INFP: Most Judgmental Type?

Vicky Jo works in the field of Jungian typology.  She is an INFJ, and she often writes about the distinction between INFJ and INFP.  She mentions that John Beebe has experienced in his own practice that INFPs are the most judgmental types he has as clients.  Let me explain why this might be from the perspective of my being an INFP.

First off, Vicky Jo also says that Beebe considers Fi the least understood function-attitude.  So, there may be good reason that INFPs are or appear judgmental.  John Giannini claims our whole society is oriented towards ESTJ and he claims that Jung thought this societal tendency started back in second century Christianity.  We INFPs have been oppressed for a long time.  Yes, we INFPs are prone to being judmental… especially we male INFPs as ESTJ is the ultimate ideal of masculinity.

INFPs can judge quickly because we are so capable of accessing people quickly.  An INFP looks past the superficial and looks straight into the souls of other people… or that is how it can feel like to the INFP.  If an INFP feels they can’t sense the true self of the other, they won’t trust that person and probably will suspect the person is hiding something.  INFPs are very aware of facades and social personas which are seen as meaningless at best and deceptive at worst.

INFPs are sensitive, territorial, personal, self-aware,  and perceptive… and so defensive of what we know at a deep level.  INFPs are so “self” aware that we often feel we’re more aware of others than others are of themselves.  INFPs have a strong sense of the individual, be it the INFP’s sense of their own individuality or the individuality of others.  And INFPs are very aware of relationships between individuals, hyper-aware even… all the while being super sensitive about group dynamics which often are responded to negatively if they feel intrusive.  An extreme INFP can be neurotically aware of everything around them… every little nuance in the environment will be felt… or else the INFP will become shut down completely and focus entirely inward which will probably just make them all the more sensitive to every tiny perceived intrusion.

The INFP thinks of self in terms of self-honoring, self-loving, self-honoring and self-respect, but a different type may perceive an INFPs self-focus as selfish (as INFPs aren’t always known for being outwardly responsible types).  INFPs hold authenticity above almost all else, and any perceived inauthenticity is utterly unforgivable.

INFPs know their values strongly and are very clear in their feelings.  They’re judgmental of others in the same way that they’re also judgmental of themselves.  An INFP’s moral code, their deepest value is felt as an absolute truth.  They would sacrifice everything including their life if challenged at this most fundamental level.  If this deepest level of their self is transgressed, their only choice is to fight back or else feel broken.  Considering how difficult it is for an INFP to fight back and win in an ESTJ world, many INFPs feel broken.

INFPs are the idealists, the artists, and the lovers of the world.  INFPs hate conflict (although may feel invigorated by a righteous cause).  Black and white thinking is a particular issue with INFPs, and as Te is their inferior/aspirational it’s easy for an INFP when stressed to fall into black and white thinking themselves.  For an INFP, there is an absolute right and wrong and INFPs are very talented at discerning subtle moral complexities… but this ability gets undermined when they get pulled into their inferior, when they are ‘in the grip’.  There is a contradition within INFPs.  They can be the most empathetic, most understanding, most compassionate type you will ever meet… but get on the wrong side of them or catch them in the wrong mood, and you will see the face of absolute judgment or even righteous vengeance.  I had a discussion with some INFPs about how our type would make the best terrorist.  An INFP would gladly die for a cause that they felt worthy… heck we INFPs could even romanticize the whole concept of dying for a cause… because we INFPs want a cause that is worth dying for or else what is the point of living at all.

The odd thing about INFPs is that normally we appear as extremely laid back (when not stressed).  When feeling safe and in our own comfort zone, we are the prototype of laid back.  INFPs don’t want to cause waves unnecessarily.  We save our energy for the important things which are rare.  Most things just don’t matter.  We care about the deep issues and not the everyday superficial conflicts (although these everyday events certainly can demoralize the INFP).  Because INFPs want to go with the flow, we tend hide our deepest values until someone encroaches on them… and, when that happens, they will know in the clearest of terms (or maybe not).  INFPs can hold a grudge and you may not even know why (even if you realize such a grudge exists).  An INFP might not even consider you worthy of an explanation or they just assume you should know as they know… and if you don’t know, then that is your problem.  An INFPs isn’t necessarily trying to play mind-games and INFPs do value honesty, but their strong sense of privacy can create an aloofness (or at least what appears as aloofness to other types).

INFPs are so hidden and we can express ourselves so subtly that it’s easy for other types to be completely confused.  INFPs can seem solid or still in how unexpressive we are, but realize there is often deep ocean currents within… the stillness of the surface is a mirage.  INFPs are so capable of looking past the facades of others for the very reason that INFPs are so capable of putting up their own facades.  INFPs, in self-defense, often don’t want others to be able to read them.  You have to earn an INFP’s trust for them to let you enter their world and their world is vast.  And once you earn their trust, beware anyone who betrays it.

At Vicky Jo’s website, she describes Beebe’s view of Fi (“Beebe On Fi” in the drop down box):

Dr. Beebe says that Fi spends a lot of time brooding over incomparable human values for the future.

Fi concerns itself with integrity

It is about “honor” versus “policy.”

Fi is a “worrying” function.

The metaphor he uses for Fi is a variation on the seven blind men and the elephant — do you know that one? Well, John says that instead of seven blind men, it’s more like seven introverted Feeling tentacles feeling the elephant to try to figure out the form of the value.

Introverted Feeling’s intention and deepest goal is “understanding.” It wants to know where value went wrong and where it might be reinstated.

Fi concerns itself with integrity, and John says symptoms of integrity issues include depression and anxiety. He wonders if “anxiety” altogether might be a form of Fi?

