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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I just had a thought that I'm hoping I could get some input on. If it's stuff that's been said already, I'd appreciate feedback on the accuracy of my understanding instead.

Anywho, I've been obsessively studying cognitive functions for the past month or so, and now that I've gone through the forums and various other common resources I've been looking at more outlying stuff, such as models that include the so-called "shadow functions." During this time I've noticed a few things. First, people will sometimes post with results from a cognitive function test asking why it doesn't match up with the MBTI line-up. Very often the dominant function comes out first and the auxiliary is very high, if not second. However, the rest seems to be somewhat of a free-for-all. Second, I noticed some trends among certain types and their scores. For instance, it's been noticed more than once from what I can tell that INTP's such as myself tend to score high Ni. There are some flaws with the cognitive function tests, which has been pointed out plenty elsewhere. In particular the function order that shows up in the results can and often does change with further testing. I do however still think there is something worth thinking about in all this. I tried to see if there was a way to reconcile MBTI type with seemingly contradictory function results, and this is what I figured:

Instead of a full line up, 12345678, I'm thinking it's better to just look at the first four to begin with, specifically the four functions that pertain to each type and not the first four that show up in cognitive test results. However, I still think the other four functions, the ones that have been 'disfavored' to lead to the type combination you have, do show up with a sort of frequency that the 8-function model implies. What I have a problem with is the implication that this order also describes preference or comfort with each function, because while the results one gets on a cognitive function test tend to be mercurial, there almost always seems to be at least a rough order that consistently shows up. If there is any accuracy in this at all, then it would contradict the idea of "shadow functions" going in the same order as your main functions, just in the other orientation (e.g. dominant is Fi, so dominant shadow function is Fe). This would explain why many INTP's, including myself, tend to test with a higher than expected Fi. According to the shadow function theory, at least as I understand it, Fi should be at the very bottom.

What I'm thinking is that the four functions that make up a type are ultimately composed of both the introverted and extroverted orientations of each, so really both an ENFJ and INFP have F-N-S-T as their lineup. The difference is what orientation these functions are at rest. One example I can think of is my boyfriend, who is an INFP. His top function is Fi, but with very little effort he can interact in an Fe way to get group conversation going, but as soon as he stops exerting energy and goes back to a 'rest' state, it's back to Fi. Although his adeptness with interacting based on Fe doesn't seem exactly as keen as with Fi, it is still much higher than the opposite orientation of his last function, Te, which would then be Ti. I can see this in the fact that it feels impersonal for him to try to relate with either Te or Ti, and doesn't seem to feel very comfortable trying to do anything with either perspective. I imagine that, according to this idea, we would expend energy pushing towards the other orientation (E/I) when it's necessary to finish whatever our ''relaxed'' or ''default'' functions start, or to get an idea of what's going on. The image I got in my head was someone snowed in a cabin. The cabin is warm and comfortable and has everything this person needs. Every now and then however they need to stick their head out the window into the blizzard in order to see what the conditions are like. They know it's necessary, but the whole time they have to push through the storm, while their mind and body are begging to go back inside. When they have everything they need, they shut the window and return to the warmth and comfort and familiarity and safety of the cabin.

Based on this idea, which I'm not taking completely seriously, mind you, the function line-up that we either get as a test result or find by our own self-analysis describes both our overall aptitude* with each function category (F/T/S/N) and in which orientation that category is expressed ''at rest.'' If we relate this back to general orders we get from cognitive function tests, however, we run into another problem. If we number our functions, 1234, then by this idea the order for an introvert would look like this:

1i - 1e - 2e - 2i - 3i - 3e - 4e - 4i

I'm pretty sure I haven't seen this anywhere, however. I get slightly different results whenever I take a cognitive function test, but they follow the same rough order, always with a little give-or-take of course. Today it would look like this:

1i - 2i - 2e - 1e - 3i - 4i - 3e - 4e

This made me think two things, both of them based on the idea of gravity. I noticed that, averaged out, the introverted functions in my results always rate higher than the average spots of the extroverted functions. Therefore, a) the orientation you prefer in your dominant function carries more 'gravity' than the inferior, leading the other functions of its orientation to be 'pulled' farther up. I also noticed that my middle two functions and their opposite-oriented counterparts** are a lot more fluid in their placement whenever I take the test, as opposed to both the dominant and inferior and their counterparts, which show very, very little variation. Therefore, b) the dominant and inferior functions and their "shadows" carry more 'gravity' than the auxiliary and tertiary.

