Carl Gustav Jung (1875 – 1961) was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology.
While his predecessor, Sigmund Feud, explored the personal unconscious, Carl Jung studied and developed the unconscious further to show the collective unconscious, which represents a form of the unconscious common to mankind as a whole. Carl Jung was the first to distinguish the two major attitudes or orientations of personality – extroversion and introversion. He also identified four basic cognitive functions (thinking, feeling, sensing, and intuiting).
What is Extroversion and Introversion in Carl Jung’s original work?
This dimension has to do with where we naturally direct our energy and recharge as well as our first order of importance: the inner world vs the outer world:
Inner world is made up of thoughts, ideas, memories or so-called the subjective experience that is unique and aware of only by the individual
Outer world is made of people and experiences outside of one’s self, or the “objects”
Extraverts have a stronger relationship with the objects of the outer world because they feel a stronger cognitive need for frequent interaction with the world. To Extraverts, what’s going on outside is more important than what’s happening inside. Overall, they are more “action-oriented”.
Introverts have a stronger relationship with the inner world because they feel a stronger cognitive need to connect with their inner subjective experiences. To introverts, what’s happening inside is more important than outside. They are characterised for being more “reflective”.
A good metaphor for extroversion vs introversion is land vs water. You can naturally be comfortable in both, but to an extrovert, the outer world is like the shore and the inner world is like water. They can certainly enjoy staying in water but where do they eventually get respite from? The shore. Vice versa for introverts, the inner world is like the shore and the outer world of objects is the water!
Neurologically, Extraverts and Introverts have different pathways in the brain for processing information. Extraverts use a shorter pathway and are much faster at processing incoming information from the world. Therefore, they have a higher tolerance for stimulation and tend to actively seek out stimulating experiences.
Introverts’ pathways are much longer as the information is processed and filtered internally. They are easier to suffer from “information overload” given the same amount of external stimuli. Hence they prefer a slower “reflective” pace and tend to avoid situations that might overwhelm them. This difference is noticeable in babies as young as 4-months old!
According to statistical studies, Extraverts and Introverts are roughly evenly split in the general population, with a few studies finding a slightly greater number of Extraverts
Your sense of self refers to your perception of the collection of characteristics that define you. It refers to what you think are your personality traits, strength and weaknesses, like or dislikes, moral values and your goals and aspirations…
Why is it important?
Having a strong sense of self allows you to appreciate both your strengths and weaknesses. It allows you to be at peace and comfortable in your own skin and not too affected by people’s opinions. Otherwise, you will be pushed around and feel bad about things about yourself that you shouldn’t
Motivation and making decisions
Knowing your likes and dislikes from small things like the choice of food to bigger things like the kind of career or life partners you want will allow you to make decisions quickly and confidently. You won’t have to spend time agonising and taking forever to decide or worse, simply choosing jobs or settling for relationships because that’s what your parents or other people choose for you.
And of course, if you have a strong enough “why”, you can go through any “how” to achieve your dream goals and career outcomes.
Besides that, your sense of self allows you to be confident in choosing the right friends and partners, but also allows you to communicate and manage relationships better. You won’t have to deal with crippling anxiety when trying to speak up your mind at your jobs. You can become a better leader in the workplace. You can tell your friends or partners clearly what you like or dislike to keep a healthy boundary.
How to build self-identity?
To build a strong sense of self, from young kids to adults, we need time to experience and explore, to fail and learn about what we like, dislike and our strengths and weaknesses. Having the right theory of mind based on rigorous frameworks will also help to allow you to build a more accurate picture of yourself faster.
While MBTI is based on how different types process and judge information differently, Enneagram categorizes people based on the patterns of trauma responses and core emotional motivations.
So think of your MBTI type as cognitive habits and patterns, while the enneagram tells you the purpose of these patterns. Two people may have the same tools (the mind) but having different purposes and drive in life will result in two very different characters. Similarly, two MBTI types might be trying to achieve the same purpose in life despite having very different cognitive tools.
Quick definition of INFP personality type
INFP, sometimes called the Mediator or the Idealist, refers to one of the 16 MBTI Types which has a dominant function of Introverted Feeling (meaning individual sense of morality) supported by their auxiliary function of Extraverted Intuition (a.k.a divergent abstracting thinking). They are characterised as gentle, peaceful yet quietly holding down a fountain of passion and optimistic ideals.
The 3 most popular Enneagram types associated with INFP type are Enneagram 4, 9 and 5. To read the full study here, click here. Read more below to find which flavors of INFP do you possess.
Most common: INFP with Enneagram 4 (the Artist)
Enneagram Four, nicknamed the artist or individualist, is described as self-aware, sensitive, and reserved. They are emotionally open, creative, and personable, although they may be grumpy and self-conscious at times. They may feel scornful and exempt from common ways of life if they isolate themselves from others because they feel weak and flawed. Melancholy, self-indulgence, and self-pity are common concerns for them. At their best, they are able to reinvent themselves and change their experiences since they are inspired and very creative. Read more.
