Cognitive Dynamics

Cracking the Code graphic of Cognitive DynamicsInsight into Innovation, Learning, and Development

The eight cognitive processes are the foundation for psychological type instruments. Each of the sixteen type patterns has a distinct pattern of cognitive process and development. Knowing an individual’s innate tendency to use these processes can help release creative blocks and generate more effective communication.
Key Sections

  • History
  • The Eight Cognitive Processes

Information on this page has been adapted from Linda V. Berens and Dario Nardi, Understanding Yourself and Others®: An Introduction to the Personality Type Code (Telos Publications, 2004) *Used with permission.

History of Jung’s Cognitive Processes

In the 1920s, the idea of personality type was being explored by leading scientists and philosophers. A Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, wrote Psychological Types during that time, in which he gave a detailed description of what has now become one of the most widely used typologies in the world. His theory of psychological type has sparked more than one personality inventory and an international membership organization of professionals and lay people alike devoted to deepening their understanding of typology and its competent and ethical use.

The Basics of Jung’s Theory of Psychological Types
As Jung was trying to understand the differences between the viewpoints and approaches of his colleagues Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler, he realized they focused on different worlds. Freud seemed to be focused on the external world of adjustment to the outside world as he approached his patients, and Adler seemed to be more focused on the primacy of the patients’ inner world in determining their behaviors. Following this realization, Jung defined his fundamental concepts of the extraverted and introverted attitudes. He declared that some people orient themselves primarily to the world outside themselves and are thus extraverted in their natures. These people are energized by interaction with the outer world. On the other hand, others orient themselves more readily to the world inside themselves and are introverted in their natures. They are more energized by solitary, reflective activities.

Functions—Cognitive Processes
After observing people through the lens of extraversion and introversion for a while, Jung came to realize that it wasn’t just an orientation to the inner world or outer world that made people different from each other. It was also important to consider what mental activities they were engaging in when they were in these worlds. Jung called these mental activities functions, based on the “function” being performed. Now they are frequently referred to as mental or cognitive processes. Jung described four cognitive processes and said that every mental act consists of using at least one of these four cognitive processes. Furthermore, these cognitive processes are used in either an extraverted or introverted way, making eight processes.

The Eight Cognitive Processes

Jung classified the functions into two major groupings. He noted that there are two major kinds of mental processes. One is perception, a process of becoming aware of something. In the perceptive process, there is some sort of stimulation and we become aware of or attend to that stimulation. It is how we gather or access information. Jung called this an irrational process since the awareness simply comes to us.

Jung identified two kinds of perception: Sensation and Intuition. Sensing is a process of becoming aware of tangible information. INtuiting* is a process of becoming aware of conceptual information. Sensing and iNtuiting can both be done in either the outer, extraverted world or in the inner, introverted world.

Se - extraverted Sensing
Experiencing the immediate context; noticing changes and opportunities for action; being drawn to act on the physical world; accumulating experiences; scanning for visible reactions and relevant data; recognizing “what is”.

Si - introverted Sensing
Reviewing past experiences; “what is” evoking “what was”; seeking detailed information and links to what is known; recalling stored impressions; accumulating data; recognizing the way things have always been.

Ne - extraverted iNtuiting
Interpreting situations and relationships; picking up meanings and interconnections; being drawn to change “what is” for “what could possibly be”; noticing what is not said and threads of meaning emerging across multiple contexts.

Ni - introverted iNtuiting
Foreseeing implications and likely effects without external data; realizing “what will be”; conceptualizing new ways of seeing things; envisioning transformations; getting an image of profound meaning or far-reaching symbols.


The other kind of mental process identified by Jung is that of judgment, a process of organizing, evaluating, and coming to conclusions. Using the judging process, some sort of evaluation is made.

Jung identified two kinds of judgment: Thinking and Feeling, both of which can be used in either the outer, extraverted world or in the inner, introverted world. Simply put, Thinking judgments are based on objective criteria or principles, and Feeling judgments are based on personal, interpersonal, or universal values.

Te - extraverted Thinking
Ordering; organizing for efficiency; systematizing; applying logic; structuring; checking for consequences; monitoring for standards or specifications being met; setting boundaries, guidelines, and parameters; deciding if something is working or not.

Ti - introverted Thinking
Analyzing; categorizing; evaluating according to principles and whether something fits the framework or model; figuring out the principles on which something works; checking for inconsistencies; clarifying definitions to get more precision.

Fe - extraverted Feeling
Connecting; considering others and the group—organizing to meet their needs and honor their values and feelings; maintaining societal, organizational, or group values; adjusting and accommodating others; deciding if something is appropriate or acceptable to others.

Fi - introverted Feeling
Valuing; considering importance and worth; reviewing for incongruity; evaluating something based on the truths on which it is based; clarifying values to achieve accord; deciding if something is of significance and worth standing up for.