How Introverted Intuition Works for INFJs and INTJs Introverted Intuition

The “N” in INFJ and INTJ stands for iNtuition. This means that these two rare personality types gather and process information primarily using an Intuitive style rather than a Sensing style. Specially, these personalities use a form of Intuition called Introverted Intuition (Ni). In this article, I’ll explain the differences between Intuition and Sensing and explore how INFJs and INTJs use Introverted Intuition.

(What’s your personality type? Take a free personality assessment.)

Intuition vs. Sensing

Intuitives pay attention to the patterns and possibilities they see in the information they receive. They’re always looking for the meaning behind information, beyond just the concrete facts. They enjoy learning new things and pondering what might be possible, so they think more about the future than the past. They like to work with symbols and abstract theories, even before they know how they will use them. Intuitives may remember an event more as an impression of what it was like rather than the actual details of what happened.

According to Charles R. Martin, author of Looking at Type: The Fundamentals, you are likely an Intuitive if the following statements generally apply to you:

  • I remember events by what I read “between the lines” about their meaning.
  • I solve problems by leaping between different ideas and possibilities.
  • I am interested in doing things that are new and different.
  • I like to see the big picture, then to find out the facts.
  • I trust impressions, symbols, and metaphors more than what I actually experienced.
  • Sometimes I think so much about new possibilities that I never look at how to make them a reality.

INFJs and INTJs are two of the members of the Intuitive family. Other personality types that have an “N” as their second letter (such as the INTP, ENFP, etc.) are also Intuitives.

Sensors, on the other hand, are personality types that have an “S” as their second letter, such as the ISFJ, ESTP, etc. Sensors pay more attention to information they gather using their five senses—what they can see, hear, touch, taste, and smell. They’re more concerned with what is present, current, and real. Sensors notice facts and details that are important to them. For example, your Sensing friend may accurately remember what you ordered at a restaurant the last time the two of you were there, over 6 months ago. Sensors see the practical use of things and learn best when they see how to use what they’ve learned. Their motto is, “Experience speaks louder than words.”

Again according to Charles R. Martin, you are likely a Sensor if these statements generally apply to you:

  • I remember events as snapshots of what actually happened.
  • I solve problems by working through facts until I understand the problem.
  • I am pragmatic and look to the “bottom line.”
  • I start with facts and then form a big picture.
  • I trust experience first and trust words and symbols less.
  • Sometimes I pay so much attention to facts, either present or past, that I miss new possibilities.

Of course, every personality type spends some time Sensing and some time using Intuition. If we purely did one or the other, we wouldn’t be able to function in the world.

The ‘Magic’ of Introverted Intuition

As the first function in the INJ’s cognitive stack, Introverted Intuition is the main lens through which INFJs and INTJs view the world. Ni is always working in the background of the INJ’s mind, noticing patterns and analyzing their meanings. It often results in “eureka!” moments, in which ideas pop into the INJ’s mind seemingly out of the blue.

As an INFJ, I’ve had plenty of “eureka!” moments. While doing the dishes or taking a walk, a truth about human nature will suddenly dawn on me. These realizations feel extremely profound. Other times, I’ve suddenly “heard” in my mind the next line of a poem or story I’m writing.

Because of moments like these, Introverted Intuition seems almost magical. INJs may feel like they know things without knowing how or why. However, Ni can be understood in a rational way, as Dr. A.J. Drenth of Personality Junkie explains:

“What seems to be occurring is that many INJs have a highly sensitive inferior function, Extraverted Sensation (Se), which gathers copious amounts of sensory information from the outside world, including subtleties that other personality types tend to miss. Their Ni then subconsciously processes this data in order to make sense of it, like assembling pieces of a puzzle. Once finished, Introverted Intuition generates an impression that seems to come out of ‘nowhere.’”

A Vision of the Future

At times, INJs may feel like psychics or prophets. At the very least, they’re often biting their tongues to avoid telling others, “I told you so.” This is because Ni is the most forward-looking of all the cognitive functions. It is wholistic in its approach and sees the big picture. Introverted Intuition does an incredible job observing patterns on a large scale. INFJs keenly observe patterns related to human behavior while INTJs observe patterns related to systems. As a result, INJs often feel like they are getting a sneak peak of what’s to come, or at least a vision of a possible future.

