Artistic, impulsive, and unconventional, the INFP can be hard to predict.
Reading time: 5 minutes
This short series covers several aspects of the INFP personality type.
You can jump straight to any section by clicking the links below. Otherwise, we’ll start with the classic definition of the INFP personality type.
INFP stands for Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Perceiving.
In the popular Myers-Briggs or 16-personalities tradition, all personalities belong to one of 16 types. Each type is defined by preferences across four cognitive functions:
Here’s how to understand the INFP’s place on all four dimensions:
INFPs have an introverted attitude or orientation.
INFPs tend to focus more on the inner, subjective world of concepts and ideas, while an extraverted attitude leads to a greater focus on the external world of objects and people.
INFPs prefer to use the cognitive function of intuition over sensing when taking in information about the world.
This dimension, intuition vs. sensing, is known as the perceiving function in MBTI theory.
Intuition refers to perception from sources other than the sensory system. INFPs prefer to use their perception of abstract patterns, connections, “gut feeling” about a situation, rather than relying more heavily on perception directly through the sensory system (sensing).
INFPs prefer using their feeling function when judging information and assessing values and needs among people.
This dimension, thinking vs. feeling, is known as the judging function in MBTI theory.
By prefering feeling over thinking as their judging function, INFPs lean on their acute understanding of others’ emotions, desires, and perceptions.
As a perceiving type, INFPs tend to present their perceiving function of intuition to the external world.
Because they present their perceiving function externally, other people see INFPs as highy intuitive, curious, and interested in abstract concepts and ideas.
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The four-letter types from MBTI theory encode each type’s attitudes and preferred cognitive functions.
For the INFP,
From this, we can determine how the INFP prefers the four cognitive functions of intuition, sensing, thinking, and feeling:
Why? INFPs have an introverted attitude (I) and a perceiving attitude (P), so they present their perceiving function (N) to the external world.
However, as an introverted type, INFPs prefer an orientation to the inner world, so their primary cognitive function is not what they show to the external world. Instead, their primary cognitive function is their preferred judging function: feeling (F).
INFPs’ secondary function is the one they show to their external world: intuition. This counterbalances their introverted primary function.
In MBTI theory, the tertiary function is the opposite of the auxiliary function, which for INFPs is sensing.
Lastly, the inferior function is the opposite of the primary function, which for INFPs is thinking. The inferior function in all personality types is the least developed function.
According to the MBTI, somewhere between 3% and 6% of all people will be classified as an INFP.