Podcast – Episode 0389 – Are Feelers Really More Emotional Than Thinkers

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In this episode, Joel and Antonia compare how feelers and thinkers experience feelings and talk about which type is more emotional.

 

In this podcast you’ll find:

  • Are feelers more emotional than thinkers? The online buzz surrounding this question.
  • What’s the difference between experiencing emotions and using a feeling function to make decisions?
  • The degree of separation between feeling the emotion and making the decision for feelers.
  • Thinkers – what’s the difference between thought and a thinking function?
  • Is there a greater gap between our thoughts and thinking function than there is between our emotions and our feeling function?
  • Joel’s experience as a feeler – does he feel more emotional than thinkers?
  • Antonia’s experience with thoughts and feelings as a Accuracy (Ti) user.
  • The pendulum swing – how the world has shifted from over-valuing thinking to over-valuing feeling.
  • The myth that all feelings should be acted upon – why it’s important to develop a mature relationship with your feelings.
    • How feeling types can be cavalier with emotional data
    • Some differences between Authenticy (Fi) and Harmony (Fe)
  • How emotions motivate thinkers.
  • How we’re wired to be intrinsically rewarded for using our preferred functions.
  • What does it look like when a feeler has well-developed emotional intelligence?
  • What are emotional “triggers”? 
  • Looking at SpongeBob SquarePants as an example of personal agency.
  • Why feelers make their best decisions based on emotional criteria – and how, ironically, they can appear less emotional when they do this.
  • Some thoughts on the intellectualization of emotions.
  • Why we need to process feelings of guilt and shame.

 

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Showing 21 comments
  • Ashley
    Reply

    It was taught to my brother and I while growing up to “temper your heart with your mind, and your mind with your heart”. The logic being, to not make a decision solely on either impersonal data points (irrefutable/immutable info/facts) or entirely personal data points (emotions, feelings, others perceptions), but to use both for best results. Interestingly, this advice came from our INTJ mother, as using solely emotions/the gut feelings/reactions or logic based of facts, can result in more frequently terrible decisions in all fields of life and negatively impact those you care about.

  • Josette
    Reply

    Being more aware of your feelings is a preference for Fi dominants. I’m always amused when thinkers have highly emotional reactions and then say they don’t have feelings. They are obviously repressing their feelings. However, even those who are very aware of their feelings can suppress them. Whether or not you are a “thinker” or a “feeler” in MBTI has to do with preferences, not ability. Although, I do think different skills arise when we prefer to approach things a certain way over and over.

    And… I don’t think the decisions of feelers are more emotional. I don’t think you can make a decision if you are apathetic. When people are apathetic, their response can be “I don’t care”.
    It can be hard to know exactly what consequences can come from a decision. So, the only way to decide is to know yourself and what you want, what you value by way of your feelings. For instance, if someone says their favorite color is blue, the reason why could be that they love the color and it’s calming (and use some emojis or smile and get excited), or they could say, the light that reflects off objects at a wavelength at 450 nm hits their retina and sends signals to their brain that produces more serotonin than the light that reflects off at 650 nm. Haha! Just kidding, I don’t know anyone who would talk like that but I think it’s a good metaphor for how feelers or thinkers can express a feeling preference either via the feeling tract or thinking tract.

    I also 100% agree that we are not responsible for the feelings of others. We are 100% responsible for our own feelings. When we take responsibility for our feelings, we take responsibility for our life and meeting our needs. That is not an excuse to treat people poorly, because we all have a need for connection. Yet, we are not required to meet someone’s needs on demand or to get our needs met on demand. We can fulfill our lives by having many ways to meet needs and that is taking responsibility for our feelings. Because the feelings that arise from met needs versus unmet needs are quite different!

