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How Myers-Briggs INFJ Scores Can Change

The Myers-Briggs scores of INFJs can change over the years, sometimes dramatically. Twelve-year-old INFJs who never turn their homework in when it’s due can, by age 17, become academic achievers. That’s because the childhood years of INFJs are devoted to developing imagination and creativity. They daydream, have just one or two friends, and share their make-believe world with only one or two trusted adults. Between ages 6 and 12, their introverted function occupies the main stage.

In their teen years, INFJs become more extraverted, getting good grades and excelling at sports, acting, or other extracurricular activities. They become conscious of their appearance and want to dress attractively. They take on added responsibility, often holding down part-time jobs. At the same time, being INFJs, they always feel a little out-of-step with their peers. They know they’re different and tend to think that something must be wrong with them.

As teenagers, their feeling preference turns their attention to causes such as animal welfare, human rights, and so on. They become more aware of ways they can help others. They may get so involved in these activities that they have little time for themselves—quite a contrast to the reclusive children they were between ages 6 and 12.

From ages 20 to the mid-thirties, socially approved ambitions take hold. INFJs look for ways to become autonomous, run their own lives, and succeed at their jobs. They learn to be smooth and accomplished in many settings, even though inside they may still feel unsure of themselves.

Many INFJs decide in early adulthood that they were too submissive in their earlier years. The INFJ becomes assertive and sometimes rebellious. Family and friends may be puzzled by the change. What happened to the quiet, accommodating INFJ they used to know?

At the same time, INFJs start to tap into their sensing abilities and put them to work. In their early twenties, they may learn to play the guitar, take up oil painting, or collect antiques. INFJs pursue these new interests with enthusiasm, attentive to the smallest detail. Unlike their former tendency toward introversion, the company of others becomes desirable in their quest for new interests.

The departure from the ingrained INFJ style serves their overall development well. With time and maturity, the fully evolved person should be proficient in all eight personality functions.

Readers may get the impression that it’s best to develop all the functions equally. According to Carl Jung, the Swiss psychoanalyst who developed personality theory, it doesn’t work this way. If a person dedicates a period of his or her life to, say, sensing and intuition simultaneously, neither function will get the attention and energy needed to become fully developed. The same is true of the other three trait pairs. One of each pair of functions must be dominant at any given time to produce a stable, reliable personality.

The objective of personal development in terms of the Myers-Briggs theory is to have access to each of the mental functions when its use is appropriate. By being able to use the less-preferred functions when they are needed, the person brings more balance to his or her life.

How INFJs Can Lose Out

INFJs walk in the footsteps of such illustrious figures as Carl Jung, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, and Eleanor Roosevelt, to name a few. The path can be challenging. But for INFJs who struggle to evolve throughout their lives, it’s a rewarding one. However, problems can come up if one or more Myers-Briggs functions move to the extreme end of the scale.

• When their expectations aren’t met, the resulting stress damages their ability to function. 

• Their perfectionism can get them in trouble when their perceiving function is too weak to buffer setbacks.

Their idealism can bring them down if people disappoint them.

They can trick themselves into thinking they’re above rules and regulations—a sense of entitlement resulting from their superior grasp of principles and ideas.

They may be intolerant of people who lack their gifts, becoming arrogant and difficult to approach.

They can let their four dominant traits get out of control and lead them into depression.

Expectations

Because their expectations are high and they work hard to achieve them, INFJs stumble when their efforts backfire. Under stress, they’re likely to do more of what they’ve been doing all along, trying to force things to turn out as planned. More of the same is not what’s needed. They need to acknowledge what is and adapt. In situations where their judging function leads them astray, they need to tap into their flexible perceiving function to adapt their expectations and strategies to current realities.

If an INFJ is planning a big party and the caterers are late delivering the food, he or she may come unglued. Someone must fetch the caterers! It’s hard for INFJs to reframe the problem of no food arriving in order to devise an alternative solution. Instead they waste time blaming themselves for not having the foresight to avoid the disaster. At this point, wringing their hands is not helpful.

Idealism

Having intuition as a dominant function, INFJs can become wedded to their expectations for the future. When facts conflict with their predictions, they’re inclined to cling to their hopes despite evidence to the contrary. If, for example, they have watched their Widget stock rise over several years, they may be confident that it can’t fall. When the stock market has a downturn, INFJs may hang on to their stock with unrealistic fantasies of a market reversal.

False expectations can be personal. INFJs can be disenchanted by friends and co-workers who turn out to be less perfect than they thought. When a person shows himself or herself to be flawed in important ways, the INFJ feels let down. To them, this is a reasonable reaction because they expect no more from others than they do of themselves.

Entitlement

INFJs resist rules that make no sense to them. If they park where a sign says “One-hour parking” and stay for 90 minutes, they’re indignant when they find a police citation under their windshield wiper. There were no other cars on the street! They believe in the spirit not the letter of the law. Other sources of frustration are penalty fees when a payment was only hours late, returned forms for minor missing information, and so on. Bureaucratic details are beneath INFJs.

Impatience

INFJs have little patience for sensing/thinking/judging types, considering them to be barriers to progress. They consider many STJs to be shortsighted and obsessed with trivial details. Why can’t they see the big picture? INFJs get exasperated when required to follow protocol, even when it’s necessary to the smooth operation of an organization. This is why INFJs tend to do poorly in administrative positions where routine is critical. Security jobs, for example, are often unsuitable because they require so much focus on detail.

Attitude

Knowing that they’re gifted with more wisdom than the average person, some INFJs adopt an attitude of moral superiority. This puts others off. As a result, friends and colleagues hesitate to ask them for guidance. Only when INFJs use their feeling function to empathize rather than criticize are they able to relate to others authentically and help them as equals.

