The third letter details whether one tends to base one’s decisions chiefly on logic or chiefly upon one’s personal values; whether one decides with the head or with the heart. People who prefer to use Feeling will often adopt an appreciative and accommodating attitude when interacting with others, which is why some researchers also refer to Thinking/Feeling as skeptical/agreeable.
People who have a strong preference for Feeling generally take pride in seeing themselves as empathetic, considerate, friendly, generous, and helpful. Some Feelers even experience such a strong sense of concern and involvement with regards to the problems of others that they can feel compelled to drop what they are doing and offer their aid to the other. Conversely, people who prefer Thinking more often take pride in being critical, logical, insightful and truthful. Taking a darker, less optimistic view of human nature than their Feeling counterparts, they are also less prone to spontaneously help people who are not their close friends or where they do not see a ‘rational’ reason to do so.
Some of the most widely-known descriptions of Feeling tend to depict Feelers as unanimously goodnatured ‘happy puppies’ (this is true of Keirsey‘s book in particular). Many Feelers take issue with these portrayals, feeling that such descriptions portray them as overly gullible and one-sided. Consequently, many authors have attempted to portray ‘the dark side of Feeling’ as an ‘ability to socially manipulate people’ and an ‘egocentricity beyond what is reasonable’. These may very well be true of a given Feeler, but they are most likely NOT traits that are specifically pertinent to Feeling. Rather, what appears to be the true ‘dark side of Feeling’ is a propensity to internalize conflict and make it personal beyond what most Thinkers would do. One could perhaps say that as Feelers tend to take generosity and consideration as their starting point, they do not expect conflict, nor do they feel that it is reasonable that conflict be brought upon them.
|T / Thinking
Logic over sentiment
More men than women are Thinking
|F / Feeling
Sentiment over logic
More women than men are Feeling
It is a striking fact that while all of the other dimensions explained here are gender-neutral, Thinking and Feeling are unevenly distributed amongst the sexes so that most men are Thinking and most women are Feeling. Precise figures are unreliable, but a generally accepted guideline is that 65% of males are Thinking while 65% of females are Feeling. This tendency is observed in all cultures and is backed up by every other system of personality out there.
Philosophers like Judith Butler and Simone de Beauvoir have traditionally blamed culturally defined gender roles for this occurrence: “A woman is not born, she is made.” However, in recent years, scientists have turned the problem upside-down, speculating instead that over the generations women have been sexually selected for sweetness and caring, causing more critical and strong-willed women to hit an evolutionary dead end. Similarly, scientists have speculated that since women have traditionally been entrusted with childcare, they may have developed Feeling traits as these are speculated to be helpful in nurturing a child.
While Thinking women may experience some difficulty relating to groups of women that are exclusively defined by Feeling, particularly in adolescence, Thinking women are generally accepted, and even cherished, in today’s liberated and knowledge-based society.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said where Feeling males are concerned: Society viciously expects men to be tough-minded, logical, and in control of their emotions (save perhaps rage and anger). Some Feeling males, particularly of the ESFJ type, simply just ‘get it’ and have little trouble fitting in. (Sometimes they may overcompensate and become ‘macho’.) Such males frequently do well with the police or in the military.
Other Feeling men, however, are not as lucky: They tend to take an interest in aesthetics and interpersonal relationships that is not shared by other men. Throughout life, Feeling men may have a hard time relating to other men, and while they may have an easier time forming friendships with women, there is always the danger that women think of them as ‘friend material’ and not ‘date material’ if they are conditioned by social norms. Rather than try to reform their personalities, such males need to have confidence in themselves and in that it is okay to be different. If friends and acquaintances prove intolerant, a change in friends and social scene may be the only cure, though it may seem like an excessively drastic step, given the Feeler’s propensity to sympathize with those whom he knows.
When Jung first defined Feeling around 1915, he referred to it as ‘rational’. Unfortunately, this has caused a great deal of confusion for both newcomers and seasoned typologists alike. By ‘rational’, Jung meant that the output of Feeling is ‘internally consistent’, which appears to be untrue. In terms of internal consistency, Feelers are generally more likely to hold contradictory views, often on the same topic. A negative view of this tendency may be found in the work of psychologist Drew Westen (himself a Feeler) who posits that our Feeling faculties stem from an earlier evolutionary stage than does our Thinking. Conversely, a more positive view of the same matter may be that the only ways we have in which to measure contradictions all rely heavily on formal logic, which is naturally attuned to Thinking rather than Feeling. It may well be that our current ways of measuring contradictions are simply too formalistic to encompass the subtleties of Feeling. As the poet Walt Whitman said: “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”
To make matters worse, Jung also referred to certain kinds of Feeling as ‘objective’, by which he meant ‘oriented towards the external reality’, which again is not really an appropriate descriptor of the trait. In fact, neither Thinking or Feeling are especially ‘objective’ in themselves. The deciding factor with regards to objectiveness, as Jung defined it, is extroversion, which orients itself by what is objectively present.