Extraverted Sensing (Se): 10 Evident Signs & How to Develop Se
by Lisa Sparrow
Have you ever spent way too much time in a home decor store only because you couldn’t keep your hands off of fluffy pillows and bed throws? Or forced yourself to wake up at 5 AM just to catch a beautiful sunrise?
If so, you might be guided by extraverted sensing (Se)—one of the most exciting personality cognitive functions—which enables people to engage with the world through their senses!
This article covers everything you need to know about extraverted sensing, including:
- What is Extraverted Sensing (Se)?
- 10 Tell-Tale Signs of Extraverted Sensing Personalities
- Extraverted Sensing vs Introverted Sensing: What are the Differences?
What is Extraverted Sensing (Se)?
Extraverted sensing (Se) is a perceiving personality cognitive function that allows people to take in information from their environment through the five senses. These are sight, touch, smell, taste, and sound.
In other words, Se users maneuver the world by actively engaging with it. They’re the first people to visit a new restaurant in the city, and they don’t think twice about crossing the street just to smell a blooming flower.
This focus on sensations makes Se users practical and grounded in reality. Unlike intuitive personalities, they aren’t interested in abstract thought. Rather than discussing ideas, they want to take action. On top of that, Se users aren’t concerned with the past or the future and instead aim to make every day count.
People with strong extraverted sensing are also keenly aware of the details in their environment and are always looking for ways to make it more visually appealing. They tend to have great taste in fashion, interior design, and similar areas. And, perhaps most importantly, they thrive on change, which makes them dynamic and fun to be around.
Users of Extraverted Sensing (Se)
Let’s face it—digging into personality theory certainly isn’t the best way to learn about extraverted sensing (Se). After all, this cognitive function is all about practice, real-life examples, and hands-on experience!
So, let’s see how Se affects its main users—SP personality types, otherwise known as sensing perceivers. This way, you can get a better grasp of how Se manifests in real life and not just on paper.
ESTP and ESFP: Dominant Se Users
Thanks to having extraverted sensing as their dominant function, ESTP and ESFP personality types are firmly grounded in the present moment. They have lots of energy and love being in the middle of the action. On top of that, they are pragmatic and have a laissez-faire attitude toward life.
ESP personalities are spontaneous, charismatic, and open to new experiences. This means they can easily get bored, which is why they avoid creating routines and following rules. Unlike most people, they aren’t afraid of failure—they deem all experiences valuable and learn through trial and error.
That said, ESP people don’t like planning and committing to things, whether it’s a long-term relationship or a project. They also don’t always think about the consequences of their actions, which makes them prone to reckless behavior.
ISTP and ISFP: Auxiliary Se Users
Because Se is their auxiliary function, ISTP and ISFP personalities usually use this function in the healthiest way. While Se might overpower ESP personalities, it complements ISPs. That’s because it works in tandem with their dominant cognitive functions— introverted thinking (Ti) and introverted feeling (Fi).
ISP personalities can be a bit reserved and stuck in their ways, but extraverted sensing allows them to be more open to people and experiences. Most importantly, it doesn’t hinder their planning skills. Although they’re sensing perceivers, ISPs are usually able to evaluate the future outcomes of their actions.
Moreover, because of their auxiliary Se, ISP personalities tend to be more active than most introverts. They don’t like sitting around and prefer to bond with people through mutual activities, such as hiking and board games.
10 Tell-Tale Signs of Extraverted Sensing Personalities
Extraverted sensing (Se) personalities are open-minded and grounded in the present moment. Since they take in information through their senses, they tend to be realistic and focused more on the concrete than the abstract. They also enjoy taking risks and trying out new things!
On that note, if you want to learn how to recognize extraverted sensing in yourself and others, here’s what you need to look for:
#1. Body Awareness
Along with introverted sensing (Si) users, Se users have the highest level of body awareness. Because they’re so in touch with their physicality, they excel in sports, dancing, and other physical activities. They also tend to have quick reflexes and great coordination.
Se also brings dominantusers a powerful presence. They don’t go unnoticed when they enter the room, and their body language naturally exudes self-confidence.
#2. Realistic Approach
People with strong extraverted sensing aren’t interested in abstract, theoretical matters. They are realistic and focused on concrete data.
Se users pride themselves on being down-to-earth. They see the world for what it is and don’t allow their assumptions, opinions, and other subjective insights to skew their perception.
