I think about these last two categories less in writing my characters and less in my own relationships. I think this is probably because I am mild in each category. I can easily understand “both sides.”
Sensing and Intuiting
Do you pay attention to physical reality, understanding the world through your five senses? If so, you are “Sensing.” If you pay more attention to the impressions that the world makes on you, seeing patterns and relationships between things, then you are “intuiting”.
Sensing people are often pragmatic, paying attention to the facts before them and not always seeing the big picture or the possibilities being offered.
Intuiting people can often “read between the lines.” They see the big picture and aren’t always aware of the small things that form that picture.
Although I tested as an “S” I think I’m almost right at the middle point on this continuum. I am able to operate in each “zone” quiet easily.
Judging and Perceiving
The Judging/Perceiving trait has to do with how people interact with the outside world.
Are you a planner? Do you think about what you want to happen and organize your life in a way to achieve those things? If plans change is it disconcerting? Does it take you a while to adapt to a new plan? Or, are you spontaneous? Ready to do whatever, whenever, with whomever? Do you not need to know what the plan is, and just as soon not have a plan?
People who like to plan also like to have things decided. They are Judging. People who don’t necessarily want to plan things out but prefer to wait and see are Perceiving. They are comfortable waiting for more information before making decisions.
Don’t confuse these traits with being organized. Both types can be organized—or not.
As with all the MBPI traits, judging and perceiving form a continuum, with people nearly in the middle and some people being strongly one or the other. I have a mild Judging trait. I plan. I like to have decisions made, especially big ones. When plans change suddenly, I try to go with the flow, though I sometimes find it uncomfortable.
If I am in charge of something, I make decisions and plan every little detail. In fact, for my college classes, I start the semester with detailed lesson plans for every day I will teach. If class is canceled because of snow or illness, I’m a little thrown off. Of course, I quickly re-bound and re-plan. I find responsibility stressful, and I combat that stress by planning and making decisions.
So, when I’m not responsible for something, I try to remain that way. I can be spontaneous, accept change and lack of decision-making when someone else is in charge. I enjoy not being in charge. I don’t know if this is a judging quality or something else, but that is how I am. I don’t avoid responsibility but neither do I seek it.
In my mind, Perceiving people are more relaxed. They don’t have to plan or have decisions made. They seem to stress less than me, but maybe they just stress differently.
Knowing Myers-Briggs categories is helpful in both developing fictional characters and supporting real-life relationships. I think the key for all categories is to being understanding. People are different; we are made to be different. Don’t expect or demand others to be like you. What a boring world that would be!
I’m no expert at MBPI, so if you’d like more information on these traits, visit the Myers & Briggs Foundation.