How to tell the Difference: INTJ vs INFJ

How to tell the Difference: INTJ vs INFJ

Loads of people get it into their heads that the sole difference between INTJs and INFJs is that the latter are sweet and kind while the former are complete apathetic jerks. Unfortunately, this assumption is based on stereotypes and doesn’t include the jungian functions at all.

In my experience, there are plenty of both types that defy the stereotype beyond reason, to the point that MBTI-Typers who go based on stereotypes are bound to get them wrong.

This type of behaviour can also be observed if you watch Sherlock.

INxJs share two common functions: dominant Ni, and inferior Se. As a result, it’s easy for the two types to relate to one another on many levels.

Dominant Ni

Ni dominants are…it seems the most likely to get existential depression as children. I had it, Ender Wiggin certainly had it etc. the reason for this is that Ni doms are rigged for pattern recognition and philosophical thinking.

They will both be prone to existential crises (aka, frequent midlife crises) during childhood and youth, that most people don’t experience until they hit 40…mostly because INxJs think too much.

Both INTJs and INFJs are big-picture, future oriented, but also have a narrow goal focus. Both are likely to be ambitious and are known for picking out career paths as very young children. They are likely to be disciplined and so focused on their goals that they often fall prey to the absent-minded-professor syndrome, in which they forget to eat, wash or take care of themselves because they’re so focused on their goal.

In the case that the INxJ doesn’t have a grand life-vision (and this does happen), the INxJ will likely be quite unhappy with their life and…immature for an INxJ. The reason for this is that the life-vision constitutes a major portion of the INxJ’s dominant function, and when a dominant function is neglected, the results tend to be negative. Take a look at Thomas Barrow from Downton Abbey if you want a picture of what this looks like.

INxJs are good at predicting the future intuitively and usually like to plan ahead to keep themselves safe from danger.

Both are extremely good at strategizing, because they notice patterns so easily and then form logical conclusions about those patterns.

Inferior Se

I’m an INTJ and one of my room-mates is INFJ. Both of us notice immediately if any of our belongings get moved, whereas our two other Si-using roommates never notice if their stuff gets moved. We both are incredibly aware of our environments and are more likely to sit down and watch a sunset than our Si-roommates.

We’re also more coordinated than our Si-roommates. I will often sit for hours working out a philosophical problem, and upon solving it I will promptly leap up and over furniture to get to the kitchen because I was so focused that I forgot to feed myself. It seems to amuse my ENTP and ESFJ room-mates quite a lot.

I have also been known to dash for auto-lock doors before they closed because I didn’t want to unlock them to go through. They like to call me an undercover ninja. My INFJ room-mate has attained the reputation of undercover CIA agent.

Both INTJs and INFJs will likely be visual learners and will either need to write things out or draw them to learn them properly.

INxJs are prone to zoning out of reality for long periods of time, so that they live a great deal in their heads. When working out a complicated problem, I tend to be unaware of most of what’s going on around me unless I’m specifically using my environment to solve the problem.

If it’s a hands on problem that uses external evidence, then I’m readily tuned to details in my environment and ready to use them to my advantage. On the other hand, it it’s a theoretical problem that doesn’t involve empiricals, I completely forget my physical environment exists.

When I’m in this zone, I miss all kinds of crazy things –loud things even.

Auxiliary Function: Te vs Fe

Understanding of People

They both understand people extremely well, but they do so using slightly different function combinations. Both will use Se to observe people, feeding their Ni with fairly accurate ideas of people and situations before they can prove it. They tend to reach equally accurate conclusions, but the difference lies in their Auxiliary function.

The INTJ will reason out logically what a person thinks and feels using Te (after the NiSe does its magic) and will be able to accurately describe what a person feels and why they feel that way AKA Speaker for the Dead. Ender Wiggin can accurately know pretty much everything there is to know about a person before being able to prove it (NiSe), after which he hacks into all their computers to prove his conclusions with actual evidence (Te).

On the other hand, you have INFJs, such as the 8th Doctor, who can pinpoint equally accurate ideas of people, after which…he does nothing to logically back up his conclusions. “Don’t be sad, Grace,” he’ll say, but have no evidence as to how he knows this. He’s good at figuring out his enemies’ motivations simply by being in the room with them. He simply observes (Se), and then simultaneously intuits and reads people’s emotions (NiFe).