To deeply understand their behaviours, we need to understand that Enneagram 4 is in the Heart center (with the primary emotion of shame). They want to feel love and personal significance while avoiding shame (judgement by others). While Enneagram type 2 and 3 also primarily deal with shame, type 4’s unique unconscious coping mechanism is to think of themselves as unique or uniquely defective. This means society can’t judge them on the same standards because they are one of a kind characters with a one of a kind life mission.
Being the most common among INFP, no wonder that Enneagram 4 INFP fits the typical INFP description so well: artistic, creative with a deep longing to find and realize their unique paths in life. They make the best poets, artists and entertainers thanks to their keen sense of individualism and emotional sensitivity.
Second most common: INFP with Enneagram type 9 (the Peacekeeper)
The general Enneagram type 9 is characterized as accepting, trustworthy, and steady. They are inclined to go along with others in order to preserve the peace. They want everything to run smoothly and without confrontation, but they may also be complacent, simplifying situations and downplaying any negative aspects. At their Best: tenacious and all-encompassing, they have the ability to unite people and heal conflicts. Read more.
Unlike Enneagram 4, type 9 is in the body triad (together with type 1 and 8), which means they are more driven by a desire for autonomy instead of love. To go a little bit deeper, type 9 is governed by anger (and they resolve by unconscious complete denial of anger) instead of shame. For INFP, this should translate into a more stable and down-to-earth character than the typically turbulent INFP profile because deep down type 9 wants to be left alone instead of seeking love or validation from others like Enneagram type 4 does.
Enneagram type 9 is nicknamed the Peacekeeper. INFPs with this Enneagram are no exception, which means they are happiest and most suited for practical actions instead of creative arts. Think of nurses, peace corp volunteers or even law and security enforcers.
Third most common: INFP with Enneagram type 5 (the Investigator)
Slightly more rare but still the third most common among INFP, this subtype possesses the inquisitive and powerful mind of Enneagram 5 which is nicknamed the Investigator. Enneagram 5 has the ability to focus and concentrate on very complicated concepts and planning. They might get absorbed with their ideas and imaginative structures while being independent, clever, and ingenious. At their best, type 5 is visionary and pioneering in the pursuit of knowledge. Read more.
While INFP with Enneagram 4 and 9 above are governed by the Heart and Body respectively, Enneagram type 5 is in the Mind triad. This means they care more about security and are more driven by anxiety a.k.a not having enough knowledge to deal with the outside world.
As dark as it sounds, this characteristic anxiety also induces an effortless sense of wonder and curiosity towards the world. People of this type love knowledge and competency. INFP with Enneagram 5 will likely be very suited for serious research and study, especially those that have humanitarian or altruistic bends, like curing diseases or solving hunger.
Of course you can identify with all of these types as we all possess all 9 Enneagram types to different extent. However, you can find your core type much better by pinpointing and relating to the deepest and most overarching pain and desires of the types.
Don’t feel like any of the 3 types above fit? Explore other Enneagram types and decide for yourself at https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/. For INFP, the other Enneagram types are more rare but certainly possible!
“Curiosity is the most superficial of all the affections. It has an appearance of giddiness, restlessness, and anxiety (Edmund Burke – an Irish philosopher)”
Speaking of curiosity, people usually come up with the idiom curiosity killed the cat. Why does curiosity seem to be associated with such a negative connotation? Is this also a popular perception of our daily lives and in society? In this article, I shall walk you through the definition, main types of curiosity and how it varies among in individuals
1. Two main types of curiosity
Curiosity is a critical cognitive function that influences human’s behaviors. From a broader perspective, curiosity might be seen as a stepping stone for major developments in science, decision-making, and learning. According to Psychology iresearchnet, curiosity is “a motivational state involving the tendency to recognize and seek out novel and challenging experiences”.
Since curiosity originates from the thirst for new knowledge, it differs from other positive emotions. For example, joyful feelings such as enjoyment and cheerfulness exist when an individual already has a clear picture with amplenecessary information regarding the experience. Curiosity, on the other hand, occurs when someone feels the excitement of explorations with uncertainty, hesitation, and lack of information.
Curiosity has been classified into two main types: perceptual curiosity(or cognitive curiosity) and epistemic curiosity(or sensory curiosity). The definition of these two types lies in the matters that one is curious about. Cognitive curiosity describes the desire for new information and knowledge, or in general, cognitive matters. Sensory curiosity expresses the yearning for new sensations and thrills. This type involves the exploration of novel physical experiences such as do something for a try, go for an adventure, pick up a new sport, etc.
“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”
2. State versus trait : the opposing theories on the origin of curiosity
The concept of curiosity is central to motivation. Whether curiosity emerges internally or externally remains a controversial debate. However, this leads to two distinguished classifications of curiosity types: state and trait. Both of the terms determine how and why humans get involved in curious behaviors.
a. State curiosity is externally stimulated
When curiosity is used as a description of specific behaviors towards a stimulus, it is known as state curiosity. This is a state of increased arousal response stimulated by an event or activity in which an individual gains nearly no essential information in advance. It is generally based on an external situation that evokes the curiosity-driven behaviors of an individual.
