INFJs are often stereotyped as shy, introverted idealists who are deeply philosophical and detached from the outside world. This simplistic label fails to capture the diversity that exists within this type, and can sometimes even lead INFJs who are new to the MBTI world to question whether they truly belong to this personality type. The truth is, INFJs come in all shades and forms, with varying levels of extraversion, thinking styles, interests, and behaviors. This article explores various subtypes of INFJs that you may identify with. You may find that you relate strongly to one particular subtype, or perhaps resemble a mix of all three. Regardless of which subtype you identify with, remember that all INFJs share the same core values and functions, even if they are expressed differently.
Before exploring the different subtypes that may exist within the INFJ personality type, let’s take a quick overview of their cognitive functions, which will serve as a reference throughout the article. Cognitive functions are the mental processes used by individuals to gather information and make decisions. Each MBTI personality type has a stack of 4 cognitive functions. The higher a cognitive function is in our stack, the more it guides our thoughts and behavior, and the lower we go down the stack, the less conscious control we have over the functions. The cognitive functions of INFJs are:
|Dominant||Introverted Intuition (Ni) – relies on abstract connections, speculates about potential and implications.|
|Auxiliary||Extraverted Feeling (Fe) – relies on sensitivity to the emotional states of others and feelings of harmony with the world.|
|Tertiary||Introverted Thinking (Ti) – uses personal framework of technical knowledge and skill to prevent/avoid/solve problems|
|Inferior||Extraverted Sensing (Se) – maintains direct relationship to the world via physical sensations.|
These cognitive functions can manifest themselves in different combinations to form the following main subtypes of INFJs. We have also explained the subtypes in reference to Enneagram to provide a more comprehensive understanding. The Enneagram is a personality typing system that identifies nine core motivations and fears, providing insights into individuals’ deep-seated drives and behaviors. It goes beyond cognitive functions and explores the underlying motivations behind our thoughts and actions.
Combining Enneagram with MBTI, we gain a deeper understanding of how INFJs’ core motivations and fears interact with their cognitive functions, shedding light on the nuances and variations within this personality type.
- The Principled Idealist
The Principled Idealists are INFJs who often relate to the Type 1 enneagram especially with a Type 9 wing. People with 1w9 enneatype are nicknamed as the idealists, and have principles, dedication, and loyalty of Type 1 (the perfectionists), as well as the desire for harmony from wing 9 (the peacemakers). Such INFJs mostly appear to others as ambiverts, and have a good balance of intuition (Ni), empathy (Fe), and logical thinking (Ti). They are passionate visionaries who aim to organize their ideals and insights into practical frameworks that make sense to them and can benefit others. However, they can be very perfectionistic and become too rigid or critical in pursuing their lofty standards and vision of creating a better world.
INFJs of this type are wise, noble, conscientious, and care deeply about maintaining justice and harmony in their social environment. They feel a strong sense of fairness and responsibility towards others and strive to improve their lives through diplomacy, compassion and reasoned action. Their tendency to value the shared experiences of the group and their vision of how society “ought to be” often leads them to become social activists, advocates or be elected as leaders in their communities, even if they don’t actively seek positions of authority.
- The Social Chameleon / Empathetic Helper
When people call INFJs social chameleons, they refer to this subtype specifically. While they still primarily rely on their Ni for processing information internally, they are more comfortable outwardly expressing their Fe, which makes them appear more social, outgoing, or even extraverted. They are closely associated with enneagram Type 2 – the caregiver, especially with Type 3 wing (type 2w3 – nicknamed as the host/hostess), as both INFJs and Type 2w3 have the superpower of gauging the emotional atmosphere of the group and adjusting their behavior accordingly to meet the needs of others.
At their best, these INFJs are sage counselors, providing empathy, wisdom and advice to those in need. As confidants, they offer unconditional positive regard and help guide people through difficulties. These INFJs often make excellent therapists, social workers, helplines counselors or spiritual advisors.
