Podcast – Episode 0132 – Your Inferior Cognitive Function

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In this episode, Joel and Antonia talk about using an understanding of your inferior cognitive function to figure out your best-fit personality type.



In this podcast you’ll find:


Not uncommon for a person to start doubting their personality type after learning about cognitive functions because they don’t think of their 3-year-old as a blind spot.

When a cognitive function is in the dominant or auxiliary (Driver/Copilot), we have an impetus to pursue it as far down the rabbit hole as it goes. But if it is tertiary or inferior (10 yr old/3 yr old) we are less interested in reaching the acme of those processes.

Car Model

Inferior (3-year-old) ability often comes up for people in situations where environment or context required them to go to 3-year-old a lot.

Each of us is a complex human being with an infinite amount of influencers. Nobody is identical to anybody else.

  • Examples of using Se at its best:
    • Michael Jackson had amazing control over his body. His body was his instrument.
    • Roger Bannister first to break 4-minute mile.
  • INTJ- Te process has them honoring Se more because they recognize their body as a finely tuned instrument that will perform most efficiently when it is kept fit. Because of this, some INTJs question being Se inferior.
  • INFJ – the Inferior process is Se – “Sensation.” Se strength is being in touch with their body wholly. Some INFJs may say they love dancing, yoga, or exercise because they like being in their body. But if you are using Se as a dominant or auxiliary you would have a sophistication with Se that would be far different than occasional use demonstrates.
  • Se at its height can appear super human.
    • The ability to pick up any instrument and play it naturally.
    • Or taste some spices and then know exactly how they should be used and what they pair best with.
    • Improvisation at a level that is unbelievable to those observing.
    • Se mastery doesn’t mean you are good at one of the above. It means you are good at all of the above.
    • Se mastery is transferable. Se inferior could show up as mastery with cooking OR dancing OR music, but rarely is does it span all areas without a large amount of practice and time.
    • Now ask yourself if you would be interested in becoming a master at all things Se.
  • Te “Effectiveness” (inferior for INFP/ISFP) – highly prized in most western civilizations.
    • Te Acme – extraordinary, mind-boggling feat of creating a super highway system with all its on-ramps and off-ramps and making sure it is sustainable for the foreseeable future. Delegating to the necessary skilled labor and getting it all done in the proper order and season.
    • Does that sound like something you would or could do? That is Te at its finest.
  • Fe “Harmony” (inferior for INTP/ISTP) – May seem like a simple cognitive function to master. Most people can tell when someone is emoting or sense the emotions in a room after a conflict has occurred.
    • Fe Acme – David Tutera is a wedding planner extraordinaire. Manages every detail of the wedding and creates the vision of bride and groom. Also, manages emotions of bride/groom and wedding party. Meeting their needs at an ascendant level.
    • The only time you notice Fe is when it isn’t happening. When mom forgets to make lunch.
    • Fe Connects people to a single vision or set of values. Would an IxTP even care about such things?
  • Ne “Exploration” (inferior of ISTJ/ISFJ) a certain level of creativity comes with Ne.
    • Ne Acme – Chris Guillebeau – Art of Nonconformity – officially traveled to every single country on the planet. He had to go to great lengths to design a life that supported this goal.
    • Robin Williams could improvise content for an extended period of time on stage. Skill development as well as natural talent.
    • The acme of Ne. Ability to deal well with novelty. Handle self expertly no matter what the novelty happens to be.
    • Natural talent, skill built, the desire to build that skill, reframe life to build that skill, and transfer that skill to all areas of life.
  • Si “Memory” (Inferior for ENTP/ENFP) – desire to build precedence and create procedures and maintain tradition. Some ENxPs may have built up the organizational procedures that make them believe they are not Si inferior. Joel Mark Witt has created numerous step-by-step procedures to help his business to function efficiently
    • Si Acme – Martha Stewart turned the ability to create memories into a huge business. Templates to replicate amazing experiences: holidays, home, meals, etc.
    • Would you want to archive the Library of Congress?
    • Si dominants like to reach out and create archives for others as well as selves.
  • Fi “Authenticity” (Inferior of ESTJ/ENTJ) – done well it is about being in touch with how things make you feel. Ethical considerations and artistic self-expression – languageless expressions. ExTJs who question type may be identifying with Fi due to a sense of conviction or art
    • Fi Acme – Anthony Robbins holds long multi-day workshops where he reads and manages emotions of hundreds/thousands of people at one time.
    • Artists who close themselves off from reality and create extraordinary works of art that speak to everyone.
    • Fi Acme can emotion map, hold space, and humanize for large amounts of people at once.
  • Ti “Accuracy” (Inferior of ENFJ/ESFJ) – usually described in basic terms around being good at math/science or being able to teach and be rational. Most people have that capacity.
    • Ti Acme – able to maintain and hold insane amounts of data and clean slice it.
    • See things as pure in a data sense.
    • Look at some of the greatest debaters of all time. The ability to remove all emotional attachment from the thing being debated.
    • Ability to separate own emotional attachments from the data. See data as-is.
  • Ni “Perspectives” (inferior for ESTP/ESFP) – When done well it is about shifting perspectives and seeing things into the distant future. Knowing how your mind and other’s work. Predicting patterns that will develop over time. ESxPs might have some awareness around things and some skill with prediction. ESxPs do have some ability to get into the minds of those they are close to. But the question is, can they translate that to everyone, including strangers on a bus.
    • Ni Acme – Long timelines, deep meanings, deep insight.
    • Can you predict how people in the future will be thinking? Isaac Asimov novels. The ability to get inside the minds of individuals so well that you can predict the kind of world they will be occupying in the future; or the world that they did occupy in the distant past.
  1. Do you feel like you have a natural talent?
  2. Do you feel like you have the skill developed?
  3. Would you change your entire life to develop the skill?
  4. Can you not only read it, but also write it?
  5. And are those skills transferable?

