Expressive, outgoing, and creative, the ENFP makes up one of the most popular personality types.
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In this post, I’ll describe how the ENFP differs from other types along the Big Five personality dimensions, and show how these can influence the ENFP’s relationships, interpersonal style, and potential career matches.
Before diving into the ENFP, remember that all personality types are rough guides. Nobody easily fits into a single personality type, and relying solely on a type to understand yourself is a sure way to miss what makes you unique.
Personality type systems like the 16 personalities or Myers-Briggs types are widely popular, but personality researchers and scientists prefer trait-based systems like the Big Five personality framework. Trait-based systems are much better at capturing the complex blends of traits that distinguish individuals, rather than lumping people into uniform types.
According to personality type theory, every type has its own four-letter code, which tell how that type prefers to interact with the world: Introverted vs. Extraverted, Intuitive vs. Sensing, Feeling vs. Thinking, and Judging vs. Perceiving.
According to this theory, the ENFP prefers:
But what do these really mean?
Fortunately, researchers have studied how each of these four preferences are related to the Big Five personality dimensions, which can then be connected to important life areas like relationships, habits, and career choices.
The Big Five framework describes the differences between individual personalities along five broad dimensions: Openness To Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.
Personality types can sometimes give you a rough guess at where you fall along these dimensions, but measuring these dimensions directly with an assessment like TraitLab’s free personality test is much more precise.
As a group, people classified as ENFPs have some similarities in their Big Five dimensions. In the graph below, each blue dot is an individual ENFP. Every dot is positioned based on that person’s score on each dimension. Darker blue means more people fall in that area.
For example, note the pattern of ENFPs on the Agreeableness. While there are ENFPs along the entire range, the area at near the top is much denser and darker, because most ENFPs tend to crowd around the high end of Agreeableness. Overall, most ENFPs are well above average on Agreeableness.
Similarly, we profile the ENFP personality type by seeing where most ENFPs fall along each of the Big Five dimensions.
ENFPs are usually highly open to experience.
ENFPs tend to be higher on Big Five Openness to Experience, with quite a few falling at the extremely high end of the dimension. Openness is related to a preference for novel experiences and abstract ideas over more conventional, familiar ways of thinking and doing things.
Highly open individuals, like many ENFPs, enjoy trying new things, are intellectually curious and have a love for learning, and like discussing more abstract or philosophical topics. They tend to have a diverse range of interests and tastes, and will often choose something new and different over the the familiar and traditional.
ENFPs are slightly less conscientious.
On average, ENFPs tend to be slightly lower on Big Five Conscientiousness, but as you can see above, there is wide variation among ENFPs. While most fall somewhere below the average, there are still quite a few highly conscientious ENFPs.
Conscientiousness describes one’s tendency to highly industrious, self-disciplined, organized, and stick closely to a consistent schedule.
Less conscientious ENFPs are more easily distracted by new opportunities and possibilities, and will be more likely to jump around between smaller goals rather than focus on a single long-term goal. As ENFPs fall lower on conscientiousness, they will be more irregular in their routines and more accepting of disorganization and chaotic environments and schedules.
For the exceptional ENFPs that fall on the high end of conscientiousness, they will stand out in their ability to maintain a long-term vision and work tirelessly towards achieving it, and will tend to develop rigorous routines and systems for efficiently working through tasks of everyday life.
Given the wide range that ENFPs show in conscientiousness, I’d suggest using a more precise measurement like TraitLab’s free personality test to learn where you fall on this dimension, rather than rely on a personality type.
ENFPs are generally highly extraverted.
ENFPs are consistently some of the most extraverted individuals across all personality types. With very few exceptions, ENFPs fall well above average on Big Five Extraversion. ENFPs are often brimming with enthusiasm and energy, are highly expressive and vibrant, and tend to have more bubbly, cheerful dispositions.
In a group, ENFPs will often have one of the loudest voices (and loudest laughs, too). They don’t hold their emotions in and will confidently express plenty of joy, happiness, and excitement.
ENFPs are usually highly agreeable.
ENFPs tend to be fairly higher on Big Five Agreeableness than most people. Agreeableness describes motivations to build and maintain positive relations with others, and a general sense of trust, empathy, and concern for other people.
Highly agreeable people, like many ENFPs, tend to avoid creating interpersonal conflicts. When they sense social tension, they will naturally find ways to reduce or resolve it. ENFPs are often highly empathetic and unusually skilled at sensing and reacting to the emotions of others.
