ENTP (NeTi) 8 Cognitive Functions Explained
by Lisa Sparrow
If you’ve ever had a debate with an ENTP, you’ve probably wondered how they can be so frustrating and charming at the same time.
Well, here’s the answer: it’s a result of the unique combination of their cognitive functions!
Not exactly sure what this means? Worry not!
If you need ENTP cognitive functions explained in a simple way, this article is all you need, as it will definitely help you understand this personality type better.
So, let’s dig in!
What Are Cognitive Functions?
In short, cognitive functions are psychological processes that make up the 16 personality types and define their common attitudes and behaviors.
There is a total of eight cognitive functions, and while all people use each of them to a certain extent, everyone has a preference for some cognitive functions over others.
To put it in simpler terms, you have:
- Four primary functions: dominant (the strongest function), auxiliary, tertiary, and inferior (the weakest function)
- Four shadow functions: opposing role, critical parent, trickster, and demon (all of which are unconscious)
Primary functions are the ones you use most often, whereas shadow functions emerge in times of crisis.
Moreover, cognitive functions are divided into two groups:
- Judging, which determine whether you favor logic (thinking) over emotions (feeling) or vice-versa when making decisions
- Perceiving, which dictate how you absorb information—through your senses (sensing) or intuitive insights (intuition)
Moreover, cognitive functions can be extraverted (directed outward and usually noticeable) or introverted (directed inward and hard to observe).
The 4 Primary ENTP Cognitive Functions
Now that you have a general idea of what cognitive functions are, let’s jump straight into analyzing the primary ENTP cognitive functions, which are:
Extraverted Intuition (Ne)
People with the ENTP personality type use extraverted intuition (Ne) as their dominant cognitive function. In other words, ENTPs prefer and feel most comfortable when they interact with the world through Ne.
Extraverted intuition is primarily focused on identifying connections, patterns, and associations between different ideas and concepts. Since it’s an extraverted function, ENTPs express it overtly, often by sharing their thoughts with others. Like ENFPs, they love brainstorming new ideas.
If you want to see Ne in action, pay close attention to how ENTPs talk. Oftentimes, they’ll go off on a tangent before arriving at a conclusion. Their speech can also be incoherent and lack direction, so much so that they might interrupt themselves to introduce another idea that just popped into their heads.
However, it is through this chaos that Ne does its magic and lets ENTPs notice multiple perspectives, ideas, solutions, and possibilities all at once! Thanks to Ne, they are open-minded people who can analyze situations from multiple angles and find value in each of them. This also explains why ENTPs often enjoy and are very convincing at playing the devil’s advocate.
That said, since Ne is the dominant ENTP cognitive function, they can feel suffocated when others try to limit them and insist that there is one right way of doing things. For ENTPs, the world is overflowing with possibilities, and all of them are worth exploring.
Introverted Thinking (Ti)
Introverted thinking (Ti) is the auxiliary ENTP cognitive function, which means that its main purpose is to support and balance their dominant Ne.
As we mentioned, Ne can be rather chaotic. It enables ENTPs to generate ideas effortlessly, but it leaves things open-ended, as it doesn’t evaluate or judge them in any way. Because of this, before they develop their Ti, ENTPs may find it strenuous or downright impossible to narrow their options down to just one.
Unlike Ne, Ti is a decision-making process. As such, it helps ENTPs assess their ideas and their validity based on logic, giving structure to their thoughts. In other words, Ti seeks to determine whether an idea makes logical sense and is worth exploring or pursuing. The Ne-Ti combination explains why ENTPs come across as creative and rational at the same time.
Also, Ti favors informed decisions over quick solutions. Because of this, ENTPs prefer to take their decision-making slowly. They usually want to research and analyze their options thoroughly before choosing one.
Ti also assists ENTPs in spotting logical flaws and inconsistencies, both in their own ideas as well as those of others. This is their secret debate weapon that helps them deconstruct and invalidate their opponent’s arguments!
Extraverted Feeling (Fe)
Extraverted feeling (Fe) is a people-centric function related to social harmony. Since Fe is the tertiary ENTP personality type cognitive function, it usually isn’t their strong suit, but it still shapes their personality.
Until they develop Fe, which typically happens later in life, ENTPs can be somewhat blind to other people’s feelings. They may come off as insensitive and provocative, as they like to tease people, challenge their beliefs, and test their limits—often just for laughs. Naturally, developing this function helps ENTPs become more sensitive to other people’s emotions and needs.
