Aaron Harburg

Judging vs. being judgmental – MBTI

I would like to demonstrate how getting a “J” in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator does not actually make one more “judgmental” and demonstrate that in some respects a “TJ” can be much less judgmental than an “FP”. 

Firstly, let’s analyze what a judgement is. Fundamentally it is an act of the intellect whereby some object of thought is determined to have or be a certain way. Thus X = Y is a judgement. Or an elephant is grey. Or that plant is dead. 

Secondly, we need to distinguish between a judgement in the general sense and being “judgmental”. When one is “judgmental” in this respect it indicates that they are making a judgement about their relative goodness according to their values AND/OR making a judgement that they have no right to make. For example: I see a man buying twelve cases of Bud Light. I can immediately judge that he is a plebeian in his beer tastes and therefore of lesser value to me as someone I may want to interact with. In this regard there are (at least) three errors. 1) The presumption he is buying the case for himself. 2) Assuming the former placing his tastes above what could be many other more important values or 3) Improperly using it as an indication of what other attributes he may have on the basis of the beer alone.

 When Jesus said “judge not lest you be judged” he was talking about judging others in their relation to God and level of moral virtue.Not being privy to the hearts of others, none of us can make that judgement. Furthermore, the priority should be on judging where we are morally developed before judging others. He was probably not saying to never make any judgments of any kind because that’s obviously impossible. 

Thirdly, we need to distinguish between these two and the “judging” used in MBTI. In the MBTI this would be better termed “categorization.” It’s simply making a judgement about where it fits in existing systems. The distinction can be seen between a J and a P walking through a forest. The P sees some red leaves and thinks “ooo red leaves” and more or less leaves it at that. The J will see the red leaves and immediately categorize it in pre-existing boxes, if they are knowledgeable, perhaps within the species of tree. 

Fourth, we need to highlight that ALL emotions are on some level “instantaneous” judgments about how “good” an object is to oneself. Our corporeal nature instinctively responds on a visceral gut level to stimuli based off of pre-existing conditioning and intellectual judgments. This can be a non-conscious process. Emotions make that conscious. For example, you walk into a room and you smell a cologne of an ex, you may instantly feel sad. Sadness = loss of good. Or you might walk into a store and hear a siren then feeling fear. Fear = evil is near. I could go through all primary emotions, but you probably get the point.

Fifth, we need to distinguish between “F” and “T”. If the dominant function is one of thinking, either introverted or extroverted, one’s value judgement about something is more remote. A thinker will first try to understand WHAT an object is before deciding whether it is good. Whereas an “F” experiences an immediate visceral judgement about the value of some object without necessarily understanding it. Simultaneously, they will interpret statements made by TJs as being judgmental, when in reality the TJ is more than likely just stating a fact. However, since the “F” is primarily looking at the value of things to themselves, they will read into it as indicating some sort of value judgement. For example: T says: “That person is obese” the F will respond: “Don’t be so mean!”

Finally, from this it is clear why being a “TJ” can make one less judgmental than an “FP." An INFP for example, who’s dominant function is iNtroverted Feeling, will consult how they feel about something first. Which, as we have established, is an instantaneous felt judgement about how "good” something is in relationship to the subject. It is for this reason that they often can come across as quite judgmental. Now before all you “Fs” you get your panties in a bundle, I want to point out a few things:

1) MBTI is an indication of your present tendencies, not a determiner of your behavior. It is reflective, not predictive. 

2) This tendency is not necessarily “bad” assuming you have a moral compass and your emotions are habituated properly. Perhaps those felt judgments are accurate.

3) This is not to say that TJs are never judgmental. God knows we can be and often are. The difference is it is usually reasoned out prejudice which can be more dangerous. 

4) All these are generalizations, moment to moment, periods of time, individuals etc… can provide countless contraries to this. 

5) Suspending judgement in all respects is something everyone could grow in.