If you are not familiar with Jungian cognitive functions, please reference “Personality Development Tools: The Car Model” to familiarize yourself with cognitive functions and how they influence personality type.

personalityhacker_between-two-typesIf you can’t figure out your personality type, it doesn’t matter which personality psychology system you’re using – you’re stuck. We all understand typology systems based on how we fit into them.

It’s incredibly frustrating to read two, three, four different type descriptions and know you’re ALMOST there.

For some people it becomes a Chinese finger puzzle that has to be solved, and they pour countless hours into reading type descriptions from what feels like a million websites and sources.

By the time I get an email, the people who write me have generally parsed their type down to two contenders in the Myers-Briggs system.

I’ve noticed that there are a couple of predictable patterns in the battle between The Final Two in Myers-Briggs. Understanding these patterns can help narrow down to your Best-Fit Type.

Your Best-Fit Type is the personality type you resonate with the strongest and which you have “self-typed.” A profiler can help guide you toward your Best-Fit Type, but it is ultimately YOU that determines your type. And while people can (and do!) latch onto a type that serves their biases, each individual gets to make the ‘final call’. After all, you’re the only person that dwells inside your head and knows the terrain better than anyone else.

A caution: Attaching to a type based on how you want to see yourself only limits personal growth. The most helpful quality to develop in self-typing is modesty, the ability to honestly assess what you’re great at as well as owning your limitations.

First, let’s talk about the most common Final Two (in my experience, based on email inquiries):

INTP vs INTJ

INFP vs INFJ

INTJ vs INFJ

ENTP vs ENFP

ENTJ vs ESTJ

ENFJ vs ESFJ

INTP vs ISTP

INFP vs ISFP

Notice that almost all of the inquiries are from people questioning which Intuitive type they are, or at least asking if they might be Intuitive.

While any and all of the 16 types can become interested in and even obsessed with the system, it’s generally Intuitives that take it Very. Seriously. The Myers-Briggs system offers Intuitives an explanation for that life-long feeling of being a ‘weirdo’ or ‘alien’, confirming what they suspected the whole time: they don’t think like the majority of people. Great relief also comes from understanding they’re not alone, and in fact up to 25% of the population has similar enough wiring to feel a sense of simpatico. For someone who feels like an outcast, this can be game changing information.

Both the INFJ/INFP and INTJ/INTP questions warrant their own attention, so I won’t be diving into them in this article. They also don’t follow the same ‘patterns of confusion’ as the other types. Confusion around INFJ/INFP and INTJ/INTP are more based on similarity of descriptions. That is, INFJs often resonate with descriptions of INFPs, and vice-versa. The same is true for INTJ/INTP.

This article will address confusion between these types:

INTJ vs INFJ

ENTP vs ENFP

ENTJ vs ESTJ

ENFJ vs ESFJ

INTP vs ISTP

INFP vs ISFP

One pattern to notice is that there is generally only one dichotomy letter that’s in confusion. They could also be written as:

INxJ – T or F?

ENxP – T or F?

ExTJ – N or S?

ExFJ – N or S?

IxTP – N or S?

IxFP – N or S?

So… what’s the connection? Where does the pattern emerge?

The answer lies in each personality type’s cognitive function ‘stack’. Each type isn’t about what you are, it’s about which cognitive functions you’re using. There are eight cognitive functions, and each personality type has four of those functions that influence them the most.

A cognitive function is a mental process we utilize to 1) learn new information and 2) make decisions based on that information. They are technically called judging functions and perceiving functions. Please don’t get them confused with personality types that are Judgers and types that are Perceivers in the Myers-Briggs system. While the same term is used in both ways – and while they are related – they refer to subtlety different aspects of type.

The technical way of referring to cognitive functions are Dominant, Auxiliary, Tertiary and Inferior.

For each type the Dominant process is their ‘go-to tool’ in their toolbox, and the mental process with which they most identify. The Auxiliary helps balance each type out by making up for anything the Dominant lacks. The Tertiary is the opposite of the Auxiliary, thus creating a ‘weakness’ that can trip the type up. The Inferior (the opposite of the Dominant) creates a real Blind Spot, arguably the weakest function of the type.

