How Different Personality Types Use Sensation (Se or Si)

How do you take in the world around you? Do you notice brilliant colors and sounds and smells? Do you regard the past with reverie and wonder? The world of sensing is a beautiful and captivating thing. If you’re a sensor, you have a heightened awareness of the physical world around you. You notice the shifting sands of nature or the complex systems of a computer. If you’re an intuitive you also rely on sensing, but you prefer to start with intuition. You still may notice and adore the world around you, but you filter it through a lens of ideas and concepts and thoughts.

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Se or Si Sensing

How do I know if I’m an extroverted or an introverted sensor?

Let’s start with Extraverted Sensation (or Se for short). Extraverted sensation is focused on taking in the details and sensations of the world around you. Personality types with an “S” and a “P” (ISTPs or ESFPs, for example) are the most proficient Extraverted Sensation users. They notice sensory details and sensations like no other type. They are very aware of what’s going on around them, and can react quickly and spontaneously without being as easily startled as intuitive types would be. Of all the personality types, Extraverted Sensing types have the most accurate memory recall. Because they’re not imbuing their experiences with abstract associations or past experiences, they see things exactly for what they are. They don’t embellish what they see. They are also very good at storing those exact facts in their mind. This is why Sensing-Perceivers are a detective’s best friend because they’ll remember the actuality of an experience better than many other types would.

In contrast, those with inferior Extraverted Sensation (INTJs and INFJs), are extremely sensitive to the sensory world and are easily overstimulated. They may trip up when it comes to details and miss things that are happening around them because they are so focused on their thoughts. Dominant Se users (ESFPs and ESTPs), on the other hand, can easily take in a lot of sensory information and act accordingly.

The gifts of Extraverted Sensation can show up in many different ways. They are often skilled at juggling, sports, dancing, or arts and crafts. They are in their element when they are interacting with or manipulating the physical world. They are the Theodoore Roosevelt’s (ESTP), the Harry Houdini’s (ESTP), the Andy Samberg’s (ESFP), and the Audrey Hepburn’s (ISFP) of the world.

Extraverted sensors live life in the moment and love surprises and spontaneity. They often are excellent in a crisis, because they can think so well on their feet. They tend to have a strong physical presence because they are so aware of their bodies and move with a fluidity that many other types may struggle with. They excel in the hands-on world and like to be in an active environment. They are often adventurous and love excitement and thrill-seeking.

Se-users are also very realistic. They focus on what “is” and try to make the most of current opportunities and situations. They are good at being objective and absorbing concrete facts that they can apply to the moment.

MBTI Types with Dominant Extroverted Sensing:

MBTI Types with Auxiliary Extroverted Sensing:

The four types above are going to be highly skilled extraverted sensors; with ESFPs and ESTPs having the highest mastery of this function.

MBTI Types with Tertiary Extroverted Sensing:

MBTI Types with Inferior Extroverted Sensing:

These four types are going to have less mastery over extraverted sensing. They will like beautiful things and be sensitive to sensory stimulation, but prefer the conceptual world of intuition and can often lack sensory awareness.

What about introverted sensing?

Introverted Sensation (Si) is the dominant or auxiliary function of the SJ types. ISTJs and ISFJs are dominant introverted sensors. ESTJs and ESFJs are auxiliary introverted sensors. Introverted sensation types have an awareness and reverie of past experiences. They learn from a plethora of personal experiences and readily recall facts and tried-and-true techniques that have worked for them before. They notice the world around them and see all kinds of associations related to everything in their past. A flower isn’t just a flower, it’s a reminder of their grandmother’s garden, the smell of hand cream, the feeling of soil under their fingertips from when they were a child. The introverted sensor can easily and swiftly recall associations from past experiences when seeing something in the present moment. They are good at recalling facts and they use this in their favor when troubleshooting or planning. They are the George Washington’s (ISTJ), the Warren Buffett’s (ISTJ), and the Mother Teresa’s (ISFJ) of the world. They balance a specialized memory with a practical, down-to-earth mindset and a desire to do good in the community.

For those with tertiary or inferior introverted sensing, like the NP types, they place trust in their personal experiences. This can make them more individualistic and idiosyncratic than many types. Yet at the same time, they are more fixated on ideas, potentialities, and possibilities than their past experiences. They are more caught up in the world of concepts than the world of physical details.

