Redefining MBTI's Judging and Perceiving with Neuroscience

  • Published: 03-18-2015 Edited: 03-18-2015
  • Are you a Judger or a Perceiver? If you’re like me, the tests might be unable to score you properly. When I took my first MBTI test, I scored as a perceiver (INFP), but luckily, I knew professionals in the field, and they were able to help me sort out that I actually had J. Over time, I’ve always found the dichotomy problematic, and so do many others.

    Redefining Execution and Processing

    Execution and Processing are the two most well-researched dichotomies in neuroscience. It most closely seems to correlate to the Judging and Perceiving dichotomies in the MBTI, but there are many key differences. Neuroscience suggests that execution and processing is apparent in most of our daily life situations and in most of our mental networks, while the MBTI dichotomy only focuses on extroverted differences between the two functions.

    The MBTI has somewhat accurate, testable criterias, such as being so focused on a goal that you tend to miss out on new information, but also biased definitions, such as wanting to make to-do lists, which generally applies more to a particular form of execution that not all personality types have. Another criteria used in the MBTI, difficulty making decisions and finalizing choices, seem completely uncovered in research on Execution and Processing in neuroscience, in fact, it's most probably more related to the Affective and Cognitive states in neuroscience.

    So why has the MBTI struggled so much to understand the Judging and Perceiving dichotomy?
    Truth is, there is a difference between Thinking Judgers and Feeling Judgers. Thinking in Neuroscience refers to the task-positive state, and the fascinating thing about this state is that you tend to use Thinking whenever you have an organized task (or to-do list) on your mind. Whenever you give someone an order, like “Do the dishes.” you tend to use the task-positive networks in your brain. And this implies that a Feeling Execution state (*FJ) is generally not involved in direct orders, schedules, list-making and other similar activities. Instead, *FJs allocate most of their executive activity to social, nonspecified tasks, in a network called the Default-Mode network.

    Feelers in Neojungian Typology don’t store information and memories as tasks. Feelers store memories as experiences, so called episodic memories, and rather than using direct instructions, feelers use experiences as methods of pushing and pulling themselves towards particular tasks and activities. You could explain the difference as the difference between following literal instructions (Thinking) compared to following an unspecific memory of an experience, like how it would feel like if you came late to work and your co-workers started shaming you for it. (Sounds different from how Feeling and Thinking is defined in the MBTI, right? Still, I'm sure that Carl Jung was trying to explain just this, though with the limited knowledge on psychology that existed when he lived.)

    I propose that the whole dichotomy should be revamped with the use of modern research to help come up with a more easily operated definition of the concepts. Execution and Processing should be redefined as networks that play an important role on most of our everyday behavior, and all of our unctions, introverted as well as extroverted. Below are my suggestions of definitions for the Execution and Processing states.

    The Execution State

    The Execution state allows for holding alot of information in your mind, in your mental ‘working memory’, and being able to hold this information in your head despite of outer distractions and new information. In an execution state, you are able to browse over mental information, at the expense of becoming less flexible to new information. The execution state helps for making us remain focused during our everyday activities. People in Execution states will generally only process information that is relevant to their goals, and so, they will be less influenced by rewards and negative feedback that exists outside the scope of their focus. As a result, Execution states can get exhausted if they are unable to complete their goals or if they set unrealistic expectations, and execution states overall require more downtime than Processors. Execution plays a role by actively directing and organizing people around you, by distributing tasks and experiences that people can process. Execution works the best at the end of our day, as we tend to accumulate more information in our working memory the longer we are awake.

    The four forms of Execution are:

    Abstract Organic Execution of semantic (verbal) experiences (NFJ)
    Abstract Mechanic Execution of semantic (verbal) tasks (NTJ)
    Concrete Organic Execution of nonverbal experiences (SFJ)
    Concrete Mechanic Execution of nonverbal tasks (STJ)

    The Processing State

    If Execution functions metaphorically like working memory, the processing state is the processor. Processing is involved in taking in and adapting to new information. Processors tend to reintrepret the environment over and over again, scanning it for changes and new activities, and processors tend to be wired to overall faster assessments and a higher scope of unbiased perception. In general, processors tend to be alot more inviting to people who want to share their experiences with them. We all engage the easiest in processing at the beginning of the day, as we have the least information on our head at this time. Processing is important when learning new tasks, but not just in taking in information. Processing plays a role in overall evaluation of behavior, for example making quick judgements on the information we take in, having an overall easier time assessing the validity of information. The four forms of Processing are:

    Abstract Organic Processing of semantic (verbal) experiences (NFP)
    Abstract Mechanic Processing of semantic (verbal) tasks (NTP)
    Concrete Organic Processing of nonverbal experiences (SFP)
    Concrete Mechanic Processing of nonverbal tasks (STP)

    Ending remarks

    The Execution and Processing networks are found to be anti-correlated to one another, but studies on implicit and explicit behavior in the brain shows that high activity in one anti-correlated network, tends to lead to lower activity in the other network. Low activity in a network shows that the network is unconscious, and that we experience it on auto-pilot, as vibes. High activity shows that it is conscious, and that we have an easier time realising it’s effect on our behavior, and that we can have more advanced reactions to said network.

    Which state do you use the most often? Did you find this article helpful? Feel free to use this list of traits down below to help make up your mind.

    Execution states (E)

    • In which they browse through a list of their current goals or judgement to understand what tasks & what information is currently in their mind.
    • Proactively avoiding things which would cause interference with goals or targets. Proactively focusing on things which sustains goal or target in consciousness.
    • Understanding information through an established bias, a priority rating, and their set up judgements on the information.
    • Pushing others in some direction, directing or controlling a group or objects towards their goals.
    • Become drained or deenergized whenspending too long in an execution state, require down-time to regain system balance.
    • Find it difficult coping with unpredictable environments which require adaptive behavior.

    Processing states (P)

    • In which they understanding and assess new information to get a more clear image of a new situation, while alerting others in the room to the existance of the new information.
    • Trying to gather as much information as possible, without ruling out or considering any information to be of less importance.
    • Trying to avoid biased judgements that might limit their understanding of someone’s argument, setting aside previous knowledge to reform their mind when listening to or studying someone.
    • Attracting others to freely share their ideas and thoughts with them, by adapting to their needs and goals.
    • Find it difficult to maintain a decision or a plan when distracted.
    • Find it difficult coping with highly predictable environments which require internally generated goals or targets.