ENFPs are widely varied in their level of Neuroticism.
ENFPs show almost no consistency in their level of Neuroticism or Emotional Stability. An ENFP can be very high, very low, or very average on this Neuroticism, as personality types tend to be very poor at capturing this critical dimension.
Neuroticism describes one’s emotional variability and sensitivity to all kinds of stress. Highly neurotic ENFPs have more dramatic and frequent mood swings, are easily irritated, and more frequently experience negative emotions like frustration, anxiety, and sadness.
Less neurotic ENFPs will have higher emotional stability, more predictable moods, and tend to handle physical and mental stress with greater ease. These more easy-going ENFPs will be less likely to ruminate on negative thoughts, are more optimistic, and more self-confident.
Curious about your own level of Neuroticism? You can measure it right now with TraitLab’s free personality test, along with all of the Big Five dimensions.
You are more complex than four letters
No two ENFPs are the same. Learn about your unique blend of personality dimensions.
Over 20% of people are classified as ENFP, making it one of the most popular of all personality types.
However, this popularity is deceiving. At first glance, it might seem like most ENFPs are similar to each other, but that isn’t the case at all. On the contrary, the huge popularity of the ENFP type means that it’s also one of the most psychologically diverse of all personality types.
ENFPs can fall almost anywhere on the entire range of Conscientiousness and Neuroticism, leading to a huge variety of emotional and planning styles all within a single type.
In the graph below, you can see how ENFPs (blue dots) compare to all non-ENFP types (grey dots) on these two dimensions. The takeaway here is that the ENFPs are almost as widely spread around as all non-ENFPs. In other words, being an ENFP doesn’t distinguish someone on these particular dimensions.
To put it another way, imagine four different people, all classified as ENFP, with these combinations of traits:
How can all of these different personality patterns belong to the same personality type? Oddities like this are common with type-based systems like 16 personalities or Myers-Briggs types, which is one of many reasons why personality scientists and researchers avoid using types at all. Instead, a trait-based approach is often preferred, so these important personality differences can be captured more precisely.
If you are an ENFP and wonder if you are more Edward, Nora, Fran, or Peter, take the free personality test here at TraitLab and see where you fall on Conscientiousness and Neuroticism.
Fortunately, ENFPs have much greater consistency in their interpersonal style. With some exceptions, most ENFPs are above average in Extraversion and Agreeableness, leading to a friendly, gregarious, and confident style of interacting with other people.
ENFPs’ blend of high Extraversion and Agreeableness allows them to naturally and effectively navigate most social situations. While they can sometimes loud, bold, and boisterous, their cheerful and friendly nature keeps them from coming off as overly dominant or pushy.
Though ENFPs tend to be warm, empathetic, and sensitive to others’ feelings, they are not pushovers. ENFPs are often quite comfortable asserting themselves and ensuring that their needs are met, as well. This combination of empathy and self-assurance can enable some ENFPs to be effective diplomats and negotiators.
ENFPs highly value close relationships with other people, and they excel at developing new relationships while maintaining existing ones.
ENFPs tend to be highly secure in their interpersonal relationships. They generally trust other people, which allows them to start up new relationships relatively easily and optimistically.
Within relationships, ENFPs are unafraid of leaning on others and happy to let others lean on them, without fearing a loss of dependence or freedom.
However, ENFPs are usually secure in their own independence, and do not tend to worry about being alone. They may comfortably move in and out of phases of independence and dependence on others, easily adapting as needed.
Due to their friendly and confident nature, ENFPs tend to have relatively fewer interpersonal problems than most other personality types. When interpersonal problems do arise, they are usually related to ENFPs being overly expressive or overly assured.
Sometimes, ENFPs’ enthusiasm can be a bit too much for others, and they may be seen as overly dramatic, too uninhibited, or too outspoken. ENFPs may notice that they occasionally overshare with others, revealing more than what was necessary or appropriate, even with the best of intentions.
Some ENFPs report that they catch themselves trying too hard to win the attention and admiration of others. ENFPs often love the spotlight, so knowing when to step back and simply listen can sometimes be a challenge.
How do other people see and describe ENFPs?
The wordcloud below shows the top 100 words used to describe ENFPs. Bigger words describe the more prominent aspects of ENFPs.
