How to Determine Affiliative vs. Pragmatic

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It can be commonly seen throughout the typology community that there is a misunderstanding of what it means to be affiliative or pragmatic. This appears to be specifically a problem when differentiating between Idealists (NFs) and Intellectuals (NTs). Since the simplest way to differentiate between them is juxtaposing one from the other, I will state why mistakes are made and how to correctly differentiate between the Affiliative and Pragmatic types.

The pragmatic types are the Intellectuals (NTs) and the Artisans (SPs). Being pragmatic means that a person’s preferred basis for interaction is focused on what works. The affiliative types are the Idealist (NFs) and the Guardians (SJs). Being affiliative means that a person’s basis for interaction is focused on what’s right. Pragmatic types value independence inside a group setting so that they are allowed the freedom of making their own decisions, while affiliative types value interdependence inside the group to achieve a desired result. This doesn’t necessarily mean that all affiliative types are not independent minded or rely solely on group thinking. Affiliative types can be independent thinkers, but when interacting with others inside a group setting, they would expect others to communicate or check-in with everyone else before making decisions. There is going to be an issue if all parties inside the group are not cooperating, or if they witness the unfair treatment of another person that goes against the social rules or norms. Contrarily, the pragmatic user will see other human beings as the roadblock getting in the way of their own desired result. Therefore, pragmatic types will try to remain as autonomous as possible so that they are able to make their own decisions. This can be a problem—especially in the workplace. For instance, if a boss is an affiliative user and has a pragmatic employee working under them who never asks for permission before making decisions, the employee runs the risk of potentially being fired because of a perceived overreach. To the pragmatic, having authority over them gets in the way of achieving  the fastest or most optimal outcome. Waiting to ask permission would hinder their progression.

(in MBTI communities, F vs T is often confused with affiliative vs pragmatic, also causing mistyping amongst sensing types)

Many times, people are confused determining the differences between affiliative vs. pragmatic when using the type grid. To properly determine if someone is either affiliative or pragmatic, one must understand the difference between primary and secondary. Since everyone has four sides of the mind, everyone can utilize either an affiliative or pragmatic role depending on which side of their mind they transition to. They are potentially able to shift into a side of their mind that could be the opposite of their primary. However, a person will be inside their ego and interact with others in either an affiliative or pragmatic way most of the time. Cognitive transition occurs when a person is faced with a problem that they cannot solve in their ego. For the most part they will first transition into either their unconscious or subconscious, and as a last resort, their super ego. As such, when determining the types of others, it’s important to base the assessment of that person’s interaction style as an affiliative vs. pragmatic user over multiple occurrences or statements before arriving to a conclusion. A person who is properly inside their ego will make decisions without much deliberation or hesitation because the ego has the most developed functions inside the psyche.

The main differences between NFs and NTs is that NFs, as affiliative types, are people focused while NTs are task focused as pragmatic types. Affiliative types seek harmony inside the group to achieve results while the pragmatic ones will value self-sufficiency or merit over everything. Affiliative types are interdependent; the pragmatic types are independent. Depending on which side of the mind a person has cognitive transitioned to, they can be both. However, if someone is mentally operating in a healthy way and is under no pressure to behave unnaturally by being pushed outside of their ego, an accurate assessment can be made on their primary temperament.

In summary, after gaining a true understanding of the differences between affiliative and pragmatic, one can utilize the type grid to identify the temperaments via the temperament matrix in order to achieve an accurate deduction when typing others.


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For a more in-depth look at affiliative vs pragmatic and the four temperaments, check out Season 2.

Ms. Moo

Ms. Moo writes unambiguous content for the betterment of other’s understanding of Jungian Analytical Psychology. She has a can-do mindset and is on a serious mission with a firm belief that quality writing trumps clickbait content.

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Eduardo Juez
Eduardo Juez

Very interesting!

I think that this contains highly useful information. All brains are constantly seeking efficiency as a survival trait. Knowing this, one can in fact recognize the root of every simple or complex decision in the mind before it renders into action. Maybe most people don’t know that both types exist in all minds and that it is a matter of which one is used primarily by the individual upon his/her personality or priorities, especially when important things are at stake.

Great article!


This is really well articulated, kudos. Being a pragmatic NT is difficult coz we can come off as cocky or rebellious. Since you touched on the boss-employee dynamics, I have one question. What are your thoughts on Authority Issues? Especially an INTJ (verified) with authority issues. When a person who hates authority has to take up a place of authority, he starts hating himself because he’s being what he hates. Does this make sense? Is there any connection with being an INTJ or is this a whole different issue? Thanks. Peace

Dean Heckathorn

I’m INFJ and I was raised by two pragmatists that basically told me that affiliative people are dumb and weak. Therefore, I was expected to be pragmatic and I can go that way instantly by going into my ESTP subconscious. However, it feels more natural to be affiliative. When I was in grade school, rather than fight, I would let the aggressor hit me once then we would shake and be friends. This happened twice, but after that nobody tried to fight me because they looked weak and foolish for hitting me. I can also become a real pushy jerk… Read more »