    Anyone can feel what they feel, because everyone feels what they feel! Once an emotion is felt, it lives even if you suppress and repress it. I think when people get all bent out of shape with the idea that anyone can feel what they feel is when judgments arise out of the feelings. If instead, we see our feelings as a clue to our needs, then feelings are just indicators of how well we are meeting our needs. And if we are “disappointed by someone”, it is because we relied on them to meet our needs and now we are disappointed. However, they did not disappoint us. The unmet need gives us the feeling of disappointment.

  • Brock
    Reply

    In the middle of the podcast, paused, I decided I would jump in here first to throw out the idea that perhaps one big way we thinkers are cavalier with thoughts is misinformation. Especially now with social media and how much easier misinformation spreads and is accepted. We have to be more careful about the quality of information we allow to throw out there because we are ok with being wrong and perhaps updating or fine tuning the data as needed. Especially true for myself as I find I like to crowd source thoughts and ideas. In this day and age people can run with it and make a religion or movement out of it. It’s a trolls’ paradise!

    • William (ISFJ)
      Reply

      Hey Brock,

      Neat insight! You brought up an idea in my head and I was curious to hear your (and/or other people’s) thoughts. This is kind of just spitballing new thoughts here.

      I wonder if a Ti-user is more likely to be cavalier with thoughts than a Te-user. If the average Ti-user is spending a lot of time with those thoughts themselves, while the average Te-user is usually directing those thoughts to a cause of some sort (cause with a very loose meaning, not at all just social causes), then I could see how a Te-user might be a little more intentional of the direction of those thoughts, thus being a little more conservative with them (conservative NOT as in a political ideology) than a Ti-user.

      I can see this same pattern on the feeling side for me personally and a few of the people around me, and I was about to explore that idea here. Then I remembered what they mentioned in the podcast — that sometimes Fe-users can be a little cavalier, or rather, a little too confident, with relationships. That made me start to wonder if Te-users can be a little (let’s use that word again) cavalier with either projects or their ability to get stuff done.

      Just throwing some ideas out.

      William

  • Mae Walters
    Reply

    I’m thinking about Antonia’s example of a feeler who intellectualizes their emotions to make an argument that seems irrational to others. What if your experience is invalidated by people around you? perhaps it is not completely your responsibility if you change in reaction to them.

    I am thinking about when people of color explain racism to white people, or women try to express feeling like they are not equal. Often as soon as a marginalized person expresses broad negative emotions they are expected to prove it—not only to prove their own experience is valid, but that it can be explained 100% by racism or sexism and that all women or POC have the same experience. This makes it difficult to articulate one’s emotions. We can self censor and throttle valid intuitions based on countless small experiences because we hear those voices argue with us in our heads. Society has ready made explanations to invalidate oppressed subjectivities (assumed inferiority, reasons why the system is fair etc). Often demands for social change begin with people sharing vague discontents and discovering they are not alone.

    There is a negative feedback loop when a person tries to articulate feelings of marginalization in the face of hostile and skeptical reactions. You might double down and simplify your experience so it is acceptable to the others. Emotional experiences might be translated to rigid rules like “don’t ask me questions about my identity because that’s emotional labor” or when mansplaining or white fragility is applied too broadly. When I see mistakes like that, it seems to be out of frustration at not being believed. Thinkers might fall into the trap of not exploring ideas that could be used against their perspective. There are serious consequences to “losing” the argument here. If people don’t believe you it perpetuates your oppression and can even result in your bodily harm. If you are not the marginalized one, it’s on you to be open minded and admit what you don’t know. Don’t ask someone to prove their experience is real when they are attempting to share painful emotions, which they could have been carrying for a long time. Keeping quiet and listening can show you that these are common experiences and spare the speaker from your interrogation.

  • Deana
    Reply

    I am less “feeling” or in touch with my own feelings than seems typical here. I have been called “cold and calculating” a time or two, but tend to think they really meant “cool and collected”.
    I’ve always thought of myself as a thinking person but have tested INFJ numerous times. Is this possible or a mistype?

    • William (ISFJ)
      Reply

      Hello Deana,

      Here’s my best attempt to answer your question.

