Model A and Agenda Conflict

The IM elements have distinct agendas. However, everyone is constantly juggling all eight of these agendas, which results in the complexity of human behavior. The mind has a built-in way to make decisions between the agendas, called Model A. This is like being left-handed or right-handed, or the separation of labor in a market economy.

At some point in our lives, either before birth or in early childhood (say, before the age of six), a clearly defined role for each one of the IM elements is determined, and does not change for the rest of our lives.

The strong functions (functions 1, 2, 7, and 8) are those which we are able to use not only for ourselves but for others and society at large.1 They perceive information with greater detail than the weak functions, which depend mostly on personal experience and habits accrued over time. They are areas where we usually form our own opinions instead of blindly accepting those of others. When the topic of conversation is the information of someone's strong functions, they cannot help but resist jumping in - they almost feel it's their duty. This especially goes for one's ego functions (1 and 2), and can come across as obnoxious if it isn't limited to some degree. We also usually have strong opinions about the id functions, but usually concerning how they should not be used (limiting them) rather than how they should be used.

This is not just being "good" or "bad" at something. It means that your actions - whether successful or unsuccessful - in this sphere of life are confident and deliberate, they are a source of self-esteem because they can self-correct easily without outside guidance. This confidence often turns into overconfidence, especially with the leading function. By contrast, the weak functions' perceptions are hazy, and one constantly doubts their evaluations and perceptions. Their successes are achieved haphazardly, with difficulty (if at all), and are based on habits learned by personal experience over a long period of time.

For example, for Fe: an Fe superego type may write in all lowercase letters out of a neglect for their manner of expression. Yet, an Fe ego type may also do this as a deliberate choice, out of attention to the same area. This is why isolated behaviors rarely have a straightforward correspondence to type: the motivation and context are everything.

The valued functions (functions 1, 2, 5, and 6) are those which give us an immediate psychological feeling of reward when we achieve their agendas. We are motivated by them primarily, because using the unvalued functions creates mild to intense irritation and cannot be sustained for long periods of time. Because of this the valued functions tend to be more verbalized. In particular, if someone makes a verbal complaint or criticism of someone else related to a certain element's agenda then it is likely that they value that element.

Here are some examples of element complaints:

Ti: someone is being inconsistent or unfair, not following the rules

Te: someone is doing a task in the wrong way, is not making themselves useful, or is not making sense in their behavior

Fi: someone is being mean or insensitive or doing something morally wrong

Fe: someone is being emotionally closed or indifferent, or has a bad attitude which is affecting others

Si: someone is creating conflict or unpleasantness, or isn't taking good care of themselves

Se: someone is being lazy or out of touch with reality

Ni: someone is acting without thinking of the consequences, or isn't making adequate preparation for something

Ne: someone is being close-minded or not considering something from a different perspective

If someone receives a verbal complaint about an agenda without valuing it, they will either brush it off or get irritated by it, because it's something they don't naturally view as being important. They see the unvalued functions as something to be pursued silently, for oneself - not for the public sphere.

On the other hand, criticism of the valued functions is seen as something worthy of consideration. It is rare to be deeply criticized for one's ego functions, in the sense of someone identifying it as a fundamental character flaw. Usually criticism is shallow, in that the problem arises from temporary oversight, and is easily corrected, or really comes from a difference in personal opinion or experience. When criticism penetrates more deeply, it is usually taken very personally.

Criticism of the superid functions is also taken seriously. However, we also want others to actively help us to fix these problems, not just point them out. Mere verbal criticism may just cause feelings of inadequacy (or, alternatively, "it's not my job").

Helping others to achieve informational agendas is usually done with the strong functions. And since the ego agendas are both strong and valued, we often try to "help" others to achieve them even when they don't want us to.

There is a fine line between criticizing and helping. Often help comes in the form of advice, which can be interpreted as nagging by an incompatible type.

