Once we have taken in information about the world we have to process it and for this we look at the two ways of processing information or making decisions, thinking and feeling. As in all other parts of the MBTI this doesn’t really mean what it says, because you think doesn’t mean you cant feel and vice versa. It has also always been clear to me that despite the differences in the two dichotomies often they both come to the same conclusion. It is the route they take to get there that is different.
A person with a preference for thinking is logical and likes to consider the logical outcomes of their decisions. They look at things objectively and think about the pros and cons of decisions, evaluating and analysing in order to problem solve and come to the best solution. They like to find a way of applying a standard or principle to work out applications for anything similar which may crop up. They are fair and want everyone to be treated equally and they are often objective and reasonable.
A person with a preference for feeling considers what is important to them when they make decisions and to those who are involved in the solution. They like to throw themselves mentally into an issue in order to identify with the people involved and make decisions based on their values and beliefs. They look for things to praise in others and often work on gut feelings and instinct. They treat everyone as an individual which may not mean they treat everyone equally. Whilst many find them kind and the sort of person who likes harmony cross their values system or beliefs and they are often ruthless in response.
So how do our superheroes match up to these types?
Jean Gray is both caring and nurturing and objective. She has the power of telekinesis so she can move objects with her minds and has a suppressed form of telepathy. She is one of the most important members of the X-men team and also one of their biggest enemies. As the dark phoenix her immense mental powers mean that she eventually commits suicide to save the universe. In this she is applying a principle that she is fair and objective and will put others before herself. This absolves her of the crimes she commits as well so in essence she is willing to pay the price for her crimes. When she returns to life (as all superheroes seem to do when they are killed off) she finds her husband has re married and uses objective reasoning to tell him to go back to his wife and child. Jean’s relationship with Cyclops is reasonable and she only marries him when the time is right she does not give into her feelings she is rational and able to be logical about what is best for her team.
Her powers of telekinesis mean she can grasp and manipulate hundreds of objects at once in mid-air in complex patterns. She can rearrange matter and manipulate timelines. As a telepath she can read, influence and control other minds. She can take the life force from one form and give it to another this sets her apart from most people with a preference for feeling because they would find such actions incredibly difficult logically putting one life form over another.
This brings us to Superman a hero with feeling. Central to Superman’s decisions is his love of people which mean that he sometimes will not be able to differentiate between what is good for one person or good for all. One of his most important traits is that he honours moral codes and the social mores of humanity. He often tackles people who break these codes because they have broken the code, he has a strong sense of justice and righteousness. He marries his love interest Lois and has been known to put her before other concerns. Lois is so upset by this that she leaves him at one point. He often chooses to protect the little people rather than address universal problems and this causes others to get irritated with him. Batman tells him off because he identifies too much with humanity and doesn’t use his superpowers to lead.
Even Superman’s alter ego Clark Kent is known for his ability to care for others and to interact on a human level with people from his high school to the world of work. He keeps in touch and has feelings for his adoptive parents, his school mates and best friends and the photographer and editor of the daily planet.
His planet of origin still exerts an influence over him which he cannot overcome either for good or bad and his links to his home are always with him. Ultimately superman’s popularity lies in his ability to empathise with the little people rather than taking on universal causes.