I have been accused of being a telepath before for knowing things about people that they had never spoken out loud. In times past, I considered myself a sort of Speaker for the Living, because I would write tributes to different people that I heard others judging so that those people could be understood for who they were and not who they appeared to be on the surface.

INTJs will be more organised (Te), but strangely less able to keep a schedule than INFJs because the INFJ’s Fe will give them a greater desire to follow rules and keep social norms, such as not being late to class. INTJs will more likely prioritise their theoretical thought processes than their schedule.

In my mind, a schedule translates to a trivial, but stressful priority.

Communication Style

The Auxiliary function will also dictate how they communicate.

The INTJ is likely to be blunt (Te), and if not blunt, sarcastic. When they speak, they will either sound like a complete pessimist, or an unrealistically idealistic person. The reason for this is that they want to find the absolute truth, and believe themselves to be utter realists. What most people hate about this, is that they’re usually right in their predictions.

Two examples. I was on a car trip across-country with my family and ended up in the middle of nowhere with no gas. Somehow, I intuitively knew we would be fine, and while my family was complaining about how we were doomed and going to be stranded out there until someone came to help us, I was telling them we would be fine.

You can imagine no one wanted to believe me, and…what they all felt when they found out I was right.

Example two: is the deplorable situation when I know everything is going to go completely wrong, and everyone else wants to believe everything is fine. Of course, my Fi need to be absolutely true to myself leads to me wanting to speak only the absolute truth. Naturally, I can’t help speaking my predictions and sounding like a pessimist. In the moment, everyone complains about what a downie I am, and after my prediction comes true, they all avoid my gaze.

The INFJ on the other hand, is more likely to try to sugarcoat their predictions so that they sound nicer and less pessimistic to non-realists. The INFJ will be more accommodating in their communication style, still sarcastic, but less sardonic.

In general the INFJ’s Fe will make them more approachable than INTJs as they will be more charismatic and accommodative, whereas, if the INTJ doesn’t want to talk to you, they willx just ignore you.

When it comes to arguments, the INTJ will more likely try to convince you using logical appeals, whereas the INFJ will use emotional appeals.

Te vs Ti

While both the INFJ and INTJ are goal-oriented, the INTJ will be more likely to realise those visions because of Te action-orientation. As a result, if either of the two is least likely to change majors in college, it’s the INTJ.

Both types will have Ni ambition and visions for their future, but INFJ (Ti) may spend more time analysing it and less time realising it, whereas the INTJ (Te) will focus on achieving their goals whatever the momentary cost.

The INFJ is likely to analyse the information he/she gains extensively (NiTi), while the INTJ will use the information to accomplish something (NiTe).

INTJs are more likely to talk out loud about their thoughts/feelings than INFJs are (Ti vs Te). They’re likely to talk out loud to themselves or write their thoughts in addition to maintaining a constant interior dialogue.

INFJs will most certainly maintain a constant interior dialogue, but don’t often voice it out loud, preferring rather to work through their thoughts in silence (Ti), or through writing.

While both types can be equally introverted, they will show it in different ways. The INFJ will be nice and socialise with people in public (Fe), and the INTJ will probably avoid this (though this isn’t always the case), but will talk to you quite a bit in private (that is, if you get close enough that they feel comfortable talking to you all the time).

Fe vs Fi

Both will be introspective, but in different ways. The INFJ will not easily understand his/her emotions, but will feel them intensely (Fe), and will try to analyse them (Ti). The INFJ will embrace his/her emotions and use them to benefit (or hurt) other people depending on their motivations.

The INTJ will understand his/her emotions extremely well and will analyse them (TeFi), but will be afraid of them, and will try to bury them (lower Fi) rather than embracing them. INTJs will often repress their feelings, to the point that they question whether they have feelings at all. The main way that an INTJ’s F function shows up is through principles. INTJs often have resolute principles and moral standards that they refuse to budge from.

INFJs will be more visibly emotional (Fe), while INTJs will be the people who have a resting-hate-face that doesn’t accurately portray what they’re feeling.

Inferior Se presents a likely annoyance towards traditions, however, INxJs handle this annoyance differently.