Examples:

Ti: helping others to achieve mental clarity and consistency, and organize their lives

Te: helping others to work effectively or be productive, to use time and resources efficiently

Fi: helping others to understand and deal with their relationships, to act respectfully and morally

Fe: helping others to express themselves, to be socially involved, and have fun

Si: helping others to be comfortable, have pleasant experiences, and be healthy, to be content with their immediate surroundings

Se: spurring others to act and take control of their lives, to be assertive and not lazy, to not be taken advantage of by others, to achieve concrete goals

Ni: helping others to foresee the consequences of their actions, to calmly guide them to a clear and certain vision for future plans

Ne: helping others to see things from a different point of view, or exposing them to new and interesting information

Within the strong functions, everything is subordinate to the lead function's agenda. The creative is used sporadically, it turns on and off. Sometimes it's like "I could use it, but why? there is no need [from the POV of 1]." It does not directly conflict with 1, though, so they can be used in parallel. 2 is the sidekick, the secret weapon.

The id is similarly used only when there is no conflict with the lead's values. You could say we evaluate situations first and foremost with the leading function (and the suggestive function), and then only later make concessions for the remaining functions' needs. The need of 7 has to be felt very strongly to overcome any need felt by 1.

Examples:2

Ti > Te: if pragmatism and taking advantage of what is available contradicts logical rules and principles

Te > Ti: if rules or bureaucracy get in the way of efficiency, or dogma is applied ignoring situational factors

Fi > Fe: if emotional expression and communication contradicts one's morals or the nature of a relationship

Fe > Fi: if making a moral judgment or limiting interactions restricts one's self-expression or participation in social interactions

Si > Se: if being mobilized or taking control causes discomfort or conflict

Se > Si: if getting comfortable or making accommodations keeps one from getting things done or expanding their mobility and personal power(?)

Ne > Ni: if cautiousness and skepticism cause close-mindedness or limits one's thinking

Ni > Ne: if exploring new possibilities and information would be risky or distract one from focusing on what is really important (one's goals, one's purpose or calling, etc.)

The following is an extremely important point which is often misunderstood: Nobody dislikes an IM agenda (or even less, its information category) in itself. How could we, since we all need to achieve all of the agendas to some extent? We only dislike an IM agenda when it conflicts with an agenda that we value more. This is easiest to see with the quadra values, since they conflict often, and it happens directly.

Contrary agendas (the two agendas within each macrodomain (N, F, S, T)) are subject to decision-making conflicts: in any particular situation, you have to make a choice between them - either limit or expand. Paradoxically though, since they both operate in the same domain, if you use one you are likely to end up using the other one quite a bit too, just as a matter of using good judgment.

Indirect conflict occurs between Te and Fe, Ti and Fi, Ne and Se, Ni and Si. They can in theory be pursued at the same time, but often conflict in their viewpoints. This could be due to complementing each other's direct conflictors. It's like they are looking at different things, rather than having different opinions or goals concerning the same things.

Justice and mercy are what seems to be an example of the Ti/Fi contrast: evaluating strictly according to rules, or bending the rules out of compassion (or similarly, being more harsh than the letter of the law indicates). However, upon closer examination, this situation actually involves Te too. Fi is the initial bending towards mercy or harshness, but Te is what obtains the outcome using the means available - either within the legal structure or using "creative" means. So in reality it is a conflict between Te and Ti: there is no way for Fi and Ti to directly interact.

Obviously, if the legal structure is flexible, there will be room for both some Te and Ti. But when there is ambiguity or different opinions as to what you can or should be able to get away with, then an IM conflict happens. Plea bargains and bail are very clear examples of Te in the justice system, ones that some might not find particularly just.

Ni and Si also appear to conflict, since Ni says "prepare for the future" while Si says "enjoy the present." This difference in focus might be enough to create irritation, especially in the form of verbal critique. However, unless you actually get up and do something in the here and now to prepare for the future, there is no conflict in terms of decision-making. Or, if you say "well, I don't technically need to prepare right now, I can just do X or Y or Z", then it becomes an Ne/Ni conflict.


  1. That is, we can recognize when and how their demands need to be fulfilled. 

  2. These are more like prototypes than examples, in the sense that they account for a wide range of these agenda conflicts, if not defining them precisely. 

Last updated February 24, 2016