The Yielding/Obstinate dichotomy is determined by the threshold for excitation in the Rational functions (T and F) of a type. The explanation for this dichotomy is mainly derived from Model T, which is the result of Victor Talanov’s research into neural thresholds.
A threshold is the minimum level at which a stimulus can be detected by a function. A weak stimulus will be detected by a function with a low threshold but invisible to a function with a high threshold. The “bandwidth” of a function is, however, finite: there is also a terminal threshold determining the maximum intensity at which a signal can be detected. As the terminal threshold is fixed at a certain level above the minimum threshold, a function with a low threshold doesn’t have the ability to detect high intensity signals.
Excitation refers to a function’s response to a stimulus. An excited function will produce a signal matching in intensity the incoming stimulus. A stimulus outside a function’s excitation threshold interval will not produce a matching outgoing signal. Lack of excitation leads to boredom, so functions tend to move toward signals that match their excitation interval.
A function with a Low Excitation Threshold is stimulated by even the weakest signals, so they maintain focus and engagement in relatively “quiet” environments. These functions get bored and generally ignore high intensity stimuli, however. The output of these functions are, likewise, low intensity signals. These functions are highly sensitive and excel in areas requiring finesse and precision. They are, however, prone to false positives (partial hallucinations, unnecessary stimulation) and get easily overwhelmed in urgent and intense situation. An important thing to note is that the excitation caused by a stimulus decreases with repetition: the function builds a tolerance for that specific stimulus. As a result, these functions become more interested and engaged the more a stimulus is repeated: repetition brings the intensity down to their threshold.
A function with a High Excitation Threshold seeks excitement and strong stimulation but gets quickly bored in mundane or repetitive situations. These functions have poor attention to detail as well as direct, “brute force” approaches to problem solving, but they respond quickly and show great interest in unusual, exciting, or dangerous situations. They exhibit thrill-seeking behavior combined with a general indifference toward small inconveniences and obstacles. These functions get quickly bored in repetitive or monotonous situations, searching instead for a constant stream of novel input.
In the example below you can see the excitation thresholds for ENFJ and ISTJ.
As the table above shows, extraverts have a high excitation threshold in their first function, while introverts start with a low excitation threshold. The second function matches the first, while functions 3 and 4 compensate for the first two with the opposite threshold.
Once again, conflictors have the same threshold for each function. This shows a remarkable similarity between conflict pairs: identical thresholds for both excitation and inhibition in each function.
Connection with other models
This section is only relevant to those looking to integrate their understanding of this dichotomy and Model T in general with already established models. If you’re unfamiliar with model A or Dimensionality you can safely skip this section without affecting your understanding of this dichotomy.
The excitation threshold corresponds to the attitude (Introversion vs. Extraversion) of each function’s evaluatory pole in model A. A function is Evaluatory when it’s 1d or 4d. A low threshold corresponds to introversion ,while a high threshold indicates extraversion. Below is an example of an INTP’s evaluatory functions, along with their corresponding excitation thresholds.
Features of Yielding vs. Obstinate
Looking at the excitation thresholds, we can see that when the Feeling function has a low threshold, Thinking has a high threshold, and when the Feeling function has a high threshold, Thinking has a low threshold for excitation. Based on this, we can split the types into two categories.
Thinking: High Excitation Threshold
Feeling: Low Excitation Threshold
Types: ENTJ, ENTP, ESTJ, ESTP, INFJ, INFP, ISFJ, ISFP
- Sensitive and protective about their personal space and relationships
- Protective of their privacy
- Easily form emotional attachments with objects
- Protective and particular about their personal space (their home, room, etc.)
- Uncomfortable when guests move around their personal space and interact with objects carelesly
- Sensitive about their own bodies (“I’m not a hugger”); don’t like to be touched casually
- Physical objects and resources are not interchangeable; objects they own have an emotional value greater than the physical/economic value
- Frequently experience anxiety and restlessness
- Memories tend to be saturated by emotions, and emotions often trigger the recall of a memory
- More emotional at long distance, where there is some separation between them and other people (formal or ritualized communication, text communication, phone conversations, etc.): the long distance reduces emotional intensity, which gives them space to be more expressive
- Place great importance on their personal space and are sensitive to intrusions: people looking over their shoulder, standing too close while talking, etc.
