Maybe you’re just a smart sensor?
So you posted a question asking whether you were an INFJ or an INFP. But the question you might be avoiding, that dreaded question, is that you’re not actually doubting between that at all. In fact, what you’re really wondering about is: am I a sensor, or am I an intuitive? But how would you know? There’s hardly any content or strong research or communities where you can learn more about ISFJs or ISFPs. And very few people will ask themselves if they are sensors or not. Perhaps because they are afraid of the answer. Well, I’m here to the rescue. I’ve studied personality psychology for about six years now, and I’ve worked hard to dispel the common stereotypes. Let’s talk about the smart sensor.
It is true that sensing has come to be a “dirty word” in the typology community. There is also a lot less material and content on sensing types. Articles that describe sensors are of significantly lower quality and authors spend a lot less time describing and discussing these types. This makes it harder to identify as a sensor.
Personally, I was exploring the possibility that I could be an ESFJ back in 2011-2012. Like extraverted sensing types, I am often on stage performing or talking. But I realised quickly that I don’t actually enjoy that, and that I only did it because I wanted to spread my theories and ideas with people. Without my theories, I would take down my youtube channel immediately. So, back to INFJ it was. Your dominant function supports and boosts the use of your inferior function.
One of the reasons that so many people online identify as INFJs is because there is just so much more, and so much better, and more in-depth content on INFJs. If every second article you read is about INFJs, it’s only natural to come to identify more with INFJs, simply because we relate more to things that we understand more.
This is partially my fault. 15-20% of my articles are about INFJs, a type that technically, less than 1-2% of the global population seem to identify with. Sorry. I gave in to the massive demand for INFJ videos and content. When I would post a video on ENFJs, or ENFPs, or INFPs, I would get roughly half or as little as a fourth of the views I got describing INFJs. It’s absurd, because when I go out on the streets or study people online, INFJs tend to be quite rare. But in MBTI circles, we are like fruit flies. Still, it makes sense.
Imagine if 40% of all the clothes sold in stores are black, well, of course, a majority of people are going to end up buying a black shirt, even if they would look better in blue. This is the number one reason why so many people end up misidentifying as INFJ. If you type as INFJ, you get milk, honey, sugar, and if you identify as an ISFJ, at best, you get a ragged coat with spiderwebs and stains on it. It’s supply and demand, but that doesn’t make it any less problematic. I’m trying to do better. I will try to create more diverse content even if it gets less views.
The Smart Sensor
Intuitives don’t actually enjoy using sensing. While we may go on sensing fits at times, we don’t enjoy the process of being attentive, being present, being engaged, or working hands-on with a task. We don’t appreciate practical work. We don’t enjoy routine. We don’t “get” nature. And we don’t understand the value of action and doing something for the sake of just doing something. Sensors get a genuine value and appreciation from sensing.
By the way, intuitives, it’s not sensing to watch television, to eat food, or to like sex. Hedonism is often confused with sensing. My observations suggest that many intuitives can have just as high of a love for sex or food as a sensing type can.
Sensors love to instruct others on various tasks and how to solve various problems. Sensing types like to have routine and to organise their surroundings. Sensors like being engaged with a conversation or with their surrounding environment. They like being in the spotlight or where things are happening. They value immediacy: when things are happening and when there is noise and action around them.
Intuitives can engage in sensing, sure. But what I have found is that sensing is a negative drive for an intuitive. An ENFP can become stressed approaching a deadline, and can feel genuinely upset about being too disorganised, and hates repeating old mistakes. Sensing is a grounding drive to an intuitive. Over time we learn to recognise the boundaries sensing represents. I don’t like it, but I need to have safety, I need to take care of my health, and I need to have some kind of order and structure to my life, or I fall off the cliff. And wouldn’t that be stupid?
How Sensing Types Use Intuition
Sensors can engage in intuition too. But sensors don’t genuinely enjoy intuition. Sensors recognise the dangers and potential harms and issues of it. They realise when a tradition or a routine may have potential negative consequences in the future. And they make the necessary adjustments to avoid a bad scenario or potential outcome. They realise when a person is potentially deceitful or distrustful, and they act to ensure that they can trust and count on the people around. Where intuitives see intuition as an opportunity, sensors see it as something to be wary of. And isn’t there good reason to see things that way?
Intuition is a negative value for a sensor, something sensors act to deal with and to get out of the way. Sensors will see change and will make sure it happens in a smart way. Sensors will speculate on potential issues with a situation, and will take action to avoid a bad future. An ESTP may say “I don’t want to end up a drunk on the streets.” and will get Perspective from introverted intuition, and will adjust their lifestyle to avoid it. That’s what it means to be realistic or practical about a situation.
An ISTJ will say “If I want to protect my family, I need to make changes in my life.” In this, you can see that sensors hold a deep respect for intuition. But that their perspective on it is often negative. Get too caught up in it, and you end up feeling drained and bored, exhausted, overwhelmed even. If you keep thinking about that worry of becoming a drunk on the streets, or of losing your family, it becomes a worry and an anxiety. And these kinds of fears can become limiting and harmful. So make sure they don’t take over your life.
How do we combat the stereotypes against sensors?
I believe most of us are far too obsessed with our own personal life. The best way to combat the stereotypes and to learn more as an intuitive is to pretend you’re a sensor for a day. To read up on sensors. To write articles about sensors. To make videos about sensors. Trust me – while you do – you will learn a great deal about yourself too. We should all be reading and writing a lot less about INFJs, and a lot more about the sensing types. But is the community ready to make such a change? Or will we keep going in circles and obsessing over “The worlds supposed rarest type.”?