MBTI has been making waves in popular culture in recent times, with the Instagram account @mbti.memess having 112,000 followers, while the #MBTI tag on TikTok has around 6.4 billion views.
Such content, while funny and sometimes based on lighthearted stereotypes of the various MBTI personality types, has sparked more serious discussions about the real-world differences between people with ‘S’ and ‘N’ in their four-letter MBTI type code.
Are all Sensors really shallow-minded and incapable of thinking deeply? Conversely, are all Intuitives too deeply-entrenched within their own minds and incapable of carrying out practical tasks in the real world?
The truth is that Sensors and Intuitives are not better or worse than each other.
This post will provide a quick summary of the differences between Sensors and Intuitives, showcasing the strengths and weaknesses of each type while emphasizing that both Sensors and Intuitives can learn from each other and contribute to society in different ways.
|Percentage of Population
|Concrete, Realistic, Practical, Experiential, Traditional
|Abstract, Conceptual, Theoretical, Original
|Sensory, tangible objects and experiences
|Implied or abstract meanings behind physical objects and sensations
|Failed to appreciate and comprehend Initiatives' in-depth thoughts and insights.
|Difficult to communicate with Sensors in concrete detail since Initiatives perceive and process things in a more abstract way
Based on MBTI Manual" published by CPP, Sensors making up roughly 73% of the global population, compared to only 27% of Intuitives.
Sensors and Intuitives: How do they differ?
In MBTI, the second letter of the four-letter code is either an S or N, as seen in the graphic above. These stand for ‘Sensing’ and ‘Intuition’ respectively. People who have Sensing as their dominant function are known as ‘Sensors’ within the MBTI community, while those with Intuition as their dominant function are known as ‘Intuitives’.
Sensors are people who pay more attention to - you guessed it - sensory, tangible objects and experiences.
- Think of a person walking through a park and taking in the smell of the flowers, the cool breeze blowing against their skin, or observing the dogs playing on the grass.
- Sensors are good at paying attention to physical, observable details, and as such are also more attuned to practical and hands-on activities.
However, this strength has also contributed to the stereotype that sensors are too focused on the present moment, thus portraying them as ‘shallow’ or ‘simple-minded’ people who do not look deeply into things.
Sensors also appreciate concrete, grounded, and knowable things, such as traditions and history. Sensors may be very attentive to dates of birthdays, anniversaries, and upholding personally significant traditions.
Intuitives, on the other hand, tend to pay more attention to the implied or abstract meanings behind physical objects and sensations.
- To use the example of a person walking through a park again, an intuitive person walking through a park may find themselves wondering about the scientific reasons for why the scent of flowers helps to calm a person down, or they may observe the dogs playing on the grass and wonder why certain dog breeds are more popular among families than others.
Intuitives have a tendency to read between the lines of physical observations and sensations, making intuitive intellectual inferences about people, objects, and situations. Intuitives are more adept at the mental generation of abstract ideas and conclusions, preferring to make decisions based on speculation and deep insights that they glean from using their intuition to analyze things in the world around them.
However, this has also given rise to the stereotype that Intuitives are perpetually living in their heads and failing to be grounded in the present moment, preferring to think rather than take concrete action.
- The thought processes and conclusions of Intuitives may also be difficult to communicate in concrete detail to others since they perceive and process things in a more abstract way.
- To Sensors, the ideas and insights offered by Intuitives may seem like they come from nowhere, or lack clear logical connections. Intuitives may, in turn, feel frustrated by the Sensors’ lack of appreciation and comprehension of their in-depth thoughts and insights.
Some insights on their differences in communication and thinking style
Beginning to appreciate and understand the differences between Intuitives and Sensors firstly involves moving away from the stereotypes which surround both types. Not all of them think and act in that way, and with that said, neither is thinking and acting like a textbook Sensor or Intuitive inherently bad. Both Sensors and Intuitives have much to bring to the table and it is only through trying to understand each other’s point of view that both can work together effectively.
- For Sensors, some things they could keep in mind when communicating with Intuitives would be to focus more on ideas and concepts instead of focusing on details all the time. Intuitives are more attuned to big-picture ideas and understanding the ‘gist’ of things. Getting straight to the point of an idea can be a great way to convey something to them more easily.
- For Intuitives, they could try to be more detailed when explaining their ideas to Sensors. Lay out details in clear concrete steps and supplement abstract ideas with practical, real-life examples and applications, which Sensors will be able to relate more to and grasp more easily.
Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all rule for communicating with Sensors and Intuitives as each individual person will have a different communication style regardless of whether they are a Sensor or an Intuitive. These are just a few general guidelines that could possibly help give you a better idea of how to adjust your communication style to fit different groups of people.
Now that you have learned more about the thinking and communication styles of Intuitives and Sensors, you can identify your personal style as well as that of your family members, friends, and colleagues. Share some of these learning points about MBTI with them to get an interesting discussion going. Who knows, you may even pick up several useful tips and insights from them as well!