ESTP (SeTi) 8 Cognitive Functions Explained
by Lisa Sparrow
If there’s one personality type that thinks the world would be better without theory, it’s the ESTP, also known as the Entrepreneur.
These personalities enjoy hands-on learning and can get bored quickly with abstract, theoretical concepts.
And yet, some things in life can only be fully understood if you know the theory behind them. This includes ESTP cognitive functions, which essentially explain how Entrepreneurs work.
Well, if you’re looking for ESTP cognitive functions explained in a concise and straightforward way, we’ve got you covered!
In this article, we’ll explore the dominant and shadow ESTP personality cognitive functions to better understand how these personalities act, what makes them tick, and more.
What Are Cognitive Functions?
Cognitive functions are the internal information-gathering and decision-making processes that make up your personality type.
In total, there are eight cognitive functions that can be classified into two groups:
- Judging functions (thinking and feeling), which determine how you make decisions
- Perceiving functions (intuition and sensing), which describe how you take in and process information
Every person can access all eight cognitive functions to a certain extent, though people tend to naturally use a specific combination of four cognitive functions.
The ones you use most often are also known as your primary cognitive functions or your cognitive function stack. Meanwhile, the rest of them fall into the depths of your subconscious mind and are thus known as shadow cognitive functions.
The 4 Primary ESTP Cognitive Functions
Now that we’re all set, let’s explore the ESTP cognitive function stack, which includes:
- Extraverted sensing (Se)
- Introverted thinking (Ti)
- Extraverted feeling (Fe)
- Introverted intuition (Ni)
Extraverted Sensing (Se)
Extraverted sensing (Se) is the dominant ESTP function, which means that it underpins their entire personality and has the most influence on it.
Since Se is concerned with absorbing information from the external world through physical senses, such as sight and smell, it’s no wonder that ESTPs are highly attuned to their surroundings. They tend to live in the moment and rarely, if ever, ponder the future. At the same time, they aren’t normally prone to dwelling on the past.
As their dominant cognitive function, Se drives ESTPs to actively participate in and engagewith the world around them. While they’re very perceiving, Entrepreneurs aren’t passive observers by any means.
More than anything, they crave to take action and experience life with all of its opportunities. In other words, Se explains why ESTPs are free-spirited and action-oriented.
Grounded in the present moment, ESTPs are focused on what’s real and tangible. Not only do they notice the changes around them, but they also respond to them promptly, which makes them especially great at tackling emergencies.
As adventurous and energetic as they are, however, ESTPs’ craving for new sensations and experiences can also make them rather impulsive. Their eagerness to take risks and dive into the unknown is truly inspiring, but a little caution wouldn’t hurt—sometimes, their overreliance on Se can cause them to make reckless decisions.
Introverted Thinking (Ti)
Introverted thinking (Ti) is the auxiliary ESTP cognitive function that Entrepreneurs primarily rely on to make decisions.
Ti is concerned with internal logic and subjective reasoning. As such, Entrepreneurs approach most situations in life from a rational standpoint, trying to understand the logic behind them. Because of this, they tend to follow their heads when making decisions— emotional decision-making is a rather foreign concept to them.
Since Ti is an introverted function, ESTPs are relatively independent and have their own understanding of life. In turn, they rarely share their reasoning with others and prefer to make decisions on their own.
On top of that, coupled with Se, Ti helps ESTPs quickly pick up hands-on skills. To a certain extent, many Entrepreneurs are interested in learning how things work and discussing intellectual topics, as they possess an analytical mind that also helps them solve complex problems.
Still, since they lead primarily with Se, ESTPs can quickly grow impatient with theoretical conversations and prefer to focus on the physical aspects of life.
Extraverted Feeling (Fe)
As the tertiary ESTP cognitive function, extraverted feeling (Fe) often doesn’t enter the picture until later in life, when Entrepreneurs begin to develop their weaker functions. Still, it subtly shapes their personalities throughout their entire lives.
Thanks to Fe, ESTPs are rather charismatic by nature. They can easily get along with people and find common ground with just about anyone despite their differences. Needless to say, Fe helps them navigate social situations and understand how others perceive them.
Nonetheless, until their Fe becomes somewhat developed, many Entrepreneurs struggle to see the value of feelings and emotions, which can make them come off as insensitive.
Besides charisma, Fe also affects ESTPs’ communication skills. While they usually prefer a direct, no-nonsense style of communication, Entrepreneurs also have a gift for persuasion. They can easily make others see their perspective and change their minds, which can make them rather influential and successful in their endeavors.
