Each personality type has four Cognitive Functions. Functions put language to the way they process information and make decisions, and their order is based on personal preferences. Thinking and Feeling are used to make decisions, while iNtuition and Sensing are used to process information. Each type is referred to by their top two functions. Internal functions are the ones you use in your head, and external functions are the ones you use to interact with the world around you.
The NeTi’s functions are as follows:
1. Ne - external iNtuition
Ne is NeTi’s core function. They use it to find patterns and underlying principles, to see future possibilities, to construct theories and frameworks, and to form connections as they talk, write, or create. To others, Ne is what can make the NeTi seem like they have their head in the clouds, constantly having crazy ideas that don’t always seem in sync with reality. The rest of the functions below are said to "serve" the Ne. This means that the Ne way of doing things gets priority most of the time.
2. Ti - internal Thinking
Ti is what fuels the NeTi’s drive for knowledge and general focus on intellectual pursuits. It comes second in the “functional stack”, and it operates mostly in the background, doing analysis on the ideas that Ne seems to grasp out of thin air. It provides a logical framework and reference material to determine which ideas are logical and which are not. This is important as it can help to bring balance in response to especially fantastical ideas.
3. Fe - external Feeling
Fe is third, and is where the NeTi’s humanitarian side originates. In social situations, it can make them a more expressive, eloquent, and otherwise skilled conversationalist, to the point where convincing others to believe in their ideas can be quite easy to do. It is also a major cause behind their drive to use their intelligence and creative problem solving skills to help others and make the world a better place, rather than using them for purely selfish purposes.
4. Si - internal Sensing
Si is the NeTi’s last function. Because of this, it is inherently not as strong as the other functions. It operates subconsciously for the most part, and allows stores all the interesting facts and knowledge they gather in an organized way in their brain for future reference. People with Si first or second are really good at implementation and keeping a system running smoothly over long periods of time. Because Si is weakest for the NeTi, they may struggle with being consistent, reliable, and actually implementing their ideas. However, as they grow and develop, they often learn to overcome these weaknesses.
NeTi’s love thinking up new ideas and considering all the possibilities in any given situation. They learn about the world through observation and experimentation. According to Dario Nardi, Ph.D., Ne-dominant types are masters of trans-contextual thinking. This means that they can easily think about things across contexts.
From his book, Neuroscience of Personality:
“Regardless of the kind of stimulus that enters the brain -- sights, sounds, smell, sensation, or so forth -- the brain responds by rapidly processing that stimulus in multiple regions, including regions seemingly not applicable to the stimulus. For example, for most people, hearing the words ‘dog’ and ‘cat’ will evoke auditory regions...and perhaps some visual or memory regions...Perhaps we recall a beloved childhood pet. However, the Ne types get busy using all regions to tap relationships across situations, perhaps suddenly imagining a story about two brothers, one of whom is faithful and sociable (like a dog) while the other is independent and quiet (like a cat). They might wonder about dog and cat writing styles too!”
This ability to think outside the box and context of the current topic is key to the NeTi’s creativity. Since Ne is the priority, ideas are usually shared with the world first and then analyzed by Ti afterwards. As a result, some of their ideas can be very abstract and random and may not make sense if they haven’t been run through the Ti filter yet.
NeTi’s are constantly chasing new shiny ideas and studying fresh topics of interest. They derive satisfaction from learning about a huge variety of topics so they can use the information to fuel their ideas. The more diverse their learning is, the more likely it is that they can find a unique solution to a problem by pulling from their library of knowledge. They are commonly known as polymaths, or renaissance men/women because of the variety of topics they learn about. They generally prefer to obtain competence in many areas rather than mastering just one skill or area of expertise.
NeTi’s naturally come up with new ideas, create hypotheses, run experiments, and extract knowledge from their experiments. However, they don't necessarily do them in that order. Often they experiment first, and then draw a hypothesis from their experience. They may even experiment in their relationships to better understand the other person and how they should adapt to them.
Although Ne is excellent at coming up with new ideas, Si is last, which means that they can struggle to implement their ideas in a systematic way. High Si types are often able to easily perform tasks that require learning a detailed system (like grammar, accounting, or legal rules) or ones that are simply repetitive, like brushing one’s teeth, with a high level of consistency. It’s not uncommon for them to have regular routines in their lives by choice. NeTi’s however, might resist performing these kinds of tasks in any sort of consistent manner. Si tasks generally bore and irritate them because they don’t provide them with good ideas or mental stimulation.
Their ideas are more likely to reach the implementation stage if they feel like the idea will benefit others in a meaningful way. They generally do better when they avoid most of the things that require high attention to detail, mindless repetition or action, or rote memorization. Of course there are things that are personally worth the potential frustration or boredom that can come with doing Si tasks, like practicing to become a better musician. There are also certain things that ideally should not be avoided, like showering. In these cases, they may be able to think of ways to at least make the task less dull. It’s likely that with tasks like this, they will not follow a regular pattern. While an Si dominant type might shower every day at 7 am for 20 years, NeTi’s might end up showering twice in a single day, avoid showering for the next two, then shower at 5 pm, and the next day at 2 pm.
