I’ve been talking about the Myers Briggs Type Indicator over the past few weeks. We’ve covered the E vs. I dichotomy, which is all about energy flow and the S vs N dichotomy which is about where you prefer to get data from. This week, I’m going to talk about the third factor, T vs. F, which is about HOW you make decisions.
According to Dr. Jung, the human brain has two primary functions. Last week I talked about the first called the Judging Function, which is how you take in data. If you prefer facts, chances are you have a preference for Sensing. If you prefer your gut instincts, chances are you have a preference for Intuition.
This week, I’m talking about the second primary function, called the Perceiving Function and that is how you make decisions with all the information you‘ve gathered. At one end is the Thinking preference and at the other end is the Feeling preference.
Those with the T preference are objective in their decision-making. They really prefer to use cause and effect logic after analyzing the information. They tend to be fairly critical and put the problem to be solved first.
Those with an F preference are subjective in their decisions. They tend to make decision based on personal values because they personalize the information they have gathered. They tend to seek harmony and therefore put the impact on the people before the problem itself.
A work example might be a department head who has to reduce their head count by 2 people. If they have a T preference, they will step back from the people and objectively look at the team. Who’s the most productive? Who completes the most projects on time and within budget? They will make a logical decision that will be easy to defend. After all, the facts led them to that conclusion!
The Feeling department head will immerse themselves in the team, making them the subject of his decision. She will weigh the data through her own personal values. “Well, everyone knows Mary contributes the least to the team, but she’s a single mom raising two teenagers, so clearly I can’t lay her off!” I mean, no one with a heart would let Mary go!
One aspect of this dichotomy that I feel compelled to share is that Ts look for justice and Fs look for mercy. This can change your life.
Let’s say, hypothetically speaking of course, you’ve committed a crime. If you want to win on the facts of the case alone, ask for a bench trial. That is where the judge decides the case. If you want to win on the circumstances of a case, ask for a jury trial. Here’s why.
Judges and lawyers tend to be T preference people. They know this, so when they select juries, they want to bring in people with an F preference. So if you want to win on the facts, you clearly want people who are “just the facts, ma’am” kind of people. If you want to win on circumstances, F preference folks are all about mercy. “Yes she killed her husband, but he kept her locked in the basement for 10 years and only brought her out to beat her once a day!” I’m not lying here, we see it all the time.
Remember the Boston bomber trial in 2015? Tsarnaev pleaded guilty, and yet it still went to trial. The only reason was to hopefully persuade a jury to go for life imprisonment versus the death penalty. Justice versus mercy. Still didn’t work out for him, but the defense attorneys got to try the “he was only a kid under the thrall of his hero-worshipped older brother who was the real mastermind” defense.
For transparency, I want to tell you that there is a gender bias in this dichotomy in the United States. Half the population have the T preference and half have the F preference. However, of that half, 67% of men have the T preference, while 67% of women have the F preference. I know that will come as a shock to a lot of you women, especially if you’re in a technical or male-dominated profession, but the statistics don’t lie!
So think about where your preference might lie and what effect this has on your leadership style. Would you lay Mary off? Or do you think it is perfectly legitimate to let Mary’s personal circumstances sway your decision? Have you ever been called to jury duty and had to participate in the trial? What did you see play out there?
Signing off with this from the lighter side: Newton’s Third Law of Emotion – For every male action, there is an equal and opposite female overreaction.