INFJ Versus INTJ: Five Ways to Tell These Personalities Apart

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on August 19, 2020

Those who type as INFJ and INTJ on the Myers and Briggs personality system share a lot of traits and behaviors, which sometimes makes it difficult to tell them apart. This happens because both INFJs and INTJs use Introverted Intuition (Ni) as their dominant function, which means they seek to understand the deeper meaning of life and look for patterns that can help them discover what’s underneath the surface.

No two personality types are the same, however, and INFJ and INTJs will operate differently in many scenarios. Aside from their dominant function, there are important differences in their function stacks to consider. So, even though these types may share similar personality ‘ingredients’, these ingredients combine in different ways to give each type its distinct personality profile.   

INTJ vs. INFJ Differences

If you’re falling into the middle of these types, here are five key differences that may help you to differentiate between the two.

1. INFJs use Fe, INTJs use Te

Though both of these types have Ni as their dominant function, INFJs have Extraverted Feeling (Fe) as their auxiliary function, whereas INTJs operate with Extraverted Thinking (Te). The auxiliary function is like a sidekick to the dominant function, helping the dominant function on its way. 

For INFJs and INTJs, the auxiliary function is an extraverted function, which means it is revealed in how they make decisions in the outer world — it is not just what's happening on the inside. Introverted Feelers, for instance, spend a lot of time reflecting on their own personal values. Extraverted Feelers, on the other hand, are all about supporting, guiding, and nurturing others. The types who have Fe in their function stack value harmony in their relationships and work hard to make sure everyone is on good terms. 

How is this observed? Well, it means the INFJ is that person who, even if deeply introverted, can handle casual chit-chat or difficult conversations when it makes the other person feel at ease. Is it uncomfortable for the INFJ? Possibly, but if the group is happy and in sync, the INFJ is happy too. On the downside, INFJs sometimes take forever to make a decision, because they want to make sure they’re not affecting anyone negatively.

INTJs, on the other hand, are efficiency in a nutshell. Hardworking par excellence, Te-users are the ones you want by your side when a problem comes up, as they’re sure to have a detailed backup plan for every possible scenario. They do all of their Thinking based on facts and logic and are able to set their personal feelings and the feelings of others aside to do the logical thing. 

Fundamentally, INTJs are much more pragmatic than INFJs when it comes to decision-making. You’ll observe an INTJ breaking down a task in small steps, and focusing on the most efficient way to get to their goal. They’re also level-headed in situations where INFJs could easily get overwhelmed. 

Still, this also means that, contrary to their INFJ cousins, INTJs can act a bit emotionally distant, and/or oblivious to other people’s feelings.

 2.  INTJs compete with themselves, INFJs seek self-actualization

As dedicated workers and natural leaders in management positions, INTJs are prone to compete with themselves. These types are often devoted to their professional life or a personal project, sometimes to the point of imbalance. You’ll observe them as being ambitious and eager to produce results, working to perform better today than they did yesterday. Others may describe them as workaholics. 

INFJs, by contrast, are moved by the idea of self-actualization. This means the INFJ seeks to fulfill their personal needs in a holistic, rather than methodical, way. The push is not so much to improve themselves as to be true to themselves, and INFJs will spend a lot of time figuring out who they are and what they stand for; following their own instincts and values in their quest for authenticity. INFJs are very much in-tune with their inner world. Still, this might sometimes lead them to close off from the outside.

3. INFJs feel comfortable talking about their emotions, INTJs not so much

As Fe users, INFJs put great value in expressing their emotions. This doesn’t mean an INFJ will talk about personal matters publicly (they’re Introverts, after all), but they do need an outlet to share their feelings and will usually do so with those who know them well and in whom they trust. In a conflict with a partner, for example, an INFJ will look for a way to express their feelings, so they can move on. Besides talking it out, INFJs can also find writing, painting, and other forms of self-expression useful to work through their feelings.

INTJs, by contrast, have Introverted Feeling (Fi) in their function stack. While they might experience all the feelings on the inside, they don’t naturally feel the urge to express them out loud. In fact, INTJs can feel quite uncomfortable when other people talk about their emotions, or when they’re expected to freely express their own.

4. INTJs are pretty straightforward, INFJs can be more hesitant  

INTJs are usually direct and straightforward in their communication, and generally don’t shy away from asking what they need to do their job well. After all, their main drive is to be efficient, so they’re not that concerned about how people will perceive them, and whether or not they’ll be liked. They just want to get the answer as quickly as possible.  

INFJs have a different approach to communication. First, they often struggle to deliver criticism, as they fear hurting someone’s feelings. Second, they sometimes keep their most precious ideas private until they feel ready to share them with the world. As Fe users, INFJs look for valuable ways to connect with others, so they take their time when making an important decision, pondering how it will affect everyone involved. 

