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The Myers-Briggs type indicator (MBTI) is basically a personality typing system that groups people into 16 groups, based on where they fall on each of four scales-- Extroversion versus Introversion, iNtuition versus Sensing, Thinking versus Feeling, and Judging versus Perceiving. The idea is basically that the way that these preferences interact are keys to particular personality groupings. (Learn more here.)

If you want to take the test yourself, this is a very short version which basically involves a simple choice for each of the dichotomies. This is a more in-depth test. Either way, the test is supposed to just give you an idea of where you belong; reading the descriptions is used to figure out what personality type you are.

Some people take this very seriously; others think it's hogwash. I think it's intriguing, especially because I'm such a clear and strong type. (Many people are fuzzy or intermediate on one or more of the scales; I always end up very strongly INFP.) Because of that, I can see a lot of truth in the type descriptions, which sometimes provide interesting ways of seeing myself. I understand how people who are less clearly typed can be frustrated by MBTI tests. But although some people say that type profiles are like horoscopes and you can see yourself in all of them, most type descriptions do not ring true with me at all, and even the ones that are close still don't fit me like INFP does. But this, of course, doesn't mean that every characteristic attributed to INFPs fits me. There are always a couple of things in the profile that make me think, "No way, that's not me."

Anyway, as I've said, I'm INFP, or Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving. The one-word description of INFPs is usually something like Idealist, Questor, or Healer. For INFPs, personal values and ethics are very important. INFPs care passionately about people and causes. INFPs feel like their lives must have some sort of deep meaning. INFPs tend to be quiet and reserved and dislike conflict. INFPs seek to improve the world and themselves. We are estimated to be about 1% of the general population.

Here's some more information about my personality type, excerpts and links to longer profiles:


People of this type tend to be: quiet, reserved, and kind; deeply passionate, sensitive, and easily hurt; loving and dedicated to those close to them; creative, original and imaginative; curious and flexible in small matters; nonconforming. The most important thing to INFPs is their is their deeply held beliefs and living in harmony with their values . . .

Their natural tendency to identify with others, compounded with their self-sacrifical dispositions, tends to leave them confused as who they really are. Their quiet personalities further feed their feelings of depersonalization. The INFP's quest for self-identify then seems even more alluring - but increasingly impossible to attain.



. . . see the purpose of their lives as an inner journey, quest or personal unfolding
. . . guide their behavior by a strong inner sense of values, rather than by conventional logic and reason
. . . the people they prize the most are those who take the time to understand their values and the goals they are working toward
. . . have a rare capacity for deep caring and commitment--both to the people and causes they idealize
. . . quietly push for what's important, and rarely give up



As INTPs tend to have a sense of failed competence, INFPs struggle with the issue of their own ethical perfection, e.g., perfo rmance of duty for the greater cause. An INFP friend describes the inner conflict as not good versus bad, but on a grand scale, Good vs. Evil. Luke Skywalker in Star Wars depicts this conflict in his struggle between the two sides of "The Force." Although the dark side must be reckoned with, the INFP believes that good ultimately triumphs . . .



INFPs are highly intuitive about people. They rely heavily on their intuitions to guide them, and use their discoveries to constantly search for value in life. They are on a continuous mission to find the truth and meaning underlying things. Every encounter and every piece of knowledge gained gets sifted through the INFP's value system, and is evaluated to see if it has any potential to help the INFP define or refine their own path in life. The goal at the end of the path is always the same - the INFP is driven to help people and make the world a better place . . .


INFPs are flexible and laid-back, until one of their values is violated. In the face of their value system being threatened, INFPs can become aggressive defenders, fighting passionately for their cause. When an INFP has adopted a project or job which they're interested in, it usually becomes a "cause" for them. Although they are not detail-oriented individuals, they will cover every possible detail with determination and vigor when working for their "cause".

When it comes to the mundane details of life maintenance, INFPs are typically completely unaware of such things. They might go for long periods without noticing a stain on the carpet, but carefully and meticulously brush a speck of dust off of their project booklet . . .

INFPs are usually talented writers. They may be awkard and uncomfortable with expressing themselves verbally, but have a wonderful ability to define and express what they're feeling on paper. INFPs also appear frequently in social service professions, such as counselling or teaching. They are at their best in situations where they're working towards the public good, and in which they don't need to use hard logic.



INFPs have the ability to see good in almost anyone or anything. Even for the most unlovable the INFP is wont to have pity.

"I must have made the acquaintance of Satan and Shylock at about the same time, for the two characters were long associated in my mind. I remember that I was sorry for them. I felt vaguely that they could not be good even if they wished to, because no one seemed willing to help them or to give them a fair chance. Even now I cannot find it in my heart to condemn them utterly. There are moments that I feel that the Shylocks, the Judases, and even the Devil, are broken spokes in the great wheel of good which shall in due time be made whole." (Helen Keller, The Story of My Life)



INFPs have a need for perfection in connection with their personal values. They become frustrated with those who dwell on trivialities.

INFPs need a purpose beyond the paycheck. They become burned out easily if their job does not fit their value system; they may not feel good enough about what they have achieved and, as a result, may undervalue themselves and their contributions.

In retirement, INFPs need to look back and feel that they have led a worthwhile life that has made a difference.




The INFP internally feels his or her life intensely. In the relationship arena, this causes them to have a very deep capacity for love and caring which is not frequently found with such intensity in the other types. The INFP does not devote their intense feelings towards just anyone, and are relatively reserved about expressing their inner-most feelings. They reserve their deepest love and caring for a select few who are closest to them. INFPs are generally laid-back, supportive and nurturing in their close relationships. With Introverted Feeling dominating their personality, they're very sensitive and in-tune with people's feelings, and feel genuine concern and caring for others. Slow to trust others and cautious in the beginning of a relationship, an INFP will be fiercely loyal once they are committed. With their strong inner core of values, they are intense individuals who value depth and authenticity in their relationships, and hold those who understand and accept the INFP's perspectives in especially high regard.



INFPs can lose themselves in a project and ignore the realities of life around them when working on a cause they believe in. They are sensitive to interpersonal tension and tend to avoid conflict whenever possible. They have trouble letting go of things and often hold grudges. Because they only see the good in the people they care about, they run the risk of being disillusioned and easily disappointed.



INFP's look at humanity at both the individual (human-to-human) and societal levels. One common discouragement for INFP's is that societal change often seems impossible. When INFPs become discouraged, they may need some time and space to rediscover their values and a sense of inner peace. The conflict between their ideal world and "reality", as they see it can cause depression or withdrawal from the world unless they have people that support them in their projects.



Last updated 5 September, 2002


Intellectual Property Rights denounced by Britt Gordon-McKeon, 2002