I am an INFP. I may have been told this once before, but as usual in my scatter-brained way I data-dumped it. I recently stumbled on this again, and all I can say is, “Yeah. That’s definitely me.” What am I talking about?
A bunch of head-shrink types broke human personalities into 16 basic types (called the Myers-Briggs Personality Types,) which were based on these 4 things:
- How does the person focus their attention or get their ENERGY? Is the person’s orientation directed outward to people, activities, events or exterior things; or inward to thoughts, interests, ideas or imagination? In short whether the person is an Extroverted (E) or Introverted (I) personality.
- How does the person most naturally PERCEIVE or understand things? Is the Sensing side (S) or iNtuitive side (N) of the person’s brain favored when trying to grasp something?
- How does the person prefer to make JUDGEMENTS or decisions? Is the Thinking side (T) or Feeling side (F) of the brain favored when coming to a decision on something?
- How does the person TAKE ACTION or orient themselves when dealing with the external world? Which of the two processes above take the lead in their relationship with the outside world? If its JUDGEMENT (J), #3 above, then person usually approaches the world with a plan. It its PERCEIVING (P), #2 above, then person usually takes the world as it comes.
So in my case, my responses to these question revealed that I am: Introverted, iNtuitive, Feeling, Perception.
- I – Introversion preferred to extraversion: INFPs tend to be quiet and reserved. They generally prefer interacting with a few close friends rather than a wide circle of acquaintances, and they expend energy in social situations (whereas extraverts gain energy).
- N – Intuition preferred to sensing: INFPs tend to be more abstract than concrete. They focus their attention on the big picture rather than the details, and on future possibilities rather than immediate realities.
- F – Feeling preferred to thinking: INFPs tend to value personal considerations above objective criteria. When making decisions, they often give more weight to social implications than to logic.
- P – Perception preferred to judgment: INFPs tend to withhold judgment and delay important decisions, preferring to “keep their options open” should circumstances change.
INFP Congnitive Functions
- Dominant Function (preferred role, the one they feel most comfortable with):
Introverted feeling (Fi)
Fi filters information based on interpretations of worth, forming judgments according to criteria that are often intangible. Fi constantly balances an internal set of values such as harmony and authenticity. Attuned to subtle distinctions, Fi innately senses what is true and what is false in a situation. With Fi as their dominant function, INFPs live primarily in a rich inner world of emotion.
- Auxiliary Function (serves to support and expand on the Dominant function):
Extraverted intuition (Ne)
Ne finds and interprets hidden meanings, using “what if” questions to explore alternatives, allowing multiple possibilities to coexist. This imaginative play weaves together insights and experiences from various sources to form a new whole, which can then become a catalyst to action. INFPs engage the outside world primarily with intuition. They are adept at seeing the big picture, sensing patterns and the flow of existence from the past toward the future. (Interesting note: the Auxilary or supporting function for every personality is of a different role than the Dominant one. For INFP the dominant function was a decision-making function (feeling), so the supporting function has to be an information gathering one (in INFPs case, intuition).)
- Tertiary Function (less developed than the Dominant & Auxiliary, but matures over time, rounding out person’s abilities):
Introverted sensing (Si)
Si collects data in the present moment and compares it with past experiences, a process that sometimes evokes the feelings associated with memory, as if the subject were reliving it. Seeking to protect what is familiar, Si draws upon history to form goals and expectations about what will happen in the future. This function gives INFPs a natural inclination toward “other-worldliness” and makes them more easily distracted.
- Inferior Function (the personality type’s Achilles’s heel, the one they are least comfortable with. Like the Tertiary, the Inferior function strengthens with maturity):
Extraverted thinking (Te)
Te organizes and schedules ideas and the environment to ensure the efficient, productive pursuit of objectives. Te seeks logical explanations for actions, events, and conclusions, looking for faulty reasoning and lapses in sequence. This function helps INFPs focus on external details, but being the inferior function, requires the expenditure of greater energy and is not as reliable.