Although NeTi’s primarily value competence over mastery, they aren’t incapable of becoming experts. They are great at adapting to their present circumstances and generally feel comfortable not really knowing what their life will look like ten years from the present day. Often they fall into mastery through their various intellectual pursuits and adaptations, rather than mapping out a path from childhood to achieve a specific expert status.
There are times when they have multiple interests they’re trying to feed at once. They generally enjoy having a lot of variety available to them, especially if they have the ability to switch between interests at their whim, but this can easily get out of hand if there are many plates being spun and no reliable system to make sure things actually get accomplished. If the goal is simply to try things out and learn, this might be acceptable, but if it involves responsibility to others like completing a project for work, it can cause problems. While variety is good for them, when they become more distracted than productive, they might find it helpful to surround themselves with people who can take over some of the less interesting or more menial tasks.
NeTi’s get their ideas from the world around them and their ideas usually flow best when they have someone to bounce ideas off of. This is the nature of Ne and other external functions (denoted by the lowercase “e”) - they need interaction with the world to function optimally. This is a double-edged sword, as the outside world can also be highly distracting. Because of this, they tend to need alternating stages of input and output.
Input can come from almost anywhere. It may come in the form of observations, conversations with weird and fascinating humans, good books and articles, interesting assignments at work or even simple things like enjoying nature. While some ideas may come when they’re alone, having others to share their ideas with can provide useful refinement as well as input on whether the idea will make sense in the real world or not. They are less likely to feel fulfilled and be their best self if they spend a lot of time isolated from others.
It’s not always easy for them to find the right people to share their ideas with. They can be extremely abstract and often seem to spring up from nothing to outside observers, so it’s not always easy for other people to comprehend what they’re saying. They also tend to be impatient to get started on their ideas immediately after conceiving them, and they might be disappointed when others don’t immediately jump in to help them implement it.
NeTi’s really like their autonomy. Although they like working with other people on interesting ideas, they despise being micromanaged by someone they don’t respect and trust. They usually prefer to take on a challenge their own way, without the steps being pre-defined for them.
Ne’s outside-the-box thinking can lead to what others may see as disruptive behaviour. Often, if someone tries to make them do something one way, they’ll look for a different way. This usually isn’t an intentional rebellion. They look for new ways to do things because it’s more exciting than following conventional routes or just doing what they’ve done before. Their other functions all serve their drive to find new solutions to problems. Ti helps them objectively say whether their novel idea will actually be an improvement or not, while Fe reminds them to value others’ ideas as highly as their own. They also need Si to remind them that at times, the existing way might actually be better.
NeTi’s tend to be curious about people, but having to constantly care for others can drain them quickly. They love studying people and brainstorming with them, but their default is often to try and problem-solve for people when they’re upset rather than only listening to them. It can take some direct instruction from others before the NeTi learns what is appropriate in terms of responding to others who are in emotional pain. They may also start to feel uncomfortable around overly emotional people, and can have a strong desire for the other person to just feel better so things can be normal again.
Some NeTi’s have almost childlike emotional expression. They can be very playful and often reflect the emotions of those around them. Their Fe picks up on what others are feeling, and their Ne adapts to reflect it. They often use their mirroring and general playfulness and sense of humour to build rapport with people. However, it can be uncomfortable for them to be around very unexpressive people, because they’re not sure how to act or adapt without some kind of emotion to play off of.
They thrive in “chaotic” environments as they find them fun. It gives their Ne more interesting input to play with for ideas. It also gives them more information to look for patterns in and is more likely to be a positive space for new ideas to come forth, as opposed to Si environments which tend to be more conventional and traditional. As one NeTi said: “Entropy reigns supreme in our natural habitat.”
They may share things or say things that others would find inappropriate without realizing it at times. They can also use their ability to know what others are feeling for their own benefit - for good or bad. Although they might initially enjoy pushing people’s boundaries, as they develop their Si they become more aware of clear established boundaries others have, and will try to respect them. If an NeTi doesn’t see clearly defined boundaries, they may look for loopholes and find places they can push boundaries in order to explore and learn more.
NeTi’s care about others, but may not be exactly sure how to show it. As they get older and Fe develops more, it tends to make them quite squishy and warm towards the people they care about, and helps them avoid saying things that might offend people. It also drives them to care about humanity as a whole and to consider ways they might go about helping people.
The NeTi’s internal world is primarily driven by Ti. Ti is primed to make logical deductions and has a high value for knowledge and accuracy. It is always looking for the facts and the truth and it’s hungry for information. It is skilled at analyzing things and is always wondering how things work and why they work that way.
NeTi’s are constantly taking in information and turning it over in their minds, looking at it from every angle and thinking about how it relates to everything else they’ve learned. They regularly ask “how does this work?” and “why is it like this?” as their Ti filters and processes their discoveries to separate out what is useful or not useful, accurate or not accurate.
