The INFP Personality Type: Key Traits, Strengths, Weaknesses & More
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) has a long-standing rep for being the most popular personality assessment out there. There are 16 different personality combinations a person can be, and here, we're diving into the INFP type. Here's everything to know about this rare personality type, from strengths and weaknesses to compatibility and more.
The INFP personality type.
INFP stands for introverted, intuitive, feeling, and perceiving. As such, this personality type often results in a quieter, more reserved person, with a significant emotional world but a "go-with-the-flow" kind of attitude.
INFPs are among the rarest types, at around 1% of the population, according to Dario Nardi, Ph.D., a personality expert and author of Neuroscience of Personality. Female INFPs also outnumber male INFPs two to one, he adds.
And according to John Hackston, head of thought leadership at the Myers-Briggs Company, INFPs are loyal, creative, and thoughtful, "but at a first glance, people with this personality preference can be seen by others as cool and distant."
5 key traits of an INFP:
Given their introverted nature, Hackston says an INFP type's quietness can come off as cold to others. "Their quietness, however, doesn't mean that they don't care about what happens around them. They often have a lot going on internally and don't typically share it," he explains. They may also have some difficulty with communicating their views, feelings, and ideas, he adds.
While they may be quiet, INFPs are incredibly loyal once a relationship is formed. Hackston tells mbg they're the kind of people that you want to have in your support system, "as they are very perceptive about others and tend to be great at encouraging and helping people achieve their goals."
Strong moral compass
For INFPs, their personal moral code is very important to them, and they do their best to stick to those values, Hackston says. And as Nardi adds, those values are lived, not just discussed. They're often moved to get involved upon witnessing or hearing about injustice, he says, and in the case of arguments, they'll typically lean on their core beliefs rather than logic.
According to Nardi, this type enjoys abstract ideas, especially as they relate to their own values and beliefs. "Clarifying their beliefs, the issues people face, and the infinite meanings of life's choices are what's most important to them," he says. With that said, again, they don't always rely on logic or facts in their thought process and can usually benefit from learning how to incorporate them, Nardi adds.
And lastly, Nardi tells mbg that INFPs find joy in the search to discover and figure out life's patterns and mysteries. "This often finds expression in a rich fantasy life," he explains, adding they particularly value reading or writing. Art or music may come into play, too.
- Easily stressed
- Overly idealistic
- Slow to open up
- Feelings of inadequacy
- Can come off as cold
INFPs in relationships.
If an INFP has opened up to you, consider yourself lucky. These folks are selective, Hackston tells mbg. "It may take them a while to feel comfortable letting someone enter their lives," he says, noting, "Because of their reserved nature, only a few people in their inner circle will really know who they really are."
Nardi adds that INFPs' sensitive and idealistic nature can also make dating and intimacy a challenge. They're also known to put their partners on a pedestal, he says, which can lead to some disillusionment down the line.
All that said, these people do make loyal and empathetic partners. They're great listeners, and they prioritize depth and authenticity in relationships, according to Hackston. Both he and Nardi also note that being with someone that shares the same core values as them is a nonnegotiable.
As far as MBTI compatibility goes, Hackston says INFPs have a lot in common with ENFPs, "sharing both the same deep values and focus on the future and the big picture." They'll also likely have good luck with INTPs, "so long as the INTP takes the INFP's values seriously and uncynically," he adds. ISFPs and INFPs can also form deep connections, should they share values, "though they may occasionally find themselves talking at cross purposes," Hackston notes.
INFPs in the workplace.
In the workplace, INFPs are natural helpers. They like to stay behind the scenes and contribute to their communities, according to Hackston, as well as hold themselves (and their employer) accountable to their values. He notes that their personality makes them well-suited to a career in the arts, such as writing, visual arts, and designing. "If they do not follow a career in one of these areas, it is likely that they’ll integrate these skills into their profession," he adds.
They also have an encouraging and supportive quality about them, with an intuitive ability to see people's potential, Hackston explains, so some INFPs may find themselves in fields like counseling or human resources.
In general, they likely won't be thrilled with a job that requires a lot of direct communication and/or analytical thinking, preferring a quiet environment (and a quiet team, too), Hackston adds.
In short, Nardi says, these folks like jobs where they can be creative and live in line with their beliefs, preferably avoiding jobs that require repetition or a lot of logical thinking.
How to thrive as an INFP.
INFPs can struggle with feeling inadequate, and it's very possible they can take things personally. Especially in the workplace, Hackston says it's important for these folks not to let things get to them. "They're likely to become stressed out by feeling underappreciated, dismissed, or ignored," he explains.
And because morality is so significant to this personality type, Hackston also notes it's important INFPs understand their own system of values and find a professional path that aligns with them. "Develop ways to add meaning to your work," he says, suggesting to think about how you can mold your role to reflect your values.
On a day-to-day basis, Nardi tells mbg that INFPs benefit from daily stability, self-care, and privacy. "They also benefit by learning time management and ways to assert themselves," he says, adding, "A sense of inadequacy may plague them. They find long-term relief by attending to the quality of their work."
The bottom line.
INFPs are rare and reserved, and they're also loyal, imaginative, and wonderfully abstract thinkers. While it may take some time to figure out the INFPs in your life, once you do, you'll be blessed with a steadfast friend who's always happy to lend a hand.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.