For over a year I’ve had an impending fear.  It lurks in the back of my mind, nagging at me whenever I go to type anyone, real or fictional, whenever My INFJ and I have worked on nailing down just which facial patterns follow human cognition, and it pulls on me whenever I get excited about just how uncannily well Facial Typing works and how the facial similarities between people of the same cognitive type just can’t be unseen!  It seems silly, that the reason I’m scared is because Facial Typing works so well; shouldn’t I be more scared if it *didn’t* work?  So why does fear haunt my Facial Typing days?

Because I know that in mere months (if schedule goes according to plan, which I’ve totally stopped counting on), I’ll be ready to release a series of posts full of scientific, photographic evidence that *so many people* aren’t the type they think they are.  And then I’m readying myself for the pitchforks and torches, because I know they’re coming for me.

And you know what?  It’s understandable (to a point) that people get so up-in-arms when I tell them they’re not the type they thought they were.  It makes sense that when we have to correct people about their type, or what defines types in general, that they often react as negatively as if we’d corrected them on their religion, politics, sexuality or gender.

When we talk about cognition and personality, we’re talking about how people define their identities and their self-worth as a person.  The way you think, why you do what you do, what’s most important to you, how you come off to the world, your hopes and fears, all this is rolled up in what type you are.  When we talk to people in person about their cognition, their Type Specialization and Type Angst especially, I’ve seen so many eyes mist up and so many shocked “how could you know that?!” faces.  This stuff is important to people.

And holy Toledo, this crap works!  I never get tired of geeking out over it.  The way your face reflects what matters to you most, from the way your eyebrows sit on your face to how your mouth moves!  Even your voice and body type reflect your cognition!  Each cognitive type has a beauty all its own that, just like the way you think, the world tries to tell you isn’t good enough.

But the beautiful elegance and complexity of how the human face really demonstrates what’s at work behind it, isn’t going to keep you from feeling bludgeoned when you find out that your self-definition could use a tune-up.  As much as you’ve tried to rid yourself of the stereotypes and misconceptions associated with personality typing in general, you may honestly be unaware of ones still lurking underneath the surface of what type XXXX really means, or the function of functions.  These hidden misconceptions, whether intended or not, will be unconsciously defining and screwing with your conception of what the four letters I give you really mean.  So even though your cognition, deep down, wants to be the type you really are, if you unconsciously think it means something totally different or that it will limit who you are as a person, your psyche is likely to flinch when I tell you the truth.

My INFJ suggested I try and be nice and say “Well, those attitudes might be okay for behavioral systems, but they’re just not cognition,” which in a way is true.  However, the definition of behaviors is that they *change* throughout your life, and therefore you are not going to be just one behavioral type throughout your life, and I have yet to find a popular behavioral system that is consistent within itself or with any other behavioral system.  They aren’t just alternative, equally valuable systems; they’re ill-defined and inconsistent, and we’re trying to distance ourselves as much as possible from them.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we haven’t used the phrase “MBTI” in ages, and we rarely even use “Personality Typing” anymore, in favor of “Cognitive Typing.”  I think it’s sad and silly that we need to do this, especially being “A Little Bit of Personality” and all, but we’re awfully tired of giving the same “We’re not like those other guys” mantra we’ve been giving for two plus years and we’re hoping this will help.

Being scientific about this doesn’t mean we can’t be wrong, it means just the opposite.  It means we have to constantly look for new ways in which we are wrong!  We’re constantly honing, never satisfied to put a period at the end of the cognitive sentence.  There is always more to the way the human mind works, so we have to be constantly fine-tuning, improving, and just looking for ways in which we’re totally wrong.  Stereotypes like to pontificate, but science has to see what actually works, what’s actually real and useful.  But when we first started aLBoP, we weren’t planning on spending all this time trying to correct oversimplified stereotypes.  We just wanted to have fun, doing character typings like Disney’s Hercules and Megara.  That was it.  But then we started noticing that little things in the definitions of the letters seemed inconsistent, inaccurate when it came to real life, or even hurtful or mean.

So we started trying to find out what the real story was.  What was really at the root of E or I?  What did F and T really mean?  Because the popular definitions weren’t working anymore; they kept ending up oversimplified, unreliable, and so unusable in practice.  So we gradually tried to shore up our understanding of what these letters are all about.  And as we dug deeper to find how the letters really work at their core, we started to see more blatantly how hurtful and mean and totally inconsistent the popular versions of the letters were.

People saying that you should never hire Ps for a job?  People saying that Ss are more practical, and that Ns are smarter?  That Fs are totally illogical, while Ts are incapable of sacrifice?  These sorts of things were mean, yes, but they were also unusable in practice.  What decent person is either illogical or incapable of sacrifice?  And since when are those opposites?  Apart from schoolyard namecalling, how could such a simplistic, insulting system ever apply to the complexity of real people?

We never had any intention of taking so much time to reinvent the wheel.  And at first, we thought we just had to correct these glaringly mean oversimplifications, just fix a few obvious problems, and then we could go back to Type Heroes and character spotlights.  So we made the three Dictionary Posts, and we gave a big sigh of relief, hoping that those posts would clear up most of the inconsistent garbage, and allow all of you to derive useful benefits from understanding how you work and why you do.

But we had underestimated just how prevalent, and how bad, the misinformation was.

So now in the COGswe’ve given you the roots of how the letters work.  Yet so many of you seem genuinely, innocently unaware that there’s any difference between cognitive psychology and the mean-spirited simplifications online and even in books.  We recently received an email from a reader in tears, because of what she’d read about her type online.  Rather than being excited to explore everything it really means to think and live in the way that she does, she was devastated at the sheer volume of hatred she found online about her type.  And she had no idea that all the hate online was any different from aLBoP.

