personalityhacker_infp-vs-infj_eye-graphicThere may be no two types mistaken for each other more than INFJs and INFPs. And while they may look similar from the outside, they are very different creatures inside. Add to that, INFJs and INFPs are two of the personality types most interested in personality psychology, so an incomplete understanding of how these two types are differentiated can cause a lot of personal frustration (not to mention internet arguments!)

This article is intended to be a deep-dive, side-by-side comparison of their similarities and differences.

(If you’re in the middle of trying to figure out whether or not you’re an INFJ or an INFP, remember that these aren’t intended to describe your individual interests or values, but rather how the two types are ‘wired’ differently.)

5 Crucial Differences Between INFJs and INFPs

1. INFP vs INFJ: Different Driver processes

The Driver process can also be called the “dominant cognitive function.” It’s the mind’s first point of contact and the primary lens through which everything gets filtered.

For an INFJ, this dominant process is technically called Introverted Intuition, but we’ve nicknamed it “Perspectives.”

personalityhacker_third-eyePerspectives is a learning function (technically called a “perceiving function”), and works by watching one’s own mind form patterns. After years of use, eventually Perspectives begins to see the ‘pattern of the patterns’ and understands that what is happening inside of themselves cognitively is also happening for other people.

INFPs, on the other hand, lead with a process called Introverted Feeling, which we call “Authenticity.”

personalityhacker_davinci-chakrasAuthenticity is a decision-making function (technically called a “judging function”), and works by being deeply in touch with how one is emotionally impacted by events. Decisions are made by “checking in” to ensure that they are in alignment with one’s values and identity. There is a saying that the more personal something is the more universal it is. Over time Authenticity understands that they aren’t alone in their feelings. They are simply more aware of them than other types.

Already, there’s a major difference in how these two types see the world.

INFJs are leading with an intuitive, learning process and INFPs are leading with a feeling, decision-making process.

For many INFPs it may be surprising to learn that they lead with a decision-making process, since decisions can be grueling for this type. Although Authenticity is truly decision-making, it is easily the slowest of the four decision-making processes (the other three being Effectiveness, Accuracy and Harmony).

Authenticity needs to be able to register how something is feeling viscerally, and often an INFP won’t know the right decision to make until after they’ve made it. It’s especially confusing when the Authenticity user can see a case for almost anything, so what’s true for them has to be carefully parsed out.

Each decision and its subsequent emotional impact is cataloged, however, and future decisions become easier and faster.

In fact, being so in touch with the emotional fall-out of a decision is how Authenticity eventually creates conviction, knowing in one’s ‘bones’ the rightness of something.

INFJs can also have trouble making decisions, but not for the same reason. Their decision-making process – technically called Extraverted Feeling that we’ve nicknamed “Harmony” – is faster than Authenticity, but secondary for them.

That is, they lead with Perspectives, and Harmony is an auxiliary process. Effort is required to develop the secondary process (that we call the “Co-Pilot”), and so when an INFJ finds themselves indecisive it’s because they’re spending too much time in their Driver of Perspectives and not enough time in their Co-Pilot of Harmony.

The result may look the same – indecisiveness – but the root is entirely different.

For an INFP, because their decision-making process can take time, it can feel grueling to be pressured to make a quick call. Each decision needs to be in alignment with the INFP’s values, and even a decision as simple as what salad to order can be a frustration if, say, their relationship with food has become a part of how they define themselves.

On the other hand, since INFJs are more removed from their decision-making process of Harmony, it’s usually over time that they become frustrated with the inability to make a final call. They are less likely to agonize over smaller decisions because not every decision is a reflection of their identity.

Understanding the difference between Perspectives and Authenticity can be tricky. They are both introverted processes after all, and require some measure of introspection. But even though they both are looking ‘inward’, they’re looking at distinctly different things.

Think of it as the difference between having an “a-ha!” moment versus that moment when you can feel your entire body tell you that you just made the right decision. “Getting” something for the first time conceptually is a very different experience than checking in to ensure everything is emotionally copacetic.

The Perspectives process allocates as much of its attention as it can get away with on the ‘a-ha’ moment, whereas Authenticity is constantly checking in with the individual’s emotional thermostat.

Understanding the difference between these two functions is crucial to understanding the difference in types.

2. INFP vs INFJ: Two different ways of evaluating emotional significance

As mentioned, an INFJ’s decision-making criteria comes from their auxiliary, or Co-Pilot, process Harmony.

Harmony is technically called Extraverted Feeling, in contrast with INFP’s Driver process of Introverted Feeling (Authenticity).

Which “attitude” (or, direction) the process faces once again shifts focus in a significant way.

Both Feeling functions are decision-making. That is, they are mental processes designed to help us evaluate information in order to come to a judgment.

Any time you ‘weigh the pros and cons’ of a decision you’re using a decision-making process, and what ends up standing out as important to you is based on which process you’re using.

We nicknamed Extraverted Feeling “Harmony” because we think it adequately describes the criteria this process is utilizing.

The Harmony person might ask themselves something like…

“What get’s everyone needs met?”

“How do I create harmony both within interpersonal relationships and the context/environment?”

In order to know the ‘right’ choice, other people’s emotions become the most interesting piece of information.

They’re ultimately the feedback mechanism needed to determine a decision was the right one, because it’s their emotions that tell you if their needs are getting met and/or if they experience any form of conflict.

On the other hand, Introverted Feeling is nicknamed “Authenticity” because it’s about the individual’s emotional experience. It’s about checking in with one’s own emotions to determine if an action is the ‘right’ one.

Is Authenticity more selfish than Harmony?

There is some confusion around whether or not Authenticity is ‘selfish’ or ‘self-centered’ in comparison to Harmony. While immature Authenticity can be quite self-indulgent, mature Authenticity is vital for a healthy society. Authenticity is where we experience integrity, the part of us that says it’s unconscionable to offend our own values. The only way to 1) know ones values and 2) stay true to them is to spend time deep-diving into one’s own conscience and subjective emotional experience.

On the other hand, Harmony when immature looks more like emotional manipulation and social bullying, while mature Harmony makes sure all of our needs are understood and taken care of.

If offending others is more distressing than offending yourself, you are more likely using Harmony. And if you’re willing to be a total pariah in behalf of your convictions, you’re more likely using Authenticity.

Some INFJs, accustomed to being misunderstood and feeling like an ‘outcast’, will sometimes identify with the concept of being true to oneself over ‘society’ and identify with this aspect of INFPs.

But instead of seeing it as a variation of being true to oneself (which all 16 types are fundamentally attempting to do all the time), it’s more helpful to see it as “serving other’s needs first in order to get your own needs met” (Harmony) versus “honoring one’s own experience first in order to honor other’s experience” (Authenticity).

3. INFP vs INFJ: The subtle difference between “absorbing” and “mirroring” emotions

This may be the biggest confusion between the two types. It’s definitely the source of endless internet battles for supremacy of “who’s the most empathetic type.”

Both INFJs and INFPs have an almost magical ability to understand the emotional human experience. The way they go about it, though, is very different.

I once heard a description for ’empathy’ as “Your pain my heart.” For an INFJ, this couldn’t be more true. INFJs absorb other people’s emotional energy whether they want to or not. If it’s powerful and there – friend or foe, intimate or stranger – your pain is in their heart.

[We did a full podcast on this (and other INFJ) phenomenon, called “INFJ Personality Type Advice.”]

The combination of Perspectives (getting into other’s heads) and Harmony (having other people’s emotions on their radar all the time) seems to converge into this super power (absorbing emotions), a gift I’d venture to say most INFJs would trade away if they could. (Well, for a day… before they started missing their sixth sense.)

INFPs, on the other hand, are masters at understanding the emotions themselves. As mentioned before, sometimes Authenticity doesn’t know the right decision until it’s already been made, and to compensate for this INFPs become consummate role-players. They can manufacture an emotional experience in order to test out what it would feel like, giving them more content to go on at game time.

Since Authenticity is their Driver process, this ability becomes unconscious competence for INFPs and they may not even register when they’re doing it. This is why Authenticity Drivers (INFPs and ISFPs) are easily the greatest actors and performers of all the types. Putting on a new emotion can be as easy as swapping jackets.

When in the presence of another person’s strong emotion, it’s not that the INFP is absorbing it, they’re mirroring it. Since this is exceptionally easy for them to do, it’s usually a surprise to discover that other people can’t even come close to this ability.

The nuance of their ability to mirror another person’s emotional experience can feel like absorbing since it’s so spot on. But, remember – this isn’t another person’s emotion in the INFP’s heart. This is years and years of the INFP mapping emotions within themselves and finding the closest proximity to what the other person is experiencing.

Again, the more personal an experience the more universal, and no one understands this as well as the INFP. “What is the exact feeling I’d be feeling if I were you?” is the Authenticity version of INFJ’s “Your pain in my heart.”

If an INFP appears to be constantly self-referencing, it’s because they are. They understand you based on understanding themselves. To self-reference is to enable more rewarding interpersonal experiences, though our culture can generate a societal distaste for self-referencing.

Perhaps the easiest way to understand the difference in these two styles (INFJ absorbing vs INFP mirroring) is their relationship to time.

To absorb another’s emotion, both the INFJ and the other person (who is emoting) have to be together in real time. This isn’t post-processing emotional experience, it’s an emotion hitting the INFJ due to energetic proximity.

For an INFP it’s about finding the emotion the other person is – was – or will be experiencing within themselves. The emotion can be bound through time via works of art, literature, journals and any/every other way we as people express our emotions.

INFPs famously have a special relationship with art, and this is a major reason why. Art is a great tool for the INFP to help other people mirror (or re-create) the INFP’s emotional experience.

Truly great art evokes in us a response, and sometimes we discover emotions inside of ourselves we didn’t know we had. Authenticity artists outclass just about everyone else in their ability to help others mirror emotions.

Again, it’s not absorption, it’s mirroring (how I would feel in your place), which is why art speaks to everyone a little differently.

To recap: for an INFJ emotional absorption is done in real time/synchronously, whereas for an INFP emotional mirroring can be done through time/asynchronously.

4. INFP vs INFJ: Being understood vs. being validated

personalityhacker_INFJ_precognitionBoth the INFJ and INFP personality types run into the problem of feeling misunderstood. For INFJs, the Perspectives process gives them an insight into other people that is unmatched, and it can be disconcerting to realize other people don’t have the same super power. The result is a lot of one-sided relationships.

On top of that, the Perspectives process is itself quite mysterious to other people. Both INxJ types (INFJs and INTJs) learn to keep their speculations to themselves. ‘Just knowing’ stuff feels like precognition to others and can make them uncomfortable.

INFPs face feeling misunderstood because no one could possibly ever know them as well as they know themselves.

The Authenticity process is a deep pool of nuanced self-awareness, and it’s truly impossible to communicate all the variety within themselves to another person.

If you peel back the layers, however, it’s not that INFPs have a challenge in being fully misunderstood. If anyone else ever actually ‘fully’ understood them that would actually be a bad sign – it would mean that the INFP had lost some of their individuality or that they’re dangerously close to being too similar to other people.

There may be some pride around being inscrutable. At the very least it’s a sign that they’ve not lost their uniqueness.

So, if it’s not full understanding an INFP wants, what is it that they’re seeking?

Imagine that the criteria you use to make all of your decision is perpetually questioned by nearly every person you encounter. And now add to that the phenomenon that you usually don’t know the best decision to make until after you’ve already made it. To put a cherry on top, it’s based on something you can’t possibly explain to another person (because it has no language) AND once you know the right decision, you know it with such certainty that you would die for it.

But you still can’t quite explain it beyond, “It just FEELS right.”

It’s extremely easy for people of other types to marginalize this process, and nothing is more maddening to have your mental wiring – one of the primary sources of ‘identity’ – marginalized.

personalityhacker_infp-bad-intentAuthenticity uses ‘intent’ as one of its primary calibrations for whether or not a decision is right, for both themselves and for others. Oftentimes when an INFP gets sensitive or defensive it’s because they think their intent is being called into question. When INFPs feel marginalized they can also feel others insinuating bad motive.

As in, if you’re insistent on making this choice but you can’t fully explain to me ‘why’, then you must be being selfish or have other bad motive.

When an INFP feels “misunderstood,” it could be more accurately stated that they feel marginalized, discounted and believe others are questioning their motives.

The antidote to this isn’t ‘understanding’ them better. Most INFPs would say no one could ever truly understand them, anyway. The real antidote is validating their process of making decisions.

As in: “I don’t have to agree with you. I don’t have to know why you believe or feel the way you do. When I tell you that you have every right to feel the way you do, and make decisions based on those feelings, I trust that you have positive intent.”

If you can sincerely communicate that to an INFP they will love you forever.

INFJs aren’t nearly as invested in others believing they have good motive. They are far more likely to be tuned into the motives and motivations of others to give a lot of thought about whether the other person believes the INFJ has positive intent.

Where an INFP can lose awareness of other people if they’re really excited by a topic, INFJs never lose awareness of other people.

In fact, that’s why INFJs generally need more alone time than INFPs (not always, but usually). The only real distance INFJs get from other people is when they’re truly physically alone, and this is generally used to recharge their batteries for the next trip into the outer world.

INFJs are far less interested in validation and are more interested in protection. They don’t need you to agree with them, they need to know you’re not going to hurt them, even if the fear of hurt is deeply unconscious.

There are some INFPs that have experienced trauma in the past and fear being hurt by others, but that’s more a product of wounding than anything intrinsic. The most protected, well-treated INFJ on the planet is still going to have something inside them scanning for people who would be deliberately hurtful.

The differences between being understood versus being validated can be pretty subtle, but profound when trying to determine between the types.

5. INFP vs INFJ: How each persuades and leads

INFJs – using the Perspectives process – often solve problems and persuade others by offering alternative perspectives. In fact, they generally solve problems by shifting perspectives until the solution becomes clear. They offer these shifts to others as ‘a-ha’ moments.

INFPs – using the Authenticity process – are more masters of emotional Aikido. Since they understand how emotions flow within the self, they can use this to redirect the emotional energy in another person, getting them to feel what they want them to feel.

Both are powerfully persuasive tactics, and both types are represented in famous spiritual leaders. And while each can utilize the other talent, it seems there’s a strong preference for INFJs to bring ‘insight’ and INFPs to bring ‘inspiration’.

INFP and INFJ: Sibling-Types

When well developed, both INFJs and INFPs are highly emotionally intelligent. There’s a sense that these two types are here to assist the rest of us in understanding the human condition in a profound way. These two sibling types are extraordinary at what they do, and can have deep appreciation for each other’s methodology.

-Antonia

p.s. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and we’d love to hear what you think are ‘tie-breakers’ between the types. Leave a comment and let us know what you see as the biggest differences.

 

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Showing 209 comments
  • Leon
    Reply

    This got to be the most obsessed over difference online, lol. I wonder why INTP v INTJ does not seem like as big a topic on the web.

    • Tsr(INFP)
      Reply

      Because INTP’s are too accurate to be wondering, and the INTJ’s are too effective be care?

    • Erin
      Reply

      I have absorbed emotions all my life. Reading this article was an “ah-ha” moment for me because it led me to discovered strategies and resources to help cleanse myself and realize when I am feeling others’ emotions. One thing that confusing me is that I usually test as an INFP. I think it is because I have given up trying to impose order on the outside world and I have adapted a “go-with-the-flow” attitude. I also have a tendency to travel and I am emotionally healthy right now. It’s hard to imagine being critical of myself and hating myself, although I have in the past. While I instinctively know that I am an INFJ (especially because I absorb emotions to the point where I can catch others’ anxiety, fear, and depression), I behave like an INFP. Can you offer some insight into why this might be? Is it possible that I am an empathetic INFP? I relate much more to the INFJ profile, despite not experiencing self-loathing or guilt for taking time for myself (at the moment). Why do I test as an INFP more often?

      • Sie
        Reply

        I am completely the same way! I always test as an INFP and I think it’s because when I try to test too quickly I just go with the flow like you said!!!

      • Christina
        Reply

        I have taken the personality test twice, and one time I received an INFP and the other, an INFJ. When I looked into it, as I did on this website, I see that I can fall into both categories. INFP’s mirror others emotions, and INFJ’s feel others, and I can relate to doing both, so maybe you are a mix of the two? I feel like I could fall under the category of both of them, so maybe we’re a mix of them…?

        • Croissant
          Reply

          It’s the same with me! I do the test often, and either get INFJ or INFP- and I relate to both types in this article?

        • belleengima
          Reply

          When the test is done correctly we all actually fall on a sliding scale. You are probably on the borderline for the P and J. This is not uncommon. Most people are not one or the other 100% in any of the 4 categories. But generally you will sway more to one side than the other more often. It could also be a sign that you are spiritually or emotionally unbalanced when taking these tests.

        • Christina
          Reply

          Same here, which is what led me to read this article. I cannot determine whether I am an INFP or INFJ. One moment I find my self nodding my head to INFP, and then the next I’m saying, “Ah-ha” when I see myself identify with INFJ. Glad I am not the only one feeling this way and seeking for both validation and to understand myself more through searching for clarity. It is definitely not clear so I don’t know why this is even differentiated in the first place, or if it was even differentiated by an Idealist type of feeler or analyzer. And the purpose of splitting hairs and obsessing over this could be like the butterfly effect. Maybe the overlap matters in one context, but it doesn’t in another. I am appreciative of this attempt to tease them apart. However, I do not know which one I am – perhaps I switch depending on my environment and different natures or qualities in people bring out the spectrum of INF*.

          • Antonia Dodge

            The primary purpose of this post was to breakdown the cognitive functions of each type in a way that people new to cognitive functions could understand. When people stay with the four letter dichotomy model (I/E, S/N, T/F, J/P) they’re often confused because we ALL have all four of those represented in us when seen through the lens of our cognitive functions. But the order of those functions determines our preferences.