But it’s not enough for INJs to just entertain their hunches and visions. Once they have received their “eureka!” moment, INJs work to make it a reality. According to Dr. Drenth, this is when their auxiliary function (Extroverted Feeling for INFJs and Extroverted Thinking for INTJs) enters the picture. INTJs might create a detailed framework of their proposed solution, including its parts and processes. INFJs may choose a more metaphorical or narrative approach, using analogies, word pictures, or stories to illustrate their insights.

The Visual Nature of Introverted Intuition

Ni tends to have a strong visual element to it. Many INJs think in images rather than in words. Their Intuition may manifest in the form of symbols, dreams, or patterns. For this reason, Carl Jung characterized INJs as dreamers and seers. And indeed, Ni types are often lauded for their insight and vision.

The visual nature of Ni makes INJs highly sensitive to beauty, whether it’s aesthetic, metaphorical, linguistic, or otherwise. French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre is believed to have been an INTJ. He once confessed, “I’m only a desire for beauty.”

Interestingly, many INJs value aesthetics just as much as their typological opposites, ESFPs and ESTPs. This is because INJs and ESPs both use Se. The difference is that INJs use Se unconsciously, whereas ESPs use it consciously. For this reason, INJs often feel the need to ensconce themselves in beautiful surroundings. For example, they may relish staying in a 5-star hotel,  decorating their home exquisitely, or dining in a sophisticated restaurant. Likewise, they have very refined tastes, and may be avid collectors of art or patrons of high culture.

This can present a problem for INJs, who see themselves as otherworldly or highly spiritual. They may feel like they should be living a simple life, unencumbered by the trappings of a materialistic society. In an attempt to reconcile their opposing desires, INJs may go to extremes. They may give themselves completely over to Se, trying to attain aesthetic perfection in their surroundings, in they way they look/dress, etc. Or they may completely shun worldly goods, like one INTJ I know, who sold almost everything he owned and now lives out of a suitcase.

Ni can be a powerful tool. It can create elegantly simple solutions to complex problems, or can be the catalyst of incredible creativity. It’s no wonder INJs earn the reputation for being wise, profound, and insightful. retina_favicon1

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Read this: 21 Undeniable Signs That You’re an INFJ 

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  • Patrick OBryan says:

    It never occurred to me there might be another INFJ out there…This is very helpful–looking forward to your book. I would sign this as “Anonymous” if I didn’t think everyone would know it was me.

  • Wow! That part about being so appreciative of aesthetics and yet being torn about being materialistic ring SO true! I’ve always loved beautiful, quirky things and I am constantly wanting to update my wardrobe and even my apartment. But I always feel guilty about buying things and improving my surroundings. Since I feel so much about the world and the people around me, I’ve always felt that I should instead contribute to the greater good and stop being so selfish. I am still reconciling how to appreciate and be surrounded by beautiful things (I am currently thinking of repainting my apartment!) and yet appease my inner empath too. Any experiences and thoughts?

  • Mel says:

    I have taken multiple personality test and most result in INTPs but once or twice that I have taken the test I am somewhere in the INJ club. Reading this I can relate to most or all of what was said. Even though I relate truly with INTP type. I am wondering what this could mean.

  • Sérene says:

    I think being surrounded by beauty and being aesthetically satisfied with my space/appearance calms and centres me. I come home and am able to relax and recharge. When I go out, I don’t have to worry about being comfortable in my clothes or with my hair, etc. because I’ve taken the time to get clothes that fit and look good, and make sure my hairstyle suits me and my hair type. Therefore, I’m more able to be present with other people or give more energy to the world. Self care isn’t selfishness.

  • Katja says:

    Yeah. I find myself doing a lot of thrift store shopping and upcycling. Beauty is important for the soul, but argh, materialism and capitalism’s exploitation!

  • tc says:

    Rings true, but am distracted by the misspelling of dining….

  • Jenn Granneman says:

    Good catch. Thanks! It has been fixed.

  • Because of my Se I seemed to be an extraverted guy for many years. You have help me to understand myself even better. Thank you.

