INFJ vs INTJ Part 1

There are some people who cannot decide if they are INFJ or INTJ. I have come across people who have succumbed to typing themselves as INxJ, a hybrid that cannot exist according to cognitive function theory. If you are one of those people, it is likely that you believe your T and F are very close to each other or that they are balanced. But as I have mentioned in a previous post, the MBTI is not a trait theory and does not measure preferences quantitatively.  I will compare the two types and show key differences between the two to help you decide.

Temperament

Kiersey lists four temperaments:

The Guardians (ESTJ, ISTJ, ESFJ, ISFJ)

The Artisans (ESTP, ISTP, ESFP, ISFP)

The Rationals (ENTJ, INTJ, ENTP, INTP)

The Idealists (ENFJ, INFJ, ENFP, INFP)

As a shorthand form, we use NT for The Rationals and NF for The Idealists based on the letters common to all types in each temperament. You can read more about the theory here.

Generally,

INFJs are attracted to the animate world and strive to change the world for the better.

INTJs pursue intellectual interests and prefer to deal with the impersonal aspects of the world.

This distinction made by animate and impersonal is similar to the general difference between T and F types. If you strongly identify with The Rationals or Idealists, you probably belong to that temperament. You may find that you share characteristics with both Rationals and Idealists. There are many intellectuals (Ludwig Wittgenstein, Arthur Schopenhauer, Plato…) who would probably test INFJ and Idealists (Jean-Paule Sartre, Sigmund Freud) who would probably test INTJ. I find that INTJs may have an easier time deciding their temperament than INFJs who may classify themselves as a hybrid of both temperaments. I will discuss the reason for this in the next section.

Cognitive Functions

Dominant: Introverted Intuition

Ni (Introverted Intuition) is primarily an unconscious process that surfaces with solutions to novel problems and insights. It works by abstracting and extracting symbolic meaning from everyday experience and combining it with unconscious archetypes to provide insight and “meaning”.

Make sure you are certain if Ni is your dominant function. Some INFPs identify with both INFJ and INTJ and may decide they are somewhere in between. You may want to look at the previous article INFP vs INFJ if you also think you maybe INFP.

As dominant Ni users, INFJs and INTJs are driven by a desire to realize their internal vision in the external world. However, unlike other types that share dominant functions (for example, ISFP and INFP), the dominant function expresses itself in differently in the two types.

The two types experience Ni in different ways.

In INTJs, Ni is experienced as “aha” moments of insight. They are natural problem solvers so it also serves as a system builder that connects patterns and predicts their future consequences. Ni is cerebral in the INTJ and it helps them think in novel ways. Some INTJs report thinking in images, symbols, connections and other processes that are difficult to verbalize. It seeks to explain the reason behind phenomenon and get a clear vision of how things work. It fuels the INTJ with curiosity and creates their interest in the sciences. It is attracted to complexity and problem-solving.

In INFJs, Ni is visceral and presents itself primarily through feelings. They experience it as strong visions of the future and very strong feelings about people and situations. It also helps them the INFJ in academic environments or when dealing with intellectual problems. However, Ni is more likely to provide the final result than consciously guiding the problem solving process as in the case of INTJs. It is primarily driven by finding meaning in the world and creates interest in philosophy and the arts. It is attracted to abstractions and “the whole”.

If you believe your thought process is guided by visual imagery and relationships, you are probably INTJ.

If you believe your feelings about things help you understand the world, you are probably INFJ

Auxilliary Function: Extroverted Judging

INFJs and INTJs share the same perceiving functions Ni and Se, but have completely different judging functions (Fe/Ti and Fi/Te). It is rare, if not impossible to have full use conflicting judging functions (Te and Fe, Ti and Fi) simultaneously because they are diametrically opposed.

Here is the function order for the two types:

INFJ: Ni Fe Ti Se

INTJ: Ni Te Fi Se

As introverted dominant perceivers ([P]i), INFJs and INTJs have an auxilliary extroverted judging function, Fe and Te respectively. The letters T and F are determined by the most dominant extroverted function.
Te (Extraverted Thinking) creates strategies and makes decisions based on effectiveness, efficiency, sustainability and other objective measures of performance. It is pragmatic and is useful for planning, logistics, time/resource management and other tasks that require “real world” problem solving. It validates its decisions based on empirical data and quantitative measurements and constantly searches for areas of improvement.

