T/F - Thinking or Feeling
How We Make Decisions
By Pamela Hollister
By Pamela Hollister
The third dimension of behavior in psychological type theory is how we prefer to make decisions.
Each behavior is on a continuum with a preference for one or the other, the degree of which falling somewhere along the continuum. A person could be a "strong" Thinker or Feeler, meaning they would fall completely to the far left or right of the continuum. The research says that we are, however, one or the other, not both. Even though we use both preferences throughout our day in the Decision dimension, we don't use each preference with equal ease. Our inborn preference is our natural strength and according to research we are born with a preference for one behavior over the other - part of our DNA.
In the American population, 50% are Thinkers and 50 percent are Feelers. Of the Thinkers, about 65% are men, and of the Feelers, 65% are women.
Thinking and Feeling describe the two ways people make decisions, or come to conclusions. Thinking and Feeling both describe rational decision-making processes. It's not that Thinkers have no feelings, or that Feelers are incapable of logic, it's just that they use very different criteria to make their decisions.
Thinkers make decisions more objectively, weighing the pros and cons. For Thinkers - logic rules. When making a decision, Thinkers take a step back and analyze the situation, logically and impersonally, asking, "Does this make sense? What are the pros and cons? What are the ramifications of the decision?" Thinkers objectify the decision.
Feelers make decisions based on how they feel about the issue and how others will be affected by it. Feelers inject themselves into the situation asking, "How do I feel about this? How will it affect me and others? Is this the right thing to do? What are my personal values telling me to do?" Feelers personalize the situation.
Personal feelings and values are important to Feeling types and often they will go to great lengths to remain true to their beliefs. Thinkers are logical and analytical while Feelers are sensitive and empathetic.
It's no surprise that preferences for Thinking or Feeling influence career choices. The helping professions attract large numbers of Feelers because this gives them an opportunity to fulfill one of their greatest needs, helping people. Feelers have a drive to understand others and receive satisfaction from assisting others in whatever way they can. Business and management attracts a lot of Thinkers because when it comes to being able to make a decision that is based on the bottom line and consider what's best for the overall company, they can more easily make the decision and take action. Thinkers can step back from the decision, analyze it logically and come to conclusion based on what is best for the company. A Feeler usually steps forward, putting himself in the shoes of the individuals being affected within that company, and are strongly influenced by their own personal beliefs and values in making the decision.
Thinkers are often attracted to careers dealing with manufacturing, research and development. Thinkers are most satisfied with jobs where there is a minimum of employee caretaking and like working with other people that are as competent as they are. Thinkers place more emphasis on being truthful, even when it hurts feelings, than being tactful.
Feelers are naturally more attentive and concerned with other people because they have a strong need to be liked. This can be seen as being helpful and friendly and in practically every organization across the country, you can find the nurturer, the person whom coworkers go for emotional support and comfort. Whether appreciated by the company or not, these people provide a valuable service.
On teams, Thinkers are great at being able to size up a situation and put the necessary steps in place to accomplish the goal but it's the Feelers that create the connection with others that allows the team members to function together, and get the job done - because of feeling that their contribution to the team matters.
It's very valuable for Thinkers and Feelers to work together. My preference for making Decisions is Thinking and I am often considered abrupt by others because of my ability to impersonalize an issue and consider the logical and possible consequences. My Feeling abilities are not well developed. I care greatly for people and desire to be of service and assistance to them, but I don't come across that way. So, I rely on the Feeling people in my life to provide input for me when I'm weighing a decision that affects other people - and practically every decision we make does affect others.
On the other hand, a dear friend of mine has a preference for making Decisions as a Feeler and calls on the phone to discuss situations in her life because of my ability to impersonalize and assist her in thinking of things she hadn't considered because of her strong desire to connect with people and assist them at a personal level.
Probably one of the greatest contributions of "type" in my life has been with the friendship of my dear "Sister Paula." Paula has a preference for Feeling and as I've already discussed, my preference in making Decisions is for Thinking. Paula tells me that once I introduced her to personality type and explained my type preferences, she was able to quit projecting her expectations of my behavior based on her own process. This knowledge has done wonders for our relationship.
When you factor in knowledge of personality type into your Decision making, it becomes clear that all of us need each other for the wealth of valuable contributions we offer in our business endeavors, family relationships and friendships. In fact, our differences just make us that much more valuable for the point of view and experience we are able to provide one another.
There are four behavior dimensions in personality type: how our Energy is focused, how we gather Information, how we make Decisions, and how we take Action. Decision is the third dimension and all four are equally important. Having knowledge and understanding of our preferences in each of the four dimensions of our associates and loved ones can profoundly affect the quality of our life and relationships.
Author, The PEOPLE Process
June 21, 2006