Visual typing: Fi vs. Fe

Visual typing is a useful tool employed by many typologists in order to type individuals without interacting with them. By analyzing facial expressions, you can work towards typing someone more accurately. While it is not an exact science, visual typing can be used to get an approximation of a persons type, or at least rule out some options.

Many students of typology have developed a process for typing someone. My process is as follows:

1. Dominant and/or inferior function(s). 

2. Fi/Te or Fe/Ti.

3. Auxiliary function.

Visual typing can be used most frequently in step two. Step one and three require descriptions about the person, talking to them, or observing them. Step two can be done visually, with fairly accurate results. 

The facial expressions of Fe users and Fi users differ greatly. Fe users are naturally more expressive of their emotions, and their faces change more drastically with less of an emotion than Fi would need. As such, Fe users generally have more expressive faces, and their emotions will probably show on their face naturally. By contrast, Fi users show their emotions in a more forced and artificial way. It takes much stronger emotions for Fi users to express their emotions more naturally, and even then their eyes rarely display their emotions in the same way that Fe users’ eyes do. 

Mark Zuckerberg, an INTJ, is a pretty solid example of Fi-eyes. Although there is some eye involvement, because he is smiling, there is still a certain emptiness in the eyes themselves. The surrounding muscles seem to have moved, but his eyes are still somewhat aloof and distant. His expression looks somewhat forced, as though he isn’t really happy. In this photograph, Zuckerberg is posing, and as the image he is attempting to build for himself is one of a warmer and more human version of himself, it makes sense that he is trying to seem warmer and more welcoming in this photograph. If he were smiling in a normal context, he would be even less expressive with his eyes. This is fairly textbook Fi. 

By contrast, we have Nelson Mandela. An ENFJ, his eyes clearly display his emotions. You can see the muscles around the eyes, giving them a unique shape and frame. His smile looks natural, the muscles are moving because that’s how he expresses emotion, not because he feels obligated to force his emotions onto his face. 

Typing someone like this can be extremely useful. By determining whether they use Fe or Fi, you can rule out 8 of the 16 options for their type. 

Remember, this is a rule of thumb; it is possible for Fi users to develop their ability to express their emotions on their face, or for them to do this naturally (this is especially likely if they are extroverted). However, in the majority of cases, it is accurate. 

There is another post about typing based on the eyes here, and it can further help with visual typing.