This difference is really obvious in the way these types use language: INTJs speak very precisely and to the point and INFJs speak with more flowery, vague language that will not cause offense. 

5. INTJs love to debate, INFJs avoid heated discussions

As an INFJ who usually gets too emotionally attached in discussions, I admire how eloquently INTJs interact in debate. As Te users, INTJs thrive in conversations that ask for an exchange of ideas and opposite points of view. After all, building coherent arguments is one of the things they’re best at. 

INFJs, on the other hand, don’t have the same ability to keep their cool during a discussion, nor do they handle criticism well. So what do they do? If given the opportunity, they try to escape heated discussions that they know will be emotionally draining for them. 

So if you really can’t tell whether someone is an INTJ or INFJ, strike up a conversation about a really controversial topic that people tend to have strong personal feelings about, like religion or politics. One type will dig in while the other will try to diffuse the tension or remove themselves from the situation entirely. 

INTJ vs. INFJ: The Bottom line

Both INTJs and INFJs share Introverted Intuition in their function stacks, which might sometimes lead to mistyping between the two. But they also exhibit some really obvious differences, whether it’s in the way they communicate, deal with their emotions, or approach conversations. Ultimately, both of these types can learn from each other. After all, your personality type should not be something that limits you, but rather a tool you can use for self-discovery and personal growth. 

Andreia Esteves

Andreia is an INFJ who used to think she was the only person in the world terrified of answering the phone. She works as a freelance writer covering all things mental health, and psychology related. When not writing, you’ll find her cozying up with a book, or baking vegan treats. Find her at: https://andreiaesteves.com/

More from this author...
About the Clinical Reviewer

Steven Melendy, PsyD., is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He specializes in using evidence-based approaches in his work with individuals and groups. Steve has worked with diverse populations and in variety of a settings, from community clinics to SF General Hospital. He believes strongly in the importance of self-care, good friendships, and humor whenever possible.

Comments

Sophie Schmitt (not verified) says...

Hi Andriea,

Thank you for the well written and informative article! My type pre-kids was more squarely INTJ (based on testing) and moved into the INFJ zone as I became more expressive about feelings and emotions through the experience of motherhood and being around more emotional people. I now identify way more with INFJ after reading this. I do believe that personality can change, at least incrementally, with environment and life experiences. 

Andreia Esteves says...

Hi Sophie,

Thank you for your comment :)

Yes, I agree with you personality shifts do happen over time. 

Author CeCe Monét (not verified) says...

Thanks Andreia. This article definitely described me as an INTJ to the fullest, even though I think I had more INFJ tendencies when I was younger. This article also helped me understand how to better interact with my INFJ friend. Thanks again, this was very helpful and informative.

Andreia Esteves says...

Thanks, Cece! I'm glad it was helpful and that resonated with you :)

dawn k (not verified) says...

Thank-you for making this clear for me.  I tested INTJ years ago, but after reading this, I really identified with INFJ descriptions.  Is it possible I bounce between the two depending on the circumstances?  or have I just learned more about expressing feelings over the years & added it as a skill?  I really hate hurting others' feelings but it does drive me nuts that they can't see the logical answers.  Thanks so much for this article.

 

Andreia Esteves says...

Hi dawn,

Thanks for your comment :)

Your type dictates your own innate preferences, not your behavior. So, it's only natural that, depending on the circumstances, you'll act differently.

With that said, as we grow older, acquire new experiences, and work on the weaker traits of our type, is possible to see some personality shifts. 

Luigi (not verified) says...

That sounds like you are indeed infj. Even though infjs' extroverted feeling is strong, they tend to use it to understand others and be private with their emotions unless they feel comfortable revealing them. This makes them appear cold to those who don't know them closely. Just like intjs, infjs consider logic and sense very important, but the significant difference is that infjs will try to explain why they are right in a compassionate way that is comprehensible to the other person, whereas intjs don't feel bad when they bluntly smack the truth over someone's head.

Linda (not verified) says...

Thanks for this article, and I agree with the personality shifts.  After I read this, I wondered if you also have done (or somebody has) a comparison on other types.  For example, I, being an ENTJ, worked with an INTJ.  I often thought she seemed the same as me, and wondered if we were both ENTJs.  After observing her, however, in different situations, as you explain in this article, I became convinced she was an INTJ.  I just think it would be fun if someone did the comparison with those two types (and others?).  Concerning the personality "shifts"--as you call them-- I first learned of the Myers/Briggs types through the book, Do What You Are by Paul and Barbara Tieger They have a chapter on developing our abilities over time, and give the ages where we develop our weaker, or less comfortable, preferences (p. 84).  For example, while I started out in life as a predominant thinker, and struggled with expressing my feelings verbally or written, I now have feelings which I do express much more easily (I now even cry at movies).  My husband, an ENFP, seemed the opposite of me in that regard when we were dating and early married.  Now, he is much more easily using his thinking preference.  We have virtually flip-flopped; I have become more like he was, and he, more like I was. I would not say my personality type has changed, but I have seen how, because of my type, I have followed the age timeline in developing my weaker preferences, and it really does make sense.  I would recommend this book to any reader who is interested, as it has remained my first and favorite--for many other reasons besides this one-- of type books.  Thanks for “listening!”  

