Introversion vs Extroversion: A Jungian Perspective

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

References:

https://mbti-notes.tumblr.com/

Quotes

One of the reasons for learning about type is to recognize that we are constantly motivated, simply by the way we’ve established our neural networks, to shape reality along particular functional lines. Another is to recognize the possibilities for growth and change that exist within—and apart from—the framework we have created for ourselves.

Even small changes in our usual way of doing things can make big differences in the way our brain is operating. We develop the ability to think in new ways, and this stimulates creative change in all areas of our lives.

Personality Type: An Owner’s Manual

Why Does Your MBTI Make You A Late Bloomer

Source: truity.com

Let’s face it, even in the 21st century, what society defines as success is still very much materialistic. Whether someone is considered to do well in life depends on how high is his or her earning, his material possession and other status symbols including having (attractive) romantic partners.

The average income chart above by MBTI types portray a perspective of success. The highest earners on average are ENTJ and ESTJ while the lowest earners are INFP and ISFP. Overall, higher scores on extraversion (E), thinking (T), sensing (S) and judging (J) better predict financial success.

The reason that I phrase this article as “late bloomer” is because even though there is no survey that I know of, I do believe the material gap between types will lessen as people become more mature and balanced. The second reason is that even if the gap is still there, you will better accept who you are and the non-material and non-traditional sense of success that you create, which will give you better self-confidence and happiness down the road.

Introversion

There has been a rising support for the power of the introvert in the past decades with many books and articles that talk about the hidden advantage of being an introvert. They might be stereotyped as wallflowers who are meek and easily pushed over.

The truth is that introverts are not the minority. They are almost equal in the share of population as extroverts and introversion and shyness are not the same, though they can be easily mistaken. Introversion simply means the information pathway/ processing is longer and consumes more energy. Hence, introverts tend to think more and are easily overwhelmed and overloaded by external stimuli.

It’s easy to see how introversion leads you to become a late bloomer. Life is tough and complicated at the start. You can easily be overwhelmed by the world when younger and it will take longer for introverts to consolidate and master this wave of insights and nuances in their brilliant but overwhelming minds. 


Not only can introverts catch up with extroverts later in life in material success, their insightful minds allow them to excel in highly skilled and specialised careers such as writer, scientist and philosopher. These careers might not be the best paid, but they have the potential to be highly celebrated and propel society forward.

FEELING

If your type has letter F instead of T, you lean more towards feeling, which has to do with either intrapersonal or interpersonal relationships than efficiency and logic (T).

Feeling (Fi) can either be introverted or so-called intrapersonal (most dominant in INFP and ISFP) or extraverted/interpersonal (Fe) (which is dominant in ENFJ and ESFJ). Introverted feeling will likely have it the hardest at younger age because it is very hard to express and easily misunderstood. It is primarily concerned with moral right and wrong, living authentically and freely according to their inner compass of beauty.

This inward feeling may make you artistic yet impractical because deep down you yearn to express something of profound beauty but also makes you unable to take on more practical tasks and jobs, which feels inauthentic to your being. It will take time and sometimes luck to find a path that is both spiritually fulfilling yet lucrative. Introverted feelers like ISFP and INFP make the best artists and poets but their path will be long and rocky.

Extraverted feeling users, especially introverted ones (INFJ and ISFJ) would also feel underpar because they find it hard to assert themselves and risk upsetting others. This function chiefly concerns maintaining a harmonious social atmosphere, causing you to feel it hard to just simply put people aside to get what you want. But humans are ultimately social creatures and being able to get on the good sides of the group often can take you far ahead, including in finance and career.

INTUITIVENESS

I believe the Intuitive (N) – Sensing (S) dimension is the most interesting yet often overlooked in MBTI. Only about 25% of the population are intuitive, so they are way more rare than introverts! You can think of the intuitive-oriented person simply as a nerdy book-smart kind of person who is more interested in philosophy and theories than concrete facts and actions.

Intuitives, especially INFP, INTP, ENFP and ENTP (extraverted intuition) are often scattered-brain big-pictured people who have a hard time being decisive. To them the world is full of possibilities where traditional and well-accepted concepts like marriage, houses, children and even money should be questioned and explored.

With so much information and so many questions being shifted and synthesized, no wonder it takes longer for them to reach a stable stage in life. They make for smart students but somewhat clueless and restless young or even middle-aged adults while their sensing-dominant peers have happily accepted and settled into more traditional paths and roles.

