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INFP (introversion, intuition, feeling, perception) is an abbreviation used in the publications of the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to refer to one of sixteen personality types.[1] The MBTI was developed from the work of the psychiatrist Carl G. Jung in his book Psychological Types. Jung proposed a psychological typology based on the theories of cognitive functions he developed through his clinical observations. From Jung's work, others developed psychological typologies. Jungian personality assessments include the MBTI assessment, developed by Isabel Briggs Myers and Katharine Cook Briggs, and the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, developed by David Keirsey.

According to theory, what drives INFPs are strong senses of right and wrong and the desire to exercise creativity, even if only behind the scenes. Weaknesses may include sensitivity to criticism, poor organization, and low assertiveness [2]. Keirsey referred to the INFPs as Healers, one of the four types belonging to the temperament called the Idealists.[3] INFPs are estimated to account for about 4% of the population of the United States of America.[4]


MBTI instrumentEdit

  • I – Introversion preferred to extraversion: INFPs tend to be quiet and reserved. They generally prefer interacting with a few close friends rather than a wide circle of acquaintances, and they expend energy in social situations (whereas extraverts gain energy).[5]
  • N – Intuition preferred to sensing: INFPs tend to be more abstract than concrete. They focus their attention on the big picture rather than the details, and on future possibilities rather than immediate realities.[6]
  • F – Feeling preferred to thinking: INFPs tend to value personal considerations above objective criteria. When making decisions, they often give more weight to social implications than to logic.[7]
  • P – Perception preferred to judgment: INFPs tend to withhold judgment and delay important decisions, preferring to "keep their options open" should circumstances change.[8]

Characteristics of INFPsEdit

Type descriptionEdit

According to Myers-Briggs,[9] INFPs focus much of their energy on intense feeling and deep ethics that dominate an "inner world." They seek an external life that keeps these values. Loyal to the people and causes important to them, INFPs spot opportunities to implement their ideals. They are curious to understand those around them, and are accepting and flexible unless someone or something threatens their values.

According to Keirsey, based on observations of behavior, notable INFPs may include Diana, Princess of Wales, George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Audrey Hepburn, Richard Gere, Albert Schweitzer, and Isabel Briggs Myers (self-reported to the test she invented with her mother, Katharine Cook Briggs).[10] The website suggests William Shakespeare, J.R.R. Tolkien, Johnny Depp, Stephen Colbert, and Julia Roberts may also fall into the INFP category.[11]

Correlation with enneatypeEdit

According to Baron and Wagele, the most common enneatypes for the INFP are The Individualist (Fours), The Investigator (Fives), and The Peacemaker (Nines).[12]


In his 1990 Ph.D dissertation, C. F. Gibbons of the University of Arkansas found the INFP type were most common among musicians.[13] A 1973 study of university students in the United States found the INFP type was the most common type among students studying the fine arts and art education subjects, with thirty per cent of fine arts students and twenty-six per cent of art education students being INFPs.[14] A 1973 study of the personality types of teachers in the United States found Intuitive-Perceptive types (ENFP, INFP, ENTP, INTP) were over-represented in teachers of subjects such as English, social studies and art, as opposed to science and mathematics, which featured more Sensing (S) and Judging (J) types.[15] A questionnaire of 27,787 high school students suggested INFP students among them showed a significant preference for art, English and music subjects.[16]

Cognitive functionsEdit

A diagram of the cognitive functions of each type. A type's background color represents its Dominant function, and its text color represents its Auxiliary function.

Drawing upon Jungian theory, Isabel Myers proposed that for each personality type, the cognitive functions (sensing, intuition, thinking, and feeling) form a hierarchy. This hierarchy represents the person's default pattern of behavior.

The Dominant function is the personality type's preferred role, the one they feel most comfortable with. The secondary Auxiliary function serves to support and expand on the Dominant function. If the Dominant is an information gathering function (sensing or intuition), the Auxiliary is a decision making function (thinking or feeling), and vice versa. The Tertiary function is less developed than the Dominant and Auxiliary, but it matures over time, rounding out the person's abilities. The Inferior function is the personality type's fatal weakness. This is the function they are least comfortable with. Like the Tertiary, the Inferior function strengthens with maturity.[17][page needed]

Jung and Myers considered the attitude of the Auxiliary, Tertiary, and Inferior functions to be the opposite of the Dominant. In this interpretation, if the Dominant function is extraverted, then the other three are introverted, and vice versa. However, many modern practitioners hold that the attitude of the Tertiary function is the same as the Dominant.[18] Using the more modern interpretation, the cognitive functions of the INFP are as follows:

Dominant: Introverted feeling (Fi)Edit

Fi filters information based on interpretations of worth, forming judgments according to criteria that are often intangible. Fi constantly balances an internal set of values such as harmony and authenticity. Attuned to subtle distinctions, Fi innately senses what is true and what is false in a situation.[19] With Fi as their dominant function, INFPs live primarily in a rich inner world of emotion.[20] Ideally, they would like everything they do to be in congruence with their personal beliefs. They want to live a life as true to themselves as possible.[21]

