INFJ or INTJ?

As has been repeatedly stressed on this website, a "test" cannot tell you who you are.  The only results of any personality assessment that are valid are the ones that have been thoroughly validated according to your own personal experience.

As it happens, there are a number of "lookalike" types -- types that commonly mis-type as another.  So it's important to pay especially close attention to these.  While it may be only one letter different, it makes a dramatic difference in whether or not a description genuinely "fits."

One of the most common "lookalikes" is INFJ and INTJ.  I wish I had a nickel for every INFJ who believes they have INTJ preferences; or for every INTJ who believes they have INFJ preferences.

Given that I work with so many different models of personality type, I'm going to lean into those now to highlight the differences between these two particular types, since it is such a common misunderstanding.

Temperament

INFJs have the Catalyst temperament, while INTJs have the Theorist temperament.  Their core needs are different, their values are different -- and so are the skills and behaviors you might see in the outer world.  Just a little bit of delving into the differences in Temperament is the fastest route toward discerning which type pattern is the better fit.  (Brief Temperament descriptions and their core needs may be found here.)  INTJs tend to display a scientific bent, while INFJs tend to display a humanistic bent.

An important distinction between INFJs and INTJs is that the "intelligence" or "skill-set" INTJs excel at is Strategic, followed by Diplomatic; while for INFJs the order is reversed:  Diplomatic, followed by Strategic.  So INTJs typically consider Logic first, people second; while INFJs tend to consider people first, Logic second.

Interaction Styles

INFJs and INTJs share the same interaction style, which contributes mightily to the misunderstanding -- however, there are slight differences within the way the style gets expressed.  But if you're new to type, those distinctions are likely to be too ambiguous to comprehend at this stage of the game.  Either way, both type patterns will naturally "anticipate" (which is sometimes conflated with either Strategic or Diplomatic intelligence in the Temperament model).

Dichotomies

If one relies on the MBTI dichotomies, it is all too easy for "Fs" to imagine they are "Ts", and for "Ts" to imagine they are "Fs."  The only way to get beyond this misunderstanding is to delve into the eight-function model and explore the cognitive processes in greater depth.

Cognitive Processes

Here again, as with the Temperament model, the differences come into better focus.

INFJs and INTJs share the same dominant cognitive process:  introverted iNtuiting (Ni).  This is commonly called "foreseeing."  Thus, both INFJs and INTJs are both interested in synthesizing, integrating, conceptualizing, understanding complex patterns, and focusing on the future.

Where the divergence occurs is around the auxiliary process.  Here's where Thinking and Feeling pop into view.

INTJs have a preference for extraverted Thinking as their auxiliary process.  Thus, they are given to "segmenting" -- which includes measuring things with objective criteria.  They will naturally calculate how long something will take, how soon the next event will occur, and enjoy telling you about these measurements.  They like organizing for efficiency, systematizing, structuring.  Their tendency is to provide you with their rationales:  "The reason I'm late is because it took me 15 minutes longer on the freeway than it normally does.  I was only able to maintain a speed of 25 mph, compared to my normal speed of 40 mph."  And so forth.  These rationales and measurements are very important to INTJs.  They especially love to predict how long something is going to take, and their wristwatch is probably among their prize possessions.  They collect trivial facts constantly, and can probably tell you all the contents of their medicine cabinet -- including the proper names for all their pharmaceuticals.  Just ask them about their computer -- they'll tell you the processor speed, memory size, hard disk capacity, operating system version, and network capabilities.  Chances are they've even memorized the Periodic Table of Elements.

INTJs like to work with challenges that occur in the moment -- the ones right before their eyes.  If you want to see an INTJ in top form, watch them respond to changes in travel plans.  If a flight gets cancelled or delayed, they will rapidly move from Plan A to Plan B, and so on, until they exhaust all possible contingencies.  Even if they fail to salvage the situation, they relish trying to solve the immediate problem.  They like to "get their hands dirty," so to speak.  If there is a computer malfunction, they are inclined to grab the mouse and take over the keyboard so they can start "trying things out" right away to fix the problem.  They can clean a house faster than a tornado if company's comin' -- just don't expect them to remember where they put things after company goes home!

