ISFPs and INFJs

Why you might mistype one for the other:

– ISFP’s studious nature and love of facts may lead to their being mistyped as either an INFP or an INFJ. This is due to a common misunderstanding of what being a Sensor means. Although sensors do tend to be more aware of their surroundings than iNtuitives, it’s a common misconception that they can only deal with information they can see, smell, taste, feel etc, and can’t deal with anything abstract.

Sensors tend to be less comfortable with analysing information to find patterns or come up with their own theories, but many of them are perfectly happy to take in information and learn abstract facts, none more so than the ISFP. Most ISFP’s love reading books or watching films or listening to lectures, and usually do quite well in subjects where they have to learn a lot of information, but less well when they are required to come up with their own theories.

You will notice that the ISFP tends to recite other people’s theories as facts and will rarely engage with them critically, whereas an INFP or an INFJ will be far more critical when reading other people’s thoughts and come up with their own theories and reasoning about the subject. However, the ISFP will be likely to retain far, far more facts and details about the topic at hand than their INFP or INFJ counterpart, and will usually be able to describe them eloquently.

– A common cause of confusion: ISFP’s are the most tidy Perceivers and INFJ’s are the most messy. The reasons for this are quite simple. Like all Perceivers, ISFPs are not naturally inclined to be organised. However, ISFP’s love things to look pretty, and they’re not going to look pretty if they’re a mess! ISFP’s tidy up for the aesthetic appeal and not for the sake of having an organised system in place. Actually, a lot of Perceivers tidy up for this reason, but ISFP’s are the most committed to it, because their Sensory nature means they are more aware of their surroundings, their Introversion means that the place where they relax alone is very important to them, and usually xSFx’s are more sensitive to the aesthetic appeal of things than xSTx’s.

INFJ’s, like all Judgers, are inclined to be organised, but they are much more interested in organising abstract concepts than physical objects. INFJ’s are VERY big on this whole elaborate canon thing they have in their head. As long as they have the concepts of the room organised in their head—this is where this pile of physics books is, this is where I keep all my Wiccan spell ingredients, this is where I keep my collection of model dragons—they’re not that bothered about making it look organised for anyone else. In fact, tidying up for them upsets their understanding of the room, and throws them off balance.

Differences, Similarities and how to tell them apart:

– INFJs and ISFPs both share the trait that they can be passionately interested in science yet invested in something that seems contrary to the scientific method–for example they might be interested in something like astrology or homeopathy. To an xNTx type, this may seem a very contradictory and confusing trait. But ISFP’s and INFJ’s each have their reasons for forming their beliefs this way. ISFP’s love to absorb facts in their rawest form and view each fact as an individual entity. ISFP’s may be interested in science because of the facts they can learn, but they are usually not so interested in analysing the facts because working out the way that concepts relate to each other is not so interesting to them.

The fact that ISFP’s view each fact individually and don’t like to perform analysis means that they often do not even realise when one fact they believe might be inconsistent with another fact they believe—and because of their spontaneous nature, they may change their mind about whether they accept a point of view from moment to moment. INFJ’s belief systems on the other hand, usually have a lot of internal consistency. Even though they may not meet many xNTx’s ideas of “logic” (in the sense that there is not always proof of their truth-tracking capacity) their belief systems always have some kind of internal logic. Unlike for xNTx’s, it is the beautiful and detailed internal logic of a belief system (the “canon” of it) that appeals to them, rather than its truth-tracking powers—which allows them to commit to irrational belief systems as well as rational ones.

– Another thing that ISFP’s and INFJ’s have in common is that they can both be short-tempered. Just as an ISFP may change their mind about facts from one minute to the next (sometimes living so much in the moment that they do not realise they are doing so), they may also change their mind about people very quickly. This can be a good thing—they are by far one of the most forgiving types—but it can also mean that they fly off the handle without considering whether they are being consistent in their demands. Their lack of analysis can also make them poor at determining the real cause of their anger, meaning they might take their anger out on someone unfairly without realising it. xSxP’s are very impulsive and xxFP’s can act on unfiltered emotion and xSFx’s can have poor emotional analysis (preferring to experience/express emotions in their purest form), so the combination of all three is not good if you catch them on a bad day. On the other hand, these are often the same traits that make them so charismatic and appealing on a good day.

An INFJ is far more consistent, and much more likely to bear a grudge. INFJ’s are one of the most empathetic, and sensitive types—which means that when they’re angry, they are REALLY angry, and being xNxJ’s, they’re not likely to forget about it in a hurry either. Both types are likely to have been very upset by the conflict and might not want to be near you for a while afterwards—being IxFx’s they’ll need some time alone anyway. So you’ll know if it’s an ISFP or an INFJ you’re dealing with based on how quickly and completely they forgive you afterwards (though bear in mind the ISFP might just be too shy/ashamed to make this explicitly clear and the INFJ might be seething with a smile on their face).

