Bold Functions

The bold functions are those in the dominant, tertiary, demonstrative, and role positions.  Bold functions have the following qualities:

  • Forwardness.  The individual does not exercise restraint in the use of these functions.  They are rarely, if ever, hesitant to enter an environment or begin a task that will require the use of these functions.  This is different from function strength in that an individual may still experience anxiety, discomfort, or fatigue while using these functions if they are weak; however, the salient point is that they are not avoidant of them.  For example, an ESFJ may grow weary of brainstorming or testing out new ways to solve a problem (using their tertiary Ne), but they will not easily give up or avoid such tasks the way an INxJ (with strong but cautious ignoring Ne) might.  Note that the tertiary function, in particular, is not consciously activated by the individual, even though it is bold; however, it is very sensitive to external stimulation, and this is the point at which the individual does not choose to shy away.
  • Flexibility.  The individual will frequently attempt to use or demonstrate these functions and test whether they are applicable or useful in a given situation.  The strong bold functions (dominant and demonstrative) are used as battering rams, unassailably and with almost no self-reflection or sense of fatigue.  The individual also displays little to no hint of their insecurity or lack of ability in using the weak bold functions (tertiary and role), either to the world or, often, to themselves.  For the tertiary function, this is due to a naivety surrounding this function; the individual often overestimates the strength and frequency of use of the tertiary, and will not be aware of the fatigue, discomfort, or fear it produces even as they are experiencing them.  For the role function, this is due to embarrassment and the perceived need to be good at this function in order to fit into society.  The individual is often, though not always, aware of their weakness in this area, but sees it as a fundamental and valued part of the norms of their society.  Thus, they attempt to project confidence and eagerness to use this function, despite their conscious or unconscious insecurity.  Indeed, the weak bold functions may be used even more openly and frequently than the strong cautious functions.
  • Alignment with ego.  The bold functions all have the same function attitude – introverted or extraverted – as the individual’s dominant function, and thus the individual themselves.  For example, the bold functions of all introverted types are the introverted functions.  This means that it requires less of a physical or psychological adjustment to use these functions than would be required by using the cautious function – the individual can continue acting and behaving in almost the same way even as they switch between functions (e.g. holding back and staying in their mind rather than responding rapidly and showing emotion).  This also comes into play with projection vs. introjection, which we will discuss in a future article, in that the individual not only enjoys a continuity of self-conception when staying within the bold functions, but also continues to see the world as remaining relatively constant and ‘normal’ when they use these functions.

Cautious Functions

The cautious functions are those in the auxiliary, inferior, ignoring, and vulnerable positions.  Cautious functions have the following qualities:


  • Reticence.  The individual attempts to either avoid or proceed slowly into situations or contexts where use of these functions is required.  Valued functions (auxiliary and inferior) still often compel the individual to action, but it is after a period of reflection and preparation, along with a measured, methodical approach during the activity.  For unvalued cautious functions (ignoring and vulnerable), the situation is often avoided completely if possible, or else wrapped up quickly.
  • Disengagement.  The individual will seem shy or embarrassed when using these functions, and may use a lot of mitigating language.   Additionally, despite being strong functions, the auxiliary and ignoring functions are often sensitive to criticism.  “I probably won’t be any good at this,” someone might say, before doing a fine job.  Or, “It seems to me that maybe…,” before they say something accurate.  Of course, for weak cautious functions, the mitigating language might be more reflective of reality.  “I have a terrible memory,” says the ENxJ – and they do.  “I’m no good at complicated puzzles,” laments the ESFP, as they inch away in trepidation.  Compare this to an INxJ or ISFP, who are similarly cursed in these ways, and yet put on a brave face and try their best (due to these functions being their role function, which is bold).
  • Disorientation.  Because the cautious functions have the opposite function attitude as the individual’s dominant function, the individual will often feel uncomfortable and out of sorts when using them.  This is not to say that it’s always a negative emotion – they may enjoy doing something unusual, and even (especially with the inferior function) find it fun and refreshing.  That said, it will still feel like something outside of the norm and isolated to particular circumstances.

Additional Information

Further Reading

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