Fe (Extraverted Feeling) makes decisions based on values and their direct effects on people. It primarily deals with creating social harmony and adjusting attitudes and behaviors to assimilate into one’s social environment. It is useful for diplomacy, empathy, and navigating social circles. It works in a similar fashion to Te, except it asks “Is this acceptable?” instead of “Does it work?”. It manifests itself in social graces, politeness and sensitivity towards others’ feelings.

If you are Ni dominant, you utilize one of these functions whenever you engage in an activity in the external world. Your extroverted judging function is also the function that is most visible to the external world. Therefore, in the rare case that you cannot determine which one you use, asking someone else may help.

Theoretically, you cannot consciously use more than one function of the same category. You can have only one of these functions in the first four functions of your type. [P]i, [J]e, [J]i, [S]e. It may be possible to use Fe and Te at the same time but it would create internal conflict because the two functions work in opposite ways.

If the descriptions are not sufficient, consider how you would act in these scenarios:

  • You are a manager and you get the impression that an employee is not performing well (Ni). You decide to confront the person.
    • Do you look at his quality of work, throughput, time sheets, or other measure of performance for evidence? (Te)
    • Do you look at his work ethics, dedication, loyalty, or whether he is trying his best? (Fe)
  • You are shopping for electronics at a retailer and cannot decide between two brands of the same item. The two items are similarly priced and provide the same functionality.
    • Do you compare the technical specifications to look for reason why one is superior to the other? Do you consider the durability and longevity of the material the item is made of or check for warranty? (Te)
    • Do you choose the one you think is aesthetically pleasing or “fits in” with your other electronics? Do you ask friends/family if they have used it before? Do you ask a person, friend or look up reviews to see what other customers thought? (Fe)
  • You receive a call from a telemarketer who tells you that you are the lucky winner of a free travel package. You have told them you are not interested but the caller insists, which gives you a hunch that it may be a scam. (Ni) You are not busy but want to end the call.
    • Do you hang up on the person? Do you ask the caller about the business model and try to discern the “catch” behind the offer? Do you research the company online or ask for legal verification of its legitimacy? Do you confront the caller about his/her tactics and ask how they got your number? (Te)
    • Do you gently state your concern to the caller? Do you check if his/her voice and speaking style “feel” sincere. Do you create an excuse for why you can’t talk at the moment? Do you empathize with the caller because he/she is just another person trying to earn a living? (Fe)

If you still don’t see a clear preference for either, you maybe very introverted or may not have had the opportunity to develop your extroverted judging function [J]e.

The next part which discusses the tertiary difference will probably help you decide if you prefer Ti or Fi for [J]i.

About these ads

23 Comments on “INFJ vs INTJ Part 1”

  1. Jeff says:

    Where is this next part about tertiary functions you speak of?

    • psyphics says:

      In progress, I will be moving this blog to psyphics.com soon, I will publish part 2 of this article and a longer one about INFJ vs INTP.

  2. psyphics says:

    I posted Part 2, see if it helps.

  3. Shadowlight says:

    After about a year’s worth of confusion between Te and Fe for myself, you’ve finally cleared the confusion. INTJ.

    • psyphics says:

      I’m glad I helped!

      • Me too! INTJ. I’m a woman, so I tried to be an F, but after reading this, I’m SO DEFINITELY a T, and no, I’m not a lesbian, either, and yes, I’m 37 and proud to have never been married! Though I’ve certainly had enough boyfriends!!! I love Amy Schumer’s humor! She’s such an awesome straight woman T!!!

      • Joe says:

        Thank you so much, your brilliant questions have saved me for any further dwelling. Definitely INTJ.

  4. [...] I discussed in the INFJ vs INTJ article, INFJs and INTJs belong to different [...]

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Greetings! I am strongly INTJ, but have found myself wondering at times if I was INTF. However, I have figured it out! Hopefully this can add clarity to some others out there:

    I believed I may be “F” because I can be extremely compassionate to those I care about, and can make just about anyone “feel special” or listened to. Though I am judgemental in my mind, I keep my tongue on a tight leash, seeking the most tactful ways of saying things and thinking about other’s feelings before delivering a message.