For many years, Personality Hacker has worked to simplify an understanding of cognitive functions using the metaphor of a car. Our terms are “Driver” (Dominant), “Co-Pilot” (Auxiliary), “10 Yr Old” (Tertiary) and “3 Yr Old” (Inferior).
personality-hacker_car-model-cognitive-stackThe four letters in your Myers-Briggs personality type are like a secret decoder ring to tell you what your cognitive function stack is, also known as “how your brain is wired.”

If you are an N (Intuitive), you may only have a surface understanding of how your brain is wired, because there are two types of Intuition – Extraverted Intuition and Introverted Intuition. (For a deeper dive into both types of Intuition, please refer to Personality Hacker podcast Introverted Intuition vs. Extraverted Intuition.)

The same holds true for S (Sensing) types, T (Thinker) types and F (Feeler) types. Each of these letters represents two different cognitive functions.

So, it’s not a question of “Am I a Thinker or a Feeler?” It’s a question of “Which Thinking and Feeling processes am I using, and in which order?”

It’s not what you are, it’s what you’re using.

This dials up the ‘complicated’, while at the same time creating a lot more clarity.

For those of you familiar with cognitive functions, the pattern that immediately jumps out is this: type confusion almost always dwells in the Co-Pilot and 10 Yr Old positions.

For example, when INxJs have confusion over whether or not they’re a T (Thinker) or F (Feeler), it’s because their Co-Pilot is either a thinking or feeling cognitive function, and so is the 10 Yr Old. Here’s a side-by-side look:

personalityhacker_intj-or-infj_graphic
If you notice, both types share a Driver and 3 Yr Old process. The same pattern holds true for ENTP/ENFP:

personalityhacker_entp-or-enfp_graphic

…AND for those who have confusion around ENTJ/ESTJ, ENFJ/ESFJ, INTP/ISTP, INFP/ISFP. For example:
personalityhacker_intp-or-istp_graphic2

It’s common to recognize certain attributes shared by the Driver process, and then weigh a ‘feeling of familiarity’ with the Co-Pilot and the 10 Yr Old processes, trying to figure out which is strongest.

Since many type profiles don’t include the cognitive functions, but rather overall descriptions of how the types generally ‘show up’ in the world, the individual is left looking for something they don’t even know exists: tie-breaker examples between the Co-Pilot and 10 Yr Old cognitive functions.

But if the 10 Yr Old is a weakness and in the “backseat” of the car (so to speak), why would a type resonate with it enough to have confusion?

There’s a great model that was introduced to me years ago called the “Competency Model.” It’s designed to explain the stages in which people build skill, but I’ve found it to be a great way to understand each type’s relationship with the functions “in the car.”

personalityhacker_competence-model

Matching it up with the car model, it looks like this:

personalityhacker_competence-and-car-model
If you match these two models up, both our Co-Pilot and 10 Yr Old processes are in our ‘conscious awareness’, whereas our Driver and 3 Yr Old processes are unconscious – either due to muscle-memory style competence or blind-spot induced incompetence.

When a type profile hits us so hard we feel like someone stole a page out of our playbook it’s because we’re reading a description of our Driver process, something that’s so second nature to us it no longer has language. When someone puts language to what we are unconsciously competent at we feel like they’re reading our minds.

Similarly, when someone describes our 3 Yr Old process well we generally just get the heebie-jeebies. It’s ‘foreign’ and ‘icky’ and ‘not us at all’ (though it is ‘us’, just the part of ‘us’ we tend to bury deep in our unconscious).

But the Co-Pilot and 10 Yr Old processes are different. We’re VERY aware of them, because the yin-yang relationship they have is in our field of awareness. We’re ‘conscious’ of both of them and how they impact us, including how the polarity of these two functions impact us. If we’re a Thinker – but not Thinking Driver, Thinking Co-Pilot – we can conceivably test out as a Feeler because there IS a Feeling nature to us. Just a 10 Yr Old Feeling version.

In the same vein, if we’re an Intuitive – but not Intuitive Driver, Intuitive Co-Pilot – there will be a strong connection with the Sensory part of us, because it’s in our conscious awareness, and may have us testing out as a Sensor some of the time.

