Understanding the INFJ Personality Type (Cognitive Functions)

Last Updated on September 16, 2023

INFJ personality types (1 of the 16 possible MBTI personality types) make up approximately 1% of the population. Since I first discovered I’m an INFJ back in September of 2013, I’ve gone on a long journey exploring the intricacies of the personality type in an effort to better understand myself and others.

To provide a quick background, an INFJ is a person whose personality preferences encompass introversion, intuition, feeling, and judging (not what it sounds like – judgers are people who like to plan, stay organized, and keep things in order.)



Each INFJ has four primary cognitive functions:

  1. Introverted Intuition
  2. Extroverted Feeling
  3. Introverted Thinking
  4. Extroverted Sensing

And the following shadow functions can be utilized during times of stress:

  1. Extroverted Intuition
  2. Introverted Feeling
  3. Extroverted Thinking
  4. Introverted Sensing

Learning that Introverted Intuition is my primary cognitive function was not much of a surprise for me. From what I understand, many INFJs, including myself, have a hard-to-explain ability to understand things that are beyond the scope of what’s visible.

I guess it’s different for everyone but one thing I’ve found is that it’s very easy for me to understand things about the people around me, even if we’ve only just met. Or haven’t met yet.

The other functions make sense too. Extroverted Feeling is demonstrated in my passion for community service and helping people in need. Introverted Thinking is utilized during the school semester when all I do is spend time studying and in my head. Extroverted Sensing explains why I’m more of a “big picture” person. I don’t like dealing with small details.

Even the INFJ shadow functions do a fantastic job of identifying my greatest weaknesses.

Extroverted Intuition is the easiest shadow function for an INFJ to achieve and that makes total sense considering INFJs are so in-tune with their intuition to begin with.

Introverted Feeling is one shadow function that I’m actually amused by. I think it’s funny how we have a remarkable ability to understand other people yet our Introverted Feeling is so weak we sometimes struggle to understand our own bodies. (Hence why the MBTI description is so valued by INFJs; it lays out the things some of us previously didn’t understand about ourselves.)

A person with weak Introverted Feeling might not know what they want to eat for dinner (me), if they’re feeling hungry or not (me), which college they should attend (me), what they should major in (me), or where they feel like going out to (me).

Extroverted Thinking and Introverted Sensing are at the bottom of the list making them the two most difficult cognitive functions for an INFJ to utilize. Extroverted Thinking looks for patterns and faulty reasoning. Introverted Sensing deals with the small detail stuff that I previously mentioned. I believe having these two as my weakest cognitive functions helps explain why I struggle so much with grasping mathematical subjects (like calculus) that require attention to details and recognition of patterns. I get the concepts and why I’m doing what I’m doing but when it comes time to apply them to individual problems – I can’t figure out which is which and when to do what.

See Also: The MBTI Changed My Life Forever


  1. Enjoyed the enthusiasm and the awareness inspired in your post, Rocky. Unsolicited, a cautionary note: Try not to place to much credence in one assessment’s findings/outcomes. A ‘singular’ read is at best, a narrow read. I have been administering and interpreting a variety of scientifically validated assessments for years. What is valuable is when multiple measures begin to yield trends and similarities across a range of instruments that gauge different styles, types, preferences, etc. People often latch onto one “type” yet when it is viewed in conjunction with other results, the bigger picture can be much more telling. You’re off to a good start with the MBTI. Explore a few more assessments if/when given the opportunity. You might find what emerges over time to be surprising. Most of us thing we know so much about ourselves, when in fact, more typically unfolds. Good topic for a post!

    1. Thanks, Eric! That’s very true. I’ve actually taken a number of personality tests since the MBTI (I became slightly obsessed after doing some research) and found all of them to closely line up with what I originally found with the MBTI- although only the MBTI seemed to fully capture the widest range of my personality preferences.

      I’ve taken the StrengthsQuest Finder, Strong Inventory Assessment, Enneagram, and TrueColors test. If you know of some other good ones, I’d love to take them as I find each personality test incredibly interesting.

      Thank you for the feedback!

  2. TheDigger

    Great post, very interesting. I’m an INFJ too. I know there aren’t many of us around in ‘real life’ (whatever that is), but I suspect the percentage is higher amongst bloggers.

    I did the test when I was having a bit of an identity crisis and it made a lot of sense to me. Interestingly, one of the careers I’ve seen suggested for INFJs is gardening…

      1. TheDigger

        Hello *waves* Not a professional gardener yet, hoping to go back to college and retrain once my children are a bit older. The first time at college I did music, another INFJ career suggestion. Mind you, my dad is a musician and sure isn’t an INFJ!

  3. TheMachete

    Perhaps I have wrongly expressed myself. Your post wasn’t boring for me. I still don’t think these kinds of tests are very useful for me, because I don’t think I would fit neatly and completely into one personality type. Besides I know what career I want to do in the future.

    Anyways, aren’t introverted intuition and introverted feeling similar to each other?

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The Rocky Safari