10 signs you’re actually an INFJ personality type, not an INTJ

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In my early twenties, an online Myers-Briggs assessment revealed my new four-letter identity—a rare personality type nicknamed the INTJ. I felt flattered as I read about who I supposedly was. Yes, I was a strategic, big-picture thinker, smart as a whip, and different from others, thank you. Being an INTJ made me feel special, even important.

Yet in some small corner of me, something didn’t feel right. Wasn’t I usually the counselor in my friend group, the one people came to for emotional support? Didn’t I struggle at times with being a people-pleaser? How very un-INTJ of me.

Years later, I took another personality test and got the result of INFJ. Reading about this type, I was shocked at how much it sounded like me. Finally! All those years I had been wrong—I actually was an INFJ. (Want to know your personality type? We recommend this free, quick test from our partner Personality Hacker.)

Why did I mistype as an INTJ? Probably for a few reasons. First, growing up, I highly respected my “thinker” dad and uncles, and I wanted to be like them. Second, for a time, I attended a church that rejected emotional thinking, instead favoring the cold, hard facts of doctrine and the Bible. Finally, I was young and just didn’t know myself well yet.

Later I learned that it’s not uncommon for people to mistype as either an INTJ or an INFJ, because both personalities are introverts who lead with big-picture thinking, are results-oriented, and “see behind the curtain,” so to speak. However, there are some key differences between these types.

Keep in mind that typology describes general personality characteristics. You may have some characteristics of an INFJ and some of an INTJ, because people don’t fit perfectly into boxes. Your experiences, upbringing, and circumstances make you an individual. Yet we tend to lean more toward one type than another. Here are 10 signs you might be an INFJ, not an INTJ:

  1. You feel comfortable dealing with other people’s emotions. In your group of friends, you often play the counselor, thoughtfully listening to others and offering emotional support and advice—a role you relish, as long as it doesn’t interfere with your necessary alone time. People seek you out because they feel better after talking with you. INTJs, on the other hand, prefer to deal in logic, not emotion. They feel uncomfortable with overt displays of emotion, because for them, feelings are highly personal and private. When an INTJ is approached with a personal problem, the INTJ’s first reaction is to treat it like a challenge to be solved. In lieu of emotional support, the INTJ may offer practical solutions.
  2. You are more interested in people and relationships than concepts and theories. Your resume should read “People Scientist.” You spend a great deal of time analyzing others, trying to discover what makes them tick. You might be interested in psychology, sociology, spirituality, and the humanities. INTJs, on the other hand, tend to be more intrigued by systems, the sciences, history, philosophy, and technology, although there are many exceptions to this.
  3. Conflict is distressing. You take disagreements and criticism personally. Your feelings can be hurt by what others say. You may find yourself ruminating on an off-hand remark a loved one makes or a negative comment your boss gives you on an evaluation. A romantic relationship or a friendship quickly sours for you if there are frequent fights, drama, and a general lack of positive feelings. INTJs get their feelings hurt too, but they view criticism through the lens of logic, not emotion, so they are less likely to take harsh words to heart.
  4. You use your emotions and personal values to navigate the world. It’s more important to you that your decisions feel right rather than make logical sense (although as an INFJ, you rarely lack common sense). You not only take your own feelings into account but also the emotions of others, because you care deeply about how your actions affect those around you. Of course, INTJs care about others too, especially those closest to them, but they make decisions by asking what works or what makes sense. They value using time and resources efficiently more so than catering to people’s personal preferences.
  5. You may struggle to advocate for your own needs. Because you care so much about others, it’s easy for you to slip into people-pleasing mode. You want others around you to be happy, so you sometimes subjugate your own needs. For example, if your significant other wants to go out to dinner but you’d rather stay home and recharge, you may find yourself saying “yes” anyway. Mature INFJs diplomatically protect their own preferences, because they understand that when they get their needs met, they can be better for others. INTJs struggle less with people-pleasing.
  6. You’ve developed the appearance of social conformity—at least on the surface. Both INFJs and INTJs often grow up feeling different from others, like they’re on the outside looking in. Many still experience this as adults. For INFJs, feeling different really bothers them. Add to that their desire to please others, and INFJs may work hard to blend in. INTJs are usually less concerned with conforming to social norms.
  7. You’re a dreamer and a doer who focuses on the human condition. A true idealist, you’re concerned with helping people reach their true potential and bettering the human condition. You’re talented at connecting with others and bringing them together for a common cause. Mature INFJs build communities and are catalysts of large-scale social movements—think Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi, who were probably INFJs. INTJs are also catalysts for change, but they prefer to improve systems, theories, concepts, and procedures—think Stephen Hawking, Al Gore, Ayn Rand, Hillary Clinton, and the fictional TV show character Monk.
  8. You’re soft in your approach. At your best, you interact with others in a warm, casual way. Skilled in diplomacy, you value tact and the preservation of others’ feelings more than the delivery of objective facts. For example, if an INFJ is invited to hang out with friends but doesn’t want to go, she might make an excuse to preserve her friends’ feelings rather than stating her honest preferences (“Sorry, I would like to go, but I have plans tonight.”). INTJs are more direct, straightforward, and even business-like in their communication.
  9. You don’t want just any job—you want a humanitarian mission. Ideally you use your creativity in an independent way to develop and implement a vision that is consistent with your personal values. An organized environment and harmonious relationships with colleagues are a must. INTJs also value freedom in the workplace, but they thrive in environments that are logical, efficient, and structured, with colleagues that are intelligent, competent, and productive. Ideally their job allows them to use their analytical skills to problem-solve in a challenging environment, and to implement their own original ideas to create more efficient, innovative systems.
  10. Because you’re tuned into emotions, at times you may experience others’ emotional states as if they were your own. If someone near you is experiencing stress, you may begin to feel stressed yourself. This is due to your high level of empathy. INTJs, although not emotionless, create more emotional space for themselves by viewing situations through the lens of logic. For this reason, they tend to be less sensitive emotionally than INFJs and do not absorb others’ feelings.