And here’s the kicker. If we’ve learned defensive strategies that keep us in the ‘attitude’ we prefer (as explained in this article), we may be more associated with our 10 Yr Old process than our Co-Pilot!

SO. If you’re down to a Final Two, the most helpful information will be 1) learning the cognitive function stack of both types, and 2) a strong description of each cognitive function.

Good luck!

-Antonia

p.s. Here’s a quick overview of each cognitive function and the cognitive function stack of each Myers-Briggs type.

 

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Showing 39 comments
  • dana
    Reply

    so, what about the INFJ v INFP? I think i have read and watched everything I could regarding these two and finally have to accept that i am some of each, as much as I’d love to be able to say I am definitely one or the other 🙁 Thanks for your articles!

    • Antonia Dodge
      Reply

      An article dedicated to those two types is in the works!

      -A-

      • ENFJ
        Reply

        can you do INTP vs INTJ next please? i saw your INFP vs INFJ article

      • Nicole
        Reply

        Hello,

        I was wondering if the INTP vs INTJ article has been completed yet? If so, where can I find it?

        I am stuck between these two types!

        Thank you so much!

        • Charis Branson
          Reply

          We have a search feature on each page that makes finding things fairly easy. Simply type in the personality type you are researching and all the resources available for that type will pop up.

          As to the article you are referencing, here it is: http://www.personalityhacker.com/intp-vs-intj/

    • Dana
      Reply

      Oh my goodness! Another Dana! It’s amazing how there weren’t any when I was growing up, and now I find them all over the place. Good luck on identifying your type! (Mine’s INFJ, btw.)

      • claire hutchinson
        Reply

        INFJ- looking forward to more clarity and expansion on how INFJ’s are finding self acceptance and self love. Wonderful to find your articles.. thank you!

    • Alex
      Reply

      The long and short of it with P/J confusion is that the two types don’t have a single function in common.
      INFJ = Ni Fe Ti Se
      INFP = Fi Ne Si Te

      Same deal with INTP/INTJ. What trips people up is that the types tend to have highly similar interests and can superficially appear to be the same – type profiles and dichotomatic tests like most MBTI tests are (that look at whether you prefer thinking or feeling, sensation or intuition, whether you’re a “judger” or a “perceiver” (what the Big 5 test more accurately calls Conscientiousness) typically latch a lot onto these similarities in interests and, to a degree, goals.

      They look at your behavior. And from that POV, it makes sense. Measuring yourself on a conscientiousness scale can be really helpful.

      The problem comes when you try to force the test results (which are in large part behavior) to correlate to a functional description of the psyche (which looks at how you take in and how you organize information in your head, and to some extent the experience of being you and isn’t in the least concerned whether you’re tardy or seek closure or whatever).

      In my experience, that is a fools’ errand – the MBTI test may have started as an attempt to give people a functional type but it’s increasingly not that, and more of a Big 5 style personality inventory that correlates stances/behaviors with other stances/behaviors. It’s useful information, but the tests and functional typing aren’t concerned with the same thing at all.

      Forcing them to correlate just diminishes the value both kinds of assesments can give you and will probably end with you being mistyped on one or both systems which certainly doesn’t help with personal development, whether it’s a focus-on-your-strengths approach as advocated on this site or the more common route of trying to develop the lesser functions as well. Can’t bloody well do that if you end up misassigning your type.

      The cures, I find, are three:

      The first is to disassociate the functional approach from the other stuff sharing the same terminology and to just learn as much about the functions as you can so you can identify which ones you use. If you are absolutely certain that you’re INFP or INFJ, for example, nailing down just one will tell you your type.

      The second is to immerse yourself in the communication style of the two types – the different functional stacks create differences that can be seen even through the similarity of interests. People of a different type just feel different. This can be accomplished by interacting with people that are 100% certainly of that functional type or reading a lot of the work of people of those types.

      I’d have some links I use for this but I don’t know if Antonia is OK with it, given that this is a business and the other resources are essentially competition.

      • Antonia Dodge
        Reply

        Thanks for the comment, Alex!

        Your points (that people see Myers-Briggs as more and more behaviorist) is a big part of our mission at PH: to make cognitive functions accessible to everyone exploring this system’s personality types.