    The reason for this non-INTJ behavior, I have found, is because I am intensely interested in social interactions, and I study them. Since I was about 8 years old, I realized that I didn’t quite fit in, and there were rules to social interaction. I observed and made mental notes of the rules of interaction, even picking two “models” in my community–older women who were extremely warm and made me feel like I wanted to make other people feel.

    The biggest difference, which may help people who don’t know if they are T or F, is that I am polite to strangers and extremely empathetic and caring to those few I love through my MIND. When I am helping a friend through a difficult emotion, or tolerating some stranger talking my ear off about random crap, my brain is in “work” mode. It is rapidly navigating an encyclopedia of “maps” and “flow-charts” I have learned about human emotion. Since I have been doing this for 21 years (I’m almost 30), it has become “automatic,” but not “natural.” This is the key distinction. I can do it, I do do it, in a seemingly automatic way, but I don’t FEEL it. I may feel perplexed or anxious that the person is upset, I will acknowledge that whatever it is is (sad, upsetting, exciting, whatever it is), and that they have the right to feel that, but my drive and focus is fixing the problem. If that means acting in a certain way to let them know I’m concerned for them, so be it.

    In sum, I don’t naturally empathize with or think of people. I am a systems worker. At some point, rationally, I decided that human beings, and humans caring for humans is the most important thing in the world, and the reason for all systems in the first place. Of course, I realize that I choose this over the alternate, just as viable option: that all environments are equally “good” and “bad,” and that there would be no appreciable difference in the universe if humans didn’t exist at all. Buuut, since we’re here and I have no particular interest in eradicating the human race, I deliberately and strategically try to build people up, even though it is unnatural for me and can come off stilted.

    Another indicator is that even though I try, my efforts are usually out of the social norm. For example, I set a goal of making three substantive female friendships within a year, went about it methodically, and these women remain my best friends to this day. A woman in my run club lost her best friend, and I baked a chicken dinner and brought it to her house, though we barely know each other and hadn’t spoken in months. She thought it was weird, but appreciated the sentiment. I haven’t really spoken to her since. People usually can tell you’re heart is in the right place, but are also confused by our interactions, which are perceived as incongruous with my baseline behavior.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Apologies for the grammatical nightmare above, especially in paragraph 5. As I’m already humiliated, let’s throw in a bad joke: “Two birds were flying–especially the second one.”

      • Jan says:

        Ha ha! Look at my mess below. Fighting the urge to add a disclaimer to mine as well. But I believe I need to deal with the imperfection even if that means being accused of being an INTJ poser or loser.

    • psyphics says:

      The notion that Ts are cold and Fs are empathetic is purely stereotypical. Your writing style and some of the points you raise indicate a Te approach of dealing with the world.
      Both INTJs and INFJs usually have strong interest in psychology and how people work. A common pattern is that the INTJs tend to have more interest in behavior (Ni-Te) and INFJs seem to be more interested in how minds work (Ni-Ti).

  6. Reblogged this on Laura Don't Speak and commented:
    INTJ

  7. Jan says:

    As an INXJ. convinced me of nothing (INTJ) although I appreciate the thought you put into your article (INFJ) :)

    This is, in part, the point I would like to make about your article. I don’t believe that Fe and Te are mutually exclusive categories.

    Why do people have to fit a specfic category? Why do people feel the need to fit into a specific category? What’s wrong with uncertainty, ambivalence, the ambigious?

    I like who I am (and I like being INXJ). I like being self confident and outspoken. I am direct and let people know I think (that can hurt others feels I know as INTJs tend to do). However, because I have done work on myself (work on integrating parts of myself) I can temper that quality and be more sympathetic and understanding the effects this has on others feelings INFJ). I also can express my feelings in an extroverted way (INFJ) unlike INFPs that I’ve had relationships with. Although I tend to go INTJ when under stress to protect my feelings, I’m quite capable of expressing feelings if I trust someone. I have noticed on line that female INTJs seem to be able to do this better than their male counterparts.

    Another point regarding the distinction between INTJ and INFJ as referenced in your article, I don’t fit either category too well, since both apply. I do research. I am intellectual. I’m also idealistic. I’m concerned about humanity. I enjoy helping people. I can be very sensitive, psychic and in touch with others feelings. I can be blunt and to the point. I can be sarcastic and soft. It depends on context.