He states that “Honor” is a key term for introverted Feeling. What they want more than anything is a sense of “respect.” If introverted Feeling does not feel respected, you will be estranged from them, and no longer occupy a place in their life.

At the following link, there is a video of Vicky Jo (an INFJ) talking with an INFP.  Notice how the INFP slumps a bit, leans away, hides his hands, and expresses a slight reticient nervousness.  Also, notice the loose fitting clothing he wears and notice how his appearance in general is more plain (no bright colors or striking patterns).

At this next link, there is another interview with an INFP.  This guy is more self-confident, but even so there is still a strongly reserved quality.  Also, notice the similarities to the other INFP: slumping, loose clothing, plain appearance, etc.

Some think that Ghandi was an INFP, and here are quotes that Vicky Jo picked as being representative of an INFP.

I noticed some examples on Vicky Jo’s website.  INFPs want to integrate or become the dragon rather than slay it.  INFPs simply want to experience and to help others to experience deep feelings rather than make those feelings go away as if they were a problem to be solved (go to the website and sellect “Perfect Example of Fi” in the drop down window).

Here are some other pages about INFPs on Vicky Jo’s website:

For something slightly different, I always enjoy perusing the Green Light Wiki on Lenore Thomson (in particular, check out the page on Fi). Also, you might enjoy the INFP profile by Dr. A.J. Drenth on the Personality Junkie website.

70 thoughts on “INFP: Most Judgmental Type?

  1. Beebe also says that introverted Feeling is the most “idealistic” of the 8 functions. It’s reeeally disappointed when reality does not match the ideal. So it’s easy to imagine that DomFi’s (INFPs, ISFPs) would be the most disappointed in life.

    I wonder how this lands with you….?

    -Vicky Jo 🙂

    • Hello Vicky Jo!

      I don’t know if we’ve ever met, but I’ve seen your comments around the web on various forums. As I recall, some people from Global Chatter knew you and maybe used your services. The issue of INFP vs INFJ was a favorite topic on Global Chatter and so your website was referenced somewhat often. John Beebe’s work was also fairly popular there.

      How does that land with me?

      Simply put, INFPs are most definitely idealistic to the extreme which would seem directly connected to the whole judgmental issue.

      This judgmental tendency may seem odd because it’s obvious that most INFPs have a natural ability to empathize. I think that if they can learn to be more patient and forgiving (which is something that is a constant challenge for me), this ability to empathize can counteract their quickness to judge.

      One problem is that INFPs empathize (and identify) a lot with the underdog and so it’s easy for them to empathize with those who suffer greatly. For me, when I hear of the suffering of another, I experience it as my own suffering. All of the suffering in the world is something I can tangibly feel as easily as the ground beneath my feet, but this leads to compassion fatigue.

      I’m fond of what George Carlin said: “Scratch a cynic and you’ll find a failed idealist.” You can’t be judgmental if you don’t have high standards… and unrealistically high hopes are probably not unusual.

      For INFPs (and I suppose ISFPs), these standards are very personal and so the failure of these standards is experienced very personally (even when they aren’t their own personal failings). Such failures are taken to heart and can be magnified as failings of society, of life, or even of the world entirely.

      INFPs want to believe their dreams are possible, that life holds great potential. INFPs want something to believe in, something to be committed to.

      I knew an INFP from the forum Global Chatter who liked to be a clown in his spare time. I literally mean he liked to dress up as a clown in order to entertain and bring joy to others, but I could tell that he took his clowning very seriously. It gave him a sense of meaning and purpose.

      It’s a lucky INFP who finds something that gives them a deep sense of meaning and purpose. It doesn’t entirely matter if most people don’t care just as long as they aren’t being actively thwarted in their endeavors and get an occasional sense of appreciation and accomplishment.

      Secretly, though, INFPs do want to fit in with and be accepted by at least a few people they’re close to. An INFP may feign a desire for independence, but they have a strong desire to connect. INFPs may be judgmental because they’re easily irritated if they don’t have enough space and time to themselves. I think many INFPs feel a conflict between wanting to connect deeply with others and wanting to retreat deeply within themselves.

      In general, many INFPs feel conflicted about many things. Many INFPs I’ve met speak of a feeling of woundedness. I don’t know if they necessarily had more difficult childs, but their sensitivity magnifies the normal difficulties of childhood. I think the research that Ernest Hartmann did with thin boundary types applies very much to the experience of INFPs.

      • This was a great article! It’s comforting to see other INFP’s out there speaking truth. I think the way you flipped the coin on the MBTI, showing INFP to be the most judgmental, speaks to the subtle differences that INFP’s are good at ‘stepping back and seeing:’ the difference between overt/covert, conscious/unconscious, explicit/implicit. I am told all the time that I am judgmental, mostly by people close to me. It’s ironic, but not. Topics like the MBTI give an INFP a way to communicate, and still remain “constitutionally incapable of judgment…” which they certainly seem to be to me. I went to school way too long for psych, and as a teacher, it’s all inevitable to some extent. I think I became that way largely because it’s an ESTJ world, and I was always trying to climb the dumb ladder, fit in, or I got stuck by the wrong questions in life (e.g “what do I do?”).

        I wonder if it’s better to think of INFP’s as inherently competitive when it comes to their values, like honor, rather than judgmental? In my experience INFP’s can’t hold onto judgment very long, even when they’re all fired up.

        I disagree with the comment that you have some “J” in you. I’m a strong INFP too, not even close to center on any of the 4 letters.

