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Are you Sure?

I'm perpetually surprised by who reports INFJ.

Actually, it's rather impressive.  I've seen Improvisers, Stabilizers, Theorists, and other Catalysts all mistakenly report as INFJ.  Perhaps they scored INFJ on a test written by Myers-Briggs, Keirsey, or somebody else. They may have taken a bootleg on-line "test" or had a counselor do an analysis at their workplace or school.  Perhaps they read one of the popular books on Type and chose their code that way, or they latched onto some artifact and rely on that as "evidence."  Here's an example of putting the cart before the horse:

How does one get the information about these personality types? I know I am an INFJ through my reaction to people's comments here, but how do you get the formal diagnostics?

It's always interesting to hear the weird paths and rabbit-holes some people took to derive INFJ as their chosen type.

One of the earliest questions I ask when meeting other INFJs on the internet is, "How do you know you're an INFJ?" Because I don't know what their choice is based upon.  It may just be a regurgitation of a score they got somewhere and don't understand.  They may have picked that code because their friends picked that code, or because some description "sounds good."  They may have pulled the letters out of a hat for all I know!  So I like to test for validity and check confidence.

You see, a test has never met you, and the results might be off for any of a variety of reasons. It's a well-known fact that every "test" out there (even the venerable MBTI!) tends to be mistaken by at least one letter, and sometimes ALL of the letters are wrong.  And some people don't agree with their result, so they change a letter here or there to suit, or pick their code from reading an appealing type description (apparently INFJ descriptions look attractive to many people, especially with all the emphasis on it being the "rarest type").  

The official MBTI, which is a validated Level B psychological instrument, is accurate at *best* 70% of the time according to its own manual. This means there is a good likelihood one of the four letters will come back wrong -- sometimes all four letters are wrong. It is supposed to be administered by a trained professional who is there to *validate* the results and help you discern your true preferences. The facilitator is intended as a safety measure to ensure accuracy. They are supposed to perform due diligence with you, and a thorough validation always trumps the computer score.

All those free online quizzes are a knock-off, an attempt to rip off the real deal, to cash in on its cachet. You know that, right?  Ergo, there are no validation studies behind these, and we have No Idea how accurate they might be. Certainly I would not place any trust in their results.

From the evidence I've encountered online, I would even say their accuracy is awful -- it seems like every other person who takes them has been mis-typed (and is now misinformed about type besides). Furthermore, there is no facilitator available to ascertain whether the results fit you. (Imagine it were an online test for AIDS instead -- how much faith would you put in those results without consulting a professional?)

The truth is, people who don't take the instrument under the guidance of an administrator rarely investigate whether another type code might fit them better -- much less have a clue what other codes to look at!  If they DO wonder about the accuracy of their type, they may use cultural norms to define the functions instead of Jung's intended meaning, which makes a tangled mess of things.

Furthermore, I confess that I've met people who took the official MBTI, validated with a professional and still got it wrong -- heck, I've met professionals who administer the MBTI and they got their own type wrong!  Some popular type experts tried on three or four type patterns before settling on one.  So if they're struggling with it, doesn't it stand to reason that un-trained civilians might have trouble too?

It's a gi-normous problem.

This challenge of being mis-typed may be exacerbated when folks join a mailing list or bulletin board for a given type (this problem doesn't apply only to INFJs, you see).  Then they get "brainwashed" about how they should see themselves, and they may get intensely ego-identified with a type pattern that doesn't suit them.  They invest in a group identity about how attractive this type code is, even while complaining they aren't "typical" or don't "relate" to their pattern very well.  As Dr. Linda Berens says, "Type becomes the story people tell themselves about who they are and the lens used will lead people to confirm what they expect."  The longer someone spends thinking they're a particular type, the more they get defended against any suggestion that they might have tested inaccurately or mis-chosen.  Sometimes people who claim their preferences the loudest are folks who are the wrongest! 

Feeling types are especially prone to decide there are "good types" and "bad types," and of course it then becomes an insult to suggest they are a type they have relegated to "bad."  It can be very difficult to undo this kind of damage, and I hope you keep an open mind when you consider what type you really are, or explore the subject of Type.

The simple truth is, the only way the outcome of the "test" counts is if you take the time to *validate* it by reading enough about the types to ensure it is really "you" -- right, left, and sideways.  Better still, use multiple models to discern your best-fit type!

I'll be talking about all three of these models as they pertain to INFJs on this website.  Here are some resources to explore other models for a better fit, in case INFJ is not your best-fit pattern.  I also provide a comprehensive book list to draw from, which is useful regardless what your pattern may be.

If you wonder whether you prefer INFJ or INFP (a common mistake I've encountered), I created a website that deals strictly with that comparison.  Please visit there and see if my analysis can help you.

It should probably go without saying, if you read the descriptions of INFJ patterns on this website and things just don't sound like you, I suggest you take another look at who you are to verify whether INFJ truly fits you.  If it doesn't, there are 15 other codes to explore that are just as wonderful as INFJ.  I promise you!

Of course, then there's the opposite problem.  Got any idea how many INFJs test as INTJ, INTP, ENFJ, and INFP?  Oy vey!  Strap your clarification sneakers on.

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