How compatible are INFP and INTJ patterns of communicating, thinking, and working?
Reading time: 5 minutes
In this article, you’ll find a comparison of INFPs and INTJs across five important personality domains: Interpersonal/Communication Style, Emotional Style, Intellectual Style, and Organizational Style.
One important note: the following comparisons cannot be made simply by comparing the cognitive functions (letters) of each personality type.
For this analysis, TraitLab gathered data about personality traits from thousands of participants who identified themselves as a particular type in the 16 Personality or Myers-Briggs framework.
The comparisons here show the average similarities and differences between INFPs and INTJs. However, remember that all personality types are oversimplifications. For an assessment of your unique position in these areas, you’ll need a personalized assessment that doesn’t rely on personality types.
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Your particular style of communicating and interacting with others can be described fairly well by two dimensions: assertiveness and warmth.
Assertiveness describes your tendency to assert yourself, lead, and influence others in social situations, while warmth describes your tendencies to empathize and put others’ needs ahead of your own.
People with the same personality type often share some similarities in assertiveness and warmth. In the graph below, you can see where most INFPs and most INTJs fall along both of these dimensions.
First, take a look at where people in each type, on average, fall in this interpersonal space.
INFPs often respect others, conform to expectations, and ask for guidance. At their best, they are loyal and reliable, and encourage others to guide and help. INFPs may be overly clingy, gullible, and have difficulty expressing anger, even when appropriate. At their worst, they will try to please others too much, put others’ needs ahead of their own, and allow others to take advantage of them.
INTJs are forthright, firm, and speak their mind directly. At their best, they are fiercely independent and unaffected by the thoughts and opinions of others. INTJs may be harsh, frank, or insensitive in their criticism of others. At their worst, they can be overly aggressive and too eager to fight and argue with others.
One notable difference between many INFPs and most INTJs is in your interpersonal warmth. Like many INFPs, you are more likely on the warmer, friendlier, more empathetic side of the spectrum. Compared to you and other INFPs, INTJs’ interpersonal style can sometimes feel distant, cold, and uninterested in your wants and needs.
Another important difference between you and most INTJs is in your relative assertiveness or passivity in social situations. Like many INFPs, you are often on the more passive, reserved side of the spectrum. In some cases, this is a perfect compliment to INTJs’ more dominant, assertive style, and the two of you can make an effective team. However, you may find that you need to put extra effort into making your opinions heard when working with INTJs.
Another characteristic of your personality is your emotional style — your tendencies towards different kinds of moods. There are two dimensions that influence emotional style: arousal and valence.
Arousal describes your relative energy level across different situations. Those with high baseline levels of arousal tend to be generally more alert, active, and engaged, while those with a lower baseline are more reserved, subdued, and inhibited.
Valence describes whether these moods tend to be positive (pleasant) or negative (unpleasant). People with a more positively valenced style are more likely to experience emotions like joy, enthusiasm, satisfaction, and serenity. People with a more negatively valenced style are more likely to experience sadness, frustration, dissatisfaction, and anxiety.
The graph below shows where each type, on average, usually sits in this emotional space.
INFPs have a tendency to be quiet and inhibited. Compared to most people, they can easily drift into gloom and melancholy. They see the glass as half-empty and have a more skeptical outlook and a hesitant approach to life. For better or worse, INFPs tend to notice the negatives in most situations. In stressful times, they are more likely to withdraw quietly and retreat inward, rather than share their frustration with others.
INTJs tend to be reserved, laid-back, and content. They often see the glass as half-full, confident that things will eventually work out for the best. INTJs typically respond to challenges with quiet optimism and rarely become overwhelmed when things get difficult. When their efforts fail, they calmly dust themselves off and try again.
Like many INFPs, you and most INTJs tend to be on the more reserved and quiet side. You both prefer to sit back and observe, and the two of you are usually perfectly happy with lower levels of excitement and stimulation. You understand each other’s need for personal space and solitude, and you are both content to leave each other to do their own thing.
One difference between INFPs and INTJs in their typical emotional valence, or their tendencies towards positive and negative emotions. You and most INFPs tend to fall on the more negative side. Compared to most INTJs, you and most INFPs typically experience more negative emotions like sadness, worry, frustration, and impatience. INTJs have the opposite pattern, and they tend to gravitate toward positive emotions like enthusiasm, joy, and contentment.