Fe is also the reason why ENTPs are generally regarded as charismatic and persuasive. Healthy, well-developed Fe helps them read the room and determine how they should express themselves so that others would take their ideas exactly as intended.
However, unhealthy ENTPs might misuse their Fe to manipulate others or attack people’s weak points. Still, this is an exception to the rule, as most ENTPs use their Fe constructively, and some even engage in philanthropy.
Introverted Sensing (Si)
Introverted sensing (Si) is the weakest link of the ENTP cognitive function stack. In most cases, it works entirely subconsciously, which makes it difficult to develop.
In many ways, Si is the complete opposite of Ne, which explains why most ENTPs shun everything Si-related. This includes traditions, conventions, detailed tasks, tried-and-tested solutions, conservatism, and similar. In other words, ENTPs value ideas and innovation over details and tradition.
Because Si is their inferior function, ENTPs tend to struggle with following through on tasks, especially earlier in their lives. They are easily inspired but often lack the grit to bring their ideas to reality, as their enthusiasm depletes as soon as another big idea comes up.
However, as ENTPs mature, they usually become more comfortable with Si. This helps them make better decisions, complete projects, and become more reliable and consistent. Also, it can ignite an interest in analyzing the past and its influence on the future, which is why some ENTPs become interested in history, sociology, politics, and the like.
The 4 Shadow ENTP Cognitive Functions
By now, you should have a better understanding of the primary ENTP cognitive functions. This means that we’re ready to dig deeper and learn about the shadow side of Visionaries, which is influenced by:
Introverted Intuition (Ni)
Introverted intuition (Ni) is the first shadow ENTP cognitive function that can cause ENTPs to regard dominant Ni users—INTJs and INFJs—as narrow-minded. That’s because, unlike them, INJs don’t see multiple options as valid and valuable. Instead, they tend to single out one option and focus on it, which ENTPs might find frustrating.
Under extreme stress, however, ENTPs may neglect their dominant Ne and rely on Ni instead. When this happens, their thinking becomes unusually limited. Like INJs, they might try to listen to their gut and favor one idea, abandoning all others.
Since their Ni is underdeveloped, it can cause ENTPs to develop tunnel vision or lead them to mistake anxiety for intuition. This can make them fearful, paranoid, and unsure of themselves.
Extraverted Thinking (Te)
Extraverted thinking (Te) is the second shadow function of ENTPs, also known as the critical parent.
Although ENTPs can usually handle criticism fairly well, under stress, they might become more sensitive to it, especially when people criticize their ideas. That’s a typical scenario of when their shadow Te kicks in.
ENTPs who rely on their shadow Te become unnecessarily harsh to others. Upon being criticized, they might lash out and insult others to “get even,” often straying off-topic and resorting to personal attacks.
Alternatively, shadow Te can cause ENTPs to become overly focused on efficiency and perfection. They may fear failure to the point of becoming demanding, overbearing, and bossy.
Introverted Feeling (Fi)
Simply put, as the trickster function, introverted feeling (Fi) makes ENTPs come off as self-righteous.
They may regard their ideas, opinions, and morals as superior to those of others, which can make them look selfish and conceited. They may criticize or ridicule other people’s values just to make themselves look better without realizing that it only makes them look immature.
Also, since Fi is their trickster function, ENTPs might belittle dominant Fi users—ISFPs and INFPs—for being overly sensitive. However, if they take time to learn how Fi works and realize its value, ENTPs can actually find it easier to understand and connect with IFP personality types.
Extraverted Sensing (Se)
Extraverted sensing (Se) is the least developed ENTP cognitive function, which means it can be rather destructive—there’s a reason why it’s called “the demon.” Most of the time, it only comes to light when an ENTP’s ego is in danger.
ENTPs are idea people, and they’re often described as having their heads in the clouds. They notice gazillions of possibilities, but they are often oblivious to what’s actually happening around them. After all, they have active minds and future-oriented mindsets, so it makes sense that living in the moment doesn’t always come easily to them.
That said, when ENTPs activate their demon Se, it manifests as an extreme form of impulsivity. They can become reckless and hedonistic. Since Se hinders their ability to evaluate the future consequences of their actions, it can also land them in trouble.
How Do ENTP Cognitive Functions Affect Personality Development?
One thing you should know is that ENTP cognitive functions develop over several developmental phases, which influences their behavior, characteristics, and even interests. So, let’s check out how it happens!
