The INFJ personality type is among the rarest of the sixteen types, constituting only 1-3% of the general population. Unlike INTJs, in which males predominate, there is greater gender parity among INFJs, with nearly equal numbers of males and females.
INFJs are “old souls.” Many grow up feeling wiser than would be predicted by their chronological age. Having discovered the benefits of their Introverted Intuition (Ni) quite early in life, INFJs grow to trust its judgments and insights. They may take on the role of counseling and advising their friends and siblings, or even adult family members, from a fairly young age. Their gift for providing wise counsel often continues into adulthood. INFJs often feel happiest and most fulfilled when helping others understand themselves and their problems.
Because of their strength of intuition, many INFJs report feeling like aliens in the world. One INFJ described her experience as a constant feeling of deja vu. Others report feelings of disembodiment. The fact is that many INFJs (and INTJs) seem to experience the world and their bodies differently than other types do. It is therefore not uncommon for INFJs or others to occasionally question their sanity.
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INFJs see two people in everyone. They see the public persona, the outer shell, that everyone else sees. But more importantly, their Ni provides a deeper sense or impression people, penetrating appearances and reading hidden motives and intentions. Rightly or not, INFJs often feel they can see people more clearly than those people can see themselves.
To best understand INFJs, or other IJ types, it is necessary to recognize the full implications of their dominant function being a Perceiving function. I discuss this issue in my post, Rethinking Judging and Perceiving in IPs & IJs. In short, I suggest that INFJs are best viewed as predominant Perceivers and display many characteristics of ENPs, only that these are manifested inwardly rather than outwardly.
More specifically, INFJs are far less serious inwardly than they may appear outwardly. Their inner world is well described as playful, imaginative, colorful, mischievous, and daring. Characterized by Perceiving rather than Judging, it is far less controlled and regulated than that of INFPs. INFJs love playing with ideas, perspectives, theories, images, symbols, and metaphors. Their Ni serves as the veritable foundation for this inner playhouse. Because their Ni is dominant rather than auxiliary, INFJs tend to be more subversive in their ideation than ENFJs.
While INFJs are deeply theoretical, they don’t build their theories by consciously assembling facts in the way that Thinking or Sensing types might. Rather, INFJs see general connections and patterns by way of their Intuition; they experience everything as interconnected. For INFJs, discovering truth involves getting a better handle on the nature of this connectedness by discerning universal laws and patterns.
INFJs also have a deep concern for quality. As will be elaborated later in this profile, they long to see their ideals (Ni) perfectly manifested in physical reality (Se). This need for quality underlies many common INFJ characteristics. Their attraction to art (especially more realistic styles), for instance, can be understood as their attempt to perfectly embody an ideal in physical reality. Their love for fine food, clothes, and architecture can be understood similarly. Unlike INFPs, who tend to see food, clothes, and housing as little more than physical necessities, INFJs see the physical world as a forum for manifesting beauty and perfection, a place to marry their Ni and Se.
Despite their refined or sophisticated tastes, INFJs are generally not overly pretentious or serious individuals, at least not inwardly (ENFJs, as dominant Judgers, are characteristically more serious). INFJs enjoy regularly engaging with people, listening to music, and watching movies. Perhaps more than anything, INFJs love spending time engrossed in meaningful conversation. Because of their verbosity and communal nature, they are commonly mistaken for Extraverts.
Like INFPs, many INFJs struggle with bouts of depression, which may relate to any number of things. They may, for instance, get depressed when they feel their creative inspiration has abandoned them or because they feel consistently misunderstood. Depression may also stem from feeling dissatisfied in the INFJ’s careers or INFJ’s relationships. They may dream of having a beautiful home adorned with beautiful things, but feel stuck in a low-paying job that they are reluctant to quit because of a poor economy.
INFJs’ Functional Stack & Personality Type Development
INFJs’ functional stack is composed of the following functions:
Dominant: Introverted Intuition (Ni)
Auxiliary: Extraverted Feeling (Fe)
Tertiary: Introverted Thinking (Ti)
Inferior: Extraverted Sensing (Se)
INFJs’ personality type development can be broadly conceived according to three phases:
Phase I (Childhood-20s)
Early in life, INFJs are characterized by the development and dominance of their Introverted Intuition (Ni). Since they are Introverts, they may also show significant development of their second function, Extraverted Feeling (Fe), which can serve as a useful extraverted tool for navigating the outside world. The Ni-Fe function pair allows INFJs to make and express judgments. INFJs are particularly well-equipped to read and evaluate people, including their underlying motives.
Since Ni is a Perceiving function, INFJs should not be viewed as closed-minded at any point in their development. But during Phase I, they might appear overly opinionated or closed-minded, at least from without. Even if their judgments are precociously accurate, Phase I INFJs may lack some discernment regarding if and when it is best to express those judgments. Moreover, their Ni-Fe conclusions have yet to be honed and tempered by their tertiary Ti, making the INFJ more reluctant to carefully review or revise them. (This Personality Junkie type profile is continued on the next page.)