Understanding Humans, the N-Types

Image courtesy of dimitri_c via stock.xchng

Image courtesy of dimitri_c via stock.xchng

N-Types are all about possibilities.

The Catalysts (NFs) fill the quadrant taken up by those who pay most attention to information derived from non-empirical sources, and make decisions based on a values-hierarchy.  This is my quadrant, and I was one of those who saw a label (in my case it was Idealist) and ran. Wanted to reject the type, because for me that word meant “ungrounded” and (because I have J-preferences) I found that insulting.

The mis-match of language is part of what led me to research further, trying to understand how a type description could be both so accurate and somehow miss the point.

Catalysts, like the name implies, tend to make things happen.  They are the spark or the impetus that motivates and/or inspires others to action, frequently putting words and ideas together with human beings in a way the majority hadn’t taken to heart before (Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. are two famous examples of this application of type).


Theorists (NTs) are equally innovative but often get more credit for being smart and the brains of an outfit. Their focus on impersonal decision-making (the T, rather than the F) and can be perceived as making them more reliable.

This is true of all the T-types.  Not just NTs.

Theorists, like the Catalysts, tend to look more at the world at is could be, than as it is.  Only, with their non-relational preference in action, they tend to focus on innovations in systems or ideas rather than social causes or individual lives.

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All four types are needed in society, a sort of checks and balances system where one type will clearly see (and in well-functioning group be able to compensate for) another type’s blind spots.

A Stabilizer will keep things moving where things need to move.  Depending on their judging orientation (T or F) this can be through making things happen or creating security. Sometimes both. These are the people genuinely happy to die in service, but they can become resentful of the other types when they do not share this duty-unto-death conviction.

Innovators can (accurately) be accused of being reckless and self-centered, but they, by being among the most adaptable of the types, can also be the most forgiving and willing to roll with relational challenges that my break another type.

Catalysts can be flaky and ungrounded, swayed by the opinion of the moment or the need directly in front of them (to the exclusion of good sense), but as in the historical cases alluded to above, their grounding in conviction can result both in personal growth and social good.

Theorists, sometimes derided as cold (or as limiting themselves to logic and avoiding the real world), are a wonderful source of grounding in facts, even as they explore new options.  By starting off with a set of reinforced assumptions they are rooted enough to dig deep and look far with confidence, taking risks that don’t feel like risks to them because of the surety of their stance.

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Being more attached to your type (or the type of your “ideal human”) are both natural responses.

It is important though, both to look for admirable people in each quadrant and to accept your starting place, even as you work to shore up weak areas.