I have a loathing for traditions that is much Fi is more pronounced than my INFJ roommate’s minimum annoyance, because my Se is coupled with Fi and hers is coupled with Fe. FiSe is much more likely to make nonconformity into a strict moral code that is lived and embraced, whereas FeSe is likely to subconsciously maintain nonconformity if at all, but generally try to accommodate all people.

The INFJ will feel other people’s emotions and be affected heavily by them. Often, the INFJ will even be weighed down by all the emotions they are carrying around with them. They will often internalise other people’s feelings while misunderstanding their own feelings.

The INTJ will not feel other people’s emotions, and although they will likely understand both their own feelings and the feelings of others, they will often detach from both. Thus…the sociopath stereotype. Rather, the INTJ prefers to understand emotion by analysing it logically.

Both types internalize emotion and are known to experience health problems as a result. Compare Kurt Wallander (INFJ) and Alex Hardy (INTJ) if you want examples of both types internalising stress.

If you’re wondering about the INTJs that defy the jerk-stereotype and want further comparison between Fi and Fe, read the Sympathetic INTJs post

74 thoughts on “How to tell the Difference: INTJ vs INFJ

  1. Hello and thank you for posting this. It was really helpful!
    I have something to point out about the INFJ’s Ni function. i think that some INFJs confuse their hopes with their intuition. I mean it in a way where the person knows intuitively something (through their NiSe) but refuses to follow it or accept it hoping that their hoped outcome will come. Though. i can only state that for my case.
    Growing up I knew that many of my peers thought of me as a freak (whenever I wasn’t still or silent). Sure enough, compared to them at least, I came to believe I was. From a very young age I started bottling up my feelings because of this, shouting people out and expressing my insecurities in the most unhelpful ways to the people i love most. Obviously I had no confidence in my self whatsoever (I still struggle building it up, even after finaly understanding that it doesn’t matter if i am a weird person to the masses or not). I don’t believe I am a mature INFJ, even less a confident indivisual. So maybe the confident and mature INFJs are able to use their NiSe effectively. I’d like to hear your opinion on that.
    From the 16, the INFJ personality type seems closer to my own and the NiFeTiSe seem to express my basic brain function, though I could never be sure. I thought about being an ENFJ as Fe is dominant and able to confuse the intuition (Ni) in that type but my Ti is quite strong to consider it inferior to my Se but not strong enough to dominate my Ni or Fe. Also I don’t really think i am an extrovert- people tire me out almost instantly, expect for a chosen few.


  2. I still don’t think Ender Wiggin was an INTJ folks. He grew up with Peter using his strong feelings for others, particularly Valentine, against him, so he very early on learned to suppress the outward expression of his emotions and motivations – just like an INTJ. But he felt the Hive Queen with a telepathic link later shown to be … love. He’s Fe all the way just a product of his early environment and extreme intelligence. He feels so familiar to both Ni/Se types but he is Fe/Ti not Fi quite clearly to me.


    • Well, I think this is one of those things that is largely dependent on the nature vs. nurture debate, which some of my recent posts have gotten into.


  3. I saw that others were share so I thought to myself “if not now ,then when?”

    I drowned my pets till they were wet,cold and still in my pursuit to save them from a life of uncertainty and agony. I am from a selfish family, who wanted you to hurt as much as they do. My mother used punishment which meant being disowned has a daughter and sibling all that suilted me just fine, there was very little I needed, very little I wanted. When pnishment began I was responsible for my own food and toiletries. This too was fine I would eat at school or steal from the fridge has mother slept and with school provided MetroCard I needed nothing. Howevet, it was summer vacation and I had no access to money or food. I was too young and antissocail for work with two female guinea pigs who I’ve had for three years they were going on their fourth days with out food and was squealing from starvation.
    Here are the options;
    -Animal shelter , called none taking in only giving out
    -Friends or acquaintance that are interested, no friends no acquaintances
    -Family outside the household , my 11 year old anut my grandparents said no
    -Release them outdoors, Lived in Brooklyn NY nowhere would be suitable for inhabitants
    -Sale on Craigslist, time consuming (they needed food now)
    -Marcy, kill them in the most humane way-(check)- death by drowning but they were fighters and kept popping up the lid of the Tupperware container cause oxygen to seep in so I held the lids down , they suffered. Their existence matter to me yet I never cried for the emptiness I felt won’t, couldn’t get any emptier. I burred them in the backyard in unmarked graves. Mother never once noticed their absence. My life pretty much continued this way.

