INFJs are one of the most talked-about and written about personality types on the internet. They’re supposed to make up a mere 1% of the population, but if you run a survey in most groups, the majority of the people there will have been typed as INFJ. It gets even more confusing when you read articles about INFJs. If you look through a variety of online articles about INFJs, you’ll see that we’re basically a combination of every other personality type! We’re ISFJs, INFPs, INFJs, ISFPs, ESFJs, and INTJs all in one. Why does this happen so much? I had a sneaking suspicion as to why, but I decided to experiment.
I asked an ESTJ, two ESFJs, two ISFJs, an INFP, two ISFPs, and two ENTPs to take two popular free online tests. I didn’t tell them why I wanted them to do this, just that I wanted to see if they got the same result as they did through the official MBTI®. They all got an INFJ result, except for one of the ENTPs who got an ENFP result. These slapped together online indicators are creating an abundance of mistyped people who are then writing about the INFJ type as if it’s an ISFJ/INFP/ISFP/ENTP type.
Now you might be thinking, “oh, I see…so you think you’re the only INFJ, right? What makes you so special?”. So here’s the thing..I’m not going to write anecdotal information about myself in this article. My personal life and story may not resonate with every INFJ out there. I’m going to use information from Carl Jung, Isabel Briggs-Myers, and other typologists who’ve put in a lot of study and time to clarify the different types. Hopefully, this article can reduce some misconceptions. So without further ado, let’s get started!
Misconception #1 – INFJs are Extremely Sensitive and Emotionally Intense
One thing that seems to be largely ignored in the personality community is that INFJs are intuitives first; feelers second. INFJs aren’t particularly focused on inhabiting or analyzing their own internal emotional states. They are more focused on analyzing the big picture, the future, and how one thing will lead to another. When it comes to their own emotions, they can be a little confused about them because they use Fe and not Fi. They are much better at picking up on other people’s emotions than their own.
Generally speaking, the majority of INFJ’s would rather be reading books on philosophy or trying to imagine some far-off goal for the future than dwelling on their feelings or values. Blogger Heidi Priebe describes it well when she says, “Because so many IxFP types misidentify as INFJs, INFJs often develop a reputation for being incredibly emotional dreamers – when in reality, they’re much more intellectual and discerning than they are emotional and imaginative.” See more of Heidi’s article here.
Can INFJs be emotional and sensitive? Yes. All types can be, but it’s generally not their main focus. Their main focus is nearly always going to be intuition and using that with feeling as a support process.
Sources: Psychological Types (The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, Vol. 6) (Bollingen Series XX)
My True Type: Clarifying Your Personality Type, Preferences & Functions
How Mistypes Have Warped the Descriptions of Each MBTI Type
Types who are more emotionally in-tune with themselves: INFPs and ISFPs
Misconception #2 – INFJs are Extremely Detail-Oriented
I see a lot of INFJ memes and articles that talk about how they are so detail conscious. They “see everything”. They have to have their houses neatly in order and they notice every little thing that is out of place. I have to respectfully disagree there. INFJs are usually very unaware of the concrete details of their environment. Because INFJs have inferior sensing they usually gloss over details unless they pertain to people or the big picture. INFJs take in an overall impression of the atmosphere around them, but can be very blind to the details of their environment.
“Dealing with details, especially in an unfamiliar environment, can trigger inferior Extraverted Sensing (Se) in Introverted Intuitive types. In fact, these types frequently mention that feeling overwhelmed by details often provokes characteristic inferior function reactions.”
– Naomi Quenk, Was That Really Me?: How Everyday Stress Brings Out Our Hidden Personality
The MBTI® Manual – A Guide to the Development and Use of the Myers-Briggs Type Inducator® Instrument
Was That Really Me?: How Everyday Stress Brings Out Our Hidden Personality
Types who are more detail-conscious: ISFJs, ESFJs, ISFPs
Misconception #3 – INFJs are Ambiverts
Because INFJs use Extraverted Feeling as their auxiliary function, they often get classified as more of an ambivert than an introvert. But if you read much about type, or if you do know an actual INFJ (which is statistically unlikely) they are very true introverts by nature. Carl Jung himself said of INJs, “As their main activity is directed inwards, nothing is outwardly visible but reserve, secretiveness…uncertainty, and an apparent groundless embarrassment…When anything does come to the surface, it is generally an indirect manifestation of the inferior and relatively unconscious functions…Accordingly they are mostly underestimated, or at least misunderstood.”
“They (INFJs) prefer time away from external stimulation and mundane details in order to access their rich internal process.”
– Dario Nardi
While auxiliary Fe does allow INFJs to engage socially with a certain adaptability and awareness, they definitely need a lot of alone time so they can allow their Ni to process and synthesize the information they’ve picked up throughout the day.
Misconception #4 – INFJs Are Psychic
INFJs are masters of pattern-recognition and can easily be misconstrued as having some kind of “magical” foresight. The truth is much more technical.
INFJs gather copious amounts of information via their inferior function (Se). They don’t instantly react to or identify this information like the Se-dominant type would, but they collect all this sensory data in a jumble in their mind. Ni works to synthesize this information, along with existing subconscious information, as if it’s assembling a puzzle or finding a way through a maze to a hidden insight. The INFJ then gets a “hunch” or revelation about what is happening and how things may unfold. They can easily sense “the brewing storm”, but it’s because they are constantly running this intuitive process in their mind, piecing together clues. That sensory data is vital, though, and without Se, INFJs would be unable to get their accurate perceptions. It’s not magic, it’s just pattern analysis and semi-unconscious investigative guesswork.
“Once finished, Ni generates an impression that seems to come out of “nowhere.” But the fact is that the intuition did not come out of nowhere, but from a synthesis of sensory data gathered from the immediate environment combined with information from the INJ’s own psyche.”
– Dr. A.J. Drenth, Introverted Intuition
Sources: My True Type: Clarifying Your Personality Type, Preferences & Functions
Psychological Types (The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, Vol. 6) (Bollingen Series XX)
Neuroscience of Personality: Brain Savvy Insights for All Types of People
Misconception #5 – INFJs Know You Better Than You Know Yourself
No….no, no, no, no, no. This is why people call us “special snowflakes” and find articles about us annoying and superior. We may be able to pick up on patterns in human behavior, and we might be able to tell you (if you ask) which steps could lead in different directions. This doesn’t mean we know your entire past, your history, your experiences, what’s made you who you are. We may be able to understand your emotional state before you blatantly spell it out, but that doesn’t mean we’re all empaths. To say something as incredibly arrogant as “I know you better than you know yourself” is insulting and belittling and certainly not kind or intelligent. We’re not all-knowing wizards. We’d all like to be, but truthfully most of us come across as pretty normal people. We can be duped. We can be wrong. We can be lied to and believe it. We’re not superior/better/more special than anyone else.
Source: Common sense
The INFJ personality type is unique and wonderful in so many ways. But so are all fifteen other personality types. I hope this article has cleared up some of the misconceptions…what do you think? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Find out more about your personality type in our eBooks, Discovering You: Unlocking the Power of Personality Type or The INFJ – Understanding the Mystic. You can also connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!
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