ISFP vs INFP – The Difference between these Two Personality Types

Both INFPs and ISFPs are artists with talents, value beauty, and big aspirations. A bit melancholy, the introverted INFP tends to translate their experiences into words and ideas, whereas ISFPs prefer to let an encounter speak for itself.

In spirit, ISFPs and INFPs are remarkably similar personalities. They both tend to be private, reflective, contemplative, value-centered, creative, and intelligent. In addition, they are sensitive to others, take pride in their values, and dislike conflict.

Both personalities will thrive in a situation where everyone agrees and works towards the same outcome. They each require a sense of purpose in their lives and will both hold firm to their convictions when challenged. It is essential that ISFPs and INFPs feel that their personal and professional efforts are making a positive difference in the world. When their strong values are appreciated, the future possibilities are endless.

It is important to note that both ISFPs and INFPs handle conflicts similarly–through conflict avoidance. This is why communication growth is essential for ISFP and INFPs who are friends or romantic partners.

Despite that commonality, ISFPs and INFPs do have significant differences. ISFPs are carefree spirits who want all things and all people to be in harmony with one another. They love to pursue fun activities. They shy away from complications and drama and generally consider themselves happy.

On the other hand, INFP personality types tend to see things in a more black-and-white way. Something will either jive with their value system or it won’t. Because they are more inwardly focused, they are often plagued with anxiety. Social situations may be more difficult for them as compared to ISFPs. When comfortable, however, INFPs are creative and capable of thinking up unique solutions for problems.

The Key Differences between ISFPs and INFPs

While ISFPs and INFPs have many similar tendencies, they are essentially different in how they react to the world. For example, ISFPs tend to be spontaneous and act in the spirit of the moment, whereas INFPs are more cautious and prefer to think out essential decisions carefully.

Here are some real-world examples of how different ISFPs and INFPs can be:

  • ISFPs are happy-go-lucky personalities. They want to do well but will not punish themselves if they don’t meet their expectations. 
  • INFPs tend to set strict goals for themselves and then strive hard to achieve them. But, very often, they are too hard on themselves when they have difficulty reaching their goals.
  • ISFPs live in the moment. 
  • INFPs often worry about the future.
  • ISFPs prefer action over a discussion. 
  • INFPs prefer discussion over action.
  • ISFPs will tend to judge everything on a case-by-case, moment-by-moment basis. So what may work for them one day may not work for them the next. 
  • INFPs have a strict moral code and will live and make decisions primarily based on this code.
  • ISFPs are private by nature but tend to have an easy time getting to know other people. 
  • INFPs may struggle with relationships because they are so fearful of rejection.
  • ISFPs are fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants types who prefer throwing caution to the wind rather than worrying over something. 
  • INFPs are generally more anxious and more cautious regarding their life approach.
  • ISFPs are engaged with their environment, actively taking part in what is happening around them. 
  • INFPs tend to exist happily inside their heads. Because of this, they may seem preoccupied or aloof to those who don’t know them.
  • ISFPs can successfully work on many things at one time. They are excellent multitaskers. 
  • INFPs focus better on completing a single task before they begin another job.
  • ISFPs may do tasks out of order if it suits them. They are not the type to “read the manual” because they’d instead figure it out themselves. 
  • INFPs like to follow a specific process of doing something — starting at the beginning, completing each step, and then moving to the end.
  • ISFPs are eager for action or for something to happen. 
  • INFPs are more laid back and relaxed if everyone around them is happy.

ISFP and INFP — Cognitive Functions

To understand why ISFPs and INFPs do what they do, one must closely examine their personality functions. All personalities comprise four cognitive functions — Intuition, Thinking, Sensing, and Feeling. Each part can then be further described as being Extroverted (outwardly expressed) or Introverted (inwardly expressed.)

When examining ISFPs and INFPs specifically, the first thing that stands out is that they both have the same dominant function — Introverted Feeling. It’s no wonder why they share so many personality characteristics.

The differences in their personalities result from how those characteristics are expressed. The expression of those characteristics is governed by their auxiliary, tertiary, and inferior functions. Interestingly, both characters share the same low function, contributing at least a little to the similarity between ISFPs and INFPS.

Dominant Functions:

An ISFP’s dominant function is Introverted Feeling. This means that they tend to be individualistic and independent. Often, they are driven to act and make decisions by an internal sense of right and wrong. That sense may be similar to the “golden rule,” which dictates treating others how they would like to be treated.