In this episode, Joel and Antonia talk about using an understanding of your inferior cognitive function to figure out your best-fit personality type. #podcast #MBTI

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Showing 13 comments
  • Mary

    I know I’m coming across an old podcast here but I hope someone reads this comment. This was one of the most helpful podcast to me personally since I started studying cognitive functions more in depth. I’ve tested INTJ since I can remember and the type fits me pretty well, but I would say I have highly developed SE, to the point that I’ve been wondering if I’m a mistyped ISTP. I was an athlete from the time I was 2 all the way through college (gymnastics and track) and I still run. My main careers can be categorized as coaching, wilderness guiding, and music. I’m a professional musician, piano is my main instrument and I have aptitude for almost all the instruments (except singing…).

    I still feel the INTJ description fits me better, especially because I’m pretty sure Fe is nowhere in my concious stack, and while I enjoy study, I don’t have much patience with Ti when it gets rolling. I’ve also wondered if it’s possible for an inferior function to develop to the level of a parent function, giving me 2 parent functions (Te and Se).

    This is a topic I wish could be discussed more in depth. Obviously humans are all unique and no one fits a type perfectly. To bring it to a practical level of personal development, a deeper understanding of which skills to focus energy and time on would be helpful.

  • Erin

    How off could my test results be? I tested twice with your test as ENFP, but I don’t resonate with that typing at all. I think I could be a ISFP. Have you ever seen an ISFP test as an ENFP? Thank you for any insight on testing versus best fit. Despite constantly testing as ENFP, boy the Acme list for Se is like Breathing to me! I don’t even have to try to master that list, I live it and always have. hehe

  • Jeanice

    I am wondering how Anthony Robbins could have Fi dominant function if he’s an extravert? Is leading workshops really something an introvert would do, or even want to do? I am not trying to be difficult, I promise… I am just confused and trying to gain some clarity. Please help.

    I enjoyed this podcast SO much. I didn’t look at it in the light of inferior function, though. I am trying to figure out my dominant function. I’m really starting to believe it is introverted intuition. That is what really resonated with me. I consistently test out as an INFP, but INFJ just seems to fit me more. But I’m not really understanding why I keep testing as an INFP. If the introverted intuition is my dominant function, however, I guess I am INFJ.

