By: Stephanie Small
Published: January 4, 2013
Information according to The Meyers-Briggs Foundation Web Site
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, preference pair thinking and feeling, describes how individuals make decisions. Understanding the process by which you instinctively make decisions can help you make better choices in all areas of life – from academics to career to personal relationships.
What is Thinking?
Thinking doesn’t refer to intellect. Instead, thinking refers to a preferred mode of decision-making. Thinking types tend to make their decisions based on objective facts. They focus on truth-telling, fairness and logic, and are often irritated by inconsistencies. Sometimes, their approach can be seen as black-and-white, with very little gray area. As emotions do not often factor into their decisions, they can sometimes appear callous or unfeeling. Fortunately, they tend to be “thick-skinned”.
Thinking types may find themselves interested in careers in which logic is important, such as science, mathematics, and law. They might prefer professional settings in which decisions are reached by a measured evaluation of pros and cons, and processing is kept to a minimum.
What is Feeling?
Feeling types take individual circumstances into account when making decisions. They are more likely to decide things on a “case by case” basis rather than evaluating each situation by the exact same criteria. They aim to reach consensus and establish harmony, hoping everyone involved in the decision can benefit by its ultimate outcome. For them, how the decision is reached is just as important as the decision itself. Although compassionate, sometimes they can appear too idealistic or inconsistent, particularly because they sometimes view being tactful as more important than being brutally honest. Because of their empathy and sensitivity, they tend to be “thin-skinned”.
Both thinking types and feeling types have the capacity to thrive in a variety of environments. To some extent, the setting in which they work may be more important than the career path they choose. For instance, a thinking type may find fulfillment as a psychotherapist, as long as they work as part of a team making decisions in a clear-cut, logical, and facts-focused manner. Similarly, a Feeling type might enjoy a career as a judge, as long as they had some flexibility to use empathy and subjectivity when deciding on rulings.
There’s a tendency to either glorify or vilify these approaches to decision making. In reality, neither one is right or wrong. Both thinking and feeling are simply ways in which people prefer to operate.
Ultimately, in order to make fair and balanced decisions, it may be best for organizations or decision making teams to have representatives from both sides of this particular pairing. There are times when a more logical, clear-cut approach is called for, just as there are times when individual circumstances should be taken into account.