- Find themselves romanticizing common objects and behaviors
- Tendency to idealize people
- Don’t get bored of people; know how to appreciate and even admire apparently simple and mundane character traits
- When judging the emotional content of a situation. will focus on individual and isolated nuances rather than considering the whole picture at once
- Emotional response may seem arbitrary and inadequate to people not familiar with their specific preferences due to the focus on specific nuances
- Less likely to dismiss emotional details and small differences
- Less likely to offend someone for cultural reasons
- Predisposed to feelings of guilt and more likely to change as a result of them
- Less likely to change as a result of shame and ethical arguments coming from others as those are too painful to internalize
- Painful reaction to emotions directed towards them even if positive: react to flattery and compliments in a defensive manner
- Find it hard to communicate to multiple people at once, prefer one-on-one communication
- Like to ritualize relationships and emotions, as predictability and repetition decrease emotional intensity
- Well aware of the boundary between their resources and those of others
Thinking : Low Excitation Threshold
Feeling : High Excitation Threshold
Types: ENFJ, ENFP, ESFJ, ESFP, INTJ, INTP, ISTJ, ISTP
- Look for intensity and excitement in emotions and relationships
- Open: allow others to share their physical space and are less inclined to keep secrets
- Need an intense and dramatic experience to attach emotions to a physical object; such objects are rare for these types
- Like change and novelty in their personal space (new guests, redecorating, etc.)
- Enjoy seeing other people interact with the things they love
- Enjoy touching and physical contact; find it difficult to establish a bond in the absence of it
- Physical objects and resources are interchangeable; the value of objects is judged pragmatically according to their potential use and their economic value
- Easily get bored when the situation is not emotionally stimulating
- Find it easy to forget unpleasant thoughts and memories, or at least to put them out of their mind when they become distracting
- Emotional in close psychological distance. Like to interact directly with people, preferring to see them face to face
- Like inviting others into their personal space and feel energized when working around other people, especially if they are active and provide emotional encouragement
- Don’t romanticize events or objects and get bored quickly when things are presented as ‘more than they are’
- Interpret the character of people in a pragmatic and objective manner; don’t idealize or use “rose colored glasses”
- More likely to get bored of people and are drawn to those manifesting extreme or unusual character traits
- Judge the emotional content of a situation on broad strokes; focus on the big picture, ignoring the details
- Strong emotional responses (laughing loudly in the presence of others, getting animated, etc.); like synchronizing their emotions with the people around them
- Likely to dismiss emotional details and small differences
- Standards of behavior are universal; less likely to adapt to someone’s particularities
- Less likely to experience guilt or change as a result of guilt
- To change, they require a combination of guilt and strong ethical arguments
- Positive reaction to emotions directed towards them: enjoy compliments and even seek criticism
- Enjoy communicating with multiple people at once and having an audience
- Get bored quickly of rituals in relationships; try to change things up to keep relationships fresh
- Poorly aware of the boundary between their resources and those of others
- To be interested in a situation, need to perceive it as being a real opportunity for material benefit
- Poorly aware of the boundary between their personal interests and those of others
- Like organizing in broad strokes, but dislike getting involved in logistical details (enjoy planning a large enterprise workflow but not the role and responsibilities of each team member)
- Like physically demanding jobs that require fast thinking and physical exertion happening at the same time
- When solving a problem, focus on the big picture and develop catch-all solutions that attempt to solve the entire problem at once
- Jump-start to solving the most difficult and interesting problems, skipping over obvious or mundane issues
- Get bored quickly of entertainment that relies on logic; need something exceptional or to solve a problem with real consequences to feel stimulated
- In leadership roles, tend to make decision by themselves. These decisions are usually broad and apply to the entire organization. Don’t delegate the power of decision, only tasks
- Like sudden shifts in rules and strong decisions in response to changing events
- Like working within top-down organizational structures with an active leadership and frequent decisions coming from above
- Dislike when rules are too strictly followed and decisions don’t adapt to changing situations
- When speaking, will launch into an argument before having fully considered their conclusion
