INFP (Mediator) Handbook: Traits, Strengths, How Tos, Facts & More
The INFP personality type, one of the 16 personality types identified by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), is often described as the “healer”, “mediator”, and “idealist” among the group.
While often deemed as shy and reserved, INFPs have a rich and vibrant inner life. They are naturally curious and imaginative people who enjoy daydreaming and coming up with creative solutions to their problems.
They are also idealists driven by a firm set of core values and beliefs that they hold on to as they pursue their purpose and calling. This guide will provide you all the things you need to know about this personality profile.
INFP Meaning and What Does it Stand For
INFP stands for Introversion, Intuition, Feeling, and Perceiving.
(I) Introversion: Introverts draw their energy from alone time, whereas extroverts draw them from spending time with people.
(N) Intuition: People with the intuition preference look at information based on impressions and patterns compared to their sensing counterparts who use their five senses to interpret their reality.
(F) Feeling: People with the feeling preference use and consider their feelings (and others) to make decisions while thinkers use logic-based criteria.
(P) Perceiving: Regarding how they live their lives externally, perceivers are more open and flexible while their judging counterparts are more orderly and planned.
INFP Personality Type – Key Characteristics and Traits
INFPs enjoy their own company but also enjoy spending time with small groups. On the other hand, being with a large group drains them and exhausts their energy.
This is especially true since INFPs have an innate desire to understand people deeply, which is challenging to do in a big crowd.
INFPs enjoy exploring possibilities and ideas, endlessly driven by a desire to discover the truths about things and people. Because of this, INFPs’ preferences are to look at the whole picture instead of the detailed parts.
While their idealist temperament makes INFPs perfectionists, especially when it concerns their craft, they tend to be unaware of mundane details.
They are also highly intuitive towards other people, another trait that enables them to understand others better. These idealists have a developed value system and core beliefs which they use in their decision making and how they view the world in general.
Empathetic by nature, INFPs are gifted with compassion and deep care towards others’ needs. INFPs are driven by the desire to understand people on a deeper level, which allows them to help and communicate with them better.
Perceivers like the INFPs are spontaneous open-minded. They keep their schedules and options open. They are not impulsive when making decisions and are ready to accommodate changes in the situation as they come.
INFP Cognitive Functions
Cognitive functions in MBTI indicate how a personality type takes in and processes information (perceiving) and makes decisions (judging), which is then directed internally (introverted) towards analysis and reflection or externally (extraverted), towards action and interaction with the world.
There are eight cognitive functions, and each MBTI personality type has four of these functions, namely the dominant, auxiliary, tertiary, and inferior functions. It is easy to recognize the first two, while awareness for the latter two is more difficult.
The dominant function is the one you use often, and it the strongest of the four. The auxiliary function is also relatively strong in your personality and is responsible for balancing and assisting the dominant function. The tertiary function develops later in life.
It helps you with areas you avoid or with using skills you are not comfortable doing. The last function is the weakest among the four, difficulty to access, and only usually appears when a person is under stress.
An INFP has the following cognitive functions:
Dominant: Introverted Feeling
INFPs are highly attuned to their rich, inner landscape. They process their emotions and values inwardly; thus, while they have strong emotions, they don’t express it outwardly.
The downside of this is that they may seem distant and indifferent. However, having this dominant function enables them to understand themselves better and better empathize and care for other people.
Auxiliary: Extraverted Intuition
This function is responsible for an INFP’s desire for novelty. Curious and full of wonder, INFPS are intrigued by possibilities which is reflected in their sense of adventure and anticipation in their life journey.
Expressively, this may cause INFPs to brainstorm aloud and may lead to problems expressing themselves since this function may lead them to bounce from one idea to another.
Their genuine interest in exploring individuals’ uniqueness makes INFPs so adept at connecting with people, which is further enhanced by their excellent listening skills and facilitating conversations.
Tertiary: Introverted Sensing
This function has a role in making an INFP recall experience and reflect on life’s lessons, which helps them avoid mistakes and provides them with a clearer direction for the future.
