Are you looking to understand more about the ESTP personality type? If so, learning about their cognitive functions is a great next step. ESTPs are known for their dynamic, action-oriented approach to life—but there’s much more to ESTPs than just that. In this guide, we’ll dive into ESTP cognitive functions, which can give you valuable insight into how people of this personality type think.
But first, what are cognitive functions? Cognitive functions are modes of processing information and making decisions based on your personality type. They form the basis of how we think and draw conclusions.
Each personality type primarily uses four cognitive functions, and the position of each one impacts how each person uses it. This order is sometimes referred to as a “function stack.”
The ESTP cognitive function stack is as follows:
1. Dominant cognitive function = Extraverted Sensing (Se). ESTPs use this function to take in information using their five senses.
2. Auxiliary cognitive function = Introverted Thinking (Ti). ESTPs use this function to analyze data and draw logical conclusions.
3. Tertiary cognitive function = Extraverted Feeling (Fe). ESTPs use this function to understand other people and navigate relationships.
4. Inferior cognitive function = Introverted Intuition (Ni). ESTPs use this function to make sense of information through pattern recognition and convergent thinking.
Delving into the ESTP cognitive functions
Let’s look at each of the ESTP cognitive functions in more detail.
1. Dominant cognitive function: Extraverted Sensing (Se)
Extraverted Sensing is an ESTP’s dominant cognitive function, which means it’s the most influential in their function stack. It’s the cognitive function ESTPs use most often and with the greatest ease.
Extraverted Sensing is one of the processes that help us understand the world around us. It’s about experiencing and perceiving the external world in the present and it involves taking in information using our five senses. If Extraverted Sensing was a question, it would be: what am I physically experiencing right now?
This cognitive function is all about tangible information. It’s associated with action, movement, and the “here and now.” As a result, ESTPs tend to be highly aware of their surroundings. They usually have the ability to notice even very subtle changes in their environment. In addition, they have confidence in their ability to react as things happen, which is partly why they don’t feel a need to plan too far into the future.
ESTPs are known for being fun-loving and adventurous, and these qualities are heavily influenced by their Extraverted Sensing cognitive function. ESTPs love trying new things and experiencing new sensations. This is because they need to be constantly engaging with their physical environment in order to feel satisfied, and this stems from their Extraverted Sensing function.
People of the ESTP personality type are often seen as risk-takers because they aren’t afraid to push their physical limits in order to experience new sensations and encounters. This is how they feel energized, and it can give them a sense of accomplishment. ESTPs have confidence in their physical abilities — they are naturally agile and quick on their feet.
Extraverted Sensing also plays a role in why ESTPs enjoy sensory pleasures and experiences. ESTPs love good food, playing sports, and attending social events. In some cases, this can manifest in an unhealthy way, such as overindulging in drugs or alcohol. They have a strong desire to live life to the fullest, but this can lead to impulsive decisions and risky behavior.
ESTPs are all about instant results. They don’t want to wait for next week, tomorrow, or even later today — they want to act now. This is related to their dominant Extraverted Sensing cognitive function, which is all about the present moment rather than the future or the past. ESTPs are usually quite impulsive and can sometimes make decisions without thinking them through, which can cause problems.
Extraverted Sensing is about taking in information using your five senses, and, as a result, ESTPs often appreciate aesthetic beauty — more than most other personality types. ESTPs tend to be very visual and often seek out places and experiences that are visually pleasing and uplifting. They usually appreciate art, music, and nature too.
ESTPs are natural “doers.” While they might not enjoy the strategy and planning side of things, they are great at bringing ideas to life. In particular, they are often exceptionally talented at practical tasks. ESTPs tend to be skilled in areas such as woodwork, mechanics, and home renovation — anything that involves using their hands.
2. Auxiliary cognitive function: Introverted Thinking (Ti)
Introverted Thinking is an ESTP’s auxiliary cognitive function, which means that it’s the second most influential in their function stack. It’s another area where their strengths lie, but not to the same extent as Extraverted Sensing.