            You are most likely going to resonate with both descriptions, but it’s not about being able to see both. It’s about identifying which is unconscious competence for you versus an ability. That’s why it’s so hard to self-type when sticking with the dichotomies. We’re blind to our mental wiring like a fish is blind to water – when something is your entire experience it’s hard to see it anymore.

            The best way to self-type is to consume insane amounts of info on the topic and wait for one to rise to the top.

            I recommend the long form podcast for each of the two types, as well as the PHQ we just recorded which explains why Fi dominants in particular (ISFPs and INFPs) have trouble discovering their types.

            INFJ podcast: http://www.personalityhacker.com/podcast-episode-0034-infj-personality-type-advice/

            INFP podcast: http://www.personalityhacker.com/podcast-episode-0055-infp-personality-type-advice/

            PHQ | INFPs mistyping as other types: http://www.personalityhacker.com/phq-questions-infp-mistyping-as-other-types/

            The lower layers of the system are where you find your answers.

            -A-

          • Mark

            “Switching with our environment” Could be onto something. Thats a nod and a ah ha moment right there.🤔

      • Avyanna
        Reply

        I’m have consistently tested INFJ yet after reading this I feel I relate a bit more to INFP. I’ll admit it’s close, but INFP seems to edge out. Yet every time I test (using different tests) it comes out INFJ. Maybe they really are that close with some of us and the lines truly do blur.

    • Laura
      Reply

      Great Article

  • Leon
    Reply

    I do think it weird some argue that INFPs are not empathetic. We are highly empathetic. It works like this: I see a homeless person. I never was homeless, but I can imagine how I would feel like in that situation. I see that if not for family support, I might have been homeless for a time. What would I be feeling?

    • Rachel Doggett
      Reply

      That’s sympathy, not empathy.

      • Tiffany
        Reply

        Uh, no. Both are empathy actually. We both know exactly how the homeless person feels.

        Empathy is the capacity to understand what another person is experiencing from within the other person’s frame of reference, ie, the capacity to place oneself in another’s shoes.

        The difference is… INFJ Is just walking around the world jumping into people’s shoes unconsciously… INFP chooses to. We (INFP) are not Malefic for being able to make that choice…

        https://rpatheoryofknowledge.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/empathy-sympathy-compassion.png

        Really, as an INFP, it’s not a very long process at all to be able to put myself in people’s shoes… I rarely, if ever, feel anxiety… But I have friends who do… And when I imagine their emotions when telling me a story and anxiety is the emotion. I feel it. If I was an INFJ I’d be feeling the anxiety as the person tells the story… Or even before the story starts I imagine some would say… Probably can read those emotions so well. INFJ is a stronger empathizer. Doesn’t make INFP non-empathetic. Or to make that double negative a positive. INFP is also empathetic. Most Fs are empathetic… We can just give the crown to INFJ. Lol 😛

        For any who are curious.. When I do take a moment to empathize, sometimes I feel like I feel the emotion stronger than others… But only for a brief moment. Whereas the person I’m talking to may feel the feeling sort of number than I feel it… But can feel it much longer… I think that’s why I’m not famiar with anxiety… Because I just know things.. And if I ever felt anxiety, I just don’t question my feeling.

        • Chris
          Reply

          As a male INFP I can say it takes time to develop self confidence to understand that true strength comes from the power to be vulnerable…quietly stand strong on principle when necessary. Every year I get older I feel better and I’m willing to take more chances extending myself towards others allowing them to set the parameters for our relationship so they can be free to seen clearly. Many mistake kindness for weakness and this becomes evident quickly….those few who appreciate the freedom you offer are gaining a true friend for life.

          • Brandalynn

            From an INFJ too an INFP, you truly nailed it with me. I’m the same way. Only became consciously aware of doing this. The greatest gift you can give another, is space…. A vacancy for growth and expansion without the fears of judgement and/or rejection. …. Freedom to Be You.

        • Cordelia
          Reply

          Thanks for those definitions!

        • Eileen
          Reply

          That’s a really good explanation and insight into what it’s like to be INFP. Thanks (from an INFJ!).

        • Charis Branson
          Reply

          Thank you Tiffany! I think that’s a great way of separating the two.

        • Vincent Paul Tran Jr.
          Reply

          For me, as an INFJ, I feel it right before I actually see the person. Weird right. It used to be and still is overwhelming. I never have and never will have a sense of self :/ .

          But those are the breaks. At least I live in a time where I can be mildly productive. That is an insufficient consolation prize, but whatever 🙁

        • Chazz
          Reply

          Empathy is less about understanding, rather it’s actually sensing. In any event, I believe both INFP’s and INFJ’s have this capacity.

          As an INFJ, its like I have a physical sensation of the emotion others are projecting. I THEN wonder – why are they feeling this way? What is causing this feeling? The Ni and Ti starts searching for the perspective that explains the experience of Fe, and I try to gather more information and evidence through Se. Of note, I can pick up false signals. If someone has a furrowed brow and looks angry, I am aware of the sensation of anger – but they could just be concentrating or whatever, and not actually angry. Empathy is a sensation and a data point – and creating harmony soothes the discord around me. I find it hard to hurt or confront other people because I become physically aware of how they are feeling. Its like I’m hurting myself.

          It seems with INFP’s its “if I were in this situation, how would I feel?” Projecting yourself into the situation to then figure out how it feels. My guess is an INFP is trying to right a wrong they have discovred, something that they feel is important to correct. I imagine an INFP might find it hard to hurt someone because that would not be true to themselves, to their motivation – inauthentic.

          • Sandra Riley

            “My guess is an INFP is trying to right a wrong they have discovred, something that they feel is important to correct.”

            Yes! This is exactly it! I never realized it before reading so much of how the INFP mind actually processes the world on this site, but we do indeed constantly look for “wrong” and *revel* in correcting or fixing it. I know I do this on many many levels – which makes me an great Level 2 tech, problem solver, quality assessor and well people solver too. To me there is not much difference between fixing a computer or fixing a person. I talk to each just about the same. They are each living breathing beings with personality to me – in a sense. I only now realize how insane that must sound!

        • Brandalynn
          Reply

          LOl , “…INFJ is just walking around the world jumping into people’s shoes unconsciously…” love it!

          – INFJ love

        • Ianthine
          Reply

          Actually the definition you just gave “to understand” how a person feels is exactly what makes it sympathy and NOT empathy. Empathy means to actually, actively feel the emotions of another person as your own. Sympathy means being able to understand deeply how another person feels by knowing how you “would feel if you were them in their situation.” They are both extremely valuable and amazing talents to have but they are essentially two different vehicles to come to the same destination: compassion. I would suggest that you may feel their emotions in a “stronger” but more brief fashion because you are accessing a pathway to a pure emotion which you have created with in yourself so that you can make decisions as opposed to the way they are feeling it because they are experiencing it through the filter of all of their other feelings and thoughts of the moment and you can then voluntarily turn it off so that you can move on and help them if you wish. This is, I believe what the author was referring to when they said that INFP’s learn to try out emotions in order to make decisions that feel correct…. It also likely makes you very good at assisting others to alleviate the anxiety when you choose to exercise your compassion because you may be better able to isolate and eliminate the cause.

    • Crystal
      Reply

      I believe the author was saying both were empathetic…just the way they go about it is different. In the past I’ve gotten both INFP and INFJ as my type and I actually came to this site to see the difference between the two so I can figure out which one I am. I think when I was younger I more often came up as INFP and now that I’m older I test as INFJ. After reading this article, I’m convinced I’m INFJ and the absorbing way of being empathetic was a big confirmation for me. I often felt like I was an emotional chameleon. I don’t consciously do it, but I often feel at least a little of the emotions of others, especially in people I’m closer to. It can be disturbing at times, especially when people are upset. I often find I get upset, too. If I’m in a good mood, if I’m around someone in a horrible mood, they usually ruin my good mood.

      One situation where I really noticed this absorbing feeling thing was one time when I was talking with my husband about something he did that hurt me deeply. I felt like he was in the wrong and I couldn’t figure out how he could act so selfishly and without consideration of my feelings (especially since, as an INFJ, I consider other’s feelings when I make my decisions–I seem to expect others to act the same). I was hurt and angry and telling him in no simple terms how I felt. But then I realized he was starting to get teary/upset, too. He felt guilty at what he did and sad that he hurt me so much. So then I started feeling sad because he was sad…even though I was also mad at him for hurting me. It was a weird dichotomy.

      • Brandi
        Reply

        This is so me. I’ve been married almost 17 years and I can’t tell you how often this has happened. It also happens with my friends. I feel justified in my anger, yet once I see the affect my words have, I feel sad because I hurt the person. I can’t help but feel what they feel because I understand being on the receiving end.

        • Terri
          Reply

          Brandi that is exactly how I am as well. Even after time, just seeing someone I had to reprimand, for good reason, immediately the same feelings of regret instantly “reappear”. Yes. I’m an INFP.

      • Charis Branson
        Reply

        I do the exact same thing! I have always assumed it to be an unhealthy choice I am making in the heat of the moment because I am choosing to bi-pass my copilot (Harmony) and go straight to my tertiary (Accuracy). Accuracy isn’t known for its tact but for taking the human element out of the equation and attacking with cold, hard data.

        It only feels good when I am drinking and fighting with total strangers on Facebook. (But they can’t be friends of mine. They have to be friends of friends.) In that case I am flexing my Accuracy and leaving my loved ones alone. Lol!

        As I have grown, however, I realize that if I feel the need to attack someone I need to stop and think. I ask myself:

        Is it the right thing?
        Is it the loving thing?
        What are the possible consequences?
        Will I regret it?

        Typically, my love for the people in my life surpasses my need to attack and I find a more harmonious way of expressing myself. Thereby, leaving my ten year old in the back seat where he belongs. 😉 When I make the choice to choose Harmony over Accuracy it always feels better.

        That being said, I actually love my Accuracy process. INFJs could be real doormats, IMO, if they didn’t have the kick-ass 10 year old in the back seat. Think about it, we absorb other people’s emotions, we prefer things to be even keeled and harmonious, and we also have a strong tendency to mirror other people. But when we are stressed, we have this part of us that takes over and makes sure we aren’t being abused or taken advantage of. I have actually come to see my Accuracy 10 year old as my little body guard.

        • Jan
          Reply

          Wow! It’s so weird to see how I deal with these types of issues described so perfectly. In my past I was less aware perhaps, and would tell people when they hurt me and then would feel so bad for hurting them. Now I often hide my hurt based on whether I deem the further pain of a confrontation worth any solution. Most of the time it isn’t. So I absorb it and move on. Which can often weigh me down but then I know the alternative would just be a different form of the same emotion absorbing. Sigh! The catch 22. 🙂

          • Tony

            I feel this too. That I have to choose between being hurt and quiet versus the fallout argument of addressing the situation. Both bad in my opinion. I’d be great if he’d just minded his own business haha.

            I’m an infp that is borderline infj. On assessment I always ride the line between the two. I feel I relate more to the P type which is also the result I got last assessment.

          • Candace Davis

            So, are you INFP or INFJ? I’m still trying to understand certain aspects between the two.

        • Brandalynn
          Reply

          Huge Aha moment! Insightful and very much needed for me at this time. I accidentally moved my Accuracy into the trunk! Not only has my Harmony been riding co-pilot, it’s also hijacked my 10yr old. LoL ..I love how you described your Accuracy being your little body guard. And I’ve really been missing mine!!

          Peace and Love. ..

        • VMRR
          Reply

          I followed the advice in a recent personality hacker podcast and carried photos of me as a child on a ‘playdate’ in the city. I’m an INFJ. Amusingly, I had one of me at 10, and one of me at 3. When my inferior function Sensation 3 year old got overwhelmed, I encouraged my 10 year old tertiary Accuracy to play with him (with parenting auxiliary Harmony on hand if needed). I found the 3 year old would just look at stuff in wonder and go ‘what’s that?’ and the 10 year old would be encoraged to notice, and helpfully explain or find out (‘we’ were in an art gallery, so my 10 year old was tasked with reading the signs, if he wanted to). My dominant Perspectives just stood by and enjoyed them all looking out for each other and working as a team – thanks to Harmony. So I love your body guard analogy – feels the 10 year old should be allowed to be a child, and the ‘grown ups’ be reminded when they are not pulling their weight if they ‘act up’! 🙂

          • Charis Branson

            Thanks for the feedback, VMRR! I think that is an excellent exercise. I love how you can so perfectly identify the different developmental levels of the cognitive functions, and observe those behaviors objectively. Since I never had children, I have a hard time really recognizing how a 3 year old would be different from the 10 year old. But you just helped me understand why my 3 year old prefers chocolate to exercise. Because kids will always choose what is easiest, or more fun. So, the adult Charis needs to make sure my 3 year old is eating her vegetables and getting proper exercise. Maybe this is why I never had children, because I was going to spend my whole life trying to manage my inner child. 😉

      • Crystal
        Reply

        You speak my mind! I visited this site to identify whether myself is a INFP or INFJ. Since I got results of INFP when I was younger and recently I’m tested to be a INFJ! I found both of them very true for me. I confirmed I’m a J here, especially due to the point about Perspectives & Harmony, I used to say these two words very often in my daily life, e.g.: I get your point, but the boss is looking trough the issue from another perspectives… So I wonder maybe INFPs could grown to be INFJ?! Just like you and me?!

        Btw, my name is Crystal too, which makes me feel so creepy when I read your comment, it is like reading myself in other parallel time/space written to myself here, if u know what I mean lol

    • Fred
      Reply

      I’m INFP and have tested as such consistently for about 15 years. I literally feel other people’s sensations/emotions at a psychic level. However, as Deanna Troi once said in an episode of ST:TNG, I know what feeling I’m picking up from another, I just may not know what it means. It can also be difficult to sort out my own feelings with what I’m picking up from the environment around me.

    • Chris
      Reply

      Leon, I am an INFJ and I agree with you that INFPs are amazingly empathetic. This article makes it clear that both INFJs and INFPs are incredibly empathetic personality types.

      The point is that they empathize using totally different processes.

      Your description of how you empathize with the homeless person describes mirroring emotion. You imagine how they feel, by ‘pulling out’ emotions you had experienced from similar circumstances, and ‘wearing’ those emotions.

      In contrast, as an INFJ, I would walk past a homeless person and I would directly FEEL what they are feeling. It is not an active process of putting oneself in the shoes of another. The best way to describe it is that there is a passive, uncontrollable transfer of emotion from the homeless person into the INFJ, at that moment. It is useful sometimes, but personally I find it annoying because I passively adopt the emotions of the people around me and find it very hard to switch off.

      TL;DR INFJs and INFPs are both incredibly empathetic, but go about being empathetic in totally different ways.

    • John
      Reply

      If INFPs “mirror” emotions, INFJs “resonate” emotions.

  • James
    Reply

    Dear Leon,

    That’s just the thing. No one says that as an INFP you don’t feel for the homeless man. I’m sure you do, with the best intentions in your heart, it’s just an entirely different process though. As an Fe (Harmony) user you don’t need to ask yourself “What would I feel in his situation?”, you already know since you’re feeling it directly from him. No need to put yourself in his shoes since his pain is already yours. Neither “process” is better or worse, they’re just totally different.

    • Leon
      Reply

      Thanks for the response! Are you an INFJ?

      • James
        Reply

        Indeed I am. I mistyped as INFP for a year though… I didn’t look into the functions.

    • INFJcupcake
      Reply

      Exactly!

    • Anatoliy
      Reply

      It’s strange, but my experience, both Fe and Fi dominant people can perceive others’ emotions very well, but that the Fe types have an easier time using this “knowledge” to meet their ends..EXPERT manipulators. On the other hand, the Fi dominant individuals tend to have a hard time separating other’s emotions (when not repressed, as I often do for the homeless) from their own.. They deeply/personally feel the emotion others exhibit. I believe this is a part of why NFPs (probably FPs in general) are so conflict averse.. Negative emotions around them are felt by them, it’s hard to tune them out.
      The process putting yourself in someone’s shoes to feel them seems so far removed, as to be of a Te/Ti dom, where emotions are largely repressed.

  • INFJcupcake
    Reply

    I’m a INFJ married to a INFP and this is so spot on, we process things so differently and you hit the nail on the head describing the contrast between the two.

    • amber
      Reply

      I am also an INFP partnered with an INFJ, I think it makes a wonderful relationship especially if you are aware of the differences.

      • Lena
        Reply

        How do you two make it .. I am amazed -salut-
        Me (INFP) and my partner (INFJ)

  • Stephanie
    Reply

    “INFJs are far less interested in validation and are more interested in protection. They don’t need you to agree with them, they need to know you’re not going to hurt them, even if the fear of hurt is deeply unconscious.”

    This article was absolutely fantastic, but I’m not really seeing much information on “validation” for the INFJ beyond this quote. Was there more that was meant to be shared? I would love to hear more about the INFJ validation distinction vs. INFPs being understood.

    I will say that I agree wholeheartedly with the that fear of being hurt and the need for protection.

    • Stephanie
      Reply

      Okay, I’m reviewing the article and perhaps INFP was typed where it was supposed to INFJ. It appears (in reviewing the chart at the bottom) the difference is INFPs desire to be validated and INFJs desire to be understood? Perhaps you could clarify that part of the article?

    • Antonia Dodge
      Reply

      It’s the opposite. Another way of structuring that sentence could be, “INFJ are not interested in validation like INFPs are, INFJs are interested in protection.”

