A Writer's Room of Requirement

A home for the many random insights that cross my mind from time to time.

Archive for the tag “evolutionary pressure”

Why more Sensing Types than Intuitive Types?

Every estimate I’ve seen on the number of Sensing (S) Types and Intuitive (N) types places S types in the majority.  The strength of that majority varies, but I’ve read estimates that range from a 55/45 spilt up to a 75/25 split in favor of the more grounded types.  Why?  What societal and evolutionary pressures leave my N brethren and I outnumbered?

Socially, a single visionary can come up with a great idea, but it often takes an army of workers to make it a reality.  For instance, to erect a building, it takes anywhere from a handful to hundreds of workers to lay the foundation, stand up the frame, insert electrical and plumbing, hang sheetrock for walls, paint those walls, and any other number of tasks.  Each of those teams needs a leader, someone who can make the trains run on time, who makes sure that the craftsman have the material and tools they need.  Most of all, the leader needs to make sure the craftsmen get paid on time.  The building only needs one architect.


When breaking those careers down, SPs make the best craftsmen.  So right off the bat, we need a large number of hands-on S types to get the job done.  Leadership, the foremen and bean counters, attracts a number of xSTJs.  Their introverted sensing (Si) function remembers all of the minute details – they forget nothing  – and their extroverted thinking (Te) has no qualms reminding everyone else.  One or two xNTJs might sit at the top of the leadership hierarchy with their long term vision, and an INTP would make a great architect, but the job of building needs an overwhelming majority of sensing types.

This relationship seems to work across a variety organizations.  The educational theory or counseling tactic proposed by the xNFJ professor or priest gets used by any number of xSFJ teachers, sunday school leaders, and childcare workers.  It only takes one xNFP Joan of Arc or John Lennon or Gandhi to start a revolution that affects millions.  The invention created by the xNTP in his basement gets reproduced and used everywhere.  Dwight Eisenhower (ENTJ) plans the Normandy Invasion of D-Day, but he needs troops on the ground to make it happen.  One intuitive idea needs many hands.

Over the many years of human society, as we have moved more and more towards specialization, the S/N balance has evolved to fit the needs of society.  Perhaps we have more N types now as society adjusts to ever increasing complexity in the human experience.  We need more ideas.  Or perhaps we have fewer N types now as an intuitive idea can reach farther across nations than ever before.  Regardless, it would make sense that it remains a fluid thing.  A person successfully filling their niche will have more opportunities to mate and have a greater chance of keeping their offspring viable.  Over time, society will adapt to the problems it faces.

Of course a far older and more resilient factor might affect the N/S balance in humanity.  As with any species, the threat of predation and other dangers that we have faced along our evolutionary path has certainly directed our development.  Maybe N types just get eaten more than S types.

As an intuitive, I know just how oblivious I am to the actual reality around me sometimes.  When our perception relies so much on the possibility of a person, object, or environment, we can sometimes neglect to see that object for what it actually is.  This perception comes in handy for pushing the human race forward.  Less so when trying to notice the lion creeping up on you in the tall grass.

lion in grass

The extroverted sensing (Se) types constantly scan their environment for anything interesting.  The movement of the lion makes them take notice immediately.  If the lion pounces, they can easily dispatch it with their superior athleticism and well-practiced weapon skills.

The routine and memory of the Si often keeps them safe from the lion.  They never leave home without food, water, and their weapon.  They take the same route to and from the watering hole every day.  They remember the location of every blade of grass.  They soon notice the unusual void in the swaying grasses that hints at the lion and they cautiously return to their cave without disturbing the beast.

The intuitive types have more difficulty.  The extroverted intuitive (Ne) follows the trends.  They notice the migration patterns of the lion pride and try to avoid traveling during the pride’s most active times.  Still, that does nothing to save them from the outliers.  And what happens if they read the trends incorrectly?  I liken it to a quarterback reading defenses and throwing blind.  If he gets his pre-snap read right, he could complete pass after pass.  He just throws to a likely open man.  What happens when he reads the defense incorrectly?  What happens if he has a miscommunication with his receiver and the receiver takes a different route?  Well then you see the ball spiral perfectly into the hands of the safety with a receiver nowhere in sight.

The introverted intutitve (Ni) type has no chance.  The symbolic savannah in their mind’s eye has no lions, but try telling that to Leo.  On a related note, INFJs are the rarest type.

lion eating

Leo gets to know an INFJ gazelle

Other reasons likely account for the disparity between N and S types in the American population, but we can’t begin to tell that story or understand the nature of humanity in general without looking at the societal and environmental pressures on our physiology.


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