However, the gift of this unconventional and big-picture mindset is the potential for paradigm shifting and holistic perspectives. Survey might suggest that intuitives earn slightly less than sensors but one reason is because the former takes longer to systhesise their perspectives, which can go beyond the immediate needs of themselves and families to challenge the status quo and propel society’s understanding forward. They make for wise and profound innovators and teachers of arts, philosophy and sciences.

So in conclusion, even if you are at the receiving end of all the disadvantaged factors above, like even in the case of INFP and ISFP, don’t be discouraged. Your mind is uniquely created for a special purpose with unique strengths and values. Of course life is tough for everyone and everyone needs a certain degree of material and practical success, but social contribution and your path to success are just not in a traditional sense. Your life purpose might be more towards helping others or helping society make new breakthroughs or to find the secrets of the universe, at the expense of the practical aspects – and that is ok!

3 most common INFP Enneagram subtypes

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!

How to Know If You Are An Introvert or Extrovert?

Let’s start with the definitions:

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.

introvert feeling in Hunchback_of_Notre_Dame
The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a good illustration of introverted feeling

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.

Conclusion

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. 

Yardstick Introvert Extrovert
Social approval 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
Generalist versus specialist Are often specialist Are often generalist

 

The 4 Types Of INFP

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:

The “Marketer”

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.

Depiction of INFP Marketer in Team

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.

The “Bohemian”

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.

Vincent Van Gogh Enneagram 4w5
Van Gogh is most likely a 4w5 (not necessarily INFP)

Read more: https://enneagrampaths.com/2019/01/13/enneagram-4w3-vs-4w5/

The Turbulent 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.

Conclusion

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.

MBTI Superpowers Part 2: The ENTJ and INTJ

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.

napoleon in battle - a poster child of ENTJ
Mature ENTJs can be inspiring and magnanimous leaders

 

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.

INTJ can exude unflinching confidence and passion when talk about their topics of interest

MBTI Superpowers Part 1: The INFP and ISFP

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.

The INFP justice warrior
INFP can combine a powerful sense of justice with vision and eloquence

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.

Picture of a girl showing free-spirit of ISFP
Ultimately, ISFPs dream of living freely as who they are

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.

 

ISFP woman enjoys the finer things in life
ISFPs are often the master at appreciating the trendy and luxurious

 

Common MBTI Misconceptions

1. Your functions’ percentages show how often you use them

mbti results enfp
Example of a test result from 16personalities.com

There are many free online MBTI tests out there and some of them, such as from 16personalities.com, offer results in percentage. So you may get something like 30% Thinking – 70% Feeling, 49% Intuition – 51% Sensing, etc.

So does the test mean you use your feeling about 70% of the time and thinking the rest? The answer is: that is not how thing works. I would say showing a percentage scale is misleading to the audience. Whether you are 90% or 51% feeling, you are still a feeling type. 

Your thinking and feeling are not created equal. If you prefer feeling, your feeling function receives most of the conscious energy in your waking moment. Meanwhile, the thinking directly opposing your darling feeling is “exiled” into the abyss of unconscious thoughts, turned into something childish and immature. A mature and conscious function are often more positive and forward-looking while an unconscious function play a supporting role, and often being egocentric and appear in negative tones.

For example, if you are an INFP (The Mediator) with dominant function of Introverted Feeling, you are pretty adept at feeling stuff such as empathizing with people, listening to your deepest conviction and aspiration. Your Extraverted Thinking, however, play a supporting role to help you organize your thoughts into action, turning your conviction into concrete results. However, especially under stress, your thinking has certain negativity. It is often perfectionistic and absolutist – classifying everything as black-and-white right or wrong morally.

The percentage may be helpful in showing how balanced a person is. Often as people grow older, they tend to move towards the centre of the scale. The inferior function, though diminished and distorted, is still of great importance to our psychological well-being. An INFP more balanced in thinking has mastered his feeling function enough to give more energy to extraverted thinking, which becomes more helpful and objective in its supporting role. 

Hence, as you can see, it does not make sense to say you are thinking 70% of the time because the polarity of function produces a strong conscious function on one hand and a distorted function on the other. They are just not of the same quality to compare quantitatively.

2. Judging means judgmental

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Yes, Judging doesn’t mean judgmental

This dichotomy is probably the biggest pet peeve for people who have understood the functional stack. Judging is often regarded as a trait or function which causes a person to be more judgemental or more organized than their perceiving counterparts.

