Bridging psychological type and depth psychology

Editors: Carol Shumate, Mark Hunziker, Jenny Soper, Christopher Ross, Lori Green, and Olivia Ireland (Art Editor)

Next Issue: October

Q: What do ‘J’ & ‘P’ really mean?

The common modern practice of considering all ‘Js,’ including the ‘I—Js,’ to be ‘Judging types’ and ‘I—Ps’ ‘Perceiving types’ diverges from Jung’s use of the terms to refer to the dominant and may be contributing to a tendency to interpret the fourth letter of the type code in a misleading way. This oversimplification does a disservice to both Jung and Myers: It overrides Jung’s definition of these concepts, and it obscures both the underlying concept of Extraversion in Myers’ J—P dichotomy and the originality of Myers’ and Briggs’ contribution to Jung’s theory.

Jung focused on the types as defined by the dominant function. Although he noted that such types are not likely to be found “in such pure form in actual life” (1971, para. 666), observing that the other less conscious functions would modify the caricatured personalities of his examples, his section on the auxiliary function seems almost an afterthought. Myers filled that gap by designing a way to identify the auxiliary function, thus extrapolating sixteen types by adding the auxiliaries to Jung’s eight dominant-function types.

Jung considered all of the types that the MBTI® code identifies as I—J to be Perceiving types,1 and all I—Ps to be Judging types,2 because of his emphasis on the supreme importance of the dominant function. For ISTJ, for example, introverted Sensing (Si), a Perceiving function, is what is most important. For ISTP, it is introverted Thinking (Ti), a Judging function. It should be noted that Jung’s categorization also implies different cross-type compatibilities and oppositions than does the J—P classification on Myers’ type charts.

Though Isabel Myers appears to have understood, agreed with, and applied Jung’s understanding of ‘judgment’ and ‘perception,’ she also used the terms in a new way. To identify the auxiliary function, Myers needed a way to determine which function is extraverted and the J—P dichotomy was born. She was also trying to reconcile Jung’s theory with Katharine Briggs’ observations of how people use judging and perceiving. According to the MBTI® Manual, “The J—P dichotomy has two uses. First, in conjunction with the E—I dichotomy, it is used to identify which of the two preferred functions is the leading or dominant function and which is the auxiliary function. Second, it describes identifiable attitudes or orientations to the outer world.” (Myers, et al., 1998, p. 26).  Myers continued to use the terms the way Jung used them in Psychological Types, as indicating the dominant function, but she also used them for the new purpose of pointing to the preferred extraverted function.

Myers’ and Briggs’ innovative application of Jung’s theory of judgment and perception made later innovations possible, such as Keirsey’s Temperament theory and Beebe’s Eight-Function Eight-Archetype model. But Myers’ J—P language has caused confusion because she used the terms both ways: in her text to indicate the dominant (1962, pp. 9-16); and in her charts to indicate the extraverted function (1962, p. 18). She could perhaps have avoided the confusion if she had called her new dimension something like the ‘JX—PX’ dichotomy, ‘JX’ for Judging extraverted and ‘PX’ for Perceiving extraverted.

It is undeniable that Briggs and Myers identified something real with their J—P characteristics, because this dichotomy has been so reliably used to identify type codes and to enhance personal and work relationships. But is it getting at who we really are? Have we lost something in forgetting Jung’s J—P categorization? If the J—P dichotomy focuses exclusively on our interface with external reality, then we may all be more than we seem, e.g., ‘P’s could be more ‘J’ than they appear and vice versa.

What is your understanding of the theory? What does the J—P score really assess? What are your observations?


1 “The two types just described [Si and Ni dominant] are almost inaccessible to judgment” (para 664).
2 “Both the foregoing types [Fi and Ti dominant] may be termed rational, since they are grounded on the functions of rational judgment” (para 644).


