The following is a description of the process of the cognitive function Ni (Introverted iNtuition). Ni is the dominant function for INFJs and INTJs, the auxiliary function for ENFJs and ENTJs, the tertiary function for ISFPs and ISTPs, and the inferior function for ESFPs and ESTPs, within the MBTI framework (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) based on the function theory of Carl Jung.
DESCRIPTION OF THE Ni COGNITIVE PROCESS
Perceiving functions are how we take in new information and form perceptions of people, circumstances, and experiences.
- Se: “This is what’s happening now.”
- Si: “This is how it always happened before.”
- Ne: “Anything could happen.”
- Ni: “This is what might happen.”
iNtuition detects patterns and trends, and derives possibilities from them. The foundation of both Ne and Ni is possibility.
iNtuitive functions, both Ne and Ni, are future-focused. They see what could be or what might be rather than what is (or in addition to what is). iNtuition detects patterns and trends, and derives possibilities from them. The foundation of both Ne and Ni is possibility. We can differentiate between extroverted and introverted iNtuition by what it chooses to do with those possibilities. As an extroverted function Ne is objective and seeks to expand possibility. The nature of Ne is improvisation. As an introverted function Ni is subjective and seeks to refine possibility. The nature of Ni is prediction. The cognitive function of iNtuition is often viewed in a mystical light because of its ability to see things and make connections outside of readily available information. Ni, in particular, due to its propensity towards prediction is often associated with psychic ability or a sixth sense. Ni is not supernatural, it’s just difficult to explain.
For example, let’s say both an Ne and Ni user see 10 possibilities in regards to a specific situation. An Ne user may rank all 10 in order of what’s most likely, but not eliminate any, and the order may shift around at any moment. An Ni user may make 1 base prediction and keep a few alternate possibilities, discarding the rest.
Ne is fluid and flexible.
Ni wants closure.
Ne is fluid and flexible constantly welcoming new perspectives and possibilities and reevaluating its base perception. Ne is improvisation, it makes it up as it goes along and is reluctant to settle on one concrete idea. Ne thrives on options.
Ni wants closure and therefore will analyze each possibility individually in order to filter out less likely options and form a prediction. Too many open possibilities can make high Ni users anxious and even paranoid. Ni takes in information, considers all of it, and then says “This is the most likely outcome“.
Once a high Ni user has formed their base perception, it can be extremely difficult to change their mind. This is not because they are so closed-minded that they don’t welcome various perspectives. Rather, it’s because they’ve already weighed the possibilities and predicted “THIS is (most likely) it“.
If Ni is presented with a possibility it’s already analyzed and discarded, it’s unlikely to reconsider it without it accompanying entirely new/fresh information/perspectives. Presenting an Ni user with a previously analyzed possibility is as if the Ni user had already cleaned out a closet, deciding what to keep, and someone keeps trying to put discarded items back inside the closet. That information is no longer of use to them and it’s only taking up valuable space. Ni will only reconsider its base perception if outside information is actually new, something it hasn’t yet considered. With completely fresh information it will reevaluate and consider how it might fit with the current base perception. Sometimes this will lead Ni to reconsider previously discarded information. Then a revamped perception is formed. (Present Ni with a new shirt, it may choose to work the shirt into the closet. It might even consider keeping those shoes it discarded earlier if those shoes complement the new shirt.)
Ni is an introverted, internal process involving unconscious analysis.
It’s a process and will rarely happen on the spot. If you share something new with an Ni user, don’t expect them to get on board right away unless it effortlessly harmonizes with their current base perception. Ni is an introverted, internal process involving unconscious analysis…it doesn’t like to be put on the spot.
In addition to the need for closure, Ni also likes to plan. Once a perception is formed Ni will work together with the judging functions to determine the pattern that’s likely to follow and what actions need to be taken to prevent or minimize the negative and support or optimize the positive. Only then will the Ni predictions be revealed to the outside world.
This process of perceiving is an unconscious act, happening continuously, and most often without the user’s knowledge or active engagement. While the perceiving itself happens instantly, it’s the refining process that takes more time. Too much input at once can easily overwhelm certain Ni users.
Throughout this description I referred to Ni as though it were a person using verbs like “analyze” and “reconsider”. I am actually referring to the Ni function itself and not the Ni user, since the process is largely unconscious. However, without any source material to refer to, I believe there is perhaps at least some degree of conscious engagement of the function, perhaps in direct cooperation with the judging functions.