First of all, judging doesn’t mean judgemental. Judging and Perceiving are actually NOT psychological functions or traits. They simply point out how your other two dichotomies, thinking-feeling and intuitive-sensing, orientated. If you are a P, your Dominant Extraverted function is an Irrational or Perceiving function. Similarly, if you are J, your Dominant Extraverted function is a Judging or Rational function 

This is extremely confusing, I know. Irrational functions are Intuitive or Sensing, while Rational functions refer to either Thinking or Feeling. In short, rational functions prioritize the perception of the objects, result or expectations of results while irrational ones are process-oriented. If you are an INFP, your dominant extraverted function is Extraverted Intuition as compared to an INFJ who possesses a Judging extraverted function of Extraverted Feeling. These two types differ by one letter but actually have no functions in common!

3. Feeling is the same as emotion

There is a common stereotype that thinkers, especially INTJ or INTP, are emotionless robots functioning purely on facts and numbers. This is certainly not true. Thinkers feel emotions too. They get angry when people get their facts wrong or they feel insecure about not being competent in their skills. The bottom line, they have emotions just like any other human being.

Feeling in MBTI is a form of making judgements. Its chief concern is ethics and morality, which overlap with but are not the same with emotions. Instead of the materialistic and objective bent of the thinking-dominant counterparts, feelers care more about things like honor, harmony and aesthetic. Being thinking-dominant means favoring logical criterion over ethics, but not an absence of emotions.

It is also not right to say thinkers are more immoral or unethical. It is a matter of balance and flavor.  Morality can be subjective. An introverted feeler may be more likely to say that harming anyone innocent is wrong while an extroverted thinker would be more likely to agree to sacrifice individuals’s for the collective good.

4. Introverts are incapable of being talkative or gregarious

I often laugh when people label themselves as introverted extrovert or extroverted introvert.  I know you are proud of the fact that you have bravely conquered your fear of the crowd to become more outspoken (as most people do), but those terms do not make sense if you truly understand Jungian and MBTI theories.

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People love to think they are unicorns!

As mentioned before, being 51% introverted doesn’t mean you use extroversion about half the time. If the result is accurate, you are an introvert through and through. Your whole perspectives of life and judgement are mostly filtered through your dominant introverted function. Yes, being more balanced likely allows you to have more energy in the crowd when need to, but you are still an introvert inside. And if you think it is just a matter of inside or outside energy, you are missing the point.

Being an introvert doesn’t mean you are shy or anti-social all the time. Everyone can open up and be talkative with the right person or group of people. The fact that you are louder than your best friends do not make you an extrovert. Also, some introverts can actually have very large social circles, even if they maintain them through mostly one-on-one meetings. INFP is one example of an introverted type that can often make friend easily.

5. Your MBTI type can change

This is controversial and from what I know of, there has been no thorough research on people’s MBTI changes, whether through natural or deliberate causes. From my personal research and observation, one thing is clear: a person’s natural tendency is more pronounced when younger. As people get past the age of 25, they learn to be more balanced. 

Your type is like a natural psychological patterns imprinted in your mind since birth, like right arm versus left arm. You can certainly work over time to mess and reshape these patterns but to totally change your type to the opposite will likely require significant environmental stress and personal effort.

Carl Jung in his work also mentioned that, through his observation, a child will face significant stress if parental influence requires him to act against his natural tendency for a long period of time. The damage is only remedied as he is allowed to be himself again in adulthood.

If people claim each time they take the test the result is different, then it is more of a problem with the test itself for not being able to overcome self-test bias-ness. The questionnaires often give too much room for different semantic interpretations, resulting in fluctuating results.

A more recent work by Dario Nardi who scans people’s brains to detect MBTI patterns indeed discovered distinct patterns among different types. He identified preliminary 20+ areas in the brain responsible for these patterns. One can certainly change from being left to right-handed given enough willpower and practices, but brain patterns are way more complicated and not yet understood well. You can mess up the natural patterns, but it is unlikely that you can replicate another type’s brain patterns through sheer willpower.

Dario Nardi INFP ESTP
Brain scans of INFP and ESTP volunteers by Dario Nardi, showing distinct patterns

Do you have any questions or comments? Feel free to drop them below and I will be happy to discuss with you.