She seemed to have no idea that the stereotypical definitions of the letters and of her type just don’t hold up in practice.  They contradict themselves, end up oversimplified, and simply don’t apply to real people who have any degree of complexity or maturity.  The idea that some people are emotionless robots is beyond insulting, regardless of what type we say they are.  So this reader seemed not to realize that when we told her what type she was, that it had nothing whatsoever to do with all the hateful misinformation she got hit with as soon as she did a quick online search.  On some level, she thought all that garbage was real.

But after we carefully explained to her the difference between the insulting misinformation and aLBoP’s definitions, she seemed unwilling to acknowledge that aLBoP could really be that different.  We’ve run into that attitude a lot; what makes us so special?  Well, nothing.  We just approached it by trying to find consistent, usable definitions of the letters that would hold up in practice, without any exceptions, every single time.  We were eager to be wrong over and over, so we could gradually uncover what was correct.  If other sites and books did that, they would not be so ugly, simplified, and unscientific.  And we could just have fun doing Type Heroes, rather than working so hard to stop all this pain.  So if being special is a matter of choosing to be honest, choosing to care about others, choosing to find what really works and not what helps us put down people who threaten us, then sure, aLBoP is special.  But then so can anyone be if they’re willing to be.  And if that’s what special means, then what’s wrong with being special?  What’s wrong with choosing to rise above the hate?

Yet this reader preferred to go away hurting, clinging to the definitions she found online, rather than acknowledge the dramatic difference between aLBoP and the all popular spite.  Rather than see what a wonderful person she already was, she chose to believe that her type was cold, unfeeling, uncaring, and even masculine.  And even if she soon rejected that as her type, how could anyone believe that such hurtful simplifications could possibly be true of *any* type?  How could anyone be okay with typing others that way, even if they rejected such cruel insults for themselves?  How could anyone not see the difference between aLBoP and that?

Rather than say, “How can you say I’m this type that everyone hates?” why not sit back and say, “Wait a minute…if people are being this ugly about *any* type, whether or not it’s mine, then how can this really be an accurate depiction of cognition?  Something’s wrong here…”  When we say that online definitions are unscientific, it’s because they don’t work.  They don’t hold up in practice.  They’re stereotyped, oversimplistic, and just untrue and unusable for anything other than trying to put others down.  When we talk about science, we’re not saying that our definitions cannot be changed; we’re working on them all the time!  But we’re saying that we’ve reached them only by experimentation with what really works in practice, seeking out the underlying root of what’s actually happening, so you guys can understand it and use it.  We want to protect you from the pain, and we want to save you from all the hurtful confusion.  Can’t you see the difference between aLBoP and all the mudwrestling?  Can’t you see what makes us different from the pretentious, divisive, mean-spirited websites?  Can’t you see that we are not with that crowd?

In the beginning we had no idea that it was this bad.  We never intended to take all this time trying to iron out the misinformation, but now that we have, the definitions we’ve developed are simply the result of seeking the real root of how the letters work, without any exceptions or special cases at all.

With E and I, N and S, F and T, J and P, Type Specializations, Type Angsts, Paradoxitypes and everything else you can find on aLBoP, we’ve just been shaking the pieces and seeing what ends up coming out as a consistent, usable, elegant definition that fits all real experience without exceptions or special cases.  That’s why we’re always correcting the simplistic online definitions of all the letters and types, because you just can’t benefit from inaccurate definitions.  We want you guys to be able to use cognitive typing in your lives, because it’s just so applicable to every single aspect of your life!  But how can you gain any benefit from cognitive typing if the basic definitions you’ve been given from other sources are flawed, demeaning, or oversimplified?

There are some common misconceptions we’ve come across, with even people who have been reading aLBoP a long time, which I feel like just won’t die!  😉  I’d love to have posts upon posts for each of these, and probably will at some point, but I also like being able to go *forward* with content, not just serve as damage control all the time.  Some of the most common are:

That Introvert and Extravert are About Where You Draw “Energy” From

I’m fairly sure this misconception comes from language either Jung or Briggs and Briggs Myers used in their original writings (I am not in the mood to go look it up right now :P).  I see what they meant, because Introverts care most about what’s going on inside their heads, while Extraverts care most about what’s going on outside them (thus the natural prioritizing of that type of information which defines E/I), but “Energy” in current language implies getting energized or enervated by social situations, which is *not* consistent as an I/E trait and changes throughout your life.

For example Justin, my INFJ, has always loved to write and work on projects with a ton of people around (so long as they’re uplifting people, not annoying people), and actually says it fuels what he’s working on.  I, however, as an EP who can’t turn off my Observation switch, have a really hard time working if anyone is around because it’s super hard for me to stop paying attention to what the people around me are doing.  I end up with “Aaah!  Too much input!!!” and just want to get away from everyone for a while.  Sometimes I can’t even work with Justin in the room because I constantly want to bounce off of him and get his opinion on everything, which I don’t really have to have.

Likewise when I’m in a big group of people for too long I feel like I have to be constantly on-point, aware and working with their reactions which, unless it’s going really well, gets tiring and nerve-racking quickly, so as much as I love watching people, it’ll often get to be too much and I’ll just want to come home and be alone with my plethora of browser tabs where I don’t have to worry about how well I’m handling people and if my dreaded fourth step of Action is being responsible enough or not.  I’m telling you guys, being an Extravert does *not* mean you don’t get just as tired of being around people as Introverts do.  People can just be tiring sometimes.  But on the flip-side, spending time with people you really care about energizes anyone, no matter their cognition.


Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum, The Misconceptions About Jungian Functions are Dumb

I hope you like my little rhyme, but no joke, I am *sooooo* tired of people using Ti, Te, Fi, Fe, Si, Se, and Ni, Ne as definitions!!  The internet has no crap what these things mean and, I kid you not, this picture:


is used by a popular typing website that shall not be named as the *definition* of Fi!  I’m not kidding, a site well-renowned for its typings of famous people considers this a scientific definition of how TJs and FPs, half of the cognitive types, process Feeling.  You guys see why I’m a little pissed?  You guys see why I’m tired of people using these letter combinations to mean whatever the crap they want?  There is no law there is no decency, there is no science… Ahem…

To be perfectly honest I even respect the guys who make that site more than most I’ve found on the topic.  While still behaviorally based, they do seem like they *try* to base things on the scientific method… sometimes.  Still, most their definitions resemble Ptolemaic geocentric theories of orbits – just because it accurately predicts what’s happening doesn’t mean the sun goes around the earth.  Behavioral personality definitions are clunky and end up forcing things to fit, all while misconstruing what’s actually going on behind people and their motivations in a way that makes them feel like they’re in a petri dish.  Just like the earth actually revolving around the sun, when you get to the core of what’s going on, you can rid yourself of the superstitious guesswork that predicts behavior but doesn’t really sit right in how it reflects reality.

… My INFJ thinks I should share with you that I had to get away from my keyboard in tears at this point of writing, because I just couldn’t shove down anymore how much it hurt that so many of you haven’t been able to see the difference between aLBoP and *that.*  That still, after so much time and pain and effort, that many of you still don’t see how websites that oversimplify and stifle human potential are really that much different from what we do.  I can’t describe the looks I’ve gotten over the years when I bring up “psychology” or “self-improvement” from people who cringe at the words, because the topics have been so mutilated into excuses for sophistry and self-righteousness, excuses to feel smarter, holier, better than others.  I hate being lumped with those people and it makes me want to puke.  It makes these topics with literally infinite potential into fortune cookie sound bites that limit people into bullet points of traits from which they cannot pass.  I will have none of it.

So going back to the “Fe, Fi, Fo dom” garbage that prevails throughout the internet as an ill-defined, “we can use this to mean whatever the crap we want,” can’t-even-be-called-a-system…

To put the truth of the matter simply, there are four functions.  They are comprised of two Compilation Functions (Jung called them “irrational functions,” which we think is confusing), and two Application Functions (Jung called them “rational functions”; ditto).

Sensing and iNtuition are Compilation Functions.   They compile information and find patterns in all the information that you already have.  They work to comprehend information on a universal scale, how the world or people *always* function.  (I could go so much deeper into this but this is not the place.)

Sensing finds universal patterns based on your experiences.  iNtuition finds universal patterns based in concepts.

When a Compilation function is Introverted (Si or Ni), it simply means you are looking inside your own mind to find universal patterns in either your experiences or your concepts.  Judgers naturally focus on finding universal patterns of Principles inside their minds, finding the underlying scaffolding of how the world works consistently (Principles via Si or Ni).  Perceivers instead naturally focus on finding universal patterns of Action inside their minds, discovering that “this type of action always leads to this kind of consequence.” (Action via Si or Ni).

When a Compilation function is Extraverted (Se or Ne), *no matter the type,* it is processing Observation, or in other words watching individuals as whole entities, finding patterns in behavior to make character judgments.  Everybody makes Observations about individuals and watches to understand what makes a person consistent in their motivations and intentions, but half the types do it by means of experience (Se), and half do it by means of concepts (Ne).

That’s all that Si/Ni/Se/Ne really mean!  A Compilation function, finding patterns in either experiences or concepts (S or N), inside or outside of you (i or e).  Any kind of implications about athleticism, smartness, practically etc. is just simple yak poop.

Feeling and Thinking are Application Functions.  They apply information to specific circumstances. They make judgment calls about which type of information is applicable to specific actions and circumstances.

Information derived through the Compilation Functions can’t do much in a specific circumstance without being in conjunction with an Application Function.  Application Functions can’t know what to go off of universally without being attached to a Compilation Function.  That’s why everyone’s cognition process has both, going back and forth.  When healthy, it gives your mind balance between universal understanding and specific applications.  When healthy.

Feeling focuses on how to apply information to derive the most Meaning and significance from it.  Thinking focuses on how to apply information to derive the most Use and utility from it.  That’s it.  No crying babies.

When an Application Function is Introverted (Fi or Ti) no matter the type, it’s processing Data and Details about a situation in order to make correct conclusions about that situation, and asking questions to figure out what other bullet points of Data it needs.

Data and Details are the facts about a situation, but “facts” can be a misleading word.  If I watched Little Timmy drop his ice cream cone on the ground, that is a “fact” or bullet point detail that I have about a situation.  If that’s the only information I have, it’s jumping to a conclusion to think that Sally pushed him, making him drop his ice cream.  If I didn’t see it or hear it or whatever, I’m going to have to rely on the help of my other cognitive steps in order to know whether or not Sally is the perpetrator here, or if Timmy is just a klutz.  My Observation of character judgment, which always works in association with Data (no matter your type) will probably help a lot: knowing Sally and Timmy’s consistency in being either a bully or a klutz, etc., and I’m sure Action and Principles would probably be needed to understand what was going on too.

I went off there, sorry! 🙂  But some of you have been struggling to understand the uses of the Four Types of Information… longer, separate posts to come definitely.   Anyway, Fi and Ti are *always* associated with Data and Details, regardless of your type.  If it’s an Application Function inside your head, it’s Data.

When an Application Function is Extraverted (Fe or Te), again it depends on Judging or Perceiving.  Judgers look outside themselves to understand and apply Action and Consequences, watching the actions of others and the consequences of everyone’s actions in order to apply Action in the future.  Judgers focus on understanding plans and “this specific choice will lead to this consequence,” as the two go hand-in-hand.  Perceivers instead look outside themselves to see Principles and perceive how the universe applies to the world right in front of them.

