The 8 Functions of Type


The following is adapted from Gary Hartzler and Margaret Hartzler, Functions of Type: Activities to Develop the Eight Jungian Functions (Telos Publications, 2005) *Used with permission.

book cover - Facets of Type


Most of us, at one time or another, want to collect more useful data and make better decisions. When we make mistakes, we promise ourselves to "pay more attention to what is going on" or "consider all the factors before making a decision." But the truth is, we may not know how to pay more attention to what is going on, and we have little idea how to consider all the factors before making a decision.

The purpose of this book is to provide you with activities that you can use to strengthen your mental data-collection and decision-making skills. The specific mental skills that you will be better able to use are related to the eight psychological functions first defined by Carl Jung in his book Psychological Types. Over the past hundred years, literally hundreds of type practitioners have been refining the definitions of the eight functions. Our own work has been to focus on how to make personal choices about our self-development using these refined definitions.

Carl Jung and Isabel Myers described a process of psychological growth that has come to be known as type development. It is based on Jung's definitions of four perceiving functions and four judging functions. This growth process requires becoming aware of ourselves and the ways that we collect data and make decisions.

Also inherent in Jung's work is an awareness of the natural struggle between different processes: as we develop any one side of ourselves, we naturally make it more difficult to develop the other sides of ourselves. The purpose of this book is to help you focus your self-development efforts on those less-developed sides of yourself.

Using the Book

The activities included in this book were compiled so you can consciously and purposefully increase your ability to appropriately use the skills that are associated with each of the eight Jungian functions. As you perform any one of these activities, first assess how comfortable you are with the skill set, then learn how to incorporate the skills into your behaviors.

Early on, you can expect that the use of your less-developed functions will be awkward and/or inappropriate, especially those that are opposite to your Dominant and Auxiliary. We strongly recommend that you practice these new skills only when it is safe to use them poorly. If the skill involves other people, it is probably best to try it with people whom you trust to give you honest feedback on how they feel about your behavior.

Later, of course, you will probably go through a phase where you overuse the function, much as you may now overuse your Dominant. Overusing a function is an important phase of learning how to use the functions appropriately. By using a function too much (and sometimes getting "punished" for the overuse), a person will become aware of the upper limit on appropriate use.

It has been our experience that if you attempt to work on too many new skills at once, you may get discouraged and quit or have a less positive self-image. This is especially true if the skills being exercised are related to any function other than your Dominant or Auxiliary functions. Success also seems to come more easily if development of a skill serves a need determined by the Dominant, so look for a reason that you need to develop the skill that the Dominant understands.

Summary: The Eight Jungian Functions

Extraverted Sensing-The Scout Introverted Sensing-The Conservator
  • Objectively collects data through the five senses
  • Focuses on the current moment
  • Focuses on experiences that provide the most stimulation
  • Experiences present situations triggering perceptions of past situations, including the internal responses to the past situation
  • Compares the present to the past
  • Maintains objects and traditions
Extraverted Intuiting-The Brainstormer Introverted Intuiting-The Seer
  • Sees connections and possibilities in the external world
  • Generates multiple possibilities
  • Focuses on how things and relationships could be
  • Sees connections and possibilities in the internal world
  • Views situations from multiple perspectives until the "best" is perceived
  • Recognizes and values symbols
Extraverted Thinking-The Administrator Introverted Thinking-The Analyzer
  • Organizes the resources necessary to achieve measurable goals
  • Objectively and logically organizes people and resources
  • Evaluates performance against measurable standards
  • Organizes ideas and information into functional categories
  • Builds an understanding of how things and ideas work
  • Uses categories and understandings to make decisions
Extraverted Feeling-The Guide Introverted Feeling-The Conscience
  • Initiates and maintains social networks
  • Organizes the people in harmonious social networks to complete valuable activities
  • Seeks to maintain relationships
  • Seeks to understand what is truly important: their deeply held values
  • Makes value based decisions to maintain personal integrity
  • Helps others maintain their integrity


Hierarchical Development

Some Jungian theorists use hierarchical models for which functions and at what ages we are most likely to develop our first four functions. Most Jungian theorists contend that the Dominant is more developed than the Auxiliary, the Auxiliary more developed than its opposite (called the Tertiary), and the Tertiary function more developed than the opposite of the Dominant (called the Inferior function).

Harold Grant documented that if our environment supports our inherent personalities, we will develop

  • Our Dominant in our early years, six to twelve years of age
  • Our Auxiliary in our teen years, thirteen to twenty
  • Our Tertiary, opposite of the Auxiliary in our twenties and early thirties
  • Our Inferior (opposite of our Dominant) in our late thirties through our fifties.


So far we have talked about balancing the Dominant and the Auxiliary with their opposites (the Tertiary and Inferior) but this would mean a person would have only four of the eight functions to use consciously. What about the other four functions? This area of type development theory has recently come into focus, mostly due to a model presented by John Beebe, a Jungian analyst. Beebe contends that the other four functions can be consciously developed, but doing so will take much more will power and effort than developing the Dominant, Auxiliary, and their opposites.

John Beebe agrees with Carl Jung that the Dominant and Auxiliary are normally the first two functions developed. He has stated that the Tertiary would normally be the next to develop, in the same attitude as the Dominant, then the Inferior in the attitude opposite to the Dominant, but that the other four functions will develop as the individual's situation calls for them. Any one function could be more or less developed than any of the others. For example, for the ENTJ personality:

Te Dominant-high level of development

Ni Auxiliary-high level of development with some aspects of Ni at medium level

Se Tertiary (opposite of Auxiliary)-medium level of development with some aspects of Se at low levels

Fi Inferior (opposite of Dominant)-low level of development with some aspects of Fi at medium level

Ti, Ne, Si, and Fe-low level of development with a few times in life when they get to a medium level and/or medium level of development of any of these that needed to be developed in response to specific life situations or needs.

Of course, this basic level of development of each of the eight functions forms a base only for the first half of life.

Once we understand and feel comfortable with our Dominant, we will eventually have to focus on developing its opposite, the Inferior. Since development of the opposite function requires us to acknowledge that our earlier development wasn't complete, the development and integration of this function is difficult and often neglected. It is recognized as the work of the second half of life by most of the people involved in studying this phenomenon.

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