So lately you're wondering whether you're an INFP or not. Perhaps you cannot relate so much to what others are saying. Or you have other reasons to doubt your type. I've been there: when I came to the forums I was wondering whether I was an INFP or INTP (hence my username). After a few months of thinking I was an INFP, I figured out my type is actually INFJ. Although I've come to dislike MBTI somewhat and prefer saying I'm an Introverted Intuitive with Extraverted Feeling, or NiFeSiTe. Anyways, I thought I'd line up some points, explanations and sources that might help you further in your search for your type, whether it's INFP or not.
[disclaimer] This thread will not tell you if you are an INFP. This thread is meant to help you decide whether your type is INFP or not. Honestly, there's only one person who can decide what your type is, and that is you.
Common mistakes people make when typing themselves
* I took a type/cognitive function test, it says I'm an INFP, thus I'm an INFP - don't rely on the tests only. They're fairly inaccurate.
* I read the profile description for INFP, I can really relate, thus I'm an INFP - don't rely too much on these profile descriptions either. Sooner or later you'll find that parts of a different profile description like INFJ or ENFP also applies to you.
* I know a certain amount of INFP's and I'm totally like them, I must be an INFP - They may not be INFP's. And because you have similar interests or behavior, share the same type of humor and whatnot doesn't mean you're the same type. Actually, INFP's are pretty rare; knowing more than 5 INFP's is quite unlikely.
* I am not extroverted/outgoing/social enough to be an ENFP or other Exxx type - Introversion and Extraversion as used in MBTI are not determined by how shy or socially awkward you are, nor about how difficult it is for you to make contact with strangers etc.
* I have very strong feelings and emotions - everybody can have strong feelings and emotions. These don't make you an INFP.
* I am disorganized, very messy, dreamy and artistic - any type can be these things.
* I am an INFP with balanced out ("borderline") T and F - what defines an INFP is having strongly developed (differentiated) F and lesser developed T. Not equal T and F.
* Being an xSxx sucks, I cannot be that type, I must be an xNxx - there's a lot of Sensing/Sensation bias going on, on these forums. Seriously, there is no shame in being an S-dominant or S-auxiliary type. What makes you cool is you, your type is only a part of you. Be open for the idea that you're maybe an xSFx, xNTx or even xSTx.
What you need to know
The core problem is: MBTI describes behavioral tendencies based on certain combinations of cognitive preferences, but cognition does not equal behavior.
Cognition = thought.
Behavior = action, doing or not doing something.
Although the way you think can lead to associated actions, you don't necessarily act like how you think. It's as simple as that. Well the real problem is that people try to find their types by going backwards: from behavior to cognition. But really, the order is from cognition to behavior, and frankly, the causal relation between the two is quite a shaky one.
MBTI is based on cognitive functions. Cognition is a mental process. There are two types of cognition on which MBTI is built, *judging* and *perceiving*. Both judging and perceiving are divided in two halves, which are dichotomies - thus not contrasting halves. Judging: Thinking and Feeling. Perceiving: Sensation and iNtuition. We all judge and we all perceive. We all think, we all feel, we all sense and we all intuit. Furthermore, all four cognitive functions are directed a certain way: introverted and extraverted. So in total, there are 8 functions in the MBTI: Te (extraverted Thinking), Ti (introverted thinking), Fe, Fi, Se, Si, Ne and Ni.
According to theory, our preference for those functions have a certain order. Our most preferred function is called the dominant function. Then we have the auxiliary (the second), the tertiary (the third) and the inferior (the fourth). The theory states that the inferior is the other half of a dichotomy, the dominant. Therefore, if your dominant is a T function, your inferior is an F function. If your dominant is an N function, your inferior is an S function. And so on. Furthermore, the direction of the dominant function is the opposite of the direction of the inferior function. If your dominant is Ti, your inferior is Fe. If your dominant is Fi, your inferior is Te. And so on.
Two more statements: the direction of the dominant is opposite to the direction of the auxiliary and the direction of the auxiliary is the opposite to the direction of the tertiary.