        You’re correct – the differences between these types are their cognitive function stack. But the barrier of entry for understanding what each type’s ‘stack’ is and what that means seems to discourage people from exploring further. Meaning – while someone who already has a grasp on cog funcs may say “it’s a simple difference, here are the cog funcs…” to anyone that hasn’t already done enough study to realize that the four letter code is simply the ‘tip of the iceberg’, it’s anything but ‘simple’.

        That’s why we attempt to ‘sneak’ functions into descriptions. We give the functions nicknames, and we try to make connections between the output (behavior) and the etymology of that output (functions).

        Here’s the recent article we wrote on the differences between INFPs and INFJs. We chose not to simply do a side-by-side comparison the functions in a clinical way, but explain how those functions can impact how the types show up. http://www.personalityhacker.com/infp-vs-infj/

        Hopefully we can spread the word not only how cog funcs work, but also make it accessible enough that it’s the ONLY way people see MB.

        Thanks again for your comment! 🙂

        -A-

        p.s. And thank you for respecting the site enough not to link to outside resources. We actually have a lot of content on this site about functions, so please feel free to explore some of those resources.

        • Alex
          Reply

          I’d still rather link to them, my goal is to get people to understand. If there’s a good tool I want to use it 😛

          The INFP v. INFJ article was a very good one, btw. Many good things to observe to see what you’re more likely to do.

          • Antonia Dodge

            Oh, I’m with you! Here’s this site’s quick reference guide page with the cog funcs of each type: http://www.personalityhacker.com/quick-reference-guides/

            I just want to make sure it’s baby steps, and we guide people to cog funcs so by the time they get there they’re already sucked in. Unfortunately, that barrier of entry for cog funcs is almost always perpetuated by the MB community, almost as if you have to prove how into the system you are before you can ‘play’ with them. If we have our way, we’ll blow the ever living fuck out of that barrier. (http://www.personalityhacker.com/call-myers-briggs-genius-styles/)

            Thanks for hanging out and commenting. 🙂

            -A-

      • Melissa
        Reply

        When you talk about conscientiousness are you talking about J as opposed to P?

        The trouble I find is I tried that last one … going on type forums to see which type I found more connection with in the communication area and the INTJ forum I felt a great fit and the INFJ zero. So that made me think I must be TJ not FJ as my tests were less than 10% difference between the functions. Yet, further down the track I realise now I am FJ when I cast my mind back to early life as well to consider it … yet still the TJ forum fits so much better than the FJ I get what you are saying however the ‘different’ feel is on the FJ not the TJ yet I am FJ???? So not sure that system works completely well… maybe the personality hackers can explain further about this?

        • Charis Branson
          Reply

          Melissa – I think a problem arises when people try to compare themselves with others, like on a forum.

          When I first realized I was an INFJ, I joined some groups on Facebook and quickly started pushing back against that type because a large percentage of the people on the page were either young and underdeveloped as INFJs or completely mistyped.

          Mistyping happens a lot in the MB world because people get overly attached to the idea of being a certain type and try to force themselves into that mold. Typically, cognitive dissonance sets in when someone subconsciously knows they haven’t quite found the right fit.

          When someone finds the right type it should feel like somebody has gotten into your head. It’s magic!

          I have noticed there are also a lot of INFPs that think they are INFJ and vice versa. You might find this article interesting as it gives a different perspective on INFJs.

          http://www.personalityhacker.com/infp-vs-infj/

          • Rachel

            I had a “magic” reaction of sorts to much of the INTP description, but I’m also really worried about bias. I WANT to be an INTP quite a bit–I value the aspects of myself that fit that profile. But I want to be correct more, and I’ve had difficulty settling down on a type because I know I don’t see myself very clearly.

            Do you think bias is a big problem? What might the difference be between a strong positive reaction because you’ve found your type, and a strong positive reaction because you’re overly attached?

          • Charis Branson

            Bias can definitely be a huge problem with personality typing. I typed out as an INTP for years and I liked the idea of being objective and analytical. But it never felt right. Instead of actually having all the facts, I would become attached to my opinion and try to sacrifice personal relationships over logic, which always had a high price for me.

