Steven Hudak

The Emotional Cognitive Function (ECF) theory combines and extends concepts derived from Carl Jung’s theory of Psychological Types, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), and Robert Plutchik’s Psychoevolutionary Theory of Basic Emotion. ECF connects the abstract concepts of MBTI preference and Jungian cognitive functions to the more observable concepts of behavior and emotions by proposing that the 8 cognitive functions of Jung’s theory are an advancement of the 8 primal emotions of Plutchik’s theory. It also extends the type dynamics of MBTI and Jung’s theory by proposing that there are 8 roles within a personality (4 subconscious and 4 conscious), each filled by a single emotion. The 16 Myers-Briggs type personalities are reinterpreted as specific specializations of emotions to roles within a personality.

According to Wikipedia:
    Carl Jung’s theory of Psychological Types holds that there are 4 main functions of consciousness: Sensation, Intuition, Thinking, and Feeling. Sensation and Intuition are perceiving functions, while Thinking and Feeling are judging functions. Further, each function is modified by two main attitudes: extraversion and introversion, resulting in 8 possible psychological types:

    Extraverted Sensation
    Introverted Sensation
    Extraverted Intuition
    Introverted Intuition
    Extraverted Thinking
    Introverted Thinking
    Extroverted Feeling
    Introverted Feeling [1]

    Jung also posited that the functions formed a hierarchy within a person’s personality–the most important function is referred to as the “dominant”, with the remaining three filling the roles as “auxiliary”, “tertiary”, and “inferior” functions. [2]

    The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment is a psychometric questionnaire designed to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. These preferences were extrapolated from Carl Jung’s theory of Psychological Types. Jung’s typological model regards psychological type as similar to left or right handedness: individuals are either born with, or develop, certain preferred ways of perceiving and deciding. The MBTI sorts some of these psychological differences into four opposite pairs, or dichotomies, with a resulting 16 possible psychological types. The 4 pairs of preferences or dichotomies are:

    Extraversion (E) – (I) Introversion
    Sensing (S) – (N) Intuition
    Thinking (T) – (F) Feeling
    Judging (J) – (P) Perception

    The 16 types are typically referred to by an abbreviation of four letters—the initial letters of each of their four type preferences (except in the case of intuition, which uses the abbreviation N to distinguish it from Introversion). For instance:

    ESTJ: extroversion (E), sensing (S), thinking (T), judgment (J)
    INFP: introversion (I), intuition (N), feeling (F), perception (P)

This method of abbreviation is applied to all 16 types. [3]

    Robert Plutchik’s psychoevolutionary theory of emotion is one of the most influential classification approaches for general emotional responses. He considered there to be eight primary emotions—anger, fear, sadness, disgust, surprise, anticipation, trust, and joy. Plutchik proposed that these ‘basic’ emotions are biologically primitive and have evolved in order to increase the reproductive fitness of the animal. Plutchik argues for the primacy of these emotions by showing each to be the trigger of behavior with high survival value, such as the way fear inspires the fight-or-flight response. [4]

The major hypotheses of Emotional Cognitive Function theory are:

1. There are 8 basic primal emotions: Fear, Anticipation, Sadness, Disgust, Anger, Surprise, Joy, and Trust. The emotions have evolved to produce behavior beneficial to survival in 8 commonly recurring situations in the life of a human.

Each primal emotion is associated with a stimulus->action cycle of the form [5]:

(Stimulus Event) -> (Cognitive Appraisal) -> (Subjective Reaction) -> (Behavioral Reaction)

These 4 terms will be used interchangeably with the following shorter and more convenient terms:

(Element) -> (Association) -> (Dominant) -> (Completion)

The Dominant (Subjective Reaction) corresponds with the traditional definition of an emotion. Emotional Cognitive Function theory makes some changes to Plutchik’s stimulus->action cycles. The altered cycles are listed in the following image:


Each row is independent of the others and describes the stimulus->action cycle associated with a single emotion.