      I could actually be described in a very similar way as what you said. I do not have particular sensitivity to the nuances of my own emotions, nor do I express them strongly. I also tend to make decisions based primarily on what makes logical sense to me.

      This is all true, even though I am positive I am a feeling type (ISFJ).

      xxFJs in the Myers Briggs system use a feeling process called Fe or “Harmony,” as you may know already. They also use a thinking process called Ti or “Accuracy.” Now one thing about this function polarity is that the feelings that the person is more likely to rely on for decision-making are others’ feelings. I would say that process, in isolation, puts less focus on your own individual, personal emotions than the Fi or “Authenticity” process does.

      Before going into more deep dives of Myers-Briggs, I considered myself a more “thinking” person than an “emotional” person, because I was referring to my internal processes. If your type is INFJ, which I think is totally possible, then your internal decision-making function is that Ti or “Accuracy” process. Of course, maybe you are a xxTP in this personality system and use these process in another order. Or maybe you don’t use these functions at all. Maybe you’re an xxTJ or an xxFP. I really can’t know.

      To sum it all up, xxFJs and xxTPs will tend to make decisions based on:
      1) What makes logical sense to them (Ti)
      2) How the decision will affect the emotions of other people (Fe)

      On the other hand, xxFPs and xxTJs will tend to make decisions based on
      1) What works and gets stuff done in the outer world (Te)
      2) How they personally feel about the decision (Fi)

      If you’re still trying to figure out your type, I personally would recommend starting out by figuring out which judging (decision-making) function polarity you use. From there, I’d try to figure out which perceiving (learning) function polarity you use, if you haven’t already.

      I really hope I was helpful, although maybe I gave a much longer reply than what you were hoping for. I’m still here checking the comments regularly if you have any more questions, although please recognize that I’m not a professional with this system. I’m just a personality psychology enthusiast hoping to learn more and help other people learn.

      Hope you have a great day,
      William

  • Justine G
    Reply

    Forgive me if I’ve got the wrong end of the stick here, but if not I’m truly appalled that you would, for example, imply that we have no responsibility whatsoever for what others feel.

    Why do you suppose it is considered unacceptable for people to post nasty and abusive comments online, like on this website?

    Why do you suppose that rape is nearly universally condemned? Okay it can cause considerable physical pain and that is part of the reason, but that is not the only reason it is condemned!

    We also condemn it because someone played a huge part in someone else suffering a terrible emotional pain that was avoidable. Implying it is somehow the victim’s fault for ‘allowing’ themselves to feel terrible, well then why even say it is a crime unless they have suffered physical pain?

    I am also appalled at the massive contradiction in our culture at large whereby, on the one hand, we are all fully ‘responsible’ for our feeling reactions, but NOT when it comes to ‘political incorrectness’! Then it is totally everyone else’s responsibility to not offend anyone else’s feelings, even if unintended!

    How on earth is anyone supposed to compute this massive inconsistency!

    • Justine G
      Reply

      I somewhat regret using rape as a example of ‘you caused me suffering’, as I realise it is a physical act with sometimes big physical consequences such as unwanted pregnancy, disease and other physical harm. This makes it a problematic example.

      The point was it is not my observation that people only condemn others for ‘physical’ harm caused to others. Of course you yourself have a role in how you manage how you feel about it afterwards, I’m just worried about the over-simplistic-sounding message delivered here (and elsewhere).

      The point is that the message ‘you are entirely responsible for your own emotions and suffering’ implies no responsibility on the part of others to at least try to be decent and considerate. It may not have been Joel’s intention but it came across (to me) in a black and white way, when it is actually very nuanced.

    • Antonia Dodge
      Reply

      Hi, Justine. Every once in our podcasting history Joel has made this statement and someone has gotten salty, so we recorded this episode a while back to talk about what he means when he says, “We’re responsible for our emotions.” There’s some conversation in the comment section, as well as a link to a video he made:

      https://personalityhacker.com/podcast-episode-0138-can-you-control-your-emotions/

      I’m not saying you’ll like or agree with the episode / take, but it does give a wee bit more context to the thought process.

