Are You a Perceiver or a Judger?

The last pair of eight Myers-Briggs preferences are Perceiving and Judging. They relate to how people organize their lives. Perceivers are more spontaneous and adaptive than Judgers, and Judgers are more structured and organized.

People have some misconceptions about Perceivers and Judgers because of the labels they wear. Perceiving has little to do with perception of events; everyone possesses this ability. Judgers are not necessarily judgmental (although they may be). Both traits have their advantages. Which trait the individual chooses for any given situation depends upon the circumstances.

The Perceiver, although often late for appointments, may be spot on time for an airline flight—knowing that the doors will close if they don’t arrive by the deadline. The Judger, although normally on time for all events, may decide to arrive late at a party that promises to last all night. Their orientation all depends on the circumstances.  The Perceiver is capable of meeting deadlines without last-minute frenzy, and the Judger is capable of missing one from time to time.

This discrepancy between the two types is often the cause for resentment. Judgers who have made social arrangements with the habitually late Perceiver may come to see the person as disrespectful of his or her time. The Perceiver may see the Judger as compulsive and picky for no good reason. They have different views of clock time. On the same note, Judgers may start assignments early, scheduling time for the work so that it’s done in plenty of time. Perceivers are likely to stall on the project, resulting in a bind as the deadline approaches. Yet, by some miracle, they are almost never late. They make it just under the wire. The two types can make each other crazy.

Perceiving and Judging are just one pair of opposites among the four pairs that comprise the Myers-Briggs Inventory. The others are Introvert (I) vs. Extravert (E), Sensing (S) vs. Intuition (N), and Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F). Everyone exhibits one of each pair of traits. For example, you might be an INFJ. That means you’re Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Judging.

Below are some of the differences between Perceivers and Judgers:

Perceiving Types

  • Perceivers get distracted easily. They can run to the garage for a screwdriver, and then halfway down the driveway forget the purpose of their errand.
  • They get bored with routine. Rather than take the same route home very night, they may experiment with new routes. They love to explore the unknown.
  • They don’t plan their tasks. They wait to see what the job demands. For this reason, they’re often accused of being disorganized.
  • Perceivers have to depend on last-minute surges of energy to make deadlines. Usually they manage it, but the chaos they create tends to frustrate others.
  • They believe that creativeness and spontaneity are more important than tidiness. They would prefer to have the materials around them organized, but flexibility and responsiveness are more important.
  • They make work seem more like play than work. If it isn’t fun to do, it probably isn’t worth doing.
  • In conversations, Perceivers easily change the topic by going off on tangents, changing the subject to anything that enters their minds.
  • Perceivers like to keep their options open, not pinning themselves down about most things. After all, something better might come along and then they’d be regretful.

Judging Types

  • Judgers feel like they’re always waiting for others to show up. They seem to be the only people who respect appointments.
  • They know that the world would be a better place if everyone would shoulder their responsibilities without shirking.
  • Judgers like closure on issues. They don’t dawdle making purchase decisions and feel best when they’re pulling out a credit card to close the deal. Perceivers like to look at all the options first, enjoying the feeling of open-endedness.
  • In a discussion, Judgers may be accused of being angry, when they’re just expressing an opinion.
  • They like to finish assignments in plenty of time, even though they realize they may have to do parts over to get them right.
  • Judgers try to work and live in an orderly environment. Messiness interferes with their competency. Everything has a place in their homes and offices.
  • They thrive on lists. They often make to-do lists first thing in the morning. Then if something comes up that must be done, they add it to the list just so they can cross it off.
  • Judgers have a place for everything and they feel uncomfortable unless everything is in its place.

Differences in the Perceiving vs. Judging function may cause more interpersonal tension than any of the other preferences. The following words describe the Perceiver: flexible, adaptive, open, tentative, spontaneous, and tardy. The Judger is resolved, decided, controlling, structured, definite, and scheduled. It’s no wonder they can grate on each other’s nerves in close quarters.