      Just a few paragraphs up you’ll see, “The antidote to this isn’t ‘understanding’ them better. Most INFPs would say no one could ever truly understand them, anyway. The real antidote is validating their process of making decisions.”

      The phrase “far less” was meant to be in contrast to the INFP’s need for validation. I used “far less” instead of “not at all” because there is probably times in an INFJ’s life where they might want validation. It is not an identifying characteristic, however, like it is with INFPs.

      Hope that helps. 🙂

      -A-

      • Rikka
        Reply

        Thanks for this Antonia. Lengthy but as an INFJ, I am used to having my mind race all around until it settles. I have tested 6 times, twice with long, paid-for test through employers and 4x with shorter versions of MB. Same results each time over a 25 year period. I do not seek validation, never have, but I would love to just be understood by those I love. To be understood, others would need to listen and I would need to open up which is difficult bc if they do not have that intuition and see-through vision, it sounds crazy or at least difficult to grasp. I keep to myself, just as you stated. The few that know are those who have been with me regularly and are witness to my instinct and summation. They rely on it. It seems to always help others more than it has ever helped me, except for not getting myself in to dangerous nor compromising situations. I am saving this. Perhaps I can just hand it to others! Thank you.

      • Stephanie
        Reply

        Thank you, Antonia. 🙂

        I have really been pondering over this article for the last few weeks, particularly on the INFJ’s need to be understood. While this need wasn’t directly detailed in the article, I have been striving to make a mental account of my own experience of having this need and I thought I might share a few things that have settled in my mind. 1) To be nearly completely understood is powerful, but requires more than another person saying they understand me. It needs to be communicated through reciprocation, to almost reverberate in a continuing exchange, sometimes over years. This is a rare experience. 2) I know when another understands something I’m sharing. It is an indelible experience, deeply satisfying. 3) If you are a part of my inner circle, it’s not because you always understand me, but that you care enough to try.

        • Mel
          Reply

          Stephanie,

          As another INFJ, I must say you just hit that one out of the ballpark. Ditto on all 3 points. But I would add that for me, the need to be understood is inextricably linked with the need to feel safe. They are different needs, but I can’t separate one from the other.

          Per our MB type, I am always scanning others’ intent deep down in order to protect myself, and frankly, I have only felt safe with a a small number of people. I know it when I feel it. The people I feel safest with are the ones I know in my heart and body have the capacity to lay themselves down for others – and I think they are also the most likely ones to really, really try to understand another human being – to feel someone else’s life.

          Many if not most other people slog through their lives with their own agendas and cares, and even their acts of charity and friendship seem somewhat self-focused and self-interested. People with real empathy are very, very rare – I feel safe with them and I consider them my tribe, even if I don’t see them often and haven’t told them that. I guess I wouldn’t want myself (or them, for that matter) to stop feeling others’ pain – or joy or fear or sorrow- in the heart, despite the perception of having seen and felt too much and that the heart is now a charred desert because of it. Despite the fear of obliteration, I think that’s where love is. And real safety.

          • Mel

            One last thought – empathy and understanding are also intertwined. Maybe empathy is the first step to really understanding another person. In my book, understanding is not merely intellectual, but a whole gestalt of “really getting it” – and as you said beautifully, Stephanie, being understood “… is an indelible experience, deeply satisfying.”

          • Heather

            Such a beautiful post.

          • Heather

            Where can I buy your book??

      • Jonathan
        Reply

        My apologies for my comment which was a bit harsh and especially irrelevant as I am actually not an Infp. Your podcasts are very interesting by the way.

      • emiha
        Reply

        I relate much to this interest in protection (I’m an INFJ) which makes my guard be always up when around people. This minimizes my chances to be accurately understood. I wonder if INTJs have a similar problem since they share with INFJs this same care of protecting their precious inner self ?

  • Ella
    Reply

    I have done test on whether I am, I have gotten them both on different tests. I have read serveral articles and some of totally makes me feel like an INFJ and some makes me feel like I am an INFP,the majority of them including this one makes me feel very torn, I feel like both. Can I be both? or am I one of these types and just have a hard time at figuring out which type?

    • Helena
      Reply

      I feel exactly the same. I did also a test specifically on difference between INFP and INFJ and got 51 vs 49 percent, INFP vs INFJ. When I do a test I get either infj or infp. I wonder if I do not know myself so well or if I learned/developed some traits over the time as a way of protection and to work better in a society.

      • Ella
        Reply

        Yeah i have also thought about that. Maybe i can be a crash about how we want to see ourself vs how we really are and if that is the case then i feel like it is almost impossible for myself to find out which type i am beacause these feelings will always work against eachother. It probably could also be as you say,that we have adapted ourself to fit in better with our surroundings, as a way to protect ourself and have a feeling of beloning somewhere. I definitely could see myself do this as i often have felt alone, missunderstood or maybe just not believed, between these features that stand for the two different types i have no idea what i feel the most like. Beacause all i can see on my own is that i feel alone and that it hurts. I don´t really now what is causing this feeling, if it is me being missunderstod och just not believed.

        • Stephanie
          Reply

          Have you ladies read these articles?

          http://www.personalityhacker.com/when-you-almost-know-your-personality-type/

          http://www.personalityhacker.com/nicknames-for-8-jungian-cognitive-functions/#comment-29696

          The second article discusses how our decision making processes work in ‘should’ terms. Try to answer these questions (quoted from the second article):

          How should the world be?

          How should we behave as people?

          What should I be doing in this situation?

          What should I be doing in most situations?

          What should my life look like?

          Once you’ve answered those questions, you should be able to hone in on whether you make decisions with Harmony (“How do I get everyone’s needs met?”) or Authenticity (“What feels right to me?”).

          It’s not always easy to figure out your type. I struggled between INFP and INFJ, but became clear on my type through my study of the eight mental processes.

          Good luck to you both!

          • Ella

            Thank you!:)

    • Lorie
      Reply

      Do we have to be a specific type? Is is possible to be a mix of INFP and INFJ? I have tested to be only 11% more P than J. I can relate to both sides. At times I can feel the emotions of the environment and can take on others emotions unconsciously. I work in a Testing Center and see people with a variety of emotions everyday. So, I try and make an effort to make sure my emotions are truly my own. If I think about someones situation I can easily bring myself to tears. I have also been married to an ESTJ for almost 20 years. Is it possible your relationships can bring you more to a center?

      • Fairy
        Reply

        If you have a relationship with an ESTJ, you’re most certainly an INFP. ESTJs and INFJs don’t get along very well.

  • Theresa
    Reply

    INFP here, my fiance is INFJ and I think this is the best article describing the differences. Most articles are not good in differentiating a lot of these nuances but this is on point.

    Interacting, these two types are so strange yet funny. They’re both reading each other in EXTRAORDINARILY detailed ways. It’s pretty much guaranteed that you won’t be able to hide anything from each other.

    But on the other hand both INFJ and INFP types detest conflict and tend towards passive aggressive behaviors. So both of them know that the other is upset/bothered but both are pushing it down not wanting to talk about it. Of course in a healthy relationship that doesn’t last long, but it’s still a definite tendency.

    Being so different fundamentally yet so similar in how you act out, it’s a funny relationship. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

  • Jonathan
    Reply

    If you really think -whatever your type is- that you can “ever actually ‘fully’ understood” someone to quote the author, you are just a fool. When I see a homeless person on the street crying, I usually feel bad for him but as I don’t know the reason why is crying nor what he’s truly experiencing, I just don’t pretend to know anything I don’t. The funny thing about people pretending to understand or feeling what others feel, is that they usually are bad listeners. I appreciate the concern let’s say ‘Fe-dom’ show readily but I hate when they start telling you what you feel and what you should do because they’re often wrong.
    When I read INFP’s desires to be validated, It may be true for some of us, but in my case I almost want to burst out laughing. The validation I seek is mine before others even those who take an important place in my heart. I try to accept people just the way they are so I kind of expect the same from them, or at least want them to try. I read above that “The real antidote is validating their process of making decisions.”. No it’s not for me. Again, it would be like pretending that you know what’s best when you don’t. My process of making decisions is not necessary correct nor objective or good. Maybe I haven’t think of sth better yet. Maybe I should change sth : It maybe a ‘NE’ thing I don’t know. Another quote annoying me “INFP can lose awareness of other people if they’re really excited by a topic”. I would rather say I loose awareness of my physical environment but almost never of people. I don’t mean to be rude or to hurt anyone, but some should really think twice before writing. I admit that a big confusion about INFP’s come from the fact that we -such as myself- tend not to express ourselves enough. English is a foreign language for me so I hope this message is ‘comprehensible’. To share a bit of myself, being so sensitive is kind of tiring sometimes, but once I started to accept myself (an INFP among other things), things got way better. Being an Infp is actually pretty cool… when you get to be 30 years old 🙂

    • Serpent
      Reply

      Haha I’m INFP and I feel the opposite way 🙂 My best friend is INFJ and it’s intimidating when she says things like “i can’t even begin to understand what it’s like” when she actually has a pretty good core idea already 😀 It feels like she doubts *my* understanding too, especially as she often sighs thoughtfully about being misunderstood by everyone (even though she always reassures me that I’m one of the select few that do understand).

    • Sol
      Reply

      Jonathan- of course no-one can ever “fully” understand what another person is feeling, and the article didn’t say that you could…empathy allows us glimpses into other’s feelings. And I’m pretty sure that a mature INFP or INFJ would tell you how you feel. That’s pretty immature, that again, no-where did it mention “telling others how they feel” in the article.

      With regards to the desire to be validated…I feel like you got the wrong end of the stick…maybe to you, you seek validation from yourself before others, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t seek validation from others AT ALL. The article is referring to the times when you DO want validation/understanding from others.

      In fact, the wording of your comment implies arrogance… What exactly would make you burst out laughing at the fact that others would like to be validated? If someone thinks they can feel what another feels, suddenly that’s “pretending”? Knowing the full situation is only half of what it takes to understand someone’s emotions.

      Labeling people bad listeners and fools is the pinnacle of misunderstanding.

      • Jonathan
        Reply

        Sol – I guess you got me wrong just like I did not completely understood the article when I read it. Though the article is easier to understand than my angry and out-of-line comment :).
        To try to explain, reading or hearing ‘fully understand someone’ is a hot-button for me and if I’m not careful I can easily overact…

        So I’ll try to respond the best I can to you.

        You started with “Of course no-one can ever “fully” understand what another person is feeling” and indeed, nor I or the article did.
        I meant fully understand in a general sens not just one’s feelings no matter how nuanced or intense they are.

        I will maintain that some people pretend to understand what they can’t and it’s pretty annoying.
        About the part “no-where did it mention “telling others how they feel” in the article”, that was my experience with some people I assume maybe wrongly to be ‘Fe-dom’ as explained in my response.

        Now, regarding the desire to be validated, I must admit I “got the wrong end of the stick”. The author speak of validating the way Infp’s make decisions using authenticity and I didn’t get what she meant by that. I completely overreacted and clumsily apologized, (see com. sept 28).

        Concerning your questions, first I specified that “it may be true for some of us” and was only referring to myself “in my case, I want to burst out…” ; second, those who are able to get a more accurate picture of what’s going on would probably respond sth like ““i can’t even begin to understand what it’s like” as Serpent indicated in her or his response to my comment.

        They are some people who have (currently) bad listening skills and some who somewhat don’t realize that our capabilities of understanding people or things are limited. To try to explain my point differently, you can believe sth but knowing it is different.

        Again “I don’t mean to be rude or to hurt anyone”. So I’m sorry if you find this message offensive as it is not my intent to be hurtful.

    • Nancy
      Reply

      It’s really strange, Jonathan, but what you say in your comment does not SOUND at all like an INFP. Your comment indicates a judgmental viewpoint, and it also shows you lack empathy, “The funny thing about people pretending to understand or feeling what others feel, is that they usually are bad listeners.”

      • Violet
        Reply

        Hey Nancy,
        After reading this comment exchange and switching perspectives like a true INFJ :P, I think even your comment sounds judgmental. Especially after he said “reading or hearing ‘fully understand someone’ is a hot-button for me and if I’m not careful I can easily overact…”
        Perhaps both you and Jonathan are coming from a positive intent, that got a bit lost in translation?

    • INerdTP
      Reply

      Are you an INTJ?

  • Serpent
    Reply

    The main difference that my INFJ friend and me generally don’t see addressed is what we call our tendency for “maximizing the joy” (me, INFP) vs “minimizing the pain” (INFJ). I can be a ridiculous optimist and see something positive even in the worst moments, but I’m very unwilling to face even minimal “pain” voluntarily, even if it can save me from more suffering in the long run.
    Surprisingly, this is reversed when it comes to actually dreaming/fantasizing, as for me it’s painful to have unrealistic dreams

    Also, for me the distinction between the objective and subjective is very important, while for my friend some things I consider objective aren’t that, and the whole distinction is blurry/generally not important. Whereas I tend to love having an objective foundation even for my dreams. And because it’s less important for my friend, due to the combination of her fierce passion, standing for what she loves AND for what’s right and the focus on personal interpretations, she can come across as pushing her opinion as objective.

    I also generally take things more literally, switch focus easily and with pleasure, and because Fi/authenticity is a judging function, I’m very serious about all the personal stuff like hobbies etc. (I’m not Italian, but this quote is very fitting: “Italians lose wars as if they were football matches, and football matches as if they were wars”) My friend is *passionate* about her hobbies, but to her it’s natural that the more mundane tasks can be in the way.

    Also, due to my friend’s amazing understanding of people, I couldn’t even imagine that she might need help sorting out her own feelings, but it turned out that she often does. (Fe needing external input?) Whereas I know exactly what I feel, but I’m less aware of my thoughts/intuitive conclusions, and they can be surprising even for myself as I explain them.

    I love the explanation about mirroring vs absorbing emotions btw. As an INFP I definitely have a dictionary of emotions in my heart, and while I’m always open to adding more subtle distinctions, I believe I generally get the core right, unless I misinterpret completely what’s going on. (Also, my focus on finding the core of things is another difference :))

    Finally, we both love intuitive connections, but my friend focuses on what I’d call “vertical” ones (digging deeper etc), while mine are more “horizontal”, often random and unrelated to her. We can both miss what’s blazingly obvious to the other.

    • Kamiko
      Reply

      “…she might need help sorting out her own feelings, but it turned out that she often does. (Fe needing external input?) Whereas I know exactly what I feel, but I’m less aware of my thoughts/intuitive conclusions, and they can be surprising even for myself as I explain them.” — So in other words, you’re saying that while you often have your feelings figured out (without the aid of others with which to converse and sort things out), your INFJ friend does (A probable result of their Fe)? And in turn, they often have their ideas organised in such a way that they don’t need to bounce them around with others, or brainstorm, as you might need to do? This is interesting, as I never looked at the introverted and extroverted functions in this way.
      You also commented on “horizontal” vs. “vertical” intuitions, saying that you, as an INFP often deal with the horizontal, as a result of your Ne, while your friend utilises their Ni in order to deal with the vertical.
      I tend towards both the brainstorming and horizontal intuitions, but I no doubt lean the heaviest towards the INFJ tendencies. Thank you for your comment, Serpent – it has acted as an ideal complement to this article. I am relieved, honestly, because I have been mistyped as an INFP for nearly two years, and have always felt “off” about it all. I now understand why. This article is absolutely astounding! I no longer have very many lingering doubts concerning my type.

      For anyone interested, I would also recommended reading the blog posts done by “thesixteenpersonalitytypes” on Tumblr. Extremely informative, and explained why I have always felt as if I was an Fi-dom, even though Fi is so far down in my functional stack (my 6th function, to be exact). It’s interesting even if you aren’t confused about your type.

      • becca
        Reply

        could you perhaps post the article where it explained why you felt a strong Fi-dom?

      • Serpent
        Reply

        Aww, that’s really interesting, although strange too. I’d say Ne is culturally preferred to Ni, maybe especially in North America (my impression as an outsider, hehe). Do you think you naturally have these Ne tendencies, developed them through education or absorbed this social bias with your Fe? Ni is an amazing function too and you shouldn’t suppress it <3

    • Serpent
      Reply

      And ironically, said friend dumped me just a week after I dared to refer to her as my best friend for the first time ;___; The reason was my “excessive expectations” from a friendship. This was shocking, as we seemed to be well on the way towards true understanding and symbiosis.

      As an INFP, I wouldn’t say I have any friendship-specific expectations. I just have needs that I’d like to be met, by my friends as a total. But nobody else has been as willing to understand me and meet those needs as she was.

      I think the root of the problem is that my Fi is actually a judging function. Many of my frustrations with the friend were the same as what my boss had with me. I take friendship very seriously, even (or especially) online friendship. If there was one thing I indeed expected, it’s consistency. And over the years I repeatedly lowered my expectations, but I still had that idea of making up for things. “You become an adult when you take responsibility for what isn’t your fault”. To me it was uncomplicated and obvious that this should apply to friendships too, perhaps even more so than to boring mundane stuff.

      So to the J-types over here I would say… Remember the feeling when you relied on someone at work or college and they let you down? If you have I**P-type friends, chances are you make them feel like that at least sometimes, in terms of the friendship. Acknowledge that and offer reassurance (and especially for offline friendships, consider helping with the mundane planning etc that is natural for you).

      To fellow INFP’s… our Ne is awesome, but it gives us needs that are unlikely to be matched by one person. It’s tough for introverts to open up so much even to 2-3 people, but most likely one isn’t enough, no matter how well they seem to understand you. Don’t put your eggs in one basket and don’t let your happiness rely too much on one specific person. (This creates a huge pressure on them!) Don’t worry about not being able to call anyone a best friend. This may sound selfish and very Fi, but seek to have your needs met, not to match the social expectations (which also include having a significant other who understands you 100%). And I know it’s not easy, right now I feel like nobody is truly interested in the real me, not only their favourite part, ie the side that resonates with them. (Maybe this also has to do with me being a Gemini) This is where the Ne and Fi appear to have a conflict.