#3. Living in the Moment
Se users—especially dominant Se personalities—are gifted with the ability to live in the present moment. They are highly attuned to everything that’s happening around them.
Because of this, they aren’t prone to overanalyzing, being stuck in the past, or worrying about the future. That said, a strong focus on the here and now can make it difficult for dominant Se users to create long-term plans.
#4. Craving Sensations
Se users love to engage with their five senses, which often leads them to crave new sensations. For example, they might enjoy trying out different cuisines to stimulate their taste buds and redecorating their homes to create beautiful, harmonious surroundings. However, thanks to this, dominant Se users can be very sensitive to unpleasant smells, textures, and the like.
#5. Attention to Detail
Besides being aware of their bodies, Se users also have great situational awareness. This makes them highly perceptive of their environment and attentive to detail.
Not to mention, Se users prefer to deal with details instead of looking at the big picture. They’re excellent observers but may sometimes struggle to see and understand the larger context.
#6. Open-Minded Attitude
Similarly to extraverted intuition (Ne), extraverted sensing makes people open to different opinions and beliefs. They rarely, if ever, judge other people for their choices, as most of them believe in the “live and let live” philosophy.
Moreover, Se users aren’t critical of their or other people’s mistakes. They believe that the best way to learn and grow is through personal experience. Not to mention, they have enough resilience to effectively overcome failure.
#7. Hands-On Learning
Speaking of learning, it’s not much of a surprise that Se users prefer hands-on learning. They find theory boring and pointless and, therefore, enjoy practical tasks and examples.
For instance, if they want to learn a new skill, such as putting furniture together, dominant Se users won’t care about instructions. They learn through experience, and the more their physical senses are engaged, the quicker the progress.
#8. Actions Over Words
Extraverted sensing causes people to be driven by action. They love to be on the move and may get easily bored if they’re forced to stand still. More importantly, their action-oriented mindset makes them value actions much more than words.
For this reason, dominant Se users typically prefer action-based love languages, such as physical touch and acts of service. Moreover, they can get very disappointed when people’s actions don’t align with their words.
#9. Taking Risks
Dominant Se users are the daredevils of the 16 personality typology system. They’re adventurous and curious, which leads them to constantly seek thrills.
Because of this, Se users aren’t afraid of challenges or discomfort. They want to experience life fully, but sometimes this can also lead them to impulsive behavior.
#10. Free-Spirited Mindset
Having a laid-back approach to life is another similarity between Ne and Se users. They aren’t hooked on the idea of settling down and living a quiet, comfortable life. Most dominant Se users don’t settle on a job or a serious relationship until later in their lives.
Se users value their independence and avoid people and situations that make them feel trapped. However, once committed to something or someone, they usually become very devoted.
Extraverted Sensing vs Introverted Sensing: What are the Differences?
Extraverted sensing and introverted sensing (Si) both deal with tangible matters and senses. Unsurprisingly, it isn’t always easy to tell them apart, although these cognitive functions have quite distinct differences. Here’s how they differ:
- External vs. internal. Although Se brings people body awareness, it’s much more related to how their bodies move and function in the external environment. Si, meanwhile,is primarily focused on inner body awareness, such as recognizing thirst, hunger, and other physical needs.
- Present vs. past. Extraverted sensing is concerned with what’s happening here and now, whereas introverted sensing is more preoccupied with what happened in the past.
- Change vs. stability. While Si users struggle to come to terms with change and find it rather stressful, Se users welcome it readily. To them, stability equals boredom and stagnation.
- Novelty vs. tradition. People who favor Si are far more comfortable doing things the way they’ve always been done. Se users, on the other hand, prefer improvising and coming up with new methods of getting things done.
How Does Extraverted Sensing Affect Personality Types
Aside from dominant and auxiliary Se users, other personality types also use extraverted sensing to some extent. Here’s a quick breakdown of how Se impacts your personality type:
- Tertiary Se ( ENTJ, ENFJ). For ENJ types, developing extraverted sensing allows for higher adaptability. For example, if their plans change, they learn to roll with the punches instead of overthinking what happened.
- Inferior Se ( INTJ, INFJ). Because Se is their inferior function,INJs can be susceptible to sensory overload. Developing Se helps them become more attuned to their bodies and the environment.
- Opposing role Se ( ISTJ, ISFJ). Having extraverted sensing as their opposing role function makes ISJ types uncomfortable with sudden changes. They may also find dominant Se users’ unpredictability rather annoying.
