The INFP personality type is characterized by Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Perceiving personality traits. People with INFP preferences are sensitive and imaginative. They are curious, compassionate, and non-judgmental.
INFP types seek to understand others and the world around them. They are individuals who are interested in forging their own path in the world. They also gently encourage and support others to do so. Authenticity is the hallmark of an INFP person.
The INFP personality type is relatively common among the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types. 7.9% of the population are INFPs.
INFPs are guided by a deep-rooted set of core values. Ignoring or compromising those values would feel intensely challenging for an INFP. It’s vital to INFPs that they can speak their truth. Creative, progressive, and inclusive work environments are likely to be a better fit than traditional, hierarchical organizations.
People with an INFP personality type like mission-driven projects that will bring positive change to the world. INFPs like to understand the big picture so they can appreciate the impact their contribution is having. INFPs are happy to tackle more routine or mundane tasks so long as what they are doing is purposeful and aligned with their values.
INFPs tend to present as quieter, more reflective individuals. They are highly sensitive to the environment around them. They have a vivid, imaginative inner world, but they don’t always reveal that readily. INFPs crave creative freedom. Allowing INFPs the space and time to dream will allow their passionate, inventive ideas to come to life.
People with the INFP personality type desire to be of service. Their work needs to be purposeful, and they look for regular validation that they are creating a positive impact. Their sensitivity and kind-heartedness extend to their workplace relationships. They are considerate and loyal colleagues with no interest in conflict or workplace drama. They value deep conversation and authentic connection.
Like all of us, INFP personality types have intrinsic traits that influence their motivation for working in a certain way and within specific work environments.
At F4S, we’ve identified 48 unique traits that influence motivation and energy levels. Understanding these traits can help you choose job roles, cultures, and workplace environments that will enable you to thrive.
These preferences are intrinsic. But we don’t always have the luxury of finding a workplace or way of working that exactly matches our needs. Coaching can help you build skills and resilience when you need to perform in a work environment less suited to your preferences.
Our 8-week coaching program, ‘Vital Wellbeing’, can help INFPs develop their emotional resilience. This can help them thrive in workplaces less suited to their preferences. It can also help them stay true to their personal values while protecting their own well-being.
INFPs are thoughtful and genuine colleagues. Typically private, they are likely a quiet and unassuming teammate. INFPs are curious and love trying to understand the world around them. They value deep and meaningful discussions with their colleagues and are tolerant of all other viewpoints and perspectives.
People with an INFP personality type need to feel purposeful. They will try to determine how tasks are linked to the bigger picture. They may also spend time lost in their own inner world, building visions and fantasies of the positive impact they are creating. Their need for sense-making and tendency to daydream can prove frustrating for more action-oriented colleagues.
INFP’s empathetic and kind-hearted nature means they’re the first to offer a listening ear to teammates who are struggling. They feel others’ emotions almost as keenly as they do their own. INFPs will do everything they can to create a caring and harmonious workplace. They don’t seek recognition, but positive feedback makes them glow. Equally, their sensitivity means they find criticism very hard to bear. They will retreat from conflict into the comfort of their own private reverie.
INFPs’ rich imagination makes them original and insightful. They are happy to tackle tasks independently or as part of a small team committed to a shared goal. With enough creative freedom, they can lean into their desire for self-expression and inspire novel ways of doing things. But don’t give INFPs too much latitude. Without some structure, INFPs are prone to procrastination and absentmindedness.
INFPs are dreamers with strong personal values. Like all the personality types, INFPs can be found in a range of careers and industries.
People with the INFP personality type thrive in roles where they can express themselves and present their authentic selves to the world. Careers in the creative arts can be a good fit for INFPs. Having a sense of purpose in their work is also extremely important to INFPs. This, combined with their sensitive, caring, and non-judgmental nature, means INFPs also do well in social work and healthcare roles.
Top career matches for INFPs include:
INFPs can be sub-categorized into assertive or turbulent identities. These identities affect all of the four elements that make up an INFP personality type.
Within the constraints of their overall type, assertive identities tend to be more confident and sure of what they have to offer the world. Turbulent identities tend to be less certain about their contributions and may question the value of their ideas.
