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This article is about the Myers-Briggs personality type. For the Socionics INFp, see Intuitive Ethical Introvert.

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 prominent psychiatrist Carl G. Jung in his book Psychological Types. Jung proposed a psychological typology based on the theories of cognitive functions that 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.

INFPs are driven by a strong sense of right and wrong and a desire to exercise their creativity, even if only behind the scenes. Their weaknesses may include sensitivity to criticism, poor organization, and low assertiveness[citation needed]. Keirsey referred to the INFPs as Healers, one of the four types belonging to the temperament he called the Idealists.[2] INFPs are one of the rarer types, accounting for about 4% of the population.[3]

MBTI instrument[edit]

The MBTI preferences indicate the differences in people based on the following:[4]

By using their preference in each of these areas, people develop what Jung and Myers called psychological type. This underlying personality pattern results from the dynamic interaction of their four preferences, in conjunction with environmental influences and their own individual tendencies. People are likely to develop behaviors, skills, and attitudes based on their particular type. Each personality type has its own potential strengths as well as areas that offer opportunities for growth.

The MBTI tool consists of multiple choice questions that sort respondents on the basis of the four "dichotomies" (pairs of psychological opposites). Sixteen different outcomes are possible, each identified by its own four-letter code, referred to by initial letters. (N is used for iNtuition, since I is used for Introversion). The MBTI is approximately 75% accurate according to its own manual.[5]

  • 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).[6]
  • 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.[7]
  • 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.[8]
  • P – Perception preferred to judgment: INFPs tend to withhold judgment and delay important decisions, preferring to "keep their options open" should circumstances change.[9]

Characteristics of INFPs[edit]

Type description[edit]

Further information: Healer (Role Variant)

According to Myers-Briggs,[10] INFPs focus much of their energy on an inner world dominated by intense feeling and deeply held ethics. They seek an external life that is in keeping with these values. Loyal to the people and causes important to them, INFPs can quickly spot opportunities to implement their ideals. They are curious to understand those around them, and so are accepting and flexible unless their values are threatened.

According to Keirsey, based on observations of behavior, notable INFPs may include Princess Diana, George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Audrey Hepburn, Richard Gere, William Shakespeare, Albert Schweitzer and Isabel Briggs Myers (self-reported to the test she invented with her mother, Katharine Cook Briggs).[11]

Notable INFPs[edit]

For illustrative purposes, Keirsey and his son, David M. Keirsey,[12] have identified well-known individuals whose behavior is consistent with a specific type. Unless otherwise noted, the categorization of the individuals below, whether living or dead, as INFPs is a matter of expert opinion rather than the result of the named individual taking a personality type inventory.

Correlation with Enneatype[edit]

According to Baron and Wagele, the most common Enneatypes for the INFP are: The Individualist (Fours), The Investigator (Fives), and The Peacemaker (Nines).[19]


In his 1990 Ph.D dissertation, C.F. Gibbons of the University of Arkansas found that the INFP type was the most common among musicians.[20]

Cognitive functions[edit]

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 Achilles's heel. This is the function they are least comfortable with. Like the Tertiary, the Inferior function strengthens with maturity.[21]

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.[5] 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.[22] With Fi as their dominant function, INFPs live primarily in a rich inner world of emotion.[23]

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.[24] 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.[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.[25] This function gives INFPs a natural inclination toward "other-worldliness" and makes them more easily distracted.[23]

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.[26] This function helps INFPs focus on external details, but being the inferior function, requires the expenditure of greater energy and is not as reliable.[23]

Shadow functions[edit]

Later personality researchers (notably Linda V. Berens)[27] 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. 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]


  1. ^ "Myers-Briggs Foundation: The 16 MBTI Types". Retrieved 2009-05-07. 
  2. ^ Temperament
  3. ^ "CAPT". Retrieved 2008-10-13. 
  4. ^ Myers, Isabel Briggs (1998). Introduction to Type: A Guide to Understanding your Results on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Mountain View, CA: CPP, Inc. 
  5. ^ a b Myers, Isabel Briggs; Mary H. McCaulley (1985). Manual: A Guide to the Development and Use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (2nd edition ed.). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologist Press. p. 52. ISBN 0-89106-027-8. 
  6. ^ "Changing Minds: Extraversion vs. Introversion". Retrieved 2009-01-10. 
  7. ^ "Changing Minds: Sensing vs. Intuiting". Retrieved 2009-01-10. 
  8. ^ "Changing Minds: Thinking vs. Feeling". Retrieved 2009-01-10. 
  9. ^ "Changing Minds: Judging vs. Perceiving". Retrieved 2009-01-10. 
  10. ^ Myers-Briggs INFP
  11. ^ " Portrait of the Healer". Retrieved 10 January 2010. 
  12. ^ "FindArticles". Market Wire. 2005. Retrieved 2008-08-03. 
  13. ^ " Healer". Retrieved 2008-11-09. 
  14. ^ Filatova E., Искусство понимать себя и окружающих. ((Russian), The Art of Understanding Oneself and Others.)
  15. ^ "Famous INFPs". Retrieved 16 February 2012. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "Famous INFPs". Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  17. ^ "INFP Personality Type - The Dreamer". 
  18. ^ Jones, Brian. Jim Henson: The Biography. Ballantine Books, 2013. p. 403.
  19. ^ Wagele/Baron, p.155
  20. ^ Reardon, Christin M. (June 2009). "DIFFERENCES IN MYERS-BRIGGS PERSONALITY TYPES AMONG HIGH SCHOOL BAND, ORCHESTRA, AND CHOIR MEMBERS" (PDF). Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University. Retrieved July 5, 2014. 
  21. ^ Barron-Tieger, Barbara; Tieger, Paul D. (1995). Do what you are: discover the perfect career for you through the secrets of personality type. Boston: Little, Brown. ISBN 0-316-84522-1. 
  22. ^ "Cognitive Processes: Introverted feeling". Retrieved 2009-05-12. 
  23. ^ a b c d "TypeLogic INFP Functions". Retrieved 2009-05-12. 
  24. ^ "Cognitive Processes: Extraverted intuition". Retrieved 2009-05-12. 
  25. ^ "Cognitive Processes: Introverted sensing". Retrieved 2009-05-12. 
  26. ^ "Cognitive Processes: Extraverted thinking". Retrieved 2009-05-12. 
  27. ^ "". Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  28. ^ "Cognitive Processes: Extraverted Feeling". Retrieved 2009-05-12. 
  29. ^ "Cognitive Processes: Introverted intuition". Retrieved 2009-05-12. 
  30. ^ "Cognitive Processes: Extraverted Sensing". Retrieved 2009-05-12. 
  31. ^ "Cognitive Processes: Introverted thinking". Retrieved 2009-05-12. 

External links[edit]