These emotional differences can be subtle, but they may color how INFPs and INTJs process new information. You and most INFPs are quicker to see the negatives and consider what could go wrong, while INTJs might receive the same news with excitement and optimism.
Your intellectual style describes how you receive, process, and pursue different kinds of information. Differences in intellectual style are captured well by two dimensions: ideas and aesthetics.
Ideas describes your appetite for new information and your interest in complex, challenging material. People high on the ideas dimension have an appreciation for complexity and technical details. People lower on ideas are less interested in learning for learning’s sake, and they prefer to simplify complex topics down to the essential details.
Aesthetics captures your relative interest and sensitivity to aesthetic information and its emotional impact. People higher on the aesthetics dimension usually have strong artistic interests and a deep appreciation for beauty in many forms. Those lower on aesthetics tend to value practical application over artistic merit and usually adhere to more conventional standards of beauty.
In the graph below, you’ll see where INFPs and INTJs, on average, fall in this intellectual space.
INFPs are idealistic, creative dreamers. They tend to be interested in the nuances of emotional and artistic experiences, looking for patterns and meaningful insights. INFPs are comfortable with ambiguity and abstract concepts, focusing on the big picture rather than technical details. They often practice some form of creative expression and are likely to hold a few unconventional, eccentric beliefs.
INTJs tend to be deep thinkers — bright, curious, and philosophical. They are highly receptive to new ideas and drawn to complex, abstract concepts. INTJs enjoy taking in large amounts of information and typically have one or more creative outlets.
Like most INFPs, you are less interested in learning purely for learning’s sake, compared to most INTJs. You’d prefer to focus on the essentials and the practical issues at hand, while your INTJ counterpart typically wants to dig deeper and understand the bigger picture. In conversations, you may find that your INTJ partner often gets caught up in theoretical or abstract details, and you need to bring them back down to earth.
Likewise, both INFPs and INTJs share a deep appreciation for beauty in the natural and artistic world. Both of you can easily become absorbed in aesthetic experiences and overcome with a sense of awe and wonder. The two of you can find common ground in your love of creative expression and unconventional approaches to life’s challenges.
Your organizational style describes your habits around organization and planning. Your organizational style influences how you structure your time and physical space. Differences in organizational style fall along two dimensions: industriousness and orderliness.
Industriousness describes your persistence, need for achievement, and intensity of focus. People higher on industriousness usually organize their behavior around a few important long-term goals. People lower on industriousness are usually more focused on the present and will more easily change their focus when new opportunities appear.
Orderliness describes your need for regularity, order, and structure in your environment. People higher on orderliness prefer tidy, organized physical spaces, detailed schedules, and reliable routines. People lower on orderliness can tolerate more disorganization and prefer a more spontaneous, unstructured approach.
The graph below shows the average position of INFPs and INTJs along these dimensions of organizational style.
INFPs thrive in unstructured environments with fewer constraints and more room for improvisation and serendipity. They generally focus on enjoying the present rather than preparing for the future. INFPs highly value spontaneity and the flexibility to change their mind, and they resist setting hard deadlines or rigid expectations.
INTJs are usually systematic and highly organized. They like setting big, long-term goals and then creating detailed plans to accomplish them. INTJs are generally good at ignoring distractions and making steady progress through consistent routines and habits.
Like many INFPs, you and most INTJ often differ in your need to achieve explicit goals and use your time productively. While you embrace the here and now, your INTJ counterpart is often thinking about and planning for the future. When you are keeping your eyes out for new, interesting opportunities, INTJs are usually working away with their heads down. This difference between your present-oriented mindset and their future-oriented one can create occasional tension. However, this difference also helps you balance the other out at times. Your INTJ counterpart often needs you to break them out of their need for productivity and efficiency while they can provide you with additional focus and motivation.
A second difference between INFPs and INTJs is in their relative need for routine, structure, and order. You and most INFPs are more comfortable with an unplanned, spontaneous approach to life, while your INTJ counterpart often wants plans, schedules, and well-defined procedures. INTJs thrive on routine and predictability, whereas INFPs find the same level of organization to be overbearing and constraining. These differences in tidiness, punctuality, and comfortability with deviating from social expectations can be a consistent source of conflict between the two of you.
Most people have complex personalities and don’t fall into a single personality type.
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For comparisons between INFPs and other types from the 16 Personality typology, visit any of the type pairings below:
For comparisons between INFPs and other Enneagram types, visit any of the type pairings below: