A Brief Explanation of the Cognitive Functions

Cognitive Processes (also known as Cognitive Functions) ask, "what is your thinking style"? We all draw from eight main cognitive processes or cognitive functions, with a preference for some over others. In the process of discovering your personality type, you can rate these by how likely you are to give attention to each process.

  • Recalling, or Introverted Sensing (Si): Memorizing, reviewing, remembering, providing historical context (through tradition, etc.), being precise
  • Experiencing, or Extraverted Sensing (Se): Being hands-on, alert, noticing standout details, desiring to make an impact in the current situation, desiring to put your skills on display for others
  • Valuing, or Introverted Feeling (Fi): Developing internal ethics, being introspective, being sincere, asking "who am I really," personal focus
  • Harmonizing, or Extraverted Feeling (Fe): Appropriate communication, empathy, showing appreciation, group focus, helping, encouraging
  • Analyzing, or Introverted Thinking (Ti): Organizing one's own thoughts, reasoning, considering logic, developing and perfecting a process, independent thinking
  • Systematizing, or Extraverted Thinking (Te): Structuring, critiquing, prioritizing, measuring progress, and organizing information, tools, or materials needed. Leveraging others' ideas, writings, teachings, results, studies, etc.
  • Visioning, or Introverted Intuition (Ni): Visualizing the way events will probably play out, predicting, conceptualizing new ideas, following hunches or flashes of intuitive insight, picturing "the most probable" solution or outcome
  • Brainstorming, or Extraverted Intuition (Ne): Visualzing potential and possibilities, exploring new inventions, developing ideas and theories, connecting ideas, being optimistic

Regardless of your type, you can and should develop each process, but it's important to do so carefully, especially with your weakest processes. There are Beginner through Advanced-level exercises in Dario Nardi's book, 8 Keys to Self-leadership.

If you'd like to learn more about your personality style, I also recommend reviewing temperament and Interaction Style.

Each process/function plays a different role within your cognitive model. These roles are called "archetypes" and they can help you understand why, for example, your typical approach always fails you in certain problem-solving or human interaction situations.

Going deeper: These processes and the ways in which we interact with them are discussed by John Beebe in his book Energies and Patterns in Psychological Type: The reservoir of consciousness.

Topics: Cognitive ProcessesSystematizingExperiencingVisioningValuingBrainstormingAnalyzingHarmonizingRecalling