      One more thing is that this is already the second time my friend broke all contact with me. I keep on reading that this is what INFP’s do but I can’t imagine doing that to anyone, at least if they’re actively seeking to get in touch. But it should be noted that in INFJ and INFP, the defensive and critical parent functions mirror the other type’s main functions. Maybe in some twisted way we enjoy each other’s style of quarrelling, deep inside. Similarly, because my own critical parent function is Ni, and my mum has a strong Fe, it’s been really difficult to understand that my friend’s choices are her own, not a result of suppressing her “real” self that is more similar to me than her “public persona”.

      And ironically, I was being so needy exactly because I was having flashbacks of the previous time, and I felt like I had learned a lot and hadn’t done anything to deserve the unfair treatment. My mind did know that the lack of attention had nothing to do with my worth and my friend’s loyalty, but I still couldn’t shut up about what it felt like.

      Also, both times I feel like the shock therapy was effective but came at a cost, and that just a little more patience would’ve done the trick safely. I’ve had similar experiences with an ISFJ.

      Finally, I think we basically had our own version of the typical introvert/extravert struggle where my INFJ friend needed more personal time and I, although an introvert too, needed more of her presence (to the point of her feeling like I expected her to “live online”). That’s especially interesting because as far as I know, INFJ’s are often mistaken for extraverts offline due to their Fe. And it’s taken me ages to understand how watching TV with mum can count as personal time for my friend.

      Be very careful with following advice from family members etc. INFP/INFJ friendships are very sophisticated and it’s easy to have only a superficial understanding. However, these friendships are also amazing. I hope this can help someone.

  • Serpent
    Reply

    Also, I think it applies to everyone and especially any mixed type relationships, but: don’t do *what* you’d want the other person to do to you. At least with INFJ/INFP it gets downright painful easily.
    Act *the way* you’d want others to act: respect their personality, choices and preferences, be open-minded and ready to listen, don’t ignore the things that seem pointless to you if they matter to them. Maybe I’m again taking it literally, but I really think the golden rule is overrated.

  • Mandy
    Reply

    This was fantastic – thanks 🙂

  • Orange
    Reply

    This is much better than most “INFP or INFJ” articles out there, and it manages to not be very condescending towards INFPs as these articles so often are.
    Being pedantic, I take issue with some word choices and phrasing, but over all, nice job.

    Im quite sure of being INFP and appreciate the perspectives vs authenticity portion, as well as the caveat about supposed “Fi selfishness” and how Fe can be selfish if manipulative for the individual’s own gain, but feedback from others tells me Im more insightful than inspiring. I really think that is more of an E/I distinction for the NFs. The ENFx types are generally more inspiring and the INFx types are generally more insightful. I think it would be more telling to discuss HOW the manner of passing on insight occurs for each INFx type. I would say INFJs more often communicate directly, whereas INFPs seek to lead people to an insight. I can see how this might look like inspiring, because it, er, tricks people into thinking they arrive at it themselves. INFPs, being highly autonomous, understand it’s human nature to feel you arrived at a conclusion yourself. This, ironically, feels the least manipulative of the NF ways, but isn’t any less so. And yes, a common form of this is via artistic expression. INFJs, oddly enough, may use strength of emotion to express conviction which strikes people so much they are comfortable being “led” by them, because this person seems soooo sure. Of course, this is a Fe vs Ne thing too, the manner in which each interacts with others. INFPs may also lead by example more, whereas INFJs may be more direct again. In leading by example, INFPs may seem to inspire, but what they are really doing is providing insight into alternate modes from the status quo, or illuminating a value-concept by embodying it. INFJs are more likely to TELL people, in a more clear-cut leader role, with the individual sacrificing the self to fill that role. Of course, this sacrifice of self is not “fake”, but the person naturally transforming, because the internal perspective is fluid and will shift to be what is necessary to achieve an end. Recognizing the ability of others to do this, they are embodying a truth about people, which is fluidity and ability to change to reach goals. The INFP paradoxically embodies a value by staying authentic, aka by NOT sacrificing the self; but this is not adhering to mere whims nor fleeting moods, but deeper value-concepts. The INFP, then, is more focused on fundamental significance, aka, value in terms of the human condition. Hence, a sensitivity to invalidation, aka, a devaluing of the significance of their condition. The INFJ is focused on fundamental patterns or tendencies in the human condition. Hence, a sensitivity to the potential for harm or bad ends, and the need to protect oneself from the unknown and uncontrollable. To control the external, the INFJ changes their view of it until they can navigate comfortably. But this inspires others to transformation and to take a different view of problems for a solution as opposed to jumping into action. To uphold a fundamental value, an INFP demonstrates the meaning of the value in such a way that moves others to feel that value and uphold it as well. I agree that both do both and even may cross over into the other’s trademark methods, but I think its still more about the general methods than being more inspiring or insightful on the whole. Because each have a rather unusual viewpoint of reality, simply being themselves can be eye-opening to others. INFJs transform their perspective and INFPs maintain authenticity.

    You do confuse need for some validation (which also stems from inferior Te feeling of incompetency issues) for wanting agreement at one point, although prior to that you noted they dont need the other person to agree. An example of this is: “I may not need that or feel its significance, aka, I dont agree, but I can understand why you need it or why its significant for you because it makes SENSE for you”. This doesnt understand or agree with the valuation itself, but it acknowledges that it is from a place of consistency and reason. Fi makes sense of things in terms of value and within a human context, and that means the context is variable also, as every human differs a bit. This means value is not the same for every person or in every context; value is not static, although some very fundamental concepts exist which cannot really be put into words (IMO, need for consensus is more of a Fe thing, to align the self with some objective standard, whereas Fi interprets the object by comparing it to the internal standard as determined by the self).

    So the validation is that of the INFP’s rationality, which is their ego, but which the inferior undermines (Te). Being that Te is more frequent as a dom/aux function and more readily accepted, this means Fi IS misunderstood. Often, it’s mentioned that INFPs FEEL misunderstood, but they ARE misunderstood, as far as the basic point that they are coming from a rational mindset. The request is not for agreement, but at least benefit of the doubt, or suspension of judgment instead of a knee-jerk reaction against Fi. Like most types, its asking for others to do what they do, and it leaves the person feeling its one-sided.

    It could also be noted that need for validation is actually an IxxP issue in general, although possibly less noticable in IxTPs, but Jung does note that introverted rationals tend to have chips on their shoulders when it comes to being understood.

    Also, not wanting to be misunderstood is not the same as wanting to be fully understood. I wouldnt say that INFPs would find being fully understood to undermine some sense of complexity, because a surprising amount of INFPs dont view themselves as oh so complex. This touches more the point about motive…. People tend to project feelings and motives, etc, onto others based off of their own fears and insecurities. INFPs, like many introverts, may be quiet, reserved people who are rather blank outwardly, and this leaves them open to being projected upon negatively. Many people think they read others well – most do not, and INFPs tend to know this because they so often may be read totally wrong.

    Because INFPs often dont operate according to Fe protocol, this makes them confusing to others, which also leads to others making negative assumptions. As Van Der Hoop notes, the Fi type encounters much misunderstanding in life not because their feeling is wrong, because the feeling is often highly refined and correct, but because the manner of expression is “wrong”, aka it is not the conventional means nor readily understood. Again, all that is really needed here is suspension of judgement, but that is Pe mentality and most people seek quick closure (Je mentality). In order to not be misunderstood, the person doesnt need to be totally understood nor validated, just not judged, especially prematurely. People tend to focus on the manner of expression over the meaning of it, and they interpret the meaning poorly, instead of humbly admitting they just dont understand something. This poor interpretation of expression and action may occur because the feeling is so foreign that these people havent considered it before, and their knee-jerk reaction is to wrongly categorize it as something familiar. The INFP neither has poor intent nor wrong action, but people don’t see the end goal as valid or even realize it could exist as an end goal.

    Its not that the INFP needs validation or understanding, just absence of judgement and assumption, aka, benefit of the doubt. Other times the INFP has to adjust their mode of expression to be properly understood, but they tend to resist this if it means watering it down too much. Good communication requires effort from both sides of course.

    This brings us to “self-referencing”. First, I’d argue that ALL people, regardless of type, love to talk about themselves first and foremost. Being quiet, private, often self-deprecating people who are noted for being exceptional listeners, INFPs are arguably less prone to self-centered talk. But here is where I think this idea comes from: everyone self-references a lot, but when INFPs do, they try to relate it to YOU. Ironically, in trying to make their experience/feeling/whatever about YOU, they get tagged as self-absorped. Meanwhile, others yack on about themselves without making any connection to the experience of others, and somehow this is less self-absorped. I think the reason why it annoys some people when the INFP relates is the other person’s need to feel complex and unusual. Its often these types of people who complain about it. Because INFPs ruminate so deeply on the human condition and what it all means, they quickly pull up reference points to illustrate what is going on, to help someone navigate their own experience, but the ease of this annoys others. Basically, other people may feel reduced, even if the motive is to help clarify and to offer understanding and validation. But to peg this as INFPs self-referencing more than others is inaccurate, IMO. I notice other INFPs rarely bring up anything about themselves unless they are attempting to relate, so that means anything said about themselves is really about YOU. The majority of the time, however, this is comforting to people and brings relief and clarity (aka insight into themselves, and then where to go from there now that emotions are “solved”).

    Next is the empathy section…. I have no idea what “mirroring” means, and I think I may be interpreting it differently from what is intended, but here it sounds more like an ENFP. When I think of mirroring, I think of reflecting back the same feeling, and certainly the “self-referencing” may attest to that. But mirroring often means displaying the same emotion (ie someone tears up, and so you tear up), and that seems more common in ENFPs.

    However, you correctly describe the INFP experience as more cerebral than in “the heart” (although being an F-dom paradoxically puts the heart in the head). I think a much better term for this is extrapolation. This is because a more developed empathic experience for an INFP is NOT “how would I feel if I were in his situation” but “how would it feel to be him in his situation”. I make this distinction because I believe NFPs tend to be better at grasping “foreign feelings”, aka emotions or values they have never experienced and would never hold, but that they can sort of simulate well-enough to grasp as if they have. This is not to say the simulation is so cerebral as to be emotionless, but that it’s not felt as their own, just validated as a legitimate human experience. The connection to the self is far more abstract. Its more like, “I have been sad and know what it means to be sad. I identify sadness in this person, and knowing what that means, I can appreciate the value behind whatever caused sadness in this person, even if it would never cause sadness in mean”. Of course its not that robotic and is a lot more nuanced and automatic, but the self is more like a prototype for human rather than a personal reference point. In other words, things are framed in terms of fundamental human condition, not “self”, but self is viewed as a way to grasp that condition. You correctly note this at the outset by saying the more personal something is, the more universal it is, but its really that the more significance an INFP personally assigns something, the more they see its connection to some fundamental human need/truth. So there is an extrapolation going on here – inferring the unknown (a foreign feeling one may never hold themselves) from the known (connecting that feeling to a more fundamental aspect of the human condition, which you have experienced different way).

    I personally find the “your pain in my heart” to be annoying at times, because it seems the xxFJ is now making it about their heart. Now, not only do you have your own pain, but you have just disturbed someone else and have to be concerned that they also feel your pain. Ive experienced so many of them making it all about how upset they are for you, instead of the fact that you are the one actually in that situation. Then you feel a burden to “get better” faster so as to ease “your pain in their heart”. This also makes them less open to comforting others sometimes, perhaps because they have less barrier and feel more burdened, but they sometimes put that blame on others and judge them for not always being sunny. It makes people feel like they cannot be open with the FJ, because they dont want to burden them. Other times, the FJ doesnt feel your pain in their heart, and because it fails to stir them, they invalidate you. I suppose these FJs have to be dismissive towards people as some kind of self-protection. From the outside it looks like they are a lot less understanding of “foreign feelings”, unable to grasp emotions or values that do not stir so strongly within themselves also.

    The beauty of being an IxFP is that you do maintain a boundary with others’ emotions, which doesnt make you any less capable of understanding them. The benefit of this is when you understand and even can validate someone else, but you dont identify it as your personal emotion, and then you are not unduly swayed by emotional appeals. The purity of your feeling values allows you to be separate from the majority when the majority is being immoral or unethical. It also allows you to validate others without compromising your integrity, to offer comfort without being so disturbed someone is made to feel they’ve burdened you, etc. INFPs, in a sense, have many people inside them, “characters” of sorts, and these are thoroughly constructed so as to be quite complex. In empathizing, its kind of like a model of the other person is immediately created, with all their history and makeup intuited and personal emotion only used as a reference for emotional meaning in general; and then the INFP instantly inserts herself into this simulator of sorts and embodies it for that time. But when all is over, they step back out of this “model” and so they are not burdened with it as their own experience or emotion; they maintain a separate identity and values based on their own feeling. Its kind of like “I have stepped inside your heart, so now I feel your pain as if I am you”, but when you step outside of them again, then you dont feel it anymore. Because you dont hold onto the emotional experience as your own, you can quickly move into the dissection part where you can clarify the signal the emotion is giving and figure out how to “heal” it, hence INFPs being called “harmonizer-clarifiers” and “healers”.

    I dated an INFJ once, and to illustrate this difference simply, it comforted him to hear, “It hurts me to see you hurt” whereas that didn’t mean so much to me. In fact, that would sometimes make me feel worse because now I have my own pain AND theirs to worry about.
    I prefer something like, “I understand why you feel that way”. And this aligns with the idea of INFPs wanting validation (due to inferior Te telling them they don’t stack up) and INFJs wanting “protection” (inferior Se, the concrete world is not fully controllable and has too many unpredictable variables). Of course, this may be surprising to some who like to imagine INFPs as less cerebral and more emotional than INFJs, although I don’t mean to argue the other way around either.

    Talking about Feeling mostly in terms of emotion is also problematic to me, because I think to really understand Feeling as the dominant process, then you have to see it as rational. Feeling may order emotion, “make sense” of it, interpret it, utilize it, etc, but they are not one and the same, just as thinking is not raw data. Sometimes emotion is not part of the valuation process when it is deemed irrelevant (yes, feelers do that). Inner turmoil for INFPs is like heart vs heart, or emotions vs rational feeling. Harmonizing the two is often what helps to illuminate a basic concept about human needs.

    Ive realized this has many tangents and is quite long-winded, so I will end here. As noted, I think the article makes good points, but I can see how it comes from an “outside” perspective of the INFP in some ways.

    • Antonia Dodge
      Reply

      Thanks for taking the time to deconstruct the article from an INFP perspective. I think you make a lot of good points, and it’s a great addition to the conversation.

      The article is most assuredly from an outside perspective of both types – I’m an ENTP, and these are my observations of how the cognitive functions show up in both types. It’s not the deep dive that your comment is, and that’s on purpose. To fully appreciate the nuances of your comment I think a person would have to have your depth of understanding on the system, and the article is meant to be accessible to a broader audience.

      For anyone who wants a deeper dive into INFPs – most especially the points you made on (what I interpreted as) having some emotional distance and therefore being able to hold space, as well as the self-referencing component being a sign of understanding others – I highly recommend adding this comment to the equation.

      Thanks again. 🙂

      -A-

      • Bjo248
        Reply

        All I can say is Wow! You just explained exactly how I feel! (INFP). I have tested INFJ in the past but infp last several times.I do “pick up” on the emotional climate quickly when I walk in a room. I read others emotions quickly and accurately. And can be uncomfortable or feel drained if the energy is negative.But I do measure everything according to being true to my value system. I can empathize how a friend feels, withold judgement,that is having an affair with a married man. But,I cannot allow myself to do so because I know how it feels to be betrayed. I can understand how easily it can happen,”step in her shoes” . I am very forgiving, because of being able to empathize. And I am most hurt when someone doubts my motives.So being validated is important. Your insight has been very helpful. I wonder if being able to forgive easily ( not forget or set yourself up to be hurt again) but empathize with the others feelings wether or not you would feel or do what they did is an “infp” thing? I am just begining to study the meaning of the personality types of INFP and INFJ. Very intetesting. I have been capable of the ” infj door slam”,no longer allowing someone I care deeply for in my life,only after I have tried mt best to get along. ( to the point of abuse,because I was for a time more aware of their pain than mine,which is certainly not healthy!) But, I still can empathize and forgive. But,the door has been slammed shut gor good,once there is no doubt a line has been crossed in my value system. Does this sound INFP? I can relate to both infp and infj but am seeing a difference in the processes as you explained it. Thankyou!

    • Serpent
      Reply

      Wow, so amazingly insightful! As an INFP I agree with absolutely everything you say.

      As I’m nearing 25 I’m finally seeing how alarmingly often people just don’t understand what I’m trying to tell them. I now see that when they *do* understand, they usually have something to say. I don’t want to change my communication style though 🙁 That would be fake and boring.

      Also, any thoughts about Si? Much of my family are S-types, and I feel like my Si got developed before my Ne. I’m probably less balanced than other introverts and perhaps have less control of my Ne than many INFP’s do.

      I would also love to talk some more if you can/want.

      • Antonia Dodge
        Reply

        As an INFP you essentially have to ‘fight for your right’ to Ne. The allure of Si is always there, but Exploration is your path to being effing awesome.

        How? Basically, if it forces you out of your comfort zone, do it. You’re most likely not going to start with life-threatening activities, so don’t limit yourself with fears about safety. You’re going to be just fine.

        Start with trying every crazy kind of food you can think of. Have you tried alligator meet? Do you know the difference between Indian and Thai yellow curry?