However, this tendency can also turn unhealthy if they indulge too much in their Fe and lose touch with their vision (Ni). The unhealthy ones can be so focused on others’ emotions that they might not even recognize what their own true feelings are! They often wear different masks for different situations and say things they think others want to hear. Their behavior is often motivated by the desire to fit in, be liked or appreciated by others. This subtype is also most likely to exhaust themselves and neglect their own needs while trying to make sure everyone around them is happy, pleased, and satisfied.
- The Contemplative Creator
The third type of INFJs can be referred to as the contemplative creators. These individuals are highly introspective and tend to immerse themselves in creative expression and intellectual pursuits. Although Type 4 enneagram – the individualist – is mostly associated with dominant Introverted Feelers (those who put their own values and beliefs first and foremost), this subtype of INFJs also correlates strongly to it. However, they mostly have a Type 5 wing (the investigator), which adds the element of intellectual curiosity to their personality and the resulting Type 4w5 is nicknamed “the Bohemian”.
Type 4 enneatypes are concerned with being unique, and are quite creative, emotional, and introspective. This category of INFJs also possess this unconscious desire to convince themselves and others that they’re different and distinctive in terms of their emotional, creative, and intellectual styles. They claim the flashes of insight and gut-feelings (from their Ni) as their unique gifts, and embrace creativity that sees beyond surface realities, perceiving hidden metaphors and symbolic meanings. They tend to live in their heads more than the other two subtypes, spending much of their time thinking, analyzing, and fantasizing (using their wing 5, or tertiary Introverted Thinking function-Ti). Although private, they’re still very attuned to people’s behaviors and motivations, picking up on subtle cues (using their Fe), even if less outwardly expressing. With their intuition, creativity, and intellectual curiosity, these INFJs produce original work that evokes emotions and stimulates the mind.
- The Insightful Guardian/ The Skeptical Strategist
This particular group of INFJs can be identified as insightful sentinel, and are extremely thoughtful but troubled souls. Their insightful minds are plagued by doubts and their caring nature is hampered by distrust in others. They are often associated with the enneagram 6 with wing 5 (6w5), known as “the guardians”. Enneagram type 6 individuals, known as Loyalists, crave security, stability and order. They are hardworking, responsible and value integrity but their skepticism and anxiety can lead to worst-case scenario thinking. With a 5 wing, such INFJs gain an intellectual bent and thirst for knowledge to attain certainty in an uncertain world.
This subtype of INFJs is highly thoughtful, cautious, and analytical. They are very risk-averse which often leads them to miss out on exciting opportunities and adventures. Their dominant Introverted Intuition (Ni) helps them visualize the future and foresee potential problems or risks that they may encounter, and prepare accordingly. However, it also feeds their fear and anxiety by showing them all the way things could go wrong. Hence, they naturally gravitate towards others in an attempt to build their security network of friends and family.
Their auxiliary Extraverted Feeling (Fe) helps these INFJs to look to others for support and validation due to their fear of criticism and rejection. They want to connect with groups but their natural cautiousness and distrust in others makes it hard to build new friendships. They take time to gather information about new people (using their wing 5 or tertiary Introverted Thinking-Ti) to determine if they seem “safe” before opening up. Such INFJs constantly seek knowledge and certainty, making them excellent troubleshooters and information sponges. While this makes them extremely self-aware and humble, it can also feed into their anxieties and paranoia. Moreover, due to their inferior Extraverted Sensing (Se), harsh sensory input easily stresses them out as it forces them into the present moment, which they tend to avoid in favor of envisioning the future or analyzing the past.
The INFJ subtypes described here merely scratch the surface of the rich diversity found within this personality type. You may find that you relate to some aspects of multiple subtypes, after all, they are all INFJs. This just goes to show that INFJs, like all people, are multifaceted beings.
Ultimately, personality types are just an attempt to make it easier for us to understand ourselves and connect with others who may share similar traits. There are pros and cons for being in each of the INFJ subtypes listed above and one type can always learn from the opposite types to become a more balanced and mature individual. For a more detailed description of INFJs, you can visit INFJ Type Description.