- See rules more as one-time decisions; support their enforcement when they’re enacted but often refuse to comply in the long run
- To comply with a rule, need the threat of strong repercussions (fines and other forms of punishment)
- Will liberally enforce harsh penalties when someone breaks a rule
- Underestimate the potential impact of logical arguments in convincing people
- Think people are easier to deceive than convince through logic; the main methods of persuasion are either subtle emotional manipulation or overt threats
- Organizations are interpreted as being transparent and easy to understand when there are few rules that are broad and described in simple, informal language, and where decisions can be taken quickly and applied to the entire organization. Organizations where there are detailed rules for each case with exceptions and conditions being explicitly defined and where decisions and initiatives are bound by rules and regulations are seen as dysfunctional and nontransparent
- Strive for uniformity in practical and organizational matters: for example, when a new technique or technology becomes available, either reject it wholesale or implement it across the whole organization
- Solutions are labor and resource intensive but simple to understand and implement and allow room for individuals to tweak them to their personal preferences
- In scientific endeavors, ignore the details and instead try to arrive at a generalized outline of the laws in effect
- Willing to compromise to fit multiple viewpoints into one result; trust the work of teams of experts arriving at a conclusion collectively
- Search for new and unexpected facts that will update and reshape exciting and well-established theories
- Sensitive about their material interests. Protective and territorial when they perceive people or events as threatening their prospects
- Well aware of the boundary between their personal interests and those of others
- Attentive to details in matters of logistics and organization
- The ease of excitation in this area manifests even physically; when thinking deeply, need to move their bodies (e.g. pace around the room)
- When solving a problem, prefer to start with the details, hoping that once the main obstacles and bottlenecks are eliminated, the situation will clarify
- Prefer to start by solving simple and obvious issues and progress through problems in increasing order of complexity (hope that solving the obvious problems will simplify the complex ones)
- Prefer routine forms of logical recreation
- Like types of work that require attention to logical details
- In leadership roles, consult others before any important decision, and delegate responsibility to experts
- Like predictable and consistent rules. Rules should be carefully designed so they apply to all situations.
- Like working within organizations with clear rules that are observed consistently and uniformly. Expect to be consulted before major rule changes
- Dislike when rules are ambiguous, have frequent exceptions, or are casually ignored
- When speaking, will consider their conclusion before starting to speak
- All that’s required to comply with rules is understanding their reason and application
- If they don’t disagree with a rule, they won’t disobey it, even if there are no repercussions
- Not likely to enforce harsh punishments for breaking a rule, more likely to simply try to convince the offender of the logic and virtue of the rule
- Overestimate the potential impact of logical arguments in convincing people
- Try to convince people through arguments, attempting to show through emotional displays and honesty that they fully believe in the reason and virtue behind their argument
- Organizations are interpreted as being transparent and easy to understand when the rules are explicit and consistent and are equally well defined and obeyed at all levels of authority. Organizations where decisions are taken on a whim and the rules are subject to goodwill and interpretation will be seen as dysfunctional and nontransparent.
- Like to have back-up plans and prefer gradual and partial implementation: for example, when a new technique or technology becomes available, it’s first tested, then implemented in some areas but not others, while old or alternative solutions are kept in storage “just in case”
- Solutions are cunning and rely on non-obvious details; attempt to achieve the most impact with the least expenditure. These solutions need exact compliance to work and require individuals to trust in incomplete knowledge
- In scientific endeavors, rely on the analysis and comparison of multiple parts; trust in probabilities, statistical analysis, and the painstaking work of individual experts. Not willing to make concessions in the pursuit of truth. Aim for exciting and surprising revelations extracted out of well-known facts.
Note that the name mainly describes the behavior of Thinking. In terms of Feeling, Yielding types are stubborn and guarded (contradicting the name), while Obstinate types are open and happy to share (again, opposite of what the name implies).