The Public Face of Psychological Type

Extraversion and introversion – most people know these two “type words.” They refer to basic orientations. Extraversion designates an individual attitude that looks outward, focusing on “what’s out there.” “Much as we feel the radiant warmth of the sun, the extraverted experience is mostly determined by the external thing being experienced.” Extraversion moves to create a shared experience. “The key thing about introversion … is its focus upon the personal process, even if it is in response to an external stimulus.” In a sense, the introverted experience tends to be private.

In addition to the attitudes of extraversion and introversion, we have two functions for perceiving and two for making judgments and decisions. One of the perceiving functions depends on our physical senses: seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, etc. This is called the “sensation” function, abbreviated as capital “S.” The other perceiving function operates in such a way that we get a “whole picture” or the “whole story” at once. We call this “intuition,” abbreviated as capital “N.”

We also have two functions for making choices, judgments, and decisions. The thinking function (T) organizes information in some logical manner. (I like to think of the periodic table of the elements that we all saw in high school chemistry class where the elements are arranged by the number of protons and neutrons in the nucleus.) Alphabetizing, for example, depends on the thinking function. The other judging function is a little harder for some people to understand because the word used to identify it also substitutes for several other activities we engage in. This function is called “feeling” (F). Immediately you recognize the problem: the word “feel” sometimes means “feel with my fingers,” i.e., sensation. Or for “believe,” e.g., “I believe that to be true.” Or one more: “I feel we’re going to get a phone call,” meaning “I have the intuition, have a hunch ….”

It is a generally well-accepted view that the U.S., as a country, privileges extraversion over introversion, focusing more on externals than on internals. More: our U.S. culture tends to pay attention to what’s immediately happening (rather than, e.g., long-term trends or consequences) and to whatever can be quantified and monetized. That roughly defines what I’ve called a “public face” (in terms of psychological type). We see the up-side of this extraverted, sensate approach in some political leaders, for example. “Extraverted sensation (Se), which we all have to varying degrees, is particularly suited to the rough-and-tumble world of politics. When political leaders bring out this function-attitude, we see a pragmatic, energizing facilitator of movements. Adept at sensing where the ‘heat’ is, these types pick up on what the masses are feeling and leverage that energy towards an end.” That’s the positive expression. But there’s also a down-side to extraverted sensation (Se):” Extraverted sensors at their worst … miss the deeper meaning of their actions and long-term consequences. As leaders, they struggle with the long view. They prioritize the urgent over the important. They discount the value of a strategic vision or plan, and they disdain any rigorous planning process. Their impatience with detailed policies or procedures can cause them to miss critical steps on a checklist, for example.

I encourage you to read the article from which I have taken these quotes. The author, Cash Keahey, offers a well-informed understanding of populism and extraverted sensation (Se), one of the “public faces” of psychological type. His “Populism and Extraverted Sensation,” viewed from the vantage point of psychological type, reveals varieties of populism: that of Donald Trump, that of Bernie Sanders, and the populism of Andrew Jackson.

Run amok, populism can turn into mob mentality, which Keahey also discusses in depth.

Psychological type is personal, but also affects other people. Of course we know this from the people with whom we work as well as those who hold positions of authority and power in the workplace or public life.  As we see in the contrast between Trump and Sanders, the development of an individual’s type makes a huge difference in the way the individual presents and would govern if elected. Keahey’s inclusion of Andrew Jackson reveals what a more balanced development of the four functions and the two attitudes looks like.

Keahey’s article will stretch your mind in valuable ways. I encourage you to dig in. There’s a rich reward of insight and understanding if you persevere. This understanding should help you with making sense of our current cultural affairs, as well as bring consciousness to your own behaviors.

Here’s the link to the article:  http://typeindepth.com/2018/10/extraverted-sensation-and-populism/

1. Hunziker, M. (2016). p. 136f.

2.Eahey, Cash (2018, Oct). “Populism and Extraverted Sensation,” in Personality Type in Depth, 36, October 2018, http://typeindepth.com/2018/10/extraverted-sensation-and-populism/

February 2019 Boris Matthews, PhD, LCSW practices Analytical Psychology (a.k.a. Jungian Analysis) at the Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine in Pewaukee, WI. He is a teaching and supervising faculty member of the C. G. Jung Institute of Chicago, IL,