Not to mention, developing Fe helps ESTPs become more focused on other people’s well-being. Oftentimes, this ignites a passion for humanitarian work and helps them create a balance between their own and other people’s interests.
Introverted Intuition (Ni)
Introverted intuition (Ni) is the inferior ESTP cognitive function, which often happens to be their weak spot.
Se is the antithesis of Ni—instead of enabling you to understand the world through your senses, it helps you make sense of it through intuitive insights.
This means that on a subconscious level, ESTPs can be rather insightful—for example, they may easily notice how ideas and concepts are interrelated and connected. Even if they aren’t aware of it, they have a strong ability to recognize patterns in different sets of data.
However, since ESTPs are led by Se and have Ni as one of their weakest functions, they may struggle with long-term planning and seeing the grand scheme of things. As a result, they may be overly focused on the here and now and forget to consider the future implications of their actions.
For this reason, getting in touch with their Ni can help them become less impulsive. However, ESTPs should be careful and avoid relying too much on their inferior function. Otherwise, they may operate against their nature and become blinded by a vision of a future that may not even be feasible or healthy, which can be stressful at the very least.
The 4 Shadow ESTP Cognitive Functions
Now, let’s continue our exploration of the ESTP cognitive function stack by peeking into their shadow side.
Typically, it comes out when Entrepreneurs are experiencing lots of stress due to being shamed, unfairly criticized, and similar, which makes them turn to the following shadow functions:
- Introverted sensing (Si)
- Extraverted thinking (Te)
- Introverted feeling (Fe)
- Extraverted intuition (Ne)
Introverted Sensing (Si)
Introverted sensing (Si) is the first ESTP cognitive function, also known as the opposing role.
Since Entrepreneurs lead with Se, they can be rather resistant toward tradition, routines, order, and other manifestations of Si. It’s not unusual for them to project this disdain onto Si users, such as ISFJs and ESFJs, and thus see them as overly conservative, stuck in their ways, or restrictive.
Aside from psychological projection, Si can also cause ESTPs to cling to their memories and become overly preoccupied with details. They may also find themselves obsessing over the past and believing that it will sooner or later repeat itself. Most often, this shows up as dwelling on past mistakes and traumatic experiences.
Needless to say, this can stunt their progress. Because of this, ESTPs should make it a point to bring their focus back to the present moment (Se) once they realize they might be stuck in the past (Si).
Extraverted Thinking (Te)
Extraverted thinking (Te) takes on the role of the critical parent in the ESTP shadow function stack. As the name suggests, it almost always manifests as criticism—whether aimed at themselves or those around them.
More often than not, ESTPs tap into their shadow Te when things are getting out of their control and thus prevent them from reaching their goals. In such situations, Entrepreneurs can become rather demanding and harsh, blaming others or themselves for failing to follow rules or make decisions efficiently. They may be particularly impatient with people they deem too slow.
At the same time, due to their critical parent Te, ESTPs may find strong Te users— INTJs, ENTJs, ESTJs, and ISTJs—overly controlling, which can bring out their rebellious side. They may also frown upon them for focusing too much on efficiency and not enough on understanding the situation logically.
Introverted Feeling (Fi)
Introverted feeling (Fi) is mainly concerned with personal values and innermost feelings. Since it’s their trickster cognitive function, ESTPs may find it difficult to define what truly matters to them. Deciphering their values and morals might be as tough of a challenge for them as dealing with emotions. After all, they tend to rely on logic, but it simply can’t explain these matters.
Since ESTPs are rather out of touch with their feelings and values, they may struggle to relate to personality types that embrace them. They might perceive them as irrational, overly sensitive, or self-righteous, which can lead them to make fun of them. Conversely, they might take on the role of the devil’s advocate to point out logical flaws in people’s values and beliefs.
That said, if ESTPs learn to accept their trickster function as part of themselves, they may become more aware of their moral principles. In turn, this can help them better understand people who strive to live by their personal moral code.
Extraverted Intuition (Ne)
As the demon ESTP cognitive function, extraverted intuition (Ne) is completely suppressed and lies in their unconscious mind.
Under normal circumstances, ESTPs lead with Se and thus see things exactly for what they are—they aren’t the type of people to read between the lines.
However, when they experience lots of stress and find it difficult to handle, ESTPs may resort to their demon function to try and make sense of things. Since this isn’t their natural mode of action, Entrepreneurs might look for hidden meanings where there are none, which often leads them to misinterpret situations and people’s actions.