2. Each of the 8 cognitive functions of Jung’s theory is an extension into the cerebral cortex of a specific primal emotion that originates in the limbic system. The function expands the memory and intelligence of the emotion, however it still retains the same basic goals and behavior of the emotion stimulus->action cycle. The correspondence of emotion to cognitive function is:

Fear           <=> Introverted Thinking
Anticipation <=> Introverted Intuition
Sadness     <=> Introverted Feeling
Disgust       <=> Introverted Sensing

Anger         <=> Extroverted Thinking
Surprise      <=> Extroverted Intuition
Joy            <=> Extroverted Feeling
Trust          <=> Extroverted Sensing

Notice that the emotions associated with introverted functions have a negative connotation while those associated with extroverted functions have a positive one. From a behavioral standpoint, the introverted emotions result in moving away from the original stimulus, while the positive emotions result in moving toward the original stimulus. The goal of introverted emotions are to prevent bad things from happening, while the goal of extroverted emotions are to cause good things to happen.

It’s immediately obvious that fear, sadness, and disgust are negative, and joy and trust are positive. Anger is often considered bad due to its relationship with attacking, however, from the attacker’s point of view they are in a positive position: there is no imminent threat so if they did nothing then nothing bad would happen, but attacking causes the removal of an obstacle which is a good thing. Additionally, anger causes one to move toward the obstacle, suggesting a positive connotation. With fear, on the other hand, a threat is imminent and escaping prevents a bad thing from happening by causing one to move away form the threat. That anticipation is negative and surprise is positive deserves additional explanation. From a survival standpoint, it is beneficial to gain accurate knowledge of one’s environment. Observing that part of the environment has a tendency to move in a clear direction will trigger understanding which triggers anticipation. Once the direction is fully anticipated it is no longer providing a benefit to survival (in terms of gaining more knowledge). Thus, the behavioral response is to further explore the environment in search of that which has not already been understood. Anticipation results in moving away from that which has been understood, suggesting a negative connotation for it. On the other hand, if an unexpected event causes significant confusion then it will trigger surprise and, in the interest of gaining knowledge of one’s environment, the natural response is to examine the cause of the confusion, which brings one closer to it.

3. A personality consists of the interaction of 8 sub-parts referred to as Roles. Each role within a personality is filled by a single emotional cognitive function. Thus, each person uses all 8 emotional cognitive functions, and each emotional cognitive function specializes into a single cognitive role. Four of the 8 roles are conscious, while the other 4 are subconscious. The 4 roles of the conscious and subconscious are self-similar to the stimulus->action cycle of a basic emotion. More specifically, the conscious roles are: (Element) -> (Association) -> (Dominant) -> (Completion), and similarly for the subconscious. The arrows indicate that thought naturally flows in that direction. Additionally, thought naturally flows from the subconscious to the conscious. The following correspondence exists between the conscious roles and the four functions of Jung’s or MBTI theory:

Element (Stimulus Event)           <=> Inferior*
Association (Cognitive Appraisal) <=> Tertiary
Dominant (Subjective Reaction)  <=> Dominant
Completion (Behavioral Reaction) <=> Auxiliary

*The traditional concept of an Inferior function in Jung’s or Myers and Briggs’ theory is more closely related to the Inferior personality Mode, which is a non-Dominant personality mode triggered when receiving an overly strong stimulus. However, the Element role of the Dominant personality and the Dominant role of the Inferior personality are filled by the same emotion.

4. The primary purpose of the subconscious roles is to control attention. The subconscious determines which object or event the conscious will focus on. Whatever emotional cognitive functions specialize into the conscious roles, the corresponding positive or negative emotional cognitive function will specialize into the corresponding subconscious roles. Thus, a person’s attention is naturally drawn to people (or objects anthropomorphized to have emotions) whose conscious emotions oppose their own conscious emotions. For example, a Fear dominant personality has an Anger subconscious dominant and so they focus their attention on conscious Anger dominants (either an Anger dominant person or an object that has been anthropomorphized to have emotional behavior) and Anger dominants will focus on Fear dominants.

