INFP vs. INTP: How to Tell Them Apart

This is a pair of kooky, tireless rebels (not by choice, but by nature) who give no attitude to rules or regulations, and happily march to the beat of their own drums. Honest and unapologetically individualistic, they have zero interest in abiding to the system or fitting the mould.

Fiercely independent and innovative, they’re no strangers when it comes to depression or anxiety. They’ll crumble and crash under strict deadlines, constant scrutiny, or torturously specific details. As Intuitive Perceivers (NPs), they prefer large-scale thinking without constraints or a definitive end result.

Since the types share the same auxiliary (Extraverted Intuition - Ne) and tertiary (Introverted Sensing - Se) functions, they can uncannily resemble each other at first glance. That’s because their respective primary functions (Introverted Feeling - Fi, Introverted Thinking - Ti) are identical.

From the most to least dominant in strength, here are their respective function stacks:

INFP:

  • Introverted Feeling (Fi)

  • Extraverted Intuition (Ne)

  • Introverted Sensing (Si)

  • Extraverted Thinking (Te)

INTP:

  • Introverted Thinking (Ti)

  • Extraverted Intuition (Ne)

  • Introverted Sensing (Si)

  • Extraverted Feeling (Fe)

And below are some clues to help you tell them apart.

1. Fixed Morals vs. Open to Interpretation

The INFP values authenticity above everything else, and abhors cognitive dissonance. Their moral compass is stone-cold rigid, even if they appear carefree and tolerant toward others’ opinions. They will not budge, no matter how compelling the arguments might be—the most important factor of consideration is their own feelings and stances about a topic. They can nod or listen attentively, as they respect differing opinions, but won’t sway from their securely anchored values. They say what they mean, and mean what they say.

The INTP is far less grounded in this sense — and will likely have a intricately blended worldview spanning several philosophies or religious doctrines. This naturally makes them especially drawn to agnosticism, as it may seem illogical to confirm anything subjective and unable to prove (or disprove). Debates can get very heated, but their stances can definitely get shifted if the arguments are convincing enough.

2. Fiction vs. Non-Fiction

Inner worlds of INFPs are bursting with colours, dreams, and fantasies. They’re especially drawn to stories with complex, intriguing characters that defy expectations (due to primary Fi). In video games, this means interesting storylines that evoke emotion and resonance. The most important part of any media is to identify with a part of it and see how it can play out and intertwine with their lives.

INTPs, in contrast, prefer non-fiction as there are no complicating feelings and a slew of relationships to figure out. They may find their noses in a science magazine, glossary or appendix of a textbook. (Heck, maybe even the dictionary or thesaurus.) They’re also suckers for in-depth, well-researched opinion pieces, as they’re open to differing viewpoints. With fiction, they’ll appreciate if there are some real-life elements integrated into the plot. How-tos and walkthroughs are also right up their alley.

3. Hidden Fear of Self-Sabotage vs. Incompetence

The INFP is fiercely loyal (a ride-or-die kind of friend) and has a deep-seated fear of losing loved ones through conflicts or the slow, gradual process of drifting apart. Separations and changes hit extremely hard for this idealistic type. Without the opportunity to express their true self and putting on a mask, they will begin to combust internally, until an explosion ultimately arises. These wounds, contrary to the adage, pierce more deeply with time and unless transferred to a safer outlet (e.g. journalling or art) — the pain may resurface years later. Healing happens when they realize the past can be reframed as a lesson and brighter days lie ahead.

The INTP, on the other hand, will get stuck and become frustrated when they believe they’re wasting their potential. Sometimes this shows up as arrogance or a sense of “I-know-it-all-already” in immature cases and will incessantly defend their intelligence due to the lack of self-efficacy and confidence. They may withdraw and seemingly shy away from debate (and people in general) when they want to protect their ego, which may get out of hand in unhealthy types. When their intelligence is undermined or thrown under the bus, they’ll go ballistic internally (but remain calm and collected on the surface).