- Critical parent Se ( ESTJ, ESFJ). Critical parent Se can cause ESJs to judge people—including themselves—for their lack of awareness and disorganization.
- Trickster Se ( INTP, INFP). As a trickster function, extraverted sensing makes INP types disconnected from their physical environment. They may have their heads in the clouds, feel out of touch with their bodies, and struggle with keeping their surroundings clean and organized.
- Demon Se ( ENTP, ENFP). Demon Se can lead ENP personalities to act recklessly and disregard their and other people’s safety in pursuit of thrilling experiences.
What Does an Unhealthy Se Look Like?
Typically, extraverted sensing is a highly beneficial cognitive function, as it helps people maximally enjoy their lives. Yet, when Se becomes unhealthy, it can have negative effects on your life, such as:
- Recklessness. Unhealthy extraverted sensing can cause people to ignore the consequences of their actions. Being overly focused on the present can result in rash behavior and decisions. This is especially common among unhealthy ENFPs and ENTPs.
- Boredom. When unhealthy, extraverted sensing can cause people to become easily bored and dissatisfied with their lives. They may make hasty decisions, such as abruptly quitting their jobs, just to escape boredom.
- Selfishness. Unhealthy Se can make people preoccupied with instant gratification. This can lead to egoism, as individuals with unhealthy Se may no longer care about other people and their needs.
- Overindulgence. Unhealthy INFJs are especially susceptible to overindulgence and hedonism stemming from their inferior extraverted sensing. They may engage in highly stimulating activities and struggle with overeating, substance abuse, and similar issues.
Extraverted Sensing During Personality Development Phases
Although Se users might seem very comfortable with extraverted sensing—as if they were born with it—the truth is that, like all cognitive functions, it develops throughout your life.
So, let’s take a closer look at how Se develops and influences different personality types over the years.
Se During the First Personality Development Phase
As dominant Se users, ESTPs and ESFPs are the first ones to develop their extraverted sensing function.
In childhood, ESP personality types are physically active and curious about their surroundings. They explore the world through their senses—even if it means eating sand.
They may not have the patience to sit and listen to fairytales, but they’ll be more than happy to play games and engage with other children. On top of that, Se makes them highly observant while they’re still kids.
Se During the Second Personality Development Phase
ISTP and ISFP personality types begin developing their auxiliary extraverted sensing once they hit puberty. This makes them more attentive to detail and great at practical learning, but they might encounter difficulty understanding theoretical concepts.
Moreover, since their primary cognitive functions are introverted and judging, extraverted sensing allows ISP personalities to let go of their judgment. This way, they become more open to new experiences, hobbies, and opportunities.
Se During the Third Personality Development Phase
The third personality development phase is the hardest one to reach, as you have to make a conscious effort to fully develop your tertiary and inferior cognitive functions. During this phase, extraverted sensing can help ENTJs and ENFJs harmonize their characters. This is also possible for INTJs and INFJs, but they’ll need to put even more work into developing their Se.
NJ personality types are more engaged with the world inside their heads than around them. They also tend to struggle with details and concrete data. Still, developing Se can help them get outside of their heads and become more pragmatic.
How Can Se Users Strengthen Their Extraverted Sensing?
If you feel like you live too much in your head, strengthening extraverted sensing can help you get in touch with your body and surroundings.
So, here are some easy ways to engage your Se:
- Try physical activity. Whether it’s playing basketball or aerobics, being physically active can help you reconnect with your body and improve your extraverted sensing.
- Pick up a hands-on hobby. Cooking, embroidery, origami, woodworking, and Lego building are just a handful (pun intended!) of fun hobbies that allow you to enhance your Se.
- Meditate. Meditation helps you shift your focus to the present moment. It can boost your body awareness, too, which is the cornerstone of extraverted sensing!
- Go for a walk. One of the easiest ways to improve your Se is by taking a walk, especially in nature. If you’re looking for quick results, consider walking barefoot and engaging with your senses: observe your surroundings, fill your lungs with fresh air, etc.
Congratulations! Now you should have a better understanding of extraverted sensing.
Whether you’re a native Se user or not, it’s undoubtedly one of the most rewarding cognitive functions. It empowers you to be aware of and enjoy what’s happening around you. This way, extraverted sensing enables you to experience the beauty of life. Not to mention, engaging with this cognitive function is loads of fun!
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