        Move on to intentionally getting yourself lost in a city. You can even do so driving in a car. Just make sure your GPS is off and you’re using The Force to find your way back.

        And, of course, the mother of all Ne is travel. If you’re an American, how many states have you traveled to? Have you traveled internationally yet?

        Have fun. The awesome thing about having Ne as your growth state is that it’s a fucking blast when you get in the spirit of it.

        -A-

    • Christine
      Reply

      THANK YOU for this, Orange! Your comments are powerfully insightful and tremendously accurate and helpful. You explained what goes on inside of an INFP with absolute precision. I love how deftly you handled the important distinctions. Your metaphors are perfectly apt. And your ability to expose the merely ostensible by explaining the actual reality is much appreciated.

      Indeed, being MIS-understood is the sticking point for an INFP, not a need for validation nor a desire (or resistance) to being fully understood. In fact, I cannot relate at all to a need for the kind of validation described in the article. Nor has the thought ever crossed my mind that I’m so very complex that no other person could possibly understand me. I feel like a very simple (though not simplistic), straightforward soul.

      Anyway, I copied and pasted your comments to have on hand because I’ve not read anything else so spot-on about INFPs. Thank you again for taking the time to share!

      PS: My intent is not to dis the author of the article. I gleaned a good deal of helpful information from her, but I hope she will integrate your insights into her perspectives. I cannot emphasize enough how zeroed in your comments are! Tremendous!

      Peace and blessings. And keep sharing those inspirational insights! 😉

      • Antonia Dodge
        Reply

        I really enjoy when people make observations that communicate their experience in more nuanced ways. I realize that my word choices aren’t going to be the same word choices everyone would use, and comments afford people the opportunity to share their individual take thus fleshing things out for all. There are 7 billion people on the planet, and each person is going to experience their type in a way that is unique. My observation is that of all the types, INFPs in particular need this since their Driver process is by definition a wordless place.

        I liked Orange’s comment, but I don’t think it’s universal or a replacement for the article’s observations. I’m glad it resonates with you, though, since we all need to feel someone else gets us.

        -A-

        • Christine
          Reply

          Hey, Antonia. You did just fine with your descriptions and word choices. I meant no disrespect. You write so well and with excellent insight.

          The over exuberance in my post was a knee-jerk reaction at hearing another person from within the INFP tribe describe with extreme accuracy some of the more universally experienced and misunderstood (even by INFPs) elements of the type. Orange’s powerful insights are ones only an INFP could have.

          I suspect you elucidate the realities of your personality type like few others can, since your powers of observation and insight are also so well developed. Those who share your personality type surely read your writings on your/their type with especial enjoyment.

          I truly think Orange’s observations apply to INFPs in a more universal than exceptional way. I suspect that not many INFPs have been willing to take the time to read the post, though. I skimmed and almost passed over it until a certain observation caught my eye and sucked me in. If more INFPs actually stopped to absorb the content, I’ll bet there would be a good many more powerfully positive responses.

          I’m just now learning to use my “voice” to express my feelings, and sometimes I use my “outdoor voice” when I need to be using my “indoor voice.” My earlier post was a case of that at your expense. Heartfelt apologies for that.

          I really appreciate your investment in the topic of personality types, Antonia, and I’m thankful for the special gift of encouragement you bring to people like me through what you do.

          Please keep writing!!

          Peace.

          • Antonia Dodge

            No worries – I’m not taking your comments as any form of disrespect. Whatever your authentic truth is should be stated. And I appreciate the kind words.

            I’m actually pretty terrible at describing ENTPs because I’m way too close to it. We’re leaving ENTPs for last, and I’m cringing at the thought of having to write about the type and do a full length podcast because I know I’m going to over value my own experience. There are definitely things that only insiders of the ENTP type can know, but it’s next to impossible to separate them from the things only Antonia Dodge can know. When I write about ENTPs I usually write only about myself and make a lot of disclaimers that other ENTP experiences may vary. That’s why when Orange said, “I see this as coming from an outside perspective” I see that as actually a positive thing when trying to bridge the gap between how types understand each other. There is a need for an ‘inside’ perspective and outside perspectives, since we all overvalue our own experience.

            Orange believes that ‘mirroring’ is more of an ENF thing. I totally and thoroughly disagree. For some reason the specific word doesn’t resonate. However, they then engage in a description of mirroring calling it ‘extrapolating’ other people’s experience by embodying it, which is the definition of mirroring. They don’t like the word, though they like the definition. Their comment is much, much deeper than the list article was intended to go (cause it’s a list article and intended to be accessible to many). I liked their commentary. I also think their comment was a reflection of an INFP at a specific level of development which will not translate to all other INFPs. For example, they didn’t like the idea of connecting validation with someone else agreeing with them. That is something not all INFPs understand yet. To make exceptions for all the incarnations of development is truly impossible in a list article. Instead, I acknowledge what his common to INFPs (regardless of their development), which is a desire for validation over understanding however that shows up in increasing forms of sophistication.

            Both you and Orange are reflecting your perspectives of your type based on your levels of development. I’m looking at INFPs at varying levels of development and seeing what is common to them all. It’s going to be the case that some take exception. I’m down with that.

            I appreciate both your and Orange’s comments, which is why I’ve acknowledged them as well worth reading.

            -A-

  • Serpent
    Reply

    Haha wow thanks for your examples! Then my Ne started developing when I wanted to learn Finnish at 12 and when I succeeded at 15-16 🙂 I’m not American 😛 Russian and been to 10 countries in Europe 🙂
    I also love just wandering in the city, whether here in Moscow or abroad.

  • JL
    Reply

    This was legit life-changing. I’ve never seen the comparison constructed in this way, or the explanation of INFP so accurate. Sharing with the INFJs close to me.

    thank you thank you

    Seriously, THANK YOU.

  • Serpent
    Reply

    I found a great explanation about separating (or not separating) the objective and subjective:

    Fi: Subjectively assesses subjective criteria
    Te: Objectively assesses objective criteria
    Fe: Objectively assesses subjective criteria
    Ti: Subjectively assesses objective criteria

    So as an INFP, I actually value objectivity highly, perhaps because it takes me so much effort to use my Te. I obviously don’t dismiss subjectivity but I hate lies and to me the lack of a boundary between the objective and subjective often sounds like trying to pass off one’s opinion as objective. (To me there’s a huge difference between opinions and preferences. Opinions need to stand against reality checks, preferences don’t have to.)

    • Serpent
      Reply

      I wondered whether “passing off a mere preference as an actual opinion” is a better wording, but to me it’s not the same as passing off an opinion is objective. To me an opinion is subjective but has an objective basis.

      Interestingly I seem to have much less of a problem with those who have a strong Ti, rather than tertiary or inferior. Fe is more complicated, unless the person treats me as an authority on a given topic (but then is it even Fe?)

      One more thing is that for me the most special people in my life are “included” into my Fi (and I’m only now starting to include my own parents tbh). I think my Te is generally restricted to those special ones and to my interests, and it’s a huge effort to use it for anything else. I also feel hurt if someone isn’t interested in the Te conclusions I’ve been sweating over (especially for their sake).

  • MK
    Reply

    I was just wondering, if my friend INFJ was anxious (or feeling any other unpleasant emotion) and I was totally calm/happy would that make him also calm/happy? At least for duration of being near?

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      What a thoughtful question MK!

      As an INFJ, I can only say that it is very hard to maintain anxiety when those around me are calm, happy, and comforting. Even if the issue causing the anxiety still exists, I feel like I can cope if someone else is calm.

      I hope that helps!

  • Visitor A5
    Reply

    Here’s an interesting thought (that FJs probably wont like):

    Because FPs can consult their Fi on how their actions will make other people feel before they act, that should give Fi a predictive quality that Fe users will not have (to that extent) (outside of remembering past mistakes, but that’s Si not Fe).

    That should make FPs act more gentle towards others than FJs because they will notice their hurtfulness before they act it out, while FJs will only notice it right afterwards (aka too late).

    —-
    In my personal life FPs also always struck me as more gentle than their FJ counterparts and I’ve gotten the same impression from reading the various FP and FJ profiles online.

    In case you’re wondering I’m an INTJ.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for your comment Visitor A5! I’m not sure if everyone will agree with you either, but you bring up an interesting perspective. As an INFJ myself, I can definitely see what you are saying. I have a few INFPs in my life and they do seem more gentle with their words than I am. I definitely have the tendency to say something that I think will be all right, then realize afterwards that I probably shouldn’t have said it. Then I will go on to torment myself over my poor choice of words. Maybe INFPs do have better foresight in regards to choosing their words.

      You’ve given me something to ponder. I will endeavor to explore this a little further. Thanks!

    • Serpent
      Reply

      The worst is when FJ are blind to their hurtfulness or justify it…

      • Charis Branson
        Reply

        In that case, Serpent, you have an undeveloped FJ who is choosing to ignore their co-pilot process and dwell in the 10 year old process of Accuracy.

        In my experience, that is an uncomfortable place to be. I have tortured myself for decades over slights I delivered while ignoring my Harmony process.

        So, just remind yourself when you run into such a person that they are paying the higher price.

        • Serpent
          Reply

          Well, to be fair I’ve not known any FJ who’s consistently like that, just in a specific area or two, likely to be related to what the inferior function is.

    • Serpent
      Reply

      I also kinda think that there’s a Fi/Fe difference. Fe isn’t really aiming to avoid being hurtful, it aims to be nice in general, consistently with its inner view of self as a good, kind person. As a result it’s nicer to random people who’ve never hurt them than to those who’ve already done both good and bad things to them. (to INFP that’s mega-fake)

      FP’s include special people into the scope of their Fi (at least I do) and go out of the way to avoid hurting them and to please them*. I think we constantly generate rules with Ne/Se and follow them as much as possible. The weakness is of course that these rules might not reflect how our friends really want us to behave, and we can fail spectacularly if they expect us to pick up their clues and adapt subconsciously. And the main downside is that this is exhausting, at least for me as an introvert. Those who are not included into the Fi are likely to feel hurt when watching us interacting with those who are.

      *or more precisely, to please everyone who’s included into our Fi, at the same time. When interacting with Friend A, it’s an equally high priority to please them, myself and unrelated friends B, C and D, if there are any possibilities of pleasing them. And the more people benefit, the better, even if compromises have to be made where Friend A sees no need for them. For example, I got seriously hurt by the fact that my INFJ ex-friend didn’t consider the possibility of me joining the trips she took with other people. The option was too abstract and certainly not worth making her friends or family compromise even a tiny bit.

      • Serpent
        Reply

        *that there’s a Fi/Fe difference in motivation, I mean. FP’s mostly hurts people by trying to please them or by neglecting them (if they’re not included into the Fi). They’re basically more likely to take risks where FJ’s will just say nothing, because Fi doesn’t see them as risks but as an opportunity to get/give joy (maximizing it, as I mentioned earlier).

        • Serpent
          Reply

          At least Ne sees the opportunities. Not sure what Se does and how it’s different for SFP’s.

      • Charis Branson
        Reply

        Your comment that INFJs are kinder to random people than close associates is really interesting. That is an aspect of myself I have always found maddening! I have mountains of regret over the way I have treated a much loved family member, when I would never do such a thing to a total stranger.

        The only explanation I can offer is found in the article:
        “INFJs are far less interested in validation and are more interested in protection. They don’t need you to agree with them, they need to know you’re not going to hurt them, even if the fear of hurt is deeply unconscious…The most protected, well-treated INFJ on the planet is still going to have something inside them scanning for people who would be deliberately hurtful.”

        For me, this spells out a tendency to “hold a grudge” to a certain extent. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me” is my lifelong policy – and it’s not entirely intentional. The price of being hurt is so high, and unconscious, that I will hold myself apart from someone who has hurt me. And in a dynamic where I am surrounded by the needs and energies of a group of people, I will mold myself to the opinions and desires of those I deem most important (e.g. a spouse over a parent; or a family member over a friend).

        I can see how that would seem fake to an authenticity user. On the flip side, I sometimes find Fi maddeningly illogical, and I must remind myself that it makes perfect sense to the person using it.

        Thanks for your observations, Serpent.

  • Reply

    happy to be visiting your blog, love, How then life will love you

  • Serpent
    Reply

    One more difference is that where Fe goes by social conventions, Fi dismisses them and focuses on what you literally say. Fe is about the social/cultural meanings, Fi is more about dictionary meanings. It may be taken for Ti, but it needs precision for emotional accuracy. It’s that “dictionary of emotions” that I’ve mentioned before. It aligns the literal and emotional meanings, and it’s disturbed when nice things are said with words that can be hurtful when taken literally.

    Fe users can indeed be quite manipulative and trick you into believing they’ve promised/confirmed/denied something when they literally didn’t (this is not always intentional). But they do that through Ti, mostly in stressful situations and under pressure, and they can easily hurt people this way.

    For example, this part of a Ti description has always resonated with me:

    “People with dominant Ti tend to use precise language, and they dislike it if you use words and terminology incorrectly. As such, Ti’s tend to have a strong vocabulary and they excel at remembering terminology.

    Dominant Introverted Thinkers have been known for creating or inventing entirely new systems, models and theories.

    If you wanted help coming up with a fresh new name for something, like a new product, or a new company name, a person with Introverted Thinking in their dominant or auxiliary position would be the best to help you. Their brains are wired for coming up with fresh new names.

    Same for new theories and new inventions, and even just new words and new ways of saying things. Introverted Thinking is the cognitive functions that does this the best.”

    But I think the precision part actually describes my Fi(+Te), whereas the innovation part describes my Ne.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for your insights Serpent. I’m an INFJ who used to believe I was INTP. I have always struggled, however, with pulling the right word from my mental dictionary. It drives me insane at times. I know there is a word out there that perfectly describes what I’m trying to say, but it hovers just out of reach. I thought your observations about Ti (dom and aux) being walking-talking dictionaries was interesting.

      As to Fe being manipulative, I have given this a lot of thought recently – mainly because of comments made here on PH. I don’t like the word because it conveys intentionally harmful actions. I’m never intentionally harmful to another human being. However, I do use my ability to read people and social structures to create the reality I consider most optimal…which is manipulation. Joel and Antonia’s podcast of last week (Sharing Your Personal Growth With Others) helped me realize we all use manipulation in one way or another. Sometimes it’s necessary for relationships to work. As long as we’re not forcing others to act contrary to their nature or suppress their authentic selves.

    • Karen
      Reply

      I’m sorry, but I really don’t understand how “Ti,Te,Fi,Fe,Si…” etc relate to INFJ/INFP. Are these other terms defined anywhere?

      You’re describing what these functions do, but I don’t know which type you’re talking about. Adds confusion to the issue.

      • Charis Branson
        Reply

        The short handed versions of the cognitive functions can be very confusing to people who are not familiar with them.

        Ti is Introverted Thinking. We call it Accuracy
        Te is Extraverted Thinking. We call it Effectiveness
        Fi is Introverted Feeling. We call it Authenticity
        Fe is Extraverted Feeling. We call it Harmony
        Si is Introverted Sensing. We call it Memory
        Se is Extraverted Sensing. We call it Sensation
        Ni is Introverted Intuition. We call it Perspectives
        Ne is Extraverted Intuition. We call it Exploration

        Here’s some resources you might find interesting:

        http://www.personalityhacker.com/quick-reference-guides/

        http://www.personalityhacker.com/personality-tools-keirsey-four-temperaments-vs-jungs-cognitive-functions/

        I hope that helps Karen!

        • Karen
          Reply

          wow, those are great resources. thank you! 🙂

  • Merja
    Reply

    I just love your work! Every time I read this I get another insight! <3 <3

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks Merja! More fodder for your growing empire? 😉

  • Infpp
    Reply

    My biggest issue with the INFJ v INFP comparison is this…. iNFJ are claimed to both intuit more and feel more than INFP. It goes something like this INFJ are more empathic because they feel the other persons feelings and introverted intuiton makes them superior at intuiting the world… However from a function stand point this makes no sense. Fe is emotional expression not internal feeling, hence Fe expresses what another person is feeling i.e it mirrors the feeling bakc at the person. Together with exceptional intuition INFJ can thus express another persons emotions perfectly. iNFP on the other hand absorbs the other persons emotions in an inward fashion they feel deeply the exact emotion of another person, because they are mirroring inward and this is expressed intuitively making the other person feel understood while seeming to be solid rock on the outside. INFP are masters of intuitive artistic expression INFJ are masters of emotional nuanced expression, INFP feel you, INFJ show you. INFP know your inside self from a feeling point of view, we know how you feel. You can not lie to INFP about how you feel because they feel it but can not tell why so easilly. INFP asks what’s wrong even when you smile. INFJ understands you intuitively and will know you better than yourself by intuition. They can not explain how they know as easily they just know but they are able to explain it with emotionally expressive language. INFP seem calm on the outside almost stoic and can be very random communicators because of extrovert Intuition , INFJ seem emotional facially and vocally to have many expressions due to external feeling. They can be completely disengaged and still look present. INFP never look entirely present, they either smile or they do not. ask INFJ randomly how they feel amd they will not know. Ask INFP randomly what they think and they will not know. Just thoughts

    • Serpent
      Reply

      “INFJ understands you intuitively and will know you better than yourself by intuition.” unless you’re INFP :DDDD but generally I agree with your post!!!

      • Infpp
        Reply

        Hahaha agreed 😉

  • Infpp
    Reply

    In addition it seems INFP ‘suffer ‘ from perpetual wanderlust, the need to travel, especially alone to remote places and seem to have an uncanny nack for picking up forreign languages, whereas INFJ seem to be more reluctant of the big unknown out there, but I can only imagine travel extensively in their minds. INFP and INFJ both are spiritual seekers but INFJ more likely to teach and speak publically on it whereas INFP keep it as a personal growth experience. INFP seem completely uncompetitive but compete with themselves constantly striving to be better, INFJ seem more outwardly competitive and judmental but actually couldn’t care less when they look inward they are more interested in how it is than how it /they should be…. Those are the observations from one side of the story….

