Last night, Stephen Colbert took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and obtained the result INFP. He used a certified practitioner to assess his type and yet there was no discussion of cognitive functions or the underlying theory of the type inventory itself. Many regular viewers who are fond of Colbert’s quick wit suspect that he may have mistyped – identifying as the serious, Fi-dominant INFP rather than the playful, Ne-dominant ENFP.
Short of sitting down and having a lengthy conversation with Colbert, I’m unable to adequately assess whether or not he mistyped. But what I can do is shed some light on the differences between ENFPs and INFPs, as these two similar types are mistaken for one another in high frequency.
ENFPs are known for being ‘the most introverted extroverts.’ Their dominant function, extroverted intution (Ne), often masquerades as an introverted function since it can be activated while alone or while around others. However, it retains its extroverted status because it is oriented outward – toward the world of ideas and possibilities, rather than inward, toward the world of reflection. The ENFP requires a great deal of introverted time in order to process their feelings but they ultimately feel the most energized when they are formulating exciting opportunities for the future. At their core, their internal thought process works quite differently from the INFP’s. Here are a few signs you may be an ENFP rather than an INFP.
1. ENFPs speculate first and feel second, whereas INFPs feel first and speculate second.
For the ENFP, the world is a never-ending smorgasbord of possibilities to explore and adventures to partake in. They jump quickly into new projects, then need to withdraw to process their feelings about what they have been experiencing.
For the INFP, the world is a smorgasbord of thoughts, feelings and fantasies that they can explore internally. They choose which possibilities to pursue in the real world by first determining which of the available options is the best reflection of their most authentic self.
2. ENFPs enjoy the spotlight, whereas INFPs shy away from it.
INFPs enjoy recognition for their talent, but they’d rather be behind-the-scenes than front-and-center when it comes to receiving recognition. An INFP wants to be perceived as serious and thoughtful by others, whereas an ENFP is more comfortable showing off their goofy nature to the public.
3. ENFPs use humor to make light of serious situations, whereas INFPs prefer to delve deeply into serious situations.
ENFPs are deeply serious people at their core, but they feel protective of their deepest feelings and often make light of serious situations in order to avoid delving into them in the presence of others. They are quick to lighten the mood with a joke or offhanded remark that veers the conversation in a different direction.
On the flip side, INFPs rarely waiver on the issues they feel strongly about. They are likely to approach serious topics with caution, thinking carefully about what they are going to say in order to accurately portray their thoughts to the opposite party. Or, if they don’t wish to have the conversation in question, they’ll simply remove themselves from the situation altogether.
4. ENFPs leap before they look, INFPs look before they leap.
ENFPs jump quickly into new projects – often before they thoroughly determine how they feel about the project and its potential implications. They have a fluid system of values that tends to morph and change as they take in new experiences.
On the flip side, INFPs, must determine how they feel about a given project BEFORE deciding to take it on. Everything the INFP does has to be in line with his or her pre-decided set of internal values.
5. ENFPs tend to question their extroversion, whereas INFPs tend to be positive that they’re introverts.
ENFPs often feel torn between their intense love of people and their intense love of alone time. They are highly likely to identify as ambiverts, seeing both introverted and extroverted traits in themselves.
On the flip side, INFPs tend to be quite sure that they prefer their own company to the company of others and are unlikely to wonder whether they may be extroverts.
6. ENFPs are more at risk of losing touch with their feelings whereas INFPs are more at risk of losing touch with the external world.
ENFPs find comfort in the external world and may be prone to running away from their problems or distracting themselves with new projects when they’re stressed.
On the flip side, INFPs find comfort in the internal world and may be prone to over-analyzing their problems and avoiding taking action when they’re stressed.
7. When a loved one is in need of advice, ENFPs offer empowering suggestions whereas INFPs offer emotional guidance.
While an ENFP is listening to the struggles of a distressed friend, they are internally formulating a wide range of possible solutions to the problem at hand and considering ways they could empower their friend to take control of the situation and change their circumstances.
On the flip side, an INFP listening to a distressed friend is busy identifying exactly how their friend is feeling and thinking of ways they could reframe the situation so that their friend can feel differently about what they’re going through, even if the circumstances themselves don’t necessarily change.
8. ENFPs fantasize about the different experiences they could have, INFPs fantasize about the different feelings they could have.
In an ENFP fantasy, they’re a talk-show host! And then they’re a mountain climber! And then they’re a best-selling author going on a world-wide book tour to meet their many adoring fans! They use their alone time to explore different interests and adventures they could have and researching how to make those fantasies a reality.
In an INFP fantasy, they fall passionately in love with the boy next door – but then he betrays them! And then they’re dejected. And then they channel their emotion into art – and then they rise above the situation triumphantly! INFPs use their alone time to explore the different feelings they could have and imagine how those intense emotions may manifest in real life.
9. ENFPs are open and welcoming, INFPs take time to warm up to new people.
ENFPs enjoy forming quick connections with those around them and don’t mind sharing their passions and interests from the get-go. They are warm and enthusiastic when meeting others – wanting to learn more about them in order to foster an instant sense of closeness.
INFPs enjoy meeting new people but don’t feel comfortable revealing much about themselves from the get-go. They are guarded about their passions and interests and need to feel as though they trust someone before they can truly feel close to them. They don’t often hit it off immediately with strangers.
10. ENFPs are highly excitable – even when they are alone – whereas INFPs are selectively excitable around others.
Leave an ENFP alone for three hours and they often re-emerge with limbs shaking from too much coffee and fourteen new ideas that they’re bursting to share with others. Though they also use alone time to reflect on their emotions, even their deep reflections tend to give way to bursts of creative inspiration, and their emotional processing may quickly turn into fanciful conceptualizations of the future.
Leave an INFP alone for three hours and they’ll re-emerge with a poem they wrote and a reluctance to show it to others. This type is most likely to feel excited when they are making future plans with a good friend or sharing a joke with others. Their extroverted intuition emerges through the lens of their introverted feeling, so they need to feel an emotional connection to the idea in question before they can truly be excited about it.