INFP Development
The Unique Growth Path of the INFP

This section INFP Development is about the unique developmental path of the INFP personality from birth to midlife. While an individual’s personality development is unique, personality type provides a good general framework for you.

To understand the INFP’s development, we have to understand the hierarchy of mental functions for the INFP. The hierarchy of mental functions for the INFP is about which mental function (Sensing, Intuiting, Thinking or Feeling) the INFP is most comfortable with using and which they are least comfortable in using.

Without going too much into Type dynamics, let’s look at the INFP’s hierarchy of mental functions:

The INFP is most comfortable with the dominant function Introverted Feeling and least comfortable with the inferior function Extraverted Thinking.

From Childhood to Puberty:
Development of Introverted Feeling

As a child, INFPs will develop Introverted Feeling. They will be sensitive to the emotional climate of the home and will be affected greatly if there are conflicts or quarrels. They are also likely to perform acts of services at home and in the classroom to seek approval and encouragement.

They will also be more expressive with their emotions and will laugh or cry more easily than their Thinking counterparts.

If they have not properly developed this function in their youth, they may run from creative insight to insight, seeking inspiration but never following through.

From Puberty to about Age 30:
Development of Extraverted Intuition

During puberty, the INFP will start developing the auxiliary function, Extraverted Intuition. They will show this development by their quickness of understanding in grasping new concepts. They may enjoy subjects that deal with abstract theory like Mathematics or the Social Sciences (depending on how its taught).

They may also start developing ‘crushes’ on the opposite sex or their teacher as they unconsciously project ideal futures with them.

If they have not been allowed to develop this function, they may not take notice of current realities and instead make a decision solely on their personal values. 

Areas for INFP development

Assuming an environment is supportive to their development; most INFPs would have developed Extraverted Intuition and Introverted Feeling by 20 years or so.

Their areas of improvement will most likely come from the underdeveloped sides of Extraverted Sensing and Introverted Thinking. Below are some suggestions for improvement:

  • Break your big ideas down to specific tangible steps
  • Learn to give negative feedback constructively
  • Evaluate personal situations objectively and logically
  • Follow through on your inspirations
  • Be patient with policies and procedures

From Age 30 to Midlife:
Development of Introverted Sensing

If those functions are not developed by the age of 30, the INFP will feel the tension to continue growing and to start developing the Tertiary Function Introverted Sensing.

INFPs may start observing details of objects and people that they have never observed before. In their decision making, they may also begin to rely on their past experiences instead of relying on inspirations from the environment.

The INFP can further develop the Introverted Sensing function through these simple exercises:

  • When you are given a task, do not jump into it immediately. Instead break the task down into sequential steps and allocate a certain time to each task before proceed to execute the task.

  • Recall a significant event that happened before in your life, recount the details of this event: the sights, sound, smell, touch and taste.  Do not try to make connections or consider implications, but consider the event as it is.

  • Close your eyes and observe your bodily functions: your breathing and the sensation that your body is feeling right now.

From Midlife onward:
Development of Extraverted Thinking

From midlife onward, the INFP’s focus turns toward the inferior function, Extraverted Thinking. Their underdeveloped Extraverted Sensing comes out in a childish and undeveloped way when they are under stress, causing them to question their own competence or be sarcastic to an offending party.

But in midlife, there is an unconscious shift and desire to develop that inferior function in order to achieve wholeness and continual growth. It is an uncomfortable but necessary transition.

Here are some simple exercises to consciously develop the Extraverted Thinking function:