        -When we look at covert/overt differences and flip the coin, it’s easy to see why INFP can appear as any of it’s opposite letters. As an example, I started a new job recently. My supervisor was very weary of me, seemed not to trust me, enjoyed being on top of the power dynamic, and made it clear. He is a strong ESTJ. Turns out he had a nearly identical difficult childhood to me. As an INFP, I see very little difference because it’s hard not to see the core. It’s like I can feel into him and see inner resistance to the stuff that as an introverted feeler, I don’t deny.
        Thanks for the great article! Write more! -CB

        PS, you guys are the experts. Whats up with always needing to be outside? Solve the mystery!

        • INFPs have a dominant Judging function. It is the core of their being and their primary motivation. INFPs are known as the most idealistic type and there is no idealism without judgment. The ‘P’ aspect of INFP simply means that the main function directed outward isn’t Judging, but as Introvterts what is being expressed outwardly is largely coming from that dominant Judging function.

          The indecisiveness and inconclusiveness of Extraverted Intuition simply hides, obscures, or moderates the dominant Judging function. But what draws out this inner Judging nature is the aspirational function of Extraverted Thinking, the influence of which should never be underestimated especially as an INFP ages. It’s just that judgment for INFPs expresses differently, sometimes in ways that aren’t obvious, considering that the main experience of a Judging function is Introverted.

          In standard INFP fashion, I see such things as being psychologically complicated. INFPs are drawn toward psychological complication, in that everything is judged by Fi which is considered the most subjective of functions. And that is then filtered through the splintering and expansionistic effect of Ne. As we are two INFPs, we are talking to each other through our our shared Extraverted Intuition, a function not known for simplistic and direct conclusiveness. When I’m more fully in Ne mode, I’ll even disagree with myself.

    • I think INFPs and INTPs are the most disappointed in life. We’re the two types that most live in our inner worlds

    • “I think INFPs and INTPs are the most disappointed in life. We’re the two types that most live in our inner worlds”

      That makes sense to me. I spent a lot of time interacting with INTPs on an INTP forum and all types forum. It was educational, but often involved a lot of conflict. The inner worlds of the two types aren’t always easily harmonized, which is problematic as their inner worlds are very important to them.

      In interactions, INTPs and INFPs often seemed to be talking past each other and sometimes assumed they understood the other better than they usually did. The shared auxiliary Ne created a shared sensibility in some ways, but that just made the conflict of inner worlds even greater.

      No doubt, there was plenty of judgment going on between the two types.

  2. How ironic that the article that essentially labels another type of personality, then goes on to justify the label and defend both the label and the justification… is written about the opinions of someone who is an INF – Judgmental yet goes on to suggest that an INF -Perceptive is the MORE judgmental.

    I’ve taken enough of these classes in a business setting to understand that there is something called “TJ” humor – but it has always been an “FP” who has the objectivity to step back and see it. The “FJ” in the room (if there is one) will usually defend and argue for the “TJ” people who don’t get it. Meanwhile, the “FP” people will see the humor, adapt to the stated offenses, respond to the emotions presented, bond with the “TPs” in the room.

    I would like to suggest to that whoever wrote this article is probably also a “J” of sorts and was more clearly able to see Vicky Jo’s perspective. It is also worth noting that there is a distinction between observing something in the moment and making an assessment of the observation and observing something and smacking a label on it and writing on the label with indelible ink. By definition, the later is an example of being judgmental.

    • I have taken numerous free online tests and I took the official test. I’ve always come out as INFP. I’ve been on numerous forums (a couple of INFP forums, an INTP forum, an ENTJ forum, and an all types forum). I’ve had many extensive discussions with INFPs and other types. This blog is based on the discussions I’ve had with other INFPs where they agreed that INFPs can be very judgmental.

      You seem to be demonstrating how little you know about MBTI. First, no MBTI practitioner would type someone they never met and they would recommend against anyone else doing it. It’s a misuse of the theory. Second, anyone with a basic grasp of MBTI knows there is a difference between judging as a commonly used term and MBTI ‘Judging’.

    • I’m glad you liked it. I’ve thought a lot about and discussed a lot about what it means to be an INFP. Discovering Myers-Briggs was a great boon from which I gained many insights over the years. I don’t study it as much recently, but it still constantly informs how I think about the world.

    • I’m glad it resonates with you.

      When writing a post like this, I worry about generalizing too much on my own experience. Fortunately, I’ve had the opportunity to discuss deeply these issues with many other INFPs and I’ve had good resources from people who have worked with many INFPs.

      I might be over-generalizing on certain aspects. Certainly, there is plenty of differences among INFPs as with all types. I still feel confident, though, that I captured a fundamental experience of many INFPs.

      If there are INFPs who disagree with my assessment, I’d love to hear their perspective and insight. I’m always open to questioning my assumptions. All my opinions are open-ended, an attitude typical of types with Ne.

    • My basic conclusion would be the following.

      INFPs have the potential to be the most judmental and the least judgmental. It is easy for INFPs to fall into a personal sense of righteous judgment. For that reason, it is also easier for INFPs to develop a sense of empathy toward others which could lead to being more accepting and forgiving.

      Righteousness and empathy can go hand in hand within the INFP psyche because of the tendency of INFPs to turn judgment inwards as much as outwards. It’s a judgmentalness based on the personal rather than the ideological.

  3. Vicki Jo is an idiot. I had issues with her on my Yahoo 360 blog. She tries to tell me that I am not an INFP (like she has cornered the market on that personality type for some reason).

    • I have no personal opinion about Vicki Jo because I have had no personal experience with her beyond this brief interaction.

      I’m sorry you had a negative experience. I know other people who have had quite positive experiences with her. These other people said she was helpful to them, but obviously you had a different response.

