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Thinking vs. Feeling in Myers-Brigg

Instructor: Dr. Douglas Hawks

Douglas has two master's degrees (MPA & MBA) and is currently working on his PhD in Higher Education Administration.

When it's time to make a decision, some people are comfortable following their 'gut,' while others want to think through all the options and implications. In this lesson, you'll learn how these two approaches to decision making are reflected in the Myers & Briggs Type Indicator.

Myers & Briggs Type Indicator

Successful managers know the importance of understanding their own personality and the personalities of their employees and colleagues. One popular personality assessment tool is the Myers & Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Based on the results of a quiz taken by the subject, MBTI plots the subject on four separate dichotomies, resulting in one of sixteen personality 'types.'

Thinking vs. Feeling Function

The decision-making function in MBTI is described by a continuum with thinking (T) on one side and feeling (F) on the other. An individual that has more of a 'thinking' orientation will use logic and analytics to make decisions. Someone that relies more on 'feeling' will consider the perspectives of others and is more comfortable forgoing the logical alternative in favor of one that has the best outcome for the people involved. It is important to place decision-making function on a continuum because no one makes decisions exclusively by feeling or thinking.

As with all of the MBTI characteristics, one is not better than the other; they are just different. It may seem like an F makes a better manager because Fs tend to be more tactful, appear nicer, and will be more concerned about the impact of their decisions on people. But, the people-centric alternative may not always be the best.

Often, the best course of action is the one that comes from an analysis of costs and benefits and is the result of a logical assessment of the decision being made. This doesn't mean that a T doesn't care about people, but it does mean that relationships aren't given the same status as an F gives them. Someone with a T orientation may seem indifferent or uncaring, not because he or she doesn't care about people, but because he or she is most focused on the task at hand.

Examples of Thinking and Feeling Orientations

Imagine an F manager who decides not to ask his team to work fewer hours during a budget crisis. No one loses any income and everyone is happy that life goes on like normal. But, what happens a few months later when the higher costs of keeping everyone working full time forces the manager to cut one or two positions?

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