This function is also reflected in an INFPs attitude over material things. They are minimalists who prefer a simple lifestyle since they focus their energies on more valuable things– their passion and calling.
Inferior: Extraverted Thinking
This function is responsible for one’s external structure. Since this is their weak point, INFPs are often characterized as disorganized.
This may explain why INFPs can get overwhelmed and struggle with organization and order, such as implementing rules in the home and organizing schedules and handling logistics.
Since it is an inferior function, it operates on an unconscious level but springs up when an INFP is under stress. This is why an INFP under pressure may suddenly become detailed and logical instead of being driven by emotions.
Types of INFP Personality (INFP-A & -T)
MBTI personality types are further grouped into two based on their level of confidence in their own abilities and actions. A personality type is either assertive or turbulent.
Assertive mediators have an easier time brushing off a mistake they have committed and spend less time focusing on their flaws than INFP-Ts.
They have a sunny, optimistic outlook, making them a good source of hope and encouragement. However, this tendency to ignore the things they shrug off may cause them to overlook problems since they think that everything is doing fine.
Since they are less invested than their turbulent peers, they feel less regret and are more confident at being themselves.
People with the INFP-A personality type are also generally more optimistic about the outcomes of the chances they took compared to their counterparts.
Turbulent mediators tend to be dissatisfied with their current state and uses this dissatisfaction to improve themselves. They are likely to hold themselves to a very high standard and end up becoming overwhelmed.
Compared to INFP-As, they may consider themselves lazy, which is often an inaccurate self-evaluation. Opinions matter a lot to turbulent types and tend to be more self-critical and sensitive than their assertive peers.
While both INFPs are good listeners, people with INFP-T personality tend to seek other people’s opinions and feedback more, giving them an edge at paying attention to other people better than INFP-As.
INFP Strengths and Weaknesses
Their compassionate nature allows INFPs to use their natural strengths to make an impact on others around them.
Here are some of the strengths typically associated with people with the INFP personality type:
INFPs are thoughtful and caring. Due to their ability to understand other emotions well paired with their authentic interest towards other people, INFPs can individualize their approach for each person, making them feel important and prioritized.
Known to be ‘the mediator’, they pay attention to how their decisions will affect people emotionally, making sure to avoid hurting others at all costs.
Imaginative and open-minded, INFPs are not afraid to explore endless possibilities. Their ability to see connections and patterns in things and situations enables them to develop unique approaches to solving complicated problems.
Their creativity also makes these independent thinkers drawn towards creative expression. A study found that their sample of gifted students gravitates towards four personality types, including INFP.
Being attuned to other people’s needs and emotions allows them to see things from other people’s points of view, making INFPs generally open and tolerant of other people’s lifestyles and beliefs.
Known as ‘the healer’, INFPs have a natural heart of service and are always on the look-out for ways to help. They are dedicated to those they value, whether it be people, a specific cause, or their perceived calling and purpose.
- Strong belief system
Being ‘the idealist’, these INFPs are driven by a purpose that is often directed towards caring for and attending to other people’s needs. They view the world guided by their core values and are unlikely to be easily swayed from their beliefs.
Most of the time, an INFP’s strengths come with blind spots and may become potential sources of conflict if not managed.
Here are some of the INFP weaknesses that they should take note of:
- Overly idealistic
Vision-driven INFPs may become perfectionists, expecting everything to be meaningful. They tend to idolize people they look up to, which may lead to frustration and disappointment, especially when they fail to meet the INFP’s idea of them.
- Difficulty in opening up
Private and reserved, INFPs may struggle to share about themselves or their accomplishments. This may lead to difficulty in asking for help or open up to new people.
- Tend to avoid conflict
Mediators do their best to avoid confrontations and conflict at all costs, often to their detriment. They may overlook their own feelings and needs due to their tendency to please others. This also makes them sensitive towards other people’s views of them.
- Trouble accepting failure
These idealists tend to be self-critical, especially since they have high expectations from themselves. Because of this, they are likely to dwell on their failures.
INFPs tend to worry about how others view them and may take criticisms personally, becoming offended when people perceive their actions or words negatively.
