Cognitive Processes and Skill Development*

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


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.

Type Development

There are two stages of awareness: unconscious and conscious.

We are all born unaware (unconscious), and life is a process of becoming aware (conscious). The goal of type development is to move our awareness of our functions from the unconscious to the conscious. Once we recognize each function, we can develop the skills related to the function, learn to trust it, and ultimately become comfortable with it.

Any aspect of a function that is not available to the conscious part of our psyche still works for us, but it works unconsciously. Unconscious aspects of functions influence how we think, act, process information, make decisions, and experience emotions. It is just that the conscious part of our psyche isn't aware of this, and we may not understand why we are experiencing what we are experiencing. It often feels as though we are "out of control," and from a conscious viewpoint, we are.

The purpose of development is to be as conscious as we can be of all aspects of ourselves so that there is less chance of the unconscious taking over the psyche. Generally, when unconscious functions take over the psyche, we don't like the results. The more conscious we are of our functions, the more choices we have available to us.

The psyche is dynamic and is always seeking balance.

The job of the perceiving functions is to collect information. They will keep collecting information forever. The job of the judging functions is to close that process off and make decisions. This dynamic interplay between the perceiving functions and the judging functions and the balance they achieve determine how effective an individual is.

The perceiving functions rely on the judging functions to do something with the data they provide. The judging functions rely on the perceiving functions to provide useful information in a timely fashion. This sharing of responsibility creates one of the dynamic tensions in the psyche that was described by Jung.

The four ways of perceiving will either find a way to work together or interfere with each other. Once the preferred perceiving function is reasonably well developed, it will be conscious and the other three will be primarily unconscious.

Similarly, the four ways of making decisions will either find a way to work together or interfere with each other. Once the preferred judging function is reasonably well developed, it will be conscious and the other three will be primarily unconscious. This is a balance, but situations that specifically enable (or even emotionally charge) one of the three unconscious judging functions will dynamically change that balance.

The dynamic of staying in balance plays out in the balancing of the Dominant and Auxiliary with the other six functions. For example, a person whose preference is ENTJ will most likely consciously depend on Te and Ni. Overuse of these functions can mean that their opposites, Fi and Se, will not be given enough time and attention to be developed so that the conscious part of the psyche can trust them. Thus, as people develop, they need to trust that, in most situations, their Dominant and Auxiliary processes are providing them with solid data and appropriate evaluations but know that each of these functions most likely has blind spots. These blind spots can be avoided or at least minimized with the development of the other functions.

As you read through the descriptions of the functions in this book, you will need to decide which functions you have developed and which ones need development. A short self-assessment questionnaire has been provided for each function which you can use to help focus your evaluations of your skills development.

Type development involves developing skills related to the eight psychological functions. Based on theory and data obtained from people attending training programs and on the Function Skills Development Assessmentâ„¢, most people report their dominant and auxiliary functions to be their most highly developed functions. This means that they have developed a wider range of skills and more sophisticated skills related to these functions. People tend to use these skills frequently and generally trust the results they produce, whether they are data, organization, evaluations, or decisions.

The development of the other six functions is not so clear. Two patterns are emerging from our research:

The same functions as the dominant and auxiliary in the opposite attitudes are the third and fourth most developed. For example, if the dominant and auxiliary are Fe and Si, then the next most developed functions would be Fi and Se. Ne, Ni, Ti, and Te are less developed. The only ordering that appears in the bottom four is that frequently the inferior function is last, that is, if the dominant is Fe then Ti would be the least developed.

The order of the functions is close to the order of the functions listed in John Beebe's model (see Appendix A: Advanced Type Development) with some minor changes in the order of the bottom four. Using the ESFJ (dominant Fe, auxiliary Si) example above, the following would be the order from most to least developed:

  • dominant-Fe
  • auxiliary-Si
  • tertiary-Ne
  • inferior-Ti
  • fifth-Fi
  • sixth-Se
  • seventh-Ni
  • eighth-Te

Remember that there are frequent variations in the order of the last four functions, so the fifth could be the seventh or the seventh could be the sixth. What is constant is that the bottom four functions are seen as being less developed than the top four.

For a few people, due to life circumstances, the amount of development does not follow either pattern. Following are some of the circumstances that could influence the amount of development:

During childhood (about 3-12 years of age)

1. There was negative feedback when the dominant was being used

2. Family life called upon a nonpreferred function to be used in order to survive (e.g., an alcoholic or abusive parent or sibling)

3. There was positive feedback for using nonpreferred functions

Later in life

4. Chosen jobs required extensive use of nonpreferred functions

5. Parenting skills demanded use of nonpreferred functions.

In any of these situations it may be difficult to determine the type preferences of the person; thus, the pattern of development for that person may also be unclear.

There is an inner drive to grow, to become more aware. Not only did Jung observe the eight functions, he also noticed and described the inner drive to grow and become more conscious. This drive often gets blocked by the stresses of life and sometimes by the expectations of other people. However, it continues to press us forward toward our dreams.

This book lets you choose how to become more conscious and effective.

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

Type Training & Certification with Linda Berens Ph.D.

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