INFPs are the people who keep imagination alive and well in the world around us. Their inner worlds are vast, lush, and filled with magical or transformative possibilities. For the INFP, listening and exploration drive them. They want to understand themselves and their unique path in life. Chances are, it’s nothing traditional or mainstream. When people talk to them, they take time to comprehend what those people really mean. Rather than formulating their own responses in a rush, they instead give others a chance to be truly “seen” and listened to.
INFPs live by a unique personal code of ethics. While it may or may not look mainstream, they have taken the time to assess everything they believe with a microscopic attention to what feels right in their heart. Their intuition guides them down multiple pathways of thought; their imagination filling in possibilities and making it easy for them to understand multiple points of view. They can be iconic writers, groundbreaking musicians, empathetic counselors, and innovative thinkers. If you look at famous INFPs you’ll find a plethora of talented individuals; J.R.R. Tolkien, A.A. Milne, Edgar Allan Poe, and Vincent Van Gogh are just a few!
You can verify if you’re an INFP personality type by taking our questionnaire.
What Does INFP Stand For?
I = Introversion. “I focus inwards before responding to the outside world. I gain energy from alone time when I can reflect on their own thoughts.”
N = iNtuition. “I prefer focusing on abstract possibilities and ideas rather than concrete data. I prefer imagining what could be rather than dwelling on what “is.””
F = Feeling. “I apply personal values and ethics to my decision-making. I want to live in congruence with my moral code and I consider the emotional impact a decision will have on others.”
P = Perceiving. “I like having a lot of options and tend to be adaptable and spontaneous. I like to mix work with play and enjoy an exploratory approach to life.”
Creative – INFPs are extremely imaginative and creative individuals. They like to think outside-the-box and see ingenious or innovative ways to do things.
Sincere – INFPs believe in being authentic as much as possible. Lying is anathema to them, and while INFPs can be guarded, they are extremely turned off by phony or manipulative behavior.
Empathetic – INFPs tend to mirror the emotions of other people – they put themselves in other people’s shoes and use their imagination and empathy to have compassion for them. They are very good at listening to other people’s problems and concerns without passing judgment. They are skilled at providing a safe space for other people to talk, express themselves, and find support.
Open-Minded – INFPs tend to have a live-and-let-live attitude toward others. They don’t desire to force their beliefs onto others, and usually, they will only call out someone’s behavior if it’s hurting someone or if it clearly violates their values.
Dedicated – INFPs are passionate about the causes that are close to their hearts. They are very loyal to their beliefs and are dedicated to their vision and ideas for the future. They can be very courageous when fighting for a value or cause they believe in.
May Struggle with Structure and Details- INFPs like a more open-ended, adaptable lifestyle, and can feel overwhelmed or stifled within a highly structured environment. While this, in and of itself, isn’t a bad thing, it can mean that they struggle with organizing and structuring their tasks and workload. Because they are big-picture thinkers, they may also forget little details that are important.
Extremely Private – Many INFPs are private and reserved. Their feelings are often very internalized and it can take a lot of time before they feel comfortable sharing them with others. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation if they don’t find a close enough bond with someone who they can share their authentic self with.
Taking Things Personally – INFPs tend to take criticism very personally and can have a hard time seeing constructive criticism for what it is. They may avoid conflict so much that they are unable to express their real opinions about things, or they may feel stressed or overwhelmed when dealing with criticisms or challenges from others.
Overly Idealistic – INFPs tend to have grand visions and hopes for the future. This is an amazing quality and one that can make them very visionary and inspiring. But sometimes it can backfire, when they feel inevitably disappointed with the imperfections of daily life or when people fail them. It is rare that reality matches up with the beauty of their imagination.
The INFP Cognitive Functions:
Dominant Function: Introverted Feeling (Fi)
Auxiliary Function: Extraverted Intuition (Ne)
Tertiary Function: Introverted Sensing (Si)
Inferior Function: Extraverted Thinking (Te)
Introverted Feeling – The INFP’s Dominant Function
The greatest power or strength that the INFP has usually lies in their dominant function, Introverted Feeling, or “Fi” for short. INFPs are on a constant quest for personal growth and self-discovery. Their aim is, above all, to be authentic in all things and to be true to their values. They funnel their passions, emotions, desires, and values into select causes, often becoming “champions” of these causes. If you look through the pages of history, you’ll find that many INFPs weren’t afraid to stand out and take risks for their cause (Joan of Arc), or write groundbreaking books about political change (George Orwell).
