INTP vs INFP – The Differences between these Two Personality Types


INTPs (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking and Perceiving) and INFPs (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling and Perceiving) are two personalities that, at first glance, share many similarities.

Both are introverts who usually have a small circle of trusted friends. They are both passionate about their careers and pursuing their interests. They are creative but execute their creativity in different ways. They are also both independent souls who are not afraid to think outside of the box.

In spite of their similarities, INTPs and INFPs perceive the world differently. INTPs are logic oriented. They can imagine infinite possibilities but within a logical and reasonable framework. An INFP sees innumerable options without needing a logical tether to keep them grounded. Also, INTPs are willing to consider different beliefs about the nature of the world while INFPs tend to have a fixed belief system.

INTPs are logical to the core. They approach the world analytically but also use their vast creative abilities and active imagination. They are often intellectuals who value ideas and love to debate the merits of any argument, regardless if they agree or disagree. They do have a difficult time maneuvering their emotional life, however, and may sometimes have issues with interpersonal communication.

Ideal professions for an INTP would be an aerospace engineer, microbiologist, political scientist or psychologist. Famous INTPs include Immanuel Kant, Mary-Kate Olsen, Midori Ito and Rick Moranis.

INFPs are introverts who love people. They are thoughtful and caring and strive to do something meaningful with their lives that will benefit others. They are naturally full of hope and optimism and usually have faith in the goodness of people. They are open-minded and typically possess a live-and-let-live attitude.

Ideal professions for an INFP would be an interpreter, fashion designer, college professor or landscape architect. Famous INFPs include John Lennon, Lisa Kudrow, George Orwell and Björk.

 

What is the Key Difference between INTPs and INFPs?

The biggest difference between INTPs and INFPs is in how they handle emotions. INTPs can be uncomfortable with their own emotions and struggle to understand the emotions of others, while INFPs tend to be very caring and emotionally sensitive by nature.

INTPs vs INFPs – Five Comparisons and Contrasts

Happiness

INTPs and INFPs are both inwardly focused and may need to be reminded to look outside of themselves to find true happiness.

As people who spend so much time immersed in their own thoughts, INTPs may end up feeling disconnected from the outside world. They need balance, socially and professionally, which for some may prove illusive. Here are a few features of INTP happiness:

  • Happiness for an INTP means working at a career and pursing their intellectual interests. 
  • They have a tendency to doubt themselves. 
  • INTPs tend to withdraw from emotionally charged situations. 
  • Learning how to express their emotions is key for an INTP to find happiness.

Like INTPs, INFPs can struggle with feeling like they’re disconnected from others. They may also be haunted by thoughts that they aren’t quite good enough. Even though they possess a natural optimism, they will still tend to dwell on their own weaknesses, sometimes to the point of getting depressed and anxious over what are in reality insignificant issues. To be happy, they need to do challenge themselves and find creative and social outlets. Here are some features of INFP happiness:

  • They tend to be happier when left to their own devices and are allowed to follow their own path. 
  • A lot of an INFP’s self-worth is derived from feeling satisfied in their career. 
  • They need friends who understand them and will not second guess their quirky approach to life. 
  • Self-care is critical for an INFP.

A job that would make an INTP the happiest would be something where they would be left alone and could utilize their logic in an unstructured environment. The perfect job for an INFP would be something without rules or guidelines. They would shine in a supporting role where their caring nature would be an asset.

Decision Making

For different reasons, INTPs and INFPs tend to have problems making decisions.

INTPs are plagued by the “what-ifs” and are particularly tormented by the thought that there are possibilities they haven’t considered. They feel like they must analyze each fact and potential outcome. When they can’t, they feel paralyzed and panicky. The following are a few characteristics of INTP decision making:

  • Making on the spot decisions is almost impossible for them. 
  • Self-doubt causes INTPs to dread making decisions. 
  • They fear a wrong decision might create problems where none previously existed. 
  • They always feel like there must be a better option, one that they haven’t thought of.

INFPs are compassionate and centered around making the best possible decision for everyone involved. They go with what their heart tells them, rather than what logic might dictate. They usually need a lot of time for inward reflection before making any type of decision. The following are a few characteristics of INFP decision making:

  • They don’t like making split-second decisions. 
  • They will strive to make sure that their decision will fit everyone’s needs. 
  • INFPs do better at making decisions when there aren’t many options to choose from. 
  • They will feel a great deal of anxiety if their decision must inevitably hurt someone.

An INTP has been asked to cast a short film with actors best suited for the parts. It wouldn’t take long for her to feel paralyzed. If she chose someone, would that person be right? What if someone else would have been better? An INFP in the same situation would be overwhelmed by imagining the hurt that those not cast might feel. She would want to cast everyone in roles that they’d chosen for themselves, thus making everyone happy.

