ABSTRACT: Gregersen and Smith’s idea of Function Axes (2012) was operationalized within the classical four-function model, where the whole type has four functions. However, many typologists find added nuance in thinking of type from the perspective of the more model eight-function model, as proposed by Beebe and others (e.g. Beebe 2006). This article proposes to combine the idea of function axes with an eight-function model of type.
By Luke Whincop
Jung originally said that the whole type has four functions. However, I believe a more rounded view of the types is to follow John Beebe in postulating that the whole type has eight functions, i.e. the eight functions theory. Under Beebe’s model, each type uses the same four functions as usual, but with the addition of the other four functions as to create a model of personalities using functional axes that can give us this more rounded view.
The Function Axes
Ryan Smith and Eva Gregersen have argued for an axial understanding of the Jungian functions. According to this mode of reasoning, there are four axes in a Jungian typology, two perceiving and two judging axes, respectively. Each has its own characteristics, which may be summarized as follows:
- Ni/Se: Looks at a singular possibility in the here and now, with depth.
- Si/Ne: Looks at multiple possibilities that can hold in general, with breadth.
- Ti/Fe: People are cut from the same cloth and our interests are aligned.
- Te/Fi: People are not cut from the same cloth and our interests are individual.
According to the axial understanding, each person will have a judging and perceiving function each, in the traditional function model. E.g. if a person is an INFP type, we can say they have an Fi/Te axis and an Ne/Si axis. However, according to Gregersen and Smith’s understanding, the whole type only has four functions (and thus two axes). As said, I propose to expand their model to encompass eight functions and thus four axes) as detailed below.
Function Axes and the Eight Function Model
The eight functions theory can be implemented by looking at axes as follows: Just as the dominant function pushes the inferior aside, the dominant axis also pushes its inferior counterpart aside. For example, given that (according to the Standard Model of function arrangements) an INTJ has a Te/Fi axis, this axis then pushes aside the Ti/Fe axis and for this reason, the Ti/Fe axis is not usually associated with INTJs.
As mentioned above, with the Te/Fi axis, there is an emphasis of differences between individuals and a hierarchisation of people, as well as a belief that people are not cut from the same cloth. They thus push aside the belief that people are equals, and cut from the same cloth, which is to say that they push aside the Ti/Fe axis.
In individuals with a Te/Fi axis, we can say that the Ti/Fe axis is in a sense unconscious. They are directly able to register how their cognition is shaped by the Te/Fi axis. However, as the Te/Fi axis gets more conscious, so the other axis gets pushed further aside. For example, the ESTJ, is a Te dominant type, that often makes fun of Fe, or with the INFPs, we see that they are Fi types who are often uncomfortable with the manners of Fe, which they tend to consider insincere.
In both these types, there is still some sense of awareness of the axis that is not part of their traditional function arrangement, according to the Standard (four-function) Model of the types, even if this awareness is less conscious. For example, even if ETJs apply manners and adopt social mores as Fes do, they do so, most likely because their Te suggests it’s logical to do so. However, they are, on an unconscious level, trying to harmonise with the situation in the first place, as Fes do.
There is a similar pattern with the Ni/Se and Ne/Si axes. With Ni for example, there is an audacity to push through radical new ideas, which pushes against Se, as well as Si, the latter which is oriented towards caution and thoroughness. Ni also decides to pursue a few select ideas at a time, and move from the many to the one, which goes against Ne, which goes from the one to the many, and pursues multiple ideas over time.
We notice once again that as Ni is pushed more strongly, so Ne is pushed aside more strongly. We see however that there isn’t a black and white relationship between these two; it resides on a scale. So, an Ni may at times, but mostly unconsciously, use Ne, if they need to perceive objective possibilities for whatever reason, independently of their own subjective perception of possibilities.
To go the other way, examine Sigmund Freud, an ISTJ, an Si dominant type. He postulated innovative psychological theories, which created a whole new perspective in psychology, as an Ni type would do. But Freud was Si, he just used unconscious Ni to aid the creation of his theories, without his own awareness it. Woodrow Wilson, another ISTJ, was also initially typed as an Ni type by CelebrityTypes. Perhaps the reason for this confusion is because he used Ni in an unconscious way, in particular time points of their life but predominantly, when looking at these two individuals as a whole, they were Si types.
Thus, we can see that while people do have a dominant axis, they are not completely one or the other; they are somewhere in between.
