Intuitive trait say their minds often drift off during a conversation, compared to only 58% of those with the Observant trait.

Observant (S) Personality

Do What Works

The phrase “real-time” was created with Observant individuals in mind. They’re most in touch with what occurs in front of them, in the present. This doesn’t mean Observant personality types have no regard for the past and future. But they view both from the perspective of how each influences their present actions. This makes them focused and practical people. They mostly root their thinking in the actionable, tangible, and useful. But make no mistake, these personalities can be creative within that realm.

71% of those with the Observant trait say simplicity is more beautiful than complexity, compared with 52% of those with the Intuitive trait.

One challenge people with the Observant personality trait may face is a too-narrow perspective. They may reject far-reaching solutions in favor of something more obvious. By continuing something that appears practical at arm’s length but doesn’t fit the bigger picture, they might reduce their hard work to busywork.

These practical individuals are the ‘doers’ of society.

People with the Observant trait are often a steadying force that tends to get things done. Their energy is very “hands-on” in the sense of working on real things in real-time. While they’re often smart people, spending a lot of time sitting around and pondering possibilities doesn’t cut it for Observant personality types. They want thoughts and talk to lead to action.