INFJ vs INFP: How INFJs Differ From, INFPs

Out of all the Myer-Briggs personality types, INFPs and INFJs are the most commonly mistaken for each other.

Superficially they do appear to have similar characteristics, but in actual fact, they are very different personality types.

You only have to look at their individual functional stacks to see how different the INFJ is to the INFP; and that they don’t actually share any functions.

infp vs infj

The functional stack of INFP:

  • Dominant Function: Introverted Feeling
  • Auxiliary Function: Extraverted Intuition
  • Tertiary Function: Introverted Sensing
  • Inferior Function: Extraverted Thinking

The functional stack of INFJ:

  • Dominant Function: Introverted Intuition
  • Auxiliary Function: Extraverted Feeling
  • Tertiary Function: Introverted Thinking
  • Inferior function: Extraverted Sensing

The purpose of this article is not to provide an in-depth description of each personality type but rather to take a look at how they differ on a deep psychological level by providing a comprehensive comparison of INFJs versus INFPS.

The Difference in Dominant Cognitive Functions

Our dominant cognitive function is our most robust cognitive functions and the one that drives all of the others. INFP’s dominant cognitive function is Introverted Feeling.

This is a judging function that allows INFPs to become profoundly in-tune with their ability to decide how they will respond to events. They will make decisions based on how those events impact who they are and their personal values.

Often feeling like outsiders due to the intensity of their feelings, they soon develop and mature to realize emotions are universal; however, INFPs have a superior awareness of their feelings compared to other personality types.

The dominant cognitive function for INFJs is Introverted Intuition and impacts how they perceive the world around them.

Perceivers see patterns forming in their minds which become more detailed as they grow and develop; and just as INFPs begin to understand other people are impacted by emotions, INFJs come to realize everyone people have similar abilities to see patterns forming within the mind.

So, right from the beginning, we can see two significant differences in the way INFJs and INFPs view the world:

  • INFPs lead with a feeling decision-making method
  • INFJs lead with an intuitive learning method

Decision are often tough for INFPs to make, to learn their dominant cognitive function involves decision-making may seem ‘left-field’ to many INFP individuals.

It’s important to note, however, that the Feeling decision-making process is the most sluggish of the four methods of making decisions.

Those with Introverted Feeling as their dominant function record their feelings instinctively and will often make decisions, and then decide if it feels right.

This can result in INFPs taking a long time to make decisions initially; however, over time as each critical decision is internally recorded, the decision-making process gets more efficient.

Decisions also do not come easy for INFJs – only the reasons are different than those for INFPs. They use Extraverted Feeling which is faster than Introverted Feeling, however, because it’s their Auxiliary Function, they don’t lead with it.

When making decisions they need to draw on their Auxiliary Function, Extraverted Feeling more than their dominant function to avoid indecisiveness.

Therefore, although both personality types appear to struggle with making decisions, the reasons behind the difficulty is entirely different.

Because every decision an INFP makes reflects their value system, they struggle when being forced to make snap decisions. INFJs on the other hand, care less about the making small choices and struggle more with the big decisions.

Because both Introverted Feeling and Introverted Intuition are internal processes they can be difficult to distinguish between the two; however, they are distinctly different processes.

One way of thinking about the differences is between having a ‘light-bulb’ realization compared to having a deep-rooted feeling that your decision was the correct one.

Diverse Ways of Assessing Emotional Significance

As previously stated, INFJ’s decision-making method stems from their ‘second in charge’, Extraverted Feeling which is in stark contrast with INFP’s dominant function, Introverted Feeling.

Both of these feeling functions are cerebral methods intended to assist us in assessing information to make decisions. Each time any of us assess the good and bad aspects of a decision, we are using a method of deciding.

We make our decision based on the most favorable parts of that decision-making method.

A person using Extraverted Feeling to drive their decision-making process would consider how best to serve everybody to come to the right decision. In other words, the external feedback determines the validity of the decision.

Whereas, someone using Introverted Feeling to make decisions looks internally – their own emotional response dictates if a decision was correct.

Is one more egotistical than the other?

From the outset, it could look like Introverted Feeling is more self-serving than Extraverted Feeling. An underdeveloped Introverted Feeling could, of course, be egocentric but as it develops and matures it becomes more about the good of society in general. It is here that we build our integrity – by going internally and understanding what we value and how to maintain those values.

An underdeveloped Extraverted Feeling manifests by way of emotional control but as it develops ensures everybody’s needs are considered.

The Method Each Type Uses to Lead and Influence Others

By using the Introverted Intuition method INFJs find solutions to problems and influence other people by providing different perceptions. Issues are usually sorted by moving perspectives until the answer is obvious.

These are provided to other people as ‘light-bulb’ moments.

INFPs on the other hand, by use of the Introverted Feeling process, have a superior understanding of the internal emotional process. They possess the gift of being able to transfer emotional energy so that others can feel what they want them to.