Just like with S and N, all Fi/Ti/Fe/Te really mean is that you’re using an Application Function, applying information to get the most Meaning or Use (F or T), inside or outside of you (i or e).  Any implication of emotionality, openness, shyness, coldness, logicality, etc. is just buang!  (Cebuano for really crazy, foolish and stupid.  My INFJ speaks Cebuano and that’s one of my favorite onomatopoetical words.)

Forgiving the long explanation, how functions work is actually pretty simple.  The whole Fe Fi Fum thing should be as simple as what function is being used on a given cognition step, and whether it’s inside or outside your head.  Each type uses all four functions—let me say it again, each type uses all four functions, and each type looks inside twice and outside twice.

So when I see people using phrases like “I could never be a Fi” or “I’m totally a Si Dom,” all I see is a confusing way of saying you could never be a TJ or an FP, and that you think you’re an ISJ… except that often isn’t even what people mean by saying these things.  It’s totally all over the place!  In these examples, they really mean that they ooze feeling all over the place, which is what people think Fe means for some odd reason, and that they’re… idk practical?  Oversimplified stereotypes allowed to fester under the guise of jargon.  I’ve rarely seen “Dom” used for anything but a way to advertise oneself.  What the crap does that tell you about how your mind works?!  If you’re trying to use it to refer to your first or second Cognitive Step it’s confusing and, can I say, comes off pretentious?  I am sorry if I’m being harsh and you didn’t mean to use it that way, but so often these phrases get used as buzzwords that aren’t really defined, and so are loaded with unspoken meaning that, without a definition you can point to, can’t get called out on.  We’ve called out landmines in the unspoken (or even spoken) definitions of the letters themselves that people have gotten away with for so long, but until recently, I thought that would cover the unspoken definitions in the functions as well.  Apparently not, because hurtful, dangerous implications keep being brought up there, too.  And I have to stand up for aLBoP and say that’s not how we roll around here.

The misconceptions are everywhere.  For example, lots of people say “I’m such an Ne,” but eight of the sixteen types use Ne, and they all use it slightly differently.  The way IFPs use Fi is much more similar to the way that ITPs use Ti than the way ETJs use Fi, because it’s for their *first step* of Data and Details, just like ITPs, whereas ETJs hide it there at the end.  Because your first two cognition steps work together so thoroughly, EFs (ESFJ, ENFJ, ESFP and ENFP) have much more in common with how they use their Feeling than they do with other types that may technically have the same Fe or Fi as they do.  Likewise, whether you use a Compilation Function first (IJs and EPs) or an Application Function first (IPs and EJs) causes so much more overlap in attitudes, than simply whether you introvert or extravert a function.  Buang.

As always, the stereotypes are overly simplistic, while reality is always more complex and *yet* makes more sense than the alternative.


85% of the World is INFJ

Oh…. this one.  Once upon a time I wrote a little post called “Type Heroes: INFJ – The Paladin”.  Being married to a very sweet and wonderful INFJ who I was trying very hard to help with his Hercules Syndrome, and who had had very many mean and untrue things said about him in the course of his life, I thought at the time it made sense to focus on the heroic side of INFJ and the Principles they so love, all of which is true.  (For the record I also talked in that post about how they weren’t pie-in-the-sky and weren’t about kissing puppies and pooping rainbows.)  I was also very excited when that post started getting a lot of attention, actually becoming our most popular post for over a year I think.  It’s still number 2 at the moment, right behind The Cognition Process in Stick Figures.  But then I began to notice a trend… a really big, really cringe-worthy trend.  They weren’t all coming to the post because they liked how it was written, they weren’t coming because I’d demystified INFJ or because they loved the characters in the collage… they were coming because they *all* thought they were INFJ.  *All of them.* {Jaws music}

I swear it seems like 85% of the internet thinks it’s INFJ!  Okay, maybe more like 55%, but the point is it’s more than all fifteen other types put together!  It’s insane!  I don’t know how people can both believe that INFJ is the rarest type (something I honestly can’t verify either way at this time) and not notice that everyone you see online thinks they’re that type!  And I *try* to ignore people’s profile pics when they repin INFJ pins or comment that they’re INFJ on something, when both their face and the way they talk says that they’re anything but, but sometimes you just have to be nice, sigh and move on.

And the ironic thing is, I know that all the INFJs out there that truly cognate in an Introverted Judging, iNtuitive Feeling way are sitting there at their electronic devices, being the first to wonder if they are the ones who were wrong all along.  Because the thing about Hercules Syndrome is that it makes you feel *guilty* and *like you’ll never be liked* for being an INFJ.  Almost every email we’ve received from an actual INFJ asking to be typed has had almost an apology, either for even considering they could be INFJ, afraid that means they think they’re better than other people, or for liking principles as much as they do in the first place, that others might think them pretentious or too serious for thinking about plans of how to make the world better in a meaningful way.

And no, apologizing for who you are is not just an INFJ thing, so if you do, that doesn’t mean I’m going to say you’re INFJ.

Maybe it would have helped if I had been familiar with and been able to talk about the annoying side of Hercules Syndrome, as demonstrated by less healthy INFJs.  Because, believe me, out of control Hercules Syndrome can be just as frustrating as any of the other Type Angsts when they’re out of control.  It comes when an INFJ fears that if they show their true, infinity-loving selves, they’ll always be considered weird and unlikable, and so in turn goes to the other extreme and tries to pretend they never liked INFJ things in the first place, even rolling their eyes or mocking infinite archetype when they see it, trying to prove to everyone around them “See, I’m not with the universe; the universe is a weirdo!”  Ugh, very frustrating and I’ve seen it more in INFJ guys than girls.  Cultural thing I think; that being in touch with principles and archetype is considered more acceptable in women.  All the same, I wish I’d covered it.  But The Paladin was one of my earliest posts (the first Type Hero I wrote) and I just hadn’t encountered it yet because, to be perfectly honest, Justin just doesn’t do that as much as he’s had reason to.

