What are the INTJ Cognitive Functions?
In this article, you will learn how to easily understand the INTJ cognitive functions. Cognitive functions are the foundation of the MBTI personality types as Myers-Briggs simply is a type code based on Carl Jung’s theories on the 8 different cognitive functions that people use.
At the end of the article, you can learn a quick summary of what even is a cognitive function, a summary of the eight cognitive functions, and how the 16 types are categorized.
In a nutshell, a cognitive function is a mental process. You could think of them as muscle groups of the brain. Each cognitive function has certain strengths that develop over time as a result of repetitive use, similar to how a muscle gets stronger over time through exercising it frequently to build up its strength.
Each of the 16 personality types in MBTI has a “function stack” that orders the 8 cognitive functions in a specific order and reveals what strengths and weaknesses that type typically has.
The INTJ Personality Type
The INTJ personality type is one of the more rare personality types of the 16 types, estimated at around ~2-4% of the population. Sometimes they are nicknamed the “Architect” or the “Intellectual.” Here I refer to them as the “Mastermind” personality type.
INTJs are hardworking individuals who have a strong sense of future vision, strategic actions, and effective leadership. They are acutely aware of the structures of society and of how the world really works. The INTJ personality type takes pleasure in developing other people as INTJs focus on making improvements in all realms of life. They are creative individuals who have a secret rich inner world.
Alright, let’s explore each cognitive function INTJ personalities use and break down how this type typically functions as a result of which brain muscle groups INTJs tend to develop. You could think of these as an INTJ cognitive map.
Quick Summary of the conscious four functions in the cognitive function INTJ stack:
- Dominant Function Introverted Intuition (Ni)
- Auxiliary Function Extroverted Thinking (Te)
- Tertiary Function Introverted Feeling (Fi)
- Inferior Function Extraverted Sensing (Se)
The first four functions are conscious, although the mental processes may sometimes still be unconscious, they have the full potential to become conscious in practice throughout one’s life. The dominant function strives for competence and mastery while welcoming challenges in a reliable way to serve as the “Hero.”
1st Dominant Function: Introverted Intuition (Ni)
The dominant cognitive function is a type’s lead function in its function stack. Also known as the “Hero” archetype, it is a cognitive function that the type uses automatically, easily, and comfortably. The dominant function strives for competence and mastery while welcoming challenges in a reliable way to serve as the “Hero.”
Introverted intuition (Ni) is an INTJ’s dominant cognitive function. This is a perceiving function that is very subconscious. It is analytical of trends over time, making the two types that lead with introverted intuition very adept at pattern recognition. The two types that lead with introverted intuition are the INTJ Mastermind and the INFJ Advocate.
Introverted intuition can be a lonely dominant function, as it is uncommon in the population. If INTJs are 2-4% and INFJs are 1-2% , then this is the rarest of the 8 cognitive functions. Both INTJ Mastermind and INFJ Advocate personality types could feel like weirdos and definitely have sensed from a young age that they just think differently in comparison to others.
With this dominant (Ni), introverted intuition INTJs have a deep desire to understand principles and inevitable truths. They are naturally intuitive with an innate ability to envision predictions, see connections between events, and practice creativity. INTJs and INFJs love to explore ideas that have a complex nature to them. Their intuitive insights often surprise others in conversations.
From a young age, the dominant function introverted intuition serves as a strong guiding force leading to the persistent pursuit of personal goals. INTJs and INFJs never have intentions to follow the group and instead always prefer to form their own paths in life. Introverted intuition comes in as the “Hero” to these types to clarify the right next decision. When INTJs decide they want a certain outcome, they become target-locked to their goal.
In this book, Ni-dominant individuals are noted to enter into the state of flow through problem-solving. Both INTJs and INFJs can be amazing innovative problem solvers, although they are of course wrong sometimes.
2nd Auxiliary Function: Extraverted Thinking (Te)
The auxiliary cognitive function is a type’s secondary function. Also known as the “Parent” archetype, it is a cognitive function that the type performs to protect and support others. This parent function serves to develop other people and acts as a role model.
Extraverted thinking (Te) is an INTJ’s auxiliary cognitive function. Extraverted thinking (Te) focuses on HOW to get something done efficiently, while introverted thinking (Ti) instead focuses on WHY something works or is needed. This auxiliary INTJ cognitive function makes for very industrious workers, likewise with the ISTJ Inspector personality type. These are people that like to get things done in the right way and as efficiently as possible.