Jung, C. G. (1971). Psychological Types. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Myers, Isabel Briggs. (1962, 1970, 1976). Introduction to Type®, second edition. Gainesville, FL: Center for Applications of Psychological Type, Inc.

Myers, Isabel Briggs. (1998). Introduction to Type®. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc.

Myers, I. B., McCaulley, M. H., Quenk, N. L. and Hammer, A. L. (1998). MBTI® Manual. Palo Alto, CA: CPP, Inc.

Header Image: Man Ray, “Misunderstood,” 1938


    I am an INTJ: introverted intuition (Ni) with extraverted thinking (Te). When extraverting (e.g., problem-solving in a group), I clearly feel that stereotypically ‘J’ drive to reach a resolution and move on to the next thing. I also appear to be (and tend to think of myself as) organized, methodical, and so on. However, when introverting or tossing around possibilities with other introverted intuitives, I could go on ‘Perceiving’ virtually forever. It’s ‘the fun stuff’ for me. Furthermore, my organizational skills, when I examine them honestly, are not as strong as I’d like to think. I would say that I actually have more in common with the general assumptions about how “Ps” think and operate than with ‘Js.’ And I believe that Introverts, in general, belie the conventional wisdom about their fourth letter. IJs are ‘closet Ps,’ and IPs are secretly really Js. We just seem to conform to the P/J assumptions made from our type codes because that’s what we show the world.

    What does it matter? Despite our best efforts to avoid doing so, we all tend to spin or ignore information to fit our theories, preconceptions, etc. It’s a human cognitive tendency that serves to simplify data to make it more manageable. If it had never occurred to me that I am a dominant perceiving type, I might well overlook, or at least not fully appreciate, the power of my dominant perceiving traits. I would probably, for example, think of myself as a mediocre organizer, whereas it’s more accurate (and easier to live with) to realize that I am capable of being a great organizer, but only if and when I can reign-back my Ni drive to keep everything open-ended. And I would run the risk of doing similar damage with introverted clients, whose private, albeit dominant function is not in plain view. It would certainly severely undermine my ability to help them verify their true type.

    –Mark Hunziker, PTD co-editor

  • While working on this article, Mark and I had an amusing demonstration of the power of Myers’ J-P categories: Mark (INTJ) kept wanting to narrow down the focus and I (ENFP) kept wanting to broaden the focus. Of course, it’s not so funny when you’re in the middle of one of these struggles; it’s only when you realize that you’re in a classic J-P confrontation that you can laugh about it. So we know from experience that Myers was right. But we took a deliberately provocative tone in this article because we want to get past the jargon to a better understanding of these terms. We think there is much more to learn here.

    Also, this article explains our editorial preference of referring to the types the way Jung did, by function-attitude. Referring to ISTJs and ISFJs as introverted sensing types (Si) avoids the confusion and even inaccuracy caused by referring to them as Judging types. When we say someone is ‘Si dominant,’ the ‘J’ is understood. Some have complained that it’s bad form to refer to someone as a ‘J’ or a ‘P,’ suggesting that we should substitute ‘judging type’ for ‘J’ and ‘perceiving type’ for ‘P.’ But in the case of the introverts, it is more accurate to call them a ‘J’ and a perceiving type, or a ‘P’ and a judging type. That way we are being consonant with both Myers and Jung.

    -Carol Shumate, PTD Co-Editor

  • As an ISFJ (dominant introverted sensing with auxiliary extraverted feeling), I exhibit the J trait of wanting to move toward closure when working with others on a project. However, I lament the J label because I think it misses the fact that my orientation is anchored more in perception–in the realm that Jung called “irrational”–than in a rational, judging process. Interpersonal relations tend to become uncomfortable if identified issues in a group are left unresolved for too long, so my extraverted feeling desire for harmony wants to wrap things up expeditiously, but my core identity is still in perception. If I observe something happening that seems logically impossible and that I cannot explain rationally, I still believe it. For me, perception finally trumps reason.