First Personality Development Phase
Extraverted intuition, the dominant ENTP cognitive function, begins to develop in childhood. While it remains relevant throughout ENTPs’ lives, it stops developing when they’re more or less in their 20s.
Thanks to Ne, ENTPs are very curious, and this is evident even in their childhood. They tend to ask lots of questions to figure out how the world works. They may also develop their own theories and try to test them out.
Generally speaking, ENTP children enjoy learning, but they may not be too excited about school. They may feel that it is too restrictive and hinders their creativity, especially if they are taught to memorize information instead of understanding it. If they don’t have an outlet to express their creativity and innovative ideas, they can become rebellious, angsty, and withdrawn.
Second Personality Development Phase
Starting in early adulthood, ENTPs begin to develop their inferior and auxiliary cognitive functions.
When introverted sensing enters the picture, ENTPs might experience an inner battle. On the one hand, they favor innovation (Ne), but on the other hand, to a certain extent, they begin to see value or safety in tradition (Si). As a result, they might feel unsure about which path they should follow.
This battle between Ne and Si is especially apparent when they have to choose college majors or careers. Consciously, they might want to go for something risky (e.g., create a startup) or creative because of their Ne, but subconsciously, they may feel more inclined to follow a traditional career path due to the influence of Si.
While this can be pretty exhausting, the good news is that, sooner or later, introverted thinking helps ENTPs refine their decision-making. Besides giving them more confidence in their decisions, Ti also helps them become more organized.
Third Personality Development Phase
The third personality development phase is the most difficult one, and not all ENTPs complete it. In short, it involves developing extraverted feeling and learning to manage introverted sensing to achieve a fully integrated ENTP cognitive function stack.
Although learning how to balance and make the most of Fe and Si isn’t easy, it’s certainly rewarding. It enables ENTPs to become more in tune with their own and other people’s emotions and helps them overcome the tug of war between Ne and Si that we described above. As a result, ENTPs become more well-rounded, harmonious, and peaceful.
How Do ENTPs Interact in Different Relationships?
ENTP cognitive functions affect people with this personality type in all matters, including interpersonal relationships. So, to top it all off, let’s see what ENTPs are like as parents, friends, and romantic partners!
ENTPs as Parents
Since ENTPs generally dislike tradition and social norms due to their Ne, they don’t usually consider having children a necessity to lead a happy life. Male and female ENTPs alike often think carefully before having kids, as they’re aware that it’ll restrict their freedom.
For this reason, most ENTPs who decide to have children later in life do so once they’re sure they won’t suffer from the fear of missing out.
That said, ENTPs usually make remarkable parents, as they treat their children as equals. While they aren’t strict or demanding, they expect their kids to grow into self-sufficient individuals who are capable of thinking for themselves instead of blindly following the crowd. As parents, they aim to foster their children’s logical thinking, creativity, and independence.
ENTPs as Friends
Most ENTPs can’t imagine a good friendship without honesty, witty banter, and, most importantly, mental stimulation. They love challenging their friends to debates and don’t mind if these evolve into heated arguments. For ENTPs, nothing is quite as satisfying as conversing with people who can point out flaws in their reasoning!
Unlike most people, they don’t seek emotional support from their friends. Most of the time, they feel uncomfortable discussing personal matters with their friends, especially if they concern emotions. Because of this, ENTP compatibility for friendships is highest with other intuitive thinkers, such as INTPs.
ENTPs as Romantic Partners
Although many people regard ENTPs as flighty and “not the marrying kind,” in truth, they make amazing romantic partners once they meet the right person for them.
They’re loyal and funny, and while they might not be conventionally romantic, relationships with them are never dull. They’re spontaneous, adventurous, and innovative, so you can rest assured that they’ll find ways to keep the flame alive!
In love, ENTPs are enthusiastic, protective, and attentive. They’re constantly looking for ways to grow and improve the relationship, so they generally make thoughtful partners who do their best to attend to their significant others’ needs.
That was a lot to take in, but we hope that now you know why ENTPs are the way they are!
Before you go, let’s reiterate the key points we mentioned:
- Each personality type uses a unique set of cognitive functions, which are internal processes that define your behavior, characteristics, and similar.
- Extraverted intuition (Ne) is the dominant and thus the strongest ENTP cognitive function, whereas introverted sensing (Si) is their weakest primary function.
ENTP shadow functions—Ni, Te, Fi, and Se—appear when ENTPs experience intense stress, struggle to handle criticism, or feel like their ego is under attack.