    The relevance of this event is symbolic to who I am. I can’t seem to put two and two together am I an Intj or inpj? Two things just don’t fit -I am not goal or future oriented -which is supposed to be a property of an intj neither I am -weighted down by the emtions of others -a trait an infj would carry.

    Which of the two am I base sole on the event above?


    • Well, there’s no such thing as an INpj, at least not in MBTI theory. If you’re not goal oriented at all, I’d say you’re neither INTJ nor INFJ, unless you’res stuck in your grip functions (meaning you’re not using your upper functions) or your shadow functions (which means you’ve temporarily disacociated from your original functions and are using the opposite functions). Since you came from an abusive situation, both of those are highly possible and likely.

      In trying to figure out which type you are however, you need to consider more than just your moral choices. Consider your thought processes outside of the moral realm. How do you process the world around you? How do you think about the past/future? etc.


  4. I know this is an older post, but I sincerely enjoyed reading it. I still don’t know if I’m an INTJ or an INFJ. This post did help cement further that I’m an INxJ, though.

    I tend to lean towards myself being an INFJ because I value social harmony. I think an INTJ would be more blunt than I am. The part about the INTJ being likely to ignore someone comes to mind. When someone I can’t stand talks to me, I usually engage in conversation because I don’t want to hurt the other person. I don’t want to sound like I’m all sweet in this, though. It’s not like I mind the person getting their feelings hurt, it’s just that I don’t want to be the one to hurt them.

    However, as far as actually doing the INFJ thing of FEELING peoples’ emotions? Honestly, I’m not sure. It’s possible that I do the whole bypass-Fe thing and go straight to Ti…. which is bad, I realize.


    • As far as Fe goes, I don’t think the moderator understands it completely. I don’t think Fe’s FEEL other’s emotions, I am an Fe myself, I never do.
      (By the way, is your name really Harley Quinn(ton)? And am I the only one who uses brackets inside brackets?)


  5. Reading this was a lovely thought-exercise for me as a writer; I’ve been having fun typing my own characters lately, and this put a few pieces into place for me. I’m an INTJ who just realized she has an INFJ as the viewpoint character in a particular story. While this character was initially a vehicle for some of my professional and historical interests (and was initially dreamed up when I was much younger and more prone to assigning my own traits and values to my protagonists), I’d frequently run into turning points where she’d do something that would leave me sitting there thinking, “What just happened? Why did you do that? In what alternate universe of abject insanity did you think that made any sense?” – while being aware that, in her mind, it made perfect sense. And on the one occasion I tried to force her into doing what I do with problematic emotions (which is shove them in a drawer and bury myself in work until I no longer feel them), it backfired horribly. I’ve been on the receiving end of the “you’re an unforgiving robot” accusation more times than I can count; the one most often leveled at her is “you care too much,” and the kinds of mistakes we make differ accordingly. She’s braver about making mistakes than I am, if anything; there are so many people-related risks I simply can’t bring myself to take because whatever I might feel, I can’t justify the potential costs or dangers to myself. She’s also completely helpless against love when she falls into it, whereas I have the (apparently) odd experience of being able to decide whether or not I’m going to allow myself to be in love and to step back from it if I choose to, which I invariably do, even though it makes me feel a little monstrous, because I’m incapable of allowing my feelings to make a decision when my mind’s made a different one (my sense of logic will convince my emotions to align with it in the end, but the reverse never works). Tl;dr we’ve all got our own particular brands of madness and this gave me a few insights into hers, so thank you for that. :p


  6. I’m an INTJ and I am glad to have come over a post that describes the way I/INTJ relates to emotions. I remember when I was like a child, I had emotions, but I never got carried away from them and it was only when my principles was challenged (when others cheated in games) I could not suppress those feelings. I hardly cried when great-grandparents or my pets died. But when someone in school cheated in a game I got so furious I cried a lot. This happened once or twice during my schoolyears, but I remember it vividly. The rest of the time I almost considered myself a robot because I did not experience emotions so strongly as others did.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. – Very well written! Thank you for sharing this! Although I do wonder if people who aren’t INxJ themselves and/or know INxJ friends/loved ones would be more ‘able’ to actually ‘tell’ the difference between an INFJ and an INTJ after reading this. Have you put this to the test?
    In any case; this describes me vs. one of my best friends to a T.


