INFJ vs INFPPosted: September 2, 2012
Some people cannot decide if they are INFP or INFJ. Both types are idealists and seem similar on a superficial level, so it is common for INFPs to mistype as INFJs and vice versa.
Reasons for Indecision
Low J or P Scores
The official MBTI score report presents a continuum between the four dichotomies.
I/E – Introversion – Extraversion
N/S – Intuition – Sensing
F/T – Feeling – Thinking
P/T – Perceiving – Judging
In addition to showing your preferences (INFP or INFJ), it displays a numeric value that indicates the strength of the preference. 100% showing definite preference, 0% showing no clear preference. This leads to the common misconception that the dichotomies are traits, meaning a person with a high F has a low T or a person with a high J has a low P. The numbers do not measure how much of a judger or a perceiver you are but measure the accuracy of the test’s results. Therefore, if you are an INFJ with low P or an INFP with low J, the accuracy of the fourth letter should not affect your type decision.
What do P and J mean?
P and J have different meanings for each type. It is difficult to explain this dichotomy without using cognitive functions (which I will introduce in the next section). But first let us dispel some of the common myths about this dichotomy:
- Js are organized and Ps are messy
- Js are closed minded and Ps are open minded
- Js are planned and Ps are improvisational
- Js work hard and Ps slack off
In most online tests, the test questions that increase the J score surround these stereotypes.INFJ and INFP are a perfect example of why these myths are false.
INFJs are Dominant Perceivers (Pi) while INFPs are Dominant Judgers (Ji).
So why is there a J in INFJ and a P in INFP?
As mentioned in the previous article, J and P are determined by the presence of an Extraverted Judging (Je) function as a dominant or auxiliary.
INFP uses Fi Ne Si Te (Ji Dominant)
INFJ uses Ni Fe Ti Se (Pi Dominant)
The two types do not share any cognitive functions. Based on the brief descriptions here, you may be able to pinpoint which function you use more than others. The functions are arranged in descending order of strength.
Here is a brief summary of how the dominant/auxilliary functions manifest in these two types:
INFJs are dominant Introverted Intuitives. Introverted Intuition is the least common dominant or auxiliary function so it is difficult for many people to imagine what the experience is like. As an INFJ myself, I can only give you my subjective experience of Ni and the anecdotes I have experienced. In the INFJ, Ni is complemented by Fe to create an uncommon depth of feeling and compassion so it is difficult to compartmentalize the experience into feeling and thought. They are the most intuitive type because they have an unfiltered access to unconscious content. Unlike INTJs, who share the same dominant function, the intuition of the INFJ does not need external validation which makes it appear out of nowhere and gives them a “psychic” or “mystical” appearance.
Ni searches for depth, meaning and significance in the world. It can be thought of an elastic web of insights that is constantly being refined and expanded. The goal of the function is to filter out biases and refine perception to arrive at the “one truth”. Monism, the notion that there is one truth is at the core of Ni. For this reason, it may be mistaken for Ti, especially in INTJs and INFJs with under-developed Fe. However, Ti can be conceptualized like a solid grid of principles and rules that serve as a filter function to determine if the provided data is true/valid or false/invalid. The difference here lies in the fact that Ti works similar to a mathematical function, an input is given, Ti processes the logic and returns an output. Ni, on the other hand works similar to a fine tuning radio or a camera lens that is constantly readjusted to get the right data. When it is not active in the external world, it enriches the INFJs internal world with imagination, philosophical insight, fantasy, poetic ideas and a never-ending curiosity about why things are the way they are.
Ni-Fe makes INFJs natural psychologists because it helps them model how minds work. They are not naturally introspective about their feelings but have a great deal of insight into their minds and thought processes. The psyche’s ego-defense mechanisms and self-deception are weakened by the constant filtering of Ni, therefore they can be highly sensitive and are known to have fragile egos. This obsession with truth results in the INFJ being seen as naive and innocently honest about their own motives and that of others. The auxiliary Fe absorbs the emotions and mood of the social environment. It is extremely good at interpreting facial expressions to quickly spot out insincerity or malevolent intent in other people. It also results in a natural desire to like people and be liked by them, which provides Ni with an intersting topic to study (humans). The default orientation of feeling is extroverted so INFJs constantly look for the perfectly trustworthy person to whom they can share their internal world or true selves. Feeling is usually expressed when it is experienced, otherwise it is translated into action or rationalized by Ti. As Fe users, they tend to process their feelings through self-disclosure or direct action, so they are not prone to passive aggressive behavior or emotional suppression. The INFJ does not have constant awareness of their internal feelings and reactions, so the stress they experience daily may accumulate and manifest in a somatic form in sickness or a physical feeling of malaise. This lack of awareness in mood can be seen in their facial expressions, as they do not try to (or are not good at) displaying facades. Other people may get the wrong impression that an INFJ is feeling sad or gloomy when the person actually feels neutral because the INFJ is focused in his/her internal world. Fe also provides the INFJ with a “higher purpose” to strive towards, this is usually something external such as a political/social movement, liberating the oppressed, feeding the poor. Their concern for others makes them great social leaders and humanitarians.