Incorporating the Eight Functions for a Type
We now have a distinction between conscious and unconscious axes. So we can now build a new functional model, called the Four Axis Model, for a given type by modifying Gregersen and Smith’s traditional functional model with the axis model defined below:
- Dominant/Repressed dominant conscious Axis
- Auxiliary/Tertiary auxiliary conscious Axis
- Auxiliary/Tertiary tertiary unconscious Axis
- Dominant/Repressed repressed Axis
So, taking an INTJ as an example, the Four Axis Model would play out as follows:
- Ni/Se dominant conscious introverted Axis
- Te/Fi auxiliary conscious extroverted Axis
- Ti/Fe tertiary unconscious introverted Axis
- Ne/Si repressed unconscious extroverted Axis
Here, since the Ni/Se axis is the most dominant in the INTJ. Owing to their dominant Ni in the functional model, it pushes aside the Si/Ne axis most strongly, since these axes are opposites. Te/Fi is secondary axis owing to the INTJ’s secondary Te from the functional model, which then pushes the Fe/Ti axis aside (albeit somewhat less strongly when compared with the perceiving functions); the opposite would be true with the INTJ’s sister type, the ENTJ.
With this model, we would see already that the INTJ and the ESFP would, in this sense, be the same type, since they would share an identical axis order. To correct this, we swap the titles to account for the ESFP’s more dominant functions, from introverted to extroverted axes and vice versa. Thus an ESFP would be typed in the axis model as:
- Se/Ni dominant conscious extroverted Axis
- Fi/Te auxiliary conscious introverted Axis
- Fe/Ti tertiary unconscious extroverted Axis
- Si/Ne repressed unconscious introverted Axis
So now the two types are distinguished. We can note from CelebrityTypes’ Cognitive Functions at a Glance, an Se dominant type will seem to share more attributes of Ne than Ni, since their Ni is repressed, and will of course share more Se than Si, we can see that there are unconscious similarities between Ne and Se and distinct dissimilarities between Se and Si in this type, hence as Se is more dominant, so Si is more repressed. This is evident through the fact that Se types can be interested in many things, subconsciously acting like Ne types, that also are interested in breadth. In reality however, Ne is unconscious and just appears similar to Se. This works similarly for the other functions.
Whilst this model of function axes is more fluid and well-rounded than the one proposed by Gregersen and Smith, it is more complicated to interpret and less clear cut than the traditional model.
For example, an INTP, who is a Ti dominant, may in fact score more highly on Ni than Ne on a cognitive function test even though, in the functional model, they have Ne and not Ni. So the Ni/Se axis may be more dominant so they would actually be an ISTP. However, we would need to look at all the perceiving functions. If there is a high Ni, then there’s likely to be a low Se, and so we would need to look at whether Ne/Si or Ni/Se is used more strongly when taking the pair of functions. If the person had high Ni but low Se, they would be unlikely to be an ISTP if they had dominant ti.
We would need to note that there needs to be a corresponding extroverted function and vice versa.
Also, as we’ve seen from the previous subsection, an Se type might exhibit traits of an Ne type even though, under the axis model, the Ne/Si axis is repressed so to speak. However, it does not actually have Ne traits at all; it merely appears to have these traits. Ne, and more so Si, is pushed back further into the unconscious. Ultimately, this does depend on the person, and their scores on a function test.
Whilst the view of functions axes that I have proposed in this article is perhaps less clear cut than Gregersen and Smith’s traditional view, it does give a more well-rounded view of what makes a type. It suggests that there isn’t a black and white view of functions underlying a type, but that each person has all of the four functions, with both introverted and extroverted orientations, influencing their type on either conscious or unconscious levels. It also suggests that as one axis is further emphasised, the other is pushed further aside.
From here, we may be able to create a link with personality styles, a similarly more-rounded view of personalities, and be able to fill in the blanks the traditional view of functions left behind.
- Beebe: Evolving the Eight-function Model Australian Psychological Type Review Vol. 8 No. 1 2006
- CelebrityTypes: Cognitive Functions at a Glance CelebrityTypes CelebrityTypes 2011
- CelebrityTypes: Why Freud is ISTJ CelebrityTypes 2013
- Gregersen: The Unconscious Nature of the Inferior Function CelebrityTypes 2015
- Shapiro and Smith: Why Woodrow Wilson Is INTJ CelebrityTypes 2014
- Smith and Gregersen: Overview of Personality Styles CelebrityTypes 2015
- Smith and Gregersen: Determining Function Axes, Part 1 CelebrityTypes 2012