Dominant Introverted Feeling with Auxiliary Extraverted Intuition
Tertiary Sensing and Inferior Extraverted Thinking
Idealistic • Flexible • Creative • Caring
According to the MBTI® Manual, INFPs make up 4.3% of the population, making this type the 9th most common, of 16, in the US population.
INFPs are known for appearing sensitive, kind, original, and complex. They prize genuineness, respect for the needs of individuals, and human growth, and they use these skills to help themselves and others find and grow into their paths in life. This is most easily accomplished in areas where expectations and procedures are flexible and in line with the INFP’s values and where creativity is encouraged. INFPs generally excel in areas and tasks that hold personal meaning for them and where there is room for exploration.
Despite their appearance of going with the flow and living in the moment, INFPs often love to develop long-term visions for the future. As family members and friends, INFPs are typically extremely perceptive of the needs of their family members, and they are often adept at finding solutions that meet the needs of everyone. They tend to be extremely committed to their loved ones, and they may find it difficult to leave strained relationships.
Normally, INFPs are most thrown off and stressed out by environments where there is a great deal of rigidity in rules and timelines or where their values have been violated. In cases of value violations, INFPs will lose much of their trademark flexibility and become quite rigid. INFPs will likely become stressed when they are not allowed ample time to spend alone, and they often struggle when they feel a barrage of demands falling or being forced upon them. INFPs also tend to struggle in environments where their creativity is stifled or where they perceive a lack of authenticity in others.
When faced with stress overload, which may come from a gross or frequent violation of their deeply held values, spending time in an emotionally toxic and/or excessively critical environment, or worrying that they are about to lose someone or something (relationship, task, etc.) close to them, INFPs may find themselves “in the grip” of their inferior function, Extraverted Thinking. During this experience, the individual is likely to do things that are typically completely out of character. This may include critically lashing out at others, and obsessing over their mistakes, lack of competence, and flaws. These criticisms usually turn inward at some point in the grip experience. The INFP, in the grip, may have an intense urge to do something to fix perceived problems and right wrongs, but these actions often make matters worse.
Fortunately, going through and coming out of a grip experience can lead to growth and balance of the personality and the person.
To learn about INFPs under the particular stress that only comes from being chased by the dead, check out INFPs in the Zombie Apocalypse!
In general, INFPs enjoy learning through inspiration, curiosity, and exploring their imaginations in their own time. They learn best when the big picture is presented first, and details are kept to a minimum. Material sinks in more easily when it is personally meaningful, and the INFP is allowed to explore it in an individualized way that examines connections and subtext. INFPs often excel at and enjoy learning through reading and writing, and they prize their ability to make connections.
INFPs like to learn in a way that allows them to use their own processes and energy flows. This often causes INFPs to be attracted to self-directed study. Typically, INFPs place importance on their relationships with teachers, and they may struggle in an environment where they feel the instructor is disrespectful to them or others. Also, INFPs can be self-critical, so feedback that is supportive, rather than critical in nature, is appreciated. On the whole, INFPs work well in areas that allow them to explore their many ideas in a flexible environment that is not too bogged down with details, rules, and structure.
Individuals of this type may find it helpful to seek personal connections to uninteresting materials or tasks. They should try to remember to look at details that make up the big picture, instead of just the big picture. Frustration may occur for INFPs in a classroom where their deeply held values are violated or disrespected, but this can often be channeled into making papers and assignments more personally meaningful. Also, it never hurts to ask a professor if an outside-the-box idea for an assignment would be acceptable.
Typically, INFPs greatly prefer beginning work by examining the gist or the big picture, along with how it fits their values, rather than creating a specific plan. INFPs like to remain open to new ideas and allow needed details to fill themselves in along the way. They may appreciate the use of calendars, to-do lists, and other organizational aids mostly as a means of ensuring that they don’t drop the ball on a commitment, but they would largely prefer to be able to live without very structured time. Motivation for INFPs comes from a desire to help people develop and working on causes that hold personal meaning.
INFPs are often thrown off in time management by the overcommittment that comes with a lack of saying “no”, trying to attain perfection where it is unnecessary, and switching to a new project before completing an old one. Procrastination may occur when the INFP focuses on the distance between reality and their ideal for a project or when the task to be tackled opposes a strongly held value.
Tips for staying or getting back on task:
- Take time alone to recharge, by making yourself temporarily unavailable to others who may distract or seek help from you.
- Develop a structure you can work within to facilitate moving forward.
- Reward yourself for small accomplishments to keep yourself motivated.
When approaching decisions, INFPs want to find solutions that are creative, imaginative, flexible, and uphold values and harmony amongst impacted individuals. They will often begin by using their Dominant Introverted Feeling to consider consequences for people and relationships and how the decision fits their own personal set of values. They will then consider what patterns, possibilities, and innovations they can see for the big picture of the situation, and INFPs will likely weigh the pros and cons of options either mentally or in written form to gather as much information as possible on the course of action that is most flawless and the most inclusive of others. In fact, INFPs often put the happiness of others before their own when making decisions.
