INFJ or INFP?

These types are confused so much of the time that I created a whole website devoted to the topic. Feel free to visit it at www.INFJorINFP.com

The Test

It has been my observation that the various tests out there do a dreadful job of confusing INFJ with INFP and vice-versa.  Especially those freebie quizzes.  I wish I had a nickel for every INF who's been mis-typed by those.

Temperament

INFJs and INFPs both have the Catalyst temperament, which means they have LOTS in common with each other, from core needs and values all the way to talents and behaviors.  That makes it even more difficult to sort them out.

Interaction Styles

INFJs and INFPs use different interaction style patterns.  INFJs have an interaction style pattern called Chart-the-Course, while INFPs have an interaction style pattern called Behind-the-Scenes.  INFJs like to anticipate what's going to happen, and want to make deliberate decisions... while INFPs like to integrate lots of information into the final outcome, and want to make consultative decisions.  Trouble is, they're both capable of gracefully sliding into each other's style at times, so that contributes to confusion.

Dichotomies

If one relies on the MBTI dichotomies, the "INF" letters are all common ground.  It's only the last letter that changes.  And then, when people struggle to figure out which one they are by analyzing the dichotomies, they seem to rely on whim more than anything to choose J or P as the last letter in their code.  Usually it's based on something they read, heard, or made up about that scale, and there's typically a values judgment about the letter -- whether it's "good" or "bad."  The irony is that an INFP's best gift is a judging one, while an INFJ's best gift is a perceiving one.  It makes a mess!  The only way to get beyond this confusion is to delve into the eight-function model and explore the cognitive processes.

Cognitive Processes

Here the differences come into better focus.

INFJs and INFPs are very different in the cognitive process model.  INFJs prefer their intuiting to be introverted and their feeling to be extraverted, while INFPs prefer their intuiting to be extraverted and their feeling to be introverted.

Furthermore, INFPs prefer their Sensing to be introverted and their Thinking to be extraverted, while INFJs prefer their Sensing to be extraverted and their Thinking to be introverted.

In other words, we hold NONE of the functions in common as preferences.  

Until one is ready to let go of the dichotomy model and explore the complexity of the cognitive process model, they will not be able to compare the differences.

I say so much about these differences on my INFJorINFP website that I won't spend time on them here.  Suffice it to say there are a lot of differences.

Overall

According to James Hillman, in a brilliant essay on the Feeling function, he claims that many people do not discern between their iNtuition and their Feeling processes.  To exacerbate the matter, Dr. John Beebe claims that introverted Sensing and introverted Feeling are the most misunderstood of all the cognitive processes.  Grasping the nuances between these functions seems to be the only road to truly understanding whether INFJ or INFP is the better fit.

Video

I asked my friend Pete (who is also a coach) to sit down with me to talk about INFJ and INFP differences in regards to our Feeling preferences.  Clearly I have an advantage over him since I know more about type than he does.  Nevertheless, simply observing how different the two of us are is quite informative.

What I find particularly notable is how "grounded" he seems, and how Behind-the-Scenes his interaction style is -- in contrast to my Chart-the-Course attention to Time & Task.  (I am hyper aware of the ticking clock.  Notice how it feels like I'm rushing a lot of the time, in comparison with Pete's unflappable presence.)  I think you can see why INFPs are sometimes called "the Healer."

It's over twenty minutes long, so grab yourself a snack or beverage.  Enjoy!

It's interesting to me how "suspicious" Pete seems to be with strangers, in contrast to me who perhaps trusts *too* easily and readily.  (After all, I don't want anyone to feel unliked -- even before I meet someone I am predisposed to "take care of" their feelings.)  I didn't pick up on this aspect during the interview itself, but this may very well reflect an Fe/Fi difference.