These two sub-categories bring a little more nuance to elements of the INFP personality type. For example, all INFPs are individuals who care about speaking their truth. They are free spirits who value space to daydream and reflect.
All INFPs are idealists. INFP-As use their innate moral compass to connect to careers and experiences that drive a positive outcome for others and the world. INFP-Ts also have this ability, but they can also be prone to turn the magnifying glass on themselves.
If they compromise their values, even slightly, INFP-Ts may judge themselves harshly. If they can learn to treat themselves with kindness, they can turn this tendency into a positive, however. It encourages them to continually strive for excellence and can result in amazing achievements.
Both identities care deeply about authenticity. INFP-As feel confident presenting themselves just as they are. They are influenced less by the opinions of others and are happy to make decisions independently. INFP-Ts are more sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others. This can make them feel overwhelmed at times, especially if those viewpoints conflict with their values.
But this heightened sensitivity also brings deep emotional intelligence. Their greater empathy can make INFP-Ts better team players than INFP-As, and they may enjoy easier colleague relationships.
Given these nuances, let’s look at how some of the careers we mentioned above might suit the two identity sub-categories:
INFPs thrive in mission-driven careers that connect to their values. They need to feel purposeful. They are much more likely to pursue a career that enables them to make a meaningful contribution rather than a well-paid job that leaves them unfulfilled.
However, there are some high-paying career options for INFPs. For example, some science and healthcare roles are well-paid. The average psychologist’s salary is US$120,176. Licensed clinical social workers can earn US$75,972, and occupational therapists US$93,305.
Roles within the creative arts can be either poorly or exceedingly well paid depending on the level of recognition earned. For example, the average salary for fashion designers is US$61,929, but famous fashion designer Tom Ford has an estimated worth of US$500 million. The average creative director role earns US$137,441.
Other highly-paid options include
At F4S, we don’t think about strengths and weaknesses the same way as the MBTI test does. We believe that strengths and weaknesses look different depending on the situation. We prefer to look at what motivates you vs. what drains your energy. These elements might overlap with what Myers-Briggs describes as strengths and weaknesses, but not always.
For example, perhaps (like many INFPs) you love to generate novel ideas and present unconventional approaches. Blue-sky thinking and brainstorming activities allow you to shine. Your open-mindedness and tolerance mean you embrace and value your colleagues’ diversity of thinking. You excel when your work is aligned with the organizational mission so you can clearly identify how you’re making a difference.
Unfortunately, your organizational culture is hierarchical and formal. Rigid processes are held up as a model of productivity. There’s little room for self-expression. The layers of bureaucracy make it difficult to see how the work you’re doing links to meaningful business outcomes.
You feel disappointed that the reality of work doesn’t match your vision. Your manager doesn’t give you space to be creative and sometimes reprimands you for daydreaming. Your strengths don’t have a way to shine.
Equally, perhaps there is something you love doing, that motivates and energizes you, but you’re not very skilled at it yet. It might not be considered an innate ‘strength’, but you’re way more likely to enjoy your career choice if you can find a job with some elements of that activity.
That said, here are some INFP ‘strengths and weaknesses’ as listed by MBTI:
Would you like to learn more about MBTI? Help uncover the unique talents of MBTI using our evidenced-based motivational work assessment. F4S is conducting research to build upon the existing understanding of MBTI personality theory. Take our survey.
Our Myers-Briggs personality type offers insight into our likely preferences for how we work and what kind of careers we might enjoy. However, it’s important to note that any personality type can be successful across all industries and job roles.
Our preferences may mean certain types of work and work environments are more challenging for us, but if you’re highly motivated to pursue a particular career path, there’s no reason you can’t excel.
Motivation is personal and complicated. There can be both internal and external drivers for motivation. Increased self-awareness helps you identify the internal traits that drive your preferences for how, where, and when you work.
At F4S, we recommend starting with our free self-assessment to unlock insights about where your talents lie and how you can best harness your preferences to create a satisfying and successful career.