Suppose you happen to know one of your friends is intrigued by the universe and always asks several questions during the National Geographic Cosmos series, or your family members wonder about the wide-opening window from the neighbor’s house during wintertime. In these cases, state curiosityappears to be the most suitable description for these behaviors.
2. Trait curiosity comes from internal urge to gain knowledge
The concept that curiosity resides from the inside is called trait curiosity. This relates to people who have a strong interest in acquiring novel knowledge and experience, simply for the sake of learning and self-discovery. For instance, if some of your classmates have the following characteristics: highly self-motivated by discovering theoretical knowledge, being curious and passionate about trying new sports or travelling to new, unknown places, we can say these people have trait curiosity.
3. Different individuals experience different levels of curiosity and the matters they are curious about
When people get older, both the types and degree of their curiosity will change. Human beings, at different ages, are curious about different matters. When we are a little kid, we often drive ourselves to a specific goal: to understand something better at the moment. This explains why kids ask a lot of questions because they are curious about everything and want to know more about it.
However, when we grow older, we realize life is much more complicated, and we tend to “extend” the initial question, from “why” to “what if”. We not only want to know about present matters but also want more information about the unknown events that are likely to occur in the near future.
When ones get older, they tend to draw various possibilities; they yearn for anticipating or foreseeing future events for better preparation. The question “why” indicates a thirst for an answer, an explanation, or could be an initial step for a novel discovery.
“What if” represents one or several possibilities generated from a fact, or a present event that an individual already knows. “What if” plays a vital role in activating the analysis phase in the process of seeking out new information. After “what if”, people tend to define advantages and disadvantages, solve the problem and compare the results.
As ones grow older, they expand their scope of knowledge and interests. They look at life from different perspectives; hence their curious behaviors tend to change. The two questions “why” and “what if” tend to be combined and used in different circumstances to know and understand things better
4. The 4 components that power curiosity
Curiosity can be induced by 4 main factors: novelty, complexity, uncertainty, conflict
Novelty indicates the newness, the unknown things compared to prior experience, learned knowledge, and expectations. For example, a 5-year-old kid reads an astronomy comic book. She realized there is a lot about the universe she did not know before, compared to what she learned at school. The more she reads, the more curious she is about the universe. Reading this astronomy book brought her novel experiences, which evokes her curiosity for the universe.
Complexity is a quality that represents the variety of components within the scope of understanding. The more diverse and challenging the components are, the higher level of complexity.
Uncertainty describes the insecure and doubtful feelings when facing an issue with little knowledge acquired. Uncertainty also displays the presence of multiple possibilities and outcomes with almost no knowledge gained.
Finally, conflict describes the presence of a contradiction between what you feel and what you want to do. For example, a conflict might occur when you find a dark place, and half of you want to enter to find out what it is on the inside, and the other half is getting scared of dark places and the urge to turn away.
5. High in curiosity might mean high in openness, yet low in neuroticism
A study by Furnham and Chamorro (2006) discussed the positive connection between curiosity and the five personality traits. In particular, individuals with high scores in openness tend to be more intellectually curious and have more comfortable attitudes and feelings towards novel or challenging activities.
However, research shows that curiosity has a negative relationship with neuroticism. Research by Renner (2007)indicated a negative correlation between curiosity and the control of anxiety. In other words, highly curious individuals are associated with low levels of anxiety. Curious people tend to take challenges in open attitudes and high readiness to confront unexpected risks. They do not seem to get anxious easily, thus being able to control their anxiety more effectively.
Curiosity has occupied a vital position in the study of motivation, emotion, and cognition since the origins of psychology. To this day, several basic principles and concepts of curiosity continue to confound science. Yet the importance of curiosity in personal development and daily life activities is undeniable.
Harnessing curiosity in real-life environments, such as in work and educational settings, plays a fundamental role in growing an individual’s ability and an organization’s overall achievements. Albeit certain pros and cons, stimulating curiosity helps nurture personal growth, strengthen social bonds, and sustain our motivation and sense of exploration.
Today I would like to discuss a concept which is a significant cause of conflict in personal and work life: the quality of being socially dominant and its counterpart, passive aggressiveness. From my own observation, these two yin-yang approaches result in two camps of thoughts which are constantly at war with each other.
The benefits of being assertive
Assertiveness has been a well-known concept that contributes to good communication skills. Being assertive means to be able to speak up and project your point of view so as to protect your self-interest and create win-win situations through clear communication. It is a more healthy way of channeling aggression than said, bottling up inside just to explode later.
Potential benefits of being assertive:
Protect your personal benefits
Communicate and find win-win situation in teamwork
Make individuals more stress-resistant and hence, improve productivity
Speak up and protect your boundary, thus improve mental healths
Be happier in general and reap associated health benefits
Feel more confident and competent, and therefore improve self-esteem
The definition of assertiveness: a skill or mindset?
The definition of assertiveness can range from a very positive meaning to domineering or openly aggressive. 16personalities.com, a very popular psychometric site, defines assertive individuals as “self-assured, even-tempered, and resistant to stress”.
So the keywords here are low on stress and aggression, or simply, low on neuroticism on the Big Five scale. For the discussion of this article, we will stick closely to the definition of Assertiveness as “the quality of being self-assured and confidentwithout being aggressive“.