I also want to add the caveat that something I love in this interview is how we don't "mesh" very well. It's perfect! I'd like to mention the pressure I was feeling during the interview to take care of YOU, the viewer, and your *feelings*, and try to make sure you would enjoy what was going on and not get bored. So recognize that, for me, this was a 3-way conversation with a mythical viewer whom I was trying to include and please, and struggling to get Pete to relate to as well. That's a critical facet of the interview that impacted the rapport I had (or not) with Pete, and the dynamic here is radically different between the two of us than when I dial-in to his wavelength when it's just us.

By the way, I am posting more video interviews with INFJs here, and more with INFPs on the INFJorINFP.com site.  

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hmm, very interesting! I am an INFP dating an INFJ. that was very interesting about the introverted and extroverted feeling and knowing your feelings vs. knowing feeling of others, but in a detached way. I would say that INFP's are judging, because they know what they believe, but they usually only speak out about that if it affects them. so usually they appear mellow. And also infp's can see an issue from all sides, so sometimes it is hard for them to judge.


I'm even more confused because I see aspects of myself in each personality type. I've tested for both types. I'm easily affected by other people's feelings and I am the classic chameleon who knows how to reflect the dominant point of view or thinking in a conversation, however differently I may feel. This is why it easy to feel compromised when engaging in conversations with large or small groups for long periods. You begin to feel as if your views are elastic, stretching and conforming to those around you, unless you learn to stand firm. Personality typing is an interesting subject.

NOTE FROM VICKY JO: I quite agree! There is a great deal of "elasticity" in the model, compounded by our egos chattering at us that we can do or be anything it says. That's why I, and many others who work in the field of type, agree that it's vital to work with another person (preferably a trained expert such as ourselves), who has spent years striving to master this subject and is able to find where the blind spots are. I can often tell within ten minutes what a person's type is when I'm coaching with them. But of course if I try to name it too fast, I meet with a boatload of resistance, because people need to undergo a deductive process in order to discover and own it for themselves. And that's why I offer self-discovery programs, for precisely these reasons. :-)


Well, I was definitely on the fence before, but not now :) I have never really seen another INFP speaking about his/her processes and feelings, so it was very interesting for me to see Pete try to articulate how he feels. I know exactly how I feel about just about everything in life (part of that judging you asked him about?), but I usually find it extremely difficult to communicate it verbally. Words don't really do my feelings justice so when I'm forced to try to articulate them, it usually comes out so unnaturally -it feels like I've betrayed myself! So for me that is a great deal of the reason why I keep myself so "guarded" from others, except those very close to me (which is really only a small handful of people). Anyway, very interesting and insightful video. Thanks!!!


I thought it was interesting how he responded with "hmmm" and "right." I've never been the type to respond in that way and the whole time I wondered what he was thinking - perhaps he was doing the continual "checking in" process of which he spoke. I'm much more like you - working through what I'm thinking with a lot of words and hand gestures. I'm not sure how you felt during the interview but my sense was that I would want to use my hands and my words to draw out more from him, to get him to be just descriptive in what he was feeling, but that clearly is not his preference. If I had any doubts about preferring INFJ (and I only had a couple) I don't any longer!

In terms of "bubbliness," I am also a less animated INFJ. But if I am in the right mood, I will talk to strangers at parties or bars, even more comfortably than friends and roommates who I suspect have more of a preference for extraversion. However, what usually happens is after a few conversations in which I pretend to be someone content to joke around and be playful, I eventually come across someone who is willing to engage with me in a long, serious conversation about something typically considered inappropriate for polite company - politics, religion, social ills, etc.


This is quite interesting. I am INFP and I'm in a relationship with another INFP and other than the two of us, I've never actually been aware of what an INFP looks like. I see myself in Pete. It is very eerie. I know exactly how he is analyzing the conversation as well as your body language and emotion. Watching this confirms that I am indeed INFP but if makes me wonder if my girlfriend is INFJ although she is not as bubbly as you. Thank you for posting this video it was very enlightening.

NOTE from Vicky Jo: Let me add that I have met a lot of INFJs IRL by now, and feel obliged to reiterate your observation that I am probably "bubblier" than the average INFJ seems to be. So don't measure INFJness by my bubbles! ;-D


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