    From working with others who are trying to identify their type, I have the impression that the J/P dimension may be the one that most commonly leads to misdiagnosis of type. For example, I have seen several ISFPs who scored as ISFJ.

  • I believe the J/P dimension is the source of major confusion when working with type. My type code is ISTJ and I am definitely a perceiving type. I am constantly seeking to acquire more information and delaying decisions beyond the point of being able to implement what I’ve decided. Yet, when others engage me they are often unaware of this need for more information and the delaying of decisions. Instead they hear closure or decisiveness in what I say as I relate to the world through my extraverted thinking. This leads me to believe the confusion with the J-P dimension on the MBTI stems from the language we professionals use. It is much more accurate to say that I tend to engage the world through my extraverted thinking than to say that I engage through my J. Our engagements come through our function-attitudes not through our attitudes, and Myers considered her J-P dimension to be an attitude.

  • The collaboration of individual indicator results with personal history reaches a more complete picture touching all four bases of preference.

    An INTJ, I can relate to the comment of Mark about functioning as an extraverted thinker, especially among those in possession of that type as a dominant function. By aptitude, and given the predominance of situations favoring this type, I gravitated to this functional orientation in the classroom and the office. However, I sometimes saw myself as an anomaly, unable to explain inconsistency. Despite generally keeping pace, no matter what the level of proficiency of thinking, relative to the more methodical, I frequently had occasion to race ahead or lag behind. Through understanding of type I had an answer to this life-long dilemma. Clearly, the delineation of a dominant function of introverted intuition, with an auxiliary function being extraverted thinking raised awareness.

    But, it does not stop there. Although thinking over feeling is, for me, a small preference (represented by an indicator measure of 3) I possess identity with introverted feeling, over thinking; which I also observe in my relationships. Identification with extraverted feeling is remote.

    While I can clearly define myself in terms defining INTJ better than I am able to do with definition of another type, I once obtained the indicator result of INFP. At the time I was influenced more by family activity, at home with four children, whereas, at work, left to my own devices, and over the course of most of my life, and having more than one instance of indicator result, I maintain INTJ correspondence. Interestingly, I can identify with INTP, though not as strongly, and it stops there. I do not register strong relation to INFJ, again, due to the thinking over feeling preference in extraversion.

    Likewise, I can easily identify, and cannot avoid regular reminders by friends and family, that extraverted sensation (opposite strong preferences for introversion and for intuition) for me, is the inferior function. Despite awareness that no matter the magnitude, it generally helps to consider a preference is a preference, I think it can also help, in individual matters, to take note of the degree of relative strength of the preference. When push comes to shove, or when the individual is in another element, it can point to areas of facility for adaptation.

  • Personally, I think it’s time to drop the Myers-Briggs Type Code. Listing the function-attitudes in order (with some sort of punctuation between them to separate them, like “/”) Decoding one’s Type is just one more step and takes “unlearning” of E + N + F + P that people inevitably “learn.”

    In addition, we lose sight of the more general categories of Introverted Perceiving, Extraverted Perceiving, Introverted Judgment and Extraverted Judgment and the ability to show how Si and Ni dominant share qualities because they’re I__P. I’ve seen very little written about Pi, Pe, Ji and Je, and as long as we oversimplify and only pay attention the Xe functions at the end of the Type Code.

    Yes, Myers and Briggs really added a lot to creating a system that follows Jung’s very briefly mentioned rule of Type hierarchy. But it’s time to evolve and move on to a simpler system, and one that includes the possibility of discussing variations in Type that Spoto and Singer Loomis posit, which deserve investigation.

  • Good article to stimulate an important discussion, Carol and Mark! Your point on frequency of confused understanding related to J/P is well taken I think. At the same time, the contribution of Myers’ code to helping identify one’s dominant and auxiliary is a major one I believe–as indicated by the positive type description given in the few examples described by Jung when “a second function” is also somewhat developed into consciousness. As a clinician, I find this tool extremely useful–and consistent with Jung (e.g., par. 405, Psychological Types.) Every bit as useful as his dominant function type descriptions which emphasize a psyche out of balance.

