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Judging and perceiving

A lifestyle choice

The J/P preference scale is usually described as a lifestyle choice. Do you want to structure your life so you feel in control of it or do you want to go with the flow and adapt to outer circumstances? Those with a desire to control life events have a preference for J; those who desire to adapt have a preference for P. 

Decisions, decisions

One of the main differences between judging and perceiving types is their attitude to decisions. Judging types positively enjoy making decisions and acting on them. It doesn’t matter if these decisions are based on thinking or feeling, for what is at stake here is that Js, by definition, are decisive people.

Those with a preference for P are not motivated by making decisions. Ps are much more interested in ensuring they have room to manoeuvre. Perceiving types feel hemmed in by decisions and much prefer to leave their options open – to defer decisions so they can make their minds up spontaneously at a later date or not at all.

Extravert world

One of the main things to understand about the J/P scale is that it only refers to how we deal with the outer or extravert world. So what we are looking at here is how much we want to structure our outer life through planning, scheduling,, goal setting, list making and decision-making. It also involves our desire to keep general order by methodically filing things away or putting things back in their place when we have used them. Js find it fairly easy to engage in these controlling and structuring activities whereas Ps usually struggle with them. This desire for outer order often means Js can come across as fairly traditional whereas Ps usually appear more open, spontaneous and unconventional  people.

Closure versus options

Another way to understand the difference between Js and Ps is to be aware that Js continually press for closure so they can mentally tick this task off their list and move on to the next. Ps, aren’t seeking closure as they prefer to generate information (facts or ideas/possibilities) so they have a large range of options to consider. Most Ps need a looming deadline to make  decisions or finish a project.

Judging types in everyday life

Js are the type of people who continually try to ensure structure and order in their lives by keeping on top of things.  It comes naturally for them to plan,  tick things off lists as they do them and generally try to keep order.  Most Js also don’t like doing things at the last minute and so they tend to start doing jobs early so they have time to spare.

Js’ love of order and structure means they simply can’t understand Ps ways of doing things. Js will often regularly tell work-mates or children that it is just as easy to put things away after you have used them. (This is certainly true for many Js but not for  Ps.) And this leads nicely into another couple of J characteristics. Js’ decisiveness and certainty means they often come across as “opinionated” and their love of order and control can mean they want to control how other people live their lives.

The effectiveness of Js’ skills depends on their other preferences. SJs are usually the most organised of all the types as they very successfully blend the practicality of sensing with their J love of order. NJs have the same desire for order and control but often find their intuition undermines the precision and detail often needed for really good organisation.

Perceiving types in everyday life

Many Ps are forced into being fairly organised in their work lives. Many manage quite well but are still not confident about their organisational skills and know that when their attention wanders off into other areas, they can easily lose control of what they are doing and things can become potentially chaotic again. This is especially true of NPs.

As we live in a fairly J world, most Ps (and those around them) are aware of the P’s weaknesses. Their desk, bedrooms and hectic lifestyles testify to that. Not finishing one task before starting another can also irritate others.  But just as Js have real strengths so too do Ps and these strengths are coming to matter more in today’world.

Take flexibility. Most employers now stress the importance of flexible approaches at work and Ps are by nature flexible people. The world is such a complex place these days it is difficult for anyone, even the Js, to control what happens to them. Ps instinctively know this and prefer to keep their options open and maximise and adapt to the opportunities which come their way.


© Carol Craig

MBTI, Myers-Briggs, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Trust in the United States and other countries; OPP Ltd. has exclusive rights to these trademarks in the U.K.

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