            Antonia and Joel finally typed me as an INFJ and I really resisted. I didn’t want to be a standard, everyday female feeler. I wanted to be a rare logician! But as I rested into it I felt myself growing again. Whereas I had actually been stunted by trying to develop my tertiary process of Accuracy instead of Harmony. Do I like the fact that I am one of a billion Harmony females? No, not really. But it feels right and it brings me contentment when I know I am getting someone’s needs met.

            So ask yourself, when you are feeling out-of-sorts do you hyper-focus on what makes sense to you and you alone and refuse to be reasoned with? (This would be Ti in its tertiary form and may indicate you are INFJ.)

            Or, do you seek psychological comfort, often retreating to familiar comfort zones, and fear venturing out of the house? (This would be Si in its tertiary form and may indicate you are INTP.)

            Hope that helps Rachel!

          • Rachel

            Thanks, this was very helpful. I definitely do the “psychological comfort” thing–very much. If I’m feeling out of sorts, I go hide in my room. I pretty much never refuse to be reasoned with. In fact, my problem is almost the opposite. It can be difficult for me to completely take a stand on something, because there are too many other ways to consider it.

            Can’t the inferior functions be quite helpful in figuring out types as well? People seem to talk as if they were the more obvious, childish ones, and more indicative of type than tertiary functions.

            It would be interesting to know if some types are more inclined to this “bias typing” than others. i.e. Not types that get mixed up easily, thinking they are one type because they didn’t properly understand it, but types that want to be other types. Do you think INFJ’s are particularly inclined to this since they tend to be quite rational, and value their rationality highly?

            Thanks again for the response. It bugs me that I can’t pin my type down, so every insight helps. I also wish I could read myself better, sigh.

          • Charis Branson

            Inferior functions can definitely be helpful in figuring out type! They don’t necessarily need to manifest as childish, but we use those terms to indicate their lack of development. Most of the cognitive functions, when developed, are a force to be reckoned with. But when they are in the back seat, opposite our dominant functions, they don’t receive the ability to develop so they can manifest as unhealthy.

            An INFJ that resists exercising their copilot process of Harmony (because its extraverted or because they just don’t find it very interesting) will definitely find their 10 year process of Accuracy taking over and they will identify more with rationality.

            Your first paragraph describes the Perspectives process (aka Introverted Intuition). That would point toward INFJ or INTJ – assuming you are an introvert. The 3 year old opposite of Perspectives is Extraverted Sensing or Sensation. This will show up as a tendency to become kinesthetically self-indulgent. It can manifest as a need to feed cravings – food, alcohol, sex, drugs, exercise, etc. With me, if I’m feeling stressed I want to eat or drink. When I’m feeling celebratory, I want to eat or drink. Sensation 3 yr old can also choose to ignore the future consequences of their actions.

            By the way, one of the products we offer is a verification call with Joel or Antonia (at this time). Here is a link to that product in case you would like a more definite typing. http://www.personalityhacker.com/personality-type-verification/

          • Rachel

            Hmmmm. Well, I’m definitely an introvert. But I’m not sure I identify with Se all that much, anywhere in the function stack. I probably eat more when I’m stressed, and feeling really happy makes me want to dance, but the “psychological comfort” sounds more likely, I think. Mostly I get depressed and hide and watch TV. When I get REALLY upset I have sort of emotional outburst, but even for that I hide in a really familiar place away from people.

            Anyhow, the verification call looks really interesting. I think I’ll look into doing that. Thanks for the help and the suggestion!

          • Rachel

            Short update: got the verification, Antonia thought I was INTJ. Not something I’d really considered before, so there’s some exploring for me to do there. It’s interesting that I still identify with a lot of the INTP description, though. I wonder if it’s just the similarities between INTx types, even though their function stack is totally different.

