According to a report published in The Guardian, “in your relationships with other people, you’re almost certainly an overfunctioner or an underfunctioner. Faced with a challenge, you either switch into fixing mode, taking control, attacking the to-do list, and offering supposedly helpful advice; or you pull back, pleading for assistance, hoping others will take responsibility, and zone out. Put that way, it sounds like OFs are the productive (if slightly irritating) ones, while UFs are freeloading losers. But the true situation’s much murkier, and more interesting, than that.”
The report quotes psychologist Murray Brown, who developed the distinction – is that OFs and UFs get stuck in a mutually reinforcing trap.
Says the report: “The OF takes on more than his or her fair share of responsibility for (say) housework, parenting, or finances, because otherwise they don’t get done. But that just reinforces the UF’s dependency, so now those tasks really don’t get done, and the OF must do even more. The relationship curdles, each accusing the other of either laziness or nagging.”
Now that you are aware of the OF/UF pattern, the report says it will be hard to avoid seeing the pattern everywhere “not only in marriages, but in the sulky teen who gets more passive the more his parents anxiously try to instil a sense initiative, or in the micromanaging boss who’s surprised to find that the more they meddle in their underlings’ work, the more they need to, because they have taken on their responsibilities.”
Worse, if are already interested in finding out more about this pattern, the psychologist says you are already overfunctioning!