      If Vicki Jo tried to tell you what type you are, she was wrong for doing so. It wouldn’t speak well for her expertise.

      • I do NOT tell people “what type [they] are.” In my business I guide individuals through a structured type discovery program that helps them identify their best-fit type pattern. Individuals all over the world have been delighted with their experience, and based on that work many have changed their opinion of their type pattern. In some cases, the transformation is quite dramatic — check out my testimonials page for some examples.

        I am an MBTI professional, credentialed life coach, and just earned my M.A. in Depth Psychology, deepening my study of type even further into Jung’s original ideas. I present on the topic of type at international conferences, have published type-related articles in peer-reviewed journals, and am often asked by type authors to review their books before publication.

        I work from a phenomenological, or evidence-based way of exploring type. In the case cited by Sharon (which I have no memory of), I may have noticed some phenomena that led me to pose questions about whether she has identified her best-fit type pattern, AND that is worlds away from “telling” anyone what their type pattern is.

        If someone chooses to take a blog inquiry as a personal insult and then goes around posting online years after the event that “Vicki Jo is an idiot” because they can’t bear to be questioned, that says a lot more about them than it does about me. If someone can’t stand an inquiry about their type on their blog, why are they posting information about it publicly to begin with? A public blog implies they are seeking interaction. Type is not religion, and one doesn’t get to “choose” their type pattern like it’s a faith-based belief system. It doesn’t work that way. Type describes innate tendencies in the psyche that may be identified accurately through evidence (or else I wouldn’t be in business helping people).

        When someone reacts with that much “touchiness” about their type, they might be advised to read Marie Louise von Franz’s brilliant essay on “The Inferior Function” where she describes the touchiness of the inferior function.

        It’s seems apparent that an uncivil, ad hominem attack such as labeling someone you don’t even know an “idiot” out of the blue represents “inferior” behavior. But I’ll leave it up to you to decide.

        -Vicky Jo

        • Vicky Jo – Thanks for clearing up the issue… as clear as it can be under these conditions when you don’t even remember the event.

          I would have been very surprised if you had told someone what their type was since that would go against the entire Myers-Briggs ethos. That is why I said “If…” in my comment.

          I didn’t see my role here as defending you. I can’t speak for anyone else about an event I wasn’t involved in whatsoever. I assumed that you were able and willing to defend yourself, as you have done. And I’m glad you responded.

          I’m sorry for my blog ending up hosting such conflict and unhappiness, not to blame you of course. Such is the world of internet comments.

  4. What gets ridiculous is definitely when these personality things are used to put the different personalities against each other. i’m not saying that this article isn’t factual, but it doesn’t seem to be very beneficial. most of the time, when i see forums they talk about how one personality is better than another or how they wish they weren’t their own. it would seem to me that the most beneficial way to provide info about them would merely be to present strengths and areas for growth. any comparisons seem to lead people to…compare rather than focus on where they need to grow. and it seems to present some sort of spectrum of the best to the worst personality and people actually sound hopeless on these forums and get stuck on self. i am an infp and so my area for growth is organization. i am sure someone could create an article about how a different personality type is most judgmental, but i see no point in it. everyone has room for growth and various areas.

    • As an INFP, I consider it fair game to judge the INFP type.

      I’ve known my INFP result for years. I’ve taken many online tests and taken the official test. I always get the INFP result. I’ve been on numerous discussion boards for INFPs, for other types, and for all types. I’ve known probably hundreds of people who have claimed to be INFPs and I’ve probably been involved with or read thousands of discussions about INFPs and typology in general. I’ve read every book on the subject I could get a hold of.

      I honestly don’t care what is beneficial, at least not in the simplistic sense. I can’t stand people who can’t face truths because they are afraid of them. Something is either true or not. All truth is beneficial, in my mind. If you can’t see the benefit, that is a lack of imagination. You seek the beneficial by seeking truth, not the other way around. In dismissing truth, you would disconnect yourself from all of reality… objective reality, personal reality, psychological reality. There can be no growth or any other worthy good if you don’t begin with truth.

      You’ll never convince me to betray or turn against truth. That is the core faith of my INFP dominant Fi. If you know INFPs, you know that can be some of the most fiercely principled people you will ever meet. But they also tend to be in favor of psychological development, just not that which betrays central truths and fundamental values.

  5. well…i hope you find something more true to life than worrying about personality types. because in the end, the goodness of people matter no matter the personality.

    • These days, I don’t spend much time worrying or thinking about personality types. I have many interests. Curiosity is what keeps me going in life and there is no end to things to be curious about.

  6. Really, I apologize for saying the first part of that last post. You are very interested in personality type stuff. What I don’t like is when I have read the forums and people, rather than look inwardly at their own personality type, end up attacking other personality types…saying how their own is so much better. They make it sound like, “My dad is better than your dad” kind of argument. You are right in saying it is good to look out our own selves. I am an INFP and am very reflective, so I do know my faults well. I have, too heard many people from the past say that I am hard on myself. So, I think it’s good to know your faults, but not just to know them and dwell in self pity and think about how much you suck in comparison to others…but to do something about them. Maybe even getting help in those areas with the help of someone who is strong in that area. Someone who is not an INFP can read your article and quite possibly agree that INFPs are most judgmental or whatever, but do they have the same courage you have to look inwardly and realize their own faults and think about what they can do about them.

    • No offense taken. I have enough emotional distance from this topic to not take it too personally. Your opinion is perfectly valid. One thing I’ve learned is that there is broad diversity even within each type. If you disagreed with anything I’ve said, that is fine.