  • Hunter Holy says:

    Thrift store shopping is the way to go for INF’s because one is acquiring items with a history and an aura which already exist in the world and have been discarded and in need of a new home.

  • Brandalynn says:

    I’ve secretly thought of myself as a fraud… a fake… trying to lie to myself. Omg and for so long and Now I see… for absolutely No reason. Omgoodness. Thank you for this. My love for beautiful things. My innate eye for the higher priced exact item. My love and appreciation for structural craftsmanship the bones of a house beauty. And the liking it to being prepared to be present and hairstyles and self care bc it’s all so true. I hate getting dressed , ready to go somewhere when I have nothing that fits. I do not feel comfortable and when I don’t feel comfortable I’m not going to Be fun nor Have fun. That’s as truthful and simple as I can get. I know how I feel in something and it’s not about what everyone else thinks. I could care less if the entire universe loves it on me. If I don’t that’s what matters. How i feel in my clothes does set the tone for how my day night event etc is going to be. Wow… I never realized just how deeply that rings true with me.

  • Laurie says:

    Mel, I have always tested as INTJ, and yet when I read the INFJ information, much of it resonates as well. I think a basic weakness of the whole Myer’s Briggs system is that in each of the 4 categories, all of us are not completely I, or completely N, or completely T, etc. For all 4 categories, most of us fall somewhere on a spectrum between 2 extremes. I know I am TOTALLY an I, for instance, not much E happening. But in the middle 2 categories, I am way more in the middle. Getting put in one neat category oversimplifies us, I believe, when there are often degrees of those traits, not just simply being one, or the other. And to complicate it further, I think we are at times very different in various situations, or roles. At work, I am an engineer, and I think more INTJ. As a mother, I think I was more INFJ a lot of times, and even at work I am at times “too emotional” to be a “good” INTJ. But then as a Mom, I can be too “cold” and “practical” many times to be a “good” INFJ. When it comes to J versus P, I think I’m way over toward the J, not as much P. Those degrees of difference seem very significant to me, as I work surrounded by a LOT of INTJs (mostly male, if that matters). I feel like a “Crappy INTJ in comparison sometimes. But I also don’t have the INTJ weaknesses and blind spots as severely, either.

    I’ve known people who are even more in the middle than me, on one or more factors. I think it’s a little dangerous to put us into black and white, all or nothing categories, when there are degrees to these traits, for most people. And I’m also not saying balanced is better. Being balanced can make you feel as if you’re not succeeding at either of the traits, that you’re somehow failing, as I tried to describe above.

    On just one factor, introversion, I have seen being an introvert further broken down into 4 subtypes – not just “you are or you aren’t”. And I think extroversion might possibly be just as complex. Maybe all the other 12 factors are, too. I’m not a psych person. But I do know a LOT of INTJs, and we are not all cut from the same bolt of cloth! Some are way more out there then others. Some use their gifts for good, and others for EVIL. I read the INTJ stuff, and that’s what I like to see myself as – but I’m not as INTJ as others, for both good and bad. I think for this reason, psych experts are cautious about putting TOO much weight on the 16 types. Picking out an employee, or a spouse, or making major life decisions based purely on that, might be unwise. These types can help us, but they do not describe us entirely, they do not define us adequately.

  • Well well! I don’t like most of Introvert dear tweets because it sounds like they are trying to increase our introversion and emphasize it, while I think they should be telling us how to treat the people around us nicely as we continue to understand ourselves to be able to teach people how to be nice to us.

    However, I find it fascinating that you mention a very important trait about INJs who see themselves as otherworldly or highly spiritual, that they tend to be simple and almost minimalists in their life style.

    I find this to be so true in my case -I’m an INTJ-, because I tend to “… feel the need to ensconce myself in beautiful surroundings”, but in the same time, I fear that those “beautiful surroundings” might make me arrogant, full of myself, and unaware of those who are less fortunate. That’s something I cannot allow to happen, because as a muslim, I believe that I won’t be blessed with god’s paradise if I have arrogance in my heart, even if it was as small as an atom.

    I hope that I can overcome my heart weaknesses one day and enjoy the life without the fear of becoming arrogant, or without forgetting that my god was the one who blessed me with what I have.

  • Scoobner says:

    Marry me! I mean I’m gay and I’m already married, but you get me!