ENFP vs. INFP: How to Tell Them Apart15 February 2022 / By Kim Jacobson Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on February 15, 2022
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!
Yuri Hoshi (not verified) says...
I am an ENFP, and I have an INFP sister. Those that have met us can definitely tell us apart. My sister can come off as a little shy and soft, and may prefer showing her feelings rather than talking about them. I have no trouble speaking my mind or hanging out in large groups, and I don't need much time alone to decompress.
Clay Conner (not verified) says...
Thank you for the article and the insights. I still feel like I'm in the middle of both, and it's where I spend most of my time struggling. When did you know you wanted to be a writer? I'm a software company client services manager. I hate about 70% of the work, but it pays well. I feel like I don't honor who I really am most of the time.
Katleen (not verified) says...
Do you know if it is possible to change in time from INFP to ENFP through experience and personal work on oneself?
EvaLotta (not verified) says...
This was very interesting. I have been between INFP and ENFP not able to decide which one is my personality type. I am unable to start a project that I don´t feel resonates with me or I feel passionate about. At the same time I have problems relating to the Si-part. But I see I think a lot about the past and also I am very sentimental. So yes, INFP it is. Thank you for this clarifying article!
June (not verified) says...
I did my original Myers Briggs test in a hard copy booklet, then we trotted up our scores for the prof to take and classify. I recall that my introvert/extrovert answers were within a point of each other and did wonder how that affected the outcome. It came out ENFP but taking it online some years later it was INFP (and generally swings back & forth now technology makes for accessibility).
My question is, as the initial trait sets up the rest, what the heck am I? Either the introverted thinking or the extroverted thinking, for example, can each or both apply depending on the day and the given situation 🤷♀️
In the meantime, I call myself an Ambivert on the rare occasions it come up in conversation.
Bram (not verified) says...
I like the ring of being an ANFP,
I might be one myself. However after reading this article I'm leaning more towards ENFP. Mind that ENFP's are still the most introverted of the 8 personalities that start with E, so they're on that edge of ambivert/introvert.
Pixel Zebra (not verified) says...
@june I COMPLETELY agree I’m pretty sure I got 60% extroverted on my test or something but I’ve known myself as an ambivert for a long time not even just in the context of the Myers–Briggs test I just happen to be slightly more extroverted ig but I notice it to be weird because around people I don’t really know I’m an infp but around my friends I’m the loudest person ever like an enfp it’s weird because it seems to have changed over time but the test still gives me the same answer. Idk either lol 🤷♀️ I might go and retake this test.
Caroline (not verified) says...
Thank you for this article! One of the most clear and comprehensible ones I’ve seen. I was just having a moment of wondering if i was ~actually~ an Enfp after knowing I was an infp for probably ten years. And this helped me clearly realize, that I am in fact still an infp lol.
Shasta Jones (not verified) says...
I took the test for my favorite cat and he was an ENFP. This surprised me. Then I took the test myself and I was an ENFP. Clancy was the best pet I'll ever have! He's gone now. I miss him. Interesting that we tested the same.
Kiara (not verified) says...
I love your thoughts! 💕 I understood the difference of the two better. Is it possible for you to talk about the differentiation between ENFP and INFJ? I'd love to read that. 🥰
Ako (not verified) says...
Still can’t tell which of two I am, because both are true:
« Feel the passion first, then act = INFP » usually I won’t do something before feeling passionate about it.
« You resonate more with the resourceful, “screw the system” persona = ENFP » I’m often being labelled as a « rebel » and I find conventional ways boring.