Understanding the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (Part 3/4): The Dichotomy of Decision Making


To catch up on what we’ve focused on so far with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), visit Part 1 (MBTI Basics and the Dichotomy of Energy) and Part 2 (The Dichotomy of Learning).

The dichotomy of decision making

The MBTI’s third dichotomy, Thinking & Feeling, measures how we make decisions in and about our lives. The meanings of each of these letters are often the most misunderstood.

T for Thinking
Thinkers are known for logical thought processes and wanting to be “fair.” You enjoy the technical side of things and don’t let personal feelings play into your decision-making process. This sometimes means you forget the people involved with the situation, and because of that you may be regarded as indifferent or cold. You want to decide in favor of the truth in all matters. You might also be drawn toward the technical and scientific fields where logic is king.

F for Feeling
As a Feeler your decisions are typically made based on the points-of-view of the people involved with the situation. The truth is important to you, but you’ll beat around it if it will hurt someone’s feelings. Harmony is key, and you dislike making people go against their values or morals. You may often be referred to as “mushy” or “overly-sentimental,” and you can be incredibly idealistic. You are driven to be compassionate and considerate of other opinions, even when the logical decision would be easiest.

The problem with these two letters is that Feeling is often equated with “emotions,” and that is not accurate. Both Thinkers and Feelers have emotions about decisions that they make; the difference is that Thinkers will ultimately make their conclusion based on logic and what they believe to be fair, while Feelers will more highly consider the people that will be affected by the decision. And remember, no one is fully one or the other, so Thinkers will sometimes make more “Feeler” decisions and vice versa.

A good tip for both Thinkers and Feelers about making decisions is to examine the decision you make through the eyes of whatever type you aren’t. This can allow more dominant Thinkers to see the personal side of the situation and can lend a more objective view of a situation to prominent Feelers.

Tomorrow: Judging & Perceiving, the dichotomy of lifestyle

For more information, please visit the Myers-Briggs Foundation. To take an online “MBTI-lite” assessment, you may refer to HumanMetrics or SimilarMinds.

Photo by: Jackie Long