    • Serpent (INFP)
      Reply

      INFJ also seem quite good at foreign languages. and i can be quite a competitive language learner actually 😀 But the motivation is likely to be different.

      I think the INFJ level of obsession is more normal and socially acceptable due to Fe. They won’t neglect work, school or family for that. At least not the way I do 😀 But I don’t mind that, as long as it doesn’t come with a “holier-than-thou” attitude.

  • Tamagochi (INFJ)
    Reply

    Thanks for some very interesting insights Antonia. One thing I would like to add is that INFJ can be a shadow type of INFP and vice versa. That’s because all of their Jungian functions are inverted. And what that essentially means is that one can temporary slip and become the other. This later adds to the confusion of what type he or she really is.

    For example I am usually able to make snap and efficient decisions based on Fe/Ti combo. Therefore they tend to be accurate and include the needs of all parties. Even though I don’t like explaining them (sign of underdeveloped Te). But sometimes it happens that due to external noise I cannot hear the Ti. And Fe also overloads in the presence of some very expressive opposition. Then out of sudden I become hesitant to make a decision because “it doesn’t feel right”. Or in the moments of increased pressure, I can suffer from the effects of runaway Ne which floods my mind with all possible variations of how it can all end up badly. Needless to say, this is not my preferred mode of operation 🙂 Therefore when reading your dichotomy analysis, there was “yeah, I’ve experienced those” moments to most of the INFP traits. But it’s not my usual behaviour.

    • Antonia Dodge
      Reply

      I think all of us are impacted by our shadow functions. As an ENTP I see Te coming up for me a lot and I definitely experience the pain of underdeveloped Fi, as well. You hit the nail on the head when you indicated that one should be looking for their usual behavior, not simply things that can/have happened to them. Pretty much all experiences are universal if we look hard enough. 🙂

      Thanks for the comment/insights!

      -A-

  • Natan Vance
    Reply

    Being a huge fan of the show Hannibal and being an infp myself, I could easily see that Will Graham was also a infp.
    However on the web people tend to cast him as a infj.

    But thanks to your analysis, it is clear that Will is an infp – because the mirroring of subjective emotional experience of others (replaying what the killer does on crime scenes) doesn’t need to happen in real time. “What would I be feeling if I was you”.

    • Ayaz
      Reply

      You bring up an interesting point, however, wouldn’t an INFP have had to experience the emotion in order to ascertain what another would be feeling in a certain situation?

      An INFJ can shift perspectives and create feelings within themselves that can match a given situation through perspective switching in a very fluid manner that converges into one unified experience.

      In my opinion Will Graham is still more INFJ than INFP simply due to the fact that he can feel emotions he has not felt by going into his imagination with Se content. It appears to me he is more of an Se user than an Si user as well, which again points to INFJ.

      Your post gave me something to think about, and will continue to consider what you’ve said whenever I happen to watch the show.

      • Serpent (INFP)
        Reply

        “wouldn’t an INFP have had to experience the emotion in order to ascertain what another would be feeling in a certain situation?”
        Not really, as long as we’ve observed it up close, with someone who’s ready to describe their feelings in detail, being honest and sincere. And books, music, computer games, movies also help a lot. (It doesn’t have to be limited to fiction – non-fiction also works, especially history) Of course a 14-18 year old may be too simplistic and eager to match their own experiences to other people’s, but any type has some teething troubles in youth.

      • Serpent (INFP)
        Reply

        That said, I’m not familiar with the show. Maybe I’m misunderstanding something.

    • Ayaz
      Reply

      Also, it seems to me that an INFP would be viscerally feeling their own reaction to the scene. It would be difficult to let go of their own feeling in order to begin imagining what another must’ve been feeling on the fly after witnessing such emotionally intense scenes. An INFJ would also be greatly affected by witnessing such scenes, however would not struggle with completely wiping the slate clean internally in order to ascertain conclusions about the psyche of the killer. The reason for this would be because it is for the purpose of apprehending the killer. If such a greater purpose was not available, it would be much more difficult to do such a thing… in my opinion.

      • Serpent (INFP)
        Reply

        It’s very difficult to type fictional characters because they’re often imbalanced. Especially P types are often weak and pathetic (think Sid from Ice Age), and lack the inner Ji core. I wrote here about how Poirot’s perfect mind combines both Ni and Ne: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1205424213

        I vehemently disagree with your INFP remark 😛 Why would we need to wipe away their own feelings in order to imagine others’? If that’s what INFJ do then wow omg. Thank you for the insight. I think Ne gives us more mental space for going through things and retaining both our own and other people’s experience. Maybe this means our perception is less accurate but it’s already much better than what ST-folks can achieve, and we can see a much broader picture than Ni users.

        • Serpent (INFP)
          Reply

          This reminds me on the false dichotomy of quality vs quantity, for example in language learning. I’m learning MANY languages 😀 And people often incorrectly compare that to being a “jack of all trades” etc. But polyglots can be just as good at their best languages as someone who’s only learning one language. I love Finland and my Finnish is pretty good, for example. I have friends who love Germany, Spain, Italy, Brazil and speak those languages better than I do. But not better than I speak Finnish. Perfectionism can be both motivating and very dangerous. Embracing imperfection has allowed me to have many great experiences through Portuguese, Italian etc.

          I’m not claiming that Ne is better than Ni btw. I just see no reason why it would be less capable

          • Charis Branson

            As always, thanks for your INFP perspective Serpent. I personally have a bit of a blind-spot when it comes to figuring out INFPs and your observations always add clarity. 🙂

            I can’t weigh in on the Hannibal conversation since I have never watched it.

            I will say, if I could “wipe the slate clean” as an INFJ, my life would be a whole lot less complicated.

  • anna
    Reply

    i am even more confused now, i am both infp and infj? perspectives, harmony but i do like getting things done to my benefit, i mirror, but also absorb?

    when i see my friend somehow i can feel what they’re feeling, and i don’t that thats something i can mirror because they haven’t told me anything. i just know that they’re feeling left out, or if they don’t like how the conversation is going.
    I’m assuming i mirror too as i do feel what a character feels. i don’t think i ask myself what would i feel if i was him. i really just do feel that character sometimes relate, but more of feel.
    maybe i absorb but for more than just real time, or maybe this is normal for everyone, idk. oh i also do cry when i see someone cry, both tv and in real life, although this too seems pretty normal. see thats why I’m so confused.

    i prefer being validated. if i like something and i share it i want people to tell me yes this is so good instead of oh you like this i see. however for philosophies i believe in i don’t expect people to validate me, no one really does so why hope for it. instead i’ve learnt to just keep it to myself, in case people disagree and i hate that. because i can’t answer how i got to the conclusion.

    as for how i lead, i do both as well. well primarily bc of context. but mainly i offer solutions than emotional support. and i would use emotional aikido to bring them to that solution, which would give them an aha.

    i really don’t know. however, looking up infj blogs, i feel like I’m an infj although i have never been tested as one but infp.

    • Serpent (INFP)
      Reply

      “because i can’t answer how i got to the conclusion.” that sounds like Ni/perspectives.
      Aww, so cute how you feel some things are universal to all humans. They’re simply part of your nature. They’re normal but maybe less common than you think.
      It’s possible that you’re neither INFP nor INFJ. maybe ISFP? they have both Authenticity and Perspectives (as the third function). I’m not sure harmony is a good name for Fe because it’s a very specific kind of harmony, and to me it’s not the real harmony for example. All NF types seem to value what they perceive as harmony, but it may be very different from the definition here. For example, although I’m an idealist, I recognize the imperfections of the world, and for me true harmony means more respect and support for those who’ve been neglected (in terms of human rights that would be women, LGBTQ+ etc) and more responsibility for the privileged ones. So from someone else’s perspective I may seem unfair because I side with the neglected and actively don’t want to maintain the status quo.

      Random question… have you ever achieved something out of spite, because someone else said they didn’t think you can do it?

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      An interesting distinction I have heard Antonia use to differentiate between INFP and INFJ is that INFJs find offending others more distressing than offending themselves, and INFPs are willing to be a total pariah in behalf of their convictions. You mention above that you will often keep your feelings to yourself because you hate it when people disagree with you, which sounds like Extraverted Feeling/Harmony.

      You can’t really be two personality types, so I would recommend you go with one and explore it thoroughly. Adopt it as your own for awhile and see how it fits. Sometimes, a personality can be like a new set of shoes. You need to give them time to break-in and you may find they become comfortable as you see just how well they fit with your lifestyle. However, if they start causing you pain and discomfort it’s time to try another pair of shoes/personality type.

  • Cyn
    Reply

    It’s funny looking at this. I am an INFJ type where as my sister in an INFP type. I feel like we are extremely different, but when reading this and knowing our differences I can see how we are alike besides our drives, and how we process. I make split second decisions based on information around me in the back of my mind, as well as how it affects others before me. Where as my sister takes what seems like forever, weighing pros and cons, as well as deciding how the choice will affect her before others. However I will say even when reading thus she sounds selfish lol

    • Serpent (INFP)
      Reply

      She simply has this internal need for staying true to herself, much like you presumably have an internal need for order.

      How old is she? By about 22 I’ve learned to know very clearly what I want, for example when buying clothes. I only struggle with the choice if it’s limited and none of the options is good enough (for example if I don’t really like anything on the menu).

  • Sugar Deet
    Reply

    Thank you so much for this! I have always bounced between the two types though lately have fallen under the P end more, and from quick glance I felt they were nearly identical. This helped me see the difference and discover I truly am an INFP over INFJ.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Sugar Deet! I’m glad the content brought you some clarity around your best-fit type. 🙂

  • Cory
    Reply

    so what does it mean when you get both? I just took the test and I had less than a 3% difference between j and p.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Then you look at the description of the cognitive functions and see which ones resonate with you the most. Find the “Best Fit Type” and go with it. Explore it. See if you resonate with it. We will always have parts of ourselves that resonate with other types, but there will be one that strikes us to the core of our being and explains not only our past actions, but also every action we make afterwards.

  • Mouse
    Reply

    Hello All,

    I enjoyed the article, but have to admit I’m still confused one what I am. It’s also embarrassing because I have a psych degree. I’ve always been classified as an INFP, but I think I might be more of an INFJ. I’m not adventurous, I suck at languages and math and my ideal day is me on the balcony with a great book and coffee. I get a little confused because my husband (clearly an INTJ…clearly) says that I do this “crazy” thing where I try to map out a conversation and plan for every different angle…a little like playing chess. It’s out of a need to protect myself from looking like a moron. I know that I have to be one of these types because I’ve always felt misunderstood. My parents called me too sensitive and I still take things “too personally”. I feel like if I understood what I was, maybe I could work on areas to make me a better person. I’m also a perfectionist who never can do as well as I think I should.

    Any help would be awesome.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Hi Mouse! One of the distinctions I like to use to differentiate between INFP/INFJ is mentioned in the article:

      Is offending others more distressing to you than offending yourself? That means you are using Harmony, which signifies INFJ.

      Or, are you willing to be a total pariah in behalf of your convictions? This would indicate Authenticity, which implies INFP.

      • andrea
        Reply

        This is what made me realize I truly am a Harmony user instead of Authenticity–the thought of being a possible pariah for a conviction is distressing to me. I’d rather not offend someone. If I feel I’ve offended someone, I almost cannot live with myself!

      • Serpent (INFP)
        Reply

        As for language, both types love it (and N-types in general, I think). But this manifests itself in various ways and it can be simply a love of books/reading.

    • Serpent (IFNP)
      Reply

      As for language, both types love it (and N-types in general, I think). But this manifests itself in various ways and it can be simply a love of books/reading.

  • Steve
    Reply

    Has a INFP i have to say yes, i refer to my experience in life to understand other sometime.But at first, i feel…. i feel no mater what , i feel even if i can’t link what i feel to some experience i have lived. In fact, when i can link a other person feeling to a similar situation that happen to me in my life, its actually a + to the whole understanding process !!!! Just saying !!!

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for the feedback Steve! It is nice to get the INFP perspective.

  • Peter
    Reply

    wow. I have just found your website and I’m amazed at how accurate this is. I’m an INFP guy and wow. You guys. no words(alot of words actually but I would write an essay here would I chose.) haha. Just. You guys fascinate me. Keep it up. I just subscribed to your guys’ podcat. awesome work!

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for the feedback, Peter! I’m glad you enjoyed the article. 😉

  • kate
    Reply

    i’ve been 95% sure i’m INFP for years. then i read these articles and really start to feel a pull towards INFJ. so confused 😉

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      I used to think I had an Exploration copilot. But, exploring never brought me the satisfaction as helping others did. That’s how I know I am an INFJ – my soul sings when I know I have helped someone else. As much as I love to try new things and explore, sometimes it causes me some anxiety.

      So, ask yourself – what brings you the greatest contentment? Exploration? or Harmony (meeting the needs of others)?

      • kate
        Reply

        thanks for your reply. i am most likely still INFP, it’s just not really resonating with me here 100% i also feel a swell of contentment when helping others, but i probably don’t do it as often as an INFJ would, or as consistently. it’s number 5 that really doesn’t resonate though, at all. i thought it was reversed and i relate exclusively to the INFJ description on that one. but yes i guess all in all, i like doing both but exploration might be higher on the list.

        • Charis Branson
          Reply

          We are always going to resonate with facets of most of the types, but there will be one that feels like it gets to the core of who we are.

          • CW

            “but there will be one that feels like it gets to the core of who we are.”

            I like this.

            I am an INFJ, and,
            even more than reading the article, it’s reading the comments that solidifies things.

            It has been helpful for me to get the INFP perspectives via these comments. For example, I have two INFPs in my life, and I’ve always found it puzzling how they will do this sort of “me too, me too!” thing in conversation. I mistakenly attributed it to some kind of insecurity. Now I understand that they are really just being thoughtful and trying to relate, and I think that is a good and kind thing to do. I feel bad that I had misunderstood this behavior. So much for my “great” insight into human behavior! LOL

            One thing I think I might disagree with in the article is the claim that we INFJs must be interacting with the person in real time in order to feel their feelings.
            Could you explain this further because I think I have experienced many exceptions to this.

            Also, I relate to your deciding factor:
            “Does offending others bother you more than offending yourself?”
            This is so true for me, but I didn’t like how someone made that seem like a selfish thing in it’s “real” essence. To imply that I only care because I want to avoid having to feel your pain comes across as a simplistic explanation.

          • CW

            *its

          • CW

            “and,
            even more than reading the article, it’s reading the comments that solidifies things.”

            I don’t want that to come across as saying the comments were more helpful than the article.

            What I meant was that the article was really great and helpful, and the INFP comments helped too because I began to see how different our perspectives are.

  • Lydia
    Reply

    I tested as an INFJ and heavily identify with the content I’ve found on that type with Personality Hacker.

    However, in this article, I also find myself identifying with a few of the INFP cognitive functions rather acutely. As well as the INFJ’s.

    How would you recommend I further pursue this to fully recognize my type?

  • Barb
    Reply

    INFP female here who is seriously dating an INFJ male… And all this makes so much sense. I went through a period where I was evaluating the relationship so hard against my internal personal value system that he (sensing that without me ever saying anything concrete about it) was really terrified that I was going to leave. But I didn’t want to leave, it’s just an excruciating decision to choose a life partner. Not only do I have to measure if it lines up with my zpersonal value system now to be with him, but also judge if it will continue to be for all scenarios in the future. Other INFPs adopt the “love is for a certain time period” idea, but that doesn’t fit with what I believe about love and monogamy for life. Thus the decision making process is multiplied, and my poor INFJ is feeling all of it in real time all while I’m trying to project the possibly pain of the future and imagine if our connection is strong enough to hold up to it. this explanation helps me know why he is always so intensely concerned about my emotional state! It’s because if I am buoyant and we are in harmony, he can rest knowing that he’s taken care of us. If I’m not happy for any reason, then he is wondering what he can do to change that. Which honestly drives me up a wall, because I take responsibility for my own emotional experience and I don’t want my current (and often changing) emotional experience to dictate his. But apparently that’s how he’s wired.

    Sorry for the long post. INFP external processing moment.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      As an INFJ myself, I can totally identify with his need to make you happy. I do the same thing in my relationships. It is a conscious act on my part to allow those around me the time and space they need to process their stuff without my stepping in and feeling like I am making a difference. You may just need to remind him, again and again, to let you be. He will get the message eventually.

  • Grace
    Reply

    I came here to help sort out whether I’m an INFP or INFJ and it just confused me more! I originally typed as an INFJ but now more consistently type as an INFP. I’ve gotten J about 5 times and P about 4 times. You have no idea how frustrating this is. Or maybe you do. I can’t figure it out. Especially as it holds true that I am constantly looking to define “who I am” according to my birthdate. Ugh.

  • C
    Reply

    Hi,

    “Is offending others more distressing to you than offending yourself? That means you are using Harmony, which signifies INFJ.

    Or, are you willing to be a total pariah in behalf of your convictions? This would indicate Authenticity, which implies INFP.”

    I am often a total pariah in behalf of my convictions and then always feel severe guilt, even if I was right. Does that make me INFP or INFJ?

    • Serpent (INFP)
      Reply

      Have you ever achieved something out of spite, when someone told you you wouldn’t be able to do it?

