It’s hard to make generalizations about extraverts. By definition, extraverts are more drawn outward toward engaging with the world of experience and less drawn inward toward reflection. And this means that usually they are more social, athletic, and energetic but less likely to be deep processors, cautious, and thoughtful. But there are many ways to be extraverted. People’s personalities differ a lot, and extraversion manifests in different ways because of this.
For this post, I’m going to focus on inborn qualities. Carl Jung, the founding father of introverts and extraverts, wrote that there are four general ways of being introverted and four general ways of being extraverted. They have to do with which mental function we naturally develop early in life. A mental function is a kind of mental activity that has a certain way of engaging the mind. It can take one of four forms: thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition.
Thinking: Arranging ideas in a logical framework. Focused on objects/tools.
Feeling: Judging whether something is good, right, valuable, or desirable. Focused on people/values.
Sensation: Any perception generated by the senses. Focused on the concrete physical world (or what people in extraverted societies call the “real” world).
Intuition: Unconscious insights about connections that our minds perceive. Focused on possibilities and ideas of the mind.
Each of these functions can be directed outward at the world of experience (extraverted) or inward at our own selves (introverted). I discussed the introverted functions in a previous post, and in preparation for releasing my second podcast episode on Introvert University, I am writing this post on the extraverted functions. Also, remember that both introverts and extraverts use extraverted functions. Even if they are stronger in extraverts, an introvert will have an extraverted side too. Introverts reading this may want to think about how they engage with the external world so they can acknowledge and develop their extraverted side.
Here are the four extraverted functions and how they work. All of this involves someone’s engagement with the world external to the mind. In other words, people who use these functions do this externally, either by acting or talking things out.
Extraverted Thinking (Te)
People who use Te see the world as an orderly place where everything has a box where it belongs. They are good at learning and following rules, arranging ideas on paper, and finding answers to specific questions using specific sources. They might be researchers, businesspeople, accountants, or highly organized parents.
They like to consider all possible angles before making a decision and will carefully weigh their decisions against external standards. However, they may sometimes see people as cogs in a machine rather than individuals, and will take their own discomfort with their personal values to mean that feelings are unreliable—you have to trust the data. They are also better at organizing things than using tools, and often cannot do home repairs or work on machines like cars.
Those who use Te often develop these abilities:
Extraverted Feeling (Fe)
People who use Fe see the world as full of people with values and perspectives, each of which is just as valuable as any other. They are good at empathizing with others and understanding their values, as well as feeling for others in pain. They could be human resources workers, relationship counselors, or collaborative team leaders who let their groups drive the process. They may also be caring parents who nurture and comfort their children when they are going through hard times.
Those who use Fe seek social harmony, even if it means agreeing with two people who have different sets of values. They aren’t necessarily agreeing that you’re right, they’re just validating you as a human being who is a source of your own moral perspective.
Those who use Fe often develop these abilities:
Extraverted Sensation (Se)
People who use Se see the world as a collection of physical sensations. Life is experienced as a series of moments and to be lived in the moment, because once one moment has passed, life has moved on to the next one. They see bodily sensations and physical life as the “real” world and life in the mind as merely “imaginary.” They enjoy immediate sensory experiences and thrills, and will seek out the strongest stimulation for the most powerful experience of life.
Se is the “normal” way to be human, and so any type that uses Se will be able to pass as normal much more easily than other types. This means they’re more likely to present as a normal person to others and feel normal themselves, such as liking pursuits considered normal and having talents considered normal. Se is the function most comfortable with dealing with physical life and the body, and those using Se can be found in virtually any job, social role, or activity—in fact, “activity” is their specialty.
Those who use Se often have the following qualities:
Extraverted Intuition (Ne)
People who use Ne live in a world of endless possibilities. When they look around, they don’t see the physical world; they see how things came to be how they are and their many future possibilities. People, places, objects, and events in the world are only interesting if they are leading somewhere, if they fit into a pattern, or if they connect with other events.
Those who use Ne are often seen as quirky, weird, or different because they will ramble on about the possibilities they see or the ideas they have in a free-flowing, stream-of-consciousness sort of way. They don’t polish their presentation like Se; instead, they give us their honest, immediate ideas without filtering anything.
Those who use Ne often develop the following qualities:
Do you notice any of these tendencies in yourself? Everyone should use at least one extraverted function at least some of the time. And remember, extraverted functions naturally happen when we engage the external world. Think about how you interact with the external world—structuring, relating, experiencing sensations, or narrating possibilities—and you may be on track to figuring out which extraverted function you use the most. (If you aren’t sure, most people use Se.)
See the Introvert University podcast (The Philosophy and Science of Introversion Lecture 2) for a more detailed account of the psychological functions. If you’d like, feel free to comment below with which extraverted function you identify with the most and why.
I’m Harrison Paul, the Introvert Philosopher. I hold an MA in Philosophy from San Francisco State University and wrote my thesis on using moral education in schools to resist the influence of advertising on politics. I am the author of five-book introvert epic fantasy series Kaybree versus the Angels. I am also actively seeking publication for my nonfiction book The Quiet Minority: Why Introverts are Oppressed and How We Can Stop It and the Aurora Lightwalker series of far-future YA introvert novels.