Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving Approximately 3 – 4 percent of the population
Idealistic, loyal to their values and to people who are important to them. Want an external life that is congruent with their values. Curious, quick to see possibilities, can be catalysts for implementing ideas. Seek to understand people and to help them fulfil their potential. Adaptable, flexible, and accepting unless a value is threatened.
INFPs value inner harmony above all else. Sensitive, idealistic, and loyal, they have a strong sense of honour concerning their personal values and are often motivated by deep personal belief or by devotion to a cause they feel is worthy. INFPs are interested in possibilities beyond what is already known and focus most of their energy on their dreams and visions. Open-minded, curious, and they often have excellent long range vision. In day-to-day matters they are usually flexible, tolerant, and adaptable, but they are very firm about inner loyalties and set very high – in fact, nearly impossible – standards themselves.
INFPs have many ideals and loyalties that keep them occupied. They are deeply committed to whatever they choose to undertake – and they tend to undertake too much but somehow get everything done.
Although they demonstrate cool reserve on the outside, INFPs care deeply inside. They are compassionate, sympathetic, understanding, and very sensitive to the feelings of others. They avoid conflict and are not interested in impressing or dominating others unless their values are at stake. Often INFPs prefer to communicate their feelings in writing, rather than orally. When they are persuading others of the importance of their ideals, INFPs can be most convincing.
INFPs seldom express the intensity of their feelings and often appear reticent and calm. However, once they know you, they are enthusiastic and warm. INFPs are friendly, but tend to avoid superficial socialising. They treasure people who take the time to understand their goals and values.
Possible Blind Spots
Since logic is not a priority for INFPs, they sometimes make errors of fact and be unaware that they are being illogical. When their dreams become out of touch with reality, others may see them as flighty and mystical. INFPs do well to ask the advice of more practical people to find out if their ideas are workable and useful in the real world.
Because they are so committed to their own ideals, INFPs have a tendency to overlook other points of view and can sometimes be rigid. They are not particularly interested in physical surroundings, and often are so busy that they fail to notice what is happening around them.
INFPs may reflect on an idea much longer than is really necessary to begin a project. Their perfectionist tendencies can lead them to refine and polish ideas for so long that they never share them. This is dangerous, since it is important for INFPs to find ways of expressing their ideas. To keep from getting discouraged, they need to work toward becoming more action-oriented.
INFPs are so emotionally entangled in their undertakings that they are very sensitive to criticism. To complicate things further, they tend to demand too much of themselves as they aspire to their own impossibly high standards. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy, even though they in fact are capable of accomplishing a great deal. When INFPs are disappointed, they tend to become negative about everything around them. Trying to develop more objectivity about their projects will help keep INFPs less vulnerable to both criticism and disappointment.
Because INFPs tend to try to please many people at the same time, it hard for them to stand up for an unpopular position. They hesitate to criticise others, and they have a hard time saying no. When INFPs don’t express negative opinions about ideas or plans, others can be misled into thinking they agree with them. INFPs need to develop more assertiveness, and can benefit from learning how to offer honest criticism of others when needed.
– Artistic Abilities
– Sense of Wonder
INFPs never seem to lose their sense of wonder. One might say they see life through rose-colored glasses. It’s as though they live at the edge of a looking-glass world where mundane objects come to life, where flora and fauna take on near-human qualities.
INFP children often exhibit this in a ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ fashion, switching from reality to fantasy and back again. With few exceptions, it is the NF child who readily develops imaginary playmates (as with Anne of Green Gables’s “bookcase girlfriend” – her own reflection) and whose stuffed animals come to life like the Velveteen Rabbit and the Skin Horse
INFPs have the ability to see good in almost anyone or anything. Even for the most unlovable the INFP is wont to have pity.
Their extreme depth of feeling is often hidden, even from themselves, until circumstances evoke an impassioned response. Of course, not all of life is rosy, and INFPs are not exempt from the same disappointments and frustrations common to humanity. As INTPs tend to have a sense of failed competence, INFPs struggle with the issue of their own ethical perfection, e.g., performance of duty for the greater cause. An INFP friend describes the inner conflict as not good versus bad, but on a grand scale, Good vs. Evil. Luke Skywalker in Star Wars depicts this conflict in his struggle between the two sides of “The Force.” Although the dark side must be reckoned with, the INFP believes that good ultimately triumphs.