Quick Facts about MBTI Types: Distribution, Career and Relationship

Type Distribution In The Population

The table below shows the percentage of each type in the general population. Clearly, INFJ (The Advocate) is the rarest of all types followed by ENTJ (The Commander) and INTJ (The Mastermind). But apparently, INFJ is one of the most trending MBTI searches on Google, which means either there are more INFJ interested in reading up on MBTI or many people mistype themselves as one because ahem, we just love to feel special.

Data source: data is compiled from a variety of MBTI® results from 1972 through 2002, including data banks at the Center for Applications of Psychological Type; The Myers-Briggs Company; and Stanford Research Institute (SRI).

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Percentage of each MBTI Types in general population,

Digging a little further, we see an almost 50/50 split between Introvert and Extrovert (Sorry to disappoint the introverts out there, you are actually the majority). Sensors are the majority at about 75%. Perceivers and judgers are also close to 50/50 while thinkers are slightly the minority at 40% 

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The stereotype that women are more feeling-dominant while men are more logical does have statistical validity. Among females, ⅔ of them are feelers. For male, the difference is less pronounced with about 44% of guys are feelers. I suspect the actual figure is closer to 50/50 for males because men are traditionally conditioned to hide their feelings.

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Income And Job Satisfaction

Believe it or not, there are markerly predictable patterns in earning by personality types. The infographic below is a recent comprehensive survey done by Truity Psychometrics LLC on over 4,300 volunteers. The ENTJ (Commander) and ESTJ (Executive) top the chart in yearly income. This is not surprising because they are typically pictured as CEOs and managers, and indeed over-represented in managerial positions according to this survey. 

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Some other useful observations include introverts in general earn less than extroverts, feelers earn less than thinkers and judgers earn more than perceivers. An interesting question for types at the short end of the stick, like ISFP, INTP or INFP, is whether you choose to be satisfied with having less of the material success or rather challenge the income stereotypes.

In terms of job satisfaction, the graph below shows an interesting dynamic. Extroverted feelers are the happiest at work even though thinkers are the highest earners. It can be explained by the tendency of feelers to pick jobs that makes them feel good and allow them to make positive social impacts such as in teaching, counseling or volunteering. Thinkers are more driven by income potential and professional prestige at the expense of their true calling. Both thinkers and feelers can learn from each other in this aspect.

pasted image 0 (4)Introverts, especially perceiving ones, are the most unhappy at work. I hypothesize that the typical workplace which often emphasizes teamwork and corporate politics are not suitable for the introverted tastes.

Relationship Compatibility

In terms of compatibility, different sources differ on the ideal match for each type. A popular school of thought is that the best couple are similar at the core, but complementary (opposite) in their orientation towards the world. This often translates into a relationship where one or two letters in the middle are common and the E-I and P-J are reversed. For example, an INFP is most suitable with ENFJ or ENTJ, while an ISFJ is most compatible with ESFP or ESTP.

Socionic, which derives from Carl Jung’s work and MBTI to assess intertype relationships, proposes an even more singular yet controversial recommendation. It categorizes and ranks the various relationships between types, proposing that relation of duality is the most optimal and closest to the so-called soulmates. Duality refers to two types of exact opposite in MBTI, such as INFP and ESTJ or ISTP and ENFJ.

An old survey by Tieger and Barron-Tieger (2000) offers a very interesting and comprehensive relationship satisfaction statistic. You may have been familiar with the 4 main temperaments in MBTI based on the 2 common letters and similar characteristics of each group: Analyst (NT), Idealist (NF), Sentinel (SJ) and Explorer (SP).

As can be seen in the below table which ranks the pairings in decreasing order of happiness, SJ are most happy with SJ, followed by NF paired with NF. The idealists paired with sensing groups, SP and SJ, produce the most dissatisfactory combinations. Analyst and Idealist pairings are also pretty suitable at 65% and 64%. Another pattern which can be deduced is that sensors and intuitives often do not make happiest matches, which can be attributed to the famous intuitive-sensing divide – the hardest divide to overcome according to many sources.

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Ultimately, there has been rather scant research on relationship compatibility using MBTI framework. There are also many other significant factors which influence relationship satisfaction. Several MBTI authors have claimed that any two well-developed individuals regardless of type can form a successful relationship. But the above serves only as a guide for each of us to form our best  judgement when choosing friends and romantic partners.
References:

Click to access PersonalityType-CareerAchievementStudy.pdf

http://oddlydevelopedtypes.com/content/infps-love