In total there are 16 combinations.
INFP = Fi Ne Si Te.
ENFP = Ne Fi Te Si.
INFJ = Ni Fe Ti Se.
ENFJ = Fe Ni Se Ti. And so on.
(The first four functions are more or less accessible to us consciously. The other four, like Fe Ni Se Ti for INFP, are in the "shadow", which is not relevant for explanation right now.)
Based on those 16 combinations, MBTI has come up with 16 types. Basically, they describe what behavior is expected with a certain cognition preference order. But! The problem is that having a certain cognition preference order doesn't always lead to the associated behavior. That makes it possible for you (an INFP) to not only relate to other type descriptions, but it makes it possible that you also feel like the INFP stereotypical behavior doesn't fit you.
Think about it. A type description, full of personality traits, is based on the two ways you perceive information and the two ways you judge information. Add the fact that you're a unique individual, that everybody is a unique individual. Such descriptions are bound to not fit you somehow. So that's why mistakes as described above are made.
Having the INFP cognition preference order is what makes somebody an INFP. Now you can do type tests, which will tell you your type, and you can do cognitive function tests, which will tell you how 'developed' your functions *probably* are, but the catch is the same: the tests 'measure' your behavior, which is not a 100% foolproof method to determine what cognitive function preference you have.
However, taking the tests every now and then and from different sources can give you some hints. For me, doing type tests said I was INFP mostly, but my "strongest" was N, while T and F were "borderline" (this use of strongest and borderline is actually wrong, but for simplicity sake, I'm using those words here).
Having borderline T and F and a strong N is actually a good indication for being an N dominant, since the auxiliary and tertiary don't really develop as much as the dominant function. I wasn't aware of this, so I assumed that I was an INFP with strong T and F in the beginning. But according to the MBTI theory, this is not possible. For INFP's, Fi is the most developed, most strongest, most preferred. Te is the weakest, least preferred - but funnily enough, it makes up for some characteristical behavior (see sources).
Having done cognitive function tests kept giving me blurry outcomes, but at least there was a pattern: N functions high, then F and T, and S at the latest (I have three pictures of my outcomes in my album). Then it was only a matter for me to understand the functions better, to see whether I was an Ne or Ni dominant.
Steps to help you find your type
1) Let go of the idea that an MBTI type is defined by behavior. It is not. It is defined by how you prefer to perceive information and how you judge it.
2) Do a couple of type tests and cognitive function tests at different times of the day. Try to discern a pattern.
3) Read up on the cognitive functions.
4) Don't forget that it's difficult to differentiate how you'd like to be from how you actually are. For instance, people really like the sound of the behavior that is associated with N functions and thus feel the S functions are nothing like them. But in reality, they may be very much more S orientated than N orientated.
5) The inferior function can actually be somewhat reliable concerning the prediction of behavior (see sources).
6) Decide for yourself how you perceive and how you judge information, in order to determine your type.
7) If you're still having difficulties, you may want to head over to the "What's my type" forums: What's my personality type?
After this, you can see why the type descriptions can be so wrong about trying to type you, and you can laugh at them. ;)
Good luck and happy hunting :) and remember that you're more than just your MBTI type. ;)
Other reasons why you might mistype (Enneagram based): Common reasons behind mistyping.
Other reasons for bias: CAUTION: Know your bias.
Cognitive functions (easy): Intro to Function Theory + More Detailed Descriptions of Each Function Attitude
Cognitive functions (easy): How Winnie the Pooh helped me understand cognitive functions (With pictures)
Cognitive functions (hard): JungyesMBTIno's Original Typology Model (very simplified)!!!
Cognitive functions forum: Cognitive Functions
The inferior function description for INFP's: [INFP] Recognizing the Inferior Function in IFPs
The inferior function description for INFJ's: personalitycafe.com/infj-articles/68718-really-me-how-stress-brings-out-infjs-hidden-personality.html
Credits: thanks @Calvaire @kaleidoscope @Loveternity @mimesis @Neverontime