INFJs have a preference for extraverted Feeling as their auxiliary process.  Thus, they tend to be "charming" and are given to "connecting" -- which includes maintaining an extensive web of relationships.  They are given to adjusting to and accommodating others, deciding whether something is appropriate or acceptable to others.  For instance, one INFJ experienced a great deal of stress on a message board when some political bashing started.  There was an implicit assumption that everyone on the board was a member of a particular party, when in fact this INFJ knew members of the opposing party were present.  It caused her no end of stress that these people were being maligned by the bashers, even though there was no apparent conflict.  Other INFJs maintain internet blogs and "connect" with others in cyberspace, and maintain their web of relationship via that means.  If she were to dine with others, she would be concerned that the food appeal to everyone's tastes, there are no food allergies, and that the price is within everyone's budget (if it's a restaurant).

INFJs sometimes speak in the "Royal We" -- meaning they feel qualified to say what the group needs or wants.  They may take on the role of spokesperson for the entire group, and experience the group as an "entity" unto itself (rather than a collection of individuals).  At the same time, INFJs typically know what each member of the group personally likes or dislikes.  She knows who's married to whom, who's pregnant, which friend has the deadbeat brother-in-law, which cousin is the reformed alcoholic, and whose mother just died a month ago.  She knows this data off the top of her head, and can rattle it off without a blink.  (If she's reading this now, she probably thinks it's no big deal -- doesn't everybody do that?)  If it's not this kind of information to do with relationships, then it might be about something similar, such as how others like their clothing, or their artwork, favorite colors, or whatever peccadillo is unique to that individual.  At Christmas, INFJs are good at picking out suitable Christmas gifts and remembering which niece likes Dora and which niece is into Cinderella.  INFJs can be sponges for such trivial data and habitually collect them (often unconsciously) so they can better "consider others" with the information.  Sometimes they are more protective of a person's likes and dislikes than the person is themselves!

Moving through the personality pattern, we now come to the tertiary process.  And it is precisely this process that often confuses people as to whether their preferences are for "F" or for "T," because it will be the opposite of whichever was their auxiliary.  Take careful notice about which of the following descriptions fits you better.

In the INTJ pattern, the tertiary process is for introverted Feeling.  Thus, they habitually consider importance and worth, clarify values, and decide whether something is of significance and worth standing up for.  ("This doesn't match our priorities so we should refuse that assignment.")  They have a strong sense of what's important to them or the project.  Sometimes they can be seen as "selfish."

In the INFJ pattern, the tertiary process is for introverted Thinking.  Thus, they habitually analyze.  They devote energy to deciding whether something fits a framework or model, and will often clarify definitions to get more precision.  ("Let's define our terms before we get more deeply involved in this conversation.")  They enjoy categorizing, and figuring out underlying principles.  Sometimes they can be seen as "critical."

Overall

It's been my observation that naive clients sometimes find "truth" in their MBTI results, even when the descriptions don't fit perfectly.  It's a touch of the Barnum Effect -- and is entirely understandable.  After all, the assessment got so much right -- it seems unreasonably nitpicky to reject some of the details, especially when a misidentification around the auxiliary can usually be *stretchhhhhhhed* to fit the tertiary.  Thus, it's extremely worthwhile to take a close look at both the auxiliary and tertiary processes to match how well they truly fit and match your real-life experience.  Is your Feeling preference introverted or extraverted?  Is your Thinking preference introverted or extraverted?

If that exercise makes your eyes glaze over (in spite of how powerful it can be), I encourage you to revisit the Temperament model yet again.  Using the Temperament targets in the UYAO Temperament book, it's relatively easy to match your *behaviors* with those listed on the Temperament targets to see which pattern truly fits you best.

Audio

Following is an informal discussion between an INTJ and INFJ (my husband and me), discussing the similarities and differences between our respective types. It runs a little longer than 1 hour, and the file size is about 8MB.  Click "Play" to hear it now, or use the link to download it instead.