    If we insist on calling someone a type letter of any kind, I like a catchy phrase suggested by someone to reduce the misunderstanding. “I..Js are really ‘closet Ps’ and ‘I..Ps’ are really ‘closet Js.'” Of course, this takes some further explanation, but I’ve found it always gets a person’s attention and they seem to always remember their dominant as indicated by the Myers’ code.

  • What does the J-P score really assess? I think it addresses the attitude of desiring closure (J) or desiring openness (P). The one thing it does not do is create a pointer to dominant-auxiliary functions. The reason I say that is because there is not a shred of evidence that type dynamics (as defined by a dominant function with an auxiliary function with the opposite attitude) is valid. It’s not that the issue has not been explored – it has but after all these years there is no evidence that this concept has validity. What’s left? The simple additive nature of all the four type factors.

    So – an I–J is a quieter more organized person; an I–P is a quieter more spontaneous person.

  • Michael, I agree with you 100%. I would love to see a day when self-verification of Best-Fit Type evolves beyond the dichotomous “4-Letter” language and enters a more dynamic context.

    I admit– I am a wise-ass by nature. If another individual (or website) asks me for my “type,” I am inclined to respond with “Ne, Ti” and not the 4-letter TYPE CODE that one may expect. If an individual cannot discern my Type Code based on my Dominant and Auxiliary processes, that speaks VOLUMES to their own understanding of the core of Type-Theory.

    The J-P dichotomy has been, for FAR too long, the “Dog and Pony Show” of type. It have been trivialised into “Organised people” and “Procrastinators,” instead of being taught in the intended manner of Briggs and Myers: describing HOW INDIVIDUALS PREFER TO INTERACT WITH AND ORGANISE THEIR OUTSIDE WORLD (i.e.: what cognitive process is Extraverted– the Judging process of thinking or feeling, or the Perceiving process of sensing or intuition.)

    This provides a unique conundrum for those who prefer the “Intoverted” attitude over the “Extraverted”… for their dominant process acts in the internal world… and what other see is the Auxiliary.

    It is high time that the “letters” associated with MBTI(R) types are referred to as type CODES and nothing more. As a massive math-geek, I will say that in this particular case, the “Whole” is much MUCH more than the sum of its “Parts.”

  • Hi,

    I must admit that i over two decades of using type, I’ve never had any problem with J-P either in understanding myself or understanding others.

    The Type Code thing is what it’s been known to me as in all that time i.e. an artifact of the measuring device which Isabel Myers referred to as an “Indicator” not a test, assessment, tool or any of those other words

    Bob, I know we have differing views on the functions, but I see your example as being a use of either introverted Sensing (more likely) or negative extraverted iNtuition, the latter possibly leading to “paralysis through analysis” for your type preferences and the former leading to the same if you’re a dominant extraverted intuitive. It’s nothing to do with whether you prefer J or P.

    It is possible, in my view for people to use an introiverted function in the external world. We see it all the time with some musicians, for instance, and I’ve done it myself in using introverted thinking in meetings and when teaching.

    As to what Isabel Myers said or should of said, I suppose that’
    s a moot point, but we have to remember that she never claimed to be a theorist, simply identifying a way that Jung’s ideas might be made “practical and useful” and obviously in an American cultural milieu of measurement, albeit a method she thought compatible with Jung’s idea.

    In 1946, ahe had a Report Form for the BMTI (as it was then) in which E and I are described as “Extraversion of favourite function”and “Introversion of favourite function”respectively. J and P are are “Judging function extraverted” and Perceiving function extraverted” respectively. There’s a bit on preferred functions and of course the other scales which are now public in Step III (nothing about Concrete or Abstract of course.

