The INFP vs INFJ Confusion Explained
Why INFPs and INFJs so often mistype
The Judging/Perceiving dichotomy is without a doubt the most dubious of the four. Understandably so: it is wrongly defined and carries more importance than most people realize.
A huge pitfall, especially for those newly introduced to the MBTI typology. That is, these people are typically uninformed about the cognitive functions – the more precise, underlying model that forms the basis of the four-letter MBTI types. And to confuse J and P means to violate that structure.
Introverts are particularly prone to J/P mistype. This phenomenon comes down to what is best defined as the ‘curse of the Introverts’. The big paradox in the MBTI theory goes as follows: IP types lead with Judging functions, while IJ types lead with Perceiving functions.
Focusing on one particular group of popular mistype, INFPs and INFJs, this article aims to settle the predicament many INFs find themselves in.
While, in practical terms, no more than a series of meaningless letters; the list of cognitive functions portrays the vast difference between INFPs and INFJs. They share none, in fact.
INFP: Fi, Ne, Si Te
INFJ: Ni, Fe, Ti, Se
This comparison goes to show that, contrary to what many believe, the two types are not very alike at all. There is no similarity in the way they process information (Fi, Si vs Ni, Ti), communicate (Ne, Te vs Fe, Se) and perceive the world (Ne, Si vs Ni, Se).
In case you yourself are still torn between these two types, it is already clear that salvation is much closer than you may fear.
The Cause of Confusion
The reason why so many INFPs tests as INFJs and, vice versa, lies in their dominant functions. Fi for the true INFP, Ni for the true INFJ. The result of what we called the curse of the introverts earlier in this article.
Leading with Fi, quite paradoxically a Judging function, many INFPs may regard themselves as quite ‘structured’ individuals – and they may well be. The only problem is that dichotomy-based MBTI uses exactly that trait in people to describe the letter ‘J’ in the types.
Fi in INFPs often generates obsessive passions so strong that their inferior Te kicks in, setting targets; telling themselves they must, at all costs, reach that goal. Quite a stubborn display – another of those phenomena falsely linked to the J dichotomy.
The result: an online test ultimately showing “INFJ” after many mistaken ‘Yes’s’ and ‘Trues’ for questions which measure the J versus P preference.
INFJs mistype due to similar reasons with the reverse effect. When asked about self-examining questions regarding order and chaos, INFJs will likely reason that they are “a mess”. Here, they mistake their possibly scrambled inner worlds for ‘disorder’ in the external sense of the word. If anything, this “mess” implies Ni, which essentially is an argument in favor of J, not against.
The Difference in Feeling
The most obvious similarity between INFPs and INFJs remains – that they are both Feeling types. The Fi vs Fe division, therefore, proves a most useful determiner. The F function is so strong in either type that the contrast between Fi (INFP) and Fe (INFJ) is clearly observable.
Here are a few points to look for in yourself or others:
- INFPs are true to themselves, whereas INFJs are more of a social conformist.
- INFPs are constantly reflecting on the way they feel, while INFJs are concerned about how a certain situation should make them, or other people, feel.
- INFPs are extremely aware of how others make them feel. INFJs are extremely aware of other people’s feelings.
You can find a more elaborate version of these short Fi vs Fe descriptions here.
INFPs and INFJs find themselves drawn to different types, for different reasons. Of course, any (romantic) mingling of types could and does happen, but general trends can be observed. (Besides, what is MBTI’s worth without speculation?)
INFPs often ‘have a thing’ for strong TJ individuals. Their inferior Te provokes this attraction. INFJs on the other hand, are stereotypically best paired to TP types, infamously, INTPs (the ‘golden pair’), but ISTPs, ESTPs, and ENTPs – all of which have prominent Ti – works equally well.
The reason we see the aforementioned pair’s work, comes down to the Judging-axes in both types. Fi-Te for INFPs, Ti-Fe for INFJs. Sharing this axis with your partner greatly helps two major factors in the relationship: understanding and growth. ‘Understanding’ because subjects will reason in a similar fashion, approaching issues from similar angles; ‘growth’ because they are positioned differently in the order of cognitive functions.
What helps this compatibility is the fact that, naturally, the same is true for the TJ and TP types involved. Their respective Fi and Fe will greatly benefit from these connections too, whilst providing a window to INFPs and INFJs to well-developed Te and Ti.
While not the most convincing argument, browsing the romantic history or current social pool could prove quite a telling factor. TJ bonding points towards INFP, TP bonding is more up the INFJ’s alley.
What Have We Learned?
Both INFPs and INFJs are easily misled into mistyping. It is not their fault per se but more of a combination of their nature and the methods of traditional tests.
Hopefully, leading players such as 16personalities soon change their ways of designing their tests. A model based on the cognitive functions as they exist in people would be much preferred. As for today, an extremely high percentage of IP types who are new to MBTI, get the wrong J/P result after first taking the test. The reason: descriptions of J and P are mere guesses; attempts at finding shared characteristics after tying together sets of those cognitive functions.
Luckily, the differences in characters are so apparent that distinguishing INFPs and INFJs is only a matter of understanding the truth behind the J/P dichotomy. The key concepts are understanding the cognitive functions, comparing Fi tendencies to Fe tendencies, and throwing a speculative glance at the different matchmaking potentialities between these two types.