Personality preferences in your 4-H club: Judging and perceiving

Got judgers? Got perceivers? Of course! Strategies to ensure they’re all valued in your 4-H club.

You probably noticed it during a group project when you were a student. Some members of your group were eager to get started and make decisions about the details of the project, while others wanted to delay making decisions, and might not have submitted their part of the project until the last minute. The eager group members might have accused the others of procrastinating, and the individuals who just barely met the deadline might have accused the others of trying to make decisions before they had all of the information that was needed. A bit of conflict might have occurred.

Or, you may have noticed differences among your colleagues in the workplace. Some co-workers seem to get their work done ahead of schedule, while others tend to be racing to meet deadlines. That phenomenon is sometimes linked to a personality preference regarding one’s orientation to the outer world: judging or perceiving. People with a preference for judging tend to make plans and decisions quickly, and individuals who prefer perceiving may delay making a decision while they gather more information. People with both preferences are equally capable of meeting deadlines; the difference is that perceivers find the last-minute rush to finish stimulating, while judgers are stimulated by finishing early. The distinction is illustrated very well in this brief video on judging versus perceiving.

If everyone meets their deadlines, it shouldn’t matter how they get the task done. But the differences between these two personality preferences have the potential to create a lot of conflict in relationships and groups, simply because people tend to believe their own approach is the “right” one. They may not be aware there is another perfectly valid orientation to the outer world. To learn more, review this brief list of the common characteristics of people who prefer judging or perceiving by the Myers and Briggs Foundation.

If you work with a group of young people in a 4-H club or other setting, consider talking to them about this aspect of personality preferences before they embark on a group project. For some examples of kid-friendly language to describe the differences between judging and perceiving, check out this video based on the Murphy Meisgeier Type Indicator for Children. Try these strategies to make group projects less stressful for young people with either preference:

  • If a project is likely to extend over several weeks or months, consider dividing it into several mini-assignments with interim deadlines. 4-H curricula are often divided into smaller activities, which appeals to the judger’s desire to complete tasks, and creates a sense of immediacy for perceivers.
  • Give the young people with a preference for perceiving an opportunity to share what they’ve learned during the project by facilitating “check-in discussions” at regular intervals. The perceivers might not have started on the finished product, but they’ve certainly been taking in information they can share with the group.
  • Help the judgers in your group feel comfortable by encouraging the group to establish a flexible plan for their project. It might be as simple as using a calendar to decide on a final deadline date and a few check-in dates. The young people who prefer to create plans and lists can do so for their individual work, using those dates as a starting point. The young people who prefer to be a bit more open and flexible will find there’s room for their style around those deadline dates too.

If you’d like a useful tool to help young people explore their personality preferences, visit BecomeWhoYouAre.net. The website includes links to age-appropriate instruments that help children understand their natural preferences to gain energy, take in information, make decisions and engage with the world around them. For a basic overview of personality preferences written for adults, the Myers and Briggs Foundation’s Judging or Perceiving page is an excellent resource.

This is Part 7 in a Michigan State University Extension series on personality preferences and youth development. For more, see:

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