Intuitive and deep-thinkers, the INFJ, or “The Advocate” (or sometimes “The Counselor”) seeks to wholly understand the world around them and bring out the best in each individual.
In this article, we will explore the INFJ in detail so that if you, or anyone you know, has tested as an INFJ, you can have a good understanding of their traits, strengths and functions.
The INFJ, or the Advocate, is one of the of the “16 personality types” that we see in several different models based on the work of Carl Jung. These models include the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and Keirsey Temperament Sorter, among others.
INFJ stands for Introversion, iNtuitive, Feeling and Judging. This indicates that they are a person who is energized by spending time alone, who focuses on ideas and concepts, who makes decisions based on emotions and values, and who prefers to be planned and organized.
An INFJs main method of assessing the people and situations around them is intuition. Since their primary focus is inward, they deal with things according to how they feel about them. The facts of a situation are secondary to how it aligns with their feelings and values.
Other people describe INFJs as gentle and caring. Yet, they see themselves as a highly intuitive and complex individuals. It is extremely important to INFJs to have order and systems in place in their outer world. They spend a lot of time devising the systems that work best for them, only to change them when their intuition dictates that something isn’t right. More than any other personality type, INFJs have amazingly accurate insights into situations and people. It doesn’t take them long to size things up correctly.
They get their nickname “The Advocate” (or “counselor” and “psychic”) because of their natural ability to read and understand others’ emotions. Often, Advocates can understand the emotions of others better than their own. INFJs are intense and soothing and often contemplate the meaning behind each action and plan.
Strengths and Weaknesses of INFJs
INFJs can be secretive and private, allowing only a few people into their inner world. If you can relate, you probably also understand feeling lonely and misunderstood a good portion of the time.
Although INFJs don’t have a large circle of friends, they are very close to the ones they do have, truly treasuring them. The Advocate tends to dread conflict and avoid it at all costs. Unfortunately, this can manifest itself in physical health problems as times goes on. Because they rely so heavily on intuition, it can be difficult for them to see that others have valid points and beliefs as well.
INFJ Cognitive Functions (Functional Stack)
Each of the 16 personality types has four cognitive functions, as introduced by Carl Jung. These functions are the two scales of Sensing-Intuition (used to process information) and Thinking-Feeling (used to make decisions), each of which can be expressed both in an extraverted manner (e.g., displayed outwardly/externally) or an introverted manner (e.g., displayed inwardly or internally). The INFJ has a ‘Ni, Fe, Ti, Se” cognitive stack. However, they are called the ‘NiFe” due to their top two functions. This cognitive stacks means that:
- Dominant: Ni (internal iNtuition) dictates how an INFJ stores information and how they perceive that information. Due to this Ni preference, INFJs tend to store information in a spread out way with all pieces of data having connections of various strengths to multiple additional pieces of data.
- Auxiliary: Fe (external Feeling) is the function that the INFJ uses when interacting with the outer world. It is the way that the INFJ processes their emotions.
- Tertiary: Ti (internal Thinking) allows INFJs to make decisions based on logic and operates internally. This function helps INFJs to fully understand the connections that their Ni function makes outside of the conscious realm.
- Inferior: Se (external Sensing) is the INFJs least developed function. It perceives the outer world as stable, concrete and structured. The Se function allows an INFJ to be aware of their surroundings, be full present in the moment and appreciate the beauty in things.
INFJ and Work/Careers
Most INFJs are highly creative and independent people. They have a natural tendency to seek careers in the arts and science. While these may seem like opposite extremes, it makes sense to many Advocates. An artistic career allows them to express their creative side, while a career in science gives them the opportunity to draw on their intuition to solve complex problems. Service-oriented careers are another good fit for INFJs. Other career possibilities include counselor, psychologist or alternative healthcare provider.
Check out our comprehensive page on INFJ careers to see more job titles specific to INFJs.
The Advocate personality type is the rarest of the 16 types, making up only 2% of the general population. Famous INFJs include:
- Mohandas Gandhi
- Eleanor Roosevelt
- Edward Snowden
- Emily Bronte
- Florence Nightingale
- Shirley MacLaine
- Carl Jung
- Jimmy Carter
- Fyodor Dostoevsky
- Listening to music, building new playlists
- Meditating and deliberately relaxing their mind
- Reflecting on their thoughts and behaviors
- Reading spirituality, psychology, self-improvement, wellbeing books
- Having in-depth conversations with close friends
“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but…from inner necessity.”
– Carl Jung
“If you quietly accept and go along no matter what your feelings are, ultimately you internalize what you’re saying.”
– Noam Chomsky
“You don’t want to say the wrong thing. I’ve seen [people] hurt for years over something that was unnecessary and didn’t have to be said.”
– Al Pacino
“It’s…in my nature to [try to] understand why we are here and communicate with people.”
– Jennifer Connelly
“My life is an indivisible whole, and all my activities run into one another…they all have their rise in my insatiable love of mankind.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
INFJ-A Versus INFJ-T
Those who score as an INFJ (Advocate personality type) will sit somewhere on the identity scale, ranging from assertive (A) to turbulent (T). INFJ-As tend to focus on the positives, often appearing hopeful. They aren’t particularly bothered by the opinions of others, but this can sometimes make them appear insensitive or like they don’t care!
The INFJ-T is far more self-doubting. However, these self-doubts, worries and concerns drive them to be productive, make significant process and learn from their mistakes.
INFJ vs. Similar Personality Types
The ENFJ prefers to have their empathy directed outward toward their loved ones, often in the form of quality time and acts of service. INFJs, on the other hand, are very selective with their affection and more inclined to express their love through carefully chosen words of affirmation.
The ISFJ wants their care recognized in the real world, and can be found baking, knitting, and creating scrapbooks for their loved ones. INFJs help others by giving them their authentic selves and aptly chosen advice, due to their primary function, Introverted Intution (Ni) which can seem visionary or clairvoyant.
The INTJ has a more blunt and professional approach to their relationships, and have deep feelings that manifests as a secret soft side for their loved ones due to tertiary Introverted Feeling (Fi). INFJs are warm and considerate in almost all of their interactions, friends or strangers, due to secondary Extraverted Feeling (Fe).
The INFP values personal harmony first and foremost, and are more aware of what they’re feeling specifically at any given moment. This is due to their primary function, Introverted Feeling (Fi). Since INFJs can be so chameleon-like and adapt to the atmosphere of a social group, they can have a more challenging time deciphering their own emotions.
The Career Project can help you find rewarding work that is well suited to your interests, talents and skills. Browse our career guides to learn about different career options. Or, check out our job profiles, which are informational interviews with real-world professionals sharing their “inside scoop” on what their job is really like.
To learn more about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, read our first post in this series.