    It has been said the people are “bundles of contradictions” after all.

    • psyphics says:

      I see no problem with identifying with both. You don’t need to fit in any of the 16 boxes. This is merely a guideline to help you see the differences.

      Are you able to switch off your empathy?
      Fe users naturally absorb the emotions of those around them and find it hard to detach.

    • AJ says:

      It still sounds to me that you would be more INFJ than anything as I identify with you but as I’ve mentioned a little further down, I am very different from my INTJ husband. I don’t think that people have to fit into one category as he fits into both INTJ and ENTJ but at the same time based on the critera defined, it is possible for most people to fit mainly in one category. INFJ itself is basically a contradiction as they seem to be logical, yet extremely feeling people which enables them to plan and enact their visions.

  8. Shauna says:

    Like Jan who commented earlier, I identify as a INxJ – I tend to label myself as a Ni dom.

    This confusion might be in part due to being an empath; I generally handle problems in a pretty rational manner, but it is also very important to choose the path of least conflict. I’m not happy if the problem hasn’t been solved effectively and efficiently (Te); but I’m not happy if there is conflict and disharmony either (Fe). I’m unable to switch off my empathy unless someone makes me quite angry or resentful, usually because they have deliberately disrespected something that I’ve made clear is important to me (Fi).

    When faced with someone in distress (especially someone I care about), however, I react with almost complete empathy – I’ve been on the phone to a distraught friend many times crying silently because I feel their hurt but do not want to take their moment from them. Often I can ‘sense’ a mood change in the room that is later verified, and being in crowds often is incredibly overwhelming.

    My Fe (or empathy) is strong enough that understanding the hidden intentions of others comes easily to me, and I am happy to change the way I ‘present’ something to someone based on how I think it will be best received. People tick and react differently, and to me, the most rational solution is the one where all the factors are accounted for – human as well as situational. The last paragraph in part II about Fi, however, described me almost perfectly. Most of my struggles tend to be a weigh up of Fi vs Fe – do other INxJs experience this?

    I’ve noticed a lot of INTJs (or NTs in general) don’t seem to be as interested as I am in people and how they tick. The way I see it, people are this intricate; woven; fascinating puzzle, and I love nothing more than studying them and constructing theories on why they are the creatures they are. Finding out bits of someone’s life history often gives me that ‘AHA!’ moment about certain traits or behaviours in them that feels incredibly satisfying.

    When it comes to business / less human-related decisions, however, my Te definitely is much stronger. Perhaps biology / social gender construct has a role to play in it? The male INTJs in my life tend to have much lower Fe (and good aesthetics, I’ve noticed somehow), whereas the female INTJs tend to hide their graph-like plotting and love of calculations under a veneer of appreciation for pretty things and social harmony.

    I’d love to hear from other INXJs about what they struggle with in the T-F balance :)

    • psyphics says:

      What you describe sounds like well developed Fi. Strong Fe users find it very hard to “turn off” their empathy, they can’t help but vicariously feel the visible emotions of others.
      Aversion to conflict can also be an Fi trait. Fe is more confrontational with emotional problems, the same way Te demands an explanation for behavior. With Fe users, there is a need to settle matters out in the open, which may seem like too much for an Fi user. Conversely, Fe users may find Fi users passive aggressive.

    • AJ says:

      My INTJ husband has low empathy and little care for the workings of people. He is most passionate about the sciences although he does enjoy people and spending time with them. I myself identify more with you as in that I am extremely empathetic (also an empath) and am fascinated by complex people. However, we get along well at times because we both like to solve problems as logically as possible – however I also factor in people’s feelings as I feel it would illogical not to! But we don’t get along whenever he neglects my or others emotions, which happens often.

      I wouldn’t say my husband has good aesthetics per se but he is definitely interested on how good something looks – though not as much as me.

  9. AJ says:

    I don’t understand how this was ever confusing. But I guess that’s because I am INFJ and my husband is INTJ (sometimes ENTJ) and most of the time we couldn’t be more different although I have occasionally tested as INTJ. INTJ’s are definitely like the definition of Scientists, while INFJ’s are more like Crusaders with a dream, AKA people with a vision and the will to defend it and make it happen.

  10. Abdou says:

    Am i the only INFJ here ?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 43 other followers