Carl Jung’s Cognitive Functions Explained


Let's talk about Carl Jung's cognitive functions, our thought patterns. How do the cognitive functions work? And how can you better understand your own mind? By studying how you think, you can learn amazing things about yourself. Firstly, Carl Jung's cognitive functions describe your thought patterns.

For example, Extroverted Thinking is your inner “Doer” urging you to set goals, reach new heights, and accomplish new tasks. As another example, Introverted Feeling is urging you to step back and self-reflect. Extroverted iNtuition is curious and seeks to figure out puzzles. Extroverted Sensing is adventurious and says “I want to try that!”

  • Depending on which mental state you are in, different cognitive functions may be differently strong.
  • Depending on what personality type you are, some cognitive functions feel more important to you.
  • Every personality type has a unique relationship to each cognitive function.

You use all cognitive functions.

What are the cognitive functions?

Importantly, all thought patterns take a particular role in the psyche. For example, Introverted Sensing tends to take the role of a teacher, and Introverted iNtuition as a Sage or Philosopher. So how do the cognitive functions work?

  • Introverted iNtuition ‘The Philosopher'
  • Extroverted iNtuition ‘The Detective'
  • Extroverted Feeling ‘The Diplomat'
  • Introverted Feeling ‘The Artist'
  • Introverted Sensing ‘The Teacher'
  • Extroverted Sensing ‘The Adventurer'
  • Extroverted Thinking ‘The Doer'
  • Introverted Thinking ‘The Scientist'

The Cognitive Functions In Flow

Watch the full video on Carl Jung's Cognitive Functions on YouTube

Carl Jung's cognitive functions reflect how we think and feel and process the world. You could say that the study of our thought patterns is the study of our consciousness.

Carl Jung's cognitive functions can be either introverted or extroverted. That means they either start with a subjective impression that you then explore in the outer world, or that they begin with an objective experience, that is then reflected on internally.

Feminine and Masculine Cognitive functions

The Cognitive Functions ranked from most to least feminine.

Introverted iNtuition is firstly, an observation function (Feminine) and abstract in its nature (iNtuition). It is explored internally in a subjective manner. That means, it is the most far removed from the real world.

Secondly, Extroverted Thinking is the most masculine of all thought patterns. It is also the most data-driven cognitive function. It bases itself primarily on objective decision making. Because of this, it is a Masculine cognitive function.

Thirdly, Extroverted Feeling and Introverted Sensing are two examples of “androgynous” functions. That means they have one foot in the subjective and one in the objective. Extroverted Feeling is masculine in the sense that it is a decision making process and an objective process, based in the external world. Introverted Sensing is a subjective process based on personal experience and open observation. However, its observations are based on something objective, namely proof and data in the sensory world.

Feminine cognitive functions

Yin is the study of the subjective, for example how something is experienced. It represents “the human factor” and bridges between what the world is and what the world is for humans. Feminine functions are open-ended and interpretative, and so these functions focus on how we experience life. iNtuition, Introversion and Feeling represent the values of Femininity.

The iNtuitive Functions

iNtuition is about subjective observation. iNtuitive types are less interested in how things are in reality and more in what they could be. Speculation is commonplace to these types.

Introverted iNtuition (The Philosopher)

The introverted iNtuitive is most interested in understanding how life is experienced inside and in the process of forming and testing theories. As a Philosopher, you will come up with concepts and an abstracted model that they then use to understand their surroundings.

Extroverted iNtuition (The Detective)

The Extroverted iNtuitive is most focused on reflecting on patterns and experiences they have had and finding out secrets into how the world works. They will study their surroundings to discover mysteries and hidden truths. Detectives are curious and full of questions and have sharp minds that can make many connections at a rapid pace.

The Feeling Functions

Feeling is about subjective decision making. It can translate to emotionally driven decision making, but the human factor is not just and not always emotional. Feeling is mostly about how we experience and value something. What we want, and what we do not want, from a personal point of view.

Introverted Feeling (The Artist)

The Introverted Feeling cognitive function is most focused on their own subjective experience and their values and beliefs. They seek to build their own sense of identity or character. Artists then seek to stand up for their personal beliefs and to build a lifestyle around who they are and what they want.

Extroverted Feeling (The Diplomat)

The Extroverted Feeling cognitive function is most focused on how other people experience life. They seek to understand life as it is felt from the perspective of others.

Diplomats are interested in their community or tribe and in helping and supporting people, cooperating with others to achieve success. Extroverted Feelers try to make decisions that will focus on what is the common good for everyone involved.

Masculine cognitive functions

Yang is the study of the objective, what we can prove or measure through evidence. It is firm and resolute and does not change its mind easily. It avoids interpretations and speculation and focuses mostly on how things are and appear to be.

The Thinking Functions

Thinking is about objective decision making. It looks at what is logical and rational in a situation and makes realistic decisions and estimations about how to achieve a project or improve at something.

Introverted Thinking (The Scientist)

The Introverted Thinking type is focused on understanding the principles that the world operates on. They seek to find a lifestyle and a career that matches with their strongest skills and abilities. Scientists want to be able to prove their skills and abilities to others.

Extroverted Thinking (The Doer)

The extroverted thinking cognitive function is about gathering evidence and taking power and control over the world. This type is ambitious and focused on their goals in life. They value results and push and challenge themselves to improve at a task.

The Sensory Functions

Sensing is about objective observations.

Introverted Sensing (The Teacher)

The Teacher type tries to impart what it knows into the world through the introverted sensing cognitive function. Introverted sensory types are most focused on what they know and practice and what norms they have come to believe are most important to a good life. These types are observant and attentive to detail. Teachers are also the least likely types to make mistakes.

Extroverted Sensing (The Adventurer)

Extroverted Sensory types are adventurious and like to experience life first hand. Adventurers are most focused on living life to the fullest. You like to live in the heat of the moment and to learn by doing. You enjoy speed and action. Adventurers are simultaneously practical and grounded people.

What is your strongest thought patterns?

How do the cognitive functions work for you? Leave a comment below and let us know which thought patterns you notice the most in your life!

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