Michael CalozBlog: Synthesizing & Simplifying Complexity, Personality TypingLeave a Comment


I’m an ENTP. And as a transformation coach and existential counselor, a lot of INFJ‘s and INFP‘s come to me since I understand them, but I can also offer a very different perspective.

Often though, my clients know they’re definitely an INFx but they have trouble deciding between INFJ and INFP. (Honestly, I sometimes find it quite difficult myself too when typing people.)

Those two types should be pretty similar, right? After all, only one letter is different.

Well, when you dig down into the deeper layer of Jung-Myers typology (“the 16 types”), it turns out that INFJ‘s and INFP‘s actually have two completely different cognitive stacks—the set of four cognitive functions, in a specific order, that explain how they take in information, process it, and make decisions (INFJ is NiFeTiSe and INFP is FiNeSiTe).

So, while their behaviors can often look similar on the outside, their internal worlds and motivations tend to be quite distinct.

In this post, I’ll lay out the most significant differences I’ve seen myself and heard about from others I trust in the typology community.

This page is for you if:

  • You’ve narrowed down your type to either INFJ or INFP but you’re having trouble deciding between them
  • You’re trying to better understand a friend, family member, or co-worker who’s an INFx

Reading Time: 10 minutes

Are you an INFJ or an INFP? What’s the difference?

Remember as you read through this that nothing is absolute. Your type simply refers to the tendencies you have. But there will always be exceptions.

So, try to think more about average times and your natural go-to approaches to life rather than that one time you did something crazy.

Try to think about how you were as a kid—before parents, teachers, friends, movies, or whatever else told you that you should be a certain way. Who are you deep down at your core?

(And, recognize that, due to trauma and all sorts of messaging we received from the external world, many of us learned to cover up who we really were to try to stay safe or look appealing to others.)

One more caveat: Remember that this post is all about comparing INFJ‘s and INFP‘s against each other—not to other types. For example, even though this table might make it seem like INFJ‘s don’t care as much about values alignment, that’s only compared to INFP‘s, who are particularly extreme in that regard. Compared to many other types, INFJ‘s care quite a bit about values alignment.

Make sense? Here we go:

Values and priorities

  • “What’s best for everyone involved? Where will this take me? What makes sense strategically?”
  • Focuses on creating harmony in relationships, getting others’ needs met, and making progress toward their life/project vision
  • When their values are challenged, more likely to find common ground, seek mutual understanding, and perhaps even re-examine their own stance from within this new lens or relationship dynamic
  • Doesn’t want to compromise their important values, but more willing to question their own beliefs, examine them logically, and integrate new ones
  • Wants to be understood
  • “Who do I want to be? How do I want to feel? What feels ethically right?
  • Focuses on making decisions aligned with their own values, exploring their own emotional landscapes, and expressing themselves
  • When their values are challenged, more likely to take it personally and respond strongly or defensively. They don’t want to have to analyze or explain why they feel what they so strongly feel is true
  • Tends to strongly (and often stubbornly) stand up for what they believe in, even if it causes discomfort to them or others. They’re more willing to be lonely than to bend on their convictions
  • Wants to be validated

Fixation, and negative looping pattern

  • Very focused on meaning and purpose. How do I want to be living my life? Are my actions aligned with my vision?
  • Yearns to be safe or invulnerable from other people’s pain (since they can read people so well and feel so much empathy)
  • Coping strategy can be to try to block out others’ feelings and needs
  • But, the impact can be retreating, overthinking, or hiding too much, and then feeling alone or overwhelmed
  • Very focused on authenticity and personal values. Are my actions aligned with my core values and beliefs?
  • Yearns to be right in terms of ethics (since they so want to live in harmony with what they personally believe is right)
  • Coping strategy can be to focus only on their own subjective experience and values rather than exploring other perspectives
  • But, the impact can be rigidity, or getting too obsessed with how situations or people “should” be or “could” be instead of how they actually are


  • Makes decisions based on balancing their own insights with group harmony and the needs of those around them (or at least the people they most care about)
  • Uses others’ emotions as a feedback mechanism, and can also rely (sometimes too much) on a lot of logical analysis
  • They’re often more distressed by the idea of offending or hurting others rather than making the wrong choice
  • The actual process of reaching a decision is typically through a burst of insight from the unconscious—there’s a body sensation, feeling, or thought that pops up, and it can often feel clear and powerful enough to trust without much more work (perhaps after double-checking through the lens of logic/rationality as well)
  • Makes decisions based on their personal values, moral compass, and alignment with their inner emotional landscape
  • Needs to feel things viscerally, so they often won’t know if they made the right decision until they’ve experienced what it’s like
  • They can agonize over decisions because the path they choose must properly reflect their identity
  • The actual process of reaching a decision is more like trying on different possibilities to see how each one feels—often much less direct than it is for the INFJ and more like an exploration of the subtlety and nuance of the complex emotional landscape


