The INFJ personality type is among the rarest of the 16 types, constituting only 1-2% of the general population. Unlike the INTJ personality type, 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 value of their Introverted Intuition (Ni) quite early in life, INFJs grow to trust its judgments and insights. Even as children and adolescents, INFJs can be found advising and counseling their friends and siblings, and perhaps even adult family members. They tend to feel happiest and most fulfilled when helping and enlightening others through their insights.
Because of their strength of intuition (and commensurate detachment from physical reality), many INFJs report feeling like aliens in the world. One INFJ described her experience as “a perpetual sense of deja vu.” Others report feelings of disembodiment. The fact is that many INFJs (and INTJs) seem to experience the world and their bodies quite differently than other types do. It is therefore not uncommon for INFJs to question their own sanity.
INFJs see two people in everyone. They see the public persona, the outer shell, which everyone else sees. But more important, their Ni provides a deeper sense or impression of people, penetrating appearances and revealing hidden motives and intentions. Consequently, INFJs often feel they can see people more clearly than those people can see themselves.
To fully understand INFJs, it is necessary to recognize the full implications of their dominant function, Ni, being a Perceiving function (see my recent book, My True Type, for more on this). Namely, INFJs are far less serious inwardly than they appear outwardly (ENFJs, whose dominant function is a Judging function, are characteristically more serious). INFJs’ inner world is well described as playful, imaginative, colorful, mischievous, and daring. They love playing with ideas, perspectives, theories, images, symbols, and metaphors.
INFJs also enjoy listening to music, watching movies and television, and engaging with people. Perhaps more than anything, they love spending time engrossed in meaningful conversation, which allows them to simultaneously engage their Ni and auxiliary Fe functions. Talking affords INFJs the opportunity to help and enlighten others through their insights. And because of their loquaciousness, INFJs may at times be mistaken for Extraverts.
A signature feature of INFJs (and INTJs) is a deep concern for quality. They long to see their Ni ideals actualized in physical reality (Se). Consider the following excerpt from My True Type:
While Se attends the appearance of things, Ni is concerned with their deeper qualities and substantiveness…While INJs are to some extent concerned with appearances, they are more attuned to the underlying quality and craftsmanship of things…ensuring that things are substantive, thoughtfully-crafted, and otherwise amenable to their Ni tastes. NFJs, in particular, exhibit the most refined (or what other types might deem expensive or pretentious) tastes of all types. The popular television comedy, Frasier, is a great example. Much of the show’s humor revolves around the sophisticated snobbiness of Frasier (ENFJ) and his brother Niles (INFJ). This includes flaunting linguistic formalisms and a high-brow vocabulary, as well as frequent allusions to fine dining, classical music, designer clothing, and the like.
Like the INFP personality type, INFJs can struggle with depression. This may stem from feeling chronically unheard, useless, or misunderstood, as well as from dissatisfaction with the INFJ’s careers or the INFJ’s relationships. Because Ni perceives the world so differently and profoundly, INFJs often experience a sense of loneliness and isolation, even when they are with other people. Depression may also arise from feeling that their ideals and insights are not being recognized or actualized in the world. They may see the world as deaf to, or unconcerned with, the truths they espouse. INFJs may therefore question their value in a world that seems indifferent to their insights.
INFJ Personality Type Development & Functional Stack
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)
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 profile is continued on the next page.)