What is Extraverted Thinking?

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on March 15, 2022

Thinkers (those who type as ‘T’ in the Myers and Briggs system) are good at logical thinking. They are planners, decision-makers and hard workers. But how you think can be further divided into two categories: Extraverted Thinking and Introverted Thinking. People with Extraverted Thinking traits like to follow a step-by-step process ‘out loud’ whereas Introverted Thinkers are more focused on organizing their inner world. Both tend to prefer clear, measurable results.

Read on to find out exactly what Extraverted Thinking is and how Extraverted Thinkers like to exercise their thinking function.

What is Extraverted Thinking?

Extraverted Thinking is one of the categories used to describe how people make decisions. It makes up part of the 16-type personality system and is one of the eight cognitive functions

Thinking describes the way in which some people make decisions and organize their lives. Individuals with Thinking traits tend to be objective and methodological. They make decisions based on logic rather than emotion. This type is also characterized by their preference for fact-based systems and processes.

The difference between those with Extraverted Thinking (Te) and Introverted Thinking (Ti) strengths is how they use these logic-based traits. Extraverted Thinking individuals focus on organizing and categorizing the outside world. They are obvious in their love of scheduling and organizing the environment and the people around them. As a result, they tend to make good leaders. 

In contrast, those with Ti use their objectivity and logic to solve problems internally, so their strengths are often less visible to the outside world.

If you come across Extraverted Thinking individuals, you’ll be able to recognize them from their love of organization, planning and processes.

Extraverted Thinking and Cognitive Functions

In order to understand Extraverted Thinking better, you need to know about cognitive functions. 

There are eight cognitive functions working together in every person. The main four are used consciously while the other four are subconscious. The four possible functions are Thinking (T), Intuition (I), Sensing (S) and Feeling (F). These four functions can either be used inwardly, which means it’s introverted, or outwardly, which makes it extraverted.

Your cognitive functions are ordered in terms of strength: dominant (1st), auxiliary (2nd), tertiary (3rd), and inferior (4th). 

For Extraverts, their dominant and tertiary functions are extraverted and their auxiliary and inferior functions are introverted. For introverted personality types, the opposite is true. Their dominant and tertiary cognitive functions are introverted while their auxiliary and inferior cognitive functions are extraverted. 

The personality types that use Extraverted Thinking are:

  • ENTJ (dominant)
  • ESTJ (dominant)
  • INTJ (auxiliary)
  • ISTJ (auxiliary)
  • ENFP (tertiary)
  • ESFP (tertiary)
  • INFP (inferior)
  • ISFP (inferior)

This means the types with the most dominant examples of Extraverted Thinking at ENTJs and ESTJs. These personality types are known for their strategic, forward-thinking approach to life. 

Both ENTJs and ESTJs like to have a plan in place and work methodically towards concrete, measurable goals. They also enjoy taking leadership roles, organizing others and staying focussed to get things done.

Common traits of Extraverted Thinking types

To understand more about Extraverted Thinking, here are 5 common traits of this personality type to look out for. Maybe you identify with these characteristics or you recognize them in the people around you. Either way, they’re a good sign that you’re in Extraverted Thinking territory!

1. You always organize the people around you

People with dominant Extraverted Thinking traits are natural organizers. They easily take charge, coordinating different people and parties to get things done. They love to lead others and can find themselves in leadership roles even without realizing it.

Though the stereotype goes that Extraverted Thinking individuals are cold and distant, often the opposite is true. Extraverted Thinkers can be extremely charismatic and likeable - that’s how they get people to follow them! The best leaders know that they need to get people on their side and motivate others in order to achieve their collective goals.

2. You know how to get things done

Procrastination is not a big problem for Extraverted Thinking types. Sure they get distracted sometimes - they’re not androids! - but they don’t suffer from procrastination in the same way that other personality types do. Extraverted Thinkers know that to get things done; you need to break tasks down into chunks and approach each one with a clear mind.

This focus and drive means they’re brilliant at hitting targets and reaching their goals. They can usually be trusted to keep a project on track and always have their feet planted firmly on the ground. When they put their mind to something, you can bet that Extraverted Thinking types will work hard to make it happen. It’s just a matter of time…

3. Structure is important to you

Extraverted Thinking personality types like to follow a step-by-step structure in everything they do. People with Extraverted Thinking traits tend to be less spontaneous than other personality types. They’re rigorous planners who like nothing more than organizing their diary, making a list and following a clear procedure. 

This love of structure can flow through into rule-following too. Extraverted Thinking types are often sticklers for rules and regulations. These individuals tend to hold themselves to strict standards and they expect everyone around them to do the same. You won’t catch Extraverted Thinkers cutting corners - in their mind, if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

4. You’re always prepared

While Extraverted Thinking individuals like structure, that doesn’t mean they’re not adaptable. These personality types adapt to changes and challenges around them by always being prepared. When presented with a problem, Extraverted Thinkers will prepare for every and any eventuality. This means you can count on them in a crisis. They’re the ones with the plan!

Thanks to their Scout-like preparedness, Extraverted Thinking types are helpful to have around. They’re good at supporting less organized family or team members in day-to-day life. When you go on a trip, these are the ones with the snacks, the map, the first-aid kit and everything else. Extraverted Thinkers like to help those around them, but most of all they love to be prepared.

5. You’re decisive

Faced with a choice? Extraverted Thinking types will always know which one to pick. Unlike other cognitive types, Extraverted Thinking individuals find decision-making easy. They’re direct, strong-willed and they know their own minds. This means that making difficult choices isn’t much of a challenge for these types. They use logic and reason to direct their thought process and rarely let emotion get in the way.

What Extraverted Thinking types do struggle with is patience. When they’re faced with other people who can’t make a decision - whether it’s at work, in a restaurant or over a more important life choice - they can get frustrated quickly. Not everyone shares the Extraverted Thinkers single-minded approach to life and this can often be the hardest thing for them to deal with!

See some Extraverted Thinking in your life?

If you identify with some Extraverted Thinking traits, you might be an Extraverted Thinker yourself. People who have more Extraverted Thinking characteristics tend to be logical, objective and organized. While this type can often be thought of as cold or unfeeling, there is more to Extraverted Thinking individuals than first meets the eye.

Elizabeth Harris

Elizabeth is a freelance writer and ghostwriter. She’s an anthropologist at heart and loves using social theory to get deeper into the topics she writes about. Born in the UK, Elizabeth has lived in Copenhagen, Frankfurt and Dubai before moving most recently to Budapest, Hungary. She’s an ENTJ with ENFJ leanings. Find out more about her work at bethharris.com

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About the Clinical Reviewer

Steven Melendy, PsyD., is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He specializes in using evidence-based approaches in his work with individuals and groups. Steve has worked with diverse populations and in variety of a settings, from community clinics to SF General Hospital. He believes strongly in the importance of self-care, good friendships, and humor whenever possible.

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