          • Charis Branson

            Thanks for the update, Rachel! INTJs are a very nuanced type. I often wonder if it’s not due to the Ni – Fi variables. Perspectives (Ni) can be a bit nebulous in its application and Authenticity (Fi) is so subjective it’s impossible to really nail it down. INTPs and INTJs may look a lot alike on paper but they are fairly different. For instance, INTPs lead with a decision-making process, whereas INTJs lead with a learning-process. Their thinking process can come across as socially inept in both circumstances, but INTJs will look less socially incapable because their feeling process isn’t as much of a blind spot as it is for INTPs. (INTJs feeler is in the 10 year old position, whereas INTPs feeler is in the 3 year old position.) We discuss something similar to this in this article: http://www.personalityhacker.com/intp-vs-entj/.

          • Rachel

            Aaaaand another quick update. Probably unnecessary, but I’ve been commenting on various posts as an INTP, so I thought I’d clarify.

            INTJ just really didn’t seem accurate to me, so I did another verification session with Antonia. This time the webcam was working and I wasn’t exhausted like I was the first time, and she thought INTP was probably the best fit.

          • David

            Enjoying your insights Charis — particularly with respect to you having typed as INTP and finding that INFJ is more accurate. I can’t find the exact post in which you made the reference, but I wonder if it was ONLY the fact that you found it difficult to be “brutally honest” (INTP accuracy trait) that tipped the scales for you to INFJ?

            For years I have consistently typed as INTP (multiple Jungian based assessments), usually with only a slight preference for P. And while most all of the various descriptions of INTP types fit me well, the “brutally honest” characterization has NEVER been part of my persona. In fact, I’m more likely to be EXCESSIVELY concerned about creating conflict or hurting someone’s feelings. I’ve always been the nice and friendly guy at the office, who everyone gets along with, even if (maybe because) they only know me on a surface level.

            When conflict does arise — between others, as I rarely experience it personally — I’m usually the first to take steps toward reconciliation and diffusing the situation (typically via humor or identifying points of misunderstanding and attempting to clarify). Its definitely an ability to detach emotionally, seek clarity, and find the most expedient path to resolution.

            So your comment about brutal honesty and my own experience of being the “nice guy” who rarely experiences conflict, and goes out of his way to avoid hurting feelings, makes me wonder about consistently typing as INTP.

            I’m ALWAYS learning, exploring and looking for connections/explanations that explain the human experience (relationships, leadership, management, marketing, parenting, etc) — with an eye toward reducing to essential concepts/components and identifying the underlying framework.

            If I need to explain something to someone, there’d better be a whiteboard nearby for me to start drawing connections/relationships and illustrating how the pieces fit together (concepts–not engineering). Yes, I’m the “whiteboard” guy. 😉

            This feels very Ne to me (perception always open to new info and looking for ways to connect the pieces) although it’s almost always unscripted and emergent — like going on auto-pilot and just letting the whiteboard become a canvas for the “here’s how things work” that’s in my head.

            Not that I can “see it” beforehand in my mind, but there’s some sort of MAGIC that happens and I get the key concepts out in an organized manner — followed by a “Wow, now I get it. That makes it much easier to understand!” from whomever is subjected to one of my whiteboard parties.

            That said, I’m pretty DETACHED emotionally from anyone outside my immediate family. Even within my family, it’s easy for me to show concern and/or excitement — but tears are rare, as is any significant displays of anger. I’m at the end of my rope (or you’ve questioned my integrity) if you see me erupt. My mom is an ESFP and dad a strong ESTJ.

            I exercise regularly, am very conscientious about appearance, make sure the kitchen is clean before bed, and floss EVERY night. 😉

            So it’s hard to decipher if I’m just one the nicest, harmony-seeking INTP’s in town… OR …if it’s possible I’m an INFJ who’s really out of touch with others emotionally. I don’t think INTJ is a fit, because Te and Fi descriptions never seem like a fit.

            I’m thinking about doing a type-confirmation session per your recommendation, but also curious just how big a signal the “not being brutally honest” might be for a possibly mis-typed INTP?