“But why, what did I do?” says Universe. “I am just universing! Why you no be my friend??”

Now, as far as I’ve been able to deduce, there are two main reasons why the “Everyone is INFJ” plague has spread.  Other than just a misunderstanding of the letters, I mean, because if it was just that, it wouldn’t be so lopsided.


1)  “INFJ is Best Type”

I see this a lot and you may have even believed it for honest reasons.  There are lots of awesome INFJ protagonists!  Yes, there are heroes of every type, so many more than could ever be listed, but yeah, our modern media really likes INFJ.  Justin gets embarrassed when we talk to people about cognition in person and they get on a roll about “what type is this character?” and Harry Potter, Aragorn and Daredevil come up (Omigosh that was such a good show! /sudden need to rant suppressed… And one of the best ISFP villains ever! (Fear that you can’t keep things from breaking is a strangely relatable reason to bash someone’s head off with a car door…) /fangirl because the whole thing was so well done <3), because his Hercules Syndrome tells him people will hate him if he acknowledges that he thinks the way those awesome characters do.  Not unfounded, but whatev.  (In response to this problem, he’s always very quick to bring up, “Hey, I think like Hitler!”  Every. Single. Time.)

The thing is, while INFJ is not any better or more important as a type, when healthy it *is* the type with the most zoomed out perspective.  That’s not better or worse; it’s just in the definition of INFJ.  However, our culture is at the moment desperately lacking in perspective, in universal principles of meaning which is INFJ’s Type Specialization.  Are universal principles of meaning any more important than getting the most use out of situations and working with what you already have (ISTP’s specialization)?  No.  But Captain America (INFJ) and Agent Natasha Romanoff (ISTP) serve different purposes within their universe that represent their different type specializations.  They’re equally important roles by my book, but it is natural for those writing in a culture to write characters they think their audience needs, regardless of if they know the letters or not.  If you need more fictional INFJs at a given moment in history, they will rise.  If you need more fictional ESFJs, they’ll do the same.  It really depends what people feel is needed to reflect their message.

Yes, it’s probable that INFJ gets more of those types of protagonists in our culture, not because they’re the only type that can be heroic, but because their section of the type specialization grid has been lacking in our culture.  In other times throughout history, other types of protagonists were needed to balance out culture in other ways, and I’m sure we could find or theorize about 16 different scenarios in history where different types were needed to balance out a lopsided status-quo.  In the end, truly, we need more heroes of every type, so please, please, please be open to being the type you really are!  Which leads well into:

2)  “Philosophical = INFJ”

As far as I can tell, many tests, books and internet descriptions have INFJ as a behavioral catch-all for anyone who has ever cared about meaning or a larger world whatsoever.  After all, if you’re going from a behavioral standpoint, anyone who is smart (mistaken for N), cares about people (mistaken for F), doesn’t constantly want to be around people, or is thoughtful and philosophical (both mistaken for I), and who actually cares about accomplishing anything in the world (mistaken for J), would be confused for an INFJ, when in reality *anyone* of *any type* could fit those descriptions.  If anything, the stereotypical INFJ philosopher who wants to explore all the meaning in the world is much more INFP than INFJ.

And this happens with all mistyping, not just with INFJ.  If you believe type PQWZ means something you’ve been told for years, you may read What Do All These Letters Mean Anyway? eighteen times and not notice that there is an unspoken definition in the back of your mind that still hasn’t been rooted out.  Then when I go and tell you that you are actually LBF1 and not PQWZ like you thought you were, those unconscious definitions will be in the back of your mind, lying in wait to tell you all sorts of things about yourself and what I’m implying.  Everything you’ve always known you are, as heroic, meaningful, dedicated, ambitious, funny or whatever attributes you’ve attributed to the type you thought you were, you can take with you to your “new type” and apply all the better there, in a way that will click better than the old one ever did.The whole reason you have a cognitive type is because there is something your psyche wants more than anything else, and therefore prioritizes above anything else whether you realize it or not.  If you’re actively trying to be a different type or if you feel guilty for being the type you really are, you’re going to be unhappy because your deepest desires are going to be left unsatisfied.  End of story.  And that’s a sad ending.


0% of the World is ENFP

Okay, that number is more of an exaggeration than the INFJ percentage, but it’s still one we run across nonstop.  It’s an unending trend that true ENFPs either don’t believe or don’t want to believe that they’re ENFP.  All the freaking time.  I love you ENFPs, but I’m very tired of this by now.  Let us examine the reasons why:

1)  Their specialization is centered on who they are

For the record, true ENFP is also the type we see on aLBoP most, which is great!!!  What could fit better with a type specialization of Individual Meaning than learning about how to be a hero and about how people are special and think differently from each other?  Awesome!  But since they’re focused on being as meaningful as possible as a person, it makes sense that ENFPs would be scoping out for “Is that type more meaningful?  Maybe I can be that one!”  It doesn’t have to be conscious or an attempt to be better than others; ENFPs are *supposed* to be trying to be as meaningful as possible; but unchecked, this can lead to putting down even their own true type in favor of one they believe to be more meaningful.

