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12 ESTP Cognitive Functions Explained

When understanding people and what makes them tick, a good resource is the Myers-Briggs personality type indicators. There are 16 distinct personalities, all with their own cognitive and sarcastic functions.

People with indicators that identify them as ESTP (Extroverted, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving) are known to be social butterflies who are bold, creative, and often act first and ask questions later.  Digging deeper into their Myers-Briggs cognitive functions will explain more about this energetic group of people.

ESTP Cognitive Functions

12 ESTP Cognitive Functions

1. Extroverted Sensing

The primary function of ESTPs is extroverted sensing. Essentially, they live in the moment and are very observant about the world around them. They can absorb a large amount of detail about most situations in a swift period of time.

Because it is the primary function driving ESTPs, the extroverted sensing motivates them to explore their interests thoroughly with all five senses (if they can). They will not be content to move on without examining everything and learning everything they can about the object of their focus.

Additionally, ESTPs tend to be impulsive – to act first and ask questions (or forgiveness) later. This behavior is a direct result of their perception of the moment. They rarely look ahead to consider the possible outcomes of their actions and make snap decisions based on the information they have.

2. Introverted Thinking

Analysis and evaluation are the markers of introverted thinking – which is the secondary cognitive function of ESTPs. When partnered with extroverted sensing, ESTPs manage some creative solutions to their problems. While they may not always consider the implications of their actions, they will think outside the box.

ESTP people’s introverted thinking function also drives their curiosity and need to understand how things work fully. They will typically want to explore all sides of a situation to determine the most practical course of action.

The other effect that introverted thinking has on ESTPs is their desire to lead and be in control. Because they feel they have quickly and accurately considered all of the possible courses of action, they will want to drive the group to come to the same conclusion. It pushes them to be leaders and to have good self-control.

3. Extroverted Feeling

The extroverted feeling is the tertiary function for ESTP personality. It is what drives them to build large social circles and to connect with others. They love to spend their time on adventures with their friends and are always happy to be in the spotlight.

Because “thinking” is a more dominant function for ESTPs, they are not exceptionally skilled with making emotional connections with those around them. This does not seem to slow down their social calendar since they are always fun, exciting, and enjoyable to be around.

ESTP folks primarily use their extroverted feeling function to navigate the waters of social interactions. They know when to laugh at a joke, when to reach out, what activities are best for the group, etc. They simply know how to be good friends.

4. Introverted Intuition

While their primary function keeps ESTPs living in the moment, their lack of foresight can be attributed to their introverted intuition. They struggle to move outside the practical choice for the moment and look at potential impacts.

Introverted intuition is the function that allows people to see patterns and possible outcomes. Because it is so weak in ESTPs, they tend to be impulsive, impatient, and appear to make bad decisions routinely.

ESTPs may see the adverse effects of this function on their relationships, financial decisions, and careers. Their sense of adventure and aptitude to be daredevils also can be attributed to their difficulty seeing consequences for actions ahead of time.

5. Bold

If one thing can be said about ESTPs, it is that they are willing to push boundaries. They have a strong drive to think outside the box, leading them to have some interesting ideas. They do not enjoy living within the rules of society.

Their boldness extends to all areas of their lives. They are most likely going to be in a leadership position in their careers. ESTPs always have a fun new idea for their friends to try out, and they rarely have prudish limitations within their romantic relationships.

Their boldness may not work in their favor when they get themselves in over their heads or force themselves into situations they shouldn’t. For most ESTP people, some self-awareness is needed to prevent missteps.

6. Creative

The extroverted thinking function allows ESTPs to be very creative. They desire to be fully involved in understanding a subject of interest, leading them to be open to different perspectives of thought. They are incredibly curious, and their creativity stems from that as well.

Their practicality also helps with their creativity. Unlike with some other personality types, ESTPs’ creativity isn’t rooted in daydreams; they are usually able to come up with tangible, feasible ideas and come up with a plan to execute them.

However creative they might be, their limitation with understanding the impacts of their actions also hinders their view of “the big picture.” They tend to look at things like parts of a project but struggle to envision the complete project put together.

7. Straightforward

The practical thinking side of ESTP personalities can lead them to be very straightforward and direct. They like to communicate clearly and can be impulsive about getting their thoughts out. Unfortunately, they don’t always keep the emotional effects their words have on others in mind.

In a relationship or friendship with an ESTP, you will never wonder where you stand. They will be brutally honest about where you stand with them.

8. Tactless

Their boldness, desire to be in control, and tendency to favor logic over emotion can sometimes result in some hurtful words. They like to be direct, to the point, and get what they need in a conversation out right away. They can sometimes forget that the practical thing to say isn’t always what is required to be heard in the moment.

ESTPs need to be careful and mindful about their urge to be direct, especially when a softer touch is needed.

9. Impatient

As we’ve continued to explore the cognitive functions of ESTP people, it might be clear that they are impatient. Since they live in the moment, they need the moment to be exciting. They make quick decisions, and they need everyone around them to make quick decisions as well.

Being naturally impatient also means that ESTPs struggle to stay focused on things they are not interested in. They can get bored very easily and prefer a varied lifestyle with minimal routine.

10. Autonomous

In partnership with their impulsiveness, impatience, and straightforwardness, ESTPs are independent. Their autonomy is very valuable to them. They like being in relationships but are not always looking for a serious commitment.

ESTPs need the freedom to do what they want when they want to do it. They find themselves in leadership positions for many reasons. However, they enjoy being in them because leadership comes with a certain measure of freedom.

11. Adventurous

Being completely unhindered by the consideration of consequences, ESTPs are full of adventure. They like to keep things exciting, and they are not too worried about possible injuries or other dangers.

ESTP personalities are often adrenaline junkies and daredevils since they live in the moment. They are impulsive, crave excitement, and struggle to foresee their actions’ potential negative results.

12. Social

With extroverted feeling driving their social needs, ESTPs love to be surrounded by people. They enjoy having a large, diverse group of friends. They are very likely to be the leaders of their friendship group and will be happy to direct the crowd to some new, fun activity for everyone to try together.

ESTP people also do very well in social business situations. They are likely to be business owners or managers and will be excellent networkers. Building connections and closing sales are going to be no problem for a business-minded ESTP.


In summary, people with ESTP Myers-Briggs type indicators are social, fun-loving, exciting, and bold. They will always be up to something new and will seem like a Jack-of-all-trades with their desire to learn everything about their subjects of interest. Their friendships will mean a lot to them, and they will work hard to build a solid group of friends.

When it comes to their romantic endeavors, they might go through a string of bad relationships and struggle to identify “red flags.” But, that won’t affect them too much since ESTP people understand that relationships don’t need to be permanent to be meaningful. They usually aren’t searching for a long-term partner.

When it comes to their careers, ESTPs will do well in leadership positions that allow them some freedom and are dynamic. ESTPs are well suited for sales, law enforcement, trades, and to be business owners.

Many factors make ESTPs the people they are, and their Myers-Briggs cognitive functions help explain much of their behavior.