Do you remember when Ambiverts became “a thing” on social media? People latched onto this “new” descriptor (which has actually been around since 1927), grateful to know that they didn’t have to decide whether they were introverted or extraverted. They felt like both, so they could be both.
So why haven’t we had that conversation in the other personality dimensions, like Sensing and Intuition? It’s time to open things up and admit that you can type in the middle of any dimension, because guess what — we S/N’s are out there, and that dichotomy gives us power.
Sensing and Intuitive: How Can You Be Both?
Under the Myers and Briggs typing theory, you can only ever be Sensing or Intuitive. The test is designed to give you one of those labels. Remember though, that each dichotomy is a scale. It is possible to type virtually the middle of the Sensing/Intuition (S/N) scale, say 49% Sensing / 51% Intuitive, and that works just like typing between Extraversion and Introversion. Technically you would be an 'N' in this example. But your scores show that you draw on your S and N sides in equal measure, depending on the situation and how you relate to it.
Sensing and Intuition are just two different ways of processing information:
Sensors value and rely on concrete information. Highly practical and grounded in the present reality, they prefer to work step-by-step and excel at projects that require attention to detail.
Intuitives use their instinct to draw connections and make meaning from the information around them. They’re idea people and abstract thinkers, preferring to break the mold than follow a plan.
At first glance, it can be hard to see how someone could have both of these opposite qualities. The key is to think of it not as being on one team or the other, but as having a certain balance of qualities.
Introducing the 50/50 Sensing/Intuitive
I know that S/N’s can exist because I am one. I’ve taken multiple personality tests and come up close to the borderline every time — sometimes an S, sometimes an N. I thought I was just approaching the questions wrong, until someone told me that I was probably the information-processing version of an Ambivert.
The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. As a freelance writer, I need to see the forest and the trees. I need to be just as good at coming up with article ideas as I am at executing them.
I start most articles with my Intuitive side, coming up with ideas based on what a particular audience gravitates toward and what topics are trending in that industry. Once I’ve done the brainstorming bit and settled on a topic, I get down to business, finding information on the topic and crafting the piece step by step.
Granted, it’s not always this cut-and-dried. Sometimes my Intuitive side needs to elbow its way back in, free-wheeling new approaches when I get stuck. Sometimes I have to be a bit more methodical in my planning if a client has a particular outline.
Whatever the situation, my balanced S/N type serves me well, and I know I’m not the only one. I’m just the only one I can describe with this level of detail.
S/Ns and How We Got This Way
Did my balanced S/N tendencies develop because of the needs of my job? Have I always been equally capable of seeing details and the big picture? Hard to tell.
Some people type in the middle of a dimension because they’ve cultivated their supporting functions over time. I feel more like a Sensor when I think about the rest of my personality, but I’ve needed to be an ideas person for a very long time, so maybe my Intuition has just crept up in dominance while I wasn’t looking.
I was probably pretty close to the middle to begin with, and just slid along the scale as Intuition began to come more naturally. That’s the thing — personality typing isn’t fixed. We change as time goes on. It’s only natural that our type might change too.
The Myers-Briggs Spectrum
Many people think of Myers-Briggs typing as an either-or situation. You’re an Introvert or an Extravert, or an Ambivert if you can’t decide. But when you take a test and look at your detailed report, you’ll notice that each dimension has percentages attached.
You don’t just type as a Sensing Introvert — you type as a 73% Introvert / 27% Extravert and a 54% Sensor / 46% Intuitive.
Every single dimension on the scale — Extraversion and Introversion, Intuitive and Sensing, Thinking and Feeling, Judging and Perceiving — is a spectrum, not a multiple-choice question. And most people don’t get the same score twice.
If you type very close to 50/50 on something like S/N, it just means that neither trait is inclined to assert dominance.
It’s a Balance Thing
Everyone has both Sensing and Intuitive abilities. You couldn’t get through life as 100% one or the other. Your type only indicates which is dominant.
Also, your dominant style in one dimension affects how you type in one area. Your Introversion or Extraversion has a particularly strong effect, so an Introverted Sensor will present a lot differently than an Extraverted Sensor.
If you’re confused about how you can type in the middle of the dimension, try taking a broader view of what Sensing and Intuition can look like:
- Introverted Sensing: You take in and process information, categorizing it and pulling it up when you need it.
- Extraverted Sensing: You take action based on the information immediately available.
- Introverted Intuition: You come up with new ways of seeing things and picture probable outcomes for a given situation.
- Extraverted Intuition: You notice patterns and connections between ideas, easily coming up with different possibilities.
Maybe, like me, you didn’t think of yourself as an Intuitive at first because you were only thinking of the extraverted version. Or maybe you’re an Extravert who always assumed Sensing was for Introverts. You’re probably a quick decision-maker whose Sensing side serves them well, especially in a crisis.
There are many ways to be a Sensor and an Introvert, just as there are many ways to be an Introvert, Extravert, Thinker, Judger, and so on.
If you’re interested in how different personality dimensions affect one another, take some time and dig into the cognitive stack. You’ll start to see how many different ways a person can type, even within just two dimensions.
The Bottom Line
If you type as a 50/50 Sensing/Intuitive scale, and you’ve answered all the questions honestly, then that’s almost certainly where you belong — at least for now. Personality assessments shouldn’t make you feel like you’re being squeezed into a box. And if they do, then someone’s presenting them to you wrong.
Embrace your duality in all its forms. Embrace your balance, your contradictions, and your strengths. They’re all assets… trust me, I know. I’ve been there.