I adapted the following insights from Lenore Thompson’s Personality Type book. If you wish to learn more, I recommend it as an excellent, in-depth resource with far more insights than alluded to here.
Se-dominance (Extroverted Sensing, ESPs) cultivate learning through hands-on involvement, by strengthening the link between sensing perception and instinctive response. Their bodies must get into the act. They believe true knowledge is always concrete, a product of first-hand experience. Like the person who wants to try deep sea diving and knows the only way to learn is through doing it—plunging in and getting a “feel” for what it requires. To a Se-dom, direct experience is all that counts. They take action, see what happens, and make adjustments when they do it again.
Se-doms are not just physically active, but socially. What is going on around them deeply influences them and cultivates a desire to take part in it. They get a “feel” for atmosphere, style, and image. They know what interests others and often want to be on the cusp of it.
ESPs depend on Se for their identity and relationship with others. They understand life by way of their surface perceptions and prefer situations that change rapidly enough to hold their attention. Their senses may be so in tune with the outer world, they seem to be anticipating things before they happen. They may get bored when a situation denies them hands-on experience or requires assessment without action. Their need for sensory input is so strong, these types may find it difficult to recognize relationships apart from their physical proximity and direct responses. They may live by the mantra “distance makes the heart grow fonder—of someone else.” They need to see and therefore know they are having an impact on others.
ESPs believe “life is right now”—explosive, impulsive, kinesthetic, a matter of doing and having things. They lose interest quickly with information unrelated to their skills and interests. They love to find and challenge themselves to adapt to new situations. Se-doms respond to negative situations by recognizing their responsibility to the situation, the part they play in it, and by moving to affect it for the good (taking action to change the situation or steer it in a new direction).
ESPs use their second function only when it supports their dominant aim and goals. Neglect of it makes them purely about experiences, rather than able to assess their contribution to the world in a meaningful way. But more often, they feel the pull of their inferior Introverted Intuition (Ni). Ni suggests to them that absolute meaning is an illusion, the result of having incomplete information. ESPs refuse to recognize this perspective as part of their internal make-up. It seems stupid and dangerous to them, the province of theorists who fear to take action. When experiencing Ni impulses, the Se-dom feels as if their way of life (direct experience) is being criticized by abstract standards and assumptions—by someone who wasn’t there and doesn’t know them. They are certain people are discriminating against them for their surface identity. When something contradicts the straightforward expectations dictated by direct experience, inferior Ni tends to foster the suspicion of conspiracy where none exists.
ESPs experience regular bouts of dissatisfaction. When Ni spirals outside their control, they interpret it as restlessness and seek new challenges rather than taking it as an invitation to go beyond their usual method of handling things. They must embrace this dissatisfaction as giving them time to reflect and determine what they want to bring to life rather than just what they can get out of it.
Distinctions between ESTP and ESFP
Both types enjoy action and excitement in forms dependent on a familiar framework of perceptual experience. They need some familiarity to count on for their adaptation, so they accumulate as much experience in their interests and field as necessary to give them the knowledge to adapt in a wide range of situations. But their judging functions (Introverted Thinking and Introverted Feeling) approach situations and people very differently.
ESTPs are realists of the first order, with a talent for evaluating variables and responding with action. They know far more than they can express about what’s likely to happen and what they can do to prevent or support it. They read people very well and are aware of the impression they’re making. ESTPs can be ruthlessly pragmatic, capable of depersonalizing a situation and seeing others as players in a game that results in winners and losers. They may believe most relationships are basically interchangeable. They have little patience for or interest in contemplating abstract knowledge. They prefer concrete facts with practical application.
ESFPs are lovers of tangible reality. They have a good eye for detail and are aware of and interested in anything that appeals to the senses. They are inclined to surrender themselves to the moment without restraint. They are interested in people—how they say things, how they look when they speak, the tone of their voice, and the language of their bodies. They know far more than they realize about others’ intentions and internal states. This makes them seem quite intuitive, but they are actually observant to a very high degree without realizing all the sensory information they are taking in.
They adapt easily to others’ emotional states and feel a strong need for appreciation through tangible methods—gifts, romantic gestures, and surprises. They want to use their reflexes and adaptive ability in a physical way. They do not like unpleasantness that cannot be handled by immediate action. ESFPs are slow to accept novel ideas and test them against the experiences of people they know and trust before acting on them. They don’t understand people who prefer the sidelines.
Without a code of honor, ESPs don’t think much beyond the immediate situation. Ti/Fi development will help them recognize some experiences are more meaningful than others, and more worth their time and energy.