Both these methods have the power to influence others in a significant way: the difference could be thought of as INFJs are bringing insightfulness to others, while INFPs bring inspiration.

Understanding versus Validation

It is common for both INFJs and INFPs to feel that other people don’t understand them. Because of their dominant function of Introverted Intuition, they possess the ability people in a way that exceeds the capabilities of most of the other personality types.

This often makes them feel a bit lonely in relationships once they realize how unique this ability is – feeling as if nobody could possibly get close to understanding them on the same level as they know themselves.

It’s difficult for those people without a dominant perspective process to understand how intuitive INFJs are resulting in most INFJs learning to keep many things to themselves.

The process of Introverted Feeling is a multi-layered bag of self-awareness, and there is no possible way an INFP could explain to others of the multi-facets of their personality.

The problem itself does not lie in their desire to be understood (as they crave individuality too highly) Trying to explain the complexities involved in the decision-making process as an INFP to be reduced down to a ‘gut feeling’ would seem incredulous to other personality types.

The marginalization of the driving force behind what makes an INFP ‘tick’ can result in them displaying defensive behavior and becoming ‘overly’ sensitive.

Above all else, INFPs want to feel validated over understood. When it appears that they feel misunderstood it’s as a result of feeling marginalized and disregarded.

They don’t need you to follow their decision-making processes, they need to know that you trust their intent is genuine and has a positive intention.

In other words, you don’t need you to agree with them, but they do require you to respect and trust in their intentions surrounding those decisions made.

INFJs could care a great deal less as to whether other people view their intentions as good. They are more focused on the purposes of other people, even to consider if the other party is convinced of their motives.

They don’t need validation like the INFP; instead, they require the security of knowing they won’t get hurt. You don’t need to agree with an INFJ – knowing you won’t hurt them is sufficient.

INFPs are not ‘wired’ to fear emotional pain in the same manner – whereas the most secure INFJ in the world will still be constantly, mentally scrutinizing other people to see if they are out to get them.

When an INFP becomes engrossed in a topic they are interested in, they have a habit of becoming unaware of the people around them – in comparison, INFJs are always acutely aware of others.

Due to this constant awareness of people, INFJs generally require more time on their own than INFPs. The only way an INFJ can get time to themselves is to be physically alone – otherwise, they’ll be absorbing the energy around them and remain physically and emotionally drained.

The differences between understanding and validation may look similar on the surface but run very profoundly when trying to differentiate between INFJs and INFPs.

How INFJs Empathize Versus the INFP Way

When it comes to the topic of empathy, no two personality types compete for the crown as much as INFJs and INFPs. And although they both have a unique skill set when it comes to being able to read other people’s emotions and feel what they feel, their approach in doing so is different.

Because INFJs have Introverted Intuition as their dominant function and Extraverted Feeling as their ‘second in charge,’ they take in other people’s emotions from the energy they put out – either intentionally or unintentionally.

They can instantly feel the energy of the room and ‘take in’ the good or bad energy being put out. Gift or curse, INFJs have the knack of understanding what goes on in other people’s minds (Introverted Intuition) and constantly being hyper-aware of other people’s emotional energy (Extraverted Feelings).

INFPs basically have a Ph.D. in understanding emotions. To make decisions and get a ‘feel’ for how each decision will align with their values, INFPs will regularly put themselves in other emotional positions to test outcomes.

In other words, they are continually empathizing whether they need to or not – it is such a natural process for them due to Introverted Feeling being their dominant cognitive function that it may not even be a conscious process.

Where an INFJ ‘takes in’ the emotional energy; INFPs reflect the emotions of other people – with extraordinary ease. For an INFJ to ‘take in’ the energy of someone, they need to be present in the same room.

INFPs on the other hand, just need to locate the emotion the person has or had – inside of themselves. For this reason, INFJs have a greater awareness of other people’s emotions, and INFPs have a broader awareness of their own.

INFJs often have a much easier time understanding the emotional energy of other people than they do their own emotional needs and run the risk of putting everyone else ahead of their own emotional health.

INFPs are finely tuned into their psychological health and as a result, can often channel that mastery into creative outlets.

In general, INFJs appear more confident in their declarations whereas INFPs can seem less sure or indecisive their means of self-expression, Extraverted Intuition as their second in charge.

The strength of their value system dominated by Introverted Feeling begins to open and can then falter as their Extraverted Intuition searches for truth and importance.

This causes INFPs sometimes to lack confidence in expressing absolute statements. Comparatively, INFJs have no trouble with this issue.

With their dominant cognitive function, Introverted Intuition being open and unsure, the second in charge, Extraverted Feeling takes over to allow them to come across assured and persuasive.

In Summary

As you can see, there is a lot more to understanding personality types than just whether people are introverts or extraverts – or if they are guided by their feelings or analytical skills.

Hopefully, this article has helped to highlight some of the more defining differences between two of, the more unique and complexed personality types – the INFJ and the INFP.

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