    I don’t know what you think about it, or how much your are familiar with it, but I have also taken the Socionics test, and on that one I come up as INFp, but that is the equivalent of an INFJ on the MBTI test. So, that is something else that leads me to believe that I may be an INFJ instead of INFP.

    I really appreciate this site and all the work you guys have put in to it. I have always been completely fascinated with personality typology. The enneagram is another system that I think is extremely interesting. Take care!

    • Joel Mark Witt

      Thanks Jeanice for the comment and the kind words. I’ve always guessed Anthony Robbins is an extravert (ENFP). That would make Fi his auxiliary (co-pilot) function.

  • Miles O'Brien

    Great podcast! I am an ENTJ who draws comics and have developed heavily in the Se and somewhat highly in the Fi. Recently though I have been questioning this career as it’s not that fulfilling. And have been debating to myself what to do with this large amount of talent I have built up in art and stories. Listening to this has given me some closure as I now see that I’m not the only who has developed high skill in something they aren’t deeply interested in and that it’s ok to let this part of my life go.

  • Andrea

    Man, this was a helpful podcast, loved how you went through each function and gave examples…but also leaves me still really confused about my type…I’ve been typed by Myers Briggs practitioners two times, about two or three years a part. The first thought for sure I was an INFJ, and the second thought I was spot on ISFP ….but sometimes I think I’m INFP or an ISFJ. I’ve come out as all 4 on the online tests out there…So, I know for sure I’m an introvert and a feeler.

    But, listening to the podcast, I feel like I don’t naturally have talent in any of the functions…

    Ne seems really foreign to me (improvisation is so far down my list of talents, it may as well not be there lol), so perhaps that rules out INFP. Se seems closer, but I don’t know if, like you said, I could just pick it up in any situation. I’m not the most natural cook/athlete/musician, although I have developed skill in these areas over my life to where I’m pretty good. So maybe that does rule out ISFP…

    Fi sounds kind of like me, but not sure how lol!

    Si…I do like traditions, and geneology is fascinating, but I don’t know if I’m really good at creating them. My grandparents traced our ancestors back hundreds of years, and while that is super interesting to me, I don’t know if I could really keep at it if it was my job. Cataloging the Library of Congress sounds cool, but I’m a library science nerd, so that may just be my interest. I’m terrible at archiving family photos/albums in my personal life–I feel kind of bad about it, because I only have like two albums, one for my wedding, and one when my daughter was born. My ISTJ husband is better at the archiving/filing stuff. I have SFJ friends who do a photo album for each year of their kids’ lives, and that just is waaaay beyond me haha! So maybe not ISFJ…

    The one I do seem to resonate with most would be Ni. Which is strange, because it’s not really the function I think about the most. I love thinking about large spans of history and often in my head. Love dead languages and cultures. However, I don’t think I’m that great at predicting things. I would not have the confidence to predict how the future world would be for different cultures. I am pretty good at identifying symbolism and the collective ideas of past cultures and so forth.

    Also, the Fe part of INFJ sometimes makes sense. When I am with people I am comfortable with, I can be kind of extroverted in an emotional way. And I often find myself being the “counselor” for a lot of people, and it does get weighty sometimes. I often feel like everybody else gets to talk about what they want to talk about, but I can’t. I actually see a counselor as it’s one of the few ways I can just…talk about what I want to. Being a mother can make it challenging because I always have to be “on” for my daughter. What you said about Fe being thankless–nobody notices it until lunch is not on the table–feels like my life! But maybe just because I’m a mom? I do resonate strongly with what you have said in the past about INFJ’s feeling other people’s emotional garbage and needing significant amounts of time to get away from that. There are days when my nerves are so fried that I just need to literally wrap myself in a blanket and stay there to come back to normalcy. I don’t know….lots to think about there!

    So yeah, at the moment, it does seem INFJ may be the right one for me. Maybe I just needed to lay out all the functions and look at them more closely in order to narrow it down for myself!