Your Study Habits

In fifty years of solitary work—researching and writing—I’ve discovered that some environments put me in a more productive frame of mind than others. When the conditions aren’t “ideal” for me, I get distracted easily. Disarray puts me in a jumpy mood and I don’t stay on task very long. A review of the literature suggests that I’m not alone.

According to behavioral scientists, several conditions influence your motivation to study:

Regular Routine

The demands of everyday life can be distracting, making it easy to get sidetracked into extraneous tasks. This is why it’s crucial to create a daily routine, with time clearly allocated to study.

Claiming set times in a routine is particularly helpful if you live with someone who needs to learn when to leave you to yourself. Your special time allocated to studying should be clear to everyone.

Ambient Noise

If you live someplace surrounded with noisy friends or family, you won’t be able to hear yourself think. You may find yourself getting irritated and distracted. If this happens, it’s wise to scout around for an alternative study space where you’ll get peace and quiet as you concentrate on your notes and books.

If worse comes to worst, get some earphones that block out environmental sounds. And disable your phone for a while.

Although some people can stay focused when surrounded by chaos, noise generally disrupts mental processes. Many students vow that soft music or a television set turned on low keeps them on task and in no way hampers their concentration. Researchers would challenge that claim. They have found that environmental noise—background music, city sounds, people’s conversations—leads to a decrease in performance for most people. While these things can improve positive emotions, increase performance in sports, and make people complete tasks a little faster, they have disruptive consequences for reading and studying—a chilling finding for students addicted to ambient noise.

Personal Space

Whether you are in your room in a dormitory or in a public place like a library or a coffee shop you need to create your own space. Set some boundaries between you and the outside world with familiar personal objects. If you’re in a coffee shop, find a table by yourself, discourage visitors by filling the table with coffee cups, napkins, notes, etc.  This not only discourages intruders, but it creates peace of mind. “This space is mine alone.” Embellishments make the workplace inviting to you and discourage outsiders who might otherwise interrupt your work.

By returning to or recreating the same work environment over and over, you help safeguard yourself against blocks to studying.

Tidy Work Area

Many students pore over their books in a messy environment. It’s not what they prefer, but it’s what they do, mostly out of task avoidance or downright laziness. If you belong to this category of students, you’d best tidy up your study area before attempting to work. It’s surprising what a salutary effect this has on productivity. You don’t have to break your concentration looking for items you’ve misplaced. A tidy desktop clears the mind.


Your desk chair should be large enough to take your full weight and support your back. Backaches are not conducive to good study habits. You should have a desk that will give you plenty of clean space to work on. Your computer screen should be adjusted to the correct angle and distance for easy viewing. The room should be tidy and air-conditioned, or heated to a temperature that feels comfortable to you.

Students’ Accessories

If you use the internet for research, you need a reliable and fast internet connection for easy access to information. Your laptop or desktop computer should have a keyboard that’s comfortable for typing. If you take notes while working, have a writing pad and pens or pencils handy. In other words, create an efficient and well-stocked study center,


Wearing pajamas may work for some people, but it makes many of us sleepy and tired, wanting only to retreat to our beds for a short restorative nap. Dressing to the nines has the opposite detrimental effect. We’ve prepared ourselves to go out on the town, not work at our keyboard. Wear garments that make you feel presentable, clean and alert, but not all dressed up with no place to go.

Shoes? By all means, go without. Based on observations of thousands of children from 25 countries over 10 years, academics concluded that children who slip off their shoes are more likely to arrive at school earlier, leave later and read more widely. Comprehensive new research suggests that “shoeless” kids are more engaged in lessons, leading to better concentration and test results.


There are times when attempting to study is just not a good idea. One thing is clear – if you are angry or upset, the last thing you should do is to try some serious studying. It requires a clear mind, unclouded by negative thoughts. Wait until your feathers are no longer ruffled. Then go for it.