Right-click here to download as an mp3 file.


Here's a 12-minute video on the same topic:



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Atmospherics are something certain people pick up and others don't.

You can have judgements on the atmosphere of the room, intuitions based on future possibilities or the state of things based on the atmosphere of a room, you can think about why the room is the way it is, etc....

Basically, an awareness of the atmosphere of a room need have nothing to do with introverted sensation. It's just something certain people pay attention to and others don't.

If you hone in on one person in a room or hone in on various groups within a room, would either of these focuses makes you any less an ENFJ, INFP, ESFP? What if you're a scientific sociologist or individual psychologist trying to predict how these people would act, would either of these focuses make you less of an INTP or ENTJ?

Trying to generalize *everything* in human experience to the MBTI functions isn't a good idea. The MBTI types do not describe our entire reality.

NOTE FROM VJ: I always love these misguided messages that try to debunk psychological types. I realize your message is well-intended, and you've got the wrong end of the stick somehow.

First of all, you're RIGHT -- atmospherics *are* something that some people pick up, and others don't. Have you ever wondered why that is? Why is it that some people are tuned in to that, and others aren't? Isn't that an interesting question? And that's the question type is trying to answer.

People who are tuned in to atmospherics TEND to have a preference for introverted Sensing, and atmosphere is the sort of thing they notice. If you do not have a preference for introverted Sensing, you still might notice the atmosphere (everyone can use all the processes); however, there is more likelihood that you have a *preference* for introverted Sensing if you reflexively notice such things.

As per the rest of your remarks, you will be delighted to learn that Jung did not believe in typing people; he was typing forms of *consciousness* -- in other words, what sorts of things trigger your awareness? Because we all have innate preferences about what captures our attention. And that's what type is trying to identify -- which types of *consciousness* you have preferences for. It's NOT about throwing letters at people.

Truthfully, it sounds to me like you've had a bad experience with type (so many people do), and you're confronting me with that. If you look at my websites, I daresay you'll discover that I don't promote pigeonholing with type. I invite you to join with me around that. Best wishes! :-D


Ah-ha!
My father and I have both taken the official MBTI test. He is INFJ and I am INTJ, strongest function in T and J. So now I know why we get on so well together... (:

NOTE FROM VJ: I'm glad you've discovered what you have in common -- the trouble is that there's no such thing as "strongest" function. It doesn't make any sense. Type is about the qualitative use of the functions, not quantitative. With most things psychological, there is no way to measure usage -- it's impossible. What would you measure by? That's one of the urban myths going around that type professionals like myself are working hard to stamp out. I don't know who your facilitator was, but nowadays we're not giving people back the numeric results of the assessment because they are so often misinterpreted this way. In fact, your message causes me concern that your facilitator may be engaging in the practice of "test-and-tell" -- putting all their faith in the instrument result, even though the MBTI is at best 70% accurate according to its own manual. You might want to ask them whether they have Master Practitioner status; that's a way that the distributors of the assessment are trying to ensure you have an appropriate facilitation experience. :-)


Thanks for your websites and videos! They've been very helpful. I'm going to try to keep this short. I thought I was INFJ. However, I'm messy, so I thought I was INFP until I learned about Ni and Ne and Fi and Fe. I knew I preferred Ni, but I had trouble with Fi and Fe. I thought that maybe I was INTJ. I think it was because I'm a male, and I try to appear "masculine". Anyway, I now know I prefer Fe. I realized that when someone asks how I liked a new restaurant I tried out, I always answer according to how I think they would like it because if I really think about it, I have no idea if I liked it or not! I also tend to confront my friends about their socially unacceptable behavior. I confronted a friend in the theater about his obnoxiously loud laughter because I thought it was disturbing everyone else. I also confronted a friend about his crude joke that I thought offended the people in the booth behind us at the restaurant. Anyway, I could go on, but you understand where I'm coming from. Thank you for your help and guidance!

