Monday, May 19, 2014

Revisiting Introverted Feeling and Extraverted Feeling

I wanted to say something about introverted feeling and extraverted feeling. I think there’s a lot of people mistyping themselves because of how these functions get oversimplified, i.e. that Fe gets reduced to simple conformity and Fi gets the distinct privilege of individuality and authenticity.

Fi is a very moral function, a morality that is generally uninfluenced by social values, but—and this is important—is an INTROVERTED function. What this means is that the person often articulates very little about their morals, if at all. It’s very easy to cross their values, because you don’t know what they are. For example: the chair of my department in grad school had Fi as his lead function. I taught for three semesters. At the end of my third semester, I had my first cheating case. We were required to bring the chair in when we talked to the student. While the fact of her cheating was quite clear, the university guidelines were not. At one point, we sent the student out of the room to discuss her case. I stated how I thought we should proceed. He didn’t really say anything. We brought her back in, and I explained she would get a 0 for the assignment, at which point the chair encouraged her to appeal. Afterwards, he implied my decision had not been a moral one but did not elaborate. Fi is shown here in the subtlety of his values and the discomfort of articulating them too directly.

Fe is a hostess function and is warm, expressive and inclusive. They are more influenced by social norms and oriented towards the social language of gestures, tone and so forth. As such, they can be group oriented (especially when combined with the traditionalism of Si) but they must feel that the group’s values are aligned with their own. They aren’t chameleons changing values when they change groups. That would be too utilitarian and strategic for them. Rather, they have the values and seek a group that exemplifies them. However, Fe is an EXTRAVERTED function, which means the values will be expressed quite readily. You are unlikely to be confused about what they are. For example, my mom’s an INFJ. Many years ago, her (Episcopalian) church got a new priest, who was gay. A number of the parishioners were threatening to leave the church. At a meeting to discuss the new priest, my mother stood up and took on the whole group, telling them why such a homophobic move was wrong, and how in general they were being reactionary and ridiculous. When the group is going astray, Fe users (especially INFJ) have no qualms about being outspoken so that the group maintains its integrity. That is usually more extraverted than Fi users are comfortable with, who prefer to express their values more subtly and like to quietly live them out in their own way.

When I was in grad school, I had a rather aggressive student hassling me. He objected to a course policy and confronted me in my office. The way he communicated it was rather unnerving (attacks on my character, a creepy amount of attention to my mannerisms and his perceptions about my emotional state) and, after an hour, when I tried to conclude the discussion, refused to leave. An INFJ adjunct professor heard what was happening and got a senior faculty member to intervene. The next week, an INFP graduate student instructor, who had overheard the discussion, came into my office. He expressed his sympathies in a low-key manner and knew just the right thing to say in a few sentences, although we didn’t talk about it for terribly long. He inquired as to how I was feeling, without offering any advice. The INFJ also talked to me about it, but she sat me down and told me exactly what I needed to do to protect myself, all the reasons why she thought it was a very scary situation, shared similar experiences that she’d had and in general, was very passionate and expressive.

These aren’t my typings of them, by the way, but rather their own self-typings. (In all the examples, actually.) I think the last example really demonstrates the Fi and Fe difference, in terms of how introversion and extraversion influence expression of values, both in terms of style and intensity.

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