Sensing Intuiting – how we know what we know

Sensing Intuiting is when we gather information from our environment, using our senses (Sensing) to attend to the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and sensations we perceive. We then process this information, to make meaning of it (Intuiting), to decide whether it is threatening or valuable.

sensing intuitingOur minds are not capable of attending to all information – our nervous systems would be overwhelmed. What we sense is heavily biased to what we have unconsciously decided is important.

We also make meanings based on our previous experiences and by our emotional states and state of health. The same request for help can be exciting and stimulating or fill us with dread depending on how resourceful or well we feel.

So What Type am I?

No one can totally just use Sensing or Intuiting. Both are part of a process. We observe something in the world and we reflect and make meaning about it. You cannot just do one or the other. “Oh there is a tiger; doesn’t he have a lot of teeth showing?” Or (without noticing the tiger) “what is the concept of cat food?”


When we are in Sensing mode, we are using our senses to gather and process information. We don’t make judgments or evaluations about what we observe, just notice what is there. We might say of someone – “Dan is speaking quickly and in a higher pitch than usual”. We don’t mix evaluations such as “he must be excited/upset” when in sensing mode.

This type of gathering and processing values authority, realism, order, goal oriented tasks, the tangible the concrete. In its pure form, it corresponds to the childhood development stage of concrete operations.

Sensors can see Intuitors as having their heads in the cloud and not being realistic. Sensors pay attention to the details or notice particular trees rather than the whole forest.


When we are in Intuiting mode, we use our inner world to add meaning to what we get from our senses. We gather information by conceptualizing – reflecting, meditating, researching and talking about data from both the outside and the inside world. We use meaning to determine facts rather than just noticing what is there.

It is like moving through the world mind reading. Intuiting involves more evaluative language and labeling and like finding patterns and wholes. “Dan is really agitated today; I wonder what I have done to upset him”. It can make us blind and deaf to what is really going on in the external world. It is therefore vital to check out our intuitions and guesses so we don’t confuse intuition with reality.

Intuitors can see Sensors as dull and boring. Intuitors usually sort globally (see the forest rather than the trees). IQ tests are biased toward Intuitors.