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The INFJ Personality Type

INFJs are thoughtful nurturers with a strong sense of personal integrity and a drive to help others realize their potential. Creative and dedicated, they have a talent for helping others with original solutions to their personal challenges.

The Counselor has a unique ability to intuit others' emotions and motivations, and will often know how someone else is feeling before that person knows it himself. They trust their insights about others and have strong faith in their ability to read people. Although they are sensitive, they are also reserved; the INFJ is a private sort, and is selective about sharing intimate thoughts and feelings.

INFJs search for meaning and purpose in their lives and in the outer world. They tend to have an immense interest in deeply understanding culture, society, and the universe as a whole. INFJs naturally see how every thought or action could potentially have important consequences, either positive or negative. This reflective and curious worldview gives INFJs a unique perspective and thoughtful approach to how they interact with others and the world around them.

Ultimately, INFJs seek to turn their abstract and intellectual musings into concrete actions that can be applied and make a transformative impact on others. Although it is common for INFJs to get stuck in their heads and struggle with taking action, when they are at their best, their actions are aligned with their authentic values.

What does INFJ stand for?

INFJ is one of the sixteen personality types created by Katharine Briggs and Isabel Myers, creators of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®). 

Each of the four letters of the INFJ code signifies a key personality trait of this type. The letters INFJ stand for the following dimensions of personality, based on the work of psychologist C.G. Jung:

  • Introverted: INFJs are energized by time alone
  • iNtuitive: INFJs focus on ideas and concepts rather than facts and details
  • Feeling: INFJs make decisions based on feelings and values
  • Judging: INFJs prefer to be planned and organized rather than spontaneous and flexible

The INFJ personality type is also called the "Counselor" because of their tendency to be idealistic, compassionate, and sensitive. Other nicknames for the INFJ include:

  • The Insightful Visionary (MBTI)
  • The Advocate (16Personalities)

INFJ Values and Motivations

INFJs are guided by a deeply considered set of personal values. They are intensely idealistic, and can clearly imagine a happier and more perfect future. They can become discouraged by the harsh realities of the present, but they are typically motivated and persistent in taking positive action nonetheless. The INFJ feels an intrinsic drive to do what they can to make the world a better place.

INFJs want a meaningful life and deep connections with other people. They do not tend to share themselves freely but appreciate emotional intimacy with a select, committed few. Although their rich inner life can sometimes make them seem mysterious or private to others, they profoundly value authentic connections with people they trust.

As quintessential idealists, INFJs have many ideas about how to improve society and make the world a better place. INFJs believe a better world can only be attained if we concentrate on doing what is right, regardless of short-term consequences. However, harmonious relationships are also extremely important to the INFJ. They are skilled mediators who look for the root sources of conflict to find common ground with others. Because of this, they tend to prefer a diplomatic communication style and are careful to not unnecessarily ruffle feathers.

INFJs have a profound respect for human potential and a deep interest in understanding the mind. Because of this, they are motivated to pursue authentic self-development and strive to live up to their true potential, while encouraging and guiding others to do the same. According to idealistic INFJs, if we believe in our ability to accomplish the extraordinary, the extraordinary will instantly become a possibility — “dream it and you can achieve it,” as the saying goes. However, because of their integrity and empathy for others, it is uncommon for INFJs to cut corners or hurt others to achieve their desired future state.

How Others See the INFJ

INFJs often appear quiet, caring and sensitive, and may be found listening attentively to someone else’s ideas or concerns. They are highly perceptive about people and want to help others achieve understanding. INFJs are not afraid of complex personal problems; in fact, they are quite complex themselves, and have a rich inner life that few are privy to. They reflect at length on issues of ethics, and feel things deeply. Because Counselors initially appear so gentle and reserved, they may surprise others with their intensity when one of their values is threatened or called into question. Their calm exterior belies the complexity of their inner worlds.

