Choices of Personality
Perceptive Functions: Gathering Information

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Sensors are oriented to the present.





Intuitives look to the future.














Sensing / Intuition

Gathering information about the world is within the purview of the perceptive functions. The two dimensions of the perceptive functions are sensing and intuition. These functions are nonjudgmental. They only provide information and do not make decisions or judgments about it.


The sensory function orients people in the here and now and to information that is immediately available. Sensing gathers information through the five senses and is concerned with details and facts. People operating from the sensory function are acutely aware of the specifics and particularity of the environment. They live in the present. Sensors are interested in actualities. They are practical and down to earth. If such a person attends a party then she is attentive to the sights, sounds and other sensory information and would be able to remember and describe the decor of the house and what people wore. About 75% of the American population are in the sensory dimension.


The intuitive function refers to perception that is indirect and not overly tied to sensory data. Intuition is concerned with connections and possibilities that go beyond the data. It is an indirect process that Jung described as perception by the unconscious. This perceptive function is stimulated by the sensory information but quickly goes past the data through unconscious associations to new possibilities and hunches. Creative art and scientific discoveries as well as lesser but more common insights (women’s intuition and men’s hunches) come about in this manner. Intuitives use their imagination. Intuitives are interested in the big picture and will overlook details. If an intuitive person goes to a party he most likely will not remember the clothes people wore or even their names. He may, however, be unusually aware of relationships and the implications of various patterns of communication. In America 25% percent or less of the population make up the intuitive dimension.

The Forest and the Trees

A person who is a sensing type may not be able to see the forest for the trees while an intuitive person may not see the trees for the forest. Sensors see the actuality and intuitives the see the possibilities. Sensing and intuition provide information about the world but very different sorts of information. People operating from these two functions see the world in very different ways. As a result much conflict in relationships can occur.

Living in Different Worlds

Two people differing on these functions participated in a learning exercise where the sensors and the intuitives were divided into groups and given an assignment. The task of each group was to draw a picture of their spiritual journey. When the completed artwork was presented to the reassembled group notable differences were seen.

All of the pictures drawn by the sensors consisted of representational art and included drawings of churches, people, children, animals, and nature. The drawings of the intuitives were symbolic in content with abstract designs for symbolization, for example, overlapping circles to represent a common unity among divergence. The two groups looked in amazement at each other’s work. It became clear that sensors and intuitives looked at the same world but did not see it the same.

Perceptive Functions: Gathering Information



The "Five Senses"

The "Sixth Sense"


The "Big Picture"

The practical

The possible

Lives in the present

Looks to the future

Once information is collected then decisions must be made

Learn about the Judging Functions


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