INTJs auxiliary function of extraverted thinking activates a side of them able to hone in on a singular focus to solve problems effectively with rational solutions based on objective criteria. INTJs develop their logical reasoning skills at a very young age, allowing them to draw conclusions from past experiences and get better at their strategic analysis over time. Auxiliary Te makes INTJs and ISTJs good people to have around.
The tertiary cognitive function is a type’s third function in its functions. Also known as the “Eternal Child” archetype, it is a cognitive function that the type admires in others and needs in order to balance the influence of the parent functions of others. The tertiary function is sometimes creatively original but can be a little unstable and unreliable.
An INTJ’s third function is introverted feeling (Fi). The tertiary INTJ cognitive function leads to a very strong sense of personal preferences and values. For INTJ (and ISTJ), their introverted feeling is used innocently in their “child” position. This can lead to a devaluation of social norms and can be one of INTJ sarcastic functions that are a source of stubbornness in their personality.
The lead, auxiliary, and tertiary of INTJ cognitive functions harmoniously work together to make many INTJs eerily good at intuitive thinking, future predictions, and sensing the true feelings of others. With introverted feeling, INTJs can be surprising sweet in romantic relationships.
Lastly, I would argue that INTJs are as much feelers as they are thinkers because introverted feeling is their tertiary cognitive function. (In the same way, I would say INFJs are as much thinkers as they are feelers.) INTJs might be better at using extraverted thinking (Te) with that one higher in their function stack, but they can more willingly tap into their tertiary introverted feeling (Fi) as an introvert.
The fourth function is the inferior cognitive function. Also known as archetypes of the “Anima” (in women) and “Animus” (in men), and it is sometimes referred to as the “aspiration” of a type. This one in a person’s function stack indicates what mission or higher cause a type is working towards and can serve as an important tool to transform one’s self. Notably, this function tends to be weak and underdeveloped in the first half of life. However, it is a gateway to help one’s personality blossom later in life.
The inferior function extraverted sensing (Se) leads to INTJs admiring extraverted sensing in others as they aspire to develop such confidence in themselves. The inferior function has a seductive draw to it because it is an important key to personal growth for a personality type.
Extraverted sensing is a highly responsive cognitive function that adapts in real-time to the external world in the present moment. This extraverted function can quickly gather sensory information from the outside world to make decisions. Extraverted sensing enjoys experiencing new things, interacting with the outer environment, and indulging in sensual pleasures and creative arts.
Extraverted sensing (Se) is the opposite of introverted intuition which takes place primarily in the mind. Inferior extraverted sensing offers a healthy balance to INTJ cognitive overthinking habits that result from both their dominant and auxiliary functions (Ni + Te).
INTJs will need to actively work on developing their extraverted sensing in a healthy productive way as it is the weakest of their primary functions. Because of INTJ’s inferior cognitive function, this personality type may be vulnerable to feeling overwhelmed by an over-focus on sensory data and real-world details.
To be honest, inferior extroverted sensing is a slightly dangerous placement. Extraverted sensing has an impulsive nature to it, which is a force in the physical world. As the inferior cognitive function, extraverted sensing can have a grip (also known as a “Se-grip”) on an INTJ leading to poor self-control and regretful decisions. For example, you could read more about how the kindred INFJ could go dark/toxic as a result of Se-grip, where I walk through how each of the INFJ cognitive functions can go dark. INTJs and INFJs share half of their functions.
INTJ Personality Shadow Functions
After the primary functions, there are the lower four cognitive functions are considered shadow functions that are mostly unconscious with a repressed aspect to them. The shadow functions are the same function as the first four functions, with the opposite attitude such that introverted intuition (Ni) becomes extroverted intuition (Ne) for example.
Quick Summary of the unconscious four functions of the INTJ cognitive functions:
- 5th Extraverted Intuition (Ne) – Opposite Personality
- 6th Introverted Thinking (Ti) – Critical Parent
- 7th Extroverted Feeling (Fe) – Blindspot
- 8th Introverted Sensing (Si) – Demon
5th Nemesis Function: Extraverted Intuition (Ne)
Extraverted iNtuition (Ne) is a beautiful expansive cognitive function that likes to intellectually explore in a similar but different way than the introverted equivalent function. (Ne) likes to expand, while (Ni) likes to distill to core principles. The 5th function is a source of worry for a type, so extraverted intuition (Ne) in the 5th placement makes INTJ worrisome human beings when their inner world becomes rich instead with pessimistic thinking. This first INTJ shadow function is one that feels opposite to their own ego personality.
6th Critical Parent Function: Introverted Thinking (Ti)
The second INTJ shadow function is introverted thinking as the critical parent. This personality type may suffer occasionally from an overcritical inner voice that second-guesses their thinking. Additionally, this may sometimes obstruct the INTJ type development of recognizing subjective truths. If something does not align with their logical frameworks, they may wrongfully dismiss the information.
