6 Things Writers Should Know About the Myers-Briggs Distinction P(erception) vs J(udging)

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Judgers thrive on routine, schedule, and structure.

This is the last post in a short series I put together for writers on Myers-Briggs personality distinctions, especially for those writers who aren’t too familiar with it, with the goal of helping character development.

This article will focus on (J)udging versus (P)erception.

Introversion and Extroversion deal with how we get and use our energy. Intuition and Sensing deal with how we gather and process information. Thinking and Feeling deal with how we structure our inner life. Perception and Judging deal with how we structure our outer life.

  1. Perception and Judging are not about being observant or being critical of things. Rather, they deal with how we order and arrange the exterior things in life. Perceptive people are more spontaneous and like freedom to change what they need to change. The farther along you are on toward the Judging side of the spectrum, the more you prefer order, structure, and routine.
  2. Still, a successful “perceptive” character will probably be observant. This is because perceptive folks like to create a plan as they go and adapt their approach according to changing circumstances, rather than go in with a set plan and hit the ground running. To do this successfully, it helps to have to be observant, for that’s the best way to judge what the changing circumstances are. Judgers like rules and procedure. They feel grounded and settled when they have rules. Perceptive folks are more likely to feel that rules are counterproductive and prohibit people from doing what needs to be done.
  3. A “judging” character may ask a lot of questions and/or demonstrate that they feel uncomfortable in strange or uncertain circumstances. Remember, judgers like routine and structure. They like to feel in control and they want to know what they can expect, if possible. When this is denied them, they tend not to feel “on their game” and they don’t like it. It’s not that they can’t be successful or they shut down, but it’s not their preferred mode of operation and their results may not be 100%.
  4. A perceptive character might not like school or any job that is “boring” like school was. This has nothing to do with intelligence or a love of learning, though. I’m a judger, so I loved school. I can’t imagine a very perceptive person would like a traditional classroom nearly as much as I did, though. A perceptive” person is one who thrives on living in the flow, on the excitement of responding to new development after new development. They are active, and a traditional classroom forces you to be more passive.
  5. A good way to demonstrate the difference may be to consider two doctors. Is your character a doctor, but you’re not sure where to place his or her specialty? A judger, as a doctor, might like to be a dermatologist, or a general practitioner in family medicine who has set hours and scheduled appointments. A very perceptive person, as a doctor, might love the ER, or might be a trauma surgeon. The challenges of the ER and the need for spontaneity and adaptability would suit the strengths of perception.
  6. Perception/Judging may be the easiest trait to “work on.” By that I mean (in my opinion) it’s the easiest pair in which we (or characters) can consciously strengthen our weaker side. It feels like it’s a more complex procedure to change how we gain energy. Or to change our value system or how much we innately trust our gut instincts. Those things can change over time, of course. But don’t you think it’s a simpler matter to force ourselves, if we like routine, to be spontaneous, or to learn to stick to a routine if we’d prefer not to? Not easier as an act of will, just a simpler, more obvious, more straightforward process. That has to do with what perception and judging are all about: how we interact with the exterior world.