|Cognitive processes are the foundation for many psychological type instruments, and recognizing them is the key to discovering one’s best-fitting type pattern. We are innately different when it comes to which ones we most like to use, and it is precisely these differences which exemplify our unique personality and psychological type.
So What Are These Processes?
The essential idea behind the cognitive processes is quite simple. Whenever our minds are engaged, we are doing one of two things. We are either taking in information or else organizing information and drawing conclusions. Jung called the “taking-in” process Perceiving and the “organizing-and-drawing-conclusions” process Judging.
Here’s an example of how it works: We observe we are thirsty (Perceiving); we decide to get something to drink (Judging); we come up with possibilities of what to drink (Perceiving); we decide on a beverage that’s available several blocks away (Judging); we notice it is sunny (Perceiving); we decide to have water outside instead (Judging). And so it goes, back and forth, all through the waking hours of our life.
Try it out! Go through your day naming each step of your mental activity: perceiving — judging — perceiving — judging, and so on. Have fun doing it! Each time you engage in this activity, your comprehension of the basic idea increases. This is a real-life application of type theory.
The Story of the Cognitive Processes
In 1921, Carl Jung published his book Psychological Types, which was intended to explain the normal differences between healthy people. Based on his observations, Jung concluded that differences in behavior result from individuals’ inborn tendencies to use their minds in different ways. As people act on these tendencies, they develop certain patterns of behavior.
Foremost in his theory, Jung identified two basic psychological dispositions: extraversion and introversion. He then developed his framework further, detailing four modes of experience.
He described Sensing and iNtuiting, which are perceptive processes. He also delineated Thinking and Feeling, which are discriminating processes. He described them thus:
Sensation tells you that there is something.
Thinking, roughly speaking, tells you what it is.
Feeling tells you whether it is agreeable or not, to be accepted or rejected.
And intuition—now there is a difficulty. You don’t know, ordinarily, how intuition works. … So my definition of intuition is perception via the unconscious.
Combined with the attitudes of introversion and extraversion, altogether Jung identified eight unique cognitive processes—or geniuses—that people engage in. In combination, these comprise 16 unique personality type patterns.
Every type pattern has a distinct configuration of cognitive process preference and development. Deciding which of these eight cognitive processes are habitual is key to the process of discovering one’s best-fit psychological type. It allows an individual to reliably tap into their innate genius.