    Never at any time did she say that if you preferred J than that was the end of it, nor did she use scores to that effect.

    My contribution.



  • The simple answer is, that Myers and Briggs should never have stuck those j/p labels on in the first place. And it was an even bigger mistake to call a Sí dominant type a judger. They didn’t know what they were doing and the confusion they have caused can be seen on every mbti forum around the world. Their type descriptions don’t even match up to what the functions actually do. I mean the isfj description paints a picture of a Fi user, yet they label them Fe users? John Beebe is getting closer to the truth with his work, and socionics went even further. It’s time for the Myers and Briggs model to be thrown out, along with their j/p debacle.

  • There is no question to me that an introverted function can show up in our dealings with the outside, so I’m in agreement with Peter Geyer. I’ve seen John Beebe write similar things, such as an example of introverted feeling used against the outside, where feelings are expressed to an outer party, but based on a psychology where inner factors are predominantly determining the manner and content of expression.

    The idea here is that introversion is not about whether you are interacting with the inside or outside, but rather the predominance of inner or outer factors in a given cognition.
    Thus, to me, it really doesn’t make sense to say that we need a separate function to extravert, in that if inner factors are consistently more important, then it really doesn’t matter whether you are “going outside” yourself or not: always the decisive points will be influenced more from within, even if the outside is heavily considered. Only if at some point your interest is predominantly in the object, not in the subject, as opposed to merely interacting with the object while all the while having the subject predominantly in mind, does it make sense to me to say that we are actually extraverting.

    When Myers interpreted the idea that “in every respect” the auxiliary differs from the dominant function, I’d mention that Jung referred to “function” as the four functions of sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking. While he indeed believed the functions looked incredibly different as processes in the two separate attitudes, I doubt by function he meant function-attitude there, as far as terminology, and he seemed to refer to attitudes very specifically.

    All this said, is the theory of opposite function-attitudes wrong? Not for everyone. Jung has spoken of a large group of people in the middle, roughly, between introversion/extraversion. It is quite possible some such would exhibit a relatively introverted second function, with a relatively extraverted first one, or vice versa, with both grouping together in consciousness. In others, it is possible that they’re mistaking how conscious their secondary function really is.
    And in still others, let’s just remember Jung devoted a lot more attention to things besides the auxiliary function in Pychological Types, so it’s quite possible he left open how these things would play out to further theorizing. Marie-Louise von Franz theorized, agreeing with Jung’s later remarks, that three functions roughly could be developed, and that in people who don’t develop in a traditional order, the four all could end up being used easily.

    Moving on to another point, I think how people develop models often depends on what phenomenon they are interested in. The functions are so ubiquitous and general that in some sense, there may be lots of “models” people follow, which are quite meaningful.
    James Hillman warns about using Psychological Types to diagnose people, rather than merely psychological ideas. I’d say Jung’s own work suggests a sort of hybrid, but Psychological Types really strikes me as more centered on ideas, and the language of functions does seem more suited to this. Psychological ideas, roughly, I interpret to be ideas whose origin and nature are inseparable from certain psychological factors, that is, the consciousness (and its unconscious compensatory side) which gave birth to the idea.

    Myers clearly did not seem to be as interested in or restricting to categorizing psychological ideas. She really seriously seemed to take the step towards developing empirically reliable sorting mechanisms based on meaningful trends marking people’s differences, as personalities. This bias shows in the J/P sorter, which is to me significantly different (whether applied merely to extraverted functions or all functions) from the original idea of rational and irrational types.

    The thing is “types of consciousness” are so broad that they could be applied either more to personality psychology, or to so-called psychological ideas.

    These aims are just different. As David Keirsey hints, and as James Hillman parallels, psychological ideas are kind of inherently subjective to discuss, as at every moment there is the question of how my consciousness is assembling an approximation (tinted by its lens) of another’s. Both seem to be of the opinion that these things are not nearly empirical. Whereas arguably, in aiming for a quantitatively sound and validated implementation of Jungian type where people could actually recognize each others’ observable differences, Myers was aiming at being especially extraordinarily empirical in her aims.