2)  They’re good at appreciating others

As the Standard-Bearer, ENFPs are all about championing others to do the best that they can do, standing by their side and saying “You’ve got this; I see how great you are!”  And their combination EF and P makes them hyper aware of the meaning of others as individuals.  Yay!!  But when they value others’ strengths above their own, they can get really down on themselves and consider their own abilities and talents kind of so-so compared to the great people the see all around them.  They often end up comparing others’ strengths with their own weaknesses, leaving them feeling like theirs don’t even really matter.  There are two ways for an ENFP’s mind to cope with this painful stabbing of their type specialization in the gut; they can either let their self-esteem plummet, sometimes even defining themselves by their *lack* of self-esteem, trying to find significance in only that when there seems no other way out, or they can try and pretend they *already* have everyone else’s strengths without having to sacrifice or work for those strengths in the ways those they admire had to in the first place.  Or a combination of the two.  (This is sounding a little Type Heroish… I was going to apologize, but you guys supposedly love those so I guess I won’t 😉 )  And either option can end up resulting in the ENFP being *sure* they aren’t ENFP.

Obviously the happy option is to stop being down on yourself, by seeing that the way you think is valid, important and necessary.  Returning to ENFP’s greatest strength of meaningful character judgment of yourself and others is the only way you will see the world as it truly is, and know how to embrace your strengths and overcome your weaknesses.  The same is true for any type with their own unique strengths and weaknesses.

(I really really wanted to go off on a tangent here about type angsts, and that it turns out that half of the type angsts are worrying about not standing out enough, while the other half are worried that they stand out in a bad way.  It’s a very cool pattern that took me a little bit to figure out because it’s not simple, but it’s really cool and someone needs to remind me to talk about it in a post later.  Okaythanksbye.)

3)  EFs struggle with unplanted feet

First and third letters have a lot to do with your connections and interactions with people.  EFs, with their minds automatically prioritizing the particular people right in front of them (E) and their focus on the meaning of those people (F), struggle more than all the other types at not being pulled around by the views and actions of the people they care for most.  This comes from a strength, the desire to make the people they care about truly happy, but can end up one of their biggest weaknesses when those they care about most shouldn’t necessarily be the ones they should be listening to.  And just as one example, if an EF’s loved ones say that they couldn’t possibly be EXFX for whatever reason, the EF may stand loyally by their side, not because they truly agree with them, but because the idea of their friend being wrong just hurts too much.  But remember, whenever you side with the wrong side, the right side is *going* to get hurt and it’s going to be your fault if you didn’t stand up for the truth you knew.

But the thing is, we *need* healthy ENFPs to stand up and fulfill their type specialization.  We need real life Agent Coulsons, John Watsons and Bilbo Baggins-es to champion us and show us that we can be just as meaningful and heroic as we want to be, to show us that life can always be an adventure, no matter how yours is playing out, and that if you give people a chance, so often they will rise to the occasion.  I know that the healthy ENFPs in my life have made me feel like what I do in the world matters and, well, I could always use some more of that.


Angst over Type Angsts

This one has come up a lot more in the last month since we released the COGs, since it’s the first time we’ve given long explanations of all 16 Type Angsts (if you haven’t gotten to see the 8 we hadn’t previously released, go check them out! :D).  We have had a lot of readers tell us lately that they really “feel” the rest of their COG, but the Type Angst?  Well, that’s just not really them.

As explained in the COGs, each type has a root fear that is at the base of all others.  As Justin said in there (did you know he did 99% of the prose for the COGs?  I keep seeing people quote “me” and I have to laugh because I can always tell when his word choice and sentence structure is totally different from mine.  There are even some paragraphs in this post that he wrote and I could totally point them out if pressed.  But I’m not telling… Shhh 😉 ), anyone can have any fear, but these unique type fears drive all the others.

But people have seemed confused about the *source* of Type Angsts, and by that I mean what is the root *cause* behind these root fears.  As I mentioned briefly (and possibly confusingly) in our two hour Live Q&A last year (link to timestamp, but I was rewatching and *so* much of this chat is applicable to this topic!  We start the beginning of the full Type Angst/”want to be a different type” discussion around the 1hr mark, but I didn’t want to make you watch the full 15mins), Type Angsts are caused by the fear that your insufficiencies in your last two cognitive steps will sabotage everything your first two cognitive steps are trying to accomplish; that your biggest weaknesses are going to subvert your entire Type Specialization.


This means that EJs are terrified that they don’t properly understand vital Data and Details, and that lack of either meaning or use in situations (last step of F or T) will make them ineffective at leading their beloved Group to the right Actions that they know will help them the most.

IJs are terrified that their struggle to correctly Observe and understand motivations and intentions of individuals will cause their own motivations and character to be unacceptable in concept or experience (last step of N or S), which will ostracize them from fully being a part of the World and the Principles which uphold it.

IPs are terrified that because their zoomed-in view is hard to apply to universal Principles, that the world is too big to understand and that therefore their ability to cultivate the Situations and specializations they love will be truncated by their lack of either meaning or use (last step of F or T) in the world.

And EPs are terrified that their difficulties with understanding Actions in either concept or experience (last step of N or S) will lead to bad Consequences that they were unable to predict, reflecting badly on the Individual they want to be.  (As I finished writing this paragraph, I looked down and realized my pants were on backward.  I wish I were kidding.)

Within each of those four type-sets, each type has its own unique manifestation of fear based on its own unique cognition steps and Type Specialization.  Those fears end up being consistent across all people who cognate according to that process.  So, for example, all ISFPs fear that their struggle with making use of Principles (last step of Principles via T) will stop them from protecting and enjoying the meaningful situations and details they spend their lives cultivating—leading all ISFPs to fear that they can’t keep things from breaking.  All ENTJs fear that their lack of understanding about the meaning and significance of situational details (last step of Data via F) will keep others from listening to them, standing in the way of all they want to accomplish in leading their group.

Those fears will always be consistent within each cognitive type, because of the way cognition and strengths and weaknesses manifest, and how humans both strive for growth and yet fear we can’t attain it and get in our own way.  However, the way those fears manifest or the way we *choose* to cope with them may vary based on environmental factors as well as our own individual choices.  Like we’ve said so many times, cognition doesn’t limit your choices; it just demonstrates the thought processes behind those choices.  We still can always choose how well we want to deal with the world around us, how we want to handle our fears and if we’re willing to sacrifice to gain our strengths.