    • I mainly wrote it with the aim for people to be able to figure out their own type, so no, I haven’t tested whether other people could use it to determine their friends types.


  8. Nice Job!! I am an INTJ and I found this post to be surprisingly very accurate and well written! Thank you for the effort!


  9. Thinking about the differences in communication between INFJs and INTJs, I’ve come up with an idea: maybe sugarcoating information is an unconscious way of self protection for INFJs. As we are easily affected by other people’s emotions, even when we have an accurate prediction, we’ll try to minimize the negative emotional response from the other person to avoid an emotional overload. INTJs, on the other hand, are detached from external feelings and have no need to do this. An INFJ can be very blunt, but only if he/she’s really uncaring for the other person’s feelings, or (most likely) he/she’s willing to harm them.


    • I’d say that’s accurate for the INFJ, but INTJs do care about certain people and do have a need for kindness, regardless of whether they tend to be blunt with most people.


      • I perhaps have expressed myself wrong regarding INTJs (sorry, English is not my first language): I didn’t want to say INTJs don’t care about people, but that their emotions are not tied to their environment in the same way, so they don’t need to protect themselves by trying to avoid emotional responses. Of course, INTJs are concerned with the emotions of people they care about, but in the case of INFJs, it’s not about conscious caring, it’s more about the pain that causes mirroring feelings even from a complete stranger. I hope this makes it more clear.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. This was made by a WhoLock’er… If only they had a little Supernatural in here then it would have been the full SuperWhoLock! :D We are everywhere… and we can find things. Muahahaha! *runs away giggling* (Also I’m an INFJ.)


  11. I have to say, you did a lovely and very biased job of portraying the INTJ as far superior to the INFJ. Typical.


  12. I am an INFJ and my husband is an INTJ. It’s amazing how one little letter change can make such large differences! I took the Myers-Briggs in college, but my husband didn’t take it until a couple of years ago. What a difference it has made in understanding each other. Neither of us are perfect at it by any stretch, but knowing (and analyzing though it) has had a very positive impact on our marriage. Where I am trying to teach my “feeling-averse” husband that feelings should not be dismissed, he’s teaching me that emotion cannot be the sole decision maker in my life.


  13. You so accurately described the difference between myself (INFJ) and my sister( INTJ). We have so much in common yet at the same time view the world in such different ways. Great post!


  14. As scientifically inaccurate and – thus – annoying as MBTI can be, I am eternally grateful to finally know why I’ve always felt (and been looked at and treated like) I just wore mourning clothes to a wedding and offered my condolences.

    I find the nicknaming amusing. One of my coworkers calls me her Weeping Angel.


  15. I am a newly discovered INFJ and like the descriptions say it is a huge relief to find those four letters. I just wanted to say that from this post you don’t seem scary to me. I have a feeling that being friends with you would in some ways be like hanging out with my best friend ENFP husband. Meaning I think it would be refreshing and comforting to be around you as a person and while my husband throws rainbow emotions at me having no emotions thrown at me sounds nice too. Ha ha.


    • That’s an interesting way to look at it…my ENFP sister has an ENTJ boyfriend and one of the things she loves most is his stability. I don’t know that I could say I like having emotions thrown at me though. It happens all too often for my liking.


      • I find your response to my response. interesting. :) When you say people throw their emotions at you do you mean in the way people talk to you or do your sense/feel them too?


        • I’m not naturally an empath, so I wouldn’t say I feel their emotions, but I do interpret them pretty accurately.

          What I meant by that comment is that people come to me to help them with their problems. People much older and holding much more life experience than I have come to me for life advice, but they only do it when they’re so emotional that they can’t reason their way out of their feelings.

          They come to me because they know I can knock sense into them.


  16. Fascinating. I (INTJ) had an INFJ martial arts instructor who might be a false guru type or a dark INFJ, or both – or worse.

    In front of a small audience he would say out loud that he senses violence from me. He would stop right next to me prior to meditation sessions and go on and on about how he could undeniably sense violence in me.