Depression

Many INFJs are prone to depression. Each of their four dominant traits contributes to this tendency. Being introverts (I), they are focused inward much of the time. Their highly developed intuition (N) provides them with insights into themselves, others, and the world at large—insights that are sometimes painful. Their feeling function (F) gives these insights emotional weight that wouldn’t count as heavily in a thinking type. Their judging function (J) sometimes leads them to gloomy conclusions. If they could call on their perceiving abilities, they could open their minds to more promising possibilities.

Extraverted or Introverted? A Test for Partners


Sometimes it’s hard to tell an extravert from an introvert. It shouldn’t be, but it is. Many introverts have a public persona that seems to say, “I’m a people person!” Yet being sociable is something the introvert can’t maintain for long. After an hour or two in a group, the introvert is ready to head home. Extraverts, on the other hand, are just getting started. They are energized by social contacts. It’s too much solitude that wears them down.

Introverts

Introverts are private by nature. They may have one or two close friends but don’t enjoy doing things in crowds. They require time alone. They’re also independent thinkers who don’t need others to help them make decisions. They dislike conflicts but they’ll stand up for what they believe in. If the issue is important, they can be surprisingly forceful.

Extraverts

Extraverts recharge their batteries by relaxing with other people. They’re outspoken most of the time, not just when they have strong feelings. They often prefer talking to listening. When the phone rings, the extravert is likely to jump up to answer. The introvert is glad to let him or her do it. If left on their own for long, extraverts get jumpy and start looking for people to talk to.

Where Do You Fit In?

If you’re wondering where you and your partner stand on the extravert-introvert scale, take these two quizzes. When an answer seems neither totally true nor totally false, pick the more correct of the two answers. Using the scoring key below, figure out the total points for both of you. A score of 8-10 indicates pronounced introversion. The introvert may have a couple of close friends but generally dislikes being in  crowds. A score of 4-7 means the person enjoys spending some time alone but likes to socialize, too. The person who scores 1-3 needs to be around people a lot of the time and may get uneasy if without company for a long period.

TEST A

TEST B

TEST 3

INFJ Meets ENFP

INFJs are generally attracted to energetic, friendly ENFPs. ENFPs understand people and connect with them easily. They read the motives and behaviors of others with almost psychic accuracy.

Life is fun with ENFPs, who never tire of developing new interests. They’re at their best in situations that are fluid and changing. Even in their day-to-day activities they look for new ways of doing things.

Similarities and Differences

INFJs and ENFPs are similar in their curiosity and enthusiasm, but the INFJ is less demonstrative. If the two spend much time together, the INFJ may weary of the ENFP’s inexhaustible sociability and want some solitude. Even away from crowds, INFJs can find the energy of ENFPs demanding. Once ENFPs get excited about something, it’s all they can talk about. INFJs aren’t big on extended conversations.

Another difference between them concerns punctuality. The INFJ is rarely tardy and gets things done when promised. ENFPs have a tendency to be late. They lose track of time, because they underestimate how long it will take to finish what they’re doing. They miss deadlines or are slow in meeting their commitments. This happy-go-lucky attitude often annoys INFJs, who consider it irresponsible. ENFPs, on the other hand, may consider INFJs clock-watchers.

Romance

Whether male or female, ENFPs can be seductive. They know how to appeal to the opposite sex and make themselves desirable. Sometimes they go too far in their quest for affection, making the INFJ feel pressured. When this causes the INFJ to back off, the ENFP is likely to get anxious and become even more needy.

A discussion about the need for boundaries may help ease the ENFP’s jittery response to a partner’s withdrawal. They both need to understand that extraverts are energized by connection with others while introverts get tired of it and seek solitude. It’s nothing personal.

Family Life

INFJs who marry ENFPs find that they’re enjoyable to live with. They also make good parents. They know how to turn family chores into enjoyable activities. If there’s a task that’s boring, they’ll find a way to make it interesting. They infuse family life with creativity and avoid letting their home get too structured, with no room for imagination. When the free-wheeling goes too far, however, the INFJ may complain that things are getting out of control.

ENFPs may consider themselves organized in their home life, but INFJ partners can take issue with this. The ENFPs’ desire to be open to new possibilities is usually stronger than their need to keep things neat and tidy. When they fix meals, the kitchen is likely to be a mess. Their offices or dens are cluttered. There’s always something more interesting to do than clean up.

Outside the Home

ENFPs need work that offers more than a paycheck. They must feel fulfilled and know they’re making a worthwhile contribution. Because of their wide-ranging interests, it’s common for them to change career tracks more than once. Partly this is due to their success at landing jobs for which they’re not fully qualified. If the family needs the income, INFJs married to ENFPs may get frustrated by their partners’ tendency to quit jobs or get fired.

Common Ground

The need to look after the welfare of others is shared by the INFJ and ENFP. They’re champions of causes. They promote services that help people, animals, and the environment. When they’re given a leadership role, they ask for advice from people around them. They’re generous with their praise to friends and co-workers who have helped them. They make good partners.

Famous Examples

twainMark Twain was an ENFP, famous for his engaging stories. Andrew Carnegie said of him, “The public knows only one side of Mark Twain: the amusing part. Little do they suspect that he was a man of strong convictions on political and social questions and a moralist of no mean order.”

Like many ENFPs, Mark Twain had insights that were almost clairvoyant. He once said, “I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year and I expect to go out with it.” Indeed, he died of a heart attack on April 21, 1910, one day after the comet’s closest pass by the Earth.

mother-teresa

Like most INFJs, Mother Teresa was a risk taker, able to enter dangerous situations with courage and insight. She was independent and spirited, willing to explore new roles and ideas. True to her type, Mother Teresa was articulate in expressing her beliefs and putting them into action. She had visions of a world without poverty and took steps to make that a reality.