      -A-

      • Justine G
        Reply

        Thanks for your reply, Antonia

  • Anonymous
    Reply

    “The pendulum swing – how the world has shifted from over-valuing thinking to over-valuing feeling.”

    This is not an accident. This is a concerted effort by the psychopaths who own and control everything in the world to dumb people down, turn off their in-built bullshit detector, make people incapable of critical thinking and debunking their lies, and make them emotionally reactive, miserable, sick, and dysfunctional. These criminal psychopaths are experts in mentally manipulating the people of the world, and they have learned that they can disable people’s critical thinking through emotional manipulation.

    Look at the social justice whackjobs on Twitter: totally valuing feelings backing up their false ideas about life over facts, intuition, and logic; hostile and violent against anyone who debunks the lies of their woke cult or daring to contradict their cult or think differently; racist and even violent against white men; hating men and masculinity; promoting non-white supremacy over whites; promoting female supremacy over men; promoting sexual dysfunction and degeneracy. If you want to see the valuing of feeling over thinking, just read the insane nonsense of these crazy and deeply unhappy people on Twitter.

  • Anne-Sofie
    Reply

    Our oure emotions are crucial for our survival. Asuming that a person hasn’t been severely traumatized, that persons emotions will tell them when their boundaries are overstepped, when something is dangerous, what their needs are (irritation and sadness when their need aren’t met), etc. In their purest form emotions are vital data. If we ignore them, we will get traumas/die. So the art is to know when to act on them and when not to (because we as humans don’t exist in our purest form/in the way we were designed (evolved I mean)).

    And socitey has always been run on feelings; it’s the heart of all religion, dictatorstates, monarchy. The present is always more aware of feeling being present in their time because it is very hard to convey feelings through history books and facts and dates. You can say that these times are more dominated by fear than the past 3 decades (if that is even true).

  • Margaret Newcombe
    Reply

    As an over 70s INFP …childhood had nothing but negatives regarding my type.where I grew up in the culture of thinkers from Rome, so at my age I admit I am emotionally lacking in intelligence to the extreme. .My old books on type told me 30 years ago about INFP as true Joan of arc types who lead with absolute conviction and are willing to lay down their lives for what or who they believe in. I feel so strongly about injustice right now . Living in the countryside , on a desert island or with a screaming room might save me from myself.. the need to release deep anger at what is going on in the world right now, the lack of truth and governmental authenticity and hatred of God ……what can I say…. Jesus wept….and still weeps.

  • V
    Reply

    I think this podcast addressed why I’ve always been so bothered by the description that Fi dominant and auxiliary people ‘feel deeply’ (to be honest, I still don’t understand what that means). Feelers are not the only people with the capacity to feel deeply — thinkers can, too. Thinkers might not understand or express these feelings as readily as feelers, but again as Joel and Antonia mentioned early on, even Fi can be interpreted as ‘cold’ since it is inwardly oriented. Perhaps we can say the difference between a feeler and a thinker is the frequency of how often they use feelings as the basis for their decisions rather than how ‘deeply’ someone feels

    • William (ISFJ)
      Reply

      I totally agree with your last sentence there, and they did say something along those lines in the podcast.

      I think the term “feeling deeply” has to do with the intensity of what you feel as well as your awareness of the complexities of the feelings. Since an Fi user is spending a lot of time with their inner emotions, they tend to be pretty good at identifying many more little nuances to their emotions.

      Antonia and Joel mentioned something along these lines when Antonia (a Ti-auxiliary) said she sometimes will feel something and have no idea what it is she’s feeling, so she’ll go over to Joel (an Fi-auxiliary) to help her sort out those emotions. As an Fi user, one would probably be very proficient in determining the nature of those emotions; thus you might say that they’re “feeling it more deeply.”