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ Martin Luther King, Jr., likely an INFJ personality type

What’s your personality type? We recommend this free, quick test from our partner Personality Hacker.

Read this: 24 beautifully true cartoons that show what it’s like being an introvert and INFJ


20 Comments

  • Thanks for sharing, Jenn! When I was younger I was mistyped as an INTJ too. It’s only been within the past couple years that I’ve discovered that I am really an INFJ. Now I understand myself a whole lot more and it’s helped me identify the tools that work for me to become a healthier person.

  • Rudy says:

    Thanks for this. You are my kin. 🙂

  • Henry Th. F. says:

    Very nice article. I, too, thougth i was an INTJ after i tested myself a few times but then i scored INFJ and i think it fits me. I am first and foremost interested in knowledge that helps me understand other people better; then i go a step forward and look at groups, societies, etc. Hence i study philosophy and psychology.
    I can sense others emotions or moods to a varying degree; somethimes it’s one person, somethimes it’s even a little group. And in some cases, i am a little clueless whether i feel their emotions or my own. I think about the character of other people a lot when i am alone, and the more i do so, the better my understanding of them gets.

    But i am not that much of a people pleaser and i am not sure if i am a real emotional supporter, because i mostly explain others the behavior, the viewpoints, or even some parts of the inferiority complex of the person(s) we are talking about. While it’s sometimes hard to say no, i am not the one who does everthing for others. I guess it depends on how much i am understood and accepted by others for being introverted.

  • Interesting! I’m actually an INTJ who mistyped myself as an INFJ–which kind of made everyone else around me laugh, but oh well. I like this post overall, but a few caveats. It plays on some crazy generalizations that I think could actually misguide people. :-p

    1.) I majored in the humanities and I enjoy studying people. Doesn’t make me an INFJ. It makes me an INTJ who understands and appreciates the value and purpose of being able to work well with others, and knows that conceptual study enforced by real-world practice is the best way to improve. Plus, I’m fascinated by the complexity of ‘people systems.’

    6.) INTJs are pragmatists. If we need to keep quiet about our quirkiness to work with a system that is mostly functional and satisfying, we can do that. It really isn’t a big deal, as long as we have other outlets.

    9.) Mostly agree but…we can work independently just as well and find just as much satisfaction in improving the lives of others through those systems. And especially if we have strong religious or moral convictions (yes, NTs can have those too), then that will have a profound impact in shaping our altruistic tendencies and motives.

