I have for a long time found it difficult to grasp the difference between INFJs and INFPs. I am assured they are very different beasts, but I find that a lot of other people seem to be as confused as I am and a lot of people mistype as an INFJ but later realise they are an INFP.
I know there's a lot of great threads out there about this but there's quite a few of us still getting confused. What I thought might help would be to look at specific examples and traits rather than the very interpretable abstract descriptions of cognitive functions that are usually given. Obviously we can go into cognitive functions here as well but I wanted to stay away from these in this particular post to see if we can create a kind of easy guide to distinguish the types by. Often, I feel like I can relate to all the cognitive functions, we all use them after all, but find it almost impossible to decide which ones I use the most. This is the purpose of trying to find particular characteristics that may be a useful way of identifying the types.
"There's something rotten in Denmark"
This was the phrase in a type description that convinced me I was an INFJ - "accurately suspicious of other people's motives". This was something that had characterised me and marked me out against others for years. I now know that a few types have this intuitive ability and it isn't as clear cut as I thought. I assumed that INFJs, like me, saw a con artist or unhealthy relationship coming a mile off and distanced themselves until it all blew over. I have now found out that many INFJs have that gut reaction but give them a chance anyway - something I only do with great discomfort and wariness, much preferring to just stay out of the way until their "dark side" comes out and they're rejected from the group.
Questions: Is this trait useful for distinguishing between INFP and INFJ? I had assumed from my experience with people I have amateurishly typed as INFP that they were unable to judge character in the same way I do because they seem to trust people who seem obviously untrustworthy to me (though I often find others don't see what I see, even if I think it's blatant). But have I got this wrong? Do INFPs read motives? If so, do they ignore them? What is the difference between the INFJ and INFP when it comes to judging and reacting to character?
Personal values vs social values
This is the part of the cognitive function descriptions I can't get my head around. What would be really useful for me, and maybe others, would be if you could explain how you can tell whether your value system is personal or societal? Can your personal value system mimic societal values? Some parts of cognitive descriptions almost make it sound like the INFJ falls in line. The INFJs on this forum don't seem that way to me and I'm certainly not like that. The INFPs on the other hand sound individualistic and rebellious when you read about Fi, but is this necessarily true?
My amateurs way of trying to understand this: (I've used the word inconvenience here to show that it is not a deeply emotional situation, in which the types may react differently).
INFP values are more important than any inconvenience that may beset others
Boss tells them off for not wearing the standard black shoes at work in a non-customer facing role. INFP is irritated by the stupidity of the rule and feels genuinely angered. May complain about this to friends or even rebel at work. Upset at being asked to fall in line, become robotic etc.
INFJ values others' experiences above their own convenience
In the same situation, this particular INFJ also thinks the rule is stupid. No customers are going to see you, it doesn't matter. But this boss is going to keep having a go and there's nothing I can do about it. Anyway, they're only shoes and rules are rules.
Questions: Is this a correct reading of the types?
Occasionally you hear that the INFJ may feel the INFP is selfish for putting their own values above others. You may also hear INFPs say that INFJs are oppressive in pushing society's values on others. But this is a confusing trait to see in yourself, I think. It may appear from the descriptions that INFPs are more likely to stand out in the crowd than INFJs, who want to "fit in", but it seems from this forum that this is simply untrue (and may in some cases be the other way round....)
I myself have things that are important to me that I can't stand down on. One of these is the idea of taking care of my image. I am frequently told that I should make an effort on how I look for the benefit of others. However, I find it difficult to understand why anyone gets upset about another person's image (I'm talking cosmetic only, I'm very hygienic!). If you're going out with someone and you don't like how they look - go out with someone else. If something was bothering me, I wouldn't expect the other person to try harder, that's not fair on them and they may grow to resent it, I'd just leave. I suppose you could say that my (personal?) value system is "do what you like so long as no one else gets hurt or offended". So there you go. Personal or societal value system? Could be either, it seems. Perhaps I just don't understand why other people are offended by someone not taking care of their appearance - in which case, this would be Fi right?
This is my most individualist trait and has caused me to wonder about being an INFP, but it seems to be this may be a misinterpretation of the two types.
Can anyone describe, preferably with examples, what is meant by individualism when talking about an INFP vs INFJ? Am I on the right track by thinking down these lines?
I'm considering this a myth. INFJs are not necessarily tidy and INFPs are not necessarily messy. However, would I be right in saying that INFJs are likely to have a five year plan and INFPs not? INFJs will feel anxious if they wake up on their day off and they don't know how they're going to use it. INFPs would feel good if they woke up on their day off and didn't have plans - now they can go wherever the wind takes them. True or False?
These are all the ones I can think of right now. So someone let me know if I'm thinking along the right lines and I know the cognitive functions are helpful for some people so add some info here if you like. Add other examples of behavioural differences with specific circumstances if you can to help us pin this down.