Another way this shadow introverted thinking could manifest is through the need to get something done as soon as possible and sacrificing quality as a result of the incessant rush. This would be due to extroverted thinking overvaluing making progress over everything else.
7th Trickster Blindspot Function: Extroverted Feeling (Fe)
Extroverted feeling (Fe) as a blindspot leads to not having a need for social harmony, which results in the use of harsh words for the sake of communicating the truth. With this shadow function, INTJs never really strive to be exceptional at impressing people through charisma, small talk, or kissing up to a person.
INTJs tend to be individuals who are not afraid of telling it like it is, especially because of their extraverted thinking. You can rely on them to never sugarcoat something to you because they sense objectively what needs to be accurately conveyed for the sake of matters. This is because of their third function introverted feeling that prioritizes personal values over group harmony.
Arguably this is the weakest and less developed function of the 8 functions in an INTJ’s cognitive functions because it is the opposite attitude (extroverted) for introverted personalities.
8th Demon Function: Introverted Sensing (Si)
Introverted sensing (Si) is characterized by a strong sense of duty, reliability (such as routine), a focus on details, and a powerful memory that uses past experiences as a trusted source of guidance. Introverted intuition and introverted sensing are direct opposites, as introverted intuition focuses on the future and the big picture while introverted sensing (Si) focuses on the past and the small details.
The Demon function for a personality type is a source of conflict that tends to undermine the importance of its place in functioning. Types that lead or have dominant use of the function can be a trigger for the type if extensive time is spent with those types.
You could read more about how an INFJ (the similar kindred type to an INTJ due to directly sharing half of the same functions) can be toxic in this post, where I walk through how each of the INFJ cognitive functions and shadow functions can be used in unhealthy ways.
Summary INTJ Cognitive Functions (INTJ Cognitive Function Stack)
I hope you enjoyed this article on INTJ cognitive functions and learned about how each cognitive function INTJ personalities use.
This Mastermind personality type is pretty awesome individuals and can be extremely respectable individuals, although some could definitely go dark and use their powerful minds for more sinister agendas. I’ll soon write an article about the toxic potential of each of the INTJ cognitive functions.
What even is a cognitive function? (Theory developed by Carl Gustav Jung)
Carl Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. Through his clinical work, he recognized and identified different “cognitive functions” that people use. You could think of cognitive functions as mental processes that flavor a personality type with distinguishable strengths and weaknesses.
The Eight Cognitive Functions (Quick Summary)
8 Functions Total = 2 types x 2 functions x 2 (introverted or extroverted)
Two Types of Functions: Judging & Perceiving (2)
- Judging Functions: how you make decisions
- Perceiving Functions: how you intake information
There are two functions for each type of function. (2 x 2 = 4)
- Feeling (F)
- Thinking (T)
- Sensing (S)
- Intuition (N)
Two Types of Attitudes for a Function: Introverted or Extroverted (2 x 2 x 2 = 8)
- Judging: Feeling + Introversion = function Introverted Feeling (Fi)
- Judging: Feeling + Extroversion = function Extraverted Feeling (Fe)
- Judging: Thinking + Introversion = function Introverted Thinking (Ti)
- Judging: Thinking + Extroversion = function Extraverted Thinking (Te)
- Perceiving: Sensing + Introversion = function Introverted Sensing (Si)
- Perceiving: Sensing + Extroversion = function Extraverted Sensing (Se)
- Perceiving: Intuition + Introversion = function Introverted Intuition (Ni)
- Perceiving: Intuition + Extroversion = function Extraverted Intuition (Ne)
Each Personality Type in the MBTI Personality Framework
Each type has a different unique order of cognitive functions in its function stack. The first four are conscious primary and inferior functions. This article was 1 of the 16, outlining the INTJ cognitive functions.
The eight cognitive functions are all paired on axes, so once you know the top two cognitive functions of a type then you know the order of all 8. An axis is made up of two functions that are connected because if you introvert one, then you must extrovert the other and vice versa. The four axes are:
- Ni-Se Axis (introverted intuition & extraverted sensing) – both perceiving
- Ne-Si Axis (extraverted intuition & introverted sensing) – both perceiving
- Fe-Ti Axis (extraverted feeling & introverted thinking) – both judging
- Fi-Te Axis (introverted feeling & extroverted thinking) – both judging
The first four functions are conscious, while the lower four are unconscious shadow functions. Shadow functions are usually undeveloped, use unconsciously, and have a repressed aspect to them.