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Judgment or Perception (J/P)

Excerpted from Please Understand Me II, by David Keirsey
Copyrighted © 1998, all rights reserved

Myers claimed that she confined her usage of the word "judgment" (J) to mean "coming to a conclusion," but again and again she used "judgment" to describe people who make and keep schedules in their daily lives. Myers also used the word "perception" (P) to describe people who prefer to probe for options and thus not be tied to a schedule.

In other words, Schedulers are judicious about schedules, Probers perceptive of options. Schedulers make agendas, timetables, programs, lists, syllabi, calendars, outlines, registers, and so on, for themselves and others to follow; Probers keep their eyes open for chances to do things they want to, for opportunities and alternatives they might avail themselves of. Each orientation has problems. By committing themselves to a set agenda, Schedulers tend to stop looking for alternatives and options and so may never know what they're missing. By keeping their options open Probers are reluctant to commit themselves to schedules and so are inclined to miss deadlines and leave tasks unfinished.

Unfortunately, the difference between Schedulers and Probers can be a source of irritation in personal relationships, both in the home and the workplace, the latter where opposites must work together to accomplish a task. Schedulers, whether observant or introspective, tend to believe that one's work comes before all else, and must be finished before one rests or plays. This strict work ethic has a marked effect on what they will to do to get the job done. They tend to establish deadlines and to take them seriously, expecting others to do the same. And they are willing to do all sorts of preparation, maintenance, and cleaning up afterwards -- just because these are necessary to see the job through to its conclusion.

Not so with Probers, who seem more playful about their work. The job doesn't have to be finished before play or rest begins, and they tend to look upon deadlines as mere alarm clocks which buzz at a given time, easily turned off or ignored while they catch an extra forty winks, almost as if the deadline were used more as a signal to start than to complete a project. Also, Probers are much more insistent that the work be enjoyable and to the purpose. Indeed, if the given task is not directly instrumental (is mere preparation, maintenance, or clean up), then they may balk at doing it, or wander off and leave it to someone else.

This difference extends to the physical environment as well. Schedulers tend to be neat and orderly. They like their desk at work to be tidy, and their house picked up -- dishes done, bed made, car washed, and so on. Not that they always manage all of these chores, but they are unhappy when their personal space is a mess, and straightening things up is often near the top of their list. Probers, in contrast, have a much greater tolerance for disorder in their physical environment. They seem absorbed in whatever they're doing or thinking about at the moment, and are somewhat oblivious to the details of housekeeping. And so their personal spaces -- office, house, garage, car -- are often cluttered with a variety of objects they have picked up, used, and then dropped when they have finished with them.

These two styles -- Oscar and Felix in The Odd Couple -- can get on each other's nerves. Schedulers can become impatient with Probers for what seems their passiveness and playfulness, and can be heard to describe them as "indecisive" and "foot-dragging," as "aimless" and "lazy," as "uncooperative," "quibbling," and a "roadblock," as "sloppy" and even "slovenly." On the other hand, Probers can become impatient with Schedulers because of their pressure and urgency, and will describe them as "in too big a hurry" and "too rule-bound," as "driven" and "wearing blinders," as "uptight," "stressed-out," and "slave-driving," as "arbitrary," "rigid and inflexible," and even as "neat-freaks."

Usually, such irritation and name-calling will subside when the two study each other's behavior. Many become fascinated and entertained by their differences, and with further understanding find it easy to make allowances for the other's way. Some can actually come to see that the two styles are complementary in turning in a job well done: Probers to spot opportunities and lay out alternatives, and Schedulers to be timely and press for closure.

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