Auxiliary: Extraverted intuition (Ne)Edit

Ne finds and interprets hidden meanings, using “what if” questions to explore alternatives, allowing multiple possibilities to coexist. This imaginative play weaves together insights and experiences from various sources to form a new whole, which can then become a catalyst to action.[22] INFPs engage the outside world primarily with intuition. They are adept at seeing the big picture, sensing patterns and the flow of existence from the past toward the future.[20] Extraverted Intuitives also have a very entrepreneurial mindset. Ne users see possibilities of what could be all around them. They have a desire to make things happen and “put a dent in the world.” Extraverted Intuitives can get very excited about these possibilities, making them naturally charismatic. Ne users can be inspiring leaders that are catalysts for change.[23]

Tertiary: Introverted sensing (Si)Edit

Si collects data in the present moment and compares it with past experiences, a process that sometimes evokes the feelings associated with memory, as if the subject were reliving it. Seeking to protect what is familiar, Si draws upon history to form goals and expectations about what will happen in the future.[24] This function gives INFPs a natural inclination toward "other-worldliness" and makes them more easily distracted.[20]

Inferior: Extraverted thinking (Te)Edit

Te organizes and schedules ideas and the environment to ensure the efficient, productive pursuit of objectives. Te seeks logical explanations for actions, events, and conclusions, looking for faulty reasoning and lapses in sequence.[25] This function helps INFPs focus on external details, but being the inferior function, requires the expenditure of greater energy and is not as reliable.[20]

Shadow functionsEdit

Later personality researchers (notably Linda V. Berens)[26] added four additional functions to the descending hierarchy, the so-called "shadow" functions to which the individual is not naturally inclined but which can emerge when the person is under stress. The shadow processes "operate more on the boundaries of our awareness…We usually experience these processes in a negative way, yet when we are open to them, they can be quite positive."[27] For INFP, these shadow functions are (in order):

  • Extraverted feeling (Fe): Fe seeks social connections and creates harmonious interactions through polite, considerate, and appropriate behavior. Fe responds to the explicit (and implicit) wants of others, and may even create an internal conflict between the subject’s own needs and the desire to meet the needs of others.[28]
  • Introverted intuition (Ni): Attracted to symbolic actions or devices, Ni synthesizes seeming paradoxes to create the previously unimagined. These realizations come with a certainty that demands action to fulfill a new vision of the future, solutions that may include complex systems or universal truths.[29]
  • Extraverted sensing (Se): Extraverted sensing focuses on the experiences and sensations of the immediate, physical world. With an acute awareness of the present surroundings, it brings relevant facts and details to the forefront and may lead to spontaneous action.[30]
  • Introverted thinking (Ti): Ti seeks precision, such as the exact word to express an idea. It notices the minute distinctions that define the essence of things, then analyzes and classifies them. Ti examines all sides of an issue, looking to solve problems while minimizing effort and risk. It uses models to root out logical inconsistency.[31]

Notable INFPsEdit


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  2. ^ "INFP Personality ("The Mediator") | 16Personalities". 16Personalities.
  3. ^ Temperament
  4. ^ "CAPT". Retrieved 2008-10-13.
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  6. ^ "Changing Minds: Sensing vs. Intuiting". Retrieved 2009-01-10.
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  8. ^ "Changing Minds: Judging vs. Perceiving". Retrieved 2009-01-10.
  9. ^ Myers-Briggs INFP
  10. ^ " Portrait of the Healer". Retrieved 10 January 2010.
  11. ^ "INFP Personality ("The Mediator")". 16Personalities. Retrieved 2016-12-20.
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  13. ^ Christin Reardon MacLellan (2011). "Differences in Myers-Briggs Personality Types Among High School Band, Orchestra, and Choir Members". Journal of Research in Music Education. Sage Publications, Inc. on behalf of MENC: The National Association for Music Education. 59 (1): 87. JSTOR 23019439.
  14. ^ William Blakely Stephens (1973). "Relationship between Selected Personality Characteristics of Senior Art Students and Their Area of Art Study". Studies in Art Education. National Art Education Association. 14 (14): 56–57. JSTOR 1320192.
  15. ^ Earl P. Smith (1973). "Selected Characteristics of Teachers and Their Preferences for Behaviorally Stated Objectives". Studies in Art Education. National Art Education Association. 14 (2): 35–46. JSTOR 1319876.
  16. ^ Charles H. Sides (1990). "Psychological Types and Teaching Writing". Writing on the Edge. Regents of the University of California. 1 (2): 33. JSTOR 43158643.
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  20. ^ a b c d "TypeLogic INFP Functions". Retrieved 2009-05-12.
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  22. ^ "Cognitive Processes: Extraverted intuition". Retrieved 2009-05-12.
  23. ^ "Extraverted intuition (Ne)". Retrieved 2014-09-29.
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  25. ^ "Cognitive Processes: Extraverted thinking". Retrieved 2009-05-12.
  26. ^ "". Retrieved 2008-05-21.
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  30. ^ "Cognitive Processes: Extraverted Sensing". Retrieved 2009-05-12.
  31. ^ "Cognitive Processes: Introverted thinking". Retrieved 2009-05-12.
  32. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x "Famous INFPs". Retrieved 24 April 2013.
  33. ^ Tested in a segment on The Late Show with Steven Colbert 9/28/15
  34. ^ Filatova E., Искусство понимать себя и окружающих. ((in Russian), The Art of Understanding Oneself and Others.)
  35. ^ Jones, Brian. Jim Henson: The Biography. Ballantine Books, 2013. p. 403.
  36. ^ "INFP Personality Type - The Dreamer".
  37. ^ " Healer". Retrieved 2008-11-09.

External linksEdit