Cognitive Dynamics

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


Cognitive Dynamics refers to the dynamic nature of the sixteen personality types based on the work of Carl Jung’s eight psychological types. That there were sixteen type whole type patterns was first articulated by Isabel Myers and Katharine Briggs and later expanded on by many theorist including Jungian Analyst, John Beebe. The eight cognitive processes are the foundation for many 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) The phrases designated with asterisks are from Dario Nardi’s book; Eight Keys to Self-Leadership (Radiance House, 2005). 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. Instead of nouns, we use the gerund form of the works to signify that these are processes and therefore activities we can all engage in.

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 external, extraverted world or in the internal, introverted world.

Se – extraverted SensingExperiencing 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”. *Immersing in the present context.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. *Stabilizing with a predictable standard.

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.*Exploring the emerging patterns.

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. *Transforming with a metaperspective.


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

Feeling judgments are based on personal, interpersonal, or universal values.

Te – extraverted ThinkingSegmenting and 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. *Measuring and constructing for progressTi – 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. *Gaining leverage using a framework

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. *Building trust through giving relationships

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. *Staying true to who you really are

 Cognitive Dynamics—Roles of the Processes

In Jung’s early descriptions, he described eight ‘types,’ each characterized by the dominance of one of these eight processes. Isabel Myers interpreted Jung’s writings as indicating that there is a secondary or auxiliary process that supports the dominant in our everyday life. As she developed the MBTI® instrument in the 1950′s she added an additional dichotomy (Judging—Perceiving) to indicate which of these processes was used in the outer world. What ensued is the now well known 4-letter type code that when decoded can tell us how each of the 16 personality type patterns will tend to use these 8 processes. There is a process for cracking this code, but for now, just accept that the patterns listed below indicate how the processes are use.

But first we must examine the work of Jungian analyst, Dr. John Beebe. Beebe observed in his clinical practice that each type has a different pattern of typically expressing these 8 processes. He identified eight roles of the processes. Below is a table listing the role names we have have useful and the processes for each of the 16 types. In the first four processes the roles are described first in a positive way, then when turned up too loud, they show up in a negative way. For the last four process, they reverse is true. We often express these roles when under some kind of stress. For more information read Understanding Yourself and Others®: An Introduction to the Personality Type Code. 

Roles of the Process of the 8 Perceiving Type Patterns

Roles of the Processes
Promoter Executor
Motivator Presenter
Planner Inspector
Protector Supporter
Explorer Inventor
Discoverer Advocate
Conceptualizer Director
Foreseer Developer
+ Leading
– Dominating
+ Supporting
– Overprotective
+ Relief
– Unsettling
+ Aspirational
– Projective
– Opposing
+ Backup
– Critical
+ Discovery
– Deceiving
+ Comedic
– Devilish
+ Transformative

Roles of the Process of the 8 Judging Dominant Types

Roles of the Processes
Implementor Supervisor
Strategist Mobilizer
Analyzer Operator
Designer Theorizer
Facilitator Caretaker
Envisioner Mentor
Composer Producer
Harmonizer Clarifier
+ Leading
– Dominating
+ Supporting
– Overprotective
+ Relief
– Unsettling
+ Aspirational
– Projective
– Opposing
+ Backup
– Critical
+ Discovery
– Deceiving
+ Comedic
– Devilish
+ Transformative

So the 16 personality types as represented by a four letter type code can and do use all eight of Jung’s ‘functions’ and are thus more dynamic than many people thing.