Andreia Esteves says...

Hi Linda,

Thanks so much for your comment and for the book recommendation.

 I'll definitely check it out! :)

 

Uditha Sandaruwan (not verified) says...

Hi Andriea,

Thank you very much for your neatly fabricated article... I was tested INFJ years ago, but kept reading articles and doing tests on random websites as I struggled my whole life to find and express myself... And I find your article is pretty much like a definition of my introverted lifestyle often found mysterious by others...

Hehe, BTW, I just needed to express my emotions to someone who understands the struggles of an INFJ.... Thank you again :-) This article really helped me to understand my INTP bestie...

(and it's really funny because it took me almost an hour to write this little comment)

Andreia Esteves says...

Thanks for your comment, so glad it was helpful! :)

Landon (not verified) says...

Hi! I'm not sure if I'm INFJ or INTJ still. I'm a nurturing person, but when it comes to debates, I'm actually very calm. I only feel anxious if people start to get angry or yell, but otherwise I enjoy exchanging intellectually stimulating ideas just for the fun of it. I've tested as a INFJ 5w4 on the mbti and enneagram, but I admit that I'm more selfish than other INFJs. I'm less motivated to go out of my way to help others and I've been called stingy by others. I'm not sure if I'm INTJ or not because I also tend to be sluggish and am not great at breaking down goals and actually getting there. I think I have Introverted Thinking because just recently, I've become obsessed with reading books about how to become smarter because I feel like I've spent my past 12 years being dumb and hardly knowing anything about stuff. I also like to learn how things work and just knowledge for knowledge's sake. The only reason I'm not INTP is because my Fe is still too developed to be inferior due to the fact that I have good social skills and am pretty polite and I like to plan out my life instead of just winging it. I'm also not as mentally mechanical as they are although I wish I were. Maybe I'm an INFJ but my 5w4 just makes me less emotional or generous. I'm not sure if I'm a Judger because I'm not as ambitious and hard-working as well as the fact that my room is always a mess. Though I work hard on frivolous things like powering-up my character in an RPG videogame. :P (Btw I'm 17 years old.)

Piper (not verified) says...

Holy shit. Are you me? Every single thing you stated applies to me as well, and I'm also unsure of where I fall. I don't know if I can express my relief at seeing someone who has had this same issue.

Andreia Esteves says...

Hi Landon,

Thanks for your lovely comment :)

To the point of being more selfish than other INFJs, I just wanted to say that I completely understand that. As a teen, I felt that way too, and sometimes still feel today. There were so many changes going on in my life when I was 17, that it seemed like there was no way I could make room for other people's needs. Still, the fact that you're aware of that shows you have more generosity, and consideration in you that you probably give yourself credit for. 

That said, mistyping happens, and as we grow up and older we can also see some personality shifts

Mimi3210 (not verified) says...

I seem to fall right in between the F and T types. I'm excellent at analytical thought and being practical and stragetic. At the same time, I'm very aware of the feelings of others and try hard to communicate in ways that are nurturing and empowering to others - even though I am also pretty straightforward and not hesitant, I try hard not to be hurtful. I don't mind exchanging and discussing ideas, but don't like competitive/combative debate at all. I'm not as much into self-actualization for it's own sake, more for the idea of making a positive impact in the world (in tangible ways). So in short, I see equal parts of F and T in myself... not sure how that squares with your thinking. 

Andreia Esteves says...

Hi Mimi,

I'd point you to this article, hope it's useful! :)

Danusa (not verified) says...

Very enlightening article indeed, Andreia! After reading a few articles on INFJ x INTJ differences, I'm fairly convinced I'm right in the middle. Cause I'm in love with efficiency and organization, but I need to find a greater meaning in everything I do, otherwise I'm not motivated at all. I'm definetely not warm or nurturing, but I'm highly empathetic, sensitive (although I keep it inside) and read ppl's feelings are one of my best skills. I love debating ideas on a rational and philosophical level, I never hide my thoughts to avoid conflict and I have the hardest time respecting an incompetent authority or nonsensical rules (no wonder why I'm an anarchist). I'm a straightforward decision-maker at work, but not so much in personal life. My criticism sometimes is as blunt as it can be (it always IS in my head, and I constantly need to filter it), but I handle other ppl's criticism very badly, feeling deeply hurt, reliving it over and over again, what sometimes get me caught in ppl-pleasing circle. I love discussing other ppl's feelings, but rarely feel confortable to discuss my own. What can this be?

