INFP personalities are cautious, idealistic, and flexible in their conduct. They are inquisitive individuals that are always preoccupied with their thoughts. INFPs are sensitive, compassionate, and empathic, and they are genuinely concerned with their own and others' personal growth.
I. What Does INFP Stand For?
INFP stands for Introversion, iNtuition, Feeling, and Perception and is one of 16 personality types studied from the MBTI test (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator). The MBTI personality assessment developed by Isabel Briggs Myers, Katharine Cook Briggs, and David Keirsey from the work of psychiatrist Carl G. Jung, the types of psychology based on theories of cognitive functions. Keirsey named INFP The Idealist/ The Mediator because they tend to be sympathetic, selfless, and deeply compassionate to help others, and INFP is one of the four personality types of the Idealist group.
II. Personality Traits of The INFP Group
INFPs are sensitive, thoughtful, selfless, and concerned about their own development as well as others, and expect everyone to do the same.
INFPs usually speak metaphors and fables. They also have a great ability to create symbols or explain symbols. For this reason, the INFPs have the innate ability to write and like poetry. This type of personality does not cultivate logical thinking, unlike NT types – in their view, logic is not always necessary. INFPs are more interested in discussion with hypotheses or philosophy than any other type.
INFPs also often retreat into their "hermit" states (this kind of personality can easily switch between the two states), withdraw from the world, and get lost in their deep thoughts – therefore, their partners may need to spend a lot of effort to energize and "wake them up".
Despite their personal thoughts, they are also creative, flexible, and slightly artistic, and do not judge in treating others because they know that each person has a different path of his/her own.
INFPs are truly open-minded people who can cooperate and support but may not like it when their values are violated.
With INFPs, healing means correcting all the divisions between a person's personal life and his or her relationships. That implies looking at oneself and relationships with others from a reconciliation perspective, in order to re-establish the integrity that INFPs call oneness.
As a variant of Plato's Idealist group and Aristotle's Ethicist, INFPs differ slightly from NFs in all ways. Like all Idealists, they are quite abstract in communication and highly collaborative in the realization of common goals. They also want to learn about people, are preoccupied with ethical issues, and can work well in the human resources field. Besides, they have a strong orientation toward altruism, often are soft-hearted, mysterious, live according to social norms but always think in a possible direction in the future.
INFPs are a symbol of understanding, kindness, and trustworthiness. They always show enthusiasm, passion, trust, and intuition of themselves, yearn for romantic love, seek unity, and desire to be acknowledged. In terms of intellectual development, they tend to practice their communication skills more than strategy, logistics, and especially statistics.
Furthermore, along with self-discovery, they tend to develop the information role of the Advocate rather than the guiding role of the Counselor. And because they are a bit reserved and hermit, they tend to be more interested in becoming the Healer to resolve conflicts than people's fighter – the Champion.
III. The Cognitive Functions of The INFP Group
Dominant: Introverted Feeling
INFPs go through an emotional depth, but they process these emotions internally like any other introvert type. They hold an amazing sense of the world and have great compassion and empathy for others. While this function takes the dominant part of the personality, they do not tend to show it outwardly, which can sometimes misinterpret them as being distant or unwelcome.
Auxiliary: Extraverted Intuition
INFPs determine an action by using their imagination and predicting possible situations. Their inner life is a force that directs personality and they engage with the outside world using their intuition. They focus on the big picture and everything that will shape the direction of the future.
Tertiary: Introverted Sensing
In receiving information, INFPs create vivid memories of events and these sequences of memories will repeat over and over in their heads to analyze their experiences in less stressful environments. Such memories are often associated with strong emotions, so recalling a memory is often like reliving the experience itself.
Inferior: Extraverted Thinking
While this is the weakest function of personality, it involves unconsciously organizing and shaping the world objectively and logically that can manifest itself in times of pressure. When faced with stress, INFPs can suddenly become very practical and more detailed, focusing on logic rather than emotion. INFPs can sometimes struggle to feel efficient and productive because they are often dominated by intuition and emotion. Learning how to develop the extrovert-thinking function can help people with this type of personality create a better sense of balance.