    • Caroline
      Reply

      I’m definitely not an expert, but I am (I think) an INFP, so with that in mind…
      I think I understand what you mean when you say that you are “often a total pariah” because of your strong beliefs, yet you feel guilty regardless.
      I’m not the bravest of INFPs, but there are certain things that I will stand up for, and I’ve found myself, on at least one occasion, regretting it. Actually, I don’t know if “regret” is exactly the right word. I’m usually proud of myself for standing up for my convictions, but I feel guilty because of how I did it, or how I think others may have perceived me. For example, I really hate gossip. (I’m not saying I’ve never gossiped before; we all do it. But, hypocritical or not, I am really uncomfortable hearing negative things about someone when they aren’t around.) Once, there was an incident between two of my acquaintances (they were dating, and had a public argument before one of them stormed off), and immediately everyone started talking about what happened. Everyone was on the side of the girl, and they all wanted to know exactly what was going on between them. Even though I was actually on the girl’s side, it made me really angry that everyone was talking about it. So I gathered my courage and asked a group of them to stop gossiping.
      One of the girls responded that they weren’t gossiping; they were telling the truth. Another said that they were friends with the girl, and worried about her. I told them that it’s still gossip, whether it’s the truth or not, and that they didn’t know the whole story.
      At the time, I was really proud of myself for standing up to them. But within minutes, I started feeling guilty. I realized that they group of gossipers probably didn’t mean any harm. Even if it was gossiping, they might have just wanted to hear what happened so that they could help their friend. And on top of that, I realized that I had probably sounded like a self-righteous jerk by telling them off.
      In short, I still think that I was right (because they should have given the girl and her boyfriend some privacy, rather than spreading it around). However, I did (and still do) feel incredibly guilty for telling them off. And while I’d LIKE to say that I felt guilty because I may have offended them, in reality I think I feel bad because I’m afraid that they might think I’m judgmental and self-righteous — two qualities that would also go against my convictions.
      That is why I still think I’m an INFP.

      In short, if this is the reason that you feel guilty about offending someone because of your convictions, then, in my definitely-not-expert opinion, perhaps you are an INFP?

      (Sorry it took me so long to say that. I’m very longwinded, and since I’m not an expert by any means, I didn’t know how else to explain it, other than my own experience.)

  • Sam
    Reply

    Very cool shit . .

  • Basil
    Reply

    This is a great article and so are some of the follow up comments. Orange especially refines some of the comparisons, especially INFP’s sensitivity to being misjudged rather than requiring validation (although I disagree with Orange’s statements that NJ burdens people with their “empathy” in regards to INFJ. INFJ will go out of their way not to show they are burdened, as characteristic of Harmony).

    This article helps me understand some of my reactions to the world as an INFJ, even so far as causing a pang in the chest about a need to feel protected. Often people do not understand why I react strongly to behaviors or opinions which do not seem harmful, but are just “just opinions”. However, I hadn’t realized how much these reactions do stem from a fear of harm from others. Good intentions mean very little to me, and this is also true of my INFP partner.

    Like Serpent, he also believes the golden rule is overrated. Much of his frustration lies in other people’s unwillingness to evaluate what they really want and who they really are. They misunderstand his messages, which generally are ones meant to give them insight into themselves or life in general, and then without acknoledging it, they start adopting his perspective as if they came up with it themselves. I have seen this happen many times and it is a remarkably consistent reaction to him. He can be so incisive that he anticipates what the other person is going to think before they do, and that is where the problem begins. They don’t realize how fully he has evaluated them and the situation before he speaks, and then they suspect him of having bad intentions. He is not so concerned with their opinion on his intentions as much as their lack of ability to gauge intentions.

    I don’t plumb to the depths as he does. I do rely more fully on the ‘ah-ha’ moment, mostly because I am impatient and find when I over analyze I start going wrong. I assess a situation very quickly and accurately, however, and respond with the goal of defusing bad situations and creating equitable outcomes. My happiness is to be successful at this, and my refuge from it is to be by myself where I don’t have to worry about anyone else. However, my partner is also a refuge. He can anticipate my needs before I do when I run myself down, and it makes his company a blessing.

    • Serpent (INFP)
      Reply

      Aww, so nice how you say your INFP partner is more in-depth! As a female INFP I constantly have to prove I’m not superficial :/

  • Raquel
    Reply

    I enjoyed reading this article. I have never been confused as to which type I am, as I relate so much to the description of the infj. My daughter is an infp, and we are very different people. This information helped explain why we are so different. And it makes so much sense.

  • Gask
    Reply

    People dont fit into stereotypical categories. The sooner so called doctors realize this, the better of we all will be.

  • Jeremy
    Reply

    I honestly don’t know where I fit. I understand the comparison and I guess I would fit in as an infp but my P and F are usually roughly around only 5 to ten percent off (favoring infp)from each other. And I…I think im an INFP? But I feel I have a few traits from infj and occasionally I might switch a little but I would say I’m mostly a infp…is that wrong? Am I wrong? Should I be thinking a different way? Psychology is one of my favorite branchs of science but…I just im not to good at reading myself I’m too…I don’t know the word but I won’t acknowledge myself for my acomplishments how I think of others and stuff because I don’t want to put myself on a pedistol that just seems so wrong…I don’t want to say I’m better at anything else even if its something mundane or trival. Its kinda a moral of mine though so me being so dedicated to a moral would make me infp right? I’m at a loss sometimes with this because I just fight in my own mind playing constant devils advocate arguing for both sides hoping I can come to a similar awnser but when its a choice it makes it so difficult. Anyway if theres anyone here who could explain to me if thats right or wrong I would gratefully appreciate it you don’t have to of course but your courtesy would not go unnoticed.

    • Jeremy
      Reply

      And I’ve read a few of the comments and I tend to relate to kinda both. I’m not saying im both that seems improbable but I would like maybe some help in figuring out which I might be

      • Serpent (INFP)
        Reply

        Have you looked into INTP and ISFP? These combine some functions of both types 🙂 tests often show S as shallow and T as cold, but of course that’s simplistic.

  • Caroline
    Reply

    As I was reading this, I started to question, for a moment, whether I was truly an INFP. However, I think the whole idea of time when it comes to the empathy/mirroring is what chased some of the doubts away.
    Up until now, I have mostly been sure that I am an INFP because I am disorganized, indecisive, horrible at making concrete plans, and even worse at meeting deadlines. That’s generally how I thought of the difference between INFP and INFJ; I thought INFPs were more likely to “play things by ear,” while INFJs would prefer concrete plans.
    These differences are much more interesting, though! One thing I definitely notice from an INFP perspective is that it doesn’t matter much whether I’m with someone while they experience an emotion, or just reading about it afterwards. I’m not trying to say that this makes me more empathetic or anything; actually, I kind of wish I was better at picking up on someone’s emotions simply by being with them. But when I’m reading, for example (and please tell me if any of you experience this as well), and something happens to a character that is exciting, or frightening, or otherwise-emotional, I find myself incapable of standing still, and I immediately stop reading, stand up, and start pacing the room. Frequently, I end up imagining how the characters are going to react to this event, whispering various responses under my breath and…generally, probably appearing as though I’ve lost my mind! 🙂 It’s almost like I want to “act out” the characters’ reactions, which is why I find it interesting that INFPs tend to make good actors because of the way they “mirror” the emotions of others. (As a side note, I’m not actually that great of an actor, but that may be due to the fact that I’m usually terrified while I’m doing it…)

    • Jisoo
      Reply

      woah, that part about reading as an infp is hilariously on point. when the characters say something/do, i act it out with my facial expressions and sometimes if my friends happen to see me with a super sarcastic bitchface or having a vulnerable lip tremble with a book on my lap/ fanfiction on my laptop, they get terrified (because it never happens) and it takes eons to explain that uhm, i was reading a book. i guess do well in acting, but can’t bear it for long stints as i get unbearably self-conscious due to low self-esteem;; the more realistic i am, the uglier i look HAHA.

  • Caroline
    Reply

    Also, as far as empathy goes, I’ve found that I’m generally pretty good at seeing things from others’ perspectives, even when I completely disagree with them. I’m talking more about debate than anything; even though I don’t always think an opinion is “valid” per se, I can generally understand why someone might believe it. However, I’ve found this doesn’t always work in my favor. I generally have pretty strong convictions when it comes to certain things, but sometimes, if I’m trying very hard to “get into someone’s head” in order to convince them of my side of the argument, I can start to almost…change my mind? It’s not as though I’ve suddenly decided that I’m right and they’re wrong, but the more I try to see myself from their perspective, the more doubts worm their way into my head, and suddenly, rather than understanding another person’s argument, I find myself thinking the way I imagine they do. For example, as an idealist, I tend to dislike cynicism in general (surprise, surprise). But the more often I try to understand the cynical side of the argument, the more I find myself thinking cynical thoughts and challenging my own ideals.
    I know that it’s healthy to try seeing the other side of an argument in order to keep an open mind, but sometimes it feels more like a constant self-doubt, and doubt can be quite stressful! Are there any other INFPs (or INFJs) who have had this problem?

  • Jacobus
    Reply

    Caroline – Yes, I relate very much to your reaction to the views and emotions in a story. I didn’t know of anyone else who did this and it’s a relief to know I’m not the only one!
    BTW, about being terrified acting – that’s exactly how John Ritter, who played Jack on Three’s Company, described his acting experience – “I’m terrified all the time.” Maybe he was an INFP?
    Self doubt while trying to relate to the other person’s point of view – um, yeah… all the time.
    Re the article and other comments – wow. I was referred here by a comment on a Facebook INFJ group; I’m trying to understand which side of the line (which I view as more a continuum or spectrum) between INFJ and INFP I’m on, as I have tested both. Which turned out to be a bit like going to take a shower and finding oneself under Niagara Falls. Whew!
    Antonia’s explanations from outside, and the Commenters’ views from inside and bouncing those all off each other, was an amazing trip. Serpent and Orange in particular. I’ll probably be processing for awhile. But so far, although I have elements of both, I’m seeing more INFP there.
    I crave harmony, but can and have been the pariah any number of times because it was what was right and true by my own conscience.
    I feel for others, but must admit it’s not usually the consistently real-time experience so many INFJs describe (enter an area and feel overwhelmed by everyone’s emotions), but rather something I experience whether present or (more often) through story or other art, particularly music.
    I’m realizing that although I do desire validation of some kind, it is crucial to me that another party accept that my INTENTIONS are good even if I turn out to be wrong. Mismatching this need with a personality and view that trash my intentions over slight disagreements has shattered my soul and torpedoed relationships before. If I’m wrong about something, then I am. But for Heaven’s sake don’t assume or represent my intent and purposes were evil when explaining why you think so. That is like sticking a saber in my heart and twisting it.
    And, even before arriving here, I had noticed my “self-referencing” and was aware it is for the purpose of relating with the experience of others, not me putting my life on some kind of pedestal.
    So yeah – a lot of INFP I’m seeing in me.
    Thank You!

  • Sweatyhands
    Reply

    Thank you for this amazing article, this is very insightful for an INFJ that having doubts. It clearly takes us to a better perspective :).

  • Miles (INFJ)
    Reply

    I’ve taken multiple MBTI tests, a couple times per year, for the last ~4 years, and I’m definitely an INFJ. I’ve read other websites direct descriptions of the type[s] themselves (and emphasis on reading INFJ descriptions). I’ve read this website’s description of the INFJ and its functions… And now, this article here comparing these sibling types. And by golly, this is spot on! Furthermore, I read through the comments and am glad to see others getting better understandings of their types.

    I do however wish to point out where a couple [separate] lines in the article above never crossed paths, whereas I believe they should have.

    “If an INFP appears to be constantly self-referencing, it’s because they are. They understand you based on understanding themselves. To self-reference is to enable more rewarding interpersonal experiences, though our culture can generate a societal distaste for self-referencing.”

    “INFJs – using the Perspectives process – often solve problems and persuade others by offering alternative perspectives. In fact, they generally solve problems by shifting perspectives until the solution becomes clear. They offer these shifts to others as ‘a-ha’ moments.”

    I wish to provide some insight on how we INFJs (or at least I myself) utilize the Perspectives process alongside self-referencing in a different manner than INFPs self-reference. When we meet someone, whether online or in real life, that we feel hidden (or apparent) vibes of being in need of help, our style of helping them is different from how we would help someone we already know. So, obviously we first let the other person know that we can feel they are in need of help, and that we can be their friend and help them. But, being INFJs, we totally understand trust issues. So, because of that, in order to prove to them that they can trust us, we might willingly provide them with some personal information about ourselves. Typically the info we give them about ourselves is info we deem relevant or related (to some extent) to their problem, or at least as much as we may be able to know initially of their problem.

    Now, understand that might sound similar to what the INFP may do, but here is why the two manners of self-referencing are totally different:

    [We] INFJs, firstly, are not constant self-referencers. We just do this as an initial process to gain mutual trust such that the other person can allow themselves to explain to us their problem with as much depth as possible…

    That is the INFJ way of persuasion (at least in such context). Of course, many have already said in the comments that it is pretty much manipulation.

    To that I say: You’re not… wrong… but you aren’t totally right, either. Said alone, “manipulation” implies a negative connotation. What we do, however, should be deemed with a positive connotation due to the fact that we are people who live within a paradox between [inward] honesty and [outward] kindness and compassion. Thus, INFJ persuasion is more suitably coined as “moral manipulation.” We do what we do for the sake of others – because doing things for the sake of others simultaneously is doing them for our own sake, since we love to give love; love to help others.

    Now mind you, we don’t do that all the time. But, all it really is, (at least in this very context), is accelerating another’s ability to trust us by showing them we trust them by telling them things about ourselves.*

    *As a side note, we are also typically pretty darn good at knowing how much of our own info we can trust them with, and we know what to say and how to say it. Because if something backfires, we don’t want to be in fear of having given someone we don’t know too sensitive of info about ourselves.

    • Serpent (INFP)
      Reply

      Sorry but it’s hilarious how you’re reframing manipulation as positive 😉 I do agree that it’s not always negative.
      And thanks for helping me understand some things. From my INFP perspective, it often looks like INFJ’s are more caring with random people and trust them more easily. Obviously that’s a generalization from specific things they say to random people – things that I would’ve wanted to know too. (why didn’t you ever tell me? is he/she more worthy of knowing that?) I guess essentially I tend to feel a correlation between trust and worth. Maybe also due to the larger cultural ideas of being worth trusting essentially meaning being able to keep a secret. Whereas for many introverts the concern is not only spreading a “secret” further, but simply what you do with it, even in your mind.
      Also, I guess INFJ prefers to help if they can see you in need of help (figure it out through Ni), not if you ask yourself?

  • Lama
    Reply

    Haha when the article got to the misunderstanding between infp’s and infj, me and my friend are both infp and we got into an argument. And I thought she thought i started with bad intent, and got angry, then we both got angry at each other. Because she thought i thought she had bad intent.

  • Mr. INFJ
    Reply

    Now I understand why most of the time I feel sad or mad for no reason when im in a crowd , I really hate it when i absorbed someones emotion , especially when im drunk and my mind is in weaker stage , I wish I can repel those emotions , from being calm and quiet, I can switch to a rebellious pathetic warrior in no time though I love harmony .. damn it !

  • INFJ
    Reply

    Hi

    I have been struggling with this distinction for a while now, and now my most recent conclusion is that I am an infj and my best friend is an infp. However, my question is people talk a lot about infjs absorbing other people’s emotions to the point where they’ll walk into a room and feel an emotion someone else is feeling and not know why. I’m not quite sure that is the case for me, however, if i’ve spent too much time with someone, or been binge watching a show for ages, I start to act like that person or like my favourite character on the show. Like if I’ve been watching friends for like 2 days straight, i could start talking and acting like joey or something for a few hours after. It’s not that I want to be them, in fact i used to hate this cos i thought it meant i was unhappy with who i was and tried to be someone else,but its much more unconscious. It usually stops when I spend some time with myself, but its an automatic thing, i just start talking like them and adopting their quirks almost without realising, and i have changed my laugh many times based on which tv show character i’m most obsessed with at the time. Is this an infj thing or just something that happens. I know when two people spend too much time together, they start taking on each other’s mannerisms, but for me, its more instantaneous and intense, its like after a few hours, i become them and mirror their behaviour. could this be me absorbing someone else ?

    Any insight would be appreciated

    • Xel
      Reply

      I have the same thing happen to me. Always have. I think that this article is somewhat incorrect.

      I think INFJs can absorb people and characters to the point they are able to mirror their actions even they’re not around just like INFPs automatically do.

  • Lindsay
    Reply

    After reading this, I feel more confused than before. I have generally tested as an INFP, but took some tests again recently and tested as INFJ or as an INFP, but with a low preference for P.

    In general, I feel that I do have a strong internal value system whose reasoning is not always clear to other people or even to myself. When I’m introduced to a new idea that doesn’t fit within that system, it disturbs me. I spend a lot of time turning it over in my head, processing it and ultimately deciding to accept it by slightly refining the system or to reject it. Often, I feel bad until I’ve gone through this entire process and integrated this new info into my world. In another description that I read, it said “INFPs can go for weeks without noticing a stain on the carpet, but will meticulously wipe a speck of dust from the booklet that contains a prized project.” Very true for me. I’m terrible at mundane details, unless those details are in service of a passion.

    I get confused for two reasons. First, this says that INFPs always know what they are feeling. I often don’t. In fact, I tend to push down my feelings until they sort of build up physically and I am forced to stop and analyze them. I may feel that I’m in a funk, but not realize it for a day or two and then I have to go back and really figure out what caused it.

