Many years ago, I took my first Myers-Briggs assessment and got INTJ. I was proud of this result. The INTJ is nicknamed “the mastermind” and “the architect.” Being an INTJ seemed pretty great, in a “take over the world with your genius” sort of way.
But as I learned more, something seemed off. I didn’t fit the “cold, robotic” stereotype of the INTJ. I’m a sensitive person who’s been known to cry openly, scrawl overdramatic poetry, and wear my heart on my sleeve.
It wasn’t until many years later that I took another test and got INFJ — a result that really fit.
Not sure if you’re an INFJ or INTJ? Here are five ways to tell them apart.
How the INFJ and INTJ Are Different
1. INFJs consider personal needs, whereas INTJs focus on efficiency.
The INFJ’s and INTJ’s differences come down to their cognitive functions. According to MBTI theory, cognitive functions are attitudes that can be expressed in either the inner world or the outer world.
In order from most dominant to least dominant, the INFJ’s cognitive functions are:
- Introverted Intuition (Ni)
- Extroverted Feeling (Fe)
- Introverted Thinking (Ti)
- Extroverted Sensing (Se)
The INTJ’s cognitive functions are:
- Introverted Intuition (Ni)
- Extroverted Thinking (Te)
- Introverted Feeling (Fi)
- Extroverted Sensing (Se)
INFJs and Intjs share the same functions, except their feeling and thinking functions are reversed. This is the root of their differences.
Fe naturally helps INFJs tune into people. Like other FJ types, they read body language, tone of voice, and emotional expressions well. Perhaps because they absorb the emotions of the people around them, they strive to keep morale high and “the feels” positive. They generally consider how their decisions will impact other people, taking into account personal needs and preferences. They ask, “How will this choice make people feel? Is there a chance it will hurt someone?”
At their best, INFJs are compassionate, sensitive leaders who put the needs of the group first. At their worst, INFJs are people-pleasing martyrs who burn out quickly and sacrifice their own happiness.
INTJs, on the other hand, take a more objective approach to decision-making. They ask, “Does this process make sense logically? What are the specific steps needed to accomplish this task, and what is the most efficient way to get there?”
For example, let’s say an INTJ and INFJ are planning a road trip. The INTJ would likely focus on how to get to their destination quickly and efficiently, making as few stops as possible.
The INFJ cares less about “making good time” and instead will focus more on personal needs, morale, and comfort. The INFJ may plan a scenic detour, lunch at a nice restaurant, or a playlist to keep the good vibes flowing. These things probably aren’t on the INTJ’s radar — and may even be seen as a waste of time.
2. INFJs appear warm and approachable, whereas INTJs are more business-like.
Because INFJs are more tuned into people, they generally appear warm and friendly (although a bit lost in their own heads — they are introverts, after all!).
INTJs come across as more business-like. Social pleasantries and personal conversations tend to bore them. They’d rather get down to the task at hand than talk about your day. They may come across as rude or overly blunt without intending to. To them, they’re simply protecting a valuable resource (time) and speaking the truth as they see it.
3. INFJs are more comfortable with emotional expression, whereas INTJs avoid it.
Due to the extroverted nature of their feeling function, INFJs feel comfortable putting their emotions out into the world. However, being introverts, they probably won’t gush or weep publicly. Instead, their feelings are usually reserved for those who know them well, as well as their writing, art, or even social media posts.
Without an outlet for their emotions, INFJs will have a hard time making sense of them. They may feel “plugged up,” directionless, and unhappy.
For example, in a romantic relationship, INFJs will feel better after talking through their feelings about a conflict with their partner. It releases the emotions and the INFJ is able to move on.
The INTJ’s feeling function is introverted, so they generally feel uncomfortable talking about their emotions — or listening to others talk about theirs. Unlike INFJs, who enjoy conversations of a personal nature, INTJs tend to stick to more “objective” topics, like current events, politics, science, or history.
If you pry too much into INTJs’ personal lives, they may become defensive or withdraw. Only under the right circumstances, and with someone they trust, will INTJs show a glimpse of their inner emotional world — if at all!
4. INFJs believe opinions should be kept private, whereas INTJs thrive on spirited debate.
Because the INFJ’s thinking function is introverted, they generally believe that personal values and opinions should be kept private. For example, an INFJ would likely avoid talking about religion, politics, or other controversial topics, due to their divisive nature. (Exceptions would be when an INFJ is in like-minded company or feels very passionate about righting a moral wrong.) If a discussion becomes heated, INFJs may try to ease the tension or remove themselves from the conversation entirely.
The opposite is true for INTJs, because they “extrovert” their thinking function. They enjoy a healthy exchange of ideas, because strategizing, philosophizing, and constructing logical arguments is what Te does best. They rarely get personally offended when the conversation becomes heated. They are better equipped than INFJs to deal with criticism, constructive feedback, and disagreement.
5. INFJs work holistically, whereas INTJs work methodically.
When sitting down to work, INFJs are more apt to let Fe guide them, flowing from one task to another, as they feel inspired with emotional energy. INFJs tend to see their work (and life) in a holistic way — everything is connected to everything else. Because of this bird’s eye view, they can hit upon things that no other type can. INFJs have a vision of the undivided whole that not even INTJs can get at.
INTJs are more prone to working in a methodical and linear fashion. They break tasks into sections, complete each section before moving on to the next task, then arrange all the sections into the whole.
The best way to discover your personality type is to take a reliable personality test and to learn more about the cognitive functions.
Keep in mind that personality type describes general characteristics. We all act “out of character” sometimes. Our behavior changes somewhat depending on the circumstances — and as we grow and mature.
Personality type is not meant to be a box that limits you, but rather a tool to help you grow. INFJs can grow by being a little more “INTJ-like.” INTJs can grow by seeing the personal, emotional aspects of life as valid, too.