IV. INFP Values and Motivations
1. INFP values
INFPs seek harmony in their lives and their surroundings, often frustrated by all the bad things that happen in the world and try to create something positive. People with this type of personality tend to see things and act from an idealistic perspective, rather than from logical thinking. They respond to beauty, morality, and virtue rather than utility, efficiency, or benefit.
Idealism is the flag of INFP people – and they are very proud of it. Unfortunately, it also makes INFPs often feel misunderstood and isolated because very few people carry the same ideals as them.
With strong core values, INFPs are individuals who value the depth and honesty in relationships and value those who can understand and accept their views. They are often easy to integrate and sympathize with unless one of their life principles is violated, then they may become conservative for their principles.
This type of personality tends to rely on subjective situation analysis when making a decision. They care about how their decisions will affect others and always aim for harmony with others. This can keep them away from positions that force them to work hard or make decisions that affect others in a negative way.
2. INFP Motivations
INFPs are imaginative idealists driven by their own beliefs and core values. They focus a great deal of energy on intense feelings and deep moral values.
People with the INFP personality have a clear sense of honor as it inspires and motivates them. If someone wants to get to know an INFP, then it is very important to know what motivated them and understand the cause of their choice.
INFPs are always motivated by vision and inspiration, want to put a personal impression on work but are also very cooperative, supportive, and flexible with everyone.
As introverts, INFPs find a lot of energy when they spend time introspecting. Although they still enjoy time with family and close friends, personal time can help INFPs loosen and think clearly, which will help them grow in the long run.
V. Strengths and Weaknesses of INFPs
1. INFP Strengths
INFPs have a common feature with NF types – they are very gifted in foreign languages. Usually, INFPs also become great writers or good actors because they can easily reflect and convey their ideas through fictional characters.
People with INFP type are extremely creative, innovative, and goal-oriented – they can be great advocates for the causes they truly believe in.
Most INFPs can notice good sides (even if very little) in others. In the eyes of INFPs, even the most disgusted people will have something worthy of respect or at least sympathy.
While INFPs may be a bit cautious, they cannot be underestimated. People with this personality type are very affectionate – a trait that is not often seen in other personality types. Their compassion is really strong and lasting but the INFPs will use it quite conservatively, directing this energy to a few chosen people or a worthy cause.
INFP spends the most affection and attention on some relatives or those who they trust the most. They are generally relaxed, like to help and nurture close relationships. With inner emotions that control their personality, INFPs are very sensitive and easy to empathize with and feel truly caring and concerned about others. It is not easy to trust others and be cautious when starting a relationship, but INFP will be loyal when they make a commitment.
2. INFP Weaknesses
INFPs can be so focused on doing good deeds and helping others that they can ignore their needs. Besides, they can fight for their careers to the point of ignoring all other aspects of their lives.
INFPs are good at keeping pace with emotions and morals, but they can have difficulty coping with facts and data, such as analyzing connections or finding differences.
INFPs value their ideals very much and find it very difficult to accept personal criticism and comments. They also tend to avoid conflict situations, always looking for a solution that satisfies everyone.
INFPs are prone to being overly dreamy and idealistic, especially when it comes to romantic relationships. They can idealize, or even idolize, their partner, forgetting that no one is perfect.
INFPs are less comfortable working in groups, they also don't want to be in the spotlight or steal anyone's thunder. This causes them to miss out on opportunities to meet people who might push them to higher-income positions. In a world where the people we know are more important than what we know, this doesn't help them.
VI. Personal Relationships of INFPs
1. Romantic relationship
INFPs embody a very calm and peaceful attitude towards life. They appear to bring peace to everyone, with simple desires. Also, they perceive strongly about their life. In romantic relationships, this makes them full of deep emotions for love and thoughtfulness, which is not often seen in other personality groups. INFPs do not devote all their intense emotions to one another and are quite reserved in expressing their deep feelings.
INFPs have very high standards for almost anything. They will often wait a long time to find the ideal partner. They seem to have a whole list of what qualifies them both formally and mentally. Once a special person shows up, they observe and take a lot of notes to see if that person is really who they are looking for.
