Our personalities create our personal realities, and our personalities are a product of our unique beliefs and cognitive functions. Our cognitive functions are our ways of perceiving and judging our internal and external worlds.
One of the most influential psychoanalysts of our time, Carl Jung, spent a great deal of his life trying to understand our unique cognitive functions and how they shape our personalities. In this article, we are excited to present to you Carl Jung’s Theory of Cognitive Functions, the role each function plays in our perception of the world, and how exciting that is for our personal evolution.
What is Carl Jung’s Theory of Cognitive Functions?
Carl Jung boiled down our cognitive processes into two main basic functions: perceiving (taking in new information) and judging (making decisions based off of that information).
However, it became evident that even with these two basic functions, there were still 4 completely different ways of perceiving and 4 completely different ways of judging. Collectively, these 8 varying processes are known as Carl Jung’s 8 Cognitive Functions.
Every person has certain strengths and weaknesses — how these strengths and weakness are oriented within your cognitive functions can define your personality type.
Before we dive into the cognitive functions, it’s important to have a good understanding of the difference between the two opposing “attitudes” that affect them: extraversion and introversion.
“The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.” — Carl Jung
“Extraverted” means happening external to your mind. An extraverted person is generally more oriented to the external world — all of the people, places, and experiences that happen in the real, physical world outside of themselves.
“Introverted” means happening inside your mind. An introverted person is generally much more oriented with their internal world — all of the feelings, thoughts, and ideas that transcend space and time within their minds.
What Are The Cognitive Functions Of The Brain?
A definition of cognitive skills aka cognitive functions goes like this: Cognitive skills are the main skills our brains use to think, learn, remember, reason, read, and sustain attention.
For us to understand,learn, remember, and know, all of these skills must work together. Each of these has a great function in cognition, so they must work a s a team for our cognitive system to work perfectly. If one becomes weak, it could all fall apart.
What Are The 8 Cognitive Functions?
- Sustained Attention allows you to stay focused for a certain time period
- Selective Attention allows you to stay focused on a particular task while blocking out distractions
- Divided Attention allows you to multitask — focus on more than one thing at a time
- Visual Processing allows you to think in and perceive visual images
- Auditory Processing allows you to process, blend, analyze, and segment sounds
- Processing Speed allows you to access information and perform tasks with speed and accuracy
- Long-Term Memory allows you to remember information that was stored at a previous time
- Working/Short-term Memory is lasting for about 15-30 seconds at a time, this enables you to store information while you are in the process of currently using it
Extraverted Sensing (Se)
This type of perception happens when you are using your 5 senses to take in information from the physical world.
Introverted Sensing (Si)
Introverted sensing happens when you remember and reflect upon an experience or sensation you’ve previously experienced. For example, when you think about how the weather was last week, or reminisce about the beautiful song a bird sang on your walk yesterday.
Extraverted Intuiting (Ne)
Extraverted intuiting happens when you are able to quickly brainstorm to see possible futures and make connections between people and events in the real world.
Introverted Intuiting (Ni)
Introverted intuiting happens you are able to unconsciously download insights that seem to come from nowhere. This tends to happen to people a lot when they are in the shower and have those brilliant “aha” moments.
Extraverted Thinking (Te)
Extraverted thinking happens when you make decisions about the world via objective facts and inductive reasoning.
Introverted Thinking (Ti)
Introverted thinking happens when you reflect on ideas, data, and theories that exist within your mind. This type of thinking is much more subjective and involves deductive reasoning.
Extraverted Feeling (Fe)
Extraverted feeling happens when you make decisions based on a more global value system than a personal one.
Introverted Feeling (Fi)
Introverted feeling happens when you make decisions based on your own personal values.
Are These Functions Affected by the Structure of the Brain?
Do these different cognitive functions have anything to do with a person’s unique brain structure? As in, are we limited to the confines of our innate brain structure?
In fact, we aren’t limited at all. This is the most exciting part — it’s all a matter of each person’s unique preference of perceiving.
Turns out, these different cognitive functions are only able to be measured by the presence of certain neurochemicals. Neurochemicals are produced by our thoughts and beliefs systems, which we can change.
Why Is This so Exciting to Our Personal Evolution?
This means that you can change your cognitive functions and personality as you change throughout your life, regardless of the structure of the brain. You are not ever stuck with one personality — you get to constantly change shape and color and form as you desire.
Your personality creates your personal reality — and you create your personality based on the thoughts you choose to think and the person you desire to become. Whether you choose to look more outside of yourself or inside yourself, be the Thinker or the Doer, the Commander or the Nurturer, the Visionary or the Composer… You are limitless and ever-changing.
We hope you share in this excitement with us and have fun playing with life’s endless possibilities.
What personality type are you? What kind of personal reality do you wish to create for yourself? Share with us in the comments below!