Please keep in mind that at this point this is all just slightly more than playful conjecture
, so tread lightly. I understand the correlations I'm seeing very well might not apply to everyone, as my observations are based on a pretty limited sample so far. Either way, your respectful feedback would be very much appreciated :)

* I understand "aptitude" is a little inaccurate considering the cognitive functions are not technically skills that we apply. By "aptitude" I'm trying to get at the idea of facility and familiarity in regards to each specific function.
** I use counterpart here in the sense that I am contrasting the Introverted and Extroverted functions. This entire idea of mine I realize generalizes a little too much. From what I can tell Ti and Fi are less ''opposed'' so to speak than Te/Ti, but the point is that pushing one to be the other should present a lot of opposition, like trying to push two magnets of the same pole together, thus the expenditure of energy.
 
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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Alright, I reread that and realized I didn't explain the "gravity" well enough I think. What I mean is that, based on this idea, the full 8-function lineup for, say, INTP, would not be Ti-Ne-Si-Fe-Te-Ni-Se-Fi but "should be" more like this:

Ti (Te)
Ne (Ni)
Si (Se)
Fe (Fi)

However, the top function being introverted causes other introverted functions to be preferred. For example, Fi is higher than it "should be" in INTP's (based on this idea) because Ti causes the INTP to be already familiar with an internal system of judgment, all that's happening is a shift in what is important to categorize, logical implication vs personal value. Likewise Te is lower than it "should be" because of an unconscious lumping of both extroverted forms of judgment as "inferior" or less useful. Therefore, mine for example ends up something like this:

Ti (Ni)
Ne (Fi)
Si (Te)
Fe (Se)

The opposites of both the primary and inferior functions "travel" further from their counterparts because of the relative "gravity" of our preference for our dominant orientation. My dominant function is introverted, therefore there is higher preference for all introverted functions to be higher. The distance between the dominant/inferior and their opposites are farther because of their higher influence.

It might not always be the exact same, however, which explains varying results. As I said earlier, according to this idea the opposite orientations of the middle functions travel more, perhaps because we attach less importance to them and thus they have greater room for variation. With our dominant function we know how we want to use it, and with our inferior we know how we don't.
 

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I don't think this can work. I mean, I think the questions are the bigger problem if they fail to frame the introverted functions in enough of an introverted context and the extroverted functions in enough of an extroverted context, which is highly possible based on my experiences with the tests. Also, it's quite plausible that the tests can pick up on shadow manifestations of unconscious functions, but this doesn't make their preference in any way stronger than the conscious ones, since they don't actually consciously filter anything. For the most part, the wording of the questions tends to be particularly bad (e.g. the questions that turn Fi into, say, "caring about your feelings" - this is totally context-based and obviously, any person would care about their feelings - the problem with the test questions like this is, they display these tendencies only in a situational context, so technically, any function can manifest in any situation, so this isn't helping narrow down anything (and this ignores promoting self-awareness and allows a person to just get away with figuring out themselves "in the moment" rather than based on any collective amount of honest introspection). The lack of context in the questions makes things worse. Also, if you aren't aware of how you extravert, then you'd be in big trouble, basically. That's why I think cognitive function tests (as well as most MBTI tests) are so stupid - they disregard any principle in terms of what does or doesn't make a personality type universally-speaking and rely on environmental circumstance to type a person. You might have to give me some examples of questions that you're answering Ni or Fi to so I can see if they have any merit (since I'm an Ni-Fi type to begin with). I don't trust those tests much at all, since I couldn't even answer any of the questions until I basically figured out what they were asking for via my own knowledge of cognitive functions and what they entail on a universal scale. This goes to show that the tests are unnecessary to figure out type. Most of the questions on those can apply to any function in any very limited context.
 
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