What does it mean to be an INFP? Chances are, you learned your type via an online questionnaire that was masquerading as the Myers-Briggs
Type Indicator®. Maybe your INTJ colleague suggested you take it as a means of improving your time management. Maybe your ENFP sibling read “The ENFP Survival Guide” and has been excitedly spewing out rants about cognitive functions ever since.
Whatever the case, it’s entirely likely that you haven’t always tested as an INFP. Your type—more so than any other type in the Myers-Briggs inventory— lives in a world of identity possibilities. One week you may feel like an industrious and entrepreneurial ENTP, out to revolutionize the world! The next week you may feel like a cautious and thoughtful ISFJ, desiring copious amounts of alone time to reflect and re-organize your worldview. Ironically, this ever-shifting set of identities is one of the key identifiers of the INFP personality. This type comes to understand themselves by first constructing a thousand different identities for themselves—and eventually settling on which one suits them best.
So why don’t online quizzes detect this self-deception? Because they are, for the most part, flawed assessment tools. Online quizzes tend to test not who we are but who we like to think of ourselves as. And they are almost always based on the most elementary type theory—one that pits introverts against extroverts, intuitives against sensors, thinkers against feelers and judgers against perceivers.
The truth about type is that none of those categories are mutually exclusive. The reason you feel like you embody traits of so many different types is because in reality, you are a little bit of everything.
You’re an introvert and an extrovert. You’re an intuitive and a sensor.
You’re a feeler and a thinker. You’re a perceiver and a judger.
But before we delve into the complications of how you embody each of these preferences while still fitting neatly into the four letter acronym of INFP, let’s do a quick refresher on what each of those terms actually mean.