INFPs are driven by a strong sense of right and wrong and a desire to exercise their creativity, even if only behind the scenes. Their weaknesses include sensitivity to criticism, poor organization, and low assertiveness. INFPs have been called the “Healers”. INFP is one of the four personality types belonging to the temperament called the “Idealists”. INFPs are one of the rarer types, accounting for about 4-5% of the population.
INFPs never lose their sense of wonder, and live in both a fantasy and the real world. INFPs are passionate about their values, perceptively recognize potential for growth in themselves and others, and feel so for the world around them that they want to “heal” it. They often become dejected with all they perceive and feel and with uncertainty on how they could ever begin to heal all the problems they see and feel.
An INFP views their conflicts as being on a grander scale relating to all situations — not simply in the moment, but looking at all of life as “Good” vs. “Evil”. INFPs believe that good always triumphs over evil… Another source of dejection for them as they grow older and more cynical, and start to realize that this “truth” is not always the case (as much as they know it should be), and that they can’t “heal” everything.
INFPs have a sense of other-worldliness about them and are often caught day-dreaming. Many writers, poets, song writers and artists are INFPs. They often are awkward and uncomfortable with expressing themselves verbally, but have a wonderful ability to define and express what they’re feeling through some creative outlet.
The INFP is not particularly driven by money or status, preferring work that aligns with their values or gives them the ability to express their imagination and creativity.
INFPs are prone to depression or moodiness, as they struggle to maintain their strong ethics, and will feel as if they failed when they are being anything less than “perfect”. INFPs are most likely to report suicidal thoughts. When an INFPs values or beliefs are trodden on, the INFP can become outspoken and turn on the transgressor, and become judgmental.
INFPs have deep emotions which are often hidden until a circumstance reveals them. Highly creative, artistic and spiritual, INFPs can produce wonderful works of art, music and literature. Simply the act of “creating” will be a fulfilling source of renewal and refreshment to the INFP.
Some famous INFPs are J.R.R. Tolkien, Virginia Woolf, Edgar Allan Poe, Shakespeare, John Lennon, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, J.K. Rowling, Tim Burton, Jim Henson.
INFP summary: creative, smart, idealist, healer, imaginative, analytical, loner, caring, attracted to sad things, disorganized, avoidant, can be overwhelmed by unpleasant feelings, prone to quitting, prone to feelings of loneliness, ambivalent of the rules, solitary, daydreams about people to maintain a sense of closeness, focus on fantasies, acts without planning, low self-confidence, emotionally moody, judgmental, sarcastic, can feel defective, prone to lateness, likes esoteric things, wounded at the core, feels shame, frequently losing things, prone to sadness, disorderly, observer, easily distracted, does not like crowds, can act without thinking, private, can feel uncomfortable around others, familiar with the dark side, hermit, can sabotage self, sometimes can’t control fearful thoughts, prone to crying, prone to regret, can be submissive, prone to feeling discouraged, frequently second guesses self, not punctual, not always prepared, can feel victimized, prone to confusion, prone to irresponsibility, can be pessimistic
I wrote (more like combined and collated,) this article in the midst of my attempt to bring together and clarify what I was learning and feeling about the INFP personality type which I very clearly fall into. My sources for all this gobbledygook (very deep and true; but gobbledygook none the less,) were multiple. I altered some of it with what felt right to me, combined and merged information, but mostly I outright plagiarized what I found. So any credits should go to these sites or people — any inaccuracies or flaws lie with me:
- Personality Pathways: This page on their site provides a cognitive style inventory “test”, and links to a lot of references on the site to help you determine and understand your own Myers-Briggs Personality type.
- UPDATE: Found the website 16Personalities.com which has some good info and probably a little better free test.
- Wikipedia: This page on the INFP personality type provided a lot of detailed info on the type. There are of course articles on all the Myers-Briggs Personality types you could explore.
- For dear life: This fellow INFP’s blog post on the personality type really rang true to with me. Sad to say, but I admit I blatantly stole (changing a few things here and there) much of what she wrote for the last part of my post above.