INFJs and INFPs have quite a bit in common, and it can be hard to distinguish between the two. Since both types are introverted idealists, it’s easy for INFJs to relate to the INFP personality description, and vice versa. However, while these types are similar as far as preferences go (both INFs), they are completely different when it comes to functions.
Same Letters, Opposite Functions
The function stack for INFJs is Ni-Fe-Ti-Se, while the function stack for INFPs is Fi-Ne-Si-Te.
For INFJs, the Ni-Fe connection makes them able to naturally empathize with and understand others in a way and few other types can relate to. INFJs are highly introspective about how their mind and thought processes work (Ni and Ti), but often have a hard time understanding their own feelings. This is because they so often put themselves in the shoes of others and feel others feelings (Fe), and it can be hard to separate that from their own emotions.
This isn’t an issue for INFPs. The INFP motto could be “follow your heart” because they are so in tune with their feelings and use them as an ultimate decision maker in most situations. INFPs often express their emotions through creative pursuits (Ne) such as poetry, storytelling, art, and music.
Both types are extremely empathetic, but in different ways. INFJs have a unique ability to take on the emotions of other people, but also remain objective, which makes them great counselors. Because of their deep connection with their inner feelings, INFPs are able to see what someone is going through and connect it to a past experience or how they would feel in the same situation.
However, because of their high moral values, INFPs may not empathize as easily with someone who is doing something that they believe to be wrong. For example, an INFJ may empathize with a convict, even if they don’t morally agree with the act the person committed. They are just able to feel what the person is going through. An INFP may choose not to empathize with the convict and instead feel that the person is getting what they deserve for committing a morally wrong act.
The Judger Vs. Perceiver Problem
The INFJ or INFP confusion goes even farther. INFJs dominant function (Ni) is actually a Perceiving function, and INFPs dominant function (Fi) is a Judging function. This is a major reason that INFJs and INFPs are often mistyped as one another on online tests that list stereotypical Perceiver vs. Judger statements.
What exactly am I talking about here? Dr. A.J. Drenth explains this really well in The 16 Personality Types:
“In actuality, the J-P label merely describes whether the first extroverted function in a given type’s functional stack is a Judging function (either Te or Fe) or a Perceiving function (either Ne or Se).
This J-P labeling system actually works fine for Extraverts, since their first extraverted function also happens to be their dominant function. Hence, there is no confusion, for instance, in calling an ENFP a Perceiver or an ENTJ a Judger. This very accurately describes the dominant mode of operation for these types.
For introverted types, however, the J-P label can be a source of confusion and misunderstanding. This is due to the fact that introverts’ first extraverted function is auxiliary rather than dominant. Consequently, the J-P designation of IPs and IJs fails to describe their dominant mode of functioning. Namely, IPs’ preferred and dominant mode of functioning is Judging (Fi or Ti) and IJs’ is Perceiving (Si or Ni). This is why IPs commonly mistype themselves as IJs and vice versa.”
I don’t know about you, but my mind was a little blown the first time I read about this. It perfectly explained why, as an INFJ, I felt so scatterbrained and all over the place on the inside, but still seemed to appear so organized and put together on the outside.
As stated above, if you are an introvert, your dominant function is internal, and not necessarily the function which most accurately describes how you express yourself in the world. INFJs express themselves to others mostly through their first extroverted function, Fe; while INFPs express themselves through their first extroverted function, which is Ne.
Since Fe is a Judging function, INFJs will appear more J-like. They are organized, like to be on time, appreciate having things planned in advance, etc. On the flip side, since Ne is a Perceiving function, INFPs will appear more P-like. They are flexible, not as focused on time, and prefer to go with the flow rather than follow a schedule.
However, since INFJs dominant function, Ni, is a Perceiving function, their internal world is more P-like, and vice versa for INFPs. Basically, if you find yourself thinking “I’m really not as put together as you think I am” a lot, you might be an IJ. And if you find yourself thinking “I’m way more put together than you think I am” often, you might be an IP.
If you have further questions about the differences between INFJs and INFPs, feel free to send me a message on the blog or Tumblr, or check out the resource section for more information. In the next article in this series, I’ll discuss the differences between INFJs and ISFJs.