  • Linsey

    Intj female here, 29yrs old. Love your podcasts so far. Just listened to the inferior process technical one, and I’d like to point out they this totally resonated with me. I’ve NEVER been a Michael Jackson fan. And I’m constantly amazed at the likelihood of my shoulders hitting or brushing against the corners of doorways. Even in my OWN house. It’s like I forget that my shoulders are even there attached to my torso and taking up space. I sort of feel like a brain stuck in a body, and now I appreciate why….my 3-yr old Se. Something that has really helped me lately with my anxiety/depression is tuning into my body with yoga-ish stretching. I have to remind my brain to listen to the appendages. Forcing myself to feel deeply connected to my own body–what I have historically viewed as secondary (at best)–seems to help me stay balanced.

  • al

    (Sorry for my english)
    I think our relationship with our 3rd and 4th funtions is more like a choice, if we don’t feel comfortable with them, we are not going to develop them, but if we love them we could actually be really good at them. But I think the difference will be that is going to take a little longer and it needs to be more focused.

    from this quotes from an AMA with dario nardi I got that the most important thing not the potential but the actual building of the skills
    “Regarding general intelligence, I’ve met INFJs with more accurate mental models and effective definitions than their INTP counterparts in the same technical domain. Similarly, I can imagine an ESFP having more effective organizing skills than her ESTJ peer. I’ve seen ENFJs with more effective use of extraverted Sensing than ISTPs in the same domain. There are many possible reasons: — better integration of self and the various functions — an environment that is more appropriate (e.g. INTP alchemist versus ISFP chemist–who does chemistry better?) — different developmental space (or developmental level, if you’re into that)”
    “After those two, my research suggests that the second most common pattern is our near-opposite personality type, say ISFP for INTJ. That’s Fi + Se. As I look at the brain activity of midlife adults now in my lab, and not just college students, I see this more than ever. I’ve had two midlife INFJs. Could hardly tell if they are INFJ or ISTP”
    “In my lab, I’ve seen something like this twice, with two female ESTJs, both illustrators. Their normal EEG pattern was pretty left-brained. But when they switched to drawing, their whole EEG suddenly changed to look like the INFJ artist I had in the lab earlier that quarter. The INFJ’s brain always looked that, but the ESTJs somehow easily switched to that mode”

    Im a female INTJ who grow up in an artistic environment and I find so interesting that a INTJ with not a lot of Fi development looks very very different from me! I love “going into ISFP mode with dancing, painting, music, etc” but I coudn’t possible do it all the time. I come back to my home base, but the more time I spend in ISFP mode, the better I can get in it, I remember my fists dance classes or painting classes were hard and exhausting, but if you make the efford then it becomes much more natural with time, and with the years it becomes a pleasure.

    and I think out Enneagrams also play a part, for example, I have a lot of ENTP friends, one is Enneagram 7 and the other is Enneagram 3, the E7 has a more developed Fe than the E3 , but the E3 has a very developed Ti, that is because the E7 is much more extroverted, and the E3 is very focus on achieving in academia. The same with the last funtion, I have 2 ENFP friends, one is E7 and the other is E6, the E6 seems to have a very developed Si and going into estj mode sometimes (although getting really tired), and the E7 not at all. The wings may also play a role, so I’ve met an INTJ 5W6 and its seems to have a less developed Fi than me (INTJ 5w4).
    Is it a bad thing? I know this site encourage people to get into their co-pilot to get balance, but I think once you are a balanced person, once you reach that stage, how you’re going to look will depend on the choices you make to develop the aspects of your personality that you want to explore.

  • Rebecca

    I am pretty certain that I am an ISFJ (but keep re-taking your test and others just to confirm!) and have really been enjoying your podcast. I recently went through a job change and have been working a lot on my personal development.

    I have been trying to identify with “memory” as my dominant cognitive function — your description of memory in this podcast makes it sound like something that doesn’t interest me at all (archiving? Sounds boring!). However when I think of memory as interpreting my new experiences through a lens of past experience, it makes sense to me — When I deal with a situation in the present and can connect it to a past situation, I am able to effectively deal with the present situation and will generally try what has been effective in the past. ( I work in healthcare, so this often comes up with my patients). If I can connect something new to something from the past, I can show up with more confidence. But the only time I could see myself helping someone with their genealogy archive is if I really really loved the person– I wouldn’t enjoy the task itself. I don’t mind doing menial tasks if they are for a mission/person/employer I care about (so I am pretty connected to “harmony” as my co-pilot). I don’t generally create procedures, but I like having a procedure to work within. (and I love the personality hacker/myers briggs system and using it as a tool to understand myself!).