Introverted sensing types (SJs) are easily able to compare and contrast new information and experiences with their personal experiences to see if anything has changed or if new patterns have emerged. They are excellent at relaying information. They store their memories vividly within their minds; and because of this can often think back to a time in the past and reflect on exactly how they felt, what it was like, and remember every detail beautifully. Thinking introverted sensors will be better at remembering the details of systems, projects, and things; whereas feeling introverted sensors will be better at remembering the details of people, and events involving them.

Introverted sensors tend to like things planned out and structured. They are usually good at organizing events or gatherings or planning ways to get tasks accomplished. They are often very careful and thorough, making sure things are done right. .

MBTI Types with Dominant Introverted Sensing:

MBTI Types with Auxiliary Introverted Sensing:

The above four types are going to be the most skilled introverted sensors, with the ISTJs and ISFJs having the highest mastery of this function.

MBTI Types with Tertiary Introverted Sensing:

MBTI Types with Inferior Introverted Sensing:

The above four types will have less mastery over introverted sensing, but they will use it to be individualistic and to have faith in their past experiences.

Extraverted Sensation – The Good
(These will most apply to those with dominant or auxiliary Se)

  • Highly aware of surroundings
  • Lively and energetic
  • Spontaneous
  • Concrete and practical
  • Confident
  • Observant
  • Skilled with hands-on tasks
  • Often excellent  artists or crafters
  • Coordinated
  • Accurate visual recall
  • Enjoy life and living in the moment
  • Optimistic

Extraverted Sensing – The Bad
(These will apply to unhealthy extraverted sensing types)

  • Can be overly-indulgent in sensory pleasures (food, sex, alcohol)
  • Easily bored
  • Impulsive
  • May struggle with poor long-term planning
  • Struggle to complete projects
  • Can be risk-prone
  • May miss the bigger picture
  • Can be unstructured

Introverted Sensing – The Good
(These will mostly apply to those with dominant or auxiliary Si – however, they can apply to anyone)

  • Detail-oriented
  • Responsible
  • Excellent memory
  • Concrete and practical
  • Create order and organization
  • Reliable
  • Provides working solutions from past experiences
  • Observant
  • Notices shifts and changes in patterns
  • Preserves important traditions

Introverted Sensing – The Bad
(These will apply to unhealthy introverted sensing types)

  • Reluctant to change
  • Stubborn
  • Hesitant to seek out new ideas – has to do things “by the book”
  • Prone to being judgmental
  • Inflexible
  • Reluctant to innovate or improvise

In Conclusion

Sensing is an incredible function that is so important in the world we live in. Sensors are often the “doers” who keep things running and moving smoothly. They can be talented artists, crafters, performers, presidents, and philanthropists. If you’re a sensor I hope that you feel this post accurately describes how you use your function. If you disagree, or if you have any thoughts, let me know in the comments!

Find out more about your personality type in our eBooks, Discovering You: Unlocking the Power of Personality Type,  The INFJ – Understanding the Mystic,  The INFP – Understanding the Dreamer, and The INTJ – Understanding the Strategist. You can also connect with me via FacebookInstagram, or Twitter!

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  1. I know you’re busy so please take your time answering my questions below. Thanks.

    One thing that is confusing to me is how memory is used by each type. Does a person with introverted sensing look at a bowl of crumbled blue cheese and thought it looked like tofu because tofu is what it looked like before in his memory? Does a person with extroverted sensing look at that the blue cheese and describe what ir looks like and not try to associate to memory of what it might look like (shape of tofu)?

    Does an introverted sensor look at a computer problem and try to remember how he solved it in the past? Does an extroverted sensor not do try to remember how it might be a problem solved in past but look at the problem as it is and find a way to solve the problem?

    Also, basketball players for example often put themselves in the moment in changing circumstances. Do all the best professional basketball players have extroverted sensing as one of their 4 cognitive functions? If not, wouldn’t an infp for example be forced to use extroverted sensing its shadow function often or does that basketball player not use it in basketball consciously?

  2. Oh my god this just conforms my type even more. While I do fit like 3 of the good points of si the unhealthy si is so clear to me I fit it in lots of these points on and of most of my live.
    I am INFP

  3. Hi,
    What a great article! I am an infp raised by an isfj mom and an istj dad. I would add as a negative, that introverted sensors can be neat freaks and very judgmental about how well others conform to external metrics (time) and how tidy, and detail oriented others are. (Picture a person with a clipboard who misses nothing.) Spot on about them being amazing storytellers!

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