INFPs are natural feelers. They have a rich emotional life that they greatly prize and have a strong understanding of their inner workings and sense of self. Fi is an ever-present evaluator that places things on a spectrum of good and evil. In the moral sense, it results in strong commitment to ideas and values as well as a yearning for spirituality and religious experience. Attraction and Repulsion are emotions that are frequently experienced by INFPs, this gives them a strong appreciation of beauty in all its forms. They are naturally attracted to the beautiful and good things in life. Fi gives the INFP an internal ideal to strive towards, they constantly seek internal perfection. They have an ideal self with ideal qualities that drives them to improve themselves. Given the breadth and depth of feeling they experience, they can easily see things from others’ perspectives. This makes it difficult for INFPs to pick sides during conflicts because they can imagine themselves in the “other’s shoes”. Fi also provides them with a constant radar of their internal emotional states, as a result they have great intrapersonal intelligence and can usually deal with disappointments and unpleasant circumstances in a graceful manner.
Fi is a very complex process that is hard to define in words. Even INFPs have a difficult time explaining it because it is quite intangible and happens in the viscera instead of the head. Trust your heart above all else is the motto of the INFP. It is a very complex reasoning process that remains mysterious to neuroscientists and artificial intelligence researchers. It has to do with assigning meaning, value, worth and emotions to ideas, objects, and feelings themselves. It is very subjective and every INFP has their own individual version of the function that has been shaped by their life experiences and innate tendencies. It makes INFPs strong moralists and gives them a sense of absolute right and wrong. This process is very different from that of the INTPs because it is not concerned with creating universal ethical principles but weighing ideas by the quality of their subjective feeling tones. Fi deals with abstract ideals so it is never satisfied with particular “imperfect” instances in the real world. INFPs are just as likely to judge themselves as they judge others. This may result in unrealistic grandiosity or chronic low self-esteem depending on the distance between their ideal self and actual self. Emotions are experienced as states of the self and can be internalized into the person’s self-image. They believe feelings are at their essence so they are more likely to think “I am mad” instead of “I have anger I need to deal with”.
Fi and Ne work together to give INFPs a sense of optimism and a fresh enthusiasm for life. For INFPs, the world is created as much as it is perceived, and as a result they come across as dreamy and having their “head in the clouds”. This quality gives them unusual strength to persevere through difficult circumstances and “bounce back” from life’s disappointments. Their life force is reinforced by a curiosity and enthusiasm for life that is constantly renewed by their imagination. Fi-Ne makes them extremely creative and good with words. In combination, these two functions work to help them find just the right word or the right chord in their creative pursuits. It also makes them gifted fiction writers due to their rich imagination that is fueled by personal values. They have an emotional life that seeks expression in some form of creative outlet, and some INFPs recover from life-long depression by engaging in creative activities for the first time. Truth for the INFP is felt instead of intellectualized, therefore they are likely to practice spirituality that allows for free-exploration and feeling connections. They can be inflexible when it comes to their values and strongly held beliefs because there is usually a strong emotional charge behind their values. INFPs make great counselors because they have the keen ability to see potential in others using their Fi-Ne. But it also makes them naive and can lead to unrealistic idealism. This can be harmful to the INFPs because they have a tendency to idealize new people they meet by assigning positive qualities that person may not necessarily possess. It can also blind them from the negative aspects of reality, which may result in a dissapointment with the “real world” when life circumstances demand a reality check on “cold truths”. Fi-Ne gives INFPs a unique ability to detect sincerity and honesty in others. This gift is related to their ability to detect subtle variations in intonation and pitch when others’ voices. Along with their natural aptitude for language, they can make excellent speech therapists, linguists, writers and translators. Ne gives them an advantage in almost any academic field they pursue due to their capacity to easily grasp ideas and thus can be found in a wide variety of careers.