INFJs make up less than 1% of the population and are considered the rarest MBTI personality type.
The Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI) is a popular self-report inventory designed to identify someone's personality type and is one of the most widely used psychology tools today.
What does INFJ stand for?
Each of the 16 MBTI types consists of four letters corresponding to a fundamental personality trait for the type. Tailored questions find your combination of four sets of opposing traits—introverted versus extroverted, sensing versus intuitive, thinking versus feeling, and perceiving versus judging. INFJ stands for Introversion (I), Intuition (N), Feeling (F), and Judging (J) personality traits.
Compassion and sensitivity
The INFJ is characterized by deep compassion, sensitivity, and an ability to “read” others. Rather than watching other people’s reactions from the outside, people who have this personality type sometimes report they can genuinely feel other people’s emotions. They may even have trouble focusing on their own feelings and needs when they’re around other people.
Gauging the mood of a group and responding appropriately is second nature to the INFJ, and in some situations, the INFJ might even look more like a social butterfly than an introvert. Don’t be fooled: despite their general attunement to others, INFJs need their alone time. It also takes time before they truly trust someone and let them in.
The INFJ’s intuition doesn’t just extend to people: this enigmatic type has sometimes been called “The Mystic” for their almost uncanny ability to accurately assess a situation and predict what might happen. INFJ’s logical and feeling sides work together, leading them to perceive patterns in other people’s behavior and in the world around them that other people don’t see, which allows them to come to perceptive conclusions.
In general, INFJs are very aware they are part of a bigger picture. This personality type sees themselves as “part of the main” of humanity rather than an island. Other people getting along and leading happier and more fulfilling lives is very important to them. When INFJs do go against the grain and challenge other people’s perspectives, creating harmony, happiness, and a better life for those around them is one of their main motivations.
Imagination and idealism
INFJs, like other intuitive types, frequently have rich and powerful imaginations. As one of the most reserved and sensitive personality types, they may feel uncomfortable opening up to people and sharing their ideas, particularly to people they don’t know. But when they do, they are capable of articulating revolutionary ideas and producing amazing creative work.
Logic and determination
Whether it’s a piece of art, scientific research, a plan to start a charity, or a vision for a better society, INFJ people often pay painstaking attention to details. The INFJ is decisive, analytical, and capable of producing organized thought. Like other J personality types, this Myers Briggs type craves structure and order.
Once this personality type has decided exactly what they are working towards, they will work tirelessly to turn their visions into action. Their unique mixture of logic, quiet idealism, people skills, and tenacity can even lead them into leadership positions as they work hard to make their ideas reality. It’s unlikely they’ll be hogging the spotlight, but INFJs can be found influencing events behind the scenes.
Difficult to know
The introvert (I) personality aspect of INFJs can make them relatively quiet and reserved, and INFJs are also very careful about who they let close. This reticence is driven by caution and a fear of being misunderstood, rather than a dislike of other people.
INFJs are great listeners and can make perceptive and wonderful friends, and they want meaningful connections with people they trust. Sometimes, however, they forget that other personality types don’t have their ability to read people. Working on communication (once they have established someone is trustworthy) might help their friendship or relationship.
INFJs usually have high standards and high expectations, for both themselves and their loved ones, which can be both good and bad. The INFJ’s idealism contributes to their perfectionism, and they may also be prone to a fear of failure, a rigid way of looking at the world, and a “what if”-type of wondering about what might have happened had they worked harder.
Perfectionism can lead INFJs to achieve great things, and it can bring out the best in those around them, but it can also cause them and their loved ones worry and stress. INFJs who are frequently disappointed in themselves or in others should remember that while it’s admirable to try to be the best you can be, no one is perfect.
INFJs prefer to avoid conflict, even when voicing their feelings might be beneficial. In some situations, it’s best to take the high road, but too much passivity can lead other people to wrongly assume that this personality type has forgiven a slight, or just doesn’t care. Meanwhile, the INFJ is silently stewing! People with this personality type can let the minor things that are bothering them build up and up until they explode and lash out at the other person.
INFJ people might even get so sick of the negative emotions someone else provokes that they just cut contact with them: this is known as the “INFJ door slam.” Often, this happens not because the INFJ doesn’t care about or love the other person anymore, but because they can’t deal with the pain and frustration the other person is causing them. Sometimes, ending a bad relationship is the best course of action—but in other instances, the INFJ could defuse the situation by simply talking about what irritates or annoys them as it arises.
Moody and misunderstood
With their combination of intense emotion, sensitivity, reserve, and stubbornness, it’s no surprise that other people may perceive the INFJ as rather moody. INFJs might be able to combat this perception by being a bit more open with their feelings and thought processes. At its core though, their personality type is enigmatic, characterized by an inner life and moodscape that is rich and difficult for other people to understand.