The named Type Angsts, based on character examples such as ISTJ Thranduil Denial and ENFP McFly Conviction, are the most common coping mechanisms we see as trends in the types, explained most fully so far in the COGs.  They are not, as described, the *only* ways to deal with the root fears of each type, but they are by far the most frequently observed, and even if it manifests a little differently, it still counts. 😉

And don’t forget that these are the things each type *fears* are true, which does not necessarily mean they are true.  Sometimes Type Angsts are backed up by our life experiences and the way others treat us, sometimes they’re not.  All types will subconsciously interpret their life experiences as if their type angsts are true, and look back over their lives through that lens, but Angsts can definitely be exacerbated by external feeding.  I want to do a whole post on this, but one of the things you should watch out for the most as a parent or teacher is feeding right into a child’s Type Angst just when it’s developing; call a little INTJ a soulless monster or tell a little ENFP that they’re exaggerating their feelings… yeah, way to set therapists up for life!  Those are actually two real life examples told to me by adults who are still dealing with the scarring that was given to them as children.  And I could give you dozens more.  I told you guys this #$^@ was important…

Type Angsts manifest differently in different people, and while so much of it has to do with their individual choices, it is also so affected by the different people in their lives.  A lot of Type Angst feeding is unintended, but a lot of it is not.  We often know just where to hit the people closest to us in order to get them to do or think the way we want them to, but we may not be able to account for the consequences that may follow.

Type Angsts can also be a vicious cycle as our fears lead us to try and prove their inaccuracy.  I know from painful, lifelong personal experience that the fastest way for me to look just as irresponsible and bad as I fear I am is to try and *prove* that I’m responsible.  I end up leaning on my last and weakest step of Action, neglecting the truth I naturally Observe about others and myself in favor of running around like a maniac trying to prove I can do specific action perfectly.  (This is how my Megamind Complex manifests and bites me in the butt.)  It’s a recipe for disaster—really bad, painful, embarrassing, falling on my face and having a breakdown sort of disaster—that makes me look more irresponsible in the long run when I can’t keep up with forcing a cognition that isn’t my own.

Type Angsts are painful to recognize.  Just like our Type Specializations are bound up in everything we’ve been striving for our entire lives, our Type Angsts have been there at every bad moment, nestle themselves at the heart of all our pains, and have tried to undermine the most important choices we’ve ever made.  So of course many of our minds will try and deny that they’re even what we’re struggling with in the first place.

Even and especially when we do try and deny it, our Type Angsts end up surfacing in all our words and deeds.  The number of times someone will insist that their type’s angst doesn’t apply to them, only to turn and say paragraphs demonstrating just how afraid they are of that very thing being true!  “Your Type Angst is showing,” may be a common phrase muttered under our breath around here.

A much nicer example is that of a cool INFP we were talking to recently, who didn’t feel like INFP Great Pumpkin Distraction applied to her.  “Out of touch” as we described it, was just not a fear she related to, feeling a lot closer to both INTP Moriarty Fear and ISFP Banner Trepidation.  (Just a note, but if you find yourself “circling around” a type, relating for example to ESTJ, ESFP and ENFJ, it’s entirely possible you may be an ESFJ and stereotypes are telling you not to even consider that one.  INFJ is such a combination of INTJ, ISFJ and ENFJ; ESTP is like you shoved ENTP, ESTJ and ISTP in a blender.  Not always what’s going on, but it’s something we see a lot.)  Anyway, we asked her to describe what she truly feared the most and she began to talk about the ways she wanted to have an effect on the world, but the hugeness of governments and politics and the size of the world were making her fear that she’d never be able to accomplish her goals.  What she was describing was fear that her understanding of the world as a whole wasn’t useful enough… which is what we were attempting to describe as INFP’s fear in the first place!  “Out of touch” is one manifestation of it, one we see a lot with INFPs, but just because it hadn’t manifested as that in her life didn’t mean that the core fear wasn’t the same.  Capiche?

We don’t point out Type Angsts in order to make you uncomfortable or self-conscious, or to make you fear them even more!  We point them out because only by recognizing our Type Angsts can we ever hope to get over them, to stop them from controlling us and subverting our Type Specializations (which, remember, was the fear in the first place!).  Only by noticing the ways our Angsts are coloring our self-image and choices can we overcome them and not let them drive us.


That Facial Typing Hasn’t Worked Before So Therefore Never Will

We’ve seen this claim a lot; that no version of facial typing has ever worked in the past, so it is therefore impossible that one could ever be discovered that would really work.  I find flaws with this argument.  The example my INFJ used when we were talking about how this claim violates the scientific method, is that of flight.  For millennia man dreamed of taking to the air, trying everything they knew, and so some foolishly claimed the classic, “If God had intended men to fly, he would have given them wings.”  Well, maybe he intended them to get over themselves and be students to the world around them instead, because in 1903 men were able to do just that and begin to reach literal heights we’d truly only imagined.

Versions of facial typing have popped up throughout the ages because there is archetype there.  The human ability to recognize faces is unparalleled as yet by any other creature or machine, and in the back of our minds, we know faces *mean* something, that they have significance and reflect who we are in a way we can’t always put our fingers on.  And for ages we’ve skirted around the edges, noticing hints of patterns here and there that have led to “systems” from the Four Humors to “Totally Looks Like.”

And yet, once again, everything comes back to the definitions.  If you’re going off of behaviors and traits that change throughout a person’s life, of course something as unchanging as a person’s facial structure is not going to match.  If my facial structure changed as often as my social or organizational preferences, I’d be like X-Men’s Mystique!  Of course a pattern couldn’t be properly found until the cognitive variables were properly defined, because cognition is just as integral to who you are as a person as your face is (I guess arguably more).