ISFP personality types are not overly emotional but can come off as intense or severe, mainly when dealing with situations and issues that are important to them. Here are some of the ways ISFPs express their Introverted Feeling:

  • They are quiet and private but very caring and empathetic and will go out of their way to help others. 
  • They don’t like phony or inauthentic people. They want friends who understand them. 
  • ISFPs will be friends with those with a similar world perspective. 
  • They are very aware of their limitations and will not hesitate to tell someone that they need time and space of their own.

An INFP’s dominant function is also Introverted Feeling. They are very focused on and affected by how their mind works. They feel that careful self-examination will ultimately yield answers that can help them to understand the world around them.

Dismissing them as daydreamers is easy, but their feelings are deep and well-defined. They are attracted to certain things and are repulsed by other things. INFPs have a robust set of values that will provide a framework for any decision they make. Here are some ways INFPs express their Introverted Feeling:

  • Like ISFPs, they are empathetic and feel great for others, especially those similar to themselves.
  • They tend to feel very interested in other people but often feel too shy to make themselves available for friendships. 
  • Their friendships may develop slowly, but they will be undyingly loyal once they can trust someone. 
  • Sometimes their tendency to withdraw from social situations causes them to be misunderstood as aloof or uninterested in companionship. This is often a sore spot with INFPs because they long to be understood by others.

Auxiliary Functions:

An ISFP’s auxiliary function is Extraverted Sensing or interpreting the world using the five senses. ISFPs spend much of their time observing and soaking in information, which is perhaps why they are known for having excellent memory. They also tend to be very visual and artistic. It’s not uncommon for ISFPs to be talented artists with an impressive eye for composition and style. Here are some of the ways ISFPs express their Extraverted Sensing:

  • They prefer doing something rather than talking about doing something. 
  • They will have a sense of fashion and style that sets them apart. 
  • They love immersive sensory experiences like gourmet cooking, hiking, or concerts.

An INFP’s auxiliary function is Extraverted Intuition which is one of the main reasons they are so creative. This function allows them to perceive patterns and to see the world as having boundless possibilities. As a result, INFPs are endlessly curious about their role within the world and are constantly searching within themselves to discover the answers. Here are some of the ways INFPs express their Extraverted Intuition:

  • They are excellent researchers because they have a deep curiosity and a knack for persistence. 
  • They tend to see the big picture of any situation rather than the minor, insignificant details. 
  • They have a “gut instinct” about people and situations. As a result, they will make decisions dictated by their instinct rather than by what objective information tells them.

Tertiary Functions:

An ISFP’s tertiary function is Introverted Intuition. This function may linger in the background and cause this personality to be interested in theoretical or abstract problems. However, it will generally work in tandem with their impulse to act, meaning that while they are doing something, they will think about the meaning of what they’re doing. Here are some of the ways ISFPs express Introverted Intuition:

  • ISFPs tend to be deep-feeling people who find meaning in beauty. 
  • They look for moral relevancy in their pursuits, not wanting to participate in something that goes against their sense of right and wrong. 
  • They can be critical of other people, especially if those people do not share their values or are doing something that is opposed to the harmony of their group.

An INFP’s tertiary function is Introverted Sensing, which is the function that allows them to use their past experiences to interpret the present and future. Some personalities adhere to traditions because they value doing things as previous generations have done. However, INFPs are not as concerned with what was customarily done in the past and are open to new experiences. Here are some of the ways INFPs express their Introverted Sensing:

  • They are not rigid by nature, but INFPs tend to find comfort in a specific routine in their daily lives. 
  • INFPs like to use their knowledge of the past to do something creative and original in the present moment. 
  • INFPs are known for having vivid memory, especially regarding whatever emotion they experience.

Inferior Functions:

An ISFP’s inferior function is Extraverted Thinking — the logical reasoning ability. They can be analytical thinkers but have more of an ability to think abstractly and theoretically. As a result, they are more likely to act on impulse, ignoring logic as they fly by the seat of their pants to whatever the next new thing is. Here are some of the ways ISFPs express their Extraverted Thinking:

  • They become impatient with people who stick to the rules without opening their minds. 
  • Many ISFPs need to work on being less judgmental about people with a set process for doing things. 
  • If they open themselves up to this part of their personality, the dash of logic will help when dealing with others.

Like their ISFP counterparts, INFPs’ inferior function is also Extraverted Thinking. INFPs tend to be highly emotional, but this function adds reason and logic to their thinking. Here are some of the ways INFPs express their Extraverted Thinking:

  • When a problem needs to be solved, this function helps keep an ISFP’s emotions in check and provides a rational framework for them to complete their task. 
  • They tend to have a process for working through a task which involves starting at the beginning and following through until the end. 
  • Although they have this logical part of this personality, applying it to their self-examination may be difficult, an area in which they are highly emotional.