  • Austin
    Reply

    For a long time I tested intp on tests, but felt like I had a better grasp on people than the description allowed and didn’t really spend much time creating frameworks or systems. I do spend a lot of time gathering info and learning. Probably much more time gathering data than actually constructing systems. I use the data quite fluidly for whatever situation is in front of me. After taking tests that don’t ask social questions, I started typing as ENTP. Your car model confirms that or at least I think. On your test, I still got INTP. But when you talk about being aware of the co-pilot and ten year old. I am quite consciously anyalizing and collecting data as well as very conscious of the effect the harmony functions. The parts I don’t think about are where all my little creative outbursts or outlandish, but accurate, assumptions or predictions come from. I’m almost obsessed with cause and effect and guessing and predicting though it’s not something I put much thought into. I also don’t notice basic details in front of me at times and can’t stand when people flood me with how to step by steps. Also even though I know what needs to be done.( change oil, pick up groceries, pay bills) it’s something that is never present in my mind unless someone brings it up or I make some observational connection that brings it up. Anyway, does that sound like I could be an ENTP unconcious Ne and Si conscious Ti and Fe?

    • Antonia Dodge
      Reply

      Hey, Austin! It’s difficult to know your type with any degree of certainty without doing a profiling session on you. That said, which is more a part of your identity that you grapple with:

      Do you find yourself having to fight landing in a ‘comfort zone’ in your life and not pushing yourself (which is more Si tertiary)?

      Or, do you find yourself having to fight caring about your ‘image’ and courting the approval/disapproval of others in order to present your truth (which is more Fe tertiary)?

      Also – We’ll be making more INTP-centric content soon on the site. So, keep your eyes peeled. 🙂

      -A-

  • Karen
    Reply

    I’ve always tested INFJ – until recently, when I’ve come up as INFP depending on the day I take the test (yours and others, free online).
    It seems like the questions that are the “swing” votes are around planning vs. spontaneity. They are hard for me to answer, because I like to have a plan, but am pretty adaptable within the plan. I think of it with a music analogy – improvisation within a framework. All the musicians know the key and the tempo, and the basic rhythm and melody. Then they riff off of that. That’s how I am. My improvisations might even involve breaking the rules (the “plan”), but usually with something I have tried before that I am pretty sure will work.
    It sounds like INFJ, I guess, but usually when my entire day is planned out I get pretty anxious and might cancel on something just to free up my time – maybe that’s the extreme introvert in action.

    Also, in reading your “strengths and weaknesses” lists for INFJ/P, I find it very interesting: the INFJ weaknesses describe me to a tee – perfectionist/self-sabotaging, difficulty moving from idea to action, and using criticism as a defense mechanism. But the strengths don’t ring true to me. On the other hand, the INFP strengths fit me to a tee – core values, honoring the individual, and being mission-driven, but the weaknesses don’t ring true.
    What’s up with that?! 🙂

    Thanks for your great podcasts and articles. I enjoyed hearing you talk about the types, and learning about the car model.
    -Karen

    • Karen
      Reply

      …oh, and i think maybe deep down, part of my heart is an ISFP…

    • andrea
      Reply

      Karen, I am an INFP, and your words about having an “adaptable plan” resonates exactly with me! I like plans and familiarity, but prefer to be flexible with them, and not set in stone–more go-with-the-flow. I always test as an INFJ (sometimes even ISFJ) because of this, no matter how unbiased I try to be with my answers! It was through this site I really came to understand the nuances between the two, and felt INFP was a closer match for me.

  • Judi
    Reply

    Do you have any thoughts about when you’re torn between extrovert and introvert? I usually test as ENFP although on the I/E scale I’m just slightly toward E and there are things in this type that don’t really fit for me. In the Genius Style quiz, I scored as an INFP. I’ve been looking on your site at both types and see a lot of myself in both. It seems fairly nuanced since the cognitive functions are just flipped in their level of dominance but it’s made it extremely difficult for me to really use personality type information. Any suggestions you have would be appreciated!

    • Jayme
      Reply

      Judi,

      I can certainly relate to this too. Any thoughts the team has would be very helpful!!

      • Archangel
        Reply

        Judi and Jayme,

        I am also in this boat. Am I an INFJ or an ENFJ? Please see my comment to June’s post below.

  • Merlin
    Reply

    Hi! Loving your articles, especially the ones contrasting the types (INTP/J INFP/J). My problem is, I’ve tested INTP since early high school, and then I started testing INFP, and now when I look at the descriptions of functions and whatnot I also resonate somewhat with INTJ. I could probably figure it out if it were between one of the pairs you listed, but my biggest variable seems to be T vs. F, not P vs. J or N vs. S. (If I decided I wasn’t INFP I could narrow it down between the other two from there, but I’m primarily torn between the two I mentioned first.)