    I’m not a pacifist but I am an admirer of Gandhi and a whole range of nonviolent ideas. So I can’t tell if he genuinely sensed something about me that I don’t see or if it was some kind of passive-aggressive dark side manipulation to steer a female classmate away from me that I was crushing on (and later found out he was, too – I gave up on the situation and he is now with her).


  17. My Husband is INTJ, Whilst I am INFJ, We are very in-sync with each other, we do differ in a lot of ways too. I know I have always been strongly attracted to his bluntness, I depend on him to be assertive when I cannot. I think my compassionate side annoys him, unless it is on a moral scale and then he will completely agree with me, in general. He often hurts my feelings and is all to aware of it and also how to put it right but sometimes he can hold back because that would take words, and he does not know how to put feelings into words. So if I feel sad over something he has done then he will make it up to me in small subtle ways that are not verbal. I show him how to deal with people in a kind way and he shows me how to deal with people in an assertive way. We complement each other very well, although before I found out about MBTI there were a whole lot more blips in the radar than there are now. There were years at the beginning when I thought he didn’t even know me and could never understand me but I realised as he also began to open up (something we both find difficult) that he understands me perfectly sometimes better than I know myself. He always knows what I want or need, whether he gives that to me is entirely how he feels at the time. I hope this comment helps anyone else who has the pleasure of living with an INTJ. My wonderful husband who built a motorbike with nothing more than the passion and the thought pattern to achieve it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Is it when we come to understand each other that we learn to truly love each other, or is it the other way around. Do we have to love before we can understand? Orson Scott Card writes along these lines quite often, but I think it’s something of both.


  18. I havn’t even finished reading this yet, but I am an INTJ (that leans very closely to INFJ) and my friends’ nickname for me is the Silent Assassin. ;)


  19. What I love is that INFJs and INTJs are so similar… and yet that Fe vs. Fi makes INTJs much more scary… or maybe not actually… if you think about it. Being an INFJ myself having FeTi is intensely frustrating. But thinking of an INTJ as a lover, say, would be rather scary because… they seem as if they have no feelings; or sensitivity that is. Otherwise, I love INTJs. I have a few for friends.


      • I agree. As in INFJ myself my biggest secret is just how easily I could verbally destroy a person because I just understand the emotive states of those around me that well.


    • you are wise to be scared of INTJs as lovers.
      INTJs think of emotions as logical thoughts generated in our brains. Our logic dictates a person’s emotions can be controlled by manipulating his/her thoughts.

      This can work amazingly beautifully sometimes but at others, it can be disastrous.

      Still, I think INTJs are best coupled with INFJs because of emotional tension that is present in the relationship all the time :D


      • Your comments more accurately describe a person with manipulative tendencies than an INTJ. There are a large quantity of people (of all types) who believe a person’s emotions can be controlled by manipulating his/her thoughts, or that a person’s thoughts can be controlled by manipulating the emotions.


    • Lady Galadriel…As an INTJ myself, I cannot deny your thoughts on the scary factor for the reasons you stated above (“But thinking of an INTJ as a lover, say, would be rather scary because…they seem as if they have no feelings; or sensitivity that is.”) Mea Culpa…

      But I have worked long and hard in my own mental looking glass to discover if INTJs truly do not have feelings or sensitivity or if we merely sublimate emotions because we INTENSELY fear the vulnerability that emotions, by their very Nature, cause within our perfectly logical and smoothly humming inner world.

      Perhaps, many/most INTJs desperately sense a need for emotional attachment that is hidden and protected deep within in their personal Sanctum Sanctorum in which they live moment-to-moment. But the cost/benefit analysis of examining and experiencing those emotions generally is not worth the risk removing them from their ensconced mental containment, because we essentially view that vault as “Pandoras Box”…once it’s opened, you can’t stuff the monsters back inside.


      • Interesting take.

        In the foolishness of my adolescence, I once conducted a thought experiment to determine whether it was possible to divine a meaning in life without the aid of the emotions.

        I would strongly advise EVERYONE against attempting any similar thought experiment. However, that was a major point from which I started to embrace the idea of emotion, and yes, you can actually stuff the monster’s back in the box (though I’d agree that most INTJs tend to disagree with this until they test it).


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