INFPs are one of the most complex and interesting of the sixteen personality types (MBTI Myers-Briggs). I’ve grown up with a female INFP family member, so I should know. According to 16personalities.com, INFPs make up about 4% of the population. Some profiles refer to INFPs as healers, mediators, or dreamers, and they are a part of the “NF-idealist” temperament.
In my experience, INFPs can be some of the most caring, loving, and creative individuals that you’ll ever meet. They share the same cognitive functions as ENFPs, but the first two and last two are in reverse order. The INFP cognitive function stack is as follows: Introverted Feeling (Fi), Extroverted Intuition (Ne), Introverted Sensing (Si), and Extroverted Thinking (Te).
In this video, I’m going to talk about the INFP’s cognitive functions, as well as some of the INFP traits and characteristics that I’ve observed.
Cognitive Functions for the INFP
As I discuss the functions of an INFP, I’ll also compare that with the INTJ. I rarely see anyone confusing INTJ vs INFP (or mistyping as one over the other), because they are different in many ways.
- Introverted Feeling (Fi) is the dominant function for INFPs. This function makes judgments based on how the individual “feels” about a particular thing. Fi users often have a strong internal set of morals or ideals. They often feel emotions very deeply, yet Fi often seeks to conceal much of that feeling from the outside world. Dominant Fi is empathy on steroids, and INFPs and ISFPs can become extremely sensitive. INTJs also have Fi, but being our tertiary function, we don’t use it as strongly. There can be some clashes between unrestrained Fi in INFPs and the blunt Te in INTJs (ideas vs logic).
- Extroverted Intuition (Ne) is the auxiliary function for INFPs. This function seesk patterns, possibilities, and connections in the outside world. It can cause INFPs or ENFPs to sometimes ramble thoughts, brainstorm ideas, and so forth. This is in contrast to INTJs dominant function of Ni, which seeks patterns and connections between ideas internally and is future oriented. The MBTI Manual suggests that NP types are among the most creative of all personality types.
- Introverted Sensing (Si) is the tertiary function of the INFP. This has to do with taking in sensory information and relating to past events, recalling data, and so forth. This is the third function, so it doesn’t develop in most INFPs until around age 30 or so. However, if this function is developed strongly, you may notice that INFPs can recall telephone numbers, birth dates, anniversary dates, etc. They’ll notice details of things in the environment. The INFP relative I know is actually good at recalling phone numbers. She may look at the telephone pad to refresh her memory, but she stores them all in her mind. INTJs have extroverted sensing (Se), but it’s our least developed function. It draws us into our external world, and because it’s the last to develop, can sometimes make INTJs sensitive to things like touch, sounds, smells, etc.
- Extroverted Thinking (Te) is the fourth and least used function for the INFP. This function desires to control and organize the external world, to use objective logic, and more. Because this is the least-used function and the last to develop for INFPs, they sometimes get the reputation of being messy, disorganized, or even lazy. In contrast, this is the INTJ’s secondary function, so we tend to be action-oriented people who can come off as a little too logical or blunt (and subsequently hurt INFP’s feelings).
INFP Traits and Personality Quirks
These traits may not apply to all INFPs, as there are always exceptions and variations within a type. I’m just sharing my experience of growing up with an INFP female relative. However, many of these traits are stereotypical behaviors for the type.
- INFPs are good at reading people. This seems to be true for all types in the “NF” temperament. INFJs are perhaps the best, but INFPs are generally good at reading people. The INFP I know is always saying things like, “I can just read people. I just know people.” So, if you’re an INFP trying to read me right now, stop doing that! It’s creepy!
- INFPs tend to be extremely creative. Isabel Briggs Myers felt that intuitive and perceiving types were the most creative. The INFP I know is very good at generating creative ideas, decorating for parties, etc.
- INFPs tend to be great writers. One famous INFP is a woman by the name of Susan Cain. She wrote a very popular book titled “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.” My INFP relative writes deep stuff such as poetry, etc. She’s very talented in writing. ENFPs are also good writers in the creative or emotional sense.
- INFPs tend to be messy. Not true for all of them (surely at least one INFP is clean, lol), but the INFP I know is very disorganized. When I go to her house and open the refrigerator, I guard myself from falling debris. I’ll have to remove five things from the refrigerator to get to something I need. I’ll find stuff that’s been expired for two years, covered in mold. I’ll ask her, “Are you trying to manufacture your own penicillin?” INFPs also have the stereotype of being lazy. It’s not that they are lazy; it’s just that they like to spend a lot of time focusing on creative thought. The INFP I know tends to work in spurts.
- INFPs often use passive language. I read about this before in articles, but I have noticed that my INFP relative will use passive language or “hint dropping” instead of asking for most things directly. For example, she’ll say something like, “My lawn mower broke down. I don’t know what I’m going to do,” which is code for, “Can you please fix it for me?”
- She’s really good at word puzzles. My INFP relative is a whiz at the game show Wheel of Fortune. She crushes me, my INTJ nephew, and my ENTJ brother. It’s scary how good she is.
- She’s good at small talk. A lot of INFPs (and introverts) dislike small talk, but I’m surprised that she will sometimes initiate conversations with people out in public. She’ll randomly compliment people or ask them questions. Weird. Not all INFPs do this, though.
- INFPs make fantastic nurses. The INFP I know worked as an LPN. She was an incredible nurse. She would be very warm and gentle with her patients, remember their names, get them little Christmas gifts, and things like that. Her patients really loved her.
- INFPs have a deep love and special bond for animals and children. My INFP relative has had a pet monkey, goat, ducks, fish, up to five dogs at one time, and more. She’ll rescue birds that fall out of the nest and nurture them back to health. Animals and children immediately bond with her in a way that I’ve never seen. She will go nuts if she sees a dog tied up outside or left in a hot car. She’ll actually call animal control on people for this.
- INFPs can become too attached to animals. My INFP’s poodle once died in an accident, and she sat in a gazebo holding it and crying for hours. Another dog she had, which was a German Shepherd and wolf mix, developed cancer and died. That dog was a loner and never bonded with another human besides the INFP. Even though she didn’t have hardly any money, she went into debt to buy a burial plot with a stone for the dog. To this day she visits it and decorates it on almost every holiday.
- INFPs can be very generous. She’ll always think of others and give them money or food if they need it. She’s always been generous in that way, even though she’s poor.
- INFPs are often late. She’s been late to appointments, jobs, etc. for as long as I’ve known her. She’s always rushing out the door at the last minute and arriving 5-15 minutes late to every place, which is a big contrast between us (I arrive 30 minutes early). INFPs can also have the habit of procrastination. They’ll sometimes wait until the last minute to do a project.
- INFPs tend to avoid conflict by sweeping things under the rug. The INFP I know has a problem admitting fault and apologizing for things. She will push the blame on others and refuse to address stuff. She hates direct conflict, though she has caused it by gossiping.
- INFPs can have a great sense of humor. She’s always had a great sense of humor and is a really funny person to be around.
- INFPs, just like ENFPs, can be flirty! I’ve witnessed this flirtation! A man once came to repair a phone at the INFP’s house, and she told him, “I didn’t know they were going to send such a handsome man to fix my phone.”
Overall, INFPs have some amazing traits that I admire. They are creative, funny, friendly, and compassionate. They can also be messy and late, but they make up for it with their own unique charm.
I do plan to make a video in the future talking about some of the self-destructive behaviors of the INFP, which can happen if the INFP becomes unhealthy or has too much emotional overload. I have also had my share of clashes with my INFP relative (mostly my brutal logic vs her emotional decisions), but I love her very much.