As with the Introvert/Extrovert distinction, I also line up near the middle of the Thinking vs Feeling scale, according to the MBTI.
In 1996, my results placed me slightly into the Feeling side of the spectrum. In September 2014, my results were scored as 53% Thinker, 47% Feeler.
If you're following along, this is another post in a series where I'm reviewing the various strengths, personality, styles assessments that I've taken through the years. Ultimately, I'll synthesize all the results into the common themes I uncover.
You might call this project a qualitative analysis of the results of quantitative (or quasi-quantitative) data.
It's all part of my desires to always be growing and improving. You know my mantra: Discover. [Be]Inspire[d]. Grow. Shine.
I'll start with the descriptions of Thinkers vs. Feelers.
Characteristics of Thinkers
My 2014 MBTI results placed me 53% Thinker.
The MyPlan report uses these adjectives to describe Thinkers: Analytical, Logical, Rational, Objective, Fair, Thoughtful, Critical.
Here are a few statements from the MyPlan Report that explains the Thinking side of the scale:
- “Thinkers believe that it is more important to be right and honest with themselves than it is to be liked.”
- “[Thinkers] pride themselves on being very rational and objective.”
- “The thinker seeks fairness.”
- “Thinkers remove themselves emotionally from their decisions.”
- Thinkers “train their minds on cause and effect reasoning.”
Objectivity & Fairness
I definitely agree with the first item. Although I like to be liked, I prefer to be accurate and honest. I would definitely classify myself as rational and objective in gathering information and that is a point of pride.
When it comes to making decisions that affect other people, I also strive to be objective and fair. In fact, fairness is extremely important to me. I actively strive to avoid showing favoritism and I'm willing to look at all evidence, not just the evidence that supports my position.
But I also look to the situation and what's at stake. For example, as a teacher in some classes I will give extensions on assignments as an accommodation to pleas for mercy because of x, y, z situation. I don't always like doing this and I'm less likely to do it for seniors than for freshmen. But in my current environment, scheduling accommodation is the norm and “being liked” by students matters a great deal (in teaching evaluations, for instance, which are deemed sacrosanct).
On the other hand, if I give an accommodation to one student for something, I'll also give the same accommodation to others in similar situations. In other words, once I've established an exception-to-my-rule, I'll be fair in applying the exception in all analogous circumstances. So I'm very fair.
When it comes to news and reporting, objectivity and truth is extremely important to me. One reason I stopped watching cable TV news is due to the shift to punditry and inflammatory hyperbole. Now, to stay informed, I peruse a range of online news sources and place a lot of emphasis on considering source credibility.
Cause & Effect
I seek to understand cause-and-effect, so the final bullet point above is also applicable. My favorite question is “Why”? I have an innate need to understand things, both holistically and the way variables relate to and impact other variables.
I'm very analytical in the first stage of my decision-making process and when I have to make complex decisions with far-reaching implications. As I said previously, when it comes to making decisions about complex problems, I like to gather facts objectively, analyze them critically, and then leave the problem for my subconscious to mull over and interpret while I do something else unrelated (sleep, run, hike, cook).
“….thinkers are possessed of a fervent and enduring quest for truth.”
Yes. That pretty much summarizes everything about me, my personality and who I am.
If the quest for truth is the defining characteristic of a Thinker in the MBTI, then I would clearly fall into the Thinker spectrum.
The Delta Zeta Creed includes the admonition
“…To seek the truth and defend it always….”
Truth is at the core of my being and that phrase in the creed has always resonated with me, perhaps more than any other part of the creed.
That said, knowing the truth does not require a revelation of all facts. Sometimes, it's necessary to keep certain facts private, to hold them in confidence, if making the facts known would unnecessarily hurt someone or cause pain. In this sense, fairness comes into play and values become paramount.
The Feeling Type
By way of contrast, the MyPlan report describes the Feeling type as someone who “believes that the right decision is the one that takes others' feelings into account” and “seeks harmony.”
Looking back to my 1996 MBTI results, I scored slightly on the Feeling side.
The MBTI Narrative for my 1996 results describes Feelers as someone who “uses values to reach conclusions” and “often let[s] decisions become influenced by their own and other people's likes and dislikes.”
Considerate of Others
The reality is that I also do consider how other people feel about things I say and do, almost to my detriment. I sometimes might be too willing to adapt my own wishes to what other people want and need. I think this was more true in my early years than today. Nonetheless, my willingness to fulfill duties and responsibilities can lead me down the path of putting my own needs and wishes at the end of my to-do list.
Harmony is important to me, especially in personal relationships and environments where I have to spend a great deal of time. I tend to leave situations where there is a lack of harmony, if I'm not in a position to mediate and resolve problems. So in that sense, I also tend toward the Feeling side of the spectrum.
I've said more than once, that I want to be remembered as someone who was honest and nice to others. By nice, I don't mean a “patsy,” but someone who is compassionate and cares about the feelings of others. I suppose that's strongly associated with the Feeling side of the MBTI.
Considers the Underlying Values
Last week, I wrote about the MoralDNA test, which looks at the role of values in decision-making. Values are very important to me and my values system can be summed up by the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
When I'm faced with a decision that will impact someone else in a meaningful way, I almost always look at how my choice will affect others and how I would want to be treated if the tables were turned. I don't always make the choice that serves others before myself, but sometimes I do and I try to avoid making choices that I know would hurt someone else.
Communication Preferences of Feeling Types
This is an area touched on in the 1996 report and I don't identify strongly with most of the communication styles listed. I do try to be sociable and friendly. That is something I work at, although I'm not a gadfly.
Beyond that, I'll admit that one of my weaknesses (at least to some extent), is that I'm also not a cheerleader-type. I tend to be “let's get down to business,” solve a problem and move on. I'm not the type of person who automatically thinks to send motivational notes and best wishes cards, texts or emails to friends. It's something I have to work at.
In the context of student expectations at Samford, this aspect of my personality style has been a problem for me. I am not accustomed to the “everyone gets a trophy” mindset and I was not prepared for the need to preface my feedback on writing assignments by starting with praise. I think I've adapted well to this expectation, but it is not my common approach.
I can understand the importance of giving positive feedback, as well as “here's how to improve.” It just wasn't my style–perhaps that comes from being a lawyer. Success as a lawyer depends on considering all the possible negatives and downsides and looking for ways to remove or mitigate risks.
I'm not swayed by rah-rah enthusiasm. I'm definitely more interested in the facts, not the spin on the facts. So I tend to want to poke holes in hyperbole, rather than be persuaded by it.
Am I A Thinker or a Feeler?
After thinking through these characteristics, I think that I tend to be more of a Thinker, overall, and strongly inclined toward Thinking when making big personal decisions. But on matters that affect other people, I also consider their needs, likes and dislikes. My desire to be fair means I have to consider others.
In short, I'm a human, not a robot. I believe in fairness, not autocratic bureaucracy. As I see it, purely quantitative decision-making cannot (or least does not typically) take into account all relevant facets of a situation. Objectivity is important, the quest for truth is paramount.
Are YOU a thinker or a feeler? Share your thoughts….I'd love to hear from you!
An aside: I began writing this post around 6 a.m., Saturday, November 1, with the goal of finishing it before I had to leave for an on-campus work event. It's the coldest morning since April. Here are the conditions in Birmingham right now. I thought it would be cool to include this from time to time, particularly in these posts that are more akin to journaling.