INFP in a Nutshell
INFPs are imaginative idealists, guided by their own core values and beliefs. To a Healer, possibilities are paramount; the realism of the moment is only of passing concern. They see potential for a better future, and pursue truth and meaning with their own individual flair.
INFPs are sensitive, caring, and compassionate, and and are deeply concerned with the personal growth of themselves and others. Individualistic and nonjudgmental, INFPs believe that each person must find their own path. They enjoy spending time exploring their own ideas and values, and are gently encouraging to others to do the same. INFPs are creative and often artistic; they enjoy finding new outlets for self-expression.
What Makes the INFP Tick
INFPs value authenticity and want to be original and individual in what they do. They are often concerned with a search for meaning and truth within themselves. Following tradition holds little appeal for the INFP; they prefer to do their own exploration of values and ideas, and decide for themselves what seems right. INFPs are often offbeat and unconventional, but they feel no desire to conform. The INFP would rather be true to themselves than try to fit in with the crowd.
INFPs are accepting and nonjudgmental in their treatment of others, believing that each person must follow their own path. They are flexible and accommodating, and can often see many points of view. It is important to the INFP to support other people; however, the INFP may react strongly if they feel their own values are being violated. They especially hate being steamrolled by people who insist there is one right way to do things. INFPs want an open, supportive exchange of ideas.
Recognizing an INFP
INFPs may initially seem cool, as they reserve their most authentic thoughts and feelings for people they know well. They are reflective and often spiritual, and often interested in having meaningful conversations about values, ethics, people, and personal growth. Typically curious and open-minded, the Healer continually seeks a deeper understanding of themselves and of the people around them. They are passionate about their ideals, but private as well; few people understand the depth of the INFP’s commitment to their beliefs.
INFPs are sensitive and empathetic, and engage themselves in a lifelong quest for meaning and authenticity. The mundane aspects of life are of less interest to this type, and they are more excited by interesting ideas than by practical facts. They typically accept others without question, and may take special interest in offbeat points of view or alternative lifestyles. They often have a special affection for the arts, especially the avant garde, as they love experiencing new concepts in self-expression.
INFPs in the Population
INFP is the ninth most common type in the population. They make up:
- 4% of the general population
- 5% of women
- 4% of men
Popular hobbies for INFPs include poetry, creative writing, music, photography, theater, and visual art.
Famous INFPs include Princess Diana, Audrey Hepburn, Fred Rogers, John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, Tori Amos, Morrissey, Chloe Sevigny, William Shakespeare, Bill Watterson, A.A. Milne, Helen Keller, Carl Rogers, and Isabel Briggs Myers (creator of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator).
Research on INFP
Interesting facts about the INFP:
- On personality trait measures, score as Artistic, Reflective, Careless, Sensitive, Flexible, and Appreciative
- Among least likely of all types to suffer heart disease
- In men, among least likely to report chronic pain
- Second highest of all types to report marital dissatisfaction
- Among most likely to have suicidal thoughts in college
- Tend to be more successful than the average in learning a foreign language
- Among types most likely to be dissatisfied with their work
- Personal values include Autonomy and Creativity
- Overrepresented in occupations in counseling, writing, and the arts
What the Experts Say
"INFPs excel in fields that deal with possibilities for people."
- Isabel Briggs Myers, Gifts Differing
"Healers care deeply—passionately—about a few special persons or a favorite cause, and their fervent aim is to bring peace to the world and wholeness to themselves and their loved ones."
- David Keirsey, Please Understand Me II
"Clearly INFPs are best when whatever they're doing serves their personal values."
- Otto Kroeger, Type Talk at Work
INFP at Work
At work, the INFP is not particularly driven by money or status, preferring work that aligns with their personal values and allows them to help others. INFPs are typically motivated by vision and inspiration, and want to engage with projects and causes that feel important to them.
