Getting Along: Thinking Vs. Feeling

My picture name"What do you think of President Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky?" I asked a woman this morning.

"I think he was a stupid pig," she replied. Harsh, but maybe that is one of the kindest things said about him by his detractors. They saw him as being a moral disaster, unfaithful, a potential home wrecker. I have never met him or expect to do so and for all I know they may be right. They saw him as not just having made a mistake in judgment, but as being a liar, a cheat, and unfit to be president.

Perhaps they are right. Maybe he is all of those things, but I think his affair may also be at least partially explained by his personality type.

Last week I asked whether you are a sensing type (down to earth and practical), or intuitive (imaginative and creative). Sensing types take in information through their five senses. Intuitives take in information from their sixth sense, they just know things. Ideas and projects just pop into their heads, apparently out of nowhere. What do we do with this information that we take in either with our intuition or our sensing? We decide what to do with it either with our heads or our hearts. Do you know which way you lean? Let’s take a look at these two ways of deciding. Here is another quiz to help you get more of an idea where you fit.

Are you a head person (a thinking type)? Do you:

  • Analyze cause and effect?
  • Enjoy developing systems and principles?
  • Seek to understand what you perceive?
  • Be somewhat detached from the thing being analyzed?
  • Be objective and logical, seen as critical and questioning?
  • Be better at trouble shooting then accommodating?

What is your thinking score? Does this sound like you or no? The reason I brought up President Clinton is that a thinker can be such a “head person” that when their heart cuts in, it can get them into deep trouble. It happens to a lot of “head people,” for example lawyers, professors, business people, and programmers. What happens is they're just going through life, dealing with situations in a very rational way, sorting things logically in their mind and totally ignoring their feeling side (values and emotions) and then they'll meet someone and their neglected feeling side breaks through and they end up doing things they never would otherwise. This may not have been the case with President Clinton, but it sounds very much like a classic case.

If you are on the other end of the scale, you are a heart person (a feeling type). See if this quiz fits you. Do you:

  • Warm people with your presence?
  • Desire harmony and welfare of others?
  • Tend to be sympathetic, appreciative and tactful?
  • Function best at jobs dealing with people?
  • Tend to be sensitive to praise and criticism?
  • Get cooperation by good will?

What is your feeling score? Is this you or somebody else? People who are marked thinkers function very differently from those who are marked feeling types. The best way to separate the two is to think that thinkers focus largely on what is logical (does this make sense?) and feeling types focus on their values (is it kind, generous, fair, etc.?).

At their worst, heart people say head people are heartless, stony hearted, and have ice in their veins. But they are wonderful people. In contrast, at their worst, head people say that heart people are soft headed, can’t take a firm stand, stand up to opposition, are too emotional, illogical and fuzzy. But they're good people too.

In the same way that intuitives do not trust their own sensing side and sensing types do not trust their intuitive side, heart people tend not to trust their heads and head people tend not to trust their hearts. This distrust of their other side tends to get carried over to people of the opposite type, i.e., they may not trust or get along with people of the opposite type. I do not trust my head, so I do not trust your heady approach to life. You do not trust your heart, so you do not trust my heartfelt approach to life. You big meany!

This antagonism is everywhere: at work, at home, in all our relationships. The only thing that I know that works, is for each type to accept themselves and to accept others as being different, to understand that everyone has strengths and can bring something to the table. We need to recognize and treasure our own type, but also to give others a chance to affirm their type. If we are able to do that, our business, as well as personal lives, will go on much smoother.

Henry Sharam

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No offense to intuitives

No offense to intuitives (who may be better suited to creative pursuits or making great scientific break throughs), but would it be fair to say that Bush is probably not a thinker? (You don't have to answer that.)

Slightly off topic, but I'd take a potential home wrecker over war monger as leader of the free world any day.

Is there any empirical proof to show that thinkers are more likely to be unfaithful? just curious. I would say it's a case of not thinking as much as not feeling. I tend to think most people are little of both (thinker and feeler), and few can said to be at far ends of the extreme. It probably not fair to judge people on their public persona alone.

Politics aside...

Saying that someone is "not a thinker" in this personality typing system is not the same as saying they're dumb or stupid. As Henry makes clear, it's a question of how we come to decisions, not intelligence.

The question about whether certain personality types are more likely to be unfaithful is valid, though. One can also ask about personality type distribution among criminals -- not to say that a certain type causes crminial behavior, but perhaps to help design programs to reduce recidivism.

Do you procrastinate?