      Going by my understanding, I would guess you simply have a different core Fi value than myself. That is a simple factor that separates many INFPs. I’m a bit more confrontational and intellectual than maybe most INFPs. I was raised by Te parents and I have Te well developed, if not perfectly developed. Te

      I’m not one to say I’m better than everyone else or just sit around in a pity party, although I have my moods. I tend to see the glass as both empty and full, sometimes more the former. I must admit I’m not always good at doing much about my problems. It’s not for a lack of trying, though. More of a lack of succeeding, but at least I’ve tried many times. I’ve come to more of an accepting attitude at this point.

      I wonder if I’m courageous or just curious. I have a strong sense of Ne. It drives me. I just want to understand the world and understand myself most of all. We each are who we are and do what we can. My grandmother used to say, everyone is doing their best for where they are.

    • The ‘Judging’ in MBTI has nothing to do with the common usage of the word ‘judgmental’. It’s apples and oranges. Anyway, I’m a P and I fully understand how judgmental at least INFPs can be. I’ve discussed this at great length with other INFPs on an INFP forum.

  7. I’m an INFP and I find myself to be most judgmental of people who choose to judge those less fortunate than themselves. Or others in general. Being profoundly empathetic it is something that bothers me above all else. People who think “If I were so and so, I would be different.” Because if you were so and so you would be so and so and you wouldn’t be different. In short I reserve judgement for three who cast judgement.

    • Your thinking would appeal to many INFPs. The Fi core value there involves empathy and compassion. It also focuses on the underdog. INFPs more easily identify with underdogs. An underdog is someone who doesn’t fit into social norms, and that is what INFPs identify with.

      Fi is an internal norm that easily clashes with external norms. INFPs have a sense of what is right that supersedes their respect for social norms, not that INFPs tend to be rebels breaking social norms. They simply don’t treat them as equal to internal norms. An INFP will usually follow social norms so as to go along to get along, not actively seeking conflict but not avoiding it once a core value is challenged.

  8. Some of the most judgmental people I know are INFPs. Then, when you explain to them that they’re being judgmental they go on long ass rants about how they’re actually not judgmental, despite the fact that you can sense the fact that they’re judging you while they do this.

    The INFPs first function is a JUDGING function, and it is one of the most subjective judging functions, and it is a judging function that expects others to act in ways the INFP feels is “correct.”

    • Well, there are two ways to look at it.

      First, technically in Myers-Briggs terminology, INFPs aren’t relating to the world through a Judging function since it is introverted. According to theory, it is at their core, but it isn’t the process through which they communicate to and interact with others.

      Second, in a non-technical sense, ‘judgmental’ is a highly subjective judgment of experience. Like many people, INFPs don’t like being judged and the ultimate judgment is to claim someone is being judgmental. Fi expresses its own unique form of judgment, but everyone has Judging functions and everyone judges.

      As an INFP, I don’t mind being called judgmental. That is a frame of my experience that I accept. But it is different when someone else tries to force a frame onto you. Then again, I admit that I’m not a typical INFP in many ways. So, take my opinion with a grain of salt.

      I have talked with many other INFPs that understood and agree with what I’ve communicated here. But it isn’t as if I did a scientific survey. Maybe most INFPs would say I got it wrong. I don’t know. I can tell you that many INFPs have posted what I wrote here all over the web, including in INFP forums. It is my most viewed post, for whatever that is worth.

      I wrote this fairly long ago and don’t feel strong attachment to it at this point. It is out there on the web and people apparently get something out of it.

  9. How dare you! xD

    Anyway… I’m usually the one trying to justify and understand everyone. Like if someone does something bad or rude, my reaction usually is to find and understand reasons for doing it, not judge them. I often try to justify and defend people that I don’t even know.

    I do have a problem with many things in the society in general. Like consumerism. But I see some reasons for why it’s necessary and I don’t attack people for buying something expensive. I recognize that people have different backgrounds, different ways of thinking and viewing the world and that most aren’t as idealistic as me, and that it doesn’t make them any less than me.

    I don’t generally hold grudges. And I don’t feel like I can look into people’s souls (especially TJ types), though I do like trying to do it and that’s probably one of the reason why I’m interested in mbti. Btw, I liked the part about it being important to us to feel like we know someone to be able to trust them (even to communicate in my case). That’s very true.

    As you must now infps are idealistic and my (and I bet many other infps’) ideals include compassion and non-judgmentalism. Though I must admit that ironically that makes me judgmental towards judgmental people. =P
    I guess that’s where this whole thing (or rather infps) contradicts itself.

    • I have a constant battle inside me between both aspects.

      I’m extremely empathetic and go to great effort to understand other people and other perspectives. I want to understand both emotionally and cognitively what motivates people, what makes them tick. But my moral compass is so focused on my sense of true north that there are somethings that feel beyond my capacity to really understand or else I don’t want to understand them.

      Yet part of me even understands the most horrific of things. I can’t help not understanding on some level, even when it makes me despair. My judgmental side is my defense against my own despair.

      I’m also judgmental towards judgmental people. I’m conflicted in many ways. I’ve always thought of conflictedness as an ailment that hits INFPs particularly hard. That Fi is a force to be reckoned with.

      There is, of course, more to human psychology than just typology. Many of my tendencies are clearly inherited from my parents who are most definitely different types. But those tendencies play out along predictable typological ways.

      My mom is judgmental as well, way more than I am. She is an ISTJ, and her judmentality is ISTJish. I totally get my judgmentality from her and much else. I don’t know how much of that is genetic or simply my having been raised by her and had this modeled for me.

      • It’s great that you reply to people.