4. Under Stress: Workaholic vs. Emotional Wreck

The grip function of the two types differ drastically. When both are under extreme conditions, they’ll behave in a way unnatural to their natural preferences. As for the INFP, common behaviors include excessive working, exercising, or socializing to distract, numb, and block out whatever’s on their mind. This may present itself to those unknowing of the true situation as a burst of productivity or motivation, when in reality, it’s a defense mechanism linked to escapism.

The INTP has the potential to erupt with anger and may even cry a river during times where Ti, Ne, and Si have all failed in the grand course of events. Desperate measures now enter the scene. Extraverted Feeling (Fe) as mentioned before, will be quite underdeveloped and forge a good fight. They will hit the “isolate self from everyone” button faster than you could blink, and may develop a hefty case of trust issues along with the stress.

5. Creation vs. Analysis

Creativity paired with eccentric ways of thinking are hallmarks of these two types. However, their execution is quite different. Although both highly process-focused, the end result is quite different. The INFP’s tattoo of happiness has authentic, conscious creation etched in it. The ongoing process of self-discovery and creativity is one that fulfills their souls. And you bet they’re in it for the long run.

Analysis is next to synonymous with INTPs as they’re constantly in their heads, thinking. Gathering, streamlining, and critiquing data is right up their alley and they’ve got a sharp eye for illogicalities. Although they may enjoy creating things out of the blue, their true skill lies in thinking objectively (for all you psychology enthusiasts — it’s the second cognitive processing route) without being clouded by emotions.

6. Comfort vs. Anti-Boredom

Soft, tangible things draw INFPs in like moth to flame (their choice of partners, however, may not reflect this). Warm hugs, adorable animals, and stories that tug at their heartstrings are what make their world go round. Their tertiary function, Si, marries with primary Fi to be loyal lovers of the common good and inner joy.

Losing a sense of their bodily needs is all too familiar with INTPs. Whether it comes to comfort, they are much more lenient and nonchalant. Often times they’ll be oblivious to their health until they come face-to-face with warning signs. They seek mental novelty, throwing themselves in different directions to avoid succumbing to boredom. This stimulation could, however, be helpful when their interests strongly align with their work or studies.

Closing Thoughts

The mighty world of inventions and progressive thought would be lacklustre without the open minds and creative talents of the INFP and INTP. They may spend a longer time carving out their path and finding their happy place in the world, but once they do — watch out — it’s full steam ahead!

The striking similarities and intriguing differences between the two types could potentially create a powerful team that withstands the test of time. With the power to focus intensely and become modern autodidacts, it’s an exciting era for the INFP and INTP to flourish and thrive in.

Lily Yuan

Lily Yuan is a personality psychology writer who tests as INTP and constantly questions her type. Learn more and reach out at www.lily-yuan.com.

Comments

Anne165 (not verified) says...

INFP here! #3 is spot on.

Lizard (not verified) says...

This is 100% true! I'm an INTP and in some situations and moods an INFP, especially when I was younger..

Jenice Lumo (not verified) says...

Fixed morals or open to interpretation:

"This naturally makes them especially drawn to agnosticism, as it may seem illogical to confirm anything subjective and unable to prove (or disprove)."

I have to dissagree with your proposal here. Being open to interpertation, It Naturally draws them to ask questions, seek all possibilities, and reasonings. While they may find many possibilities, and reasons why people believe what they do, and hessitate to subscribe to what ever just feels right automatically,  it is not a personality tendancy that makes them become agnostic or a believer

A personality does not shape ones reasoning, but can determine how a person applies his reasoning.

An INFP may just as easily have values that they feel they must be agnosticic, despite any logical arguments against it.

Likewise an Intp can hold strongly to a moral belief system while exploring other world views, which fuels them to ask and explore and futher help them understand more philosophies. With out naturally shifting thier moral ground. 

The personality tendancys do not naturally lead one to belief or non belief, but they do determine how a person understands or what reasons they give for the beliefs they they choose to respond to. 

 

Danny D (not verified) says...

A well written article, though maybe you can elaborate on your statement about INTP being drawn to agnosticism. Are you suggesting that an INTP who isn't agnostic isn't really being true to themselves?

You write, "...As it may seem illogical to confirm anything subjective and unable to prove (or disprove)."