But the key is, and always has been, letting the theory adapt.  I simply cannot enumerate the number of times aLBoP’s Facial Typing system has changed in the last year and a half, because it has constantly.  We have been determined not to release it to you until we can be sure we have it down with ninja accuracy in a way that is 100% repeatable.  But that also means I’ve been wrong a lot in the last year and a half, which does honestly suck.  (So I know how you guys feel when we correct you about your type or anything else.)  It’s embarrassing and makes me feel like I’ve been doing everything wrong, when in reality I usually just have to tweak a thing or two and then everything falls back into place, except much more happily and snugly than before.  With Facial Typing, (as I guess with all things) when it’s done correctly, the real answer always makes more sense than my previous assumption.

For example, I originally thought that my first boyfriend was an ENFP (not while I was dating him, more recently.  I was 17 and planned on being a famous novelist; aLBoP was by far not on my radar yet).  He was a funny, goofy guy who liked High School Musical (which had just come out… I was not a big fan) and serenaded me with Backstreet Boys songs (…okay I was a big fan there).  He was really close to his family and was the first guy who ever wanted me to be the weird, dance-around-in-the-rain, drop-ice-cream-down-my-shirt oddball I was.  He was (and is) a super nice guy.  So all those traits sound like they could be ENFP, right?

But when Justin and I really started to practice our Facial Typing skills, I thought I’d peruse Facebook and see if my friends matched up with what I’d originally thought.  As my first boyfriend and I were still FB buds (it was a mutual breakup, very friendly and cool), I thought I’d mosey over and glance at his profile pics (yes, I’m *that* kind of ex-girlfriend).  Well it turned out that I was wrong in my ENFP guess and he was actually an ISFJ!  I’d been thinking only of his behaviors, his goofiness and social extraversion, but in retrospect his cognition was neither EP nor N!  And when I looked back, all his family dedication and the way he talked about the world and the way it worked was soooo ISFJ!  Like everything else with true Facial Typing, it couldn’t be unseen.

I was also embarrassed when I realized I’d publically blundered in… well in many ways with the Musical Typing: Intro post.  While I still stand by the original theory, the examples were muddled and mixed just because I had so much still to learn about the different types and the way they think.  And imagine my chagrin when I realized maybe 6 months ago that Taylor Swift was not the ESTP I thought she was, but instead had a very obviously *ISTP* face, matching her up with the likes of P!nk and Scarlett Johansson, which made so much more sense in hindsight but made me very publically *wrong.*  I love learning new things, but yeah, being wrong still stings, I know.

Scarlett is so cool she gets to be in this post twice!

And up until a couple weeks ago I had been thinking both Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly were ENFJ and had even said as much to an awesome INFJ friend of ours who is a dedicated aLBoP reader.  Um… well this is my saying oops because I was wrong again!  As we spent one Sunday afternoon finally putting all the faces we could think of into their 64 subfolders (it’s a long story) – which has been on the to-do list for forever as a way to more fully define and name the similarities we’ve been able to visually observe for ages now – we went to put Audrey and Grace into one of the ENFJ folders and… no match!  They did however perfectly fit into one of the *INFJ* folders.  I am now mortified, but we understand that side of the female INFJ face much better now and, as always, INFJ makes more sense for both of them than ENFJ… once you’re Monday Morning Quarterbacking 😛 .

My whole point with these stories is that it’s okay to be wrong.  Being wrong is exactly how you learn to be right, and mistakes are a hugely requisite part of the scientific method – the experimentation and conclusion steps before the rinse and repeat of tweaking your hypothesis.  You can’t learn what needs to be changed if you never try your current hypothesis and let reality screw you royally, hitting you upside the head with just how wrong you were.  It’s a beautiful, never-ending cycle.  It’s hurts to be wrong, but as you let yourself be, you’ll open up entirely new truth that just makes sense and makes you happier!


In Conclusion

Okay, I really didn’t intend for this post to be 10,000 words long… the same length as a COG ironically enough 😉  But these are questions and concerns that have been raised over and over again the last 2+ years and it would really give me happy-fun-excited-joy if I didn’t have to answer these same concerns again or have to spend my entire life atop the same soapboxes.

In the end my answer to the originally stated question “What if I’m not the type I thought I was?” is pretty simple.  *Every* type gets constant pressure to be anyone but themselves, to feel guilt for having your strengths, to feel stupid prioritizing what’s most important to you.  But as we said in the COGs, you think the way you do for a reason.  In the end your ability to understand and interact with the world and people around you accurately will determine your capacity for happiness; and your capacity to comprehend the world is inseparably tied to using your mind’s natural strengths and being mindful of its weaknesses.  Your psyche wants you to be you, regardless of the constant barraging pressure you’ve always gotten not to be.

So what if you’re not the type you thought you were?  Then yay!  Let life be a science.  Take it from an EP: screwing up is a good thing; a healthy, needed thing.  Worrying about being right in your past actions, decisions, views, ideas and motivations can lead to stagnation and stopping yourself from becoming and achieving everything you want to be!

And once again, you can bring everything you loved with you from the type you thought you were, to your true type.  You’ll feel so much more whole, no longer torn in two between what you feel like you have to be and the good, important things your psyche wants deep down.

So don’t be scared that if you order a typing and email us images of your lovely visage that the result will be different than the type you hoped for.  The sixteen types (when healthy) are equal, with each having the perfect slew of cognitive tools under its belt to pursue exactly what it wants deep down.  The only thing that makes your type better is that it’s *yours* and in the end being happy is a matter of being the best version of no one but *you.* 😀

On the aLBoP Guided Tour
?  Now we get to really examine the individual types, how they think, and how amazing and special they are in the Cognitive Orientation Guidebooks (COGs)!