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Mistyping: Is your natural preference Thinking or Feeling?

Mistyping: Is your natural preference Thinking or Feeling?

By Donna Dunning

Having worked with personality type for about 25 years, I have come to recognize how difficult it can be to sort out who you really are from all the personal, societal, and situational pressures to act and react in certain ways.

Several of my clients and workshop participants have struggled to separate what is natural for them from what they have learned to do. Here are some points that might make it easier to figure out your natural preference.

We all use Thinking and Feeling

The question, really, is not – Are you a thinker or a feeler? Although people do talk like this as a short hand for describing their preference, the reality is that we all spend some of our time using Thinking (logically analyzing data) and using Feeling (evaluating data more personally).

Rather, to understand your personality type preferences, one question you might ask yourself is:

What’s fair?

What is fair?

Most people want to be fair. However, fairness can look different for those who prefer Thinking than for those who prefer Feeling.

When using a Thinking approach, fairness tends to equate to being consistent. For example, when making a decision, equal treatment and fairness occur when you consistently apply a defined set of criteria to everyone.

Does someone get a benefit, admittance to a program, or suffer a punishment? Just apply the criteria and make a yes or no decision. This is clearly fair and equitable.

However, the Feeling approach isn’t as clean or obvious to apply. The Feeling decision-making approach emphasizes and considers the personal situations and needs of the people involved in the decision.

For example, as a teacher you may make it a classroom rule to only accept late assignments when the student lets you know before the deadline that they cannot complete the assignment on time.

Logically, using a purely Thinking approach, this rule should be applied in all situations.

Using the Feeling approach, exceptions can be made if the rule is not serving the people involved.

Everyone Seeks Consistency and Compassion

Most people easily recognize the need to incorporate both logical and personal considerations into their evaluations and decisions.

I imagine most people, no matter what their type preferences, would bend this rule in dire circumstances. People who prefer Thinking are not cold or callous.

There are also few people who prefer Feeling that would be comfortable operating in situations where there were no logically defined rules or criteria for decisions. Choices would be chaotic and arbitrary.

Only You Know for Sure

Your challenge is to determine which approach is primary and more natural for you and which approach is a secondary, learned way to evaluate a situation and make a decision.

Our society generally socializes women toward taking a Feeling approach and men toward a Thinking approach. Likely this socialization process influenced how you tend to express and use these preferences. This may make it more confusing when trying to figure out your best-fit preference.

Neither approach is better. The best approach is one that trusts and uses your natural preference while acknowledging and incorporating the other side of the dichotomy.

For more information on why you might complete an inaccurate self-assessment, see my Why Validate Your Type post.

You may find it helpful to read more about Thinking and Feeling on these posts:

What’s Your Preference: Thinking or Feeling

Working with Your T/F Preferences

Connecting Personality Type to Communication: T/F Differences

What’s Your Type?

Learn about your personal approach on our What’s Your Type? page where we’ll introduce you to personality type and the 8 Ways of Working.



This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 21st, 2012 at 9:53 am and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

6 Responses to “Mistyping: Is your natural preference Thinking or Feeling?”

  1. ENFJ vs ENTJ says:

    […] Check out these blog articles on T vs F from psychologist and MBTI professional, Donna Dunning: Mistyping: Is your natural preference Thinking or Feeling? | Dunning Personality Type Experts What’s Your Preference, Thinking or Feeling? | Dunning Personality Type Experts […]

  2. […] Though this is just one person's opinion, this is what Donna Dunning has to say about fairness: Mistyping: Is your natural preference Thinking or Feeling? | Dunning Personality Type Experts "However, the Feeling approach isn’t as clean or obvious to apply. The Feeling […]

  3. Linarella says:

    Is it possible for someone to natuarlly have no preference at all.
    I just can’t figure out my natural preference.

  4. Donna Dunning says:

    Hi Linarella,

    The personality type model assumes that people do have a preference for either Thinking or Feeling. It is a theory – so it is certainly possible that someone does not fit into this dichotomous way of being/acting. As I describe in the article, there are lots of reasons why someone may actually have a preference, but might have difficulty sorting out what is natural from what has been learned or rewarded (or punished) through experience. Of course, everyone uses both Thinking and Feeling and if you are comfortable applying both (or neither) equally when evaluating and making decisions, then that is the information that is important for you to know! If I knew your other preferences (I am assuming you are only questioning T/F?) then I could give you some information about how the decision making pair of T/F tend to interact and develop in the whole type theory. Hope this is helpful.

  5. ipek says:

    I took lots of tests and i still cannot decide whther i am an INTP or INFP. I mean i do not really care much about ‘harmony’ or other people’s feelings when involved in certain tasks etc., and i value logic; but i am also an idealistic person or sometimes a dreamer, in particular i imagine/ dream about a lot about my own life etc.; still i cannot fully say that my head is over the clouds. Sometimes i like sticking to a certain schedule; other times i love being spontaneous. So it all depends…And i don’t know towards which side i lean the most…

  6. Donna Dunning says:

    Yes, I agree it can be tricky to figure out your natural preferences because we all adapt to our situations as necessary. I find it useful to think about what drives you… for INFPs it is often living authentically and for INTPs it is often about analyzing interesting and complex problems. (of course this is a simplified, general difference.) Here are a couple of posts that might help you figure out the Thinking or Feeling.

    Finding the Motivation to Grow your Career INTP

    Finding the Motivation to Grow your Career INFP

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