This overly self-critical behavior may take a toll on their mental health. This is supported by a study done in 2019, which reported that INFPs are one of the two personality types who are likely to be diagnosed with unipolar depression.
- Driven by emotion
INFPs tend to focus too much or become too overwhelmed with their emotions, which may hinder them from seeing the situation objectively.
Jobs and Career Paths of INFP
INFPs prefer work that aligns with their values and allows them to help others. They tend to work better in a small group setting and tend to enjoy careers that provide them with new opportunities and allow for flexibility.
INFP jobs and careers have something in common – they offer these personality types their independence and respect their personal freedom.
10 Best Jobs & Careers for INFPs
- Freelance Writer
- Social worker
- Graphic Designer
- Physical therapist
- Social worker
Common hobbies and interests of INFPs
- Creative writing
- Decorating and Design
- Traveling or Outdoor recreation
How to Interact with INFPs
INFPs enjoy spending time with their inner circle of friends. They look for friends who share their beliefs and values but have no problem befriending all kinds of people. They are capable of sustaining stable and strong friendships.
As with other introverts, people with this personality may need to withdraw from people to recharge. INFPs treasure friendships and build on it by spending quality time with them.
Driven by a desire to help others learn and grow, INFPs see parenting as a unique opportunity towards a meaningful life journey.
As parents, they provide their children with the freedom to develop their own personalities and pursue their interests. However, they want to instill in their children important values such as compassion and care towards others.
INFP parents want a harmonious household and try their best to be good role models for their children. In the household, they rarely establish too much structure or strict rules and allow their children room to contribute to the home’s decision-making.
This type’s idealism resonates with their concept of true love. They may find themselves daydreaming about their ideal partner and imagining spending their lives, forming deep connections with them.
This allows them to go beyond superficial looks and focus more on the depths of their character. However, these idealists may have very high standards for their potential partners.
An INFP in relationships will capitalize on their compassion and thoughtfulness to make their partners feel important. While they love them for who they are, INFPs also devote themselves to their partners’ growth and goals in life.
Driven by a sense of purpose, INFPs will look for a moral connection in their workplace and prefer working in one that resonates with their value system. INFPs in the workplace enjoy pleasing their bosses and customers.
Since people with this personality type can be self-critical, they may find it challenging to work for negative bosses or hostile workplaces.
INFP employees enjoy freedom and independence and would prefer to use their creativity in getting things done. That said, deadlines and some structure are helpful to keep them on track.
Famous INFPs You Might Know
- Princess Diana
- Audrey Hepburn
- John Lennon
- J.R.R. Tolkien
- William Shakespeare
- Hellen Keller
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery
- Isabel Briggs Myers
“Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” – Helen Keller
“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone. ” – Audrey Hepburn
“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.” – John Lennon
Interesting Facts About INFPs
- They are among the types who are likely to report dissatisfaction at work
- They are known to be good encouragers and sources of inspiration.
- They populate the field of counseling, arts, and writing.
- They learn best through finding new connections and explorations.
- They rank second among all types in marital dissatisfaction
- They excel in art, music, and English in school
- They have a general advantage at learning foreign languages
Frequently Asked Questions
What does INFP stand for?
INFP stands for Introversion, Intuition, Feeling, and Judging.
Are INFPs rare?
Yes. INFPs consist of 4-5% of the U.S. population based on the MBTI Institute and are among the top 10 rare MBTI types.
How do people see and perceive INFPs?
They are often perceived as aloof, distant, and hard to decipher.
INFPs are one of the most caring and compassionate personality types among the 16 personalities in the Myers-Briggs personality assessment (MBTI). This, combined with their passionate and empathetic nature, makes them a good source of inspiration and hope for the people around them.
Their idealism and sensitivity allow them to pursue their purpose of helping others but may also become potential pitfalls if not managed.
They may need to be mindful of their weaker traits, especially in nourishing a romantic relationship, making and keeping friends, and fulfilling a meaningful career.
INFPs, while deemed as healers and mediators, should not forget to look after themselves too, so that they may shine more brightly amid people looking for inspiration and hope.