INTP vs. INFP Males: Similarities & Differences

By Dr. A.J. Drenth

INTP and INFP males can be strikingly similar in many ways. As males and INPs, they are probably the most autonomous of all the personality types. Both place an inordinate amount of value on personal freedom, strongly resistant to manipulation by external EJ forces (INFPs are especially resistant to Fe manipulation, INTPs to Te manipulation). Both are wanderers and seekers, ever struggling to find their rightful place in the world. Both are rugged individualists, insistent on paving their own path with little regard for societal norms and conventions.

INTP vs. INFP Appearance & Lifestyle Preferences

INTP and INFP males often display a similar body type. They tend toward ectomorphy (i.e., long and lean), often combined with a mild degree of mesomorphy (i.e., lightly muscled). Because over their dominant J function (Ti or Fi), as well as their tertiary Ne-Si bodily awareness and concern for health/ naturalism, they generally display good control over their appetite, allowing them to maintain a healthy body weight (INJs tend to struggle more in this regard). They may also dress fairly similarly, prioritizing Si comfort and minimalism. Both may buck conventions when it comes to personal care and grooming, but this can vary widely depending on external obligations. INFP males are more apt to sport longer hair (e.g., John Lennon) than INTPs, who lean toward shorter, more clean-cut hair styles.

It is also quite common for these types to prefer similar living conditions, typically along minimalist, Bohemian lines. Both like the idea of living lightly, which grants the freedom to pick up and relocate at the drop of a hat. Both can have a sort of romantic view of nature and primitive living, inspired, at least in part, by their distaste for working day jobs. Of the two, however, INFPs seem more apt to actually take to the woods. It’s rare to meet an INFP male with no interest in hiking or the outdoors. It is not at all uncommon for them to escape to nature for weeks, even months. While INTPs’ Ne-Si may inspire some degree of interest in wandering through nature, INFPs’ Fi confers a deeper and more authentic love of nature. INTPs also seem more heavily reliant on other people, even if merely for background noise, because of their inferior Fe. In this sense, INFP males actually seem more independent and self-sufficient than INTPs. Whether they are willing to admit it or not, INTPs are far more afraid of being isolated and cut-off from people. INFPs may harbor similar fears of being cut-off from the Te system.

INFP vs. INTP Interests

As indicated above, INFPs and INTPs share many interests and preferences associated with the Ne-Si function pair. Academically, for instance, both types may share an interest in biology and environmental studies, stemming from the Ne-Si interest in the natural world. INFPs, however, seem more apt to actually become biologists or environmental scientists, due to their dominant Fi as well as their Te love of science. As I’ve written elsewhere, INTPs, who prefer Ti rather than Te, are often more tepid toward the formalized methods of science. INFPs’ Fi-Te combo also disposes them to take interest in fiction and science fiction, whereas INTPs are more inclined toward non-fiction.

As F dominants, INFPs are more authentically inclined toward the arts, culture, and music than INTPs. INFPs also display more F tendencies with respect to caring for animals, plants, the needy, etc. INTPs, by contrast, are most engaged when informally researching, philosophizing, discussing ideas with others, or working on their personal projects. They love wrestling with ideas related to philosophy, theology, psychology, metaphysics, and epistemology.

INP Vacillating

INTPs and INFPs are also alike in their tendency to constantly make plans and diverge from them. This can be understood in light of their functional stack. Because of their dominant J function (Ti or Fi), INPs feel compelled to make plans and bring order to their lives. But since their auxiliary function, Ne, is constantly working in the opposite direction, they invariably end up doubting and questioning the plans they just finished making. Other types can find it humorous how INPs can seem to have a new grand plan for their lives every day.

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  1. I'm FiNe says

    During my most recent journey into my type (over the past month), I have come to believe that INFP is the most fitting classification of my type. During this most jaunt I began having on-line test results that were mostly INFJ. The test on this site had me as either INTJ or INFJ.

    In my internet wanderings I stumbled across the MMDI, which showed my type as a perfect 4-way tie between INFP, ISFP, INFJ, & ISFJ. That led me to a site devoted entirely to sorting oneself between INFP or INFJ. In gaining further understanding to the whole idea behind type (not as a “personality” but as cognitive process use of which there are 8, of which each person has all 8, and of which their preferred usage tends to follow prescribed patterns), I thought that I must be INTP despite what the tests had shown. At that point I did not appreciate that my concept of thinking–what one does in one’s head–was not Thinking in the Jungian, cognitive process sense. Even so I could offer daily examples of strong usage of Jungian thinking in what I believe to be introverted attitude or direction.

    So for awhile I tried to “build” my type using the blocks and following the pattern that I was coming to understand (although questioning its validity at the same time). I kept thinking that Ti had to be either my dominant or auxiliary function. I had no appreciation for what Fi is supposed to be even though I had read about it. I tend to associate Fi now with values, with right and wrong.

    In a way taking an on-line short version of the enneagram helped me start accepting INFP as my type. I tested as a 4 with a 5 wing. The original site on which I took the enneagram gave an overview of type 4 (not broken down further by wings), which I thought a fitting description (though not all inclusive) of general tendencies. When I happened to find a description of 4w5–one that tied together feeling and thinking–and noted that famous examples provided of 4w5 matched some I had seen for INFP, I began to concede that I could be INFP (but something is lacking in the MBTI model!).

    Later I found a type test that measured and reported usage levels of the cognitive functions (by Dario Nardi). What I found was both intriguing and validating. The results were high usage in Fi, Ne, and Si, in that order. Te was also high, but higher than it and almost equal to Si was Ti. Ne wasn’t that much further ahead of Si. Here was evidence that a person may not fall neatly into a single Keirsey temperament camp. I may be a catalyst (idealist), but I am also in part a theorist (rationalist).

    For any others just beginning the typology journey (and it is a journey), keep looking around the net. There are plenty of sites offering information to varying degrees of usefulness and reliability. Don’t miss the helpful immersive learning offered by many videos on You Tube (e.g., try searching INFP). Understand that MBTI is based upon Carl Jung’s work, and that his theories are the basis for MBTI types. Although MBTI is billed as “personality typing” on many websites it is more accurately cognitive function processes group mapping (a model of how people’s minds process information), which influences personality.

    Like any other model MBTI is useful only inasmuch as it changes as necessary based upon further review, insights, and observations that refine and correct it (or abandon completely if found to be entirely defective and unsupported). I would be curious to know if anybody else knows or suspects that one of their shadow functions is used more extensively than the current MBTI model would predict (as for me and my devilish function being used almost as much as my auxiliary and tertiary functions).