As an ENFP personality, I have questioned whether or not I’m actually an Extravert multiple times. It was incredibly helpful to read the ENFP Survival Guide by Heidi Priebe (she also has one for INFPs!) and discover some key differences between the two. For example, the ENFP is the most introverted of the extraverted personality types. Pretty cool, huh?
During one intense personal crucible, I was convinced my personality type had changed. I bought the corresponding INFP Survival Guide and settled in, determined to master the nuances of my “new personality type”. However, I didn’t see the reflection of myself in those pages, so I picked up my dog-eared copy of the ENFP Survival Guide and boy, did I discover something awesome: I am 100% an ENFP.
If you find yourself in a similar position of questioning whether you’re an INFP vs ENFP, let me walk you through the process I used that led to clarity.
The short answer: INFPs and ENFPs use the same cognitive functions to perceive their world and make decisions. However, these functions manifest in a different order.
A Quick Refresher on Cognitive Functions
Cognitive functions refer to specific methods of processing information and making decisions based on your personality type. They were originally theorized by Carl Jung and later written about in greater detail by Isabel Briggs Meyers. There are eight cognitive functions total.
These functions are oriented outward toward the world of action when labeled as “extraverted” and oriented inward toward the world of introspection when labeled as “introverted.” There’s a deeper explanation in our article Beginners Guide to Understanding the MBTI® Cognitive Functions, so that’s a good place to start.
Here’s where I might lose some of you: regardless of personality type, each and every person prefers two extraverted functions (outward-oriented) and two Introverted functions (inward-oriented). And these four functions operate in a specific order depending on your four-letter Meyers-Briggs personality type.
For example: The four cognitive functions preferred and shared by ENFPs and INFPs are Extraverted Intuition, Extraverted Thinking, Introverted Feeling, and Introverted Sensing. However, they appear in a slightly different order between the two personality types:
- ENFP Cognitive Functions: (1) Extraverted Intuition > (2) Introverted Feeling > (3) Extraverted Thinking > (4) Introverted Sensing
- INFP Cognitive Functions: (1) Introverted Feeling > (2) Extraverted Intuition > (3) Introverted Sensing > (4) Extraverted Thinking
An ENFP is considered an Extravert because they prefer their main outward oriented function (Extraverted Intuition) before their main introspective function (Introverted Feeling). Likewise, an INFP is classified as a feeler because they process decisions based on introverted Feeling before Extraverted Thinking.
We’ll dive deeper into what each of these functions mean in the following sections while helping you determine whether you’re an INFP or an ENFP.
Test No. 1: Act First or Feel First?
For both INFPs and ENFPs, the first two cognitive functions are Extraverted Intuition and Introverted Feeling.
Extraverted Intuition is your idea-generating function. This is why you gain energy in exploring ideas and also why you have the unique ability to consider multiple opposing views at the same time. This function does not like to decide firmly on ideas, but rather generates and explores them.
Extraverted Intuition is the reason you start ten new projects for every one that you finish. It’s the reason you love long-term planning and yet are incredibly impulsive in the short-term. Extraverted Intuition is your tiny little inner madman that keeps you constantly moving forward.
Introverted Feeling is an analytical function. It breaks down each experience based on the emotions felt in order to understand those emotions on a deep level. This function demands authenticity and is why you seek time to be alone with your feelings.
Introverted Feeling is why you can see a deeper meaning to almost everything that happens to you. This is the function that daydreams about a better version of yourself and why you feel such an intense passion toward the people and things you love.
So the deciding question…
Do you act first, generating new ideas for exciting futures and hopping in and out of projects before you process how you feel about it? Or is it difficult to take any action until you first feel strongly about it and only then will you hop into something new?
This is a core difference between ENFPs and INFPs.
ENFPs use Introverted Feeling as their emotional digestive system. They will hop into an experience as quickly as it occurs to them and then retreat inward to break down their emotions and decide how they feel about it.
In contrast, an INFP must first feel passionately about a direction before taking action. After Introverted Feeling checks off on an idea, they will use Extraverted Intuition to spin ideas on how to best take action on their path forward.
Act first, then decide how you feel about it = ENFP
Feel the passion first, then act = INFP
Test No. 2: Which One Makes You Less Comfortable?
The third and fourth functions for INFPs and ENFPs are Introverted Sensing and Extraverted Thinking.
However, the fourth function in any cognitive stack is referred to as our “inferior function” or our “repressed function”. Our fourth function often manifests in unhealthy or counterproductive ways. Unlike our first or “dominant” function, we have to consciously choose to engage our inferior function in a healthy way.
Given this information, you’ll identify with one of the following functions and think that the other doesn’t quite sound like you.
Introverted Sensing is focused on routine and tradition. Its main function is to integrate past experiences into the present and those with Introverted Sensing tend to have excellent memories. This function assumes that the future will resemble the past.
Introverted Sensing is the reason you don’t often repeat the big mistakes of your past. It’s the reason you’re sentimental and, honestly, it’s the reason you’re still alive.
Extraverted Thinking acts as a wonderful executive assistant to other functions. It’s all about order and looks at everything through a results-based lens. Extraverted Thinking looks at where you want to be and then plans backwards to figure out how to get you there. It is incredibly efficient at execution.
Extraverted Thinking is the reason you have a hard time motivating yourself if you don’t see the immediate benefit of what you’re doing. It’s the reason you are surprisingly resourceful when you want something, and it’s excellent at phrasing things in a way that other people have a hard time arguing with.
For the ENFP, Introverted Sensing is the inferior function. Routine and order come less naturally than the resourceful execution of a well-laid plan. For the INFP, the reverse is true.
So the second question to help you determine whether you’re an INFP or an ENFP…
Which function makes you less comfortable?
An ENFP will experience their inferior function, Introverted Sensing, with a little bit of rebellion. This leads them to seek unconventional ways of doing just about everything. The Extraverted Thinking function results in highly resourceful problem solving where an ENFP will believe anything is possible with the right plan.
In contrast, an INFP’s inferior function is Extraverted Thinking. They tend to have an attitude of “individuality before all else” that will keep them from engaging in anything that isn’t in line with their personal values. The Introverted Sensing function means an INFP has a higher attention to detail and retention of facts. They are more likely to be interested in the history or tradition behind their interests.
You resonate more with the resourceful, “screw the system” persona = ENFP
You resonate more with the steadfast, “individuality is more important” persona = INFP
Still Not Sure If You’re an ENFP or an INFP?
Honestly, the best way to tell the difference is to learn more thoroughly the cognitive functions and decide which functions you use most regularly and in what order you experience them.
Do you have follow-up questions about your personality type? Ask us below!