-Andrew

NOTE FROM VJ: Andrew, I'm glad you've recognized your extraverted Feeling! Isn't it cool when these theories match up to real life? I'm delighted to hear that my materials have helped you. :-D


can you touch more on IT and ET

NOTE FROM VJ: Getting there! Thanks for asking. :-D


in-terms of your wedding what if your concerns are more centered around yourself and how u feel about the dress and what you want the weddings vibe to be and make sure it's fun for yourself but also other people. But can't be bothered with figuring out all the details exactly. It's seems to me what you wore, what u ate ect ect was of very little concern to you. I'm not exactly what I people would call a people pleaser who goes out of their way to consider people... but i would really want everyone to enjoy the whole experience. I seem to border between infj and intj with pref for FJ. I could vividly imagine people dancing all night and what i wanted from the wedding and what I want it to look like but I would be pretty lousy at planning, I just know what I want.
Any insight?
very interesting, thank you.


NOTE FROM VJ: There are some things that are universal to all people -- really, is there anyone who *wants* other people to be unhappy? Even Hitler wanted people to be happy, strange as that sounds. So that's not a good place to look for your type preferences. A better place for you to look is HOW you go about making other people happy. Find the verbs, and that will get you closer to identifying your preferences (functions are verbs). A place to look for Fi and Fe differences are around whether you privilege the feelings of others, or your own feelings. That would give you some insights about which one is your innate preference.

Hope this helps! :-D


I'm intrigued by your response to a comment that you aren't usually aware of the atmosphere in a room. (Did I understand that right?) Which function is involved in reading room atmosphere? Would that be introverted feeling? I've always tested INFJ...I'm sure about the I and the N but not the other two. Anyway, I am *always* aware of the atmosphere in a room. I can bound into a room, completely excited about however my day has started out...and if "the room" is not excited too, I'll push back the excitement fairly quickly and switch into "listening" mode. Or, if I sense any tension between two people in the room, it will throw off my ability to function unless they're being open about talking about it. I have a high tolerance for emotional pain that is being openly expressed...but people not being honest about what they're feeling and trying to act normal shuts me down. I'd kind of assumed this "taking in the atmosphere" of the room had to be extroverted feeling...what do you think?

NOTE FROM VJ: Ah, it's important to make a distinction here. I'm flipping through my "mental rolodex" -- did I say it was introverted Sensing that "takes in the atmosphere of the room?" Anyway, yes. And that would be an empty room. Extraverted Feeling, on the other hand, is attuned to the feelings of other PEOPLE. So the trick is to walk into an empty room and see how that lands on you. As I recall, this was brought home to me with a training I attended -- everyone was complaining about the hotel rooms and the ballrooms where the trainings were held. They seemed fine to me, but others were very depressed by the "atmosphere." So clearly that kind of atmosphere is very far from my consciousness. :-)
I hope this clarifies.


I'm not quite sure if I'm INTJ or INFJ even after watching the video and reading the contents of this website, and I may be leaning towards INFJ, maybe not. I took a free online personality test and I got INFJ the first try then INTJ the second try and the tests after it were INTJ. I sometimes want to have a talk with a person about their issues but there are times that I just don't care. It's the same for me with the usage of measurements and such. If it's spicy, then it's spicy. I don't think that it is nessesary to care about certain things that isn't relevent to what's important now, but I would keep that information in mind if I think that it would come in handy at the right moment. I'm constantly deciding whether or not to care based on both feeling and with reason but I'm not sure which one is first. It may be a trait that both groups have, maybe not. You guys are the experts at this, I'm not. I'm pretty sure that I'm INTJ, but I just wonder how much INFJ am I.

NOTE FROM VJ: It seems obvious you are lacking what I call Type Confidence, and the only antidote to that is my Self-Discovery Process. If you keep grasping at straws and relying on "ego" to pick your pattern, chances are LOUSY for getting it right. That's a psychological truth, sigh. :-D


I've always tested as an INTJ, but have considered the option that I might lean towards INFJ for years. After reading the text and watching the video, you both have confirmed my confidence in my INTJ result. Thank you very much.