    This goes back to one of my ideas, which is that functions can perhaps be recognized empirically (there’s a definition, and you can learn to apply it). But psychological orientations comprised of certain function-attitudes are a separate story, and are not nearly as empirical, unless we sort of streamline everything, as even I am prone to do at times for illustration (referring speculative intellect, empirical thinking, and such common manifestations), following Jung, but am quite wary of for the sake of not losing descriptive richness and entering into bias.

    As to what J/P actually does, I don’t really think it refers clearly to extraverted judging/perceiving, or even judging and perceiving at all, as implemented in the tests. It seems to refer to very specific facets of personality, like some said above. Arguably, the way Jung described his types, actually, if we go specifically by trait associations (which we should NOT limit ourselves to, based on all I’ve said about Jung actually being more about characterizing psychological ideas than personality), the introverted intuitive types look incredibly P, not J. This is especially evident in Marie-Louise von Franz’s descriptions.

    I’d say the “big picture” message to take away from all this is that different Jungian typology theorists seem to be hitting different angles of how these pretty ubiquitous (to my eye at least) ideas Jung wrote of can play out in organized form within consciousness. There’s no question there is a certain intuitive parallel among all of them, but in a more direct empirical sense, they do not seem to be using the intuitively similar ideas to model the psyche precisely the same way, or with the same emphasis in terms of what differences they identify.

  • A follow-up in the spirit of the longer post I made recently: I’d say something I hope to see more of is people comparing and contrasting their approaches to typology (which is somehow what this question is all about – contrasting Jung and Myers in this case).

    Michael Pastor’s post is intriguing. I have often thought along the same lines: more types, and so forth. However, that said, I will place a caveat: the idea of simplifying theory’s rules and allowing for more flexibility will indeed allow for a more exact description, but perhaps sacrifice the aim of truly organizing the underlying principles, pinning them down.

    That’s one of the reasons we’re attracted to models – they offer something in the way of reason to the madness. It’s useful to really identify what paradigm is being used for bringing reason to the madness.

    Perhaps a conjecture at what John Beebe is doing would be something like this – where Jung notes clearly that the type itself is based on the conscious psychology of the individual, we also know that this isn’t some kind of randomly occurring entity. The “subject,” which is to say the human being, has a certain nature, which is as much related to the unconscious as to the conscious, and archetypes get at some of the most primordial such tendencies. While Jung does warn against deciding types based on the unconscious, rather than the conscious psychology, if we are indeed to claim there is something “innate” about the subject which tends to result in type formation, starting with these primordial factors isn’t such a bad place.

    The *danger* though is when dealing with the primordial, I seriously doubt we can get too analytically rigid about how these types of things show up, and to some extent might have to treat their presence as intuitive facts to tune into. Beebe considers himself an intuitive above all, so I imagine he can make some very insightful diagnoses using his method, but I don’t see much of a premise to systematizing such a thing overly in terms of how we recognize the archetypes at play – it would seem to defeat the entire premise behind introducing archetypes perhaps. (I’m far from an expert on the Beebe model, but this is just the sense I get, as a speculative conjecture on what’s going on.)

    Then again, this is part of a really and truly Jungian approach perhaps, as dream interpretation (similarly) requires that sort of intuitive touch.

  • I have a question for Bob McAlpine and Mark Hunziker respectively, I was wondering if both off you could relate more to the J or P dichotomy of the MBTI? Considering both off you are irrational dominant in Jungian terms. As I am an MBTI practioner I am afraid how the J and P will affect my clients response to this dichotomy considering ISTJ, INTJ, ISFJ, INFJ are all irrational dominant. I would be very happy and grateful, if you could help me clarify this tension I have towards understanding this.

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