INFPs enjoy the process of creative problem-solving, and want to understand complex issues. They appreciate innovation, and want to come up with original ideas to improve circumstances for people. An ideal job for a Healer allows them to express their individuality in the way they work, and takes advantage of their ability to see unique solutions.
INFPs enjoy working autonomously and having control over how and when to complete a project. They often enjoy participating in teams, although they want to be free to put their own personal stamp on their work. When they do work with other people, it's important to the INFP that they be cooperative, supportive, and flexible, and that they have similar passion for their ideals.
Popular Careers for the INFP
Top careers for the INFP include:
Least Popular Careers for INFPs
It is important to note that any personality type can be successful in any occupation. However, some occupations are well suited to the natural talents and preferred work style of the INFP, while other occupations demand modes of thinking and behavior that do not come as naturally to this type. Occupations that require the INFP to operate outside their natural preferences may prove stressful or draining, and often sound unappealing to INFPs who are choosing a career.
The following occupations have been found to be unpopular among INFPs, based on data gathered from surveys of the general population.
INFPs as Leaders
In leadership positions, INFPs motivate others through encouragement and positive vision. They are deeply idealistic, and when working for a cause that is important to them, they bring a quiet determination to their leadership role. They often see the potential in other people, and are good at inspiring others to use their gifts.
INFPs are supportive, creative leaders who encourage their teams to think outside the box. Because of their flexible nature and strong desire for harmony, they may avoid conflict and delay making difficult decisions. They do best leading cooperative teams of like-minded people who are similarly committed to their vision.
INFPs on a Team
INFPs are supportive and imaginative team members who contribute by understanding the ideals of their teammates and working to bring unity to the group’s mission. They listen openly to many points of view, and are talented at coming up with creative solutions that incorporate the ideas and priorities of everyone involved. They are flexible and innovate thinkers, and are willing to consider almost any option, so long as it is congruent with their values.
INFPs do best on a team that is guided by vision, and want to have an authentic understanding of the team’s purpose. They want to have team members who are similarly committed to a cause, and who are willing to explore the possibilities for achieving their ideals. Teams which are highly oriented to action, without considering the deeper issues or the alternative options, may alienate the INFP. INFPs want an environment of mutual support and acceptance, and may have trouble on teams where there is much conflict or competition. Judgment and negativity tend to stifle their talent for creative problem-solving.
INFP Communication Style
INFPs are gentle, encouraging communicators who enjoy exploring options and ideas. They envision possibilities for people and are often good at coming up with creative, flexible solutions to problems. They are typically attentive listeners who try to adapt their communication style to the people they are dealing with. Compassionate and cooperative, they tend to be appreciative of other people and their ideas, although they may be reserved about sharing their own closely held values and ideas with people they do not know well.
INFPs as Partners
In relationships, the INFP is nurturing, empathic, and loyal. Healers select their friends and partners carefully, looking for a strong bond and congruent values. They are self-aware and often spiritual.
INFPs tend to be open-minded and accepting of another's behavior and preferences, so long as their core values are not violated. They support their partners' individuality, and encourage them to explore their interests and ideas.
INFPs look for ways to compromise and accommodate other people, and often have creative solutions to interpersonal problems. They can be very sensitive, but often keep negative reactions to themselves because they are reluctant to engage in confrontation.
Close and harmonious relationships are important to INFPs, although they also need a lot of independent time to think and reflect. They often want plenty of freedom to express themselves and pursue greater self-awareness. They value a partner who is committed and loving, yet provides them with the support they need to independently explore the mysteries of life.
INFPs as Parents
As parents, INFPs are caring, supportive, and adaptable. They rarely establish a strict or structured household, preferring instead to address problems and situations as they arise. They often allow their children a lot of latitude and influence in making decisions, and may leave the creation and enforcement of household rules up to another parent.
Children of INFPs often find that they have the freedom to express themselves and make their own decisions until they violate their INFP parent's values. When values are in question, the Healer parent becomes firm and inflexible.