Four Signs You’re a Highly Rational Feeler

So you're a Feeler (F) type according to your personality test result. You’ve just joined a unique group of enthusiasts, optimists, nurturers and artists. Word on the street is that William Shakespeare was an INFP and Oscar Wilde an ENFP, so you’re in the company of giants.

Whilst settling into your newly realized identity, you may read personality profiles describing Feelers as emotionally driven people, befuddled by reason. People who rely solely on feelings as if logic doesn’t matter.  Maybe you were surprised by this description.  You admit that you may get worked up sometimes, but no one’s ever accused you of being illogical. And you got the Feeling preference

Before you throw away your dreams of law school or tear the Spock poster off your wall, let’s clarify. You’re an “F” because feelings are important to you — not because they override your reason. While it’s true that some Feelers let emotion dictate their thinking, others channel their feelings differently. Cutting-edge logicians, scientists and lawyers land the F preference all the time. Just like that guy writing soulful poetry in the corner, who actually exhibits a Thinking (T) preference. 

At this point you may be thinking, “I’m rational and sensitive. Maybe I’m just a Thinker who’s sensitive to other people’s feelings!”

Perhaps. They can look similar. In the spirit of completeness, we’ll compare and contrast with sensitive T’s when necessary.  But first, let’s unpack the Feelings personality type. You’re probably a highly rational Feeler if you recognize yourself in the following. 

1. Feelings don’t impair your logic, but you may not point out people’s logical fallacies because you don’t want to hurt their feelings. 

Let’s say a loved one is talking about a problem and fires off a completely irrational statement. They turn and ask you what you think. Both a Thinker and a Feeler can catch the break in logic, but here’s where they might respond differently. 

The Thinker might respond: This faulty generalization and mixed up reasoning are getting us nowhere, I can help! “Honey, let’s revisit that statement…” 

The rational Feeler might respond: This person is talking in circles now. They seem too sensitive for a correction now, I can help! “Honey, let’s open up some chocolate...”

It’s impossible to say which response is better. The Thinking and Feeling responses are both kind, helpful, and necessary at times. And yes, sensitive T’s know when to listen patiently, too. 

Here’s the difference. T’s have a natural inclination to put aside feelings and focus on logic. The tactful Thinker will curb their instincts so they don’t hurt someone’s feelings. Feelers, on the other hand, are naturally inclined to respect feelings. Some Feelers are so focused on feelings, they don’t notice when someone’s being illogical. Rational Feelers will always notice the break in logic. They just might decide to ignore it for now and circle back when the other person can handle it better.

2. In an argument, you might choose to follow the emotional dynamics over the verbal dynamics. 

There’s a lot of moving pieces during disagreements — logical arguments, body language, tone of voice, and a whole bunch of emotions. Thinkers tend to absorb this information like someone reading a transcript. They focus on the flow of the argument and its logical fallacies, and they can spot a red herring in a verbal rant in a heartbeat. Rational Feelers are good at this too, but they might be more interested in why the person seems disproportionately angry, sad, or indifferent. 

This keen insight into feelings can be good and bad. For example, it’s good when the Feeling radar spots someone’s broken heart masquerading as an angry, irrational tirade, and they tend to the hurt behind the faulty logic. Think Maggie Gyllenhaal bear-hugging a screaming Kirsten Dunst in Mona Lisa Smile. (There’s a lot more than a Feelings personality there. Maggie Gyllenhaal is a multidimensional gem in that film, but you get the picture.) Thinkers can respond sensitively too, but it’s a little harder for them to pinpoint the right emotion. It is second nature for most Feelers. 

Here’s where it can be bad. Sometimes an F is too busy listening to their Feelings radar instead of listening to what the other person is saying. Their radar is never perfect, and Fs often later regret they weren’t listening well to another person. It’s all about balance. 

3. If you hurt someone’s feelings when explaining your reasoning, you try really hard to make sure you’re both still cool after. 

When Feelers think it necessary, they will point out reason and logic even though it upsets another person. However, it is extremely important to the Feeler that you both feel okay after.

Thinkers want to mend hurt feelings too, especially with loved ones. But even the sweetest, most sensitive Thinker might ponder a little more on whether they expressed themselves clearly or if they understood the other person correctly. Rational Feelers, on the other hand, make sure that good vibes are back in order.  Feelers thrive on positive human connections — they’re like clean, unpolluted air to them. If something shakes up an important relationship, it will always get the Feeler’s full attention. They will expend a lot of energy trying to restore balance on both sides of the relationship.

4. You lead from the head as well as the heart. But maybe a little more heart.

Feelers tend to lead from the heart instead of the head.  But if you’re a rational Feeler, you can balance both pretty effectively. You don’t see the heart as a substitute for reason, but rather as another source of vital information. 

Intuitive Feelers (NF) and Sensing Feelers (SF) differ in this respect.  NFs rely heavily on “gut instinct,” which is the street name for the subconscious mind. The subconscious is an enormous storage of data, and NFs are intricately connected to it. They’re capable of making some pretty accurate life decisions by relying on their gut.  As a result, NFs often follow their heart because it has worked out well for them in the past.

Sensing types are acute observers. They are more aware of the subtle signals in expression and body language than the average person, and gather small, detailed facts in someone’s emotional response. To Thinkers, these observations might not obviously be part of a “logical argument” — some might even label them as relying on vague feelings. However, a rational SF clearly understands the power and limitations of their observations, and often reaches the correct conclusion when communicating with others. 

What this means, dear Feeler, is that you’re probably not half Vulcan. But you’re not an emotionally driven, logic avoider either. As a Feeler, you still might feel the tendency to let emotions cloud your reasoning, but you have the ability to control that. If you find balance, you have the benefit of listening to both reason and emotion. That is a well-rounded life. As our beloved Spock himself said, “Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end."

Stephanie Dorais

Stephanie is a therapist, data analyst, and blogger. She enjoys practicing yoga, eating Pad Thai (but no bean sprouts), and watching exorbitant amounts of British television. She is a nationally certified counselor and inherently certified ENFP. She lives and practices in Virginia Beach, VA.

Find her on Twitter at @mindloftmag


Lydiaschmidt (not verified) says...

As an INFP who can enjoy a good argument and likes to poke holes in other people's logic and reasoning, I found this post on the Reasonable Feeler really interesting!  Just because we are feelers doesn't mean we are always run by emotion.  

Rick Ruppenthal (not verified) says...

Thank you for your article. Food for thought today as I have my morning coffee.

Yes I'm a Feeler - Thinker - Feeler. Always lead with my feeling preference which at times made it difficult to make those rational decisions.

My parents, Dad especially would tell me that I was too sensitive, not hard enough.

Grasping onto the personality types has enabled me to understand more about me and that I do have to balance out the feeling with logic.

At the end however, I still find ending on the feeling note I do feel for others that might have been effected. I just don't dwell on it too much as in the past.

Jenny Meigs (not verified) says...

Thank you so incredibly much for this post!  My friend and I are both INFJ's and we often feel conflicted with our T/F preference.  I've seen quotes about INFJ's being too rational for the feelers and too sensitive for the rationals...many times feeling out of place.  You've explained this so eloquently!

Sandra Dodds (not verified) says...

Jenny, that explains it!! INFJ here too!

Susan Feder (not verified) says...

I am a very rational feeler. As a systems analyst/programmer, I was very strong in logic but was the only one in the department that had a good working relationship with those who used the applications I developed.  I appreciate your website and all of the information you provide. It not only helps me understand myself but the people around me and those I come in contact with.

Bo (not verified) says...

I resonated with all of these, particularly point 3. It's hard for me to explain why I think differently and explain my reasoning when I know my words could upset another person. I almost always want to make sure the relationship is intact. 

Thanks for the great post!

Nyssa says...

I'd like to read an article about sensitive thinkers...
I always score on the borderline for the thinking/feeling dimension. I'm very sensitive and empathetic, but I don't identify with the rational feeler described in this article, so thanks for helping me rule it out. At the same time, I'd like to read the "opposite" to see if I identify with that.
(I'm most likely INTJ)

Thank you!

Sophiaria says...

Same, I indentify in the middle of both S/N and F/T, so I'm not sure if the whole method is valid for me anymore.. I've thought of myself as INTJ and often scored such, but reading in more thoroughly I might as well be an ISFJ.

AnthonyH (not verified) says...

Ditto to what Nyssa says...I don't id completely with the rational feeler and would love to see the flip side of a sensitve thinker. I've taken the MBTI three times. The first time (in college) i scored an ESFJ then I scored a ESTJ (masters and law school). I think because I was unsure and not confident in who I was (ESTJ's can be seen as cold jerks) during my college years, I answered how I thought I wanted to be perceived. Nevertheless, my score is boderline as well between (T/F). Everything other dimension there is NO DOUBT that I have those functions. 

sihaya (not verified) says...

This is a very insightful article! I am an INFP and I have always described myself as "not logical" because when it comes to everyday things, I do not have a logical reasoning as to why I do things. I did not like my logic class, even. On the other hand, if something important to me is threatened or under serious discussion, I disregard fleeting emotions and go "straight for the jugular" with reason and logic. In those moments I really relate to Spock. I often say that I am my most articulate when I am in an argument, and I am not afraid to have an argument over something important to me! However, I don't argue for the sake of an arguement but to restore the balance and internal harmony of my feelings. All four points really resonated with me!

Eleanor (not verified) says...

I really resonated with point 1, thank you so much for writing this illuminating article. I'm a rational INFP, and I think my parents and friends I had in my younger years really affected the way I think. Being around Rationals my whole life lead my to hiding my emotions and working more with my Ne, which honestly at this point I'm grateful for because I've become a very well-rounded person I believe.

Justwrite4now (not verified) says...

I have a constant search for knowledge I am INFP but am always spending my free time at school researching and working on mini projects that aren't at all school related I am border on thinking/feeling and I consistently switch between using logic and my regard for emotional needs of people. I haven't met an INFP like me and am wondering if any other INFPs do this in there free time too

rAtIoNaL (not verified) says...

I think most rational people aren't feelers, but there are some who don't want to get hurt by anyone's insults and who want people to praise them. We're rational because we think out ways to act based on some truth of our reasoning. It's not knowledge of all the logical fallacies that make you rational, but using logic for what is reliable that makes you rational. People think rationality makes you better behaved and in control of your feelings, it doesn't, it just solves problems, keeping calm is the job of philosophy, not rationality. 2^n x P|Q, 2^(2^(2^(2^(^2^))))+ 1 = the prime + P|Q therefore there's two situations between the good and the evil, that would be rational, which that itself solves problems. But then the existence which begs the question can only be proven to exist leading to begging the question. But if I was a rational feeler I wouldn't want to hurt feelings, and therefore rationality can be a pretty hurtful truth if it's used without feeling.

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