P.S. I've known about Scoville heat units since I was eight, so hearing your husband talk about cracked me up. :D

NOTE FROM VJ: You're welcome! More power to Scoville units then!


I identify with both of you as much as I do not identify with either of you. When I first took the real MBTI about 13 years ago, I tested as INTP, but upon further study decided on INFP then INFJ. For the last 8 years or so I seem to totter the fence between INFJ and INTJ. INxx is certain. The greatest insult to me would be "You are not creative." I feel that I am somewhat of a loner who is very friendly and animated (I talk with my hands too) when around people, but that is not all that often. I do not handle stress well at all and have to "arrange" my environment to keep my sanity. I know how some people have told me they see me (not a pretty picture) but I don't know how people in various situations see me. I do not like dealing with other people's upsetting emotions and do not enjoy comforting someone who is crying or irritated. It makes me "anxious" I don't mind dealing with surface emotions, and often, selfishly, have in mind how they relate to me personally. I also do not like computer hardware or engineering. I do not "measure" things. I like theology and psychology and psych-type :) (even though I am confused at the moment). What type would you suggest I look at first to find my true fit?

NOTE FROM VJ: It will come as no surprise to you that I think you should go through my self-discovery package together with me. Clearly you are wrestling with alll the variables, and they are toppling down on you. Too much chaos! My process is a structured approach for identifying your pattern, relying on my support and presence as a sounding-board (and type expert, of course). It's very effective, and will give you the results you want. I can guarantee it. :-)


My boyfriend sent me the link to this video because recently I've taken the personality test and it came back that I am an INFJ, which after some reading does seem to add up. He, however, told me that he has always come up as an INTJ. He has a computer science degree and calculates everything (I try NOT to ask about his computer! - ha!). It was very interesting for me to see a real life couple who have these two personality types as the other reading I had done stated that I should be with an extroverted individual. We get along very well and perhaps it's because we aren't as different as I thought prior to the research. The video was great and I hope to see more in the future!

NOTE FROM VJ: Oh goodness, telling somebody they *should* be with an extravert seems so silly to me. The only redeeming part I can see in that advice is that, if you commit to one another as a couple, then sometimes there is pressure for the *other* person to handle the extraverted issues of life. So that's the only way such advice makes sense to me. I'm glad you enjoyed the video, and I hope to get more done soon! :-D


I think you know enough now to where you can make a quiz as to whether someone is an INFJ or an INFP. Some sort of quiz definitely.

NOTE FROM VJ: Thanks, Janet. Maybe eventually I will. In the meantime, my message is about encouraging people NOT to give their "power" away to quizzes, but to discover what informs the quiz so they can make an educated decision about their pattern, and thus have "ownership" of it. What we know is that simply handing people answers doesn't "stick," and is quickly forgotten or sidetracks people into questioning the quiz's construction or validity. The whole point of type is to increase one's consciousness, so my position is to encourage people to discover the theories, and discover themselves IN the theories -- because that's where the transformational power lies. This is probably more answer than you bargained for -- thanks for sharing your thoughts with me.


INFJ here - when I was young, I took a free online personality test that typed me as INTJ, and like some other commenters here I can also identify with the liking of systematizing and organizing and enjoying trivia... but that was always something I did more to impress other people than for myself. My dad has been lecturing me for years about not chasing so hard after other people and jumping in so deep with them quickly, or opening my heart to strangers and telling them everything there is to know about me. I felt like a dork for the longest time because the times when I feel most like myself is when I'm deep in meaningful conversation with another person (and trust me, when you're 13 and wanting to have deep, meaningful, self-disclosing conversations with other people, it can get really awkward really fast!).

The other neon sign for me is the strength of my introverted thinking process. I'm always getting invited to conference calls and meetings because I'm so good at taking the ideas being batted around and synthesizing them into guiding principles to help the team move forward. When I shift into analytical mode, it's always "how does this fit a pattern?" not "how can I measure this?"