    The other thing for me is that I am highly susceptible to others’ emotions. The best example I can give of this is that, although I don’t love the spotlight, I would rather give a toast at a wedding than listen to others give toasts. Experiencing other people’s embarrassment or even potential embarrassment is so over-whelming for me. At one wedding that had an “open mic” toast time (nightmare!), I had to keep leaving the room to get a break from the feeling. I have an urge to swoop in and save people when they seem uncomfortable. I would never voluntarily take the spotlight or take charge, but if someone needs me to do it, I can and quite capably.

    I want to figure out what I am so that I can work on strengthening my non-dominant functions, but all of the descriptions that I read confuse me more.

    Is it possible that I’m an INFP that has adapted my personality because of past experiences? For example, I grew up in a chaotic house, so it was an important skill to perceive emotional shifts and prepare for them. Can childhood trauma impact the real expression of personality?

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Hi Lindsay! Thanks for your comment. Childhood trauma or training can definitely impact how your personality manifests itself.

      How to you respond to the questions: “Is offending others more distressing than offending yourself? Or are you willing to be a total pariah in behalf of your convictions?”

  • Mel
    Reply

    What if you are married to an INFJ (no doubt about it after reading this) who insists you are a deceitful, manipulative person, and because they are an INFJ there is no dissuading them from that opinion?
    I’m an ENFP, but in spite of theory our relationship has been the most destructive thing in both our lives and rather than make us better people, it has only weakened us. We will not leave the marriage–that is set in stone through much struggle and trial– and we love each other. But my INFJ spouse (who based on scores has little to no “P”) insists that he knows me better than I know myself, and insists that I am some horrible liar so much so that he has me doubting myself at this point.
    I am at a loss. And this issue has me in so much turmoil that I am having trouble just functioning.

    • Serpent (INFP)
      Reply

      Oh my, I’m sorry you’re experiencing this. Have you heard of gaslighting? (it’s not necessarily intentional) I tend to think Fe-Ti types are more prone to it than Fi-Te, because of the distinctions between subjective and objective.

  • Blerg
    Reply

    This is really interesting, especially the part about mirroring vs. absorbing emotions.
    For one, I think it’s hard to draw a clear line between the two. As an INFJ, I can certainly relate to absorbing emotions without really trying to (kind of like my default mode), however, there are other times – though a lot fewer – when I actually am thinking, and therefore mapping those emotions out more like an INFP, instead of just letting them get to me without trying. But, maybe that’s just me, haha. I’d be interested to know if any other INFJs, or INFPs feel this way. (:
    Also, somehow, I feel like INFJs maybe get too much credit for being able to put people at ease and make them feel comfortable. Instead, at least based on my own experience, I think INFPs might actually be better at this than INFJs. Here’s why: Since INFPs are actively involved in the process of mapping out emotions, they are also able to come to conclusions about the right things to do and say. All of my INFP friends (I have several of them) seem to be much better than me at knowing what (said or done) will work to cause precisely what effect in the other person. For example, one of my friends, though he often chooses not to tune in to others’ emotions (an INFP trait), knows precisely what to say in the instance that he does. I think this is because INFPs are so actively involved, that they are also able to access a ‘solution’. On the other hand, as an INFJ, I am usually very passive in the whole process of trying to gauge another’s feelings – because they simply come to me. As a result, even though I might be more acutely aware of the situation and the person in that moment, I find myself unable to actually come up with the right things to say/do to obtain the desired result. Of course, one can argue that as a J who is attuned with the “pattern of patterns” deal, I should be able to use my previous data about human behavior to figure this out. And yes, I am inclined to agree with that reasoning. And yet, I find myself unable to live up to the high expectations that all these sources present about an INFJ’s ability to almost magically put others at ease and help them out. For me, there seems to exist a distinction between the INFJ’s ability to absorb emotions, and between the (in my opinion, unrelated) ability to actually make a connection with others. Again, I don’t know if this is just me (sadly, I don’t know any other INFJs), and would love to hear what y’all think. (:
    Sorry about the long comment!

    • Xel
      Reply

      I found this article quite confusing! I identify as INFJ, but I have also tested as INFP. I also can acutely imagine the way someone was or would be feeling, but I can also pick up on emotions in real time and mirror. There were some INFP things i didn’t relate to…I’m the kind of person who values harmony most of all and having the ambition and drive to get things done, while I kind of feel like INFPs are my sisters/brothers that need to be protected and encouraged to a degree.

      Feels like I’m in the middle and got the worst of both worlds haha. I feel like I have both “powers”. I’m a professional writer as well so these abilities come in handy a lot.

      But it’s like you said – when I’m in the midst of seeing strong emotions, I have no idea what to say or do which seems more INFP. It’s a mess, a very fine line it seems.

    • Serpent (INFP)
      Reply

      Um I wouldn’t say I think much about emotions actually. I mean, I can give advice and attempt to predict reactions, and I’m learning to analyze what went wrong, but I think I use Te for these. I think you’re maybe imagining our Fi to be more like your Ti? Or it can be just about the MBTI vs regular meaning of “thinking”, haha.

  • Aria
    Reply

    We need one of these articles for INFJs and INTJs!

    • Xel
      Reply

      It seems pretty simple to me? INTJs are nothing like INFJs…INFJs use their intuition and feeling to get through the world. An INTJ is your quintessential nerd stereotype, they think things through very logically and then apply intuition to reach new conclusions through their logic. INFJs can do similar things but it doesn’t come as naturally.

  • Lauren
    Reply

    Just a short & simple THANK YOU for clarifying things about my personality that I have been struggling with. I am definitely an INFJ at the core. These past two years, however, I’ve been recovering from an eating disorder and a mood disorder. It’s been a lot of hard work to let go of control… So I really feel like I’m torn between being a J and P. In my present circumstances, I really feel like a P but I really don’t identify fully with INFP. I believe (from reading many other comments) that maybe INFJ’s can relax their J function and feel like a P?

  • Andréia
    Reply

    I am tested like an INFP. I almost agree with my functions but I notice that I can use Ni sometimes very good, Sometimes I get very confusing about this. Is it possible that I can use Ni and Fi like at the same time? Because I can feel and identify that I can have the booth process, of course is very consfusing. So it is my question.

  • Christy
    Reply

    Hi, INFP. Great article. So, I definitely lead with authenticity. I do notice myself referencing my experiences while listening to other’s experiences. One thing I don’t see explained here as mush is, I not only mirror someone’s emotions as in “this is what I would feel like if I were in your situation.” I also tend to get really emotionally involved. It’s as if I not only reference that emotion, I tend to re-live it, and it can be a problem at times. I get to where I don’t want to watch the news or be around conflict or people who may be upset. So I don’t know that I would stop at the mirroring. I not only understand the emotion, but tend to “go there” and have a hard time separating from the feeling, even if the situation is not my own.

  • Katherine
    Reply

    I’m having a lot of fun reading about your understanding of the different types. I’m an INFP and find it really amazing when people are able to describe the INFP way of thinking in such a succinct way. Thanks for taking the time to write this article – it has a lot of very valuable information in it.

  • Keenan (INFJ or INFP)
    Reply

    My result tests sometimes INFJ or INFP. I’m confused of myself. I love people but i hate them too. I’m Fi but Ni too :'(

  • Frost (INFP / INFJ)
    Reply

    I’ve taken the personality test many times and the J and P are pretty much split in half. Reading this article, I found similarities on both sides but I can’t help but be confused. Is it normal for the Judging and Perceiving to be 50/50?

  • Katie
    Reply

    I’m an INFP and after reading this article I realized that maybe I detach myself from people and situations because the way I connect with others it is so intense. I’ve noticed when something bad happens to someone or I see someone in pain I tend to detach myself or not think about it altogether. It’s like a defense mechanism to protect myself from emotional strain. Of course I don’t do this all the time but it seems to happen when I am under a lot of emotional stress or too many bad things are happening at once. It’s like my subconscious knows how much empathy I can handle and I’m protecting myself from further emotional strain.

  • aly
    Reply

    Thank you for the article. I have to say though I am still so confused – but definitely did grow up feeling extremely misunderstood and still once in a while now but I have learnt to really shut out the world and be physically alone whenever I feel suffocated… …check to that thoroughly understanding how another person works, but not realising it was never the other way around (or hardly so.)

    From what I am reading here, I feel as though in my younger days I was definitely more INFJ… and a little too much pain and hurt, with all protection due, now perhaps maybe INFP… yet bordering qualities, like a tennis game. Could they be both?

    Either ways, here’s to all the INFJs, INFPs. Love, and much light and space, always <3

  • Andreas
    Reply

    As INFP, I can only agree on the importance of “intent”. I’m usually quite easygoing and don’t even care as much what other people think of me. But if someone misjudges my intent (openly), it will really hit me deep down and I will be silly, trying to explain and convince the other that I have in fact good intentions.

    I can very much relate to the song ‘Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’
    ~ “I’m just a soul who’s intentions are good
    Oh Lord, please, don’t let me be misunderstood” ~
    It’s not about being understood as a whole (which I can’t even do myself often enough), it’s more about seeing something wrong or bad in me (and my intent), that unsettles me.

    Also I’m not always feeling touched by others or by certain things. It seems it depends.. on me? So I guess I’m processing my own feelings rather than those of others directly.

  • sophie bee
    Reply

    I’m pretty sure I’m an INFP but the last statement at least has me confused. I see things from a variety of perspectives and often play devils advocate to learn and grow.

  • Esme
    Reply

    It is strange to see that not everyone can “mirror” the way you described because it is something I could do since I could remember. It is the key to my empathy and to predict how people make their decisions (as well as seeing through the eyes of animals). This is my greatest strength in understanding the world around me especially the subjects that I love; such as, historical anthropology, ethology, and zoology –along with fictional characters of fantasy worlds. It is my way of deep diving into the psyche of others to explore and experience something new by becoming something new.

    • Wilrose
      Reply

      I used to type as an INFP but recently I keep on getting INFJ. It’s funny cuz when I typed as INFP, I always felt that I resonate with the INFJ personality type, but now that I’m typed as INFJ, I feel like I’m more of an INFP HAHAHA Anyway, I narrowed down my type to those two.

      Problem is for an INFx I don’t feel that ’empathy’ or ‘sympathy’ to others (at least the way it’s explained here). I feel my own emotions and I know them very well. But when it comes to other’s feelings, I just have no idea. I can’t seem to tap on others’ emotions. I don’t feel how they feel. I don’t ask myself either how I’d feel if I were them. When other people come to me about their problems, I show acts of understanding like… “Yeah, I understand.” But my understanding isn’t really for their feeling but for their situation. E.g. Friend crying cuz of her mom. I would have an opinion about the whole situation, and advise based on the situation. I might hug them if they cry, but I don’t feel anything other than my understanding of their situation. If that makes sense. So it makes it harder for me to know what my type is.

      I also test as an INTJ sometimes because of this. Someone got an answer to this?

  • Quixie
    Reply

    I feel even more confused about my type now. I’m typing pretty consistently as an INFP these days but in high school I typed as an INFJ and in college as an INTP (I’m now in my mid-30s). In many ways I can relate to both the INFP and INFJ personality profiles but also neither of them. Ha. I’ve pretty thoroughly researched the cognitive functions and have taken cognitive functions tests multiple times. I’m either an INFP, ENFP, or INFJ they say. I score highest on Feeling (both introverted and extroverted), then Intuition (it seems I use introverted intuition more), then my Sensing and Thinking function order varies based on which test I take. Any thoughts?

  • Natasha
    Reply

    I am an infp and my identical twin sister is an infj, so noticing the subtle differences between us is more obvious. There are a moments that stand out to me, and hopefully others here can see themselves reflected in either me or my sister in this experience and it’ll help them figure out they’re personality.

    Things we have in common:
    We’ve always had a deep emotional connection. We love history, self-reflecting, and going on insanely long discussions on spiritual things or on the human condition/experience etc. We have a strong sense of right and wrong. We both feel things very deeply and empathize quite well with others.

    Differences: I was drawn more towards writing because of the idea of telling stories with emotions everyone feels. My sister was drawn to poetry as a way of expressing deep-set emotions without literally saying what was wrong. I’m more overtly passionate and my sister is more internally passionate. I express my passions quite unintentionally when the topic comes up, my sister is more reserved and rarely shares these with others. I was a quick-tempered blubberer as a kid (only with our friends of course, I’m still and introvert) and my sister always kept her cool though every once in a while she’d have a melt-down (these are quite a sight). I remember she said she kept her emotions in in order to keep the peace. That you can’t express every little thing that pops into your mind because it’ll make some people uncomfortable. In my opinion, expressing things to others, even if there were differences brought people closer. Bonded people. She felt that they divided people.

    I think our most obvious difference is expressed well in a personal experience. In 4th grade, we had a friend who was bossy, dictatorial and mean. She would constantly threaten to “not be friends with us” and would suddenly stop talking to us without any warning and would offer no explanation no matter how much we asked. My sister and I were never in the same class in elementary school. So in 3rd grade I had this friend in my class. She basically bossed me around and I tried my best to appease her. When she entered my sisters 4th grade class the next year, my sister reacted differently. At some point, my friend pulled the typical “silent treatment.” When I found out, I asked my sister if she had apologized enough to our friend. My sister just stared at me and said she wasn’t going to do that anymore. She didn’t want to be friends with someone who didn’t want to friends with us. “What?” I thought. “But we’re friends. We’ve had good times together!” I knew he was right but my desire to keep this magical thing called friendship alive was a strong pull. My sister kept her conviction even when our “friend” got more rotten than ever and started bad rumors about us. I also relented and didn’t try beg for her friendship even though I desperately wanted to.

    Many times my sister has, seemingly out of nowhere refused to do something, or determined to do something based on her sense of right and wrong. She has difficulty explaining why until after a long while because simply put, she “just knows.” But her decisions do come after a long time of overthinking and analyzing, it’s just that these thought processes are never verbalized to me. I simply see her taking action which can lead me to misguidedly think she’s being rash. I tend to also overthink things for a long period of time but even when I start taking action, I’m not certain if I’m doing the right thing. I just “feel” like it’s right. So I’ll go through a process of tossing out hints and seeing what people say before my true intentions are ever exposed. I’ll know if it’s the right decision when I reap the consequences. My sister knows it’s right decision before reaping the consequences.

    Hope this helps!

  • Samantha Vilppu
    Reply

    I get this question a lot from my tribe as well. When I am analyzing their type, I have noticed some key differentiators that might be somewhat unanticipated, but work well nonetheless. Since I am INFJ and my husband is INFP, I live with these differences every day.

    The first thing I notice is their facial appearance. INFJs have a tendency to have angular features and INFPs have a tendency toward rounded features.

    The next thing I notice is the “intensity” that the INFJ tends to carry on their face… Either that or very distinctly an image of “harmony” smiles and sweet looking. The INFP tends to carry less tension overall, less extremes, more laid back and taking life as it comes. Even when they are sad, it doesn’t carry the daggers that an unhappy INFJ can have.

    The other thing I first notice relates to their approach to their environment and the amount of structure that each desires. Even when an INFJ cannot implement the structure they require, this is still very important to them. An INFP is often so “go with the flow” that their environment can change a lot, be clean or messy, and this doesn’t seem to affect them all that much.

    A final differentiator, which takes some practice to really discern is the level of passion an INFP can take on around something they believe is morally right or wrong. It took me YEARS to help my husband understand that Ciatco actually wants us to use their return policy, because it didn’t align with his moral compass. I, an INFJ on the other hand have no problem returning something if I can align with the perspective that says “I don’t like this, it didn’t meet my needs, they want me to keep shopping here and buying things to try, therefore they don’t have a problem with me returning it.” Again, this is one that requires more discernment to tease apart, since Harmony could equally be afraid of hiring their feelings or Authentucity could be equally “selfish” and only want something that serves them, so it isn’t the behavior, it’s the underlying motivations that help differentiate these two.

    As this article describes, there are a lot of differences between these two. Really getting a full picture of the type through seeing a real person living these out can certainly help.

  • Sheta Kaey
    Reply

    I am still evenly matched between these qualities, though I was clearly INFJ as a youth, and I’ve learned INFP over 55 years.

  • Paul
    Reply

    To the author : why detail Ni/Fe, Fi/ and not /Ne ?

    To all people speaking of their test results, especially if these tests are Internet quizzes, I relate a lot with the author’s answer : read, understand types, and then decide.
    (Well, that’s what I’m doing at least.. Here, for someone else : I have recently typed someone as INFJ and used this person’s traits to help me type other people as INFJ or not, so I wanted to check how much she fits the definition – and she does, so everything’s fine).

    Maybe too, ask other people (close and not-so-close) how they see you, as it can open your eyes a lot, and also show you what is at your surface and what is beyond.

    My issue about quizzes, with this J/P difference for instance, is it relies a lot on stereotypes and social behaviours. If you need to be organized and effective for some reason (forced by J parents ? anyway, not intrinsic), your behavioural Te will lead you to type as J, and therefore you will end up as an INFJ => yay you are Fe more than Fi. Meh, not satisfying to me.
    I admit this leads me to question the letter-by-letter typing altogether. At least I never use it without validating afterwards with functions. I find it more interesting to speak about functions – it is a more complicated and funny game, also 😀

  • Casey
    Reply

    I am confused, it says that infps mirror emotions, but I am infp and sometimes just walking into a room I can feel the energy in the room. I can tell there has been conflict without any signs other than the feelings I have, sometimes it causes anxiety. So I don’t see how that is just mirroring

  • Emily
    Reply

    Oh my word…now I see why people’s eyes glaze over and tune out when I just start getting into what I consider a good conversation. Just by beginning to read ALL the comments on this article…I am overwhelmed! Glad we only make up less than 1% of the population, it’s exhausting! Lol ;-D Anyhoo…I test out exactly equal on the P/J. Was looking for some insight into this. Still looking.

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