INFPs are intensely individualistic. They may not draw a lot of attention to themselves willingly, but they don’t believe in blending in with the crowd or succumbing to peer pressure. You can see this when you look at most of the rumored INFP musicians; people like Kurt Cobain, John Lennon, Tori Amos, or Bjork. There’s a strong sense that these individuals have or had a very unique, one-of-a-kind identity and they weren’t afraid to be different or speak up against the status quo.
INFP’s have a deep set of emotions and values that they adhere to. They get strong gut feelings about whether something is right or wrong, and it may be hard for them to vocalize or explain these feelings. They just instinctively know when something violates a value or when something aligns with it.
Unlike Extraverted Feeling types, INFPs keep their emotions close to the chest. Like a fur-lined coat, their emotions and feelings are warm, yet hidden from view. INFPs may even appear distant or reserved to many other types, as they don’t pour out their feelings readily. It usually takes a great deal of trust before INFPs feel comfortable sharing their deepest values and emotions. Often, they feel more comfortable writing about their feelings than vocalizing them.
Music, art, poetry, reading..all these creative mediums tend to attract INFPs like a moth to the flame. They truly enjoy the process of “feeling”. They enjoy having their emotions captured by an authentic and raw expression of passion or conviction. Many INFPs are drawn to career fields in the arts; they tend to have strong writing capabilities or else they enjoy drawing, music, acting, painting, or any other number of creative pursuits that allow them to express their feelings in an indirect way.
INFPs tend to have a soft spot for people or animals that they believe are marginalized or ignored. It is very common to find INFPs fighting for the rights of endangered species, or children, or refugees, or any group they feel is being oppressed. They tend to pour their hearts into these causes and can make great progress in advancing awareness for these groups.
“I have no right, by anything I do or say, to demean a human being in his own eyes. What matters is not what I think of him; it is what he thinks of himself. To undermine a man’s self-respect is a sin.”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery, a rumored INFP
Authenticity, compassion, sincerity, empathy, and idealism are all hallmarks of the INFP personality. They believe in digging deeply into their core beliefs, values, identity, and desire to find their true calling in life. They’re not afraid to stand up to scrutiny or be called “oddballs” if their vision or life goal is outside the norm. What matters to them is making a difference, doing what they feel is right, and living at peace with their own inner values.
Auxiliary Function – Extraverted Intuition (Ne)
After feeling, INFPs have another preferred process called Extraverted Intuition, or “Ne” for short. While it’s not usually as strong as their dominant function, intuition has a powerful impact on the way they see the world around them. INFPs are highly imaginative, conceptual, and drawn towards future possibilities. They see interrelationships and connections between things in the outside world and find the world to be a veritable playground of creative ideas and potential.
When INFPs interact with the outside world, they’re likely to show the use of intuition even more than feeling. Because their feeling function is introverted, it is more likely to be internalized unless they are in a deep discussion with someone they trust. However, their intuition is extraverted in nature, so they’re likely to enjoy discussing possibilities, theoretical ideas, the future, and their ideal vision for tomorrow.
Many INFPs use their intuition in artistic ways; to write stories about the world in the future, to paint abstract art, to tinker on a musical instrument until just the right tune emerges. They can also use their intuition to create business plans or to work with people in creative and thoughtful ways. Many INFPs are drawn to careers in counseling or social work, where they can combine their creativity with their deeply held values and empathy for people.