Because INFJs are such complex people, they may be reluctant to engage with others who might not understand or appreciate them, and can thus be hard to get to know. Although they want to get along with others and support them in their goals, they are fiercely loyal to their own system of values and will not follow others down a path that does not feel authentic to them. When they sense that their values are not being respected, or when their intuition tells them that someone’s intentions are not pure, they are likely to withdraw.

Acquaintances of INFJs would likely describe them as quiet, intelligent, serious, gentle, and possibly a bit reclusive. Others generally perceive INFJs as pleasant people to be around, but may also notice that they can be moody, aloof, or even somewhat crabby on occasion. All in all, people who only encounter them infrequently are likely to see INFJs as tough nuts to crack and may even find them to be a bit intimidating.

Those closer to an INFJ will likely see beneath the surface and recognize the INFJs depth of empathy and their curious and insightful nature. When family members, friends or trusted co-workers need constructive feedback and a fresh perspective, INFJs are always standing by, ready to offer sensible and helpful input.

INFJs like to put out fires, not start them. When they occupy positions on work teams, non-profit boards, PTAs, city councils, organizing committees or task forces, others learn to appreciate their uncanny ability to defuse tensions, soothe wounded feelings, smooth ruffled feathers, arbitrate petty squabbles and restore the spirit of cooperation whenever it has been compromised.

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How rare is the INFJ personality type?

INFJ is the rarest type in the population. It is the least common type among men, and the third least common among women (after INTJ and ENTJ). INFJs make up:

  • 2% of the general population
  • 2% of women
  • 1% of men

Famous INFJs

Famous INFJs include:

  • Mohandas Gandhi
  • Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Emily Bronte
  • Jane Goodall
  • Carl Jung
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • Florence Nightingale
  • Shirley MacLaine
  • Jimmy Carter
  • Brené Brown
  • Edward Snowden
  • J.K. Rowling
  • Marianne Williamson

INFJ Fictional Characters

Fictional characters presumed to be INFJ include:

  • Luke Skywalker from Star Wars
  • Lisa Simpson from The Simpsons
  • Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter
  • Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Melisandre from Game of Thrones
  • Elsa from Frozen
  • The Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz
  • Sam Winchester from Supernatural
  • Lady Galadriel from The Lord of the Rings

INFJ Quotes

"The visions of the INFJs tend to concern human welfare, and their contributions are likely to be made independent of a mass movement."

- Isabel Briggs Myers, Gifts Differing

"These seclusive and friendly people are complicated themselves, and so can understand and deal with complex ethical issues and with deeply troubled individuals."

- David Keirsey, Please Understand Me II

"INFJs' nonstop search for learning, self-growth, and development—and wishing the same for everyone else—makes them very reassuring to others and people worth emulating."

- Otto Kroeger, Type Talk at Work

Facts about INFJs

Interesting facts about the INFJ:

  • Least common type in the population
  • On personality trait scales, scored as Sincere, Sympathetic, Unassuming, Submissive, Easygoing, Reserved and Patient
  • Among highest of all types in college GPA
  • Among most likely to stay in college
  • Most likely of all types to cope with stress by seeing a therapist
  • Highest of all types in marital dissatisfaction
  • Personal values include Spirituality, Learning, and Community Service
  • Commonly found in careers in religion, counseling, teaching, and the arts

Source: MBTI Manual

INFJ Hobbies and Interests

Popular hobbies for the INFJ include writing, art appreciation, cultural events, reading, socializing in small, intimate settings, and playing or listening to music.

About the Author

Molly Owens is the CEO of Truity and holds a master's degree in counseling psychology. She founded Truity in 2012, with the goal of making quality personality tests more affordable and accessible. She has led the development of assessments based on Myers and Briggs' personality types, Holland Codes, the Big Five, DISC, and the Enneagram. She is an ENTP, a tireless brainstormer, and a wildly messy chef. Find Molly on Twitter at @mollmown.

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