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The Advocate (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging)

An Overview of the INFJ Personality Type

By Julia Simkus, published April 05, 2022

by Saul Mcleod, PhD

INFJ Personality Type

INFJ (introversion, intuitive, feeling, judging) is a four-letter acronym used to represent one of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types. People with this personality type are serious, logical and hardworking.

They are also compassionate, conscientious and reserved. They value close, deep connections and are sensitive to the needs of others, but also need time and space alone to recharge.

INFJs are sometimes referred to as “the Advocate,” “the Counselor,” or “the Idealist.”

INFJ is the rarest personality type. It is the least common type among men, and the third least common among women (after INTJ and ENTJ). INFJs make up:

  • 2% of the general population
  • 1% of men
  • 2% of women

Famous INFJs include Mohandas Gandhi, Oprah Winfrey, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter, Martin Luther King Jr., and Taylor Swift.

Strengths Weaknesses
Sincere Sensitive
Easygoing Difficult to get to know
Practical Conflict averse
Compassionate Perfectionistic

Key INFJ Characteristics

  • INFJs are considerate. They are dedicated to encouraging others to realize their potential and are always looking for ways to step in and fix society’s deeper problems.

    They have a unique ability to recognize others' emotions and see helping others as their mission in life.

    They pour a great deal of energy into their relationships and value deep, authentic connections. They are highly perceptive about people and are typically found listening attentively to someone else’s ideas or concerns.

  • INJFs are idealists. They are motivated and persistent in taking positive action to make the world a better place.

    They can clearly imagine a happier future and are not afraid to put their dreams into action and stand up and make a difference.

    Success for them comes from fulfilling achievements and being a force of good in the world.

  • INFJs are conscientious. They are deeply guided by their set of personal values and are passionate on issues of ethics.

    They care more about altruism than personal gain and are determined to right the wrongs of the world.

    They are fiercely loyal to their own system of morals and lead their lives authentically.

  • INFJs are private individuals. They have a tendency to close themselves off to others and can sometimes be difficult to get to know. While they value honesty and authenticity, they are also private and struggle to be vulnerable.

    They dislike conflict and can become dismissive during confrontation. INFJs value time and space alone to recharge and commonly will retreat from social contact without explanation.

Cognitive Functions of an INFJ

The MBTI suggests that the four different cognitive functions (thinking, feeling, intuition, and sensing) form a hierarchy where each function is either directed outwardly (extroverted) or inwardly (introverted). The order of these functions determines one’s personality.

MBTI test dichotomies

The dominant function is the primary aspect of personality, while the auxiliary and tertiary functions play supportive roles.

Dominant: Introverted Intuition

  • INFJs greatly depend on their own intuition. They can be single minded in their focus and will firmly stick to their instincts.

Auxiliary: Extraverted Feeling

  • INFJs are considerate and selfless, constantly seeking to fulfill the wants and needs of others.
  • They sometimes struggle to say no to others, placing their own emotions and needs on the backburner.

Tertiary: Introverted Thinking

  • INFJs are rational and insightful.
  • They make decisions based on their own introspective ideas and theories and only rely on emotions when making decisions under stressful conditions.

Inferior: Extraverted Sensing

  • This is a less developed and largely unconscious aspect of the INFJ personality.
  • However, this aspect of their personality helps INFJs to live in the present moment and remain aware of their surroundings.

INFJ Hobbies, Interests, and Careers

INFJs appreciate work that is focused on humanitarian causes and improving the lives of others. They gain satisfaction from work that creates constructive and meaningful change in the world.

They do well in careers where they can use their creativity to implement visions that are consistent with their personal values.

Often, INFJs are found working in health care, religion, counseling, or teaching. They appreciate careers that enable them to problem solve, specifically the problems of other people.

Because INFJs have a deep caring for the welfare of others and a high degree of intuition about people, they make talented psychologists, social workers, spiritual leaders, and teachers. 

In their free time, INFJs enjoy writing, reading, art, socializing in small, intimate settings, and playing or listening to music. Their personal values include spirituality, learning, and community service.

INFJ Work Environments

INFJs are organized individuals who prefer harmonious, quiet settings. They like to work independently so they can implement their own visions or with co-workers who are similarly committed to positive change. They thrive in environments that promote fairness, equality, and unity.

They are best suited for organizations that value hard work, attention to detail, and adherence to rules. Although introverted, INFJs appreciate a team focused environment where everyone is viewed on an equal playing field. They struggle in noisy, fast paced settings where there is ambiguity or lack of structure.

Because they try to accommodate all points of view, INFJs may have trouble in competitive environments. INFJs value harmony so they avoid workplaces that do not value the efforts of its people.

INFJ Personal Relationships

INFJs tend to develop the closest and most genuine relationships with those who share similar core values. They seek out deeper meanings in all areas of their lives, including relationships. INFJs crave deep connections and rarely will settle for superficial relationships.

They typically have a small circle of confidants rather than a huge circle of acquaintances, but these close friendships are highly treasured by INFJs.

People with this personality type sometimes feel misunderstood so they tend to only open up to those who make them feel understood, supported, and accepted for who they are.

They are excellent listeners and make loyal, caring, and devoted friends and partners.

Tips for Interacting With INFJs

Relationships

INJFs are reserved and private, so they can be difficult to get to know at first. However, they are more likely to be vulnerable with you if you take the time to understand their perspectives and appreciate their values.

They tend to form the closest romantic relationships with people who share their core beliefs and respect their deeply held morals.

Friendships

INFJs often need time to process and evaluate before they are ready to open up, so patience and authenticity is critical when befriending an INFJ.

INFJs also seek validation, so as a friend or partner, it is important to provide them with the support and intimacy that they crave and acknowledge their strengths and creativity. It is also important to be understanding and supporting of their need to retreat and recharge as INFJs are introverted at heart.

Parenting

INFJs are deeply devoted to their role as a parent. They tend to form strong and connected bonds with their children and are very skilled at understanding their childrens’ emotional states.

INFJs are willing to do essentially whatever it takes to better their children’s lives and want to create an atmosphere that is nurturing and loving.

They do have high expectations and can be firm disciplinarians when it comes to moral and ethical concerns. They want to raise their children to be compassionate, independent, and honorable.


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About the Author

Julia Simkus is an undergraduate student at Princeton University, majoring in Psychology. She plans to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology upon graduation from Princeton in 2023. Julia has co-authored two journal articles, one titled “Substance Use Disorders and Behavioral Addictions During the COVID-19 Pandemic and COVID-19-Related Restrictions," which was published in Frontiers in Psychiatry in April 2021 and the other titled “Food Addiction: Latest Insights on the Clinical Implications," to be published in Handbook of Substance Misuse and Addictions: From Biology to Public Health in early 2022.

How to reference this article:

Simkus, J. (2022, April 05). INFJ: The Advocate (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging). Simply Psychology. www.simplypsychology.org/INFJ-personality.html

Sources

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Myers, K. D., & Kirby, L. D. (2015). Introduction to type: A guide to understanding your results on the MBTI assessment . Sunnyvale, CA: CPP.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. (2019, May 28). New World Encyclopedia, . Retrieved from https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/p/index.php?title=Myers-Briggs_Type_Indicator&oldid=1020015.

Myers, Isabel B.; Myers, Peter B. (1995) [1980]. Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type. Mountain View, CA: Davies-Black Publishing. ISBN 978-0-89106-074-1.

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