The implication is that loud and aggressive people can still be considered as not assertive if the underlying motivation is frequent excessive stress and aggression. Assertiveness in this sense closely resembles the laid-back type B in the popular Type A/ B personality model.
How is assertiveness a mindset? I have observed two distinct patterns among people. On one hand, assertive individuals find it easier to set boundary. Their typical emotional reactions are either neutral or anger towards things or other people. It’s not that they cannot take blame or feel guilt, but they just do not dwell on it and instead quickly fix the issues either through correcting their own or other’s behaviors.
On the other hand are apparently meeker individuals who shy away from displaying outward anger or judgement and tend to internalize feelings of shame or guilt. That doesn’t mean they do not have aggression. These individuals may appear easy-going on the surface, but can harbor victim mentality and passive-aggressive behaviors.
Yin and Yang: Is assertiveness all good and passive-aggressiveness bad?
Like most of other mindsets, being openly or passive-aggressive tends to be reinforced and biased by our egos. Passive-aggressive people tend to have a martyr complex, thinking that other people are immoral or ignorant, but keep such thoughts to themselves. They view assertive people as insensitive, domineering and even shallow.
Openly aggressive people on the other hand, view the majority as too inefficient, soft, overthinking or even lazy. While passive people often furnish their thought system with idealism, morality and sensitivity, assertive people reinforce their egos with the ideas of logic, efficiency, survival and bottom lines.
Such self-reinforcement results in a continuous battle between the overly assertive and the passive, like yin and yang, in our social interactions. The effect of a domineering personality is easy to see but passive aggression can be equally nasty. Especially when having a superior position, passive aggressive people can intentionally or unintentionally channel their aggression through guilt tripping, sarcasm or petty politics to cause pain to others.
From an objective standpoint, both of these perspectives are valid. When something goes wrong, you can look outside and find faults in the system or others. You can also look into yourselves and find reasons for shame or guilt, or to do better next time. The key is balance so that you don’t over-blame yourself at the expense of leadership or don’t blame yourself enough to learn and improve.
How does assertiveness correlate with personality types?
Overall, introverted feeling types such as ISFP, INFP, ISFJ and INFJ tend to be the least assertive while extraverted thinkers such as ESTJ and ENTJ are often assertive to the point of being brash. Genders also play a role where females would likely downplay their assertiveness which is traditionally considered a masculine quality.
How to practice assertiveness
Avoid the martyr complex: people can’t read your mind even if they try to. We often have very skewed and over-simplistic views of other people’s minds so we shouldn’t expect others to understand us with the same depth and details as we understand ourselves. Communication is key!
Read books to improve soft skills and communication. There are many well-known books out there such as the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, How to Win Friends and Influence People… Having the foundation on communications and people’s skills will allow you to transition from being closed up to assertive without coming off as brash or confrontational.
Read books on psychology to understand different personality types: learning about MBTI, Enneagram, Big Five can all help us to recognize the distinct personalities and their corresponding point of views, which are all valid.
Understand and tame your aggression: Ultimately, it’s a matter of channeling our aggression effectively or best of all, not having one in the first place. Meditation, talking to our support network, contemplating to see a wider perspective and challenging our own biases would help to alleviate our inner tension.
Followed by a series of five personality traits from the Big Five personality model, the next personality dimension that we will look into is agreeableness. The word “agree” indicates the likelihood to say yes, to compromise, or to agree to do things, either for oneself or others. Agreeableness measures the tendency to be kind, friendly, cooperative, and supportive. It shows how well one gets along with with others in a group-based environment.
Highly agreeable people exhibit prosocial forms of behavior. They tend to be more sociable, considerate, tender-minded, and are concerned with the welfare of others. Low scorers tend to be more tough-minded and consider their interests and benefits above others. Sometimes, they are perceived as cynical, domineering, and antagonistic.
If you want to know how agreeable you are, we recommend you taking the Big Five Personality Test here
1. The importance of agreeableness: generate positive thoughts and improve mental health
Agreeableness helps to form relationships with peace and empathy, trust and harmonization. It also helps to minimize the possibility of conflicts and arguments. On an individual scale, agreeableness enables one to harbor and nurture positive thoughts and actions towards others.
2. The six facets of agreeableness
According to the International Personality Item Pool, each dimension of the Big Five Personality Traits comprises six facets, or also known as sub traits. The facets of the conscientiousness domain are:
Trust: to believe that someone or something is initially reliable, ethical, and truthful. A trusting individual tends to believe people are well-intentioned and fair. The opposite of being trusting is skeptical. Skeptical individuals tend not to trust others easily without considering other aspects. They tend to base on various other factors, such as their personal experience, facts, or evidence, to trust a person.
Morality: This facet shows the desire to be sincere and candid as opposed in dealing with others. Those who have high levels of morality tend to lean towards being sincere and kind-hearted with others. Those with low levels of morality believe a certain amount of deception or manipulation is needed in communications and relationships. It should be noted that this facet is not about being wrong or right, but rather the degree an individual feels comfortable and pleasant to interact straightforwardly with others.