    From the overall gist of the blog post, I can tell you’re using some generalizations and dramatic contrasts in order to separate the two personalities. This is a sound method. Just be careful that the generalizations don’t lead to inaccuracies.

    Thanks! 🙂

    • M. says:

      Same here, sometimes I wasn’t sure whether I am F or T. But your comment mostly fits, and the T fits better overall than the F. The key seems to be “systems”. I approach the world the same way. And I have problems seeing pure emotional support as beneficial in the long run, although I know it does work sometimes too.

  • Julia K. says:

    Thanks a lot. It’s nice to read about this from an INFJ’s view, as I am am an INTJ that was mistyped as an INFJ, like the one in the post before mine. The point is that an INTJ can do the same things as an INFJ, but for other reasons.
    An INTJ can for example be hurt a lot by critisism, but not because they think that conflict is a stress factor. I personally don’t care about unconstructive critisism or critisism that comes from people I view as not competent enough to judge me. But INTJs are mostly proud beings and if you give them a valid reason to think that they are bad at something they originally thought they were good at I think that a lot of them would actually be hurt even if they don’t show it.
    I like to help people and feel deeply, but I’m not a very empathetic person. If someone is sad I’m usually like “I can’t feel the way you feel because I’m in a different situation but I understand your point and would probably be sad as well.”
    INTJs just process their feelings internally while they speak in a rational language. Don’t worry about not being a thinker. I kind of envy INFJs for being internal thinkers, as I usually need to talk about my ideas to understand them and need someone else to see if my thoughts were right.
    When I was typed as an INFJ, it was mostly because I said that I go with my gut feeling. The point is that my gut feeling isn’t an emotion thing but rather an intuition thing. I don’t need to think through every decision, simply because I’ve made decisions like that before and have the feeling for what is helpful in a situation like this and what isn’t.

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  • brownin329 says:

    MLK was more than likely an ENTJ not an INTJ.

  • Spade says:

    See this is a really interesting post because I am an INxJ and exactly half of those 5 things fit me and half of them I just really don’t fit so for now I am perfectly split between INTJ and INFJ

  • Adrian says:

    You’re an INFP. If you follow your own personal values instead of your society’s values, you’re Fi, not Fe.

  • James says:

    I was around 23 years old when I took my first online Meyers Briggs assessment – the result was INTJ. Months later I took a few more assessments with mixed results between INTJ and INTP. Neither of these really felt right deep down, they were close but not quite there. A few weeks ago I took another assessment and the result was INFJ. I’m still reeling from it, prior to this I was convinced I had aspergers and more. It gives me comfort that I’m not the only one previously mistyped.

  • I was an INFJ when I was younger and taken a test and became an INTP, however after a year later, I took a test then discovered I was an INTJ, it was partially because of the people around me however the partial part was that I cared to much about people which was very exhausting and tiring for me, and discovered that maybe I was faking my emotions and tried too hard to help people. Now, I am an INTJ however I still care about people but not by emotions, but logically, and it is making me feel good about myself, now I don’t feel very exhausting anymore.

  • George says:

    Great…You have clearly explained about the concept of INTJ.It clear and very useful for me..Keep on sharing

  • I’m an INFJ, but I am personally disgusted that The Great Ayn Rand was placed in a sentence next to Hillary Clinton.

  • ChandelleB says:

    Thank you! I had a very similar experience – originally INTJ, now tested as a INFJ. I really struggled with that! But I really do resonate with the INFJ more.
    One question – where’s your follow button?? Would love to follow this blog, but can’t figure out how to.

  • Dupree says:

    I’m an INTJ and I’m also an empath. I don’t understand why this is seen as unusual for us. Yes, we view much through the lens of logic, but we also feel deeply. Maybe I’m a rare type of INTJ, who knows? I’m of the opinion that the introverted nature makes being an empath likely for many types of people.

  • Mashiro says:

    I was actually mistyped the other way around. I guess introverted intuition being the primary cognitive function can really lead to some mistakes.

  • poetadvice says:

    Interesting, your post gave a strong impression that I likely did not mistype as an INTJ. Some of these qualities seem very reasonable and logical to be expressing, but that’s just it. Acting in accordance to what is logical to the situation has precedence over exercising these qualities as simply a part of who we are, and using reason as a means to accommodate its execution.

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