  • Absorbs others’ emotions in real time. Automatically internalizes what people around them are feeling (which is why they can get overwhelmed in a room full of people, but also why they’re able to offer such deep empathy that can feel so good to receive)
  • So, INFJ’s are more likely to become  emotionally entangled with someone else (“we’re feeling this together”), taking on their emotional burdens, or even feeling unsure where their stuff begins and someone else’s begins (so, they can often benefit from alone time to really know how they feel without being drowned out by what they’re feeling from others around them)
  • INFJ’s tend to be natural advisors and counselors who can intuitively (sometimes almost eerily, like a psychic) understand what’s going on for someone and what they need
  • In conflict, appreciates time alone, but also benefits from input from the other person (or another party) to help them process their feelings, reach more clarity, and troubleshoot what went wrong and how to address it.
  • Mirrors what they perceive to be the emotional experience of others. Since they’re able to feel their own emotions so skillfully, they’re able to recognize, try on, and reflect the emotions they see in others, which can help those people feel seen and validated
  • So, INFP’s tend to be more able to maintain a clearer boundary between themselves and others (“I understand what you’re feeling”), which can sometimes make them appear aloof or distant
  • Their talent for mirroring can also make INFP’s seem like chameleons since they’re so skilled at adapting to others in order to empathize with them and care for them; so, there can be a lot of variety in how different INFP’s present themselves (and across different situations)
  • In conflict, benefits from significant time alone with the spaciousness to explore their complex feelings landscape and assess the conflict in light of their individual, subjective value judgments

Orientation toward the future

  • “What’s this leading toward? What’s the long-term benefit? Am I making real progress toward this?”
  • More of a singular, focused vision of a future that they’re working toward—like weaving a thread along a complex narrative. And compared to the INFP, they’re more likely to feel bothered by not achieving it (or at least taking tangible steps toward it)
  • They try to predict or affect where the path is going based on patterns, insights, and exerting influence on the world around them
  • “It depends, and there are so many possibilities, so I’m figuring it out as I go”
  • More of an orientation toward many potential outcomes, exploring various scenarios without needing to commit (and tending to be less attached if they never end up happening). They probably also need more of an external push than the INFJ does to actually take action
  • More like having many tabs open in their mind representing different possible futures (and it might even be satisfying enough to simply explore those in their imagination rather than having to actually do them)

Art, special objects, nostalgia

  • When it comes to art/poetry/memories, it’s easier to break it down and explain what it means
  • Strong tendency to want to create a beautiful, cozy nest for themselves in their home, but less attached to nostalgia
  • When it comes to art/poetry/memories, it’s easier to explain all the nuanced feelings that arise inside
  • More likely to be strongly emotionally attached to mementos, special objects, and memories

Orientation toward change

  • Esxternalize their inner insights to tangibly shape the world around them in some way
  • While they also tend to be very interested in personal growth, their focus is more on making an impact on the outer world, often through working alongside others toward a shared ideological goal or an ambitious vision that they’ve set for themselves and their purpose
  • Internalize their experiences from the world around them to grow inside and fully experience themselves
  • Their concern is more about how they themselves ought to be to live fully in alignment with their values. And, by growing into the best possible version of themselves, they’re also often able to make a positive impact on others and on the world around them

Leadership style

  • Leads through insight, offers perspectives
  • Might not seek out leadership roles (or might secretly fantasize about it), but people often come to respect them, come to them for advice, and trust them to make effective decisions and lead groups
  • Leads through inspiration, helps people feel things
  • Tends to be more oriented toward self-sufficiency, and less likely to want to feel like they’ve been put in charge or hold power over others (they tend to be highly focused on individual agency and sovereignty)

Some common areas for growth

  • Overanalyzes, hyper-vigilant, sometimes too focused on productivity systems or categorizing/labeling/planning
  • Can lose sense of self (by being too influenced by others around them), and can neglect self-care and give too much to others (which drains their energy)
  • Sensitive, self-judgmental, self-isolating
  • Trouble coping with conflict, emotional overwhelm
  • Self-criticism, struggling with idealism rather than facing reality (which can, for example, cause them to stay in failing relationships too long)
  • Can get lost in their rich internal world, and can find it difficult to stay focused on practical details

Famous people of each type

  • Mahatma Gandhi
  • Marie Kondo
  • Lady Gaga
  • Jon Snow (Game of Thrones)
  • Johnny Depp
  • A. A. Milne (creator of Winnie-the-Pooh)
  • Björk
  • Frodo Baggins (Lord of the Rings)

Ok, so what? What should you do now that you know your type?

Finding your true type is important, but it’s just the first step. I’m a big believer in actually putting that knowledge into practice to improve your life—to increase your self-awareness and take active steps toward overcoming the barriers you face in living the most fulfilling life possible for yourself.

Here are some next steps I suggest:

  1. If you’d like support customized for you, INFJ‘s and INFP‘s are some of the types I most commonly work with as a transformation coach and existential counselor. I help people like you set better boundaries and put your needs first; deal with overthinking and procrastination to take action and get more done; improve your confidence; and more.
  2. Become full-stack human to transform your life and unlock your full potential.
  3. I’d love to hear how this post landed with you. Please leave a comment below or feel free to ask a question.
  4. Check out my new YouTube channel where I speak at the intersection of psychology, typology, rational spirituality / existential questioning, and deep personal growth.
  5. Want more awesome personal growth content for N types like you? If you liked this post, please subscribe to my mailing list below to get updates on new content I create.
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