INFJs who have trouble dealing with their own strong emotions might find writing, or another artistic pursuit, helpful in expressing themselves and coming to grips with exactly what it is they’re feeling. Understandably, they often find themselves much more comfortable with people who “get” them and are not put off by their complexity.
What are the hobbies and interests of INFJs?
Counselors have a wide range of interests. They often tend to get involved in peaceful hobbies that bring them close to nature or allow them to express their creativity. They enjoy thought-provoking books and films, and discussing their ideas with others.
- Hiking or walking on the beach
- Philosophical conversations
- Cooking and baking
- Reading and book clubs
- Cultural events
Interacting with INFJs
INFJs form close bonds with other people and can be sociable and chatty, but like all introverts, they need to rest and recharge. It’s important to give them space when they need it and not pressure or rush them into too much interaction. INFJ people often feel misunderstood, so make sure you take the time to understand their outlook and recognize their good intentions and positive qualities. INFJ people also love to learn, and their interest is piqued by new ideas, good books, and deep discussions.
This personality type only really opens up to people they feel safe with. If an INFJ is having trouble communicating their feelings to you or appears wary of you, the best thing to do is be patient. Sincerity and honesty are very important when dealing with this personality type; remember that if they suspect you are not genuine, they will withdraw. If an INFJ’s behavior is confusing or contradictory, don’t be afraid to initiate a conversation and ask them how they truly feel.
When INFJs are under extreme stress, like all Myers Briggs types, they will act out of character. This type is prone to falling into what is referred to in the Myers Briggs system as an “Se” grip: they overindulge in their extroverted, sensing side. If the INFJ in your life is binge eating, going on shopping sprees, making impulsive decisions, or drinking too much, it could be a sign something is really preying on their mind.
In a relationship
INFJs are idealists, so they tend to gravitate towards people who share their own values and pique their intellectual curiosity. Unlike some other personality types, as long as they feel comfortable with their partner, they are more than happy to discuss the health and future of their relationship. They fall in love deeply, are committed and loyal, and they want the same in return. INFJs are very supportive of their loved one’s interests, dreams, and ambitions, while still holding fast to their own visions and ideals.
As introverted feelers, INFJs do best with caring and considerate partners, and they don’t function well when there is tension in their relationships. INFJs can do very well in relationships with some extroverted types, but might feel overwhelmed if their partner puts too much pressure on them to socialize.
Living with an INFJ
In their home life, the INFJ usually plans ahead. INFJs are fairly tidy and organized, and they may get slightly frustrated if their partner is a more easygoing perceiving (P) type. INFJ people sometimes see housework as a chance for alone time, to muse on their ideas, but this shouldn’t be confused with enjoying menial work. If you live with an INFJ, they will appreciate it if you complete your share of the chores.
INFJs are true romantics, and they don’t take matters of the heart lightly. They are unlikely to seek casual sex or short-term flings, and they believe love should be the foundation of an intimate relationship. Once they fully trust their partner, they are warm and passionate lovers. INFJs are picky with good reason since they can get their hearts broken if they get involved with a personality type who doesn’t bond as deeply as they do.
A fear of abandonment is something some INFJs really struggle with, which in turn might hold them back from asserting themselves, communicating clearly, and setting clear boundaries with their loved ones. INFJs are very sensitive and don’t cope well with a lot of interpersonal stress. They can also struggle with criticism, misconstruing it as a personal attack—it can be helpful to reassure them and clarify what you mean.
As an idealistic type, the INFJ will feel very uncomfortable if they are in an environment with people who violate their values. Like all introverts, they can also get a bit tetchy if they feel they don’t have enough personal space.
Due to their perfectionism, this personality type can be prone to exhaustion as they overgive to others, and try to improve things around them. An INFJ who can’t let go and go with the flow a little bit may find themselves permanently discontented: with themselves, their job, their living situation, or their relationship.
Any two healthy MBTI types can make a relationship work, but one of the best matches for the INFJ is the ENFP. Extroverted and inspirational, this personality type shares the INFJ’s interest in and love for other people. The ENFP will be sensitive to the INFJ’s needs, respect their ideals, and enjoy their imaginative side, and the INFJ might benefit from their openness, tolerance, and more carefree attitude to life.
The INFJ also does well with the warm, giving, and organized ENFJ, and with fellow introverted intuitives, the INTJ and INFP. As idealists, INFJs like to have some common ground with their partners, and may find relationships with less emotional or imaginative personalities (such as ST types) challenging.
As a parent
Counselors bring their children up to be caring and genuinely good and responsible, and they tend to forge strong, emotional bonds with their children. They often see parenthood as a journey, and they expect to learn things from their child, as well as imparting knowledge to them. INFJs might have high expectations of their children, but they are still able to accept that their child will make mistakes, and might develop a very different personality and interests.