However, sometimes there are also strong external motivating factors. For example, a lucrative pay packet, comprehensive benefits, or the ability to work from a specific location.
External motivations may result in you working in an environment that jars with your intrinsic motivation. Personal development programs and coaching can help you rachet up the skills needed to excel when working in ways less suited to your preferences.
So, if there is something you’re excited about trying, you should definitely explore it, even if your MBTI result suggests you might be better suited to something else.
INFPs are highly empathetic. They crave meaningful relationships and are honored when others turn to them for help. They care deeply about authenticity, both in the way they present themselves to the world and from others.
They thrive in calm, creative, tolerant workplaces where everyone is given a chance to voice their opinion. Highly competitive, metric-driven, or volatile workplaces will feel unsettling to an INFP. They may become overwhelmed if there’s no space in the workday for creativity or reflection.
Given this, some roles typically have work environments or approaches that may be more challenging for INFPs. Remember, this list is just a guideline of job types you might not enjoy or may find draining. It doesn’t mean you won’t excel at them.
The following careers may be less suited to INFP personality types:
Here at F4S, we’re fascinated by what motivates people. When considering leadership, it’s important to reflect on these three particular traits:
If you enjoy power and control, you will likely thrive in a leadership role. A leadership position may feel isolating if belonging is important to you.
INFPs enjoy control, but they are not controlling. Having the freedom to live according to their personal values is incredibly important to them. They may assume that leadership positions will enable them to work with more creative freedom and autonomy.
People with the INFP personality type aren’t interested in holding power over others. They are open-minded and curious to explore diverse viewpoints. This means INFP leaders treat their subordinates as equals and value all thoughts and contributions that are brought to the table. They prefer making decisions through consensus rather than forcing their opinion on the team.
INFPs are authentic leaders. They wouldn’t compromise their moral code to get a leadership position, and they present their true selves irrespective of what their job title says. Deeply idealistic, they possess a quiet determination when leading others to achieve meaningful goals.
Empathetic and supportive leaders, INFPs genuinely care about the well-being of their subordinates. They are quick to lend a listening ear and provide help and guidance when required. They empower their team and encourage them to listen to their own intuition when deciding on a way ahead.
INFP leaders have a vision of a trusting, harmonious work environment. They can become despondent if reality shatters this illusion. They may struggle to mediate conflict, set expectations for the team, or offer developmental feedback. More practical, action-oriented subordinates may become frustrated if they feel the team lacks direction.
Our eight-week development program, ‘Personal Power’, can help INFPs feel more confident holding positions of authority and making difficult decisions. This program is personalized to work with your innate preferences helping you to lead with greater effectiveness irrespective of personality type.
INFPs tend to be quiet and introspective. They are focused on their internal world and rich imagination. They are highly creative and have a clear vision of how things should be. They will happily share their perspective with others they trust.
People with an INFP personality type are also incredibly tolerant of others’ viewpoints. They value the positive impact diverse thinking can have on a project’s outcome. It’s important to INFPs that everyone gets a fair chance to offer their input.
INFPs are supportive and caring colleagues. They are emotionally intelligent and attuned to the environment around them. They can often pick up on people’s moods without them needing to articulate them. And, if they feel they can help, INFPs will happily do what they can to improve things without expecting anything in return.
INFPs thrive in harmonious work environments where everyone is aligned to a shared goal. They appreciate flexibility from their teammates about how they approach their work tasks. INFPs are deeply committed to their responsibilities, but they are focused on the outcome, not the process. They prioritize the big picture and might sometimes need their more detail-oriented and organized colleagues to keep them focused.
From JRR Tolkien, the British writer, to Bjork, the Icelandic singer-songwriter, INFPs are recognized for their creativity and desire for self-expression.
Here are some famous INFPs:
Editor's note: Do you recognize yourself in any of these famous people? Are you secretly nodding along, going, "I always thought I was just like Bjork?" Whether you are or you aren't, don't worry! This list is meant to be fairly light-hearted. It is based on traits and behaviors observed in our favorite celebs rather than in-depth research. After all, it's unlikely anyone actually put Vincent Van Gogh through an MBTI test!