INFPs and INFJs are both highly emotionally intelligent and rely on intuition to understand the world around them. Both of these huge similarities cause lots of people to confuse the two types, particularly when trying to label others. However, despite their outward appearances, both types have a number of significant differences that help them take up unique spots in the psychological framework.
Today, let’s go over 10 major differences you should know about INFPs and INFJs. This way, you’ll be better able to tell which of the two an individual is.
1. A Different Driver
INFPs and INFJs possess different driver or primary processes. Another way to understand drivers is as dominant cognitive functions, or basically the premier way of thinking for a particular person. It’s the biggest lens through which everything else is filtered first.
INFJs have a dominant process that’s called introverted intuition. This means that they lead all of their decisions with a learning process that is focused on intuition. INFPs, on the other hand, lead with a feeling-based decision-making process: introverted feeling. This results in either type of personality making drastically different decisions from one another despite their apparent outward similarity.
2. Perspective vs. Authenticity
INFJs learn about the world by focusing on perspective. In a nutshell, they focus on the patterns of the world and understanding what is happening both inside themselves and what they imagine is happening inside of the people. On the flip side, INFPs’ introverted feeling leads them to prioritize authenticity. This means that they primarily make decisions by checking to make sure that every decision is in alignment with the overall values and identity held dear by their personality.
This can make INFJs seem a little less idealistic than their INFP peers. But both functions still rely heavily on internal cognition and on self-designed morals. The biggest difference is that INFJs make decisions based on perceived patterns while INFPs make decisions based on interior moral frameworks.
3. One Values Understanding, the Other Validation
INFJs and INFPs differ in another key way based on what they value. For an INFJ, nothing is worse than not understanding the personal problem in front of them. This can make them seem rather T-oriented to onlookers, even though their quest for understanding is driven by interior feelings and intuition. Similarly, INFJs want people to understand them fully rather than necessarily agree with their ideas.
INFPs are different. They prefer that people validate their ideas and artistic sensibilities (regardless of whether or not the INFP in question is actually an artist). The key here is acceptance: INFPs are more likely to be hurt by people who don’t accept them as their true authentic selves than INFJs. While both types will feel bad if they aren’t accepted, the pain is particularly robust for INFPs.
4. One Absorbs, the Other Mirrors
Both INFJs and INFPs seem to have a magical ability to empathize with others and understand the human heart. When communicating with others and interacting with other emotional “signals”, INFJs have a tendency to absorb the emotions of others and magnify the experience. If you tell an INFJ a sad story, chances are the sadness they are feeling is almost as profound as your own. However, this may not be reflected in exactly the same way as you would express grief, as the INFJ will express the feeling in their own unique way.
INFPs will mirror emotion, instead. They are already masters of understanding their own emotions. This also makes their own emotions more central to their understanding and experience than INFJs. Remember, INFPs value authenticity a little more than their counterparts. This means that they are more likely to uncannily reflect the emotions of others to such a degree that it looks like they are absorbing that feeling. It’s a subtle but significant difference between the two types.
5. Evaluation of Emotional Significance
INFJs and INFPs have slightly different ways of evaluating emotional significance. The INFJ has extroverted feeling as their emotion processing function. This means that many of their emotional judgment calls are based on the emotions of people around them or their perception of what is needed by the group. It’s decidedly outward focused rather than introverted like their primary function.
On the flipside, INFPs’ emotional significance function is their primary one: introverted feeling. This means that INFPs judge emotional significance based on their own experience, moral framework, and their own priorities. This can make them seem aloof or selfish to others, but it just means that INFPs are fulfilling their primary drive to become authentic and act out their true selves.
6. Writing/Reading Preferences
Interestingly, the writing preferences of either type can also give you some insight into their differences. Compared to INFJs, INFPs are more likely to prefer writing or reading fiction. Their personal experiences are more easily reflected in characters and events within a story. Similarly, fictional stories typically explore the human condition to a degree that other written works do not.
INFJs, on the other hand, may prefer reading or writing nonfiction works or analytical books. History books or philosophical essays are more likely to be up their alley than fictional stories. This is because INFJs are more apt at observing and understanding the patterns of the world around them, which reflects their interest in people and emotions. Broad-view works are particularly attractive for these types.
7. Main Function Direction
Arguably the biggest difference between these two types is in what direction their feeling functions are oriented. For INFPs, the feeling function is always directed toward the heart, allowing them to grasp a better understanding of themselves, but making them vulnerable to wallowing in their feelings or spending too much time reminiscing.
INFJs have an extroverted feeling function, meaning that their focus on emotions is always directed outwardly. This enables them to get in touch with their own feelings to some extent but also makes them particularly adept at reading the emotions of others. Additionally, Fe (extroverted feeling) is the auxiliary trait for INFJs, meaning that it’s not as important as intuition. Ultimately, feeling, in general, is much more important for INFPs than for INFJs.
8. Brainstorming vs. Focus
Compared to INFJs, INFPs are more likely to brainstorm and bounce from idea to idea. This is partly reflected in their judgment-axis letter P, which indicates that they are more open to new ideas and possibilities rather than making judgment calls based on available information. Their intuitive traits are short-ranging, but often include broad interests that stretch in many directions.
In contrast, INFJs typically have a much deeper intuition for specific subjects and may be interested in focusing on or learning all there is to learn about one particular topic. This focus allows INFJs to specialize much more easily and come to decisions more quickly than their INFP peers.
9. Decisive vs. Indecisive
As a result of the above trait, INFJs can appear to be much more decisive than their counterparts. They will be older in their assertions and placed strong value judgments on various topics once they believe they have mastered the patterns related to that topic. Naturally, this makes INFJs much more controversial characters overall because their judgment calls may come into more direct contrast with the opinions of others.
On the other hand, INFPs can appear relatively indecisive or unsure of themselves. They self-express with extroverted intuition, which can lose efficacy once exposed to their dominant introverted feeling function. Basically, INFPs aren’t necessarily as definitive with many of their viewpoints, with the exception of things related to their own inner character. When push comes to shove, INFPs know themselves more than they know anything else and won’t hesitate to correct other people if they believe they are being perceived unfairly or incorrectly.
10. Emphasis on Nostalgia
Both of these types are vulnerable to bouts of nostalgia, but INFPs are particularly nostalgic compared to INFJs. INFPs enjoy remembering what happened before and specifically what they felt during key moments of their lives. This can cause them to muse excessively or wallowing their feelings, which is bolstered by their introverted sensing function, which allows them to recall lots of details about previous experiences.
INFJs tend to have much less nostalgia, although still more compared to many other MBTI types. As an example, INFJs would be more open to trying out a new series or restaurant than INFPs… at least once they’ve analyzed the available information and come up with an understandable pattern.
Ultimately, INFJs and INFPs are very similar types and might even be called “siblings” in the MBTI categories. Both of these types will likely get along with one another and are extraordinary when placed in situations that make the most of their unique talents. But they can be hard to tell apart in certain scenarios as well. Hopefully, our above tips will help you spot an INFJ or INFP in your midst, or determine which of the two you are!
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