Dreamcatchers: Introverted vs. Extraverted Intuition

Japanese fan unfoldedThe protagonist in my novel-in-progress is an ENFP. With her dominant extraverted intuition, she’s constantly looking for new possibilities. A defense lawyer, she’s driven by a desire to help her clients make a better life. Her concept of reality is fluid: she moves effortlessly between what is and what could be. She can entertain contradictory ideas at the same time. She  envisions many different ways in which a scenario could play out. Before she makes a decision, she consults her family and friends to winnow her ideas.

In some ways, my protagonist is my alter ego. I’m an INFJ, so my dominant function is introverted intuition. Introverted intuition is also fueled by possibility. But unlike extraverted intuition, it seeks to build a unified internal vision, then make that vision a reality. I understand the world by looking for connections, by taking seemingly disparate ideas and combining them. I’m excited by those “aha” moments when I find the missing piece to the jigsaw puzzle and the picture becomes clear. I zealously pursue my new understanding and seek to incorporate it into my life. Like ENFPs, I also see reality as fluid, but I limit myself to adopting one version of it. I find too many choices to be immobilizing. I generally make decisions on my own, or I may consult one other person if I’m really struggling.

To my mind, extraverted intuition is like opening a Japanese fan, and introverted intuition is like closing it. Introverted intuition looks at all the possibilities and homes in on the one likely to produce the best outcome. Extraverted intuition starts with a single point then fans out, pulling ideas from all directions.

All types use intuition, including those who prefer sensing. Types with an NJ or SP preference have introverted intuition, while those with an NP or SJ preference use extraverted intuition. When intuition is not in the dominant position, it plays a supporting role, bringing a new perspective to old ideas.

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9 thoughts on “Dreamcatchers: Introverted vs. Extraverted Intuition

  1. You sound very similar to me in my decision making. I’m an INFJ, I tend to home in on one thing as well. Kind of difficult because reality is extremely fluid and the one thing you home in on may not last. On the other hand, it allows you to have a high degree on concentration. Hope your novel comes out well. I’m a law student right, I might be changing into a more suitable INFJ profession like music or writing. Let me know if you need any help!

    1. Thanks, Abhi. While most lawyers are Thinking types, NFs can find satisfaction as lawyers as long as their work allows them to engage their personal values, such as by fighting for civil rights or protecting the environment. Good luck!

  2. one of the better explanations I’ve discovered about the differences between these two – I once long ago got hooked on it (by It I mean this personality stuff), and somehow wriggled free, finally, eventually. But it somehow snuck up again and it’s really hard to quit – again. Wasn’t getting the Ni/Ne too good. But I think I see it better. Thanks for writing this.

      1. oh but there is a bit of bad news now about all this – I’ve gotten addicted again. Scouring articles and lurking on forums.

        The reason it’s not such good news is that it’s cutting into my writing. I should have poetics on my mind instead of ‘am I INTP or ISTP or INFP or….?

        So when you have a few spare moments, if you could take a glance at the writings I’ve posted on my blog….?

        As a side note: I am an older fellow and I’ve read it can be more mind-boggling to nail a type down because of an accumulation of life experiences.

        All at your leisure of course.

      2. (one more thing and I’ll quit)
        and it seems like a lot of the online descriptions are aimed at the 20-somethings/millennials? Something seemed to click the other day: Tim, these articles are not talking about you or to you. 🙂

  3. Oh yes, the older you get, the more skilled you become at using your non-preferred functions, so the more difficult it is to figure out your “natural” preferences. In that case, I think looking at whole type and the dominant/auxiliary functions can make it easier to figure out your true type.

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