Appearance

INTPs and INFPs are not likely to spend hours cultivating the perfect look to impress the outside world. They will never appear unhygienic but comfort and individual flair will always take priority over being fashionable.

For INTPs, as long as no one accuses them of being slovenly, they are pretty good to go. Their attention to themselves tends to depend on how they are feeling that day. Sometimes, they’ll feel like putting in more of an effort while other days they’ll just throw on something clean. Here are some INTP thoughts about appearance:

  • In other people, they value personality over physical appearance. 
  • Comfort tends to be prioritized over fashion. 
  • They do have a few nice things in their closet, they just don’t wear them that often. 
  • When they do make an effort, they won’t wear anything flashy.

To an INFP, their appearance is a means for personal expression. They tend to have a style all their own, not necessarily recognizable or understandable to others. On any average day, they won’t spend very long deciding what wear or arranging their hair and makeup. Instead, they’ll throw something together and be on their way. Here are some INFP thoughts about appearance:

  • Their body is like their canvas — it’s a way to express their unique inner self. 
  • In other people, they value personality and virtue much more than their appearance. 
  • If they are preoccupied by other pursuits, they very well might forget about style and just wear whatever is comfortable. 
  • Regardless of what they’re wearing, their hygiene is usually never a problem.

It’s time for senior pictures. An INTP will grab that brand new dress shirt that has been in his closet for over a year. He’ll wear it with dress pants that don’t quite fit, reasoning that no one will see them in the picture anyway. An INFP will want this moment recorded for posterity and will wear three mismatched necklaces, a peasant blouse, glitter boots and her signature bowler hat.

Friendship

INTPs and INFPs both need trust and time to develop a friendship with someone.

INTPs usually have a small circle of friends who tend to share their intellectual curiosity and pursuits. Given that INTPs tend to be distant emotionally and struggle with communication, they need to have friends who understand and accept them regardless. Here a few characteristics of INTP friendships:

  • Getting to know an INTP can be very difficult as they tend to be guarded.
  • They typically have a few loyal and trusted friends. 
  • Usually they share their friends’ values and interests. 
  • They are able to get along with friends who have different opinions because they enjoy lively, intellectual discussions.

INFPs may be introverts but that doesn’t mean they aren’t social. They care deeply about others and form casual acquaintance-type friendships with anybody, regardless if they have anything in common. Like INTPs, they tend to have a small circle of highly valued friends with whom they share their deepest thoughts. Here a few characteristics of INFP friendships:

  • Even though they are very friendly and approachable, it may be hard to become friends with an INFP. 
  • Once an INFP is your friend, they’ll likely be with you for life. 
  • They feel everything very deeply and need friends who can be trusted. 
  • They tend to be so idealistic, sometimes they can be disappointed in their friends.

Barbara, an INTP, has a few trusted friends that she’s known for years. Everyone else in Barbara’s life considers her to be an acquaintance or work colleague. Selena, an INFP, has scores of people who consider themselves to be her friend, not realizing that Selena is just nice to everybody and only has a few true friends.

Anger

INTPs and INFPs are not generally angry people. For different reasons, they would both prefer to keep that side of themselves private.

For an INTP, anger, like any emotion, feels strange and uncomfortable. They strive to be logical and expressing themselves in anger would seem like they were losing control. Here are a few characteristics of INTP anger:

  • Many people who know an INTP will have never seen them truly angry. 
  • When angry, they may become sarcastic and short. 
  • If an INTP is angry, they will need some time to process their feelings alone. 
  • If they learn to deal with their feelings of anger right when they occur, they will be much less likely to explode.

INFPs are emotional by nature, so they are no stranger to anger. However, they are very caring and don’t want to unduly burden people with their own issues. They much prefer to remain positive and will only express anger when it feels unavoidable to do so. Here are a few characteristics of INFP anger:

  • It generally takes a lot to make an INFP angry.
  • INFPs become angry especially when someone has wronged them intentionally. 
  • They often feel guilty after they’ve gotten angry at someone.
  • An apology goes a long way with an INFP.

If someone has wronged an INTP and wants to apologize, an INTP may be suspicious. Are they truly sorry? Have they acknowledged the offense and done something to repair the damage? Is it one of those “I’m sorry you feel that way” fake apologies? Unless it is very sincere, an INTP will not accept it. An INFP, on the other hand, will pretty much take any apology at face value and will be happy to let go of any animosity. 

INTPs and INFPs are innovators, thinkers and doers. If you need an out-of-the-box solution for your issue, you could do well by consulting both of personalities, as they will both come up with excellent ideas that the other might never have considered.

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