Perceiving (P) and Judging (J) are a set of opposite traits on the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory. They are called the attitude traits. The other three sets are Extraversion vs. Introversion (energy), Sensing vs. Intuition (information-processing), and Thinking vs. Feeling (decision-making). Differences in the J-P function may cause considerable friction among opposites—particularly between the Judger, for example, who is always on time for appointments and the Perceiver who always arrives late.
The differences between a Perceiver and Judger are hard to hide on a day-to-day basis. Concealing one’s type is not all that difficult for other types. For example, an Introvert may have cultivated enough interpersonal and communications skills that he or she can come across as an Extravert. This is not uncommon. Or a smooth-talking Thinker may come across as a Feeling type when he or she is anything but. The J-P difference, on the other hand, is difficult to mask.
The differences between the two types are seen in the following example.
P: I saw the new library building this morning.
P: It must hold a lot of books.
P: The library will be open evenings.
J: I saw it, too. The architecture is beautiful. It must have cost a pretty penny.
J: I’ll look forward to a larger selection of books now.
J: I’m glad it will be open evenings. I can go after work.
Notice that the Perceiver makes no judgments about the new library. She’s seen it. It’s big. And it’s open in the evenings. On the other hand, the Judger’s remarks are full of value statements. The architecture is “beautiful.” He looks forward to a larger selection of books. He’s happy that he can now visit the library after work. These three statements have considerably more attitudinal closure—the hallmark of the Judger—than those made by the Perceiver.
This example is pretty tame compared with many of the scenarios faced by couples, based on their attitudes and outlook. In real life, both parties can get irritated by the obtuseness of the other. The Judger has an opinion, a plan, and a schedule for nearly everything. Perceivers, meanwhile, seem wishy-washy with their lack of opinions. They are easygoing about everything short of life-and-death issues.
Neither function, Perceiving or Judging, is better than the other. We need both types in the world. J’s need P’s to inspire them to relax, collect more information before reaching a decision, and not make major issues of relatively unimportant matters. P’s need J’s to help them get organized and follow through on decisions.
Judgers can be described as orderly and organized. Their actions are controlled. They’re always on schedule. They seem to make decisions quickly with a minimum of stress—far too quickly for the anxious Perceiver. Judgers plan their work and their daily activities and then stick to the plan, Even leisure time is organized. For Judgers, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do everything.
Perceivers try to create an environment that allows them to be flexible and spontaneous. They want to be ready to adapt to a variety of conditions that can’t be predicted. Making and sticking to decisions prematurely causes them anxiety. The person whose friends have trouble understanding where he or she stands on specific issues is usually a Perceiver—flexible, open, and not judgmental.
At their respective extremes, the Perceiver is almost incapable of making decisions. Judgers find it almost impossible to change theirs.