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Each of the 16 personality types identified by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) has a unique cognitive function stack. This stack comprises the top four functions that determine a person’s psychological preferences, such as how they process information, make decisions, and interact with the world.
For INFJs, our top cognitive functions are Introverted Intuition (Ni), Extraverted Feeling (Fe), Introverted Thinking (Ti), and Extraverted Sensing (Se).
In this blog post, we will be taking a closer look at how each of these functions plays an important role in the INFJ type.
INFJ Function Stack: At a Glance
INFJ’s function stack is as follows:
- Dominant: Introverted Intuition (Ni)
- Auxiliary: Extraverted Feeling (Fe)
- Tertiary: Introverted Thinking (Ti)
- Inferior: Extraverted Sensing (Se)
Each MBTI type has four functions in its stack, ranked by preference, with the dominant function being the most important, followed by the auxiliary, tertiary, and inferior functions in that order.
Our dominant and auxiliary functions determine our personality and what we identify with, while the next two functions are less conscious and less identified with.
As INFJs, we have access to our thinking and sensing functions, but we typically don’t identify with them as part of our personality. Instead, we are more likely to see ourselves as being intuitive and empathetic.
So what do these four functions mean for an INFJ?
INFJ Dominant Function: Introverted Intuition (Ni)
The most dominant function of an INFJ is Introverted Intuition (Ni). It is an internal, abstract process that connects seemingly unrelated facts and finds patterns in the information. It helps us make sense of the world on a deep level and form creative solutions to problems.
Introverted Intuition (Ni) is probably one of the hardest functions to explain to others because it is like a sixth sense that allows us to make connections beyond what our five senses perceive. While insights may come effortlessly, they are not always controllable. That is why INFJs are often misunderstood or perceived as mystical.
How do INFJs use Introverted Intuition (Ni)?
- We use Ni to generate creative insights, ideas, and solutions.
- We use Ni to see the big picture of a situation.
- Ni enables us to see patterns that are not immediately apparent to others and helps us connect the dots.
- Ni is great for problem-solving and seeing things from a unique perspective.
- We also use Ni to grasp abstract concepts easily.
Potential Pitfalls of Using Ni for INFJs
The Introverted Intuition function makes INFJs insightful and good at solving problems, but it also makes INFJs idealistic. We believe that everything is connected in a meaningful way, so we seek meaning in everything in life including relationships, work, and even recreational activities. If a task does not contribute to our overall vision or we deem it unimportant, we may procrastinate or feel restless.
This is an issue for most INFJs. Although we have a great vision, our ability to execute it is usually not at the same level. Or rather, we do not enjoy executing as much as we enjoy dreaming about it. Furthermore, having a grand vision can sometimes lead to feelings of overwhelm and disappointment when progress is slow.
INFJ Auxiliary Function: Extraverted Feeling (Fe)
Extraverted Feeling (Fe) is the auxiliary function of INFJs, which means it is the second most significant function. This function helps INFJs empathize with others, read social cues quickly, and express our feelings in a way that resonates with the people around us.
INFJs are excellent communicators and often take on the role of a mediator in relationships or conflicts. Fe helps us to prioritize the needs of others over our own and to put ourselves in their shoes. We are great listeners because we try to understand, not judge. This function also enables us to perceive emotions quickly and accurately; something that is essential for any kind of people-oriented job such as teaching, counseling, or social work.
How do INFJs use Extroverted Feeling (Fe)?
- We use Fe to recognize emotional nuances in other people, allowing us to have deeper conversations with them.
- Fe allows us to be open-minded and see both sides of an argument.
- Fe helps us understand how our actions or words affect those around us and to be sensitive to their needs.
- We use Fe to make decisions that are fair and beneficial for everyone, not just ourselves.
- We use Fe to be more aware of our external environment and to adjust our behavior accordingly like a chameleon.
Potential Pitfalls of Using Fe for INFJs
The Extroverted Feeling function helps INFJs maintain harmony and understand others, but it can also lead us to make decisions based on how we think others expect us. We are so good at understanding what other people want that we often sacrifice our own needs for the sake of making them happy. This is especially true when it comes to relationships, where we may go to great lengths to please someone else without considering our own emotional needs.