Some INFPs have a gift for taking technical information and putting it into layman’s terms. Brendan Kehoe’s Zen and the Art of the Internet is one example of this “de-jargoning” talent in action.
As an INFP, your primary mode of living is focused internally, where you deal with things according to how you feel about them, or how they fit into your personal value system. Your secondary mode is external, where you take things in primarily via your intuition. INFPs, more than other iNtuitive Feeling types, are focused on making the world a better place for people. Their primary goal is to find out their meaning in life. What is their purpose? How can they best serve humanity in their lives? They are idealists and perfectionists, who drive themselves hard in their quest for achieving the goals they have identified for themselves.
INFPs are highly intuitive about people. They rely heavily on their intuitions to guide them, and use their discoveries to constantly search for value in life. They are on a continuous mission to find the truth and meaning underlying things. Every encounter and every piece of knowledge gained gets sifted through the INFP’s value system, and is evaluated to see if it has any potential to help the INFP define or refine their own path in life. The goal at the end of the path is always the same – the INFP is driven to help people and make the world a better place.
Generally thoughtful and considerate, INFPs are good listeners and put people at ease. Although they may be reserved in expressing emotion, they have a very deep well of caring and are genuinely interested in understanding people. This sincerity is sensed by others, making the INFP a valued friend and confidante. An INFP can be quite warm with people he or she knows well.
INFPs do not like conflict, and go to great lengths to avoid it. If they must face it, they will always approach it from the perspective of their feelings. In conflict situations, INFPs place little importance on who is right and who is wrong. They focus on the way that the conflict makes them feel, and indeed don’t really care whether or not they’re right. They don’t want to feel badly. This trait sometimes makes them appear irrational and illogical in conflict situations. On the other hand, INFPs make very good mediators, and are typically good at solving other people’s conflicts, because they intuitively understand people’s perspectives and feelings, and genuinely want to help them.
INFPs are flexible and laid-back, until one of their values is violated. In the face of their value system being threatened, INFPs can become aggressive defenders, fighting passionately for their cause. When an INFP has adopted a project or job which they’re interested in, it usually becomes a “cause” for them. Although they are not detail-oriented individuals, they will cover every possible detail with determination and vigour when working for their “cause”.
When it comes to the mundane details of life maintenance, INFPs are typically completely unaware of such things. They might go for long periods without noticing a stain on the carpet, but carefully and meticulously brush a speck of dust off of their project booklet.
INFPs do not like to deal with hard facts and logic. Their focus on their feelings and the Human Condition makes it difficult for them to deal with impersonal judgment. They don’t understand or believe in the validity of impersonal judgment, which makes them naturally rather ineffective at using it. Most INFPs will avoid impersonal analysis, although some have developed this ability and are able to be quite logical. Under stress, it’s not uncommon for INFPs to mis-use hard logic in the heat of anger, throwing out fact after (often inaccurate) fact in an emotional outburst.
INFPs have very high standards and are perfectionists. Consequently, they are usually hard on themselves, and don’t give themselves enough credit. INFPs may have problems working on a project in a group, because their standards are likely to be higher than other members’ of the group. In group situations, they may have a “control” problem. The INFP needs to work on balancing their high ideals with the requirements of everyday living. Without resolving this conflict, they will never be happy with themselves, and they may become confused and paralyzed about what to do with their lives.
INFPs are usually talented writers. They may be awkward and uncomfortable with expressing themselves verbally, but have a wonderful ability to define and express what they’re feeling on paper. INFPs also appear frequently in social service professions, such as counselling or teaching. They are at their best in situations where they’re working towards the public good, and in which they don’t need to use hard logic.
INFPs who function in their well-developed sides can accomplish great and wonderful things, which they will rarely give themselves credit for. Some of the great, humanistic catalysts in the world have been INFPs.