They also tend to keep their emotions privately. When problems arise, INFPs can feel deeply but still avoid talking about them. They tend to pretend everything is fine just to not overreact and not negatively affect the relationship in the long run.
One of the biggest problems with INFPs is that they are often inflexible about their true opinions and unwittingly agree with others. Although they do this to maintain their relationship, it usually becomes the root of suffering and sometimes backfires for it will rift and destroy what they are trying to keep.
As long as they communicate openly, INFPs are more likely to stay honest in the relationship and encourage the person they love to do so. By dedicating their whole heart and mind to their relationship, INFPs can find out the true meaning of loving and being loved.
INFPs sometimes are quite confusing. Even their best friend finds it difficult to persuade INFPs to open up and reveal their feelings – ordinary acquaintances are even less able to understand INFPs' insides. People with this type of personality don't care much about the number of friends they have, they care more about the quality of friendship.
INFP friends are especially loyal and helpful. They also recognize the emotional state of others, and this trait makes INFPs very sensitive and profound. They are very private when it comes to their emotions – again, INFPs don't feel comfortable revealing their feelings to people they don't know well.
INFP friends are strong, passionate, and idealistic people – the quiet and relaxed exterior of an INFP may give the opposite impression to others. On the other hand, most INFPs need a lot of internal reflection time. They are often very good at understanding other people's motivations and have no difficulty filtering out suspicious ones. However, if INFPs decide to be open and start trusting others, they will form a very strong and stable relationship.
It should also be noted that they feel respectful of people who have similar principles and values – these concepts are very close to people with this kind of personality. INFPs will feel most comfortable when making friends with people with the trait of Feeling (F). The rationality and the "cold" perception of Thinking (T) may be intimidating them, while Judging (J) may appear too assertive and rigid. This does not mean that INFPs are unable to communicate with people with such characteristics, only that they are unlikely to become close friends.
INFP parents want their children to freely form their own opinions and explore their interests, as they turn to people who provide warm and loving support and guidance for their children. They want to teach important values to their children, including honesty, compassion, and the value of taking care of others. They also desire their children to understand the meaning of personal responsibility, especially when it comes to not hurting others.
Because of their tendency of introverted feeling, INFP parents often keep their problems, negative feelings, and disappointments with their children to maintain a harmonious family atmosphere. However, as their children get older, they should find ways to talk and share with them more significant and difficult issues.
Just like parents of any personality type, INFPs are sure to face challenges. They take their parenting responsibilities seriously, so they may feel frustrated when their children commit misconduct, whether big or small. Setting standards of behavior and discipline can be a concern for INFP parents. However, they can maximize their creativity and spontaneity in organized but equally responsible parenting. INFP parents can help their children develop into the most caring, honest, and joyful individuals.
4. Relationship with other personality groups
INFPs are people who are polite in communicating, encouraging discovery, and selecting ideas. They are considerate, good at listening, and always try to adapt to the communication style of many others.
For INTP, ENFP, INFJ groups: they have similar characteristics and many things in common so it is easy for INFPs to share values, interests, and approaches with these groups
For ENTP, ENFJ, ISFP, INTJ groups: they have some differences but these differences are attractive to INFPs. They still have something in common to create a balance in their relationship with each other
For ISTP, ENTJ, ESFP, ISFJ groups: at first, INFPs may have some difficulty accessing and connecting with these personality groups. However, after interacting for a while, they will discover commonalities as well as other points of view that can complement each other
For ESTP, ISTJ, ESFJ, ESTJ groups: these personality groups are opposite and conflicting with INFPs, but if it is possible to develop a relationship, this is an opportunity for INFPs to learn and grow themselves, the challenges always come along with the great opportunity
VII. INFP Career Paths and Development Areas
Most INFPs have strong principles and values within them. People with this personality type are relentlessly defending ideas they respect and they are very dedicated to both the individual and the cause. This trait is a core focus in some of the best careers with INFPs.
The INFP personality type is one of the very few personality groups to have an ideal career list that includes positions geared to serve. INFPs who sincerely care about others and tend to put other people's wishes first, whether they are better or worse than them.
They have a clear development orientation, but they are also sensitive and vulnerable to criticism. This is compounded by a tendency to work separately – INFPs are uncomfortable with stressful or team-oriented careers. Careers that tend to be very particular and require a lot of personal effort will make most INFPs very pleased.
True to the personality of INFPs, when they are looking for a job, they always pay attention to what they like to do most, which is autonomy, creativity, compliance with their personal values to help and improve the situation for others. They fit into the following career fields:
- Art and Design (Fashion Design, Fine Art Design);
- Community and social services (Health education, Community Service Management);
- Education (Teacher, Administrator, Librarian);
- Health care (Dietitian, Physiotherapist);
- Business, Management, and Sales (Marketing, Human Resource Management, Business Management);
- Social media (Editor, Public Relations, Author);
- Science (Psychologist, Sociologist).
VIII. How INFPs perform in the work and learning environment
People with this personality group do best in a comfortable and flexible environment where they can freely explore subjects in which they are interested and their creativity is valued and encouraged. Although they never feel a job is good enough and consistently delay it for evaluation, setting deadlines is probably the best way for them to get their work done. Young INFPs don't always follow the rules, but they never oppose. Because of their creativity, they rarely follow the instructions strictly and diligently.
INFPs need a quiet working environment and a job that meets their desires and values. They enjoy working independently or with colleagues who share their principles. When it comes to working with multiple goals, their only acceptable motivator is sincerity. For example, INFPs don't like people who are too competitive or who only focus on wages more than quality of work. With their values in thought, INFPs want to encourage their colleagues from within and help them work independently. Because INFPs don't like confrontation and don't usually judge others, they like to motivate their colleagues with respect and praise. Meanwhile, they often ignore the problem in the hope that it will get over with their inattention.
As subordinates, INFPs take pride in being honest and doing the right thing in all circumstances. They are satisfied by pleasing others like their superiors or their clients. As a result, they are more motivated and grow better from positive compliments and feedback. The authoritarian, critical, and demanding leadership style will make INFP subordinates feel depressed and uninterested. Setting deadlines and clear goals will properly direct their abilities, otherwise, they will be more likely to focus on their ideas and creativity.
As managers, INFPs respect their employees as an indispensable part of a team. They often listen to their subordinates' requests and thoughts before making a final decision. Their leadership style is more about the big picture than micromanagement. However, INFP managers have difficulty setting boundaries, reviewing inefficiencies, or offering contributory criticism when the situation requires. This can slow down their teamwork productivity and performance and create unnecessary stress. Sometimes, INFP managers need to be stricter and more determined for the common good of the work environment.
IX. 10 Things you might not know about INFPs
1. This is a personality group with average popularity and accounts for about 4% of the world's population.
2. By gender, only 4% of INFPs are men and 5% are women.
3. INFPs know a person's thoughts and feelings very well.
4. INFPs can be very shy.
5. INFPs tend to maintain a toxic relationship.
6. INFPs tend to blame themselves for things that went wrong and are very concerned about the self-esteem of others.
7. INFPs often change their interests and passions.
8. People with the INFP personality don't care about forcing others to be like them – they know how to value others when they are themselves.
9. Many INFPs experience feelings of insecurity.
10. INFPs often have a great sense of humor.
X. INFP famous people
- Saint John, the most beloved Apostle of Jesus;
- William Shakespeare, an English playwright, poet, and actor;
- Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a Genevan philosopher, writer and composer;
- Julia Roberts, an American actress and producer;
- C.S. Lewis, a British writer and lay theologian;
- J.K. Rowling, a British writer and philanthropist;
- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, a French writer, poet, aristocrat, journalist, and pioneering aviator – the author of The Little Prince;
- A. A. Milne, an English author – the author of Winnie The Pooh;
- Audrey Hepburn, a British actress and humanitarian;
- Diana, Princess of Wales, styled Lady Diana Spencer from 1975 to 1981 – a member of the British royal family;
- Isabel Briggs Myers, the co-creator of the MBTI test.