Also, this function makes us look like an extrovert. It helps us be more friendly and warm, which attracts people to us. This is great but INFJ is still an introvert. We prefer to direct our attention and energy inwards. On one hand, we genuinely love people and want to help them. But, on the other hand, we prefer to withdraw and be alone. Other types may be confused with our hot and cold personalities.
INFJ Tertiary Function: Introverted Thinking (Ti)
Introverted Thinking (Ti) is the tertiary function of INFJs, which means it’s less developed than the dominant and auxiliary functions. Ti allows INFJs to think critically and logically about things, but we tend to use it selectively and only in situations that require it. INFJs may struggle with making decisions based solely on logic and may prioritize their intuition and emotions instead.
But our tertiary function compliments our auxiliary function. When we care too much about others to the point of extreme people-pleasing and self-neglect, our introverted thinking function kicks in and helps us draw the boundary.
It’s not our preferred function to use, but it’s absolutely necessary for our survival. Our introverted thinking function helps us to analyze the situation and organize information.
How do INFJs use Introverted Thinking (Ti)?
- Ti also allows us to think objectively and allows us to make decisions that are based on both logic and intuition.
- Ti as serves as an important balance to our auxiliary function. It allows our Fe to take a break when thinking in terms of other people becomes taxing to us.
- We use Ti to question assumptions and test the ideas that our Ni generates.
- It is helpful in problem-solving, troubleshooting, and analyzing complex data.
- We can also use Ti to draw logical conclusions from the information we have gathered through intuition and observation.
Potential Pitfalls of Using Ti for INFJs
When using our Ti, we can get caught up in the details or become excessively focused on finding the perfect answer. We may also struggle to make decisions because we’re too focused on considering every outcome and every possibility. This can lead to delays in decision-making if we don’t trust our intuition enough and focus too much on the data. We may end up overthinking or in a Ni-Ti loop.
INFJs also have a tough time making decisions because of this constant tug-of-war between the brain and the heart. Even though we understand logically (Ti) that some decision isn’t the best for us, we are still very concerned about the implications of our decision on other people (Fe).
INFJ Inferior Function: Extraverted Sensing (Se)
Extraverted Sensing (Se) is the inferior function of INFJs, which means it is the least preferred function. Se allows INFJs to be aware of their physical surroundings and enjoy sensory experiences. But due to our preference for Ni, we may struggle with staying present in the moment and may have a tendency to daydream or detach from reality.
Having Se as our inferior function doesn’t mean we can’t use it effectively. It’s just that we have the tendency to disregard, neglect, or even judge this function. It is important for INFJs to work on developing Se in order to stay grounded and live a more balanced life.
How do INFJs use Extraverted Sensing (Se)?
- INFJs use Se to stay present and grounded in the physical world.
- With Se, we can appreciate sensory experiences like music, art, nature, and food.
- We also use it to understand our physical environment and assess safety threats so that we can keep ourselves safe.
- Additionally, INFJs with well-developed Se tend to be better problem solvers as they are more aware of their physical environment and can think more practically.
- Se also helps us to be more spontaneous!
Potential Pitfalls of Using Se for INFJs
One of the biggest risks of using Se for INFJs is that we can become too focused on immediate gratification. We often use Se only when we are stressed. Se pushes us to seek out immediate pleasure, such as through substances or activities that provide an instant rush. This can lead to risky behavior or addiction if not kept in check.
When used in moderation and with intentionality, Se can help us enjoy life’s pleasures while still remaining true to our INFJ values and goals. But when Se is used unconsciously, it results in over-indulgence or becoming overwhelmed.
The INFJ cognitive functions stack is made up of Introverted Intuition (Ni), Extraverted Feeling (Fe), Introverted Thinking (Ti), and Extraverted Sensing (Se). These functions work together to shape the unique personalities of INFJs. Understanding the INFJ cognitive functions can help you better understand yourself and navigate the world.
I have written several articles about INFJs over time. You can find more of them on my INFJ page.