Andreia Esteves says...

Hi, Danusa! Have you taken Truity's TypeFinder test? I'd recommend it as it shows not only what type fits you best, but other types that match your answers. If you're still confused after taking the test, I'd point you to this article

Jason (not verified) says...

Thank you for the helpful article. I always test midway between INTJ and INFJ. I think my F/J is situational in the tests. But this piece helped me realize that I'm really INFJ and have been growing more F as I age and have to manage teams in my career. I think I was more T as a child, which shaped my outlook and gave me more T tools.

Andreia Esteves says...

Thanks for your comment, Jason. Glad to know it was helpful :)

Mirak (not verified) says...

Great article! 
I am really confused whether I'm an INTJ or INFJ because I seem to fall in the middle of every description of them, even when reading about the cognitive functions (which I only recently started learning about). I always test as an INTJ, no matter which test I take (and I've taken quite a few), but I can't truly seem to understand Te or the stereotypical descriptions of INTJs being "cold"... On the other hand, Fe-users' awareness of making people feel comfortable is very relatable. I even tend to be so people pleasing I end up exhausting myself all the time. It's important to me that no one thinks I don't like them (except if I REALLY don't like them, lol). But I'm not sure if my "people concerned" trait is just related to the fact I grew up in a family where I was constantly reminded to "be kind, always" and "think of others before yourself" and learned from a young age that pleasing other people was the best way to avoid conflict and especially for avoiding being excluded by my peers. On a side note, I also struggle with mild PTSD, so I'm not sure if that affects my way of behaving around others and being more people pleasing so to avoid another traumatic experience.

So many INFJs seem to truly care about other people on an emotional level. They are often described as empaths, absorbing other people's feelings and truly wanting to help others. But I am no empath. I am trying to show compassion when someone is sad, but only because I know it's what you're supposed to do. I know this might sound harsh, but I couldn't care less about other people's personal feelings. I feel nothing when people close to me are crying. I just do what I know is right in a given situation, even if being kind all the time is extremely exhausting. 

I also fit into both the INFJ description of "being true to oneself" and the INTJ description of "improving oneself". One of the main things that keeps me going is trying to improve myself and the things around me, for example by reducing the amount of things I own and instead owning that ONE thing that can do it all, lol. But I'm also constantly aware of how to be true to myself (especially over the last few years) and expressing myself in my style, interests and behaviour. 

Am I just an unhealthy INFJ? Or a very Fe-aware INTJ (if such a thing exists)? Or could this be related to an INTJ Ni-Fi Loop? 

Andreia Esteves says...

Hi, Mirak! There's no way I can know for sure, but based on what you describe, you sound like an INTJ to me. 

However, if you're still confused about your personality, check what other types show up as good matches for your answers in Truity's TypeFinder test. I'd also point you to this article. Hope that helps :)

Jilly Eily (not verified) says...

Hi, Andreia!
English is my second/third language, so if there are mistakes, I apologize. I also can't decide whether I am an INFJ, or an INTJ. I've been studying mbti for more than a year and a half or 2 years. Although I'm 16 now, I think I still tend to develop fluctuate between different ways of thinking.
Personally, I always thought that I was an INFJ, although sometimes there were doubts. It's hard for me to say no, but I think I'm gradually learning to say it. And when I say no, it seems to me that I'm acting like a selfish, even though I understand that this is common selfishness and I don't owe anyone anything. But because of this, many people now think that I'm kind of "thinking about myself." Therefore, during exams, my classmates ask for help through my friends so that they send an answer to them. Sometimes I'll say I don't care, send it. And sometimes I feel so sorry that my work, which I spend a lot of time on, is simply written off by others and requires a great assessment. And also, as an INTJ, I don't really like to talk about emotions. If my friend says that she cried all night, and if I also did the same, then I will keep silent about myself, and ask her what the problem is, how she feels now and will support emotionally.And I'm even a little uncomfortable when others talk about their emotions, and I'm always silent about myself. And even my friend asked if I was crying at all. I really feel like I'm absorbing the emotions of others. So that's all that about INFJ suits me. But sometimes it seems to me that I am sometimes too different to be an INFJ. How do I know what exactly suits me? Or am I really INFJ, just behave differently every time in situations? If you read this, I will be very grateful. I tried to write less, but even that seems too much. Still, thank you! And I will be glad if you answer me.

Andreia Esteves says...

Hi, Jilly! There's no way I can know for sure, but you do sound like an INFJ to me. 

If you're still confused about your personality, check what other types show up as good matches for your answers in Truity's TypeFinder test. I also have to say that, as a teen, it's only natural that your personality will change, and evolve overtime. I'd also point you to this article. Hope that helps :)

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