Oftentimes, the demon Ne presents itself in very negative ways. For example, ESTPs might become more aware of the different possibilities around them but only focus on the negative ones. As a result, they may lose their optimistic spirit and become rather scattered, cynical, and confused.
How Do ESTP Cognitive Functions Affect Personality Development?
Perhaps the most fascinating thing about cognitive functions is that they develop throughout your life, affecting your behaviors, preferences, and other aspects of your personality.
So, let’s see how ESTP cognitive functions develop during these three personality development phases:
- First phase (childhood to 20s)
- Second phase (20s and 30s)
- Third phase (30s and later)
First Personality Development Phase
During the first personality development phase, extraverted sensing establishes itself as the dominant ESTP cognitive function.
Because of this, Entrepreneurs tend to be rather curious and adventurous from childhood on. They often prefer to explore the world themselves, touching, smelling, and tasting things around them. They’re also very enthusiastic about new experiences and opportunities, craving to take advantage of them all.
Toward the end of this phase, ESTPs may also start to develop their auxiliary introverted thinking. Once this happens, they usually become more invested in developing their own understanding of life, which shapes their decision-making process.
Second Personality Development Phase
During the second personality development phase, ESTPs usually strengthen their Ti and begin developing their tertiary extraverted feeling function.
Thanks to Fe, ESTPs usually become more sensitive to other people’s feelings as they grow up and mature. This undoubtedly helps them foster good relationships with those around them, though some Entrepreneurs also develop a stronger interest in humanitarian activities, such as volunteering.
Third Personality Development Phase
The third personality development phase is rather complex, as it involves the integration of weaker cognitive functions—extraverted feeling and introverted intuition.
While not all ESTPs enter this phase, those who do learn to harness their strengths and overcome their weaknesses, which helps them find a balance between the two. They also usually become more comfortable thinking about the future and defining their long-term vision, which helps them achieve their goals and find inner peace.
How Do ESTPs Interact in Different Relationships?
Since ESTP cognitive functions shape their personalities, it’s only natural that they also play an important role in how Entrepreneurs act in different relationships.
With that in mind, let’s have a brief overview of what kind of parents, friends, and romantic partners ESTPs make.
ESTPs as Parents
Oftentimes, ESTPs find parenthood refreshing, as it enables them to reconnect with their inner child. Unsurprisingly, Entrepreneurs could be described as playful and open-minded parents.
Believing that life is the best teacher, they make every effort to expose their children to different experiences and help them grow into independent adults.
As fun and flexible as they are, however, ESTP parents aren’t perfect. Due to their tertiary Fe, they can be rather oblivious to their children’s emotional needs. Not to mention, their spontaneity can sometimes turn into a lack of discipline and consistency, which is certainly something they should work on improving.
ESTPs as Friends
ESTPs make exciting and supportive friends. As extroverts, they are social butterflies and make friends easily. More often than not, they prefer to bond with them over mutual interests and physical activities that stimulate their dominant Se.
Nonetheless, as friends, ESTPs aren’t only interested in having fun. They also want to help their friends whenever they can, which often comes in the form of offering practical solutions (Se-Ti) to their problems.
Generally, ESTPs aren’t big on emotional and philosophical conversations, so their friendship compatibility is usually higher with other sensing-thinking personality types.
ESTPs as Romantic Partners
As romantic partners, ESTPs are rather light-hearted—above all else, they want to embark on exciting adventures with their loved ones.
Energetic and passionate, Entrepreneurs often shower their loved ones with plenty of affection and tend to show love through their actions. That said, while they’re more than willing to solve problems in practical, logical ways, they may avoid expressing their feelings verbally.
Since they crave freedom, ESTPs are also fairly laid-back and respect their partners’ need for independence, which creates a stable foundation for healthy relationships. However, their reluctance to make long-term plans, stemming from their inferior Ni, can cause their partners to feel uncertain about
And that concludes everything you need to know about ESTP cognitive functions!
So, let’s briefly summarize what we’ve covered in this article:
- Cognitive functions are internal processes that determine how each personality type makes decisions and takes in information from the external world.
- By definition, ESTP cognitive functions are their four primary (Se, Ti, Fe, and Ni) and their four shadow (Si, Te, Fi, and Ne) functions.
- Thanks to the combination of ESTP cognitive functions, Entrepreneurs make spontaneous, fun-loving, and practical parents, friends, and partners, but they can be prone to neglecting other people’s feelings and emotions.