Are You a Sensor or an Intuitive?

More confusion probably exists regarding Sensors (S) and Intuitives (N) than any other type. Extraverts (E) and Introverts (I) are easy to tell apart. So are Thinkers (T) and Feelers (F). The labels themselves are giveaways. Perceiving (P) and Judging (J) require a bit of observation to figure out. Is the person usually late for deadlines and appointments? Does he or she avoid making final decisions on things as long as possible? That’s typical of a Perceiver. Judging types rarely miss deadlines and are seldom late for appointments. They verge on compulsive. They make decisions easily because they prefer closure to open-ended situations. You don’t have to know the Judger or Perceiver for long to figure out which type they are.  The Sensing and Intuitive types are more elusive.

Sensing Type

• Sensors prefer being involved in the here and now rather than thinking about what’s next. They would rather do things than think about them.

• They like tasks with tangible outcomes rather than vague promises. They’d rather pressure-wash the driveway themselves than look around for a budget-friendly handyman to do the job.

• They believe that “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” If the toaster isn’t working the way it used to, it’s better to improvise to get the desired outcome than take it apart or to an appliance repair person.

• Sensors prefer dealing with facts and figures, not abstract ideas and theories. They like to hear about things in a logical order, not randomly.

• They read magazines from front to back rather than diving into them anywhere.

• They dislike it when people give them vague instructions rather than stepwise details. “Here’s the overall plan. We’ll discuss the details later,” is the type of communication that frustrates them.

• Sensors are literal in their use of words. If they say, “Be careful. The coffee is boiling hot,” it probably is. The Intuitive might mean that the coffee is just uncomfortably warm.

• At work, Sensors focus on their own jobs and responsibilities rather than their importance to the overall organization.

Intuitive Type

• Intuitives can think about several things at the same time. They’re often accused of being absent-minded.

• They’re usually more concerned about where they’re headed than where they are. Future possibilities interest them more that present realities.

• Intuitives like to figure out how things work as much for the fun of it as anything else. Toaster broken? The Intuitive is right there to take it apart and fix it.

• They’re prone to making puns and playing word games. They enjoy language for its own sake.

• They’re good at seeing the interconnectedness between things. They don’t just want to know the facts. They want to know the meaning behind the facts. Reading the newspaper is an entirely different experience for the Intuitive and the Sensor.

• Intuitives tend to give general answers to questions rather than specific details. If the intuitive is asked how far it is to Jacksonville, he or she might answer, “about a 2-hour drive” when what the Sensor wants to hear is, “86 miles.”

• They’d rather fantasize about how they’re going to spend their next paycheck than sit down and balance their checkbook.

A Little of Both

If you’re like most people you’re neither 100 percent Sensing nor 100 percent Intuitive.  One trait will tend to be dominant, however. Myers and Briggs specified that the traits are “preferences” suggesting that it’s possible to modify them some of the time. This is particularly obvious in the Thinking and Feeling preferences. While the Thinker may be logical and dispassionate about decisions most of the time, he or she may  turn almost entirely to the Feeling preference if the family dog is injured. The Thinker will engage Feeling preferences for the occasion, putting everything aside, including finances, for the welfare of the pet.

It’s normal for the preferences to be modified according to different situations. In most social circumstances you might be an Extravert, but it’s natural that you should need some private time as an Introvert now and then. The balance between the two traits on each of the four pairs depends on a number of factors, but the overall tendencies are usually stable.

1 reply
  1. Simone Runyan says:

    I have been a casual student of the MBTI for many years, and I come across a lot of articles like this. Some things said here rang true to me. Some things definitely didn’t. Personally, I usually find it much harder to tell if a person is a T or an F than an S or an N. These types of articles do tend to over-generalize Thinkers as “logical” and Feelers as “Not-So-Much.” Myers and Briggs presented the divide in a more nuanced way, revealing that Feelers are more values-driven than Thinkers. Feelers are 100 percent capable of thinking logically, and do so all the time. But they make their decisions based on their personal beliefs about things, and of course what they think will benefit people in their group and make everyone happy (or at least not unhappy).

    I found the “broken toaster” illustration a bit hard to buy into. If anyone is going to “improvise” how to toast something (rather than tear the toaster apart to fix it), it would be an Intuitive. I’ve done it myself. A Sensor (especially an ISTP or ESTP) would be the one tearing it apart to fix it. (Granted, the repair itself may well be an improvised fix).

    Being on the receiving end of a statement like, “Here is the overall plan.We’ll fill in the details later,” would be frustrating for ANY type, not just Sensors.

    I agree that Sensors typically speak in a very literal way, and that if they say the coffee is “boiling hot” it probably is. I totally disagree however that an Intuitive would call coffee that is only uncomfortably hot “boiling hot.” An Intuitive would be much more likely to be poetic and somewhat geeky and say, “This coffee is uncomfortably hot.” (Trust me. I am a strong N who has known a lot of other N’s, and we are all guilty of saying weird things like this, at least on occasion).

    I kind of got the feeling that this article was written by a Sensor who has only had a passing acquaintance with Intuitive types. I really have yet to come across an article that really, truly gets us.


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