-Both types can be VERY stubborn when challenged to change their viewpoints—INFJ’s because they dislike changing an aspect of their belief system however good the reason for doing so, and ISFP’s because they often do not understand why they should accept the logical argument being put to them if it doesn’t appeal to their feelings. However, an ISFP will be far more likely to accept a new viewpoint that is presented with a strong emotion behind it, as long as it is not presented as a direct challenge to their current viewpoint—whereas an INFJ will instantly recognise something that does not fit with their current viewpoint and reject it. At worst, INFJ’s can cling to viewpoints that have long ceased to be workable.

-Being xSxP’s, ISFP’s don’t mind doing things very spontaneously as soon as they are suggested, whereas INFJ’s don’t like surprises or unexpected changes and prefer to have everything clear in their head (integrated into their internal system) before they act. INFJ’s can consequently be very very indecisive while ISFP’s act as soon as they think and can consequently sometimes get themselves into bad situations.

-ISFP’s can often be very, very good with words, but they also switch this tendency off. When they socialise, they often prefer not to use their gift of language, saving it for times of reflection alone or writing projects. While ISFP’s will happily talk to each other in non-verbal in-jokes and memes, INFJ’s don’t understand how to participate in that kind of communication. They may not be as eloquent as the ISFP when the ISFP is really trying—due to their sensitivity to their surroundings and feelings, ISFP’s are often great descriptors who can create great atmosphere in a story. But INFJ’s like to communicate with their friends in full clear sentences, while ISFP’s often find this needlessly formal.

The tendency to communicate in in-jokes and references and to laugh uproariously at these can also make ISFP’s seem a bit cliquey to INFJ’s, as well as to many INxx’s, who are not good at this type of communication.  These communication preferences of the ISFP sometimes lead to them being misinterpreted as Extraverts owing to their seeming high energy around friends. In fact, being introverts, both types thrive in their alone time, but INFJ’s are seen as more stereotypical introverts since they speak about things intellectually and dislike spontaneity.

-A bit more about that difference in writing! INFJ’s are great at creating really elaborate canons, often for sci fi or fantasy universes. J.K. Rowling is an INFJ, for example.

ISFP’s aren’t as interested in that aspect. They’ll usually pick one or two characters to focus in on. They’re brilliant at describing scenes and using vivid language to evoke different sensations. They can also capture personality in dialogue very well. They’re often drawn to fan fiction (or something like it) because then they can work with characters to whom they’re already attached and familiar.

Due to ISFPs not using their eloquence in day-to-day life, their capacity for good writing often greatly surprises their friends. INFJ’s however tend to write in a similar style to how they talk, to the extent that you can easily read their writing in their own voice.

-This one’s much less set-in-stone and certainly not true in 100% of cases, because it’s dependant on so many other factors such as social pressure. However, you are much less likely with an ISFP than with an INFJ to find yourself squinting and going “what is going on with that outfit?”

Again, this is to do with INFJ’s and their internally-motivated orientation. An INFJ who wrote a lot of fairy stories when they were little might spot a fairy necklace that reminds them of that, and then put it on due to its personal significance—without stopping to wonder whether wearing a fairy necklace with a business suit appears completely normal. Again, they’re not that interested in organising physical objects, so their clothes aren’t necessarily co-ordinated outfits. ISFP’s on the other hand are very conscious of the physical appearance they’re projecting and very interested in making it appealing.

Compatibility:

Despite the fact that they may seem to have superficial interests in common and may both be very empathetic, INFJ’s and ISFP’s have some conflict with each other. INFJ’s often find the ISFP’s changeability unnerving and can be irritated by their lack of consistency. They often find it difficult to communicate with ISFP’s due to the ISFP being able to switch off their wordiness so easily. However, they often have admiration for ISFP’s because ISFP’s act on emotion and empathy without feeling the need to process or rationalise those emotions, a trait which INFJ’s respect. They also admire ISFP’s conviction in their own beliefs—except where those beliefs do no coincide with their own. ISFP’s usually like INFJ’s but may feel that they can be boring because they rarely find non-verbal jokes funny. They also do not understand the INFJ capacity for bearing grudges or analysing things that are happening. However, because ISFP’s are easy-going types, they can usually go with the flow and put that down to an idiosyncracy of the INFJ in question. Both being empathetic, INFJ’s and ISFP’s can always lend one another a listening ear and share emotions, and ISFP’s may like INFJ’s very much for introducing new ideas into their lives.

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