INFJs are sometimes prone to stress due to the pressure they put on themselves to be the perfect parent and to always be there for their child. If they have a child who is extroverted or who requires a lot of attention, INFJ parents might end up feeling overwhelmed or burned out. If an Counselor parent feels isolated, stressed, or misunderstood, they might also form an emotional dependency on their child, and struggle as the child grows up and becomes more independent.
Generally speaking, healthy INFJs are empathic and loving parents who allow their children to make mistakes and nurture them into adulthood. Their organizational skills also mean they are good at sorting out the practical details of family life. Compassionate and supportive, they want the best for their children and use their intuitive gifts to help them thrive.
INFJs are good at establishing order, routines, and structure and can also be great problem-solvers, which is great when it comes to conflict or other issues with their child. Counselors intuitively know what makes their child tick—unfortunately, there is a chance they may also wait longer than necessary to address family and relationship problems, leaving them to simmer and grow. INFJs who have problems asserting themselves and exerting authority over their children might benefit by working on their own level of confidence (this is especially the case for solo parents).
As a friend
When INFJs make friends, they’re often friends for life: this personality type is loyal to a fault and always has time for the people they care about. They are fantastic listeners and good conversationalists, perceptive, helpful, and caring. INFJs tend to give more than they receive—so if you are friends with this type, make sure you make them feel appreciated and express an interest in their life and what they’re feeling, too.
In general, healthy INFJs are honest and sincere towards their friends and expect the same back. However unhealthy INFJs can become a bit manipulative, using their impressive skills at reading people to nudge them into particular courses of action.
INFJ personalities strongly prefer to work in a field that aligns with their own beliefs and values: they are also known as the “counselor,” and counseling, mediation, psychology, or teaching tend to suit them well. This personality type is lucky, however, because their mixture of empathy and intelligence and their organizational abilities lend themselves to success in a much wider range of professions, including the sciences, academia, business, and healthcare. INFJs with a strong creative streak may become writers, musicians, or artists.
Most INFJs enjoy working with people and with ideas—preferably both at the same time! Work that is purely hands-on, such as the physical trades, tends not to appeal to them. If they decide to apply themselves to technical or scientific jobs, they can excel (the problem is getting them interested in these fields).
INFJs do their best work in a quiet, harmonious, and structured environment with people who share their values, and they like having at least a degree of independence in their work. They thrive in situations where they have the opportunity to reflect and contemplate ideas. They may feel ill at ease, stressed, and under-utilized in very fast-paced jobs.
This personality type often takes a while to decide what they want to do and can end up with option paralysis. Going it alone and starting their own business, or aiming at a leadership position in a field they really care about can sometimes be good for the INFJ, allowing them a degree of independence, space, and freedom to pursue their ideals.
Popular INFJ jobs and careers
- Minister of religion
- Researcher or research assistant
- Instructional designer
- Academic, particularly in the social sciences
- Paralegal (legal executive)
- Editor or writer
- Technical writer
- HR professional
- Graphic designer
- Cultural or food critic
- Food or environmental scientist
Celebrities with the INFJ personality type
INFJ personalities are well-represented in the arts, psychology, the helping professions, and the sciences. This type can also be found in politics, religion, and philosophy.
- Carl Jung
- Mahatma Gandhi
- Eleanor Roosevelt
- Jimmy Carter
- Adolf Hitler
- Edward Snowden
- Martin Luther King
- Leon Trotsky
- Ludwig Wittgenstein
- Mary Wollstonecraft
- Noam Chomsky
- Emily Bronte
- Fyodor Dostoevsky
- Leo Tolstoy
- Simone de Beauvoir
- Agatha Christie
- Adrian Brody
- Nicole Kidman
- Mel Gibson
- Cate Blanchett
- Mischa Barton
- Tilda Swinton
- Carey Mulligan
- Peter Gabriel Roger Waters (Pink Floyd)
- Leonard Cohen
- George Harrison
- Florence Welch
- Annie Lennox
- Shirley Manson
- Taylor Swift
Healthcare and science
- Florence Nightingale
- Niels Bohr (physicist)
The bottom line
INFJs, also known as the Counselors, are unique personalities. They are dreamers with a logical streak who use their gifts to try to make the world a better place. With their mixture of intelligence, compassion, and imagination, their intuition about people and events is unparalleled.
This rare personality type is often misunderstood, but you should never underestimate an INFJ or take them for granted. If you appreciate the INFJ in your life and show a genuine interest in them, you might be lucky enough to forge a deep and meaningful bond with someone special—and become part of their vision for a better future.