Cooperation: the willingness to work together with others for a common goal, purpose, or benefit.These people do not like confrontations and tend to compromise. They are often not concerned much with their own needs or interests. Those who tend not to cooperate efficiently with others are more competitive and prioritize their personal needs and benefits.
According to Dr. Todd Grande, looking at the overall personality trait, cooperation is one of the facets to be associated the most with agreeableness, in terms of the popular conception. For instance, a manager would view an agreeable employee as cooperative toward his or her co-workers.
According to Dr. Todd Grande, looking at the overall personality trait, cooperation is one of the facets to be associated the most with agreeableness, in terms of the popular conception. For instance, a manager would view an agreeable employee as cooperative toward his or her co-workers.
Altruism: the willingness or the desire to help others. Altruistic people find it fulfilling to help others in need. People with low levels of altruism might appear to be helpful towards others, yet the way they see these kind actions is different. Instead of feeling self-fulfilling and joyful when seeing others receive help, they feel inconvenient and look at it as an imposition.
Modesty: how willing someone is to claim himself or herself better than others. Modest people do not like making this claim and would rarely consider themselves at a higher position than others. The opposite of modest is arrogant people who act as if they are superior to others.
Sympathy: the ability to understand and resonate with other people’s feelings, particularly that of sad events and sorrows. They are better at identifying, understanding, and connecting with human sufferings. Less sympathetic people lack the ability to recognize and harmonize with sorrowful experiences others are going through.
Sympathy, in different situations, is considered as justice versus mercy. These two aspects appear as two extremes of a spectrum, where sympathetic individuals tend to lean towards mercy, and lesssympathetic ones tend to lean towards the justice side.
3. Suggested careers for highly agreeable people
Highly agreeable people enjoy assisting others and feel more fulfilled when seeing others getting better from the help they receive. An ideal working environment for agreeable people would be a place that allows them to build connections and make positive contributions to the community.
Potential job ideas for agreeable people:
Teacher / lecturer
Nurse / caregiver
NGO / NPO leader
Community service staff
4. Suggested careers for those with low levels of agreeableness
Those who tend to behave bold, assertive, and tough-minded are not suitable for community-related jobs. They find it hard to place others’ needs and benefits above or emotionally connect to others. These people strive best in environments that focus on the outcomes, welcome counter opinions, and allow their competitiveness to glow.
Potential jobs ideas for low scorers in the agreeableness trait:
Scientist / researcher
Manager / director / association leader
Engineer / mechanic
Author / writing content creator
5.Interesting facts about agreeableness
5.1 Agreeable people shouldn’t be perceived as “less intelligent”
Being too agreeable might lead to some behaviors that could be regarded as less intelligent. Agreeable people place their needs and interests lower than that of others. For this reason, agreeable individuals are perceived as less intelligent, especially in competitive working environments.
However, how agreeableness is related to intelligence depends on how one chooses to define intelligence. Studies found that agreeableness has zero correlation with objective tests of general intelligence.
5.2 People who consider themselves superior to others tend to appear disagreeable
Disagreeable personalities were found in those who perceived themselves at a higher position than others, regardless of their actual ability. This is a study result from Furnham & Buchanan on “Personality, gender, and self-perceived intelligence.” This has significant implications because that means agreeableness is not a fixed trait but can also change fluidly. A person can be more agreeable to a superior but less so with someone in an inferior position.
5.3 Agreeable individuals are more likely to experience Placebo Effect
A study published in 2013 found that there is a higher likelihood foragreeable individuals to undergo the placebo effect. For agreeable participants, they appeared to be more relieved by the placebo effect than other subjects having lower levels of agreeableness. They are less likely to object to the experimenters, more motivated to please them, and more hopeful for positive outcomes.
5.4 Agreeable individuals are less bothered by grammatical mistakes
Subtle errors in emails might annoy some people, yet this is exceptional for agreeable people. The way personality affects an individual’s reaction to email mistakes was thoroughly discussed in this study. The study results suggested that agreeable people are less sensitive to grammatical errors in emails. It would be wrong to claim that agreeable people have worse grammar than others. They simply do not want to exaggerate the minor mistakes and willing to pass them through.
5.5 Social media is mostly used for positively connecting with others, rather than complaining, by agreeable people
How personality affects the usage of social media platforms has become the subject for a study in 2013. According to the results, agreeable people are more likely to use social media to build and maintain positive connections, rather than a platform for complaints and judgemental opinions. Another interesting study found that agreeable job applicants are less likely to be found badmouthing others on Facebook.
6. Conclusion: agreeableness needs to be utilized efficiently in the right place
Most people fall somewhere between agreeableness and disagreeableness. Depending on the circumstance, agreeableness can be perceived as a strength or weakness. On the overall perspective, agreeableness is a personal positivity that shows trust, cooperation, and support. This is a good thing and has become the keystone ingredient for organizational harmonization. However, in circumstances where assertiveness and counter opinions are more welcomed and focused, it is better to be tough-minded and competitive to protect one’s self-benefits.