    My question is, is this something other people have trouble with? The uncertainty has been bothering me for a few years now, and both INFP and INTP seem to fit… but that conflict wasn’t listed in your “commonly confused” list. INTP seems too cold and science-focused to be completely accurate (or is that just a stereotype?), but then, INFP seems over-emotional and too people-focused. But they’re the closest to how I process things.

    Advice for figuring this out? Have you seen others present with this problem?

    • INerdTP
      Reply

      You could be an INFJ. They are generally the most thinker-y feelers.

  • Red
    Reply

    Well that’s a clear as mud! Sorry but I just don’t get it…and I’m not academically limited!
    I’m ENFJ (personality test) and ENFP (Genius test). I don’t even fit the examples of confusing pairs :-/
    Anyone clarify for me?

  • June
    Reply

    I am hoping you can comment on an INFJ/ENFJ. Not the relationship but I seem to be stuck. I took your test and came up INFJ. And on some other tests, I do as well, however, I also get this result.
    “You appear to have no preference for introversion(3%) over extroversion, characteristic of more than one personality type may apply to you, INFJ and ENFJ.”
    When I read INFJ, it really rings true however, there are times that ENFJ, seems to fit. Who am I how do I figure it out? Although, one minute I believe I lean one way then the other the next. I need to figure myself out. I don’t know who I am.

    • Archangel
      Reply

      This is my question, too! I always test as a strong -NFJ, but the I/E seems to bounce around. When I was in college, I usually tested with a slight preference towards extroversion. Now, a few years down the road, I usually test with a preference toward introversion.

      Right now, the INFJ type description sort of screams, “This is me!” That said, there are many aspects of the ENFJ type that feel like me, too. I’m not sure if this makes sense, but I’ve started to think of myself as “more healthy” when I feel like an ENFJ and “less healthy” when I tend towards an INFJ. Am I way off track?

      Thank you for maintaining this wonderful website!

  • Hue
    Reply

    I cannot decide whether I am an INTJ or an INFP. I am sure I have Te and Fi in my functional stack somewhere but I still have difficulties differentiating between Ne and Ni, and quite indifferent between Se and Si–I think Se/Si should be near the bottom of my stack. I am much more certain that I am an N as opposed to an S type, but have more problems deciding whether I use T or F in making decisions. Based on this I may be an INTJ because in the stack, Te and Fi is closer to one another. But on most tests I get an INFP.. So it might also be the case that because Te is my inferior and I’m purposely trying to develop it. As for Ne vs Ni.. I am interested in and do like to try out many different things, but get bored easily. I guess this is Ne. I never really understood Ni before until I read the explanation on this website on ‘shifting perspectives’, and I realize I do that a lot. I see things from many different perspectives before making a decision, to the point that it makes it incredibly difficult to decide because all these different perspectives may all be valid! This makes me quite indecisive at times. Also, I can grasp new concepts and identify patterns relatively quickly, before I actually understand what they mean. Perhaps that’s why I’m generally quite good with languages, programming, and maths. Any advice on how to go forward?

  • Bex
    Reply

    I’ve got a difficult one… I’m torn between ENFP on my good days but I slip to the INTP on the average… Got a feeling that the INTP isn’t my natural state though. My people skills are crap, they don’t really come naturally to me, but part from that, ENFP description seems fitting, yet INTP is also very strong… Urgh It’s really frustrating…
    My enneagram is 9 though, that much I know.

  • Sophie
    Reply

    Hello,

    I’ve just discovered this classification. I should be INTP after doing the test. Then when I read the description of this type, it’s me, oh yeah, but…it’s not me. Then I search and found that for a big part of my life I recognize myself in isfp type. My feeling is that I’ve developped (by a conscious personnal work for a part) another personnality type, like I’m I–P, but the letters in between can radically change, and I feel in harmony in each world, and switch when necessary.

    Does it seem possible to you to be able to switch between such différents types?

  • Fan E Mail
    Reply

    You may just be balanced…!
    Thanks Antonia for another great article!!!

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