Thinking (T) versus Feeling (F) – A Marriage Made in Heaven

One of the reasons I love the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is because I have learned how the other half think.  As an extrovert (E), I now know that introverts (I) get their energy from being alone, whereas I get energy by being with others (a common misconception is that E/I refer to outgoing versus shy, respectively).  Those introverts are just not as annoying when they go escape for alone time now that I understand how they’re wired.

Same with those other MBTI dimensions.  Until I understood how others function, I would get frustrated with them because they were different from me.   Perceiving (P) folk like to keep things open-ended, but Judging (J) folk like myself like to make decisions and have closure (“why can’t you just make a decision, already?”)  Intuiting (N) folks tend to be big-picture types whereas Sensing (S) are more detail-oriented (“why do we have to keep going over the details?  It’s so BORING”).

The same holds true for those feeling (F) people.  F’s make decisions based on how a situation or decision feels, whereas  Thinking (T) people like myself make decisions based on thinking things through.   But with the T/F and all the other MBTI dimensions, not only have I learned to understand the other types, but more importantly, I appreciate and value them.  I mean – who better than a detail person to have around when you hate dealing with that stuff?  It really makes sense, when you stop feeling annoyed, that having both types provide input is ideal for the best outcome.

But the cool thing is that there is scientific evidence for the benefits of having both sides of the T/F dimension.   I know, you’re thinking:  “what possible benefit can there be to having F’s around?” (just kidding!).   Turns out there is a part of the brain that’s responsible for emotionality called the ventromedial prefontal cortex (vmPFC).  Patients that have damage to their vmPFC do not have the same emotional response to stimuli that others without brain damage have.  So while I might get excited about the idea about choosing a vacation destination, they will simply impassionately review the list of thousands of options and make a decision.

In other words, they would score off the charts on the T side of the MBTI.

They make great decisions, right?

WRONG.

Those thousands of vacation destinations have to be evaluated individually by whatever criteria the patient selects.  Imagine having to do that with every purchase at the grocery store, every turn you have to make in the car on your way to your destination.  Every decision becomes prolonged and laborious.  Now imagine having a difficult conversation with a loved one about a sensitive subject but without your emotional radar.  Imagine having to navigate a political situation at work.  As you might imagine, these patients tend to make terrible decisions or no decision at all, and have unhappy relationships.  In other words, even us unfeeling T’s rely on our emotions for even our most mundane decisions.

It’s so obvious now the value of  both T and F (and all the other MBTI dimensions), which means we don’t have to fight over different styles any more.  We also get to quit relying on only half of our brain, or half of our population for decisions and planning.  I don’t know about you but the number of brain cells in my head are not increasing, so it’s time to recruit all of them to the task.  Maybe that’s what makes us wiser in the end.

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