Learning Styles Based on Jung's Theory of Personality

Have you ever felt like you learn best in a particular way? Learning styles affect how well we learn under certain conditions. Some students learn best by hearing information, while others learn best by seeing it. Different theories have emerged to describe how students prefer to learn best, including Jungian learning styles, the VARK learning style model, and the Kolb learning style model.

Jungian Learning Styles

Students learning
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One learning style theory is based on the work of analytical psychologist Carl Jung, who developed a theory of psychological types designed to categorize people in terms of various personality patterns.

Jung's Theory of Personality Types

Jung’s theory focuses on four basic psychological functions:

  1. Extraversion vs. introversion
  2. Sensation vs. intuition
  3. Thinking vs. feeling
  4. Judging vs. perceiving

This theory later led to the development of the famous Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

These dimensions can also be used to assess and describe various learning styles. While each dimension represents a unique aspect of a learning style, individual learning style may include a combination of these dimensions. For example, your learning style might include elements of extraverted, sensing, feeling, and perceiving learning styles.

Extraverted Learning Style

Extroverted students
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The first component of the Jungian learning style dimensions indicates how learners interact with the outside world. Extraverted learners enjoy generating energy and ideas from other people. They prefer socializing and working in groups. Learning activities that benefit extraverted learners include teaching others how to solve a problem, collaborative work, and problem-based learning.

If you enjoy teaching others, participating in a group, and learning by experience, you are probably an extraverted learner. Approximately 60% of learners are extraverted learners.

Characteristics of Extravert Learners

  • Learn best through direct experience
  • Enjoy working with others in groups
  • Often gather ideas from outside sources
  • Willing to lead, participate and offer opinions
  • Jump right in without guidance from others

Introverted Learning Style

Smiling student with phone
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While introverted learners are still sociable, they prefer to solve problems on their own. Introverted learners enjoy generating energy and ideas from internal sources, such as brainstorming, personal reflection, and theoretical exploration.

These learners prefer to think about things before attempting to try a new skill. If you enjoy solitary studying, individual work, and abstract ideas, you are probably an introverted learner. Approximately 40% of learners are introverted learners.

Characteristics of Introvert Learners

  • Prefer to work alone
  • Enjoy quiet, solitary work
  • Often generate ideas from internal sources
  • Prefer to listen, watch and reflect
  • Like to observe others before attempting a new skill

Sensing Learning Style

Learning by experience
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Sensing learners are focused on aspects of the physical environment. Jung described these individuals as being interested in the external world. They tend to be realistic and practical, preferring to rely on information gained through experience.

While people with a sensing learning style enjoy order and routine, they also tend to be very quick to adapt to changing environments and situations. Approximately 65% of learners have a sensing learning style.

Characteristics of Sensate Learners

  • Focus on the present
  • Practical and reasonable
  • Use experience and common sense to solve problems
  • Keenly observe the surrounding world

Intuitive Learning Style

Intuitive student
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Intuitive learners tend to focus more on the world of possibility. Unlike sensing learners, who are interested in the here and now, intuitive learners enjoy considering ideas, possibilities, and potential outcomes. These learners like abstract thinking, daydreaming, and imagining the future. Approximately 35% of learners are intuitive learners.

Characteristics of Intuitive Learners

  • Prefer to work in short sessions, rather than finishing a task all at once
  • Enjoy new challenges, experiences, and situations
  • More likely to look at the big picture rather than the details
  • Like theories and abstract ideas

Thinking Learning Style

Perceptive student
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Individuals with a thinking learning style tend to focus more on the structure and function of information and objects. Thinking learners use rationality and logic when dealing with problems and decisions. These learners often base decisions on personal ideas of right, wrong, fairness, and justice. Approximately 55% of males and 35% of females have a thinking learning style.

Characteristics of Thinking Learners

  • Interested in logic and patterns
  • Dislike basing decisions on emotions
  • Make decisions based on reason and logic

Feeling Learning Style

Smiling and studying
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People with a feeling style manage information based on the initial emotions it generates. They are interested in personal relationships, feelings, and social harmony. If you base decisions on emotions and dislike conflict, you might have a feeling learning style. Approximately 45% of males and 65% of females are feeling learners.

Characteristics of Feeling Learners

  • Interested in people and their feelings
  • In tune with their own emotions and those of other people
  • Base decisions on immediate feelings
  • Generate excitement and enthusiasm in group settings

Judging Learning Style

Serious student in class
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Judging learners tend to be very decisive. In some cases, these learners may make decisions too quickly, before learning everything they need to know about a situation. These learners prefer order and structure, which is why they tend to plan out activities and schedules very carefully.

If you are highly organized, detail-oriented, and have strong opinions, you might be a judging learner. Approximately 45% of people are judging learners.

Characteristics of Judging Learners

  • Do not like ambiguity or mystery
  • Tend to be firm in their decisions
  • Very organized and structured
  • Have strong opinions
  • Generally follow the rules

Perceiving Learning Style

Student looking at molecular model
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Perceiving learners tend to make decisions impulsively in response to new information and changing situations. However, these learners tend to focus more on indulging their curiosity rather than making decisions. Unlike judging learners who tend not to change their minds, perceiving learners prefer to keep their options open.

If you tend to start many projects at once (often without finishing any of them), avoid strict schedules, and jump into projects without planning, you might be a perceiving learner. Approximately 55% of people are perceiving learners.

Characteristics of Perceiving Learners

  • Often make impulsive decisions
  • Change decisions based on new information
  • Dislike structure and organization
  • Tend to be very flexible and adaptable
  • Sometimes have trouble making decisions

Can You Change Your Learning Style?

No matter how you feel about how you learn best, branching out and trying other learning strategies can help maximize learning. Sticking to what you believe is your preferred style may not help you get the most out of your study time.

One study found that learning styles can change for a variety of reasons. Factors that can contribute to changes in learning styles include:

  • Context
  • Environment
  • Teaching method
  • Subject matter

How to Change Your Learning Style

So if you want to work on changing your preferred learning style, try changing where you study and experiment with different learning methods. Intentionally incorporate other tactics and learning formats—such as videos, visuals, lectures, readings, and group discussions—into your studies.

While the concept of learning styles has become very popular, it has also been the subject of considerable criticism. Labeling students with one specific style, critics suggest, can hinder the learning process.

Research has also demonstrated that matching instructional strategies to student learning styles does not improve educational outcomes. So while you might feel like a certain style matches your learning preferences, drawing on various learning and study strategies is the best way to ensure you get the most out of your educational experience.

Different approaches can also help improve your capacity for learning and challenge your brain to tackle different challenges. So if you know that you prefer to learn by quietly reading on your own, you might augment your solo studies by participating in a study group where you can further cement that knowledge (and pick up other new information) through group discussions or guest lectures. 

Varying your approach to learning can not only help introduce you to new study strategies, but can also help make learning more fun and interesting.

A Word From Verywell

The learning styles based on Jung's theory of personality represent just one way of thinking about how people learn. While the concept of learning styles remains very popular, research has found little evidence to support the idea that offering instruction based upon learning preferences leads to improved learning outcomes.

But learning styles can still be a helpful way to think about some of the ways that you enjoy learning. As you look at each style, think about which strategies appeal the most to you. In all likelihood, you will find that your own unique learning preferences draw upon several learning styles.

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Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Kendra Cherry
Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.