    Your description of “exploration” as an inferior function DID resonate with me. Whenever I am stressed/burnt out I dream of heading for the hills/traveling/etc. I have done a fair amount of travel, but I generally don’t completely abandon convention. I like to know my basic needs are consistently met — I travel in a “reasonably safe” way (i.e. we book hotels in exciting places, but don’t plan out all our specific activities).

    Thank you for your awesome podcasts! I am sad that I am not an “iNtuitive” 🙁 But, good to know thyself… I still appreciate what you guys have to say.

    • Antonia Dodge

      Thanks for the comment, Rebecca! First of all please don’t be sad that you’re not an iNtuitive. We focus on iNtuitives because we think they have certain needs going unmet, but that doesn’t mean they’re somehow better in any way. I liken it to the Introvert movement from the past few years. The movement can give the impression that Introverts are ‘super deep’ and that Extraverts should have been marginalized a long time ago. But the truth is we need both. It’s simply that many societies have favored extraverted qualities to the point that introverted qualities/needs were getting ignored/shut out, and it’s time to for a re-balancing. I love being an Extravert, and I love that Introverts exist, too.

      In the same way, we need both iNtuitives and Sensors. Many societies have focused on Sensor abilities/needs for a while, so there’s space for a similar reminder to society of iNtuitive needs/abilities. iNtuitives aren’t any better than Sensors in the same way that Introverts aren’t any better than Extraverts.

      Celebrate being a Sensor! 🙂

      The acme examples of each of the functions most likely won’t appeal to everyone using those functions as a dominant process. It’s more to give an impression. Not all Introverted Intuition users would want to translate ancient Egyptian into modern languages, and not all Extraverted Sensing users desire to go to the Olympics. That said, since Introverted Sensing (Memory) is my inferior function I’ll admit that it’s often difficult to find epic examples of Si since it’s my blindspot. If you’ve got an example you can think of please share it!



  • Danielle

    Antonia and Joel – thank-you for this podcast! It has been very enlightening!

    I have always typed as an INFJ but as I have started to look deeper into the cognitive functions, I have begun to suspect that I am actually an INFP. Fi is definitely the function that sticks out the most to me. I am hyper-aware of how I feel about things, I have strong values and express them through music, writing, photography and collaging (although, not anywhere near as much as I’d like to) – so it makes sense that I lead with this function.

    I think I have been in an Fi-Si loop for a LONG time (which is a nightmare). I work in administration so my Te gets a pretty good workout and I really relate to Joel’s explanation of how he uses Si in the workplace. I seem to be good at admin but I find the work so empty and draining – sometimes I feel like my soul is suffocating under a blanket of data. I like structure to an extent but I get very restless with things. I feel like I may be a little Ne deficient.

    Thank-you so much for the content you share with the world – I’m sure it is helping a lot of people out there gain clarity, including me 🙂

  • Kristina

    Really loved the example of dead languages for Ni- I minored in that after getting bored in my major:)

  • Tarah

    Really enjoyed this latest episode. I’m an INTP and it was enlightening to hear about functions like Si and how that shows up “full time.” I’ve certainly also enjoyed going down rabbit holes like ancestry.com (and especially looking at 19th century photos), but just like you said, there’s a point there where I’m sated and ready to do something else.

    That said, I wish you would reconsider Tis always being great debaters. Yes i can hold my own in situations but ONLY when I actually believe the point I’m advancing. Sure there’s a facility there with finding and capitalizing on the gaps in logic with debating, but there is just as much facility with being able to quickly recognize the better argument and expediently dispensing our own.

    I very much enjoy friendly discussion with someone with a different perspective/experience and am very open to being enlightened- and I truly love it when that happens!

    Good info is good info, and I think that’s why INTPs are good analysts: we are just kinda wired to evaluate data at face value and without bias.

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