"Seem" is probably the key word here, and your intent by it is unclear - is this simply you being sensitive to others that aren't agnostic, or do you mean that it only seems to be illogical on the surface, but when one thinks things through, one may discover that having a more solidified opinion about the world is not only tenable, but refreshingly logical as well?

If the latter is true, then there would be no reason that INTP would natrually be drawn to agnosticism, unless INTP it is all about SEEMING logical without actually BEING logical, which I doubt. 

Thank you 

Justin Chew (not verified) says...

I can definitely relate to the 4th point for INFPs. It felt like it was misinterpreted as someone who was dedicated to working for them whereas the matter of fact was that I felt like I needed to catch up, the mentality that I was not good enough for them.

Diane M. Fanucchi (not verified) says...

This article feels right on. Nice representation of the important distinctions.

I am an INFP, and I could relate strongly to most of it. I'll just add two provisos. 1. I have mixed feelings about only one of the dichotomies -- the T/F, because I definitely identify as a thinker. The difference is that I think and analyze constantly, but I'm much more interested in ideas and personal truth than in 'hard' data. Facts have an important place, but by themselves, they can be boring and not tell the whole "truth." As we all know from watching courtroom dramas, facts alone can distort the truth and even change it into a lie.

Clearly, I tested correctly, because I identify much more strongly with the INFP personality than with the INTP, as presented in this article. 

2. The article seems to present us as almost narrow-minded and stubborn when it comes to values. But for me, and probably most of us, those values I choose to live by are non-negotiable because I've chosen them after much thought and research and deeply believe they are right and important. So staying with them is a matter of integrity, not inflexibility. And as you brought out, integrity is primary for INFP's, and I'm proud of that.

Lolaaa1 (not verified) says...

Choosing a value after much thought and analysis is INTP lol INFP are black and white regarding their morals, they don't "think" about morals, they select morals based on how they "feel" towards it /l

BeretBeats (not verified) says...

I have to disagree. As an INFP (I've related to every other INFP point on this article as well), I do my best to be open minded about everyone else's beliefs and in doing so my worldview becomes quite muddled with the inclusion of so many other worldviews.

 

However, there are certain unmoveable values that I hold dear, each of them relating to authenticity and individuality in some way. These issues are.blacj and white for me at my core and I will strongly defend them.

James Dean (not verified) says...

Being an infp/intp doesnt mean all of this is true. In general it is, but individuals arent as simple. You can be leaning more towards intp, and you'll be an intp, even though you exibit some of infp behaviours.

AnnieSLC (not verified) says...

I found this article because I have CHANGED from INTP (70% T) to INFP (55% F) and the differences between the two are illuminating and resonate deeply. Thank you!!

Kay (not verified) says...

As someone who has tested for both of these, I can really see how the differences play out in my life.

like, I'm a huge fiction fan, but I also love analyzing things in fiction like sci-fy science and stuff. I also am very unaware of my body like 1/2 the time (adhd does that to you), but when I am aware of it comfort is a big deal. I also just cannot be bored. Like ever.

and I feel like my values are either rigid or whatever depending. Like I don't really care about it or I have an opinion that can't be changed.

idk this was just very interesting to read as someone who is a mix!

melbob72 (not verified) says...

I’m an INTP or ENTP - haven’t decided yet - and have a friend who is a textbook INFP. We get on alright but our personalities often clash, and I don’t have this problem with anyone else. 

For example, today we were talking about voting tactically and she said “why don’t you just vote for who you want to vote for?”. I responded saying I didn’t have a good chance of winning if I did that and you have to be tactical about it (game theory and all that) and she seemed very annoyed about it (“I’ll use my vote how I want. Politics is an evil game and I want no part of it. Yadayada.”). In turn her lack of recognition of any kind of logic or recognition of the facts - particularly the constant stubborness and unwillingness to hear anyone out - annoyed me. Also labelling politics as an “evil game” may be valid but doesn’t change the fact that it exists and you’re not doing anything to make it go away or change. 

Do INTP and INFP personalities often clash? I tend to get on pretty well with most of the others.

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