The INFP personality type comprises comprises about 4-5% of the population, outnumbering INFJs at a pace of three to one. INFPs are idealistic, humane, creative, imaginative, random, quirky, and individualistic. They generally see themselves as special individuals, equipped with a unique blend of skills and abilities. Many feel, however, that they don’t know themselves well enough (Fi) and have yet to find their proper place in the world (Te). They feel that increasing their self-knowledge will allow them to act with greater confidence and commitment.
With Introverted Feeling (Fi) as their dominant function, INFPs’ (and ISFPs’) emotions are deep, intense, and personal. This contributes a deep sense of attachment and loyalty, even jealousy, toward the objects of their affection. INFPs empathize with and form attachments to those that affect their own emotions (Fi), such as their own pets, children, or the victims of an act of injustice. Instead of broadly distributing their F-related concerns (the way of Fe types), INFPs (and other Fi types) funnel their emotional energies into select individuals, groups, or causes. This is why Fi is often said to be intensive, whereas Fe is extensive.
INFPs can commonly be found helping individuals that are sick, disabled, disenfranchised, or otherwise in need. They love rescuing or helping the helpless, such as adopting abandoned pets from the animal shelter. They take up “niche” causes that have affected them personally, such as rallying for research for a rare disease.
INFPs want to feel inspired. They need their Fi to be stimulated and impassioned. They may therefore seek out, even if unconsciously, experiences that arouse or intensify feelings of passion, inspiration, or meaning. They may turn to relationships, novels, poetry, music, travel, or charity work to achieve their desired level of intensity.
Since Fi is introverted in direction, INFPs’ status as Feelers is not always evident when viewed from without. When immersed in Fi, INFPs can often seem cold, aloof, indifferent, moody, or hypersensitive. But despite their Fi’s lack of emotional warmth, INFPs’ auxiliary function, Extraverted Intuition (Ne), often steps in to compensate. When using Ne, INFPs present as open, receptive, quirky, and even fun.
Because INFPs are outwardly receptive and non-judgmental, they can serve as veritable dumping grounds for others’ problems. This can engender a sense of emotional heaviness, leading some INFPs to have a tragic or melancholic air about them.
Many INFPs are well-described as “earthy,” both in appearance and lifestyle. Female INFPs tend to go light on the make-up and are generally less concerned with being fashionable than ISFPs are. INFPs also content themselves with rather meager or Bohemian living arrangements, flanked with second-hand furniture and decor. Designer clothes, fine meals, and extravagant vacations are rarely high on their priority list.
Although body types do not always closely correspond to personality types (especially in females), there is evidence to suggest that INFPs are disposed to more of an ectomorphic build. If mesomorphs are envisioned as square and chiseled and endomorphs as rounder in shape, ectomorphs can be pictured as more linear and lanky. While it is not all that unusual, at least in the Western world, to encounter INFPs who have taken on a rounder shape, only rarely are they heavily muscled.
Of all types, INFPs are among those most explicitly concerned with achieving a holistic balance of mind (Ne), body (Si), and emotions (Fi). Toward this end, they often populate self-help, “human potential,” or bodywork seminars. Such holistic practices may also serve as attractive and viable career paths for many INFPs. They may find their niche in alternative or complementary medicine, homeopathy, naturopathy, Reiki, etc. Others might opt to study psychology, nursing, or ecology. Because Ne and Si are adjacent in their functional stack, INFPs (like INTPs) enjoy work that allows them to bridge theory (N) and practice (S).
Like ENFPs, INFP career-seekers can be drawn to all sorts of creative endeavors—poetry, music, drama, fiction writing, the fine arts, and the like. Creative expression is in many ways the lifeblood of artistically-inclined INFPs. It not only provides INFPs an enjoyable sense of intensity and absorption, but an opportunity for self-discovery and self-expression.
Overview of INFPs’ Functional Stack & Personality Type Development
INFPs’ functional stack is composed of the following functions:
Dominant: Introverted Feeling (Fi)
Auxiliary: Extraverted Intuition (Ne)
Tertiary: Introverted Sensing (Si)
Inferior: Extraverted Thinking (Te)
INFPs’ personality type development can be broadly conceived as consisting of three phases:
Phase I (Teens-20s)
This phase is characterized by the development and employment of INFPs’ dominant function, Introverted Feeling (Fi). Phase I INFPs tend to be highly idealistic and quick to judge (even if keeping most of their opinions to themselves). In this phase, they have yet to grasp the bigger picture of reality (Ne). While their Fi confers a strong sense of right and wrong, their moral sensibilities have yet to be opened by the use and development of their Ne. (This Personality Junkie type profile is continued on the next page.)