The easiest way to know if you are an INFJ is to do the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or any other similar personality tests online.
But what if you keep getting different results? One test says you are INFJ, while the other says you are an INFP, ISFJ, INTJ, or ENFJ?
How do you tell the difference between the INFJ personality type and the other personality types?
How do you know if you are really an INFJ?
If you truly want to know your MBTI type, you will have to study the eight MBTI cognitive functions because:
One letter makes all the difference.
I’m an INFJ and my elder brother is an INFP. Even though our MBTI type is only one letter apart, our personalities and approach to life are rather unlike each other. Each MBTI type has its own unique function stack (i.e. the order of your cognitive preference). So one letter difference results in a totally different personality.
If you want to learn more about the function stack, here’s the cognitive functions chart for each of the 16 personality types.
“Am I an INFJ?” Blog Post Series
For this blog post series, we will discuss the similarities and differences between INFJ and other personality types. You can click the link below to go straight to the personality types that you are most confused with.
I’ll be using the cognitive function to explain the differences as it is the best way to understand the differences. But I’m going to keep it simple so that any person without this knowledge can understand the differences.
Bear in mind, I’m not a certified MBTI practitioner (neither do I wish to be one). I write this post based on my insights and observation of the people around me. If you are dead serious in determining your personality type, you can hire and talk to a certified MBTI practitioner. But if you just want to know more about yourself, I feel that reading this post and other resources online would be sufficient.
In this first part of the blog post series, let’s start with the type that most people are confused with — INFP and INFJ.
INFP vs INFJ: What’s the Confusion?
There are a lot of INFPs who think they are INFJs and vice versa because most INFJs and INFPs are Enneagram Type 4. Enneagram is another personality tool that goes beyond cognitive function and mental preferences. It addresses our deepest motivation, fears, and desires.
Here are some enneagram books if you want to learn more about this personality system.
INFJ or INFP?: A Quick Test
If you want a quick test and a fun way to determine if you are an INFJ or an INFP, answer the following question:
How long have you been undecided about your MBTI personality type?
INFP and other MBTI types with the perceiving preference (i.e. P as the last letter) will have a harder time determining their personality types because they prefer to be open-ended and not put themselves in a box.
On the other hand, an INFJ like me loves closures and hates to leave things open-ended like this. I want to pick a side even if I’m wrong. If not, I would feel rather frustrated and unsettled. I can always re-examine my personality type a few years later. But I want closure as soon as possible so that I can move on to other things.
It’s like when I discovered that I can’t figure out whether I’m an INTJ or INFJ in college or when I was unsure of my enneagram type, I spent days and weeks studying the different profiles to finalize my personality types. I like to have things decided.
If you have been hanging out with the idea that you are 50% J and 50% P or you can be both INFJ and INFP for years, then you are probably an INFP, not an INFJ.
INFJ and INFP Cognitive Function
Even though INFJs and INFPs prefer to use their intuition and feeling to perceive information and make decisions, we use these two functions very differently.
INFJ’s cognitive functions stack is as follows:
- Introverted Intuition (Ni)
- Extraverted Feeling (Fe)
- Introverted Thinking (Ti)
- Extraverted Sensing (Se)
While an INFP cognitive functions stack is as follows:
- Introverted Feeling (Fi)
- Extraverted Intuition (Ne)
- Introverted Sensing (Si)
- Extraverted Thinking (Te)
If you take a look at the function stack of INFJ and INFP,
you will know their cognitive preferences are totally different.
INFJs’ intuition and thinking functions are introverted in nature, while our feeling and sensing functions are extroverted in nature. INFP, on the other hand, is just the opposite. Their intuition and thinking functions are extroverted in nature, but their feeling and sensing functions are introverted in nature. Our function stacks are nothing like each other:
This means the way we prefer to direct our energy inward and outward are not the same.
One more thing before we go deeper into the differences between the INFJ and INFP personality types, MBTI is about cognitive preferences. It’s not about cognitive abilities. All of us can train our minds to be better but what is your natural preference for using your mind. This determines your personality.
So as you read the differences, do note that I”m talking about preferences. I’m not saying you can’t do the other way.
4 Differences Between the INFJ and INFP Personality Types
1. INFJs and INFPs have different interests (different dominant functions, Ni vs Fi).
Both INFJs and INFPs can be idealistic and compassionate, but an INFJ is led by introverted intuition (Ni) while an INFP is led by introverted feeling (Fi).
INFJs love to seek meanings, understand concepts, and form patterns. We love to help people because we understand their pain (Fe), but at the same time, we are also intrigued by the people around us. Why are they so different? Why do they behave in a certain way? We draw insights (Ni) by understanding other people’s thoughts, feelings, and pain. Helping people is partly to satisfy our deep curiosity for people.
INFJs seek meanings and conceptual knowledge,
whereas INFPs have strong personal preferences.
INFPs, on the other hand, care about people. But they don’t care so much about having insights on other people or understanding the abstract concept about people and their personalities. Every time I talk to my brother about the deeper insights I have on people, he shuts off.