Although Ti is secondary, it can help direct the Ne to know where to look for the right information and to understand how their ideas could develop. Although Ne is driving the train, Ti can lay down the tracks so to speak to show what paths actually make sense to follow. Ne could go in any direction, so Ti helps it by saying “Out of all 360 degrees available to you, go any direction within this 15 degrees.” Ti also helps Ne stay on track as it can help the NeTi know when they are going too far off on a bunny trail that isn’t going to be useful in the end. Although Ne is always going to try and keep all the doors open, Ti can point out when a particular idea is not worth exploring.
NeTi’s don’t necessarily think that their ideas are perfect when they first state them. In fact at times, they may not think them through at all before sharing them, so others should be careful not to take their first whack at an idea as their best work. They need time to let their Ti work on it for accuracy, and their Si to take a quick swipe at the details for realism’s sake. Si tends to be the part of the them that is cautious and warns them about the dangers of the unknown or the practical requirements of the real world, while Ne might want to go out and try things even if they’re crazy or risky.
Ti delights in finding the truth. If a particular argument seems to lack accuracy, Ti will screen it for flaws and make the NeTi aware of them. Si will also usually attempt to specify the details of the flaw, but may not be able to completely break down the details as it’s not their core strength. In this case they can use external libraries, such as books, Google, or the expertise of others to get help with nailing down the pesky details.
When the NeTi is wrapped up in Ti analysis or concentration, the external world pales and disappears. They may become so engaged that they ignore physical stimuli like people talking to them or a ringing phone. It’s not that they can’t hear it necessarily, but their mind is very distant from the physical world in that moment, and it’s hard to return to it right away.
Because Si is the last function, NeTi’s can have a hard time dealing with tons of minute details or implementing their ideas. They usually have a lot more fun generating ideas than carrying them out. When it comes to productivity, they may feel disappointed in how little they do compared to the number of ideas they get if they try to implement everything themselves.
It can also be easy for them to forget to have a specific end goal for their lives. They often have a wide range of things they could do, but it can be hard to nail down and commit to accomplishing one thing in particular. When Si is not well developed yet, the NeTi may have a lot of trouble deciding that it’s worth it to commit to anything long-term. Their Ne loves it when they keep all their options open and doesn’t want to feel restricted. Once Si has been developed more, they can usually see that in certain circumstances, it’s beneficial or even necessary to make a long-term commitment in order for them to get what they want.
When Si isn’t being over-used elsewhere, it can work with Ti to create models and systems that are extremely useful to the NeTi (and often to others as well). Ti takes the information that Ne has gathered and the principles it has derived from experience, and designs a particular system around that principle that Si can follow. If the system is overly complicated, then Si will get too stressed out and they will give up on trying to follow it. This can happen because Ne enjoys chaos, doesn’t initially see that all the complications will be a problem, and it isn’t sure exactly what is necessary and unnecessary to the routine. Before they start to build simpler models that will actually work for them, they might need to observe or experience for themselves that overly complicated models aren’t very useful. This may sound odd, but building things that are simple to use often requires far more intelligent, complex work behind the scenes.
Because Si is last, in younger years when it’s not well developed it can cause some trouble for the NeTi. Although chores can be strongly disliked if someone else tries to put pressure on the NeTi to do them at a specific time, chores that they decide to complete on a whim can be relaxing because of their reliance on simple known routines. They can get really frustrated with maintenance when it feels unnecessary, so they tend to prefer getting involved in things they can do really well in one go, rather than having to constantly come back and be nitpicky about fixing little pieces that don’t really improve that overall state of things.
They may also resort to wearing the same outfit or eating the same food over and over again so they can rely on a minimal amount of Si. This lets them revert to a routine that has been internalized, as opposed to having to make decisions about a huge number of details on a daily basis. It can also be comforting to Si to go with what’s familiar and nostalgic in these situations. This can make the NeTi seem like they have a lack of fashion sense unless it’s something they care about and choose to intentionally invest in.
They may even get so absorbed by something fascinating that rest or nutrition is unintentionally forgotten because they’ve temporarily lost awareness regarding their physical needs.. This absorption can also lead to bumping into things or losing things (even things that might literally be in their pocket) because of a general forgetfulness regarding the presence of the physical world.
Many NeTi’s describe opening 10’s or even 100’s of tabs in their web browser and not reading the content in them, or having a hard time throwing things away because they think they might use it later. Ne likes keeping all the possibilities open and having weaker Si can mean that it’s hard to figure out which pieces are more useful than others.
NeTi’s generally don’t do well with a lot of detail. They prefer to look at big picture connections rather than single concrete details. This can cause them to get easily distracted or forget what they’re doing in the middle of a task if they go too far off the main path. This is why they thrive when they can be the ideas person and let other people handle the details of implementation.
Once Si becomes more developed, NeTi’s tend to become more productive and can be more satisfied with what they’ve done in their day. They can take an idea and immediately get to work on it instead of keeping it in the idea stage forever. They can also begin to find ways to relax through Si tasks like doing dishes or cooking. The predictability and physical aspect of the process is what the Si especially appreciates. It can also assist them in realistically seeing the steps necessary to accomplish their ideas.