NOTE FROM VICKY JO: I notice my radar is sending me EN_P vibes. "Pattern" is typically associated with extraverted iNtuiting, and I confess nobody's ever invited me to be on a conference call to synthesize "in the moment." Just saying some flags are going up for me over here. I'm going to start collecting nickels for that mis-type pretty soon, it's getting so common. :-)


Thank you very much for this, I identify as an INFJ but beforehand I identified as an INFP. I have always known that I was more of a Feeler than a Thinker but after becoming more attuned to the types and what sorts of people are Thinkers, I'm starting to realise just how much 'thinking' I actually do--and I do it in a very INTJ way. This video was really enlightening, I know for sure I'm INFJ but I can definitely see some INTJ traits in me that might have initially confused me. For example, Robin's way of measuring--especially the scale example he used for spiciness. I have a scale for the atmosphere of a room when people are in it, a scale for how angry I am at a given moment, a scale for how close I am with somebody... I use scales, percentages, branches, all these a lot in my head.

NOTE FROM VICKY JO: I don't know how you "know for sure [you're] INFJ," but I've got alarm bells going off in my head that something doesn't add up right. I almost never think in terms of scales, percentages, branches -- and rarely have a clue for when I'm angry or what the atmosphere of a room feels like. Given how many type misunderstandings are embedded in your message, I am suspicious whether you've read anything else on my website; otherwise you wouldn't talk about "traits" and "feelers" and "thinkers" -- terms I rarely (if ever!) use. It looks to me like you're trying to confirm a pre-existing bias rather than explore new possibilities. That kind of approach won't get you very far. :-(


This didn't clarify it for me...I have been typed as an INFJ, but an INTJ "when I go to work". I can relate to the INTJ love of measuring but sometimes I do find it burdensome. On the other hand, I am very aware of emotions (like with Vicky Jo claps her hands to her ears when Robin is explaining, I worry that she's hurting his feelings...it makes me want to fast forward through that part - same reason why I don't like reading fiction or watching emotional moves. Also, I cry easily). BUT, I don't get the feeling of invigoration that Vicki Jo expresses when I have to deal with helping people work through their emotions. I feel drained by other people's emotions. I much prefer being around people who are clearly not "F"s because it's just easier and more relaxing to me. I'm so confused! When I "take tests" I usually get INTJ but with very low preferences for I, T and J.

NOTE FROM VICKY JO: Simply want to make the observation that there are 14 other type patterns available -- these are not the only ones. :-)


I think the second poster is onto something as far as INFJs speaking with their hands. I'm an INFJ and my friends tease me because I talk with my hands all the time and don't even realize I'm doing it. I'm a teacher and when I saw a video of myself teaching I had to laugh out loud because I was so animated with my hands.

NOTE FROM VJ: I've jokingly referred to it as "hand dancing." I'm very animated with my hands... AND... I've never noticed that behavior in other INFJs I've met in real life per se. It doesn't mean it doesn't exist -- I've just never observed it occurring with any pattern or frequency. FWIW.


Outstanding insights. This has clarified the type distinctions for me. Hearing two individuals discuss the distinctions from their own experiences is a wonderful tool, and I am most grateful to you for this tool. It does settle my type. Thank you.


I am INFJ. Personality types and such are fairly new to me, although I took a personality test in my younger years while struggling with anorexia. Someone suggested it then--maybe a psychologist, but I did not give it much attention. I was INFJ then and still am apparently, according to my recent test result. Anyway...back to the point of this comment--Vicky Jo, you talk with your hands a LOT. It's very similar to the way I talk with my hands. Is that an INFJ thing?


Interesting video-I am in the process of finding out if I'm an INFJ or INTJ. I think I present like an INTJ, at least that's my persona, but am INFJ inside. Amazingly, the need for a "rule book" has come up. People cross their arms when they talk to me.

NOTE FROM VICKY JO: I have no idea what "the need for a 'rule book'" means....? Or people crossing their arms.


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