Everyone has the ability to think things through. Some may not like to think, but everyone has the ability. In Myers-Briggs terms, the Thinking function simply means there is a preference in finding the basic truth or principle to be applied to the situation. Specifics of the situation are not factored in. Basic is the keyword here. Thinkers like to analyze the pros and cons and then make a logical decision that is consistent with their perspective and values. The goal is actually to keep it impersonal–not allowing desires (their own or others’) influence the decision. And just as with all of the other functions we’ve examined (Sensing, iNtuition, and Feeling), a person’s preference for Extroversion or Introversion has an impact on how the Thinking function is used in decision-making.
When Thinking is introverted, there is a consistency and logic of ideas. This consistency forms an internal framework, which may be difficult to explain to others, but it provides a trustworthy process for decision-making. The introverted Thinkers who prefer this function the most are the INTPs and ISTPs. They are followed closely by the ENTPs and ESTPs who use their Thinking function to support their dominant functions of extroverted iNtuition and extroverted Sensing respectively. These four personality types only account for 16% of the population, meaning that 1 out of every 4 or 5 people you interact with will introvert their Thinking. INFJs, ISFJs, ENFJs and ESFJs round out the group to take its total to about 46% of the population. However, since their Thinking function is their third or fourth preference, it does not show up as frequently in their behavior. It is noteworthy, however, that this last half of the bunch are the extroverted Feelers who have the ability to balance their desire for harmony with and between others with their internal framework for decision-making.
The introverted Thinkers are often skilled with communication. This is because this function allows them to find just the right word to clearly express their ideas. They have a natural sense of the key characteristics of the object or idea to such an extent that they are able to use very fine distinctions in what they are trying to convey. Often, the fine distinctions are internally organized into subcategories and subprinciples. This framework then is used to analyze, problem-solve and improve on the product, process or concept.
You can observe the effects of introverted Thinking with people who are known for taking things apart or breaking the concepts down to get an accurate understanding of how it works. They turn concepts over and over in their minds, examining all sides of the issue and looking for the breakdowns or inconsistencies. Once these are uncovered, the introverted Thinker can detect the most efficient way to solve the problem, repair the damage or improve the system. Considering the super-power introverted Thinking produces, it is not surprising to find these types of people among the great scientists/inventors, philosophers, economists, military leaders and out-of-the-box entrepreneurs in our world.
Those who extrovert their Thinking function seek logic and consistency in their external world. This naturally creates a concern for or focus on external laws and rules. This is not always the same thing as being a rule follower. (Most of the extroverted Thinkers I know are toes-on-the-line kind of people, especially if the existing rules are not logical or pragmatic.) At the head of this pack are the ENTJs and ESTJs. They are followed closely by the INTJs and ISTJs who use their Thinking to support their dominant preference of introverted iNtuition and introverted Sensing respectively. ENFPs, ESFPs, INFPs and ISFPs can identify with their fellow extroverted Thinkers, although they will not tend draw heavily on this ability since it is found in their third and fourth functional preferences. This last half of the bunch are the introverted Feelers who have the ability to balance their desire for harmony in their actions, thoughts and values with the logic and consistency of the outer world. Altogether, this entire group comprises 54% of the population.
These are the natural organizers of our world. They schedule, quantify and develop plan A, B, C, D and more. They communicate their ideas through charts, tables, graphs, flow charts, outlines, gantt charts, etc. The overall result tends to be a person who is highly skilled at organizing and leading people to work efficiently and effectively. This group is very logical–whether challenging someone’s ideas, providing reasonable explanations, training others’ thought processes or following their logic. This function also helps them notice missing things or inconsistencies. Bottom line–the extroverted Thinkers are able to compartmentalize the various aspects of life so they are able to focus and do what needs to be done regardless of what else is going on around or in them. Therefore, it is probably no surprise that this group tends to be found among the leaders and managers of all types of organizations. They are the ones that keep us all in line and moving forward productively to accomplish the mission.