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5 ESTJ Cognitive Functions Explained

The ESTJ personality tends to uphold tradition and morals making them a loyal and candor personality type. In this post about 5 ESTJ Cognitive Functions, we assess how ESTJ people view life and act in different situations.

As a type focused on maintaining tradition, the ESTJ detests chaos and will do what they can to garner control of a situation and instate order. That being said, this personality type can become too focused on order and find it difficult to let go. To fully understand the ESTJ or any personality type for that matter, one must understand their cognitive functions.

5 ESTJ Cognitive Functions Explained

Cognitive functions are how a personality type will assess, intake, and execute information and decisions. Whether these functions are extraverted, meaning they affect the outside, or introverted, meaning they are directed inward is also very important to these functions. Let us take a further look at five ESTJ functions that will help us understand this personality at a deeper level.

5 ESTJ Cognitive Functions

Each personality type has four cognitive functions and typically a type can be referred to by its two functions. In the case of the ESTJ personality type, their two top functions are extraverted thinking and introverted sensing, so they would be referred to as TeSi.

Also, the types of functions dictate what they influence. For instance, thinking and feeling functions both affect decision-making, whereas intuition and sensing affect how a personality type will process information.

The order that the cognitive functions will be discussed reflects the importance of their role in the ESTJ personality type. Listed from most important and dominant to the inferior, their placement affects how much impact they truly have.

#1 Extraverted Thinking or Te

The first and most dominant function is extraverted thinking, also referred to as Te. This is the function that determines how the ESTJ personality type will interact with their environment. Te is focused on order, control, and logic. This tends to describe the average ESTJ, especially since this personality is all about efficiency and effectiveness.

Given that this function is based around logic and rationality, when it comes to decision-making they rely heavily on those qualities. They become more concerned with making what seems the most beneficial decision but don’t care to waste time dwelling on what decision to make. This can be a beneficial function when emotions need to be put aside, as the ESTJ won’t even consider emotions to make a decision.

This personality type makes excellent leaders as they can create fast resolutions, however, if they are not careful ESTJs can appear to be insensitive and stubborn. The fact that they do not wish to dwell on one situation for too long, this personality type can get in the habit of jumping to conclusions without assessing all the possible facts.

However, because they can be rash does not mean that they do not hold rationality and logic at high standards, because they do. They prefer learning about facts rather than fixating on hypotheticals.

#2 Introverted Sensing or Si

The next cognitive function and the second most prominent function in an ESTJ is introverted sensing or Si. This function is focused on information and specifically what information they deem important. Having Si as their second top function makes the ESTJ great at recollecting details from their memories. They typically utilize their memories of their past experiences to make calculated decisions for their future.

This function is directed inward rather than outwardly, meaning they are more focused on patterns and habits in their daily life. This personality type tends to become fixated on frameworks that they deem effective and successful. Although this can be beneficial when it comes to stability, it can also hinder them to other possibilities or methods. This type tends to be quite stubborn when it comes to change in their routines.

Similarly, it is also difficult for the ESTJ type to change their minds regarding their morals and ideology. Once they have found an environment that is functioning they get comfortable and it becomes difficult for them to want to seek out something different.

#3 Extraverted Intuition or Ne

The ESTJs third cognitive function is extraverted intuition or Ne. This function tends to focus on focus on the exploration of new ideologies and creating new experiences. Extraverted intuition promotes creativity and new perspectives, but being that this is the third cognitive function, and therefore not a dominant one, it can create conflict within the ESTJ.

It has already been established that this personality type thrives in routines they have established, however, Ne inspires them to explore outside of those routines and beliefs. These two functions can clash and cause uncertainty as this personality type attempts to make sense of new ideas presented before them while still trying to keep hold of their current beliefs.

That being said, when Ne is able to function without conflict, it allows the ESTJ to find even more patterns and relationships within their environment. It allows for more objective views that might have not been possible before. 

#4 Introverted Feeling or Fi

As the last function, introverted feeling, or Fi, is the least developed within the ESTJ personality. Generally, the introverted feeling is the function that assists a personality type in deciding where their beliefs and morals align to certain situations.

We briefly mentioned how the ESTJs are not emotional beings when it comes to making decisions however this changes if Fi becomes well developed. Fi encourages the ESTJ to assess situations or obstacles through an emotional lens rather than a rational one–this is typically described as their “gut feeling.”

However, as it has been established, being the inferior function, the introverted feeling is the most underdeveloped function within the ESTJ personality. If it remains like that the ESTJ fails to gain control of their emotions. 

Now just because we keep describing ESTJs as rational beings who are not in full control of their emotions does not mean they are emotionless or reckless. Although there are instances where they might hurt another person’s feelings with their bluntness if they truly feel they have hurt someone they will try to rectify the situation.

As mentioned earlier in this ESTJ Cognitive Functions post, ESTJ folks tend to ignore their emotions because it is not part of their dominant functions to be so open about their fears and aspirations. Although they might struggle to communicate does not mean that they are emotionless robots.

Bonus Function:

#5 The Shadow Functions

Although the shadow functions of a personality type are not the same as their cognitive functions, they are just as equally important as they present themselves when an individual is under immense pressure. A way to understand shadow functions is to think of the complete opposite of the cognitive ones, meaning there are also four functions. They tend to reveal themselves through the subconscious of the ESTJ and are therefore thought of as “dark.”

Since they operate in the subconscious these functions are not always best developed and sometimes they work to keep the ESTJ ego in check.

For example, the first opposing function to the dominant cognitive one is introverted thinking or Ti. This function mostly causes conflict as it ends to challenge those around them that might not share the same values as the ESTJ, or it can even create doubt within the ESTJ.

The next opposing (shadow) function is extraverted sensing which causes a lot of self-judgment when it presents itself. The ESTJ may begin to become overly critical of their habits–like sticking to routines–and create an even more stressful environment. If extraverted sensing manifests in a positive way it will usually allow the personality type to make efficient decisions while taking into account surrounding factors.

Next is introverted intuition or Ni, which can be helpful to the personality type. In essence, Ni has the ability to assess the possibilities of outcomes which can envision what will and will not work. However, if it happens to manifest negatively, it is likely like the ESTJ will expect the worse which can prevent them from succeeding or they can become overly confident, blinding them to possible obstacles.

The last shadow function is extraverted feeling or Fe, which also happens to be the most destructive function out of all them. Typically this personality type doesn’t tend to be truly attuned to other people’s emotions however if Fe is present they can become hyper-aware of their emotions.

Although this would seem to be beneficial it can cause them to prioritize other people’s emotions over theirs. The issue lies in that if the ESTJ notices this behavior in themselves they can become destructive towards other people as they will begin to believe they are being manipulated. Clearly, this inferior function can be quite contradicting when it presents itself.


As you can see some cognitive functions create quite complex situations for the ESTJ, this personality type struggles to find a balance between their need for rationality and practically and their emotions. However, once the ESTJ personality can fully understand the workings of their personality, they can strive to better their bad habits to create a better balance.