Introverted Thinking is one of the processes that help us make decisions based on our inner world. It’s about taking into account your inner framework of logic and web of knowledge. If Introverted Thinking was a question, it would be: does this make sense to me?
This cognitive function is all about having an understanding of how the world works. It’s associated with ensuring that data and information are accurate. As a result, ESTPs tend to be logical and realistic. They usually have a talent for problem-solving, and they like to know the reasoning behind things.
ESTPs use Introverted Thinking to analyze and evaluate situations, looking for flaws in arguments or potential solutions. In particular, they use it in conjunction with Extraverted Sensing to pick up on inconsistencies or changes in their physical environment. If ESTPs notice something amiss, they use Introverted Thinking to try and work out the reason behind it.
One of the greatest strengths of ESTPs is that they have a knack for finding practical solutions to real-world problems. They are naturals at troubleshooting and figuring out how things fit together. Seeing as they generally use this function with Extraverted Sensing, they prefer to tackle problems head-on and learn through trial and error. After all, Extraverted Sensing is all about the present moment and immediate results.
Introverted Thinking is about understanding how things work rather than efficiently completing tasks. In ESTPs, this manifests as a practical approach to problem-solving and decision-making. ESTPs draw relevant facts from their environment, see how it fits in with what they already know, and then make a logical decision.
Some personality types who use Introverted Thinking take time to pour over a problem and understand all the nuances. ESTPs, on the other hand, prefer to jump right in and figure it out as they go along. They are known for making decisions on the spot and moving quickly. Otherwise, they quickly become bored.
In fact, ESTPs do some of their best analysis when they are on their feet in action. Think about a football player making split-second decisions in the heat of a game about the angle and speed to kick the ball. This is a great example of Introverted Thinking and Extraverted Sensing working together, quite literally in action.
This combination of functions means that ESTPs often enjoy adventure sports, gambling, and other activities that involve a balance of physicality and analysis. ESTPs often thrive in these situations as they can take advantage of their ability to analyze real-world situations at lightning speed.
ESTPs need flexibility in their life in order to feel their best, and this is another area where Extraverted Sensing plays a role. They need to be able to move around, explore, and take in their environment. They can struggle in monotonous and structured environment environments, as this goes against their natural instincts. They need to have the freedom to do things their own way and explore the world around them in their own time. Being booked up with little time for spontaneity is a sure way to make an ESTP feel stressed and restricted.
3. Tertiary cognitive function: Extraverted Feeling (Fe)
Extraverted Feeling is an ESTP’s tertiary cognitive function, which means that it’s the third most prominent in their function stack. Our tertiary cognitive function tends to be noticeably less developed than our first two.
Extraverted Feeling is one of the processes that help us make decisions based on the outer world. It’s about taking into account the emotions of others and what’s best for the group. If Extraverted Feeling was a question, it would be: how do others feel about this?
This cognitive function is all about understanding people’s feelings, social dynamics, and hierarchies. It’s associated with picking up on social subtleties, and it has the desire to maintain harmony. Since ESTPs use Extraverted Feeling lower down in their function stack, these desires and abilities are less prominent than in other personality types who use it as their dominant function.
ESTPs have a natural ability to charm and make people feel comfortable in their presence. This stems from their tertiary Extraverted Feeling, meaning ESTPs have a knack for reading people. The mix of Extraverted Sensing with Introverted Thinking and Extraverted Feeling gives ESTPs an uncanny ability to pick up on what is going on in social situations.
ESTPs use their Extraverted Sensing to take in information, such as people’s body language, then their Introverted Thinking to make sense of it, and then their Extraverted Feeling to respond appropriately. It’s the perfect recipe for ESTPs to navigate social situations. They often tailor their communication style to the person they’re talking to.
Extraverted Feeling also manifests in ESTPs as a deep desire to help others. In particular, as ESTPs get older, they might find themselves drawn to certain causes that they feel will make the world a better place. Healthy, well-developed ESTPs value fairness, justice, and equality, even if it isn’t always obvious from their actions. They are the kind of people who will stick up for the underdog.