INFP Personality Traits:
While every person varies based on their background and their Enneagram type, INFPs often have the following characteristics:
- They are imaginative and open-minded
- They look for possibilities beyond the immediate situation
- They are empathetic and conscientious
- They need a great deal of alone time to reflect and think
- They tend to keep their feelings close to the chest
- They are skilled at understanding the authenticity levels of others
- They have a radar for the emotional safety of the environment they’re in or the people they’re with
- They easily put themselves in other people’s shoes
- They are curious and excited by variety
- They don’t like being tied down to a lot of rules, structures, or guidelines
- They like to keep their options open
Relationships and Romance
INFPs are extremely devoted to the people who they take into their hearts. Once they decide to let someone into their lives, they are usually extremely empathetic, warm, and compassionate. They tend to take their relationships seriously, although when it comes to relationships INFPs are all very different in what they desire and want. I’ve spoken with many who prefer long-term relationships, and quite a few who pursued less traditional relationship preferences. Most of all, they need to feel that their partner is authentic and sincere with them. They need to feel that they can 100% be themselves. INFPs who are in relationships that are filled with conflict tend to not stick around very long. They hate conflict and being constrained, and they will likely drop a partner who tries to reign them in, micro-manage them, or who is very critical or harsh.
INFPs are very nurturing and supportive partners. They want to encourage their partner in their own unique hopes and dreams and find out what drives them and what their craziest, deepest, wildest fantasies are. They bring imagination, creativity, and empathy to a relationship, and this quality makes them very attractive and intriguing to other types.
INFPs need a partner who will be attentive and honest. Insincerity and poor listening skills are two of the biggest turn-offs for INFPs. They also want someone who will respect their values and provide affirmation and reassurance of their personal feelings.
According to Just Your Type: Create the Relationship You’ve Always Wanted Using the Secrets of Personality Type, the most important aspects of a relationship for INFPs are:
– Mutual commitment
– Good listening skills
– Shared values
Creativity, originality, and integrity are the things that motivate INFPs in a career. It’s essential that what they are doing lines up with their values. They want to look back on their life and see a career that meant something to them or the world and was not simply a meaningless race to get to their next paycheck. They long to express their vision through creative tasks and they crave time to develop ingenious ideas and creative solutions. A quiet place to work, a friendly, caring environment, and an atmosphere of creativity and vision will make them feel at home.
Career Suggestions: Artist, Writer, Musician, Counselor, Religious Advisor, Social scientist, Arts therapist, Human resources worker, Educational software developer.
Albert Camus, George Orwell, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, A.A. Milne, Bill Watterson, Franz Kafka, Edgar Allan Poe, William Blake, Vincent van Gogh, Hans Christian Andersen, William Shakespeare, George R.R. Martin, John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, Tim Burton, Johny Depp, Nicolas Cage, Florence Welch, Bjork, Thom Yorke, David Lynch, Terrence Malick, Andy Warhol, Andrew Garfield, Robert Pattinson, Adam Driver, Heath Ledger, Chloe Sevigny, Regina Spektor, Matt Bellamy, Lana del Ray
Sometimes exploring the world of fiction can bring us closer to understanding what a personality type can look like. If you’d like to understand the INFP personality type better by exploring movies, television shows, or books, you can check out these fictional INFP characters:
Fern Arable from “Charlotte’s Web”
Frodo Baggins from “The Lord of the Rings”
Lucy Pevensie from “The Chronicles of Narnia”
Romeo Montague from “Romeo and Juliet”
Will Byers from “Stranger Things”
Tommy in “Never Let Me Go”
You can find out more in our article about 12 Fictional INFP Characters. You can also find our picks for INFP anime characters!
Fun Facts About the INFP Personality Type:
Facts are taken from the MBTI® Manual – Third Edition
– In a national sample, INFPs were overrepresented in “Writing,” “Appreciating art”, “Reading”, and “Listening to Music” as their preferred leisure activities.
– In a national sample, they were among the top four types in valuing “Autonomy” and “Creativity”.
– INFPs show occupational trends in the fields of counseling, writing, and the arts.
– The most important features of an ideal job to an INFP are creativity and originality.
– INFPs prefer the academic subjects of art, English, and music.
– Male INFPs were overrepresented among a sample of male therapists.
Find Out More in Our eBook!
Your Important INFP Links:
24 Signs That You’re an INFP, the Dreamer Personality Type
Dealing with Emotional Overwhelm as an INFP
Your INFP Personality and Your Enneagram Type
INFPs and Their Compatibility with Every Myers-Briggs® Personality Type
Here’s Why INFPs and INTPs Get Misunderstood
25 Quotes That INFPs Will Instantly Identify With
3 Weird and Wonderful Secrets of the INFP Personality Type
10 Ways to Spark Your Creativity as an INFP
The Top 7 Gift Ideas for INFPs