Did I say anyone was dumb?

Did I say anyone was dumb? Forgive me if it was implied. I can think of a great many intuitives with genius IQ in any number of categories.

Quote for the day:

Karl Rove characterized the typical Democrat as "somebody with a doctorate ... people who imbibed the values of the sixties and seventies and stuck with them."

Ugh, don't mention politics

After the Canadian Christmas federal election, I'm all politiced out:)

I'm not sure if you can say any one type is more likely to commit one crime or another, because it's not that kind of system. People have been trying for decades to determine some kind of psychological or physical trait that would let them determine whether someone will be a criminal, but I doubt this is it.

I think Dad's point (and he can jump in here if I'm off) is that someone who is a strong thinker can loose themselves in their undeveloped side, feeling, in another person. It happens everyday that someone is going along through life just fine and then they meet someone who carries their other side and they seem to go crazy for a while, but relationships are so complicated that I don't think you could use type to say someone will or won't cheat. You could say that, where I'm a strong intuitive feeling type, you really, really don't want to lend me money.

Steve Sharam

I'm definitely a feeler but

I'm definitely a feeler but have always envied analytical people. It's interesting to go to a museum with an analytical friend and compare our ways of observing the exhibits. They may discuss the artist's technique, the historical background and where this work fits in (which usually bores me), whereas I think about how I feel, the emotional effect, the "story" the artist was telling. I feel that I'm more involved in this particular experience, this particular work, than my analytical friend is, who is picking it apart and thinking about all the things that made it what it is. Unless we're experiencing something that I have some background or particular interest in, I wouldn't think about why it's what it is, but would perhaps imagine myself in that situation, wonder about the story behind the image.

I don't think it has anything at all to do with intelligence. Analytical types take longer to come to the same conclusions, but they can discuss their conclusions and the process they use to come to those conclusions more easily than I can. It's hard to persuade analytical people, because as an intuitive I don't have the step by step process that I used to arrive at a conclusion, and which the academic and work environment require. (Or at least I don't have the ability to express that--probably because I gave up years ago as futile.) But I've always felt that I arrive at the solution to a problem much more quickly than the analytical types do. I've seen it referred to as a gestalt process--we just take things in and somehow process them in a way that collapses the steps.

I definitely think about things, but I think about them in a different way than "thinkers" do. And I know they feel things, too, but not in the same way that I do.

I wonder if I'm alone, or if others are feeling the same.

Sounds right to me

Intuitives collapse the steps, yeah, that sounds about right. As an artist and an intuitive feeler, I find that I'll create a work largely out of inspiration and then thinkers will come along and see all these elements and steps in it that I honestly never saw. Sometimes I'm sure it's just coincidence (thogh I try to just keep my mouth shut and look as wise as possible), but often I realise after they're pointed out that my intuition has crunched all these things down so that I couldn't see them, but they're still there. It's really the opposite side of the coin from a sensing thinker and you can see why intuitives sound crazy, because nobody can see our process.

Steve Sharam

head and heart

Great discussion!
Bush and Clinton. My guess is that Bush is a thinker because he seems to function out of his head, but I don't know for sure. Clinton is the smart one for sure. He was a Rhodes scholar after all.
But intellegence does not depend on type. There are smart and slow people in all groups. Where I was coming from is that we all tend to take our first function for granted. Where we get into trouble is in our forth function. What tends to happen is that our forth function kind of erupts seemingly out of nowhere and gets us into trouble. For a head person is it is the heart that does that . For a heart person it is the head. Clinton's heart certainly got him into trouble.
Deciding quickly is what I will be talking about next week. Generally it means that one's extroverted function is either thinking of feeling, not sensing or intuition.

Type and Infidelity

Just to throw this out there, I do a lot of mentoring in an infidelity support group, and one where the subject of personality type has come up many, many times over the four years I've been there.

I can say pretty unequivocally that the likelihood of cheating is not tied to personality type. There are a lot of really complicated factors involved. In my observations, type may have an effect on who you cheat with or why, but it doesn't really increase or decrease the likelihood.


Couldn't agree with you more. I am not suggesting that thinkers cheat more than other types but that they tend to cheat because of a certain kind of eruption from the unconscious. Many of our difficulties in life arrive because ofthis eruption from our least developed function. In the thinkers case that is his heart. In the intuitives it is his sensing. In the sensers it is the intuitive. When our fourth function errupts it is usually very raw and undifferentiated, unlike the person for whom it is their first function. When it does erupt it tends to do wo with great, almost magical, power.