The 7 Key Differences Between The INFJ & INFP Personality Types
According to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, all of us can be split into 16 distinct personality types based on factors like sociability, emotionality, information processing, and more.
When two types have only a one-letter difference—like an INFP and INFJ—you might assume they have a lot in common. And while this is partially true, these two types have some important distinctions that make them very different people.
Here's what to know about the differences between INFP vs. INFJ, according to personality experts.
The INFJ personality type.
INFJ stands for introverted, intuitive, feeling, and judging, and it's the rarest Myers-Briggs personality type, making up only 1 to 3% of the population. INFJs are typically more introverted and rely on their intuition to gather information, making decisions through feelings and emotions as opposed to logic. They also prefer to approach their life with more structure and scheduling, as opposed to flexibility and spontaneity.
This personality type has a strong concern for doing the right thing and helping others, often referred to as the "Advocate" of the MBTI, according to licensed therapist De-Andrea Blaylock-Solar, MSW, LCSW-S, CST. You can expect an INFJ to be altruistic, complex, unique, creative, and thoughtful.
Here's our full guide to the INFJ type for a closer look.
The INFP personality type.
INFP stands for introverted, intuitive, feeling, and perceiving. As such, this personality type often results in a quiet, more reserved person, with a significant emotional world and a "go-with-the-flow" kind of attitude. INFPs are also quite rare, at around 4% of the population, with female INFPs outnumbering male INFPs two to one.
According to John Hackston, head of thought leadership at the Myers-Briggs Company, INFPs are loyal, creative, and thoughtful, "but at a first glance, people with this personality preference can be seen by others as cool and distant." Some other characteristics to describe an INFP include reserved, supportive, abstract thinking, and a strong moral compass.
Here's our full guide to the INFP type to learn more.
7 key differences between INFJ vs INFP:
According to according to Dario Nardi, Ph.D., a personality expert and author of Neuroscience of Personality, you might think INFJs and INFPs are pretty similar, both being imaginative, quiet, emotionally aware, and focused on the big and small questions of the human condition. "But looking closely," he says, and "we find they work in different, even opposite ways."
Here are their 7 main differences:
Their emotional responses
As Blaylock-Solar tells mindbodygreen, the INFJ can be a bit more empathic, or seemingly more in touch with the emotions of others when compared to the INFP. And further, according to Nardi, INFJs focus on socially-driven or displayed emotions (i.e. noticing things about other people).
INFPs, on the other hand, believe if they are true to themselves and acting from their core, "then everything is good, beautiful, and possible," Nardi explains. "As a general rule, INFPs focus more on their own feelings, and INFJs focus more on other people’s feelings," he adds.
How they relate to others
According to Nardi, another key contrast between these two Myers-Briggs types is how they handle energy. "INFJs tend to act as a sensitive antenna to others’ energy—they pick up and absorb a lot, especially what is not obvious or even in others’ awareness," he explains.
Meanwhile, he says, INFPs tend to use their imagination to understand other people and fill in the blanks, asking, What if I felt this way? "They act as a mirror for others, rather than an antenna, and they can endure a lot continuously, so long as they’ve sorted themselves," he adds.
INFPs also tend to explicitly identify with underdogs and people outside of society, according to Nardi, while INFJs tend to "focus on what is arising among others as socially popular, or reflecting the most worldly, sophisticated, or spiritual in taste or class."
How they make decisions
Looking at their difference in judging versus perceiving, the INFJ and INFP have different ways of approaching decision-making. As Blaylock-Solar explains, an INFP is going to be more spontaneous and less concerned with structure, while an INFJ definitely does want that structure. "If you're traveling together, INFJs are the ones with the itinerary and INFPs are the ones who just want to see where the day goes," she notes.
And as Nardi adds, INFPs also tend to make a decision based on an inner quest, and from their core set of personal beliefs, whereas INFJ tends to "make a decision based on a mix of social and personal values, with a lot of consideration to how others will receive it, and whether it is role appropriate."
How organized (or not) they are
The difference between judging versus perceiving can impact how organized or structured these two types are in general, too. From the outside, the INFJ is more analytical, neat, scheduled, and "presentable" than the INFP, while INFPs "look more casual, free-flowing, open to surprises, and relatively messy," Nardi explains.
Further, an INFJ can get stressed easily, paying a lot of attention to perfecting details and caring for others. The INFP, meanwhile, is just concerned with operating from their own beliefs. "And somehow through all the chaos and half-forgotten details, they get things done in their own imaginative way," he says.
How they approach work
When it comes to the workplace, an INFP focuses more on the “success of individuals within the group,” according to Nardi. For example, he explains, they'll observe and support the different gifts that people bring to an organization, noting that INFPs like to believe there is room for everyone to be themselves.
"In contrast," he says, "INFJs focus more on 'doing tasks well on the team,'" such as helping people pull their weight to complete an important project.
Their sense of humor
Both the INFJ and INFP have a sense of humor, but their humor is very different. INFP humor is softer, more narrative, and more spontaneous, according to Nardi, and is typically used to share an important point in an indirect way.
Meanwhile, INFJ humor is more "pointed wit that lubricates interactions in the social hierarchy around them," he explains (i.e. making a joke to keep the boat from rocking too much in a group setting).
How they come off to others
Lastly, you can spot the difference between an INFJ and an INFP based on how much they stray from the norm. Namely, INFPs are likely the ones who seem to operate on the fray.
As Nardi explains, "INFJs seem like they can fit better into society, but actually they have a hard time staying in place or doing one thing over years—and, they grow best by embracing new experiences." INFPs, on the other hand, "easily come across as misfits, yet in practice can sustain a lot of dedication and repetition over years," he says, adding that they grow best by using tools to help them think in a more business-like, factual way.
Which is better INFJ or INFP?
No MBTI type is better than another. Each of the 16 types have their own strengths and weaknesses, and all of them have the ability to grow into well-rounded people.
What is the main difference between INFP and INFJ?
The primary distinction between INFJ and INFP is that INFJ is a judging type (preferring structure, planning, and organization), while INFP is a perceiving type (preferring flexibility, spontaneity, and "going with the flow").
Who is more sensitive INFP or INFJ?
Both the INFJ and INFP are sensitive, but INFJs are more sensitive to others' emotions, while INFPs are more sensitive to their own.
With the MBTI, slight nuances in the 16 personality types go a long way in how people behave, think, and approach their life in general. While INFJs and INFPs may only differ in their judging versus perceiving traits, that's enough to make these two their own distinct and unique personality types.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.