ENFPs are usually extraverted and highly agreeable, leading others to describe them as enthusiastic, sociable, friendly, playful and jovial. ENFPs also tend to be highly expressive in their words and body language, seen sometimes as spirited and dramatic all the way to exhibitionist and theatrical.
ENFPs’ social enthusiasm might overshadow their high openness to experience and intellectual curiosity, but those who know ENFPs well may regard them as imaginative, artistic, adventurous, and inventive.
Are you an ENFP, but wonder if these words truly describe you? To see the words that describe your own unique set of personality traits, try the free personality test here at TraitLab.
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ENFPs are unusually diverse in career interests, but they stand out in their preference for roles that exercise their creativity, intellectual curiosity, and outgoing nature. In particular, ENFPs may thrive in many different types of teaching and counseling professions, which carry high social demands and creative solutions to novel problems.
The chart below shows how the ENFP personality type is related to eight core career interests: Production, Creativity, Erudition, Altruism, Analysis, Organization, Adventure, and Leadership. Your unique blend of these interests has a huge influence on how well a career feels like it “fits” with your personality.
ENFPs’ strongest career interest is in Creativity. Many ENFPs will shine in unstructured, unpredictable settings that require them to innovate and solve problems through creativity and intuition.
People with strong interests in Creativity prefer jobs that require innovation through artistic and intuitive skills in less structured tasks and environments. Examples include artists, novelists, actor or actresses, musicians, curators, and designers.
ENFPs have an almost equally strong interest in Leadership, so they are likely to thrive in positions that require leading other people and being in the spotlight.
People with strong interests in Leadership fit well in careers that enable them to influence, persuade, and motivate other people. Examples include sales and marketing directors, politicians and political organizers, and executives.
ENFPs also have very strong interests in Erudition, meaning they are well-suited for roles that involve deep study or mastery of information to perform their tasks well.
People with strong interests in Erudition enjoy roles that require mastery of complicated or arcane concepts and information. Examples include translators, editors, research professors, literary scholars, interpreters, and foreign correspondents.
ENFPs have a fairly strong interests in Altruism, meaning they also enjoy careers that allow them to directly or indirectly help others through their work.
People with strong interests in Altruism fit well in careers that involve helping, comforting, caring for, and teaching other people. Examples include physical therapists, counselors, clergy, social workers, doctors, and nurses.
ENFPs have weak but positive interests in Analysis. This interest may not have a significant impact on the career preferences of ENFPs as a group, although some individual ENFPs may have stronger preferences in this area.
People with strong interests in Analysis enjoy roles that require investigating, researching, and explaining concepts and ideas. Examples include medical researchers, chemists, scientific reporters, and statisticians.
As a group, ENFPs do not have a consistent pattern of interest or dislike for Production.
People with strong interests in Production enjoy careers that allow them to work with their hands or tools to create, repair, or maintain tangible products and things. Examples include farmers, builders, mechanics, forest rangers, and woodworkers.
As with Production, ENFPs do not consistently have a preference or dislike for Adventure. Any individual ENFP is likely to be different in their preference for this aspect.
People with strong interests in Adventure prefer careers that involve working outdoors, competition, excitement, risk-taking, and even danger. Examples include police officers, military officers, professional athletes, and bounty hunters.
ENFPs’ strongest career disinterest is in Organization. Careers with a heavy emphasis on organization, attention to details, or strict ways of doing certain things will likely feel unsatisfying and constraining to many ENFPs.
People with strong interests in Organization prefer careers that involve categorizing, planning, and systematizing information and processes. Examples include financial officers, budget analysts, office managers, database analysts, and systems administrators.
Examples of careers that fit ENFPs’ blend of interests in Creativity, Leadership, Erudition, and Altruism:
ENFPs tend to avoid positions that are primarily focused on Organization, or have a strong emphasis on organizing, systematizing, and sticking to tightly controlled processes, such as:
ENFPs are extraverted and energetic, intellectually curious, and friendly and outgoing. While ENFPs make up one of the most popular of all personality types, this group also contains tremendous psychological diversity, particularly in their organization and style of handling stress and negative emotions.
If you think you are an ENFP, and want to learn about what your type doesn’t tell you, try TraitLab’s free personality test. You’ll learn about each of your underlying personality dimensions, your similarity to other personality types, and you can easily share and compare your results with others.
Header photo by MD Duran on Unsplash