Relationship Between Feeling Personality and Critical Thinking

Personality type fans will probably not like this post, but statistics aren’t swayed by popularity.

As someone who has been a fan of personality type for years and is a certified practitioner for both the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and Golden Personality Type Profiler, I am well-acquainted with the general message about personality type.  As you should learn in any personality type debrief, no personality type is good or bad.  In addition, no personality type is better than another.

However, based on studies conducted for the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal assessment, there is a very important difference between the critical thinking results for someone with a Thinking preference versus a Feeling preference.

As you can see in the Technical Manual for the Watson-Glaser, the study shows that individuals who report a Feeling preference on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator showed a statistically significant negative correlation with the key critical thinking ability Evaluating Arguments (r= -.27).

In addition, individuals who reported a Feeling preference on the Golden Personality Type Profiler showed a statistically significant negative correlation Drawing Conclusions (r= -.21) while the Thinking preference showed a statistically significant positive relationship with Drawing Conclusions (r= .26).

In other words, all personality types are not created equal when it comes to critical thinking ability.

So, what should you do to improve the critical thinking skills of your employees (both Thinking and Feeling types).  Some people believe “practice makes perfect,” but I believe what Vince Lombardi once said, “Only perfect practice makes perfect.”

Without expert coaching, and consistent training and follow-up, one cannot improve their critical thinking skills.  For more information on improving your critical thinking skills, click here.

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Editor’s Note: Breanne Harris is the Solutions Architect for Pearson TalentLens.  She works with customers to design selection and development plans that incorporate critical thinking assessments and training.  She has a Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology and has experience in recruiting, training, and HR consulting.  She is the chief blogger for Critical Thinkers and occasionally posts at ThinkWatson.  Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter for more of her thoughts.

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6 responses to “Relationship Between Feeling Personality and Critical Thinking”

  1. Pamela Hollister

    As an INTJ, I’m grateful for the critical thinking strengths of my type. However, I used to be so direct that people experienced me as abrupt and uncaring. This came as a shock to me because I’m the person that goes to work to come up with a solution to the problem people are facing. Through understanding the Feeling preference, I’ve been able to support my Thinking preference strengths and make better all-around decisions. In other words, after going through the critical thinking process, I force myself to check the decision against my personal values, how the decision is going to affect the people involved, and include them in the decision.

  2. MBTI Types

    It depends what type of critical thinking doesn’t it?

    ‘Feeling types’ will tend to be naturally stronger at critical thinking relating to values and feelings i.e. human behaviour and relationships

    ‘Thinking types’ will tend to be naturally stronger at critical thinking relating to systems and structures i.e math and sciences

  3. Scott Filgo

    Yes, it makes good intuitive sense (ENTP here) that a Feeling type critical thinker would have an edge in the interpersonal decisions we make daily, while the Thinking type would excel in decisions concerning systems, procedures, formulas, and calculations.

    The study Breanne mentions matched Golden typology with a variety of Critical Thinking challenges, including the ability to recognize the weight of an argument, to identify and differentiate facts from opinions, the skill to set personal bias aside and admit that an argument is logical, even when you disagree with it, and much more.

    But more importantly, the Watson’s challenges in Critical Thinking are presented in many different scenarios, spanning interpersonal, scientific, cultural, political, and business settings. So, the results suggest that Feeling types should recognize their thinking styles and adjust a little from time to time, in many different situations. What’s most important though, is realizing that the degree of the correlations in no way suggests that Feelers/Thinkers have an unfair disadvantage/advantage when it comes to Critical Thinking.

    Just like the rest of us, High Feelers and Thinkers should always remember to question their own thinking and dive deeper when choices have to be made.

  4. Dee

    As an INFJ, my F-T are my second-third prefered functions. I find I can more readily weight my T into my decisions than, say, my INFP adult daughter. Her F is dominant and T is the most inferior of all four functions. She really needs time for her F to settle down in order to access her T. So I’m thinking it depends also on type dynamics and the order of preference of the four functions. I can relate to the above INTJ comment in the reverse, T-F to F-T, and how readily accessible the tertiary function is to my conscious control.

  5. Mike Shur

    Hi Breanne –

    Great piece on Critical Thinking and Jungian type. I enjoyed reading the comments here with people sharing about their experiences with both Thinking and Feeling type decision making. One point I’d like to make is that both T and F are Judging functions — that is, they are both Rational functions focused on making decisions with the data gathered through either Sensing or Intuition — the Perceiving functions. So both T and F are logical functions. The distinction that the Critical Thinking assessment provides is which function is more objective and which more subjective. What the Watson-Glaser assessment measures is, in fact, the propensity for objective thinking. It makes perfect sense that Thinking types, either dominant or auxiliary, score higher on the Watson-Glaser.

    As people have correctly pointed out, this does not make either Thinking or Feeling “better”, however in making objective judgments, Thinking preference types would have the advantage. But all this means is that people with Feeling preferences have to use more conscious energy and effort to engage a less preferred function, that of objective decision-making. The Watson-Glaser probably requires more energy and focus from Feelers than from Thinkers, is one way to think about it.

    Can’t wait to hear about SXSW!

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