Despite being led by logic, ESTPs are innately social creatures due to the influence of their Extraverted Feeling function. They often feel uncomfortable or bored if they spend too much time alone. While their Extraverted Sensing prompts them to take action, their Extraverted Feeling motivates them to seek the company of others. This is why ESTPs enjoy team sports and group activities in particular.
However, as Extraverted Feeling is in the tertiary position in an ESTP’s function stack, it can also have some detrimental effects. ESTPs can be overly concerned about what others think of them, even though they’d hat to admit it. They might have a strong need for external validation, more so than you might expect. It’s worth noting that ESTPs can also struggle to understand and express their emotions.
While Extraverted Feeling is a key cognitive function for ESTPs, they prioritize Introverted Thinking. This means ESTPs tend to be much more direct and pragmatic than personality types who use Extraverted Feeling as one of their top two functions. At times, ESTPs can be seen as blunt and unemotional. That’s not to say ESTPs don’t care about people, just that their logical side usually takes precedence.
ESTPs require more energy to use their Extraverted Feeling than their top two functions because it doesn’t come as naturally to them. As a result, they might appear to have an “on-off” switch when it comes to picking up on people’s emotions. If they are going through a stressful period, ESTPs might miss or misinterpret important social cues because they don’t have the emotional bandwidth to process them.
4. Inferior cognitive function: Introverted Intuition (Ni)
Introverted Intuition is an ESTP’s inferior cognitive function, which means they can struggle to access it easily. Using your inferior cognitive function as a strength is possible, but not for a prolonged period.
Introverted Intuition is one of the processes that help us understand our inner world. It’s about using intuitive internal analysis to understand how things work. If Introverted Intuition was a question, it would be: what is your gut instinct?
This cognitive function is all about taking information and making sense of it through pattern recognition and convergent thinking. It’s associated with relying on intuition and being able to envision how future events could unfold. However, it’s the inferior function of an ESTP, so it tends to manifest more as a weakness than as a strength.
One of the key ways that inferior Introverted Intuition manifests for ESTPs is a lack of foresight. Introverted Intuition involves running scenarios of how things may play out in the future and using this information to plan accordingly. This isn’t something that comes naturally to ESTPs. Instead, they take more of an “act now, think later” approach. As a result, they have a tendency to jump into situations without considering the consequences.
In addition, ESTPs don’t tend to look for the meaning behind things. Instead, they prefer to take what they see at face value. Again, this is due to the influence of inferior Introverted Intuition, which is associated with making connections between seemingly disparate ideas.
Taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture isn’t an ESTP’s strong suit. They prefer to focus on the here and now. This means that they can end up making poor decisions because they aren’t able to see how it fits into their long-term goals. It can be quite daunting for ESTPs to understand how all the pieces fit together.
Introverted Intuition involves abstractions, and ESTPs just aren’t comfortable with such a hypothetical approach. Instead, they need concrete evidence in order to be able to make decisions and understand why something is happening. There is a certain irony in that ESTPs are comfortable in situations that most people would find intimidating but can struggle when it comes to abstract concepts.
ESTPs also just don’t see the point in obsessing over theories and speculation. After all, who knows what will happen in the future? ESTPs prefer to take life as it comes and deal with situations when they arise. With a strong desire to live life to the fullest, they would always prefer to be doing something fun than planning out the next 15 years of their life.
Final thoughts on ESTP cognitive functions
So there we have it, an in-depth look at ESTP cognitive functions. If you’re an ESTP yourself or if you’re getting to know one, this guide will help you understand how people of this personality type process information and why they act in certain ways.
ESTPs are fun, dynamic individuals with a lot to offer, but like everyone, they’re not perfect. Understanding cognitive functions is a great way to gain insight into the strengths and weaknesses of this personality type.
Finally, don’t forget to share this post with your friends and followers – knowledge is power, and learning more about cognitive functions can help us to understand ourselves and those around us on a deeper level.
If you enjoyed this article, you might also like our blog post about ESTP compatibility and relationships.