        My mom’s rather judgmental as well. She’s an ESFJ. She’s actually the main person to whom I defend other people. I’m not completely sure how she’s influenced me, but I know that hearing her judging someone can help bring the opposite effect on me. It often reminds me of how I don’t want to have this trait. But at the same time, I guess I’m judging her on being judgmental. But then again, maybe this kind of judgement that leads to self improvement is justifiable and normal…

        Ehh, being an INFP isn’t easy. =P I should probably stop overanalyzing this. It’s just that this claim of being the most judgmental type didn’t sit well with me. To me ESJ seem more judgmental for example, though maybe it’s just because they’re the most likely to not understand and judge me (INFPs) in particular.

        • “It’s great that you reply to people.”

          My general policy is this. If someone’s comment is worthy of being posted on my blog (and most are), then they are worthy of being responded to. As for comments that seem mean-spirited, pointless, or otherwise a waste of my time, there is no advantage for me to respond to them and so no reason for me to even allow them to be posted. But 99.9% of all comments meet my standard of worthiness.

          “It’s just that this claim of being the most judgmental type didn’t sit well with me.”

          That is fine. Agreement or disagreement are equally acceptable, as far as this is concerned. I’m extremely unattached to this post. It made sense to me when I wrote it, but that was five years ago. I haven’t spent much time thinking about typology these past few years.

          It was nice chatting with you, anyway.

  10. Really appreciate this post, read the whole comments, replies and stuffs. It’s a great help, and I understand how it feels to reply a comment about a topic of 5 years ago..yeah. Actually, thiis whole day I spent my time confusing myself either I’m ESTJ or INFP..but INFP always win. It’s all because of my childhood-> family members kind of perceive me as weird person, so I was an outspoken child (to ask for attention from fellow peers) years ago. It’s great blessing to come across MBTI and this post, even though it’s..too late? Even though my comment seems like not related with the main topic but I guess it’s okay. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

        • Interesting.. I read somewhere about hidden personalities I think and it said that ours was ENTJ, that sometimes, especially when we’re stressed aspects that are commonly typical to ENTJ can show. So I thought that was my complementary “opposite”.
          Anyway my ESTJ boss generally scares me and he often says that he doesn’t understand me. But I guess you’re right. I just compared the types and we have the same primary functions, just in different order. We’re not that different after all. Interesting. So I wonder, would the psychologically opposite type be someone who’s primary functions are my shadow functions?

          P.s. Sorry to keep dragging you back into this =P

          • It is a foolish literalism that assumes entirely mismatched type codes are “opposites.” In fact, one typologist calls these two patterns “inverse relationships.” While your boss may have intimidated you, there was probably another part of you that admired them and wished you could emulate them. Over time, we tend to grow closer to emulating our opposite type code. It’s very healthy. And as I mentioned previously, this trend is borne out by Dario’s brain research.

            According to Jung’s able assistant, Marie Louise von Franz, she states in a seminar that we have the most difficulty interacting with people who have the same dominant function we do, but in the opposite attitude. So introverted feeling struggles against extraverted feeling; introverted intuition against extraverted intuition, etc., etc.

            The term “opposite” is tricky in typology — there are so many differences that there is no one, absolute “opposite.” We differ in temperament, in interaction styles, and also in function preference.

            Bob McAlpine of Type Resources defined two kinds of function opposites: an opposing personality, and a dynamic opposite. For the INFP type pattern the former (Opposing) would be ENFJ, and the latter (Dynamic Opposite) would be ISTP. These are the two patterns one would expect someone with INFP type preferences to have the greatest difficulty with.

            Of course, these are bloodless formulas only, and are highly dependent on maturity, life circumstance, and any given individual’s particular psychological disposition beyond the generic type pattern.

            I say a great deal more about this in an article that was published by the Association of Psychological Types several years ago. I’ve made it available on my website here:

            The individual who doesn’t know whether they have ESTJ or INFP preferences is either playing around (in our imaginations we can be any type), OR they need to do some serious type discovery. That happens to be my specialty. Very few people have conducted a systematic exploration of the type model with the help of a type expert, and a lack of type confidence amongst enthusiasts is epidemic. :-/

            -Vicky Jo

            PS: I let myself get dragged in when I feel moved to respond. 🙂

          • Ok, I get what you mean with my boss. On some aspects I can relate to him. I’ve also read that our fourth function is what we aspire to so seeing that the the opposite code type has it as their primary I can see how one could want to be more like it. I really don’t feel myself striving to become an ESTJ (there are many things I don’t like in that type) but I do strive towards becoming more productive all the time.
            Hm.. interesting about the opposing personalities. I thought that those were the people we’re best matched with. I love this type. I can relate to them quite well, since we have a lot in common, both being feelers, intuitives and overall idealists. I’m pretty sure that two of my best friends are ENFJs.
            Ehh… I just found it weird to be wondering between INFP and ESTJ, since I’ve never done it. In the beginning I had a bit of doubt regarding maybe being an ISFP, but now after reading a lot of in-detail descriptions of the types in-doubt I’m quite (to very) sure of my INFPness =]

          • Your words here really are the same of what my mind would think of. Back then I also confused myself if I’m either an ISFP or INFP, and then my friend sees me as ESTJ, and the description fits “quite” well (only in ESTP’s friendship). I just concluded that he (my friend) might have see me through my leadership style as their group leader of church’s choir. And what’s more interesting is, our head church is an ESTJ, and I could see that the younger generations of churchgoers cannot communicate well with him (but those of same generations with the ESTJ really like to be/communicate with him)..and the previous choir’s leader is an ENFJ,I really admired him as well. Back then,the group was very good under his leadership (sadly, that’s all in the past T.T). But I haven’t meet an ENFJ (introverted ENFJ (INFJ)–>yes, one of my friend is an INFJ with a well developed auxiliary Extraverted Feeling). She have that traits about her that would make her as a friend everyone wants..and she’s indeed a great friend to my other friends and me.
            As an INFP with aux Ne, all possibilities are weighed and taken care, which is why we always confuse our selves if we’re really INFP and then the search goes on and on…
            Even my INFJ friend laugh and cries at the same time whenever I consult her if I ever get confuse with another type again.