While INFPs typically place a high value on gaining the opinions of others, they may wish to do some internal work on the matter before talking it out. They want to think through the decision deeply, carefully, and completely, while often wanting to stay open to new information and options as long as is needed to be comfortable that the final decision is the best and least abrasive decision. Individuals of this type will generally examine the decision after the fact by looking at where their efforts could have been better, considering whether or not the outcome was in the best interest of others who were impacted, and envisioning more possibilities for the future, based on what they now know.
INFPs may neglect the more analytical, rational, and objective aspects of decision making, and they may also fail to consider current realities, details, and past experiences when making decisions. To find more balance in the process, all types may consider discussing decisions with friends of different types to gain new insights and/or utilizing the Zig-Zag Method, which encompasses exploring decisions from the perspective of all four functions. INFPs will likely find this process more natural when exploring Feeling first, followed by Intuition, Sensing, and Thinking.
Personality type is one important part of the process of choosing a career that is a good fit, but it is far from the only part. It is important to first look at your personal goals and values when making a career decision. These may involve retiring early, helping others, having time for hobbies/avocations, having time to spend with kids and family, making lots of money, making use of a specific talent (singing, art, athletic ability, etc.), following in family footsteps, or following a childhood dream.
It is also important to look at skills and preferences. If you hate math, maybe engineering is not the way to go, and you may want to skip being a doctor or nurse if the sight of blood makes you queasy. Interests, from loving the great outdoors to being fascinated by the depths of the human mind, play a huge role in the career choice process as well. Below are some type specific commonalities in the career world.
- Seek careers that allow them to use their empathy, creativity, powers of concentration, and insightfulness to help others discover and reach their full potential, while appreciating their adaptable nature.
- Prefer environments where they have time to work both alone and in small groups. They work best in harmonious environments where creativity and ingenuity are encouraged and given room to grow and where timelines and structures are flexible.
- Enjoy tasks that help individuals grow into who they wish to become. They also enjoy activities that have an artistic flair, invoke their empathic abilities, and provide variety and flexibility.
- Might struggle with tasks that require extended periods of attending to details or not being allowed room to personalize their work, such as being in structure that requires exact duplication of a specific process, and they struggle with a lack of flexibility. They may also become disheartened by the job search process, especially if they feel incompetent in one or more areas required by the job.
- Are often attracted to careers such as:
- Counseling/Psychology (personal, career, clinical, school)
- Interior design
- Teaching (fine arts, drama, music)
- Arts (graphic designer, painter, print maker)
- Religious work (clergy or missionary)
- Consulting (educational, business relationship)
- Performing arts (acting, singing, instrumental performance)
- Medicine (psychiatry)
- May be less interested in careers involving conflict, business, and attention to detail.
If the career you are interested in does not appear on this list, or if you simply don’t find any appealing careers listed here, do not worry! Personality type is not meant to sentence you to a life of misery in a career you hate, and this list is far from exhaustive. You may want to check out descriptions of thousands of possible careers at O*Net, and then contemplate how your type may play into some of the careers that do interest you. Also, if your university has a career counseling center (and most do), visit them to gain assistance in finding a career that suits your needs and wants.
As Team Members
INFP team members will likely contribute to the team by being caring, original, harmonizing, and authentic. INFPs have great respect for processing issues from multiple perspectives, finding meaning and connections in work and future possibilities, and finding solutions that suit each member of a group. They appreciate humor, ideas that are outside of the box, and visions, and they are known to be inspiring team members.
While INFP team members have many strengths, they may find it difficult to carry out change, in favor of analyzing and perfecting the process of change. They may also have a tendency to become strongly attached to issues that involve their closely held values and to finding solutions that suit the whole group, even when that is seemingly impossible. INFPs sometimes also lose sight of practical details, preferring the big picture and complex theories. Awareness of these areas, as well as seeking out the perspectives of team members with different preferences, can help INFPs gain balance and appreciate team and type diversity.
INFPs make passionate, committed, supportive, and trusting leaders who love to provide genuine and personal attention to discover what motivates the individuals in their team. They tend to be driven to produce a high quality product, whatever that may be. INFPs are known for being good at finding ways to please the majority of the group, while avoiding micromanagement.
INFPs may find it challenging to focus on action and simplicity in their quest to analyze theories, processes, and information deeply. Their people centered nature may prevent them from having difficult, yet necessary, conversations with those that they lead, and it may cause them to lose sight of the actual work of the group in favor of taking care of the individuals who make it up. It may also be difficult for INFPs to maintain a strong and narrow focus, due to their attempts to include everyone’s opinions in the direction of the group.
INFPs tend to value harmony and emotional intimacy in relationships. They take commitment seriously, and they want to know their partners share and honor that commitment. This extends to fidelity, support, and listening. They also prize sharing values with a partner and being able to accept each other as individuals with differences.
As partners, INFPs tend to be understanding and nurturing. They tend to be very supportive, while being rather individualized and independent. INFPs typically want to be emotionally open with their partners, and they crave being understood. They place considerable value on harmony, and they may blame themselves when their is disharmony in the relationship. They may struggle when they feel criticized, and they may keep hurt to themselves, while showing rigidness to their partner.