INTPs or INFJs are often mistaken for one another. Many people believe themselves to be an INTP or an INFJ but later discover they’re actually the other type.
At first glance, these personality types seem extremely similar. While they do have many related qualities, there are some major distinctions between INTPs and INFJs.
Recognizing how INTPs and INFJs differ will help you better understand yourself, your values, and your thought processes.
Dominant Cognitive Functions
Looking at the INTP and INFJ functional stacks will reveal some key differences and similarities in the personality types.
INTP Functional Stack:
- Dominant: Introverted Thinking (Ti)
- Auxiliary: Extroverted Intuition (Ne)
- Tertiary: Introverted Sensing (Si)
- Inferior: Extroverted Feeling (Fe)
INFJ Functional Stack:
- Dominant: Introverted Intuition (Ni)
- Auxiliary: Extroverted Feeling (Fe)
- Tertiary: Introverted Thinking (Ti)
- Inferior: Extroverted Sensing (Se)
The personality types share the introverted thinking and extroverted feeling cognitive functions, but these functions are ranked differently in their cognitive stacks. Their dominant and auxiliary functions are different, which can cause important distinctions in personality.
The dominant cognitive function is the strongest trait and leads the others. Thinking and feeling functions allow you to make decisions, and intuition and sensing functions allow you to process information.
The dominant function for INTPs is introverted thinking (Ti). This function values logical analysis and rational thought, and it drives the thirst for knowledge that is so common in INTPs. INFJs are led by introverted intuition (Ni), which allows them to observe and process the world with abstract ideas, patterns, and symbolism. Then, INFJs can examine these ideas from every angle to understand them.
The introverted thinking and introverted intuition functions can present similarly, but they are different at their core. Both functions are in search of the truth, and both are highly rational. Also, because both are introverted functions, they are concerned with internal thoughts, beliefs, and processes.
The Ti function values precision and logic over everything else, so it questions and doubts itself until it is self-assured in its beliefs and understanding of the world. The Ni function is unbiased in how it sees and processes the world, so it receives information from every possible angle.
The main difference between the INTP and INFJ cognitive functions is that Ti is conscious and Ni is unconscious. This means that Ti-dominant personalities are more concerned with their thought processes and making sure their logical reasoning is consistent, and Ni-dominant personalities are more concerned with their gut feelings.
INTPs typically need to know exactly why they believe what they believe, but INFJs are comfortable trusting a hunch and then backtracking to figure out the reasoning behind it.
Similarities Between INTPs and INFJs
INTPs and INFJs are both intuitive introverts. They like to distance from the external world and escape into their thoughts and ideas. Both tend to prefer meaningful one-on-one conversations to group interactions.
Because of the Ti and Ni dominant functions, INTPs and INFJs are also highly intellectual and philosophical. These personality types love to examine ideas from multiple angles to gain a better understanding of the world. Some of history’s greatest thinkers were INTPs and INFJs.
Both types are usually very private and reserved, but they may find it easier to open up to each other than to other personality types. Their similar values and shared need for understanding can make them great conversational partners. INTPs seek out mental stimulation from others, and they often feel drawn to INFJs because they recognize them as deep thinkers.
Friendships and romantic partnerships between INTPs and INFJs are common and usually very successful.
Thinking, Feeling, Perceiving, and Judging
The last two letters in the personality types identify some important differences between INTPs and INFJs. The third letter in the Myers-Briggs personality type describes how you make decisions. Everyone uses both thoughts and feelings to make choices, but INTPs are primarily thinkers while INFJs are primarily feelers.
Thinkers value logic and hard truths, and feelers value emotions and ethics. INTPs are more likely to be blunt and straightforward, and INFJs are more likely to avoid confrontation and instead think about the emotional impacts of their decisions.
The fourth Myers-Briggs letter explains how you structure your environment and work toward your goals. Perceiving types keep their options open and value flexibility and spontaneity. Judging types prefer to create detailed plans and value predictability.
However, these traits may not appear in a typical way in INTPs and INFJs. Some INFJs do not organize their time as strictly as other judging personality types, and some INTPs are more focused and determined than other perceiving types. Also, because both types are introverted and reserved, their planning and organizational methods may not be observable.
Precision Versus Ambiguity
Although both INTPs and INFJs are curious truth-seekers, INFJs are more tolerant of ambiguity than INTPs. Because of their unconscious Ni function, INFJs often see ideas or draw conclusions that can’t easily be put into words. They may backtrack to try to make sense of the logic that led them to that conclusion, but they are generally accepting of spontaneous insights without understanding exactly how they got to them.
INFJs take a long time to form an opinion, and they may change their opinion frequently as they gather more data. Examining all sides of a situation and arriving at the truth is more important to them than maintaining their perspective.
Because of their Ti dominant function, INTPs are all about precision and clarity. They take clear logical steps to their conclusions, and they are almost always aware of the reasoning behind their decisions and actions. They may filter the information they receive so it remains compatible with their existing logic. INTPs can also make quick judgments and respond immediately to arguments because they’re consciously aware of their logic. Making concrete, absolute claims is usually easier for INTPs than INFJs.
INTPs and INFJs have similar personality traits, but their internal processes are different in many ways. Each of the Myers-Briggs types is complex and unique in the way they view the world, interact with others, make choices, and organize their lives. If you’re an INTP or an INFJ, understanding the differences between these two types can provide you with important insights into your personality.