    • I’m always amazed that this is the most popular piece I’ve written in my life. I don’t know how I might have written it differently, if I’d known it would have such a long life. I guess it serves its purposes, as is.

      Although I’m not as into MBTI as I once was, I still love personality psychology. These days, though, I’m more lliely to use the framework of Hartmann’s boundary types and the Big Five. I have nothing against MBTI, but there is just more research out there using other personality theories. The research part is what has interested me more recently, especially as it relates political groups and other specific populations.

      Ther personal aspect of typology, though, is never far from my mind. Like a good INFP, I tend to see a close connection between the personal and larger contexts of understanding. My intellectual pursuits are very personal to me.

      Do you belong to any typology forums? That is how I got serious about typoloogy, by discussing it with others who knew more than I did at the time.

      • I joined But I’m not really an active user because I rather..just read the amazing discussions among them?(While at the same time gain some knowledge from those discussions). Rarely do I comment (Back then I’m still dealing with my level of confident to share opinions/thoughts, because I was really confuse if I’m really an INFP after all). But I admitted that’s where it all started (getting serious about typology), after my discoveries with the 8 functions (I think you know those 8 functions I’m talking about).

        From my point of view, I think, what makes its popular is, might be because of the descriptions from an INFP himself, which, others INFP can relate well, and when you relate INFP to me, it’s a life adds vivid examples of stressed INFP.. 🙂

        Otherwise, some of your comments are same of what my mind thinks of. I’m still pretty new to this MBTI things (4-5 months since the first discoveries), and very interested in MBTI. I’ve never heard of Hartmann’s Boundary types, but Big Fives, yes. Other personality things I’m interested in is Enneagram, and 5 Temperaments (Sanguine, Phlegmatic, Choleric, Melancholy, and Supine).

        I’ve long been interested in human behaviours the most, so learning about those things related to personalities is an exhilarating experience. And knowing other people with the same thoughts are great, too. *happiness*

    • I’m not sure I personally know anyone who is an ESTJ. I don’t think anyone in my family is an ESTJ, certainly not in my immediate family. Maybe some of the management where I work are ESTJs, but I’m not sure how I could tell.

      I wouldn’t normally choose to associate with ESTJs (for obvious reasons of personality conflict) and so my familiarity with the type is non-existent. I more know of ESTJ by way of it being a cultural ideal and the opposite of what I am. So, I guess I just have to imagine what I’m not and what I couldn’t ever be.

      Have you interacted much with ESTJs? Do you personally know an ESTJ? I would be curious to talk with someone who knew ESTJs well or even just knew a single ESTJ well.

      • My boss is definitely an ESTJ. I wouldn’t say I know him well, though. He can be both charming and highly intimidating. At least to me. He intimidates me and I sometimes annoy him. He often says he doesn’t understand me. He very much feels like the opposite of me, except that just like INFPs can hold tightly to their values so can ESTJs hold tightly to their principles. That I admire and that’s a sort of similarity I see. We share many similar traditional values. In fact, initially we started off very well, but in time his love of efficiency and his directness and my wondering mind and hate of conflict came in conflict =]

        • Thanks for sharing your experience. I could imagine what principiles might mean to an ESTJ. My father has tested as an ENTJ. I have some sense of what the Te part means, especially as it is my aspirational. And my mother has tested as an ISTJ, which gives me a sense of Si, my tertiary function… and also giving me a sense of Si as paired with Te, although in the opposite order of ESTJ. But trying to imagine ESTJ as an amalgam of my mother and my father is challenging and probably not helpful.

          • Probably 🙂
            I generally see ESTJs as the traditional, efficient, model-citizen leaders, but I guess that’s a simplified way to look at them.
            I can’t imagine having an ESTJ or ENTJ dad. I’m already having enough problems with my ESFJ mom.

          • My ENTJ father is sort of the “traditional, efficient, model-citizen leader”. But with less emphasis on the traditional.

            Despite his being a conservative (both fiscal and social), there is a liberal-minded edge to his thinking. He is quite intellectual and curious about the world, although his curiosity isn’t nearly as strong or as wide-ranging as my own. Still, we are both possibility thinkers. Sharing intuition as a main function does offer much ability to connect across our differences.

            Some theorize that ENTJ is becoming the new ideal for our society. The ESTJ type was more important during the industrial age. The information and technology age needs a slightly different personality ideal. Either way, it is still a Te dominant society we live in.

          • My dad tested entj on online tests. I’d say he’s very much a thinker type. He has a emotional edge to him and he’s somewhat childlike in personality and humor. Juvenile so to speak, but I’m pretty juvenile in humor myself, lol. But he’s a logical systemizing person, contrasted with my enfp type. I try to take aesthetically good photos, but maybe a bit technically wrong sometimes(out of focus and such) he takes the most ugly ass pictures, but is very technical (clear focus, good lense, etc.) so I care about the photo composition and artistic quality, he cares about the camera’s properties and capabilities, the lenses properties, etc. I do wonder if he’s an entp actually. He’s a good guy.

