Basics of the MBTI

The function stacks: what they mean and how to stack

Photo by Austin Neill on Unsplash

Introduction to the 8 cognitive functions

The EXTROVERTED perceiving functions — Ne and Se

  • Ne (Extroverted Intuition) → novel idea generation and brainstorming, expands out from an idea, from one to many; a creative function that looks at possibilities in the external world.
  • Se (Extroverted Sensing) → takes in and evaluates information from the concrete present moment, the here and now; uses the senses to take in information about the physical world.

The INTROVERTED perceiving functions — Ni and Si

  • Ni (Introverted Intuition) → connects existing ideas, narrows down many ideas to formulate conclusions, uses pieces of ideas to build a map in the mind; future-focused and big-pictured analyses.
  • Si (Introverted Sensing) → studies flashbacks and evaluates tried-and-true methods, routines, and rules; a detail-oriented and traditional function that looks at the past to understand how the present works (as well as how to avoid past mistakes).

The EXTROVERTED decision-making functions — Te and Fe

  • Te (Extroverted Thinking) → externalizes logic and makes decisions based on what objectively works in the external world; outwardly and directly conveys logical analyses.
  • Fe (Extroverted Feeling) → externalizes emotions and makes decisions based on what brings value to others in the external world; makes decisions based on the feelings of others; empathizes and upholds harmony within cultural values.

The INTROVERTED decision-making functions — Ti and Fi

  • Ti (Introverted Thinking) → internalizes logic and makes decisions based on internal logical framework and what subjectively makes logical sense; seeks consistency of ideas internally.
  • Fi (Introverted Feeling) → internalizes feelings and makes decisions based on internal value system and what is subjectively valued; sympathizes and upholds harmony of action and thought with personal values; seeks authenticity and individualism of the self.

Grouping the types according to their functions

The types can also be grouped according to their role in the world, based on their cognitive functions.

The yin yang of order and chaos (

In general, P types are on the chaos side, while J types are on the order side.

The following are other common ways to group the types:

The focus of each type

EXXP → chaos → gathering information
IXXJ → order → organizing information
IXXP → chaos → self-focused
EXXJ → order → tribe-focused

Each type’s role in the system

XNXP → chaos → finding loopholes in the system
XNXJ → order → creating and building the system
XSXP → chaos → playing to or exploiting the loopholes in the system
XSXJ → order → following and maintaining the system

The 16 types and their function stacks

A few things to note about stacking functions

It’s important to note that all types have some form of N, S, T, and F functions.

A type has either:

  • Ne or Ni
  • Se or Si
  • Te or Ti
  • Se or Si

In other words, all types have two decision-making and two perceiving functions. It’s the ordering of the functions (AKA the order of the function stack) that creates that specific MBTI type.

Function stack for INFP → Fi and Ne are the first two functions, while Si and Te are the last two functions (chart drawn by author)

The first two functions in the stack are the most commonly used, and the last two are more rarely used. It’s common for people to operate on their first and second functions early on in life until they begin to develop their latter two functions.

Another thing to note about stacking functions is that the first two functions always contain one decision-making function and one perceiving function, as do the last two functions. And same goes for extroverted and introverted functions: the first two functions contain one introverted and one extroverted function, as do the last two functions. This is because the functions interact. I will touch more on this later, but for now, just know this fact.

The final thing to keep in mind when stacking functions is that the first and last function are always opposite mirrors of each other, and the middle two functions are always opposite mirrors of each other.

For example, if a type’s first function is Ne, then you know the last function will be Si. If a type’s second function is Ti, then you know the third function will be Fe. So once you know what a type’s first two functions are, you can easily determine what the two latter functions will be.

E.g. Let’s say you know someone’s first two functions are Fi and Ne. Then you can deduce that the third function will be Si and the last will be Te.

Fi and Te are opposite mirrors, while Ne and Si are opposite mirrors; the first and last functions are always opposite mirrors, while the second and third functions are always opposite mirrors (drawn by author)

Below are all the types and their function stacks, grouped as:

  • The Analysts: INTJ, INTP, ENTJ, ENTP
  • The Diplomats: INFJ, INFP, ENFJ, ENFP
  • The Guardians: ISTJ, ISFJ, ESTJ, ESFJ
  • The Artisans: ISTP, ISFP, ESTP, ESFP

‘The Analysts’

INTJ — ‘The Mastermind’

INTJ (‘The Mastermind’) — Ni>Te>Fi>Se (drawn by author)

INTP — ‘The Thinker’

INTP (‘The Thinker’) — Ti>Ne>Si>Fe (drawn by author)

ENTJ — ‘The Commander’

ENTJ (‘The Commander’) — Te>Ni>Se>Fi (drawn by author)

ENTP — ‘The Debater’

ENTP (‘The Debater’) — Ne>Ti>Fe>Si (drawn by author)

‘The Diplomats’

INFJ — ‘The Counsellor’

INFJ (‘The Counsellor’) — Ni>Fe>Ti>Se (drawn by author)

INFP — ‘The Mediator’

INFP (‘The Mediator’) — Fi>Ne>Si>Te (drawn by author)

ENFJ — ‘The Giver’

ENFJ (‘The Giver’) — Fe>Ni>Se>Ti (drawn by author)

ENFP — ‘The Campaigner’

ENFP (‘The Campaigner’) — Ne>Fi>Te>Si (drawn by author)

‘The Guardians’

ISTJ — ‘The Inspector’

ISTJ (‘The Inspector’) — Si>Te>Fi>Ne (drawn by author)

ISFJ — ‘The Nurturer’

ISFJ (‘The Nurturer’) — Si>Fe>Ti>Ne (drawn by author)

ESTJ — ‘The Executive’

ESTJ (‘The Executive’) — Te>Si>Ne>Fi (drawn by author)

ESFJ — ‘The Consul’

ESFJ (‘The Consul’) — Fe>Si>Ne>Ti (drawn by author)

‘The Artisans’

ISTP — ‘The Crafter’

ISTP (‘The Crafter’) — Ti>Se>Ni>Fe (drawn by author)

ISFP — ‘The Artist’

ISFP (‘The Artist’) — Fi>Se>Ni>Te (drawn by author)

ESTP — ‘The Doer’

ESTP (‘The Doer’) — Se>Ti>Fe>Ni (drawn by author)

ESFP — ‘The Entertainer’

ESFP (‘The Entertainer’) — Se>Fi>Te>Ni (drawn by author)

Okay, but what information do the functions contain?

If you haven’t yet checked out my post about why the functions matter over the letters, head on over to You Probably Have the Wrong Idea About Myers-Briggs, where I explain how the functions contain a lot more information than the individual letters.

Intro to MBTI Stories Series

You Probably Have the Wrong Idea About Myers-Briggs

MBTI Stories Series

The Misleading Introverted Cognitive Functions of the MBTI

Little Red Bird, flitting around to deliver words to the page | Creative Thinker | Content Developer | Lifelong Learner

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