The simplified definition of introversion-extroversion scale is the source where an individual gain energy from. An introvert will gain energy reflecting and listening to his inner world of thoughts, feelings or ideas. Meanwhile, an extrovert is energized by interacting with surrounding people, ideas or projects and will get bored being left alone for too long.
I would like to clarify some common misconceptions. Many tests give you results in percentage such as 70% Introvert, 30% Extrovert. However, this does not mean you are a different type 30% of the time. Being 90% or 51% introverted still means you have an introverted outlook in life. Being more in the middle of the scale probably means you are more versatile in channeling your energy to meet extraverted tasks.
Being more introverted does not guarantee you are a loner, unfriendly or have very few friends either. It is simply a generalized tendency,. Introverts are very capable of being confident in public speaking or having more friends than an extrovert. Outward behaviors can be misleading. Being an introvert or extrovert is deeper than that, going to the core values and overall attitude towards the outside world. So read below for 3 guidelines which will help you better decide which side you are on.
Extroverts seek social approval while introverts prioritize individuality
From a sociology point of view, since the time where mankind still lives in cave and in small closely-knitted communities, there are two distinct social strategies. One one hand, one may regard the community’s standards and needs as absolute and everything he thinks or does ultimately allows him to be better recognized by the tribe. The introvert’s ultimate basis is his own needs and himself. It is not about being selfish, but prioritizing individual perspectives and standards over the norms.
For example, an introverted feeling-dominant person will prioritize his moral standards and his subjective experience over the tribe’s. Such a type is the inspiration for the typical protagonist in many classic romance stories where the character is willing to fight and suffer for a personal passion despite resistance from the community or family. An extraverted feeling person, as you can guess, would more likely to follow what the social norms dictate.
In the case of thinking, an extraverted thinkers will have the habit of thinking how to obtain knowledge from well-validated external sources and to apply a principle or rule to as many people as possible. An introverted thinker, on the other hand, is often more comfortable relying on his original understanding of how things work and how he can “game the system” to obtain what he wants.
Extroverts prefer quantity while introverts want quality
Carl Jung himself mentioned in his book that the extroversion scale points beyond humans to include all living organisms. In the same population of a specific species, on one end of the spectrum are individuals who are more aggressive and less discriminate in acquiring food and mates. On the other end, there are those that prefer to conserve energy, striking with fewer but more efficient attempts.
Of course, like many other biological drives, introversion-extroversion has grown to be more complex in humans. But the general principle stays the same: extroverts prefer to expand their energy while introvert conserves. Both are valid survival strategies. It explains many different outward behaviors between the two types, like how introverts tend to prefer fewer but closer friends or how extroverts seem more outgoing and socially assertive in pursuing their goals.
Extroverts are often generalists while introverts are specialists
Introverts often can think and work for much longer on a single topic or project, obtaining more unique and in-depth insights than their extroverted counterparts. Extroverts, like Thomas Edison, are of course capable of invention and creating ideas. However, what introverts are naturally good at is depth in subject matters. They are certainly over-represented in professions such as research, writing, drawing, engineering etc.
Meanwhile, extroverts often use ideas to achieve real world objectives. They are over-represented as managers, politicians, marketers… They usually prefer well-validated or popular knowledge and have relatively less patience to dwell on a topic for too long.
If you are a so-called ambivert, trying to pinpoint the side of this spectrum is not an easy task and personality tests online often do not help due to a lack of accuracy. I believe the best way to do is to contemplate the 3 principles above and search within yourself about what you really want.
Most of us want success or popularity eventually, but does that success needs to come from your original understanding and ingenuity? Do you often distrust the mass and wish everyone can be more unique and think more for themselves? If those questions constantly itch you, you are more likely to be introverted than extroverted.
Have a general dislike and often question popular ideas , standards or tastes
Seek to achieve socially-approved concepts and objectives without “overthinking”
Quantity versus quality
Prefer quality, being picky (job, relationship…)
Want to experience it all, easy-going and easy to blend in
The INFP MBTI type is stereotyped as misunderstood, meek and emotional introvert who is obsessed with morality while having a natural gift for written languages. However, in truth, INFP is a very diverse range of people with varied strengths and interests. Let’s explore 4 main subtypes of INFP which you can better identify yourself with:
INFP type often correlates with Enneagram type 4 – the Individualist. Type 4 Enneagram shares many characteristics with the poster child INFP: individualistic, creative, emotional with desire to be unique. Enneagram type 4 can develop wing 3 or wing 5. Enneagram Type 3 is nicknamed the Performer, or someone who is achievement and status-oriented. Meanwhile, type 5 is labeled the Investigator, or someone who is logical and always want to understand things deeper.
The Marketer is INFP with Enneagram 4 Wing 3. It combines type 4’s knack for creative expression and a somewhat conventional career-focused mindset. They are career-driven and often have lofty goals, taking pride in conveying with passion the values of the brands and products which they believe in.
The Marketer type often has a better time to blend into teamwork and corporate environment compared to INFP 4 Wing 5. They enjoy using their creative ability to produce marketing materials that can touch the audience while enjoy career stability and progression.
