We use our dominant function for most of our functioning and processing in our day-to-day lives. There's not much of an off-switch for this function and it typically fires first when processing or perceiving new information.
For INTPs, this dominant function is called Introverted Thinking. This function is responsible for assessing our biases, beliefs, opinions, and filtering data through a filter that scrubs it clean. You can think of this as clean-slicing information to rid the information of the human element as best as possible.
Introverted Thinking tends to do this through scrutinizing language and it's intended usage. "What do you mean when you use the word x" may be a typical statement coming from someone using this function. This question is a way of checking with the person to see if they're using the word the same way I may use the word as we attach beliefs and biases to words or just repeating someone else's usage all the time. This gets to the core of the idea this person is trying to convey, navigating the subjectivity of thought.
This dominant function is what we've used all of our lives. Before the other aspects of our personality show up, this is the first one that comes online. I've seen Extraverted Thinking kids line up their blocks in orderly fashion, and Extraverted Intuition kids locked into their imagination almost immediately. And it's because of this that we're pretty used to this function running the show.
As we get older, however, life requires more from us and our brains begin bringing these other functions online to introduce new methods of seeing and understanding. Function polarities increase in tension and need for cooperation...polarities being the balancing opposite function. Introverted Thinking is balanced by Extraverted Feeling and Extraverted Intuition is balance by Introverted Sensing (Ti/Fe and Ne/Si). When we struggle to allow this growth to happen be it within ourselves or external challenges or are simply too young to use other functions, this can be a sort of one-sidedness in our functioning.
Think of it this way, if you've only got one camera lens then that's what you're going to use because it's all you CAN use. Over time you get new lenses and can experience new looks or perspectives. But until then, this one perspective is typically all you have. This singular focus of attention or singular manner of processing is essentially one-sidedness.
One-sidedness for an INTP may get too particular about the information or the words someone is using and its dictionary definition or grammar usage...ignoring or dismissing the human and emotional components of the statements altogether. Making sense is the number one priority and sense is limited to what makes sense to the INTP. The data becomes all that matters and the human is the faulty disposable messenger.
When you begin integrating other functions into the mix as you mature and gain experience, you get a more alchemical response to your reality. The dominant function plus another function becomes a new type of function altogether in its usage.
Introverted Thinking plus Extraverted Intuition, the secondary cognitive function for INTPs, begins to expand the territory of understanding to grand concepts and systems thinking correlations and connections. This may start off leaving you feeling flighty, unfocused, or experiencing uncomfortable indecision as possibilities expand but any new tool is going to feel strange at first and there's simply more data to sift through than you've been used to. If this function were operating on its own you would be whisked away by the shiny objects of the world with no where to land. That's what makes the connection to decision-making so important.
Extraverted Intuition allows for healthy doubt to creep in to challenge your previous understanding, for questions to take the spotlight, and the joy becomes the journey of intellectual and experiential expansion. We cover this Extraverted Intuition growth in-depth within our Cosmic Calibration program.
Introverted Thinking and Introverted Sensing, the INTP tertiary function, can organize a massive storehouse of information inside the mind to be pulled out when needed. In a way, this pairing is allowing me to write this article. As I type I'm reminded of connected thoughts that are stored in my mind near other interrelated thoughts. All of which are from lessons I've learned through coaches and teachers that have taught me personality theory. Yes, I'm pulling from logical connection I've made but am also pulling from Extraverted experiences that provide a richness for my Introverted Sensing to call upon, such as Personality Hacker profiler training events where I've experienced INTPs beyond book explanations.
Without the polarity of Extraverted Intuition, I may claim correctness in my thinking simply because it came from me. Or I could claim that everything I'm saying here is the only and all truth of the matter. This simply can't be true as there is too much life to experience, which is why Extraverted Intuition is a valuable polarity balancing point to Introverted Sensing. More experience adds more color to logical possibilities and connections can happen between multiple personal temporal experiences. But what's most important is to acknowledge that these are my experiences as denoted by the Introverted subjective attitude within Introverted Sensing. Overall, that encompasses my teaching style in that I encourage you to experiment with this information and advice, not just take it immediately at face value then when you find patterns over time that correlate, the information will stick.
The inferior function of the INTP called Extraverted Feeling, at its best when connected to Introverted Thinking, brings warmth, connection, emotional energetic vibing, emotional considerations, checking in with others, asking and accepting feedback and responds quickly in anticipation of others' needs.
INTPs with less experience using Extraverted Feeling can be a bit clumsy or do too much to fulfill needs that misses the mark. This is due to the emotional overwhelm that comes from only fully leaning on this function in moments. For example, bringing a cumbersome gift to a wedding without receiving any feedback as to whether or not the gift is wanted or needed. Logic may dictate that you should ask them what they want first. Otherwise it's like a 3-year-old giving a gift of mud to their parent...cute but not quite it. The good intentions are there but the emotions associated are a lot to contend with and aren't visited often. But...they tried and that's an important step. The one-sideded INTP may find the whole thing stupid and not bother going to the wedding at all.
What I've found interesting is that INTPs with less polarity connection between Introverted Thinking and Extraverted Feeling...may favor a trusted community at times over their own discernment without even realizing it. This can manifest as getting an opinion about a movie or TV show from that community and therefore not giving it a shot for yourself. This makes sense due to how hard it is to find a community that an INTP appreciates or trusts or feels is welcoming or interesting. The community may have been consistent in their opinions, beliefs, or information and it's easy to assume they'll continue to be correct. Sometimes the inferior function can operate as an on/off switch for any personality type, giving this function too much attention or no attention at all.
To connect Extraverted Feeling with Introverted Thinking brings this type of bias into awareness to create a better balance of taking opinions into consideration but giving yourself the final say through personal experience. It becomes easy to overvalue or outsource personal opinion in lieu of the time and attention that is often required for personal exploration.
On its own this inferior function can be overwhelming to the INTP that is more one-sided, who clings to the thirst for and safety of data and thinking above all...often missing out on context and emotional needs that enhance the vibration of data collection.
I used to listen to podcasts at 2, or even 3 times, normal speed because if I'm just searching for data then I can just pluck out what I need, fast. Once I started listening at normal speed I started to pick up on nuances in breathing, cadence, and rhythm of speech to determine how someone cares about this data, whether or not they're exhibiting bias, feeling insecure, expressing passion, etc. By cutting off this inferior function there's a lot of information being missed out on, which can be difficult for the one-sided INTP to realize.
So, if you're using those perceiving functions of Extraverted Intuition and Introverted Sensing you may be noticing a pattern here of INTPs experiencing hubris with logic and thinking. And I think that's rightfully so as it's our main mode of thinking, which can be especially celebrated when used among those who don't use this function. But when things don't go well we also cling to this function in saying that we're "not appreciated enough" or we're simply "too smart to care about emotions" or whatever else we need to say to keep justifying an overuse of the dominant function on its own.
And while I totally understand that feeling, the thought to trust logic at all costs...what I'm suggesting is that these added flavors, these alchemical pairings, are enhancements to your thinking, not detriments.
If you liked this article, and are ready to expand your logic and scope, then consider our flagship course: The INTP Empowerment Guide.