          • I’m not sure my father’s humor is juvenile. But I do share with him a bit weird and dry sense of humor. That would be intuition. My mom lacks much sense of humor of any variety. My father is also more technical than artistic, although he has a decent basic sense of aesthetics when taking pictures.

          • My dad’s not really a depressive person, so I’d say he can be dry and wry, but it’s almost never sarcastic or any type of negative underlying emotion. He’s just goofy I guess.

            I know one ESTJ, but not well. He might be different though since he’s gay and pretty open about his struggles. I wouldn’t say he’s a rigid conventional person which is how I see ESTJs. People also vary a lot within the same type: I often guess peoples mbtis wrong

          • I think I have some impression of ESTJs, but for me ENTJs are a bit of a problem, since I either don’t know any or misinterpret them to be something else. Either way both their descriptions and historic examples, like Hitler and Napoleon, are portraying them in a pretty bad light and I think my image of them is pretty prejudicial. At least now I know they can have a sense of humor =P

  11. I was offended by the title when it caught my eye on my Google search, but after reading this I have to admit you described me EXACTLY. Even that last bit about a death plan… yep guilty, so guilty… but I’m proud of my righteous judgement and devotion to things I’m passionate about. Thanks for the interesting read, you pointed out the obvious to me that I feel like I was in denial of.

    • The title at least got your attention, the purpose it is supposed to serve.

      As for the substance of the post, I’m continually amazed that this piece resonates for so many people. I’ve seen it linked to and reposted in various places on the web. Something about it interests people.

      I wrote it years ago and I don’t even think it is that well written. All I did was throw out my thoughts, not even that well organized as an argument. If I wrote it today, it would be entirely different.

      But apparently it is good enough as is. I’m glad some people appreciate it.

  12. i do not believe infp people are naturally extremely judgemental by nature but when one of our core beleifs is threatened yes it can bring out the worst in us extremely judgemental and will do what ever it takes for me one of my core beliefs is freedom but true freedom just not swapping one type of control for another

    • Actually, much of my own position is similar, if not exactly the same, as yours. In psychological terms, I’ve become less certain about what freedom means. This is partly because of my readings of bicameral theory, consciousness studies, philology, linguistic relativism, anthropology, etc. I’ve come to realize that human nature is much more complex, along with much more plastic and pliable. We possess immense potential, very. little of it manifested in any given individual and any given society.

      On the other hand, neither am I a fatalist. Personality types describe general patterns. They aren’t deterministic modes of being that we are trapped within. I’m not even sure that personality types themselves directly refer to the level of causal motivation. All that is clear to me is that personality types refer to patterns within the human mind, perception, and behavior. As such, they point to tendencies and predispositions. But even then, no single person perfectly fits the pattern and never deviates from it.

      These days, I’m more likely to think of personality types as social constructs. That isn’t to lessen their significance. I tend to consider the entire modern mindset, from individualism to racism, to be an overlapping set of social constructs. We are social beings, shaped by the ideological and cultural worldview into which we are born. Personality types, as we presently know them, tell us as much about our society as they tell us about us as individuals.

      About control, that is a fascinating topic. I’ve often written about that. There is the issue about what is control itself, as a system or process or whatever. But there is also the issue of who or what controls and is controlled. And beyond that, what kind of sociocultural order is it that depends on certain kinds of control, not just in the structure and relationships but more importantly deep down into the psyche and the way of being in the world.

      Anyway, in what little we know and in acknowledging all that we don’t know, there is plenty of room for disagreement and debate. I doubt any of us have much of it figured out. Still, grasping general patterns is useful starting point.

  13. As an INTJ, with ‘N’ as my strongest function, I can be as intuitive as any randomly selected INFP. My ‘T’ function, in my view, protects me from being universally empathetic. Important ‘F’s in my life have literally accused me of being un-empathetic. I disagree; I am highly empathetic to those with whom I am heart-connected, and otherwise connected. Important ‘F’s in my life have been empathetic with all the world’s suffering souls while ignoring or dismissing those closest to them because of disagreements with respect to the worldview of each. I accept that there are different worldviews and will not try to change that of another person, merely try to understand it. Some ‘F’s in my experience will not accept my worldview because I am ‘wrong.’

    • Dominant Fi is an entirely different animal. Many have noted that it is hard to understand. And it can be troublesome, even for INFPs themselves. Most people think of ‘feeling’ in terms of Extraverted Feeling, something entirely else. But Fi not in dominant mode can be expressed far differently. A straight shot of Fi is potent stuff, especially with aspirational Te.

      Of course and as always, I’m only speaking for myself, although my own experience has been reinfored by dealing with other INFPs. Still, I don’t know anything about the INFPs you know. Personally, I don’t dismiss those closest to me. I’m actually extremely loyal to those closest to me and demanding of loyalty in return. My sense was that this was common among INFPs, but I’m sure there are exceptions.

      The inscrutability of Fi, though, might not always easily be seen. So, it might be another question about whether those closest to the INFP detect that Fi and realize how it applies to them. Dominant Fi is an underlying force that is simultaneously both personal and impersonal and sometimes longing to be transpersonal.

      No doubt INFPs are confident in their Fi, assuming they didn’t suffer some severe trauma that made them distrust their own core. Typically, INFPs can be judgmental. But to be fair, they usually are no more judgmental to others than they are to themselves. It’s just that Fi is a discerning function and so its purpose is to judge.

    • I wrote this so long ago. I’m not sure how I’d write it now. My views are a bit different now. But I still think the basic message in this post remains true, at least in how I understand myself and those similar to me. The only other attitude-function that is as or maybe more inscrutible than Fi is Ni.

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