Bohemian is defined as a socially unconventional person, often in the arts. This is a pretty apt term to describe Enneagram 4 with wing 5 (4w5) because the 5 wing adds an additional layer of introversion and bizarreness into their perspectives. Enneagram 4 and 5 are both introverted in attitude, resulting in a really introspective and original character.
Unlike 4w3 who is often more comfortable with teamwork and corporate settings, 4w5 Bohemian is truly a lone wolf. The emotionality of type 4 combined with the rationality of 5 itself seems like an oxymoron. Imagine an INFP who has learnt to temper his feelings with logic and objectivity. This type wants their work to be not only unique but also original and insightful. They will more likely do a mundane day job while using their creative talent to produce few but high-quality work compared to the Marketer INFP.
I use the terminology Turbulent and Assertive from 16personalities.com to describe another pronounced dichotomy among INFP. In fact, the majority of INFP seems to be Turbulent, which is expected among feeling-dominant types. Turbulent is equivalent to Neurotic in Big 5, describing someone who is more prone to worrying, perfectionism and seeking social approval.
The turbulent INFP fits more with the usual expectation of INFP type who is prone to overthinking and perfectionism, the chief cause of their notorious procrastination. Turbulent INFPs are pretty socially-conscious despite being an introvert. They would often worry about meeting conventional social expectations such as career, income, status…
Yet, turbulent individuals are said to be more creative. Having both creativity and perfectionism, they are very capable of producing art masterpieces.
The Assertive INFP
I’m not sure if Assertive INFP are born or grown because neuroticism can change. Many INFPs including myself appeared more turbulent when younger and through repeated self-conditioning, are able to attain better inner-peace to become more assertive.
Regardless, assertive individuals are more self-assured and confident in their abilities, at the risk of being complacent and arrogant. While turbulent INFP are perfectionistic in their work and relentless in self-improvement, assertive ones seem contented and nonchalant.
At their best, assertive INFP are calm and comfortable in asserting themselves. According to surveys by 16personalities.com, they are more resistant to stress and seem more happy with life. They can also possess more perseverance to pursue their visions as they are less dependent on other people’s approval or conventional expectations.
I understand that if you are an INFP type, you may not like to be pigeon-holed into labels or being categorized as more typical or mainstream. However, the writing above is in no way exhaustive and also limited by my own repertoire of personality psychology. I would say, at the risk of sounding cliche, we are all unique…
There can be many other personality dimensions yet to be discovered. The personality labels, whether being mainstream or not, only serve to help us better understand our strengths and weaknesses through well-known concepts. You are always encouraged to explore other unique aspects of your individuality so as to grow to the fullest of your potential.
Overall, there are pros and cons for being in each of the INFP subtypes listed above. One type can always learn from the opposite type to become a more balanced and mature individual.
At the core, INTJ and ENTJ are very similar and hence one type often gets confused for the other. They are both visionary doers who prioritize external measurable results. Both often are straight-shooters who dislike politics and small talks.
ENTJ’s superpowers: effectiveness and vision
The reason I put ENTJ first is because their inner workings are probably easier to imagine than that of INTJ. They are over-represented among CEOs and corporate managers, often pictured as smart, decisive and even ruthless about profit and bottom lines.
ENTJ’s superpower in leadership and strategy is derived from Extraverted Thinking (Te). Te is adept at recognizing and applying the rules of the system. It is energized by external, socially-approved rewards. Te-dominant personalities like ENTJ and ESTJ, or even INTJ and ISTJ, work really hard and are industrious. They look for measurable results and can be impatient with explanation or speculation. Their motto is “ What matters is the results, not the process”.
But what distinguishes ENTJ from ESTJ is their auxiliary function, Introverted Intuition (Ni). Ni helps ENTJ to be more imaginative and visionary. If ESTJ is more of a traditional manager, ENTJ are often innovators and change-makers who can realize and turn new technology or invention into profitable enterprises.
Bill Gates and Napoleon Bonaparte are said to be of ENTJ types. Napoleon was well-known as an effective and ruthless conqueror, but he was also a forward-thinking law-maker who spearheaded various changes to the legal, military and political landscape of France.
The most mature ENTJs even go beyond the pull of their typical competitive and controlling Te and become magnanimous and forgiving. They are extremely protective of their team, employees, and friends. They have the vision and disciplines to push the entire company towards goals but are also flexible and open-minded enough to give individuals under them space to perform with autonomy and trust.
INTJ’s superpowers: patience, vision and integrity
INTJ’s dominant function, however, is Introverted Intuition (Ni). The chief purpose of Ni is understanding, not external achievements. It seeks clarity and truth. Especially during the younger years where Te is not yet developed, INTJs will often indulge in Ni, spending hours daydreaming and contemplating. They are voracious readers of both fiction and non-fiction and often enjoy computer games and fantasy genre when young.
As INTJ becomes more mature , their more developed Te allows them to become more engaged with the external world. They learn to channel their fountain of unique perspectives into achieving real-world objectives. If their extraverted counterparts seem like brash go-getters, INTJ’s superhuman strength lies in his extraordinary patience to plan and wait to execute with relentless precision, when all the pieces fall into the right place.
