Monday, April 21, 2008

I'm an INFP. What are you?

Yesterday I was rereading A Gift From the Sea, and I was struck, once again, by how much I think like Anne Morrow Lindbergh. And then I remembered that she is supposedly an INFP, too. So is Annie Dillard. And JRR Tolkien, Anne of Green Gables, Audrey Hepburn, Albert Schweitzer, Helen Keller, William Shakespeare, AA Milne, and many others. Supposedly anyway.

Have you ever taken a Jung typology personality test? I took this online for the first time many years ago, and I have taken many versions of it since. Every single time, the results are the same. I am an INFP. I'm not really into a lot of psychobabble, and I tend to be somewhat skeptical about these things (even though I think they're fun to take), but these tests seem to be pretty accurate. A lot of big businesses have their personnel take these tests in order to know how they can best serve, and work within, the organization. I've known of colleges and universities that have incoming students take these personality tests in order to provide insight into the way they can best organize their lives as students.

What is an INFP? There are descriptions of an INFP and other personality types (I think there are 16 different types) all over the internet. You can see lists of occupations that are supposedly best suited to your personality type. And lists of famous people who had your personality type (not a single US president has been an INFP, which is no surprise to me!).

Here's the kind of information you'll be provided with if you take the test. Every time I read one of these descriptions, I'm surprised all over again by how much it describes my personality:

INFP-- The Dreamer

INFPs are introspective, private, creative, and highly indealistic individuals that have a constant desire to be on a meaningful path. They are driven by their values and seek peace. Empathetic and compassionate, they want to help others and humanity as a whole. INFPs are imaginative, artistic, and often have a talent for language and writing. They can also be described as easygoing, selfless, guarded, adaptable, patient, and loyal.

About the INFP

"To understand Healers, we must understand their idealism as almost boundless and selfless, inspiring them to make extraordinary sacrifices for someone or something they believe in. The Healer is the Prince or Princess of fairytale, the King's Champion or Defender of the Faith..."
The Portrait of a Healer Idealist (Keirsey)

"INFPs are highly intuitive about people. They rely heavily on their intuitions to guide them, and use their discoveries to constantly search for value in life. They are on a continuous mission to find the truth and meaning underlying things. Every encounter and every piece of knowledge gained gets sifted through the INFP's value system, and is evaluated to see if it has any potential to help the INFP define or refine their own path in life."
Portrait of an INFP (The Personality Page)

"creative, smart, idealist, loner, attracted to sad things, disorganized, avoidant, can be overwhelmed by unpleasant feelings..."
INFP Jung Type Descriptions (

"An INFP's feelings form the foundations of the individual. They are sacred and binding, in the sense that their emergence requires no further justification. An INFP's feelings are often guarded, kept safe from attack and ridicule. Only a few, close confidants are permitted entrance into this domain."
INFP Profile (INFP Mailing List)

"Highly creative, artistic and spiritual, they can produce wonderful works of art, music and literature. INFPs are natural artists. They will find great satisfaction if they encourage and develop their artistic abilities. That doesn't mean that an INFP has to be a famous writer or painter in order to be content. Simply the act of "creating" will be a fulfilling source of renewal and refreshment to the INFP. An INFP should allow himself or herself some artistic outlet, because it will add enrichment and positive energy to their life."

- INFP Personal Growth (The Personality Page)

"INFPs never seem to lose their sense of wonder. One might say they see life through rose-colored glasses. It's as though they live at the edge of a looking-glassworld where mundane objects come to life, where flora and fauna take on near-human qualities."
INFP Profile (TypeLogic)

"Their job must be fun, although not racous, and it must be meaningful to them. They need a strong purpose in their work. They want to be recognized and valued, without undue attention given to them. They may become embarrassed when make the center of attention. As a result, they may undersell their strengths in order to avoid being singled out and made to feel conspicuous. They would rather have their worth be noticed gradually over time."
INFP - The Dreamer (Lifexplore)

What about you? Do you know your personality type? Do you care? Here are two of my favorite tests (they seem more thorough and accurate than most I've seen). Sometimes it's nice to take more than one to compare results. It's important to really try to answer questions according to how you really behave and not according to your goals for "improvement." :-)

If you take the test, let me know your results. Do you think your description suits you? I think there are types more inclined than others to take these tests (and to take them seriously) like maybe INFPs and INTPs. And I know there are probably some personalities who completely blow this kind of thing off as silly or unnecessary. :-)