These two, classic terms have been defined in many ways throughout the years in terms of the lifestyles they birth and the habits they create. But we can now use a different manner of identifying I/E, instead as it directly affects the cognition of individuals in real-time.
These two psychic dispositions are excellently described in Jung’s opening pages of Psychological Types as a magnetic attraction to the ‘object’ (E) or the repulsion of the external for a gravitation toward the subject (I). They are, in this form, primarily about cognitive attention.
But how would this redirection of attention affect our appearance?
Lets slow down time here and analyze people closely. When the body is engaging in a subjective process, the attention of the mind is turned away (shut off) from the objective world, and this creates a disconnect from the outer. To put it in practical terms, imagine for a moment what happens when a person enters a profound state of contemplation:
A man’s attention ceases to be connected to the external world. They will abandon/neglect the outer for the pursuit of the inner. We intuitively and culturally understand this activity, as it’s been the subject and representation of many of our most iconic statues:
Now, if asked what a person thinks these images convey… the popular response may be “they’re thinking”. This is precisely right, although this common-day-use of the word ‘thinking’ or ‘contemplating’ is not to be confused with the process of logical judgment (“T”).
“Thinking” is unfortunately a rather loose term that can be used to describe just about any mental process not just “logic”. What we are seeing in the above two examples is essentially introversion. It is the active accessing of inner faculties of any variety. To reiterate what Jung said, we abandon the outer for a magnetic attraction to the inner:
It is the moment when we abandon the object (outer) for a pursuit of the inner (subject); we explore the domain of our private landscapes and during this time we are ‘absent’ in the actual world. Our eyes become disconnected, our demeanor changes.
When this association is accepted, it then becomes a reasonable gauge of someone’s level of introversion. When we witness a person whose body is constantly receding into itself by the eyes looking down, diverting their attention from their surroundings, the we know that this person is accessing internal content.
Another way to think of this introversion/extroversion duality as manifest in the body is as proactive and reactive energy. The extroverted processes seek-out, or have their locus of attention in some outward concept/substance. The introverted process instead reflects and reacts to what the extroverted processes initiate, and mulls over it internally.
Now, next I would like to talk about Extroverted Perception, or as I like to call it, proactive perception. When a person is accessing proactive perception they are seeking out information (P) in the real world (E). “Pe” is the abandonment of the subject for an absorption of the qualities and substances existing outside of the self.
This outward attention naturally causes the eyes to be more engaged with the qualities of the external. The eyes will become alert (“seeking”), animated and receptive to impressions and input:
Not only that, but when Pe is heavily accessed, the person will tend to drift between new impressions. Often idea-hopping or attention-hopping. “What’s here!” “What’s over there!” “What’s under this rock?” We can all imagine a small, but rambunctious child wandering about the place, exploring its environment for the first time. This is also why I call the Pe process the Explorer process.
When the explorer process is heavily engaged, the body will be loose, receptive, adaptive, curious and energetic. This energy comes from the proactive aspect of the process, which is eager to leap forward into a new impression and onto new information (whether that new info is literal (S) or abstract (N)).
Introverted perception is a bit the opposite. When we engaged introverted perception, we do not gather our information from the external. As an introverted process, Pi is innately in opposition to the outer world. The role of the subjective perception process is to seek information (P) within the self (I); to delve into memory and reference pre-existing perceptions/worldviews – as it is incapable of going outward for its information: it must delve inward. I refer to this process as the Worldview process as it supplies a body of knowledge – a tapestry to draw from – for the navigation of the explorer process and the calculation of the judgment processes.
When the body is engaged in reactive perception, it remains true that information is being sought, but not from the environment. As such, the eyes will display a similar “seeking” signal as Pe, but wholly divorced from the actuality of the environment. This seeking is taking place internally, through the bowels of memory; of subjective impressions and associations made previously or universally.
We have all seen the curious phenomenon of people scowling at the ground, as if attempting to find some lost object that was dropped, while the mind was entirely disconnected from the relevance of the ground, floor or environment in general. When we observe people scowling at the ground, or to their sides, what often accompanies this action is the activity of recollection. They will be searching inward for some factoid, some opinion or detail.
This type of perception is not the same as Pe, yet it is nonetheless a process that attains information (P) — but from precedent. When we see people who are constantly zoning-out, as they look to the sides and drift off into a slideshow of images and impressions, we will see a person with strong access of internal perception.