Mental Mechanisms

These mental mechanisms are also referred to as psychological type preferences.

Learn more about each mental mechanism by clicking the images below.

General Orientation

Extraversion/ Introversion

Psychological Type Preference - Extraversion and Introversion

Modes of Operation

Planned/ Spontaneous

Psychological Type Preference - Planned and Spontaneous

Information Gathering

Hands-On/ Theoretical

Psychological Type Preference - Hands-On and Theoretical

Making Decisions

Objective/ Subjective

Psychological Type Preference - Objective and Subjective

History of these Jungian Mental Mechanisms


In the early part of the 20th century, Swiss psychologist Carl Jung developed his theory of psychological types. Jung proposed that each person has a preferred orientation for directing mental energy, either outward, toward people and things (extraversion), or inward, toward ideas and concepts (introversion).
Extraversion and Introversion

Jung also proposed that each person has two pairs of mental mechanisms for interacting with the world. These include two methods of gathering information and two ways of making decisions about that information. He believed that each person uses all four mechanisms, with a relative preference for one of each pair.
Hands-On and Theoretical
Objective and Subjective

In the 1940s, Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers recognized another pair of mental mechanisms in Jung’s work. This pair describes how people operate in the world, with a preference for either planned or spontaneous behavior.
Planned and Spontaneous

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) identifies 16 psychological types which are referred to by an abbreviation of four letters – one letter selected for each preference between the pairs of opposites.

Note: The 16 psychological types identified by the MBTI can be thought of as distinguishing four variants of the Four Basic Personality Styles.


Your preference for each Jungian mental mechanism is measured along a continuum.

A continuum? In other words, your personal preference lies somewhere on the line between Introversion and Extraversion. Dr. Jung described a natural in-flowing and out-flowing of energy (much like a pendulum swing), with a relative predominance of time spent on one side or the other of the center-line.

This allows for a wide range of personality preferences within this conceptual framework, there are not simply 16 types or boxes to fit people in to.


In respect of one’s own personality one’s judgement is as a rule extraordinarily clouded.

Carl Gustav Jung
Psychological Types p.3

Everyone possesses both mechanisms, extraversion as well as introversion, and only the relative predominance of one over the other determines the type.

Carl Gustav Jung
Psychological Types p.4

Outer circumstances and inner disposition frequently favor one mechanism and restrict or hinder the other.

Carl Gustav Jung
Psychological Types p.6