5. After the subconscious determines which object to focus on, the conscious begins processing the object:

The element role identifies the object, and how the object is identified depends on which emotion specializes into the element role. For example, a person with joy specialized into their element role attempts to classify objects by the degree to which they represent a gain. Objects which naturally fit into this classification are easily identified and generate significant interest. Objects which fit more naturally into other types of elements, such as a threat, are not easily classified by a gain element and are likely ignored unless the stimulus is strong enough to cause the person to shift out of their dominant personality mode.

The association role adds depth to the object identification. It determines how the object relates to the self, and the degree to which the object represents something good or bad. It is closely related to a person’s sense of morality. For example, if a person’s trust emotion specializes into the association role, then they will highly value friendly behavior from all people. An overt violation of friendly behavior causes a very negative friendly-association, and will upset such a person to a degree that people who have different emotions specialized to their association role cannot fully understand.

The dominant role is the most powerful, conscious, and self aware of all the roles. It is the clear leader of the personality, and while it can temporarily defer to other roles during extreme stimulus events, it invariably reestablishes its dominance. The primary purpose of the dominant role is to connect associations with the appropriate completions. To accomplish this feat the dominant needs a keen understanding of potential positive and negative feedback from the environment, the ability to simulate the results of actions before taking them, and an ability to balance short-term and long-term planning for goal oriented behavior.

The completion is the culmination of the conscious thought into a physical action. While the dominant role connects associations to appropriate completions, the completion role determines the precise form and execution of the actions. When the environment dictates that the ideal form and execution of a behavior matches with a specific emotion, people who have that emotion specialized to their completion role will have a significant advantage. The same people will struggle in situations that call for completions of emotions other than their own specialization.

6. While there are many potential ways to arrange the eight emotion-functions into eight roles (8! = 40,320), only 16 different combinations are observed in humans. These correspond with the 16 Myers-Briggs types. It is not known precisely why only 16 types exist, however, some pairs of emotions naturally oppose each other while others naturally work together. Because each emotion specializes into just one role, restricting opposing emotions from close interaction or requiring natural pairs to work together suggests a large reduction in the number of possible combinations.

The 16 observed combinations of roles are described in the following diagram, along with their corresponding Myers-Briggs type. Arrows indicate natural flow of thought, and conscious dominant emotions are bolded and start with a capital letter:

Since each emotion specializes into a single role for each person, the eight different emotions must interact together to accomplish appropriate reactions to stimuli. This results in more complex, balanced, and harder to predict behavior than that which results from the basic primal stimulus->response cycle of a single emotion. Element roles and completion roles always are either both extroverted/positive or both introverted/negative. This ensures a negative stimulus triggers a negative moving away response while a positive stimulus triggers a positive moving toward response.

1. Psychological Types. (2013, March 17). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 02:57, December 26, 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Psychological_Types&oldid=544910160
2. Jungian cognitive functions. (2013, November 20). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 02:58, December 26, 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jungian_cognitive_functions&oldid=582540158
3. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. (2013, December 19). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 02:59, December 26, 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Myers-Briggs_Type_Indicator&oldid=586835950
4. Robert Plutchik. (2013, November 29). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 02:59, December 26, 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Robert_Plutchik&oldid=583845564
5. Drews, Markus. (2007). “Robert Plutchik’s Psychoevolutionary Theory of Basic Emotions.” University of Applied Sciences Postdam, Germany. Retrieved from http://www.markusdrews.de/Plutchiks.Emotionstheorie.PLAKAT.pdf
6. Jung, Carl G. (1971). Psychological Types. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-01813-8.
7. Myers, Isabel Briggs; Mary H. McCaulley. (1985). Manual: A Guide to the Development and Use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (2nd ed.). Palo Alto, California: Consulting Psychologists Press. ISBN 0-89106-027-8.
8. Plutchik, Robert. (1980). Emotion: A Psychoevolutionary Synthesis. New York: Harper and Row. ISBN 0-06-045235-8.



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