INTJ’s penchants for logic and planning often allow them to be great engineers and scientists. The more socially-inclined and ambitious type often find resounding success in the commercial world, conducting their business with cutting-edge technology and uncompromising integrity. Yes integrity is very true for INTJ who is also very much influenced by their third function, Introverted Feeling, which is the epitome of integrity and moral character.
However, logic and precision are not enough to describe INTJ’s ingenuity and potential contribution. Leading with Ni, their understanding are global and highly objective. They are forward-looking visionary leaders who can make the impossible happen for society at large. Think about Mark Zuckerberg. Though Facebook can be controversial nowadays, it is undeniable that Mark’s ambition and strategic mind have enabled an once college-campus social network to boom into a global phenomenon.
A really good place to understand INTJ’s inner workings is the Cold-war classic Atlas Shrugged. Most of the heroes and heroines in the book are INTJ (and maybe INTP) and the author, Ayn Rand, herself is said to be an INTJ.
The MBTI is invented by Myer and Catherine Briggs to help people better find a suitable job in the post World War 2 era. They believe that each person has a special role in society according to his or her MBTI type. Today, let’s us explore the roles and super powers of the INFP and ISFP.
INFP’s superpowers: emotional insights, creative expressions or scientific minds
INFP – the Mediator, leads with Introverted Feeling (Fi) – a powerful yet often misunderstood function. Fi is a moral compass with its root taken from deep inside the human psyche. It is activated especially when one witnesses human suffering and social injustice, which triggers a powerful desire to restore the moral balance to the universe. Fi is somewhat an oxymoron. It is highly subjective based on one’s personal experiences, yet its very basis is the universal and timeless ethical rules of humanity.
Fi is shared between both INFP and ISFP. What makes INFP special is the addition of the auxiliary Extraverted Intuition (Ne). Ne is the master at seeing big-picture possibilities and connecting far-flung dots. It allows the users to easily speak in metaphors and parables and enable them to be highly creative problem solvers. Writing is a form of complex creative problem-solving as it often involves generating several options and picking the most suitable one to best describe the nuanced meanings ( And Fi is the master at pin-pointing feeling or meaning)
A powerful moral drivers combined with big-picture creativity results in a determined justice warrior who is also a powerful wordsmith. The term warrior may seem strange to describe the peace-loving INFPs who would often start out as highly sensitive individuals who shy away from conflicts or asserting themselves. However, as their Ne perspectives become more developed, they become more eloquent and flexible in navigating the world.
Ultimately, INFPs are over-represented in professions of writers, film-makers and psychologists. Their Fi and Ne allows them to have a keen structural understanding of human’s motivations and emotional make-ups. This combination also allows them to translate those insights into powerful story-telling device, be it poems or movies, to move thousands or even millions of audience in the moral causes of their interests.
Think of J. K. Rowling or J. R. R. Tolkien who are most likely INFP. Their highly developed Fi and Ne produced highly epic and intricate classics that can resonate and captivate millions of people worldwide. The more scientific-minded INFPs like Mayer Brigg (founder of the MBTI) are gifted psychologists who develop innovative yet practical theoretical frameworks to help generations of ordinary people to understand themselves better.
The third and more action-oriented INFPs are the true justice warriors who prefer hands-on work such as volunteering, nursing, animal rescuing… Joan of Arc, the famous heroine who mobilized and inspired the French population to fight against the English occupation of France, is often regarded as INFP. Their purity of heart and verbal eloquence can help them easily connect with and inspire people to follow their conviction.
ISFP: sensitivity, artistic expression and aesthetic sense
ISFP – The Adventurer, has only 1 letter different from INFP. Yet, that one letter results in fundamental difference. ISFP belongs to the SP (Explorer) group who thrives on spontaneity, sensuality and living in the moment, which is chiefly the result of Extraverted Sensing (Se). Se is a concrete, matter-of-fact way of perceiving which thrives on quick reflexes and fast decision-making.
At the core, ISFP shares with INFP Introverted Feeling. Fi is a powerful emotional motor and its aim is to control the external environment or oneself to restore a feeling of ethical balance. These seemingly passive and meek creatures have a sea of feelings bubbling within, waiting to pour over when there is injustice and unfairness present. Fi is keenly aware and gives absolute respect to individuals’ right to live autonomously without being forced to live against their nature or will.
However, Se instead of Ne results in ISFP being more in-tune with and also, limited by their immediate presence and surrounding. The Adventurer lives in the here and now and their concerns are often confined in themselves and their immediate family or friends. They are quicker with action and their senses instead of words. They make for excellent nurses, care-givers, chefs, painters or even athletes.
ISFP is often said to be the most intuitive among all the sensors personality. Their introversion and sensitivity might allow for a more introspective nature. Well-educated ISFPs also make good social-justice warriors, vehemently advocating for popular causes such as women’s equal rights, animal rights or climate change. They are similar to the action-oriented INFPs but are also more conventional.
ISFPs can also be well-known for their artistic inclination. They often can sing well and have good fashion sense. They are also good at appreciating good vibes and enjoying the finer and luxurious things in life. Their aesthetic talents serve them well in a wide range of outlets, from singing, painting, cooking to architectural designs.