Here’s an exercise in Thinking vs Feeling. My friend called me the other day. She was upset with her manager. My friend works for a car dealership. The manager had to make an employee redundant. There was a choice between two salespeople.

The manager fired the employee that had a below-average sales target but great people skills. This employee kept the office positive during troubling times and always encouraged others. The other salesperson had an excellent sales record, but no one in the office liked her. She was ruthless, ambitious and stabbed people in the back to get ahead. 

So, who would you have fired? Your answer could indicate whether you use Thinking or Feeling when making decisions.

My friend’s manager used logic and facts (Thinking) to decide which of the two employees to let go of. On the other hand, my friend was upset because she used (Feeling), which looks at people and personal values

Thinking vs Feeling

When it comes to the preference pairs in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), some people find Thinking vs Feeling the most confusing. Perhaps it is the choice of words used to describe the preference that complicates matters.

So what exactly is the difference between Thinking and Feeling and which one do you use?

The Main Differences

Thinking vs Feeling is the third preference pair in the MBTI and describes how you make decisions. 

When making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency (Thinking) or first look at the people and special circumstances (Feeling)?” MBTI  

It is important at this stage not to assume that Thinking has anything to do with intelligence, or that Feeling is associated with emotions. We all think when we make decisions and we all have feelings. 

An easy way to distinguish between Thinking and Feeling is to remember that Thinking places weight on objective logic. Feeling uses subjective feelings. In this respect, the pair are opposites of one another.

To see whether you prefer Thinking or Feeling, read through the following sets of statements. If you agree with the first set, your preference is Thinking. If you prefer the second set, your preference is Feeling. 

Statement Set 1: Thinking

When making decisions:

  • I use facts, figures, and statistics. Then there is no room for confusion. 
  • I prefer maths and science subjects where theories are proven.
  • I find there is usually a logical explanation for most things. 
  • Finding the truth is all that matters. That ensures the fairest outcome. 
  • I agree with black and white thinking. Humans are either one thing or the other. 
  • I use my head, not my heart. 
  • I prefer to have a clear goal with a result in sight. 
  • I wouldn’t lie to spare someone’s feelings. 
  • People have called me cold, but at least they know where I stand. 
  • I would have to fire someone if their work was substandard. 

Statement Set 2: Feeling

When making decisions:

  • I use my principles and listen to other people’s points of view. 
  • I prefer creative subjects that allow me to express myself and understand others. 
  • I usually find that there are lots of reasons why people do the things they do. 
  • I am more interested in the ‘why’, not the ‘what’.
  • Humans are nuanced and complicated. One size does not fit all. 
  • I use my heart, not my head.
  • I like to keep things flexible and open-ended. 
  • It is better to tell a white lie than to upset someone. 
  • People have said I am an idealist with no idea of how the real world works. 
  • I would try and find out why a person’s work had dropped to a substandard level. 

While it is possible to agree with statements from both sets, you will likely prefer one set over the other. 

Let’s examine Thinking vs Feeling in more detail.

Thinking Characteristics

Thinkers use what is outside them (facts and evidence) to make decisions.

Thinkers are:

  • Objective
  • Rational
  • Logical
  • Critical
  • Ruled by their heads
  • Seek the truth
  • Impartial
  • Use facts
  • Analytical 
  • Blunt speakers

Thinking people use logic and facts when making a decision. They are objective, analytical and want to find the truth of the matter. They won’t let feelings, including their own, influence the outcome. 

Thinkers work well when they can follow clear rules and guidelines. They like to have a schedule and a goal with a deadline. They are result-driven and prefer the structure of routine. Working in an environment with a distinct hierarchy and a clear route to promotion fits their mindset.

Thinking types can come across as cold and impersonal. They are indeed business-like and strategic thinkers. Thinkers can look at the tiny details and see critical flaws in a system.

It is not surprising to learn that Thinkers excel in the sciences, particularly mathematics, chemistry, physics, computer science, and engineering. After all, you don’t need emotion when searching for problems in IT. 

Feeling Characteristics

Feelers use what is inside them (values and beliefs) to make decisions.  

Feelers are:

  • Subjective
  • Insightful
  • Personal
  • Empathic
  • Ruled by their hearts
  • Seek to understand
  • Caring
  • Use their beliefs
  • Principled
  • Tactful

Feeling people make decisions based on their beliefs and values. Feelers care about other people. They are subjective, empathic, and want to understand the needs of those around them. They will do whatever they can to keep the peace and make sure everyone is happy.  

Feelers work well when the environment they are in is pleasant and harmonious. Their surroundings influence their performance. Feelers do not work well under rigid rules and structure. They prefer a freer environment where they can be more expressive. 

Feeling types respond to positive reinforcement more than the promise of promotion. They are warm, approachable, open to ideas, and flexible in their thinking. Feelers are attuned to the moral and ethical nature of a situation, rather than facts or statistics. 

They are more interested in understanding the reasons behind an action. As such, Feeling types are often found in nurturing and caring jobs. You will also find them in mediating roles where resolving conflict is key. Feelers use the arts to express their complex emotions.  

Final Thoughts

Most people have a preference when it comes to Thinking vs Feeling. Before I researched this article, I was convinced that I was a Feeling type. 

But now that I have gone through the Thinking characteristics, I realise I agree more with the Thinking statements. For example, I value the truth over people’s feelings. I never knew that before. 

Has anyone else discovered this about themselves? Let me know! 



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