    • Anne-Sofie
      Reply

      I very much agree. The same can be said about Ti.

  • Seluxes
    Reply

    Good episode but I was hoping for more push back from Joel (or other Feelers) but the bit around the 33 minute mark was, well, it? Even as a Thinker, I think it’s a bit unfair that the onus is on Feelers to always be on their best behavior and authentic, but also don’t wear a Thinker mask even when working with Thinker systems because it’s not your growth path… I mean, it’s sounds a bit of a mess from my end, but perhaps the advice makes sense to Feelers.

    I struggle enough with my own EQ so I’ll stick to my side of the street on this, but I would like to hear from Feelers and possibly emotional Thinkers (I am one when stressed as a few of us probably are—the Se grip struggle is real).

    • Josette
      Reply

      Well, thinkers tend to have a fear of feelings and emotions and that will leak out. That is why there is a preference. Certain cognitive functions flow and are natural and create a preference for us. Yet, feelings are the most informative and life enriching data out there. …. imo. Knowing what you want, what path in life you should take, how to be your best self…comes from feelings. And honestly, feelings are not bad for us. Being aware of our feelings is not bad for us. It may seem like that on a superficial level to thinkers. It is the most underrated skill. I know Antonia was a big proponent of radical honesty. You cannot have radical honesty without awareness of your feelings.

  • Rowena
    Reply

    I’m an INTP and I’ve always been of the opinion that Feelers can be less outwardly emotional at times because they understand and trust their feelings and emotions. They are less upset or surprised by their emotional responses as many Thinkers are and live through through them peacefully, rather than reacting against them.

    As a Thinker I obviously don’t value feelings as highly and also find my emotions are intrusive and unnecessary. I’ve often wished I could be more like the ’emotionless robot’ stereotype. Emotions happen suddenly like an on/off switch, making them difficult to control at times. I try to suppress and ignore them as they seem pointless, only to have them pop up unexpectedly. I feel many emotions/feelings, but I don’t understand them very well, and it has taken years for me to treat them as useful regarding my wellbeing. That said, I also suffer from Bipolar disorder (including a great deal of anxiety), and so have been subjected to strong and unnecessary moods due to an imbalance of brain chemistry.

    I have started to research being a Thinker with mental health problems as an explanation for being ‘unusually’ emotional despite T preferences. It seems the whole ‘Thinkers are unemotional’ stereotype is so wide-ranging so as to be unhelpful to those of us who are plagued by our feelings instead. There’s a little bit of discussion out there, but nothing particularly constructive as yet. I’ll keep looking, however.
    Health aside, of course, as an INTP my inferior function is Fe, so it will behave like an inferior function – on/off, childlike, and with no subtlety. Many INTPs can be loud, exuberant and warm when in the right sort of company (one-to-one, or a small likeminded group). Likewise we can react in a negative way just as strongly. I’ve often envied the Feelers I know their ability to accept their feelings/emotions and to be confident using them to make a decision. The Ti/Fe dichotomy can be extremely stressful to the point of physical pain. I have spent considerable time in Inferior Fe grip as well.

    My partner, an ISFJ, is very comfortable with his feelings and any feeling-based decisions he makes. Though not always outwardly emotional, he is always warm and very much geared towards his co-pilot of Fe/Harmony. I am the opposite of this, but our personalities are complementary as we share functions but in a different order. I feel a great deal of love for him, but it took me several months to accept that this was a good thing and not a weakness.
    My father, an INFP, has also suffered with his mental health. However, unlike me, he still uses his emotions as a guide no matter how unpleasant they may be, and his personal values are paramount.

    • Rowena
      Reply

      What Antonia says about emotions being an intolerable distraction for Thinkers when trying to make a decision is spot on. Keeping them at arm’s length is the only way. Joel is correct about society’s current over-emphasis on feeling in an irrational sense.

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