Due to their Fi dominant function, INFPs have strong internal values and principles. They use their personal values to guide their decision and they will be vocal whenever their inner values are violated. In contrast, INFJs aren’t that clear about their internal values and don’t realize that their values are crossed until we have an anger outburst.
Also, my INFP brother has specific likes and dislikes when it comes to clothing, food, entertainment, etc. He’s very clear about his preferences whereas, for me, I lack preferences in these areas and usually just go with the flow of the group.
2. INFJs and INFPs have different values about people (Fe vs Fi).
Another reason why I don’t have strong preferences is that my feeling function is directed outwards (i.e. extroverted). Therefore, I’m usually more concerned about what the group wants than what I want. When it comes to dining places, I usually let my friends or family decide because I value social harmony more than what I want to eat. Over time, I ended up not developing any strong preference for food because I have been so accommodating.
On the flip side, my brother has his feeling function directed inwards (i.e. introverted) so he’s very clear about what he loves to eat and what he absolutely doesn’t want to eat. INFPs are more individualistic. But they can be accommodating to others too, especially if they are with the people they value like their friends and family.
Furthermore, using their extraverted intuition (Ne), they usually can come up with many different suggestions that cater to their own preferences while satisfying the needs of people they care about and create a win-win situation.
INFJs care about humanity as a whole,
whereas INFPs care more about friends and family.
Even though both INFJs and INFPs are diplomatic and eager to please others, our intentions are rather different. Due to our extraverted feeling (Fe) function, INFJs are like a social chameleon. We can talk to anyone including strangers and understand their problems if we want to. INFJs want to help humanity — everyone. We don’t want to exclude anyone.
So when there’s a conflict between two parties, I usually don’t side with any party even if you are my friend. Instead, I will help you understand the perspective of the other party and help you reconcile the differences.
INFPs, on the other hand, are more selective with people they let in. They only share their personal feelings and thoughts with people closest to them such as their friends and family. They want to direct their time, energy, and resources to people they care about or causes that align with their internal values.
3. INFJs and INFPs generate ideas differently (Ni vs Ne).
For INFJs, we need time alone to process information before we can develop insights. But for INFPs, they thrive at having small group discussions with others. They are quick to generate ideas on the spot and they can bounce off many ideas from others when communicating with them.
As an INFJ, I almost hate brainstorming sessions. I usually have nothing to contribute when I don’t get to prepare beforehand. Plus, I get a little frustrated when people are brainstorming in front of me because I can’t focus and reflect on the problem internally. So I tend to get standoffish in group discussions.
Due to my extraverted feeling (Fe) too, I tend to listen and would appear to agree with everything people have to say. But deep down inside, this might not be my real opinion. It’s not that I don’t dare to voice out my opinion. I haven’t processed the information, so I don’t have a conclusion yet. I’m just listening and trying to understand the other person’s point of view.
INFJs have one profound insight,
while INFPs have a creative burst of ideas.
INFJs’ creativity can be described as convergent. We are focused on finding the truth and we tend to narrow or distill different ideas and points of view to only one insight by thinking deeply.
INFPs’ creativity can be described as divergent. They are very good at having a lot of ideas. When I present a problem with my brother, he comes out with many different ideas and ways to do something. The more I talk with him, the more ideas he has but he has a hard time deciding and acting on just one idea.
4. INFJs and INFPs empathize with others differently (Fe vs Fi).
Both INFJs and INFPs can have empathy for others and are likely to be empaths. But they are empathetic in a different way.
INFJs empathize by understanding other people’s experiences through their thoughts and emotions. Due to our first two functions (Ni and Fe), we have a tendency to feel and get what other people are feeling even though we might not have the same experience before. For example, growing up as an INFJ child, I already have a strong sense of how the characters in the movies or TV shows feel.
As an INFJ, I also tend to understand other people’s emotions better than my own. We are so empathetic that we sometimes confused other people’s emotions as our own.
INFJs empathize through understanding others,
while INFPs empathize through connecting with their inner morals.
In contrast, INFPs empathize through their own experiences or their inner values. So if an INFP has never experienced depression before, they would have a much harder time understanding someone who has depression than an INFJ even though they might care for the depressed person. So INFPs are more likely to sympathize than empathize.
However, if someone experiences something that aligns or connects with the INFP’s inner morals and feelings about the circumstances, then INFPs will find it easy to empathize with them. For example, if INFPs value kindness. They will empathize with those that are not treated kindly by others and might even stand up for them.
INFJs, on the other hand, find it easy to empathize with everyone in every circumstance even when they perform something morally undesirable. We tend to have looser moral standards than INFPs. When we see someone behaving nasty, we might think they have a bad day or they are brought up in a bad environment. So even if the person is a criminal, we can still put ourselves in their shoes and understand why they behave in this way or what causes them to become who they are now.
If you want to learn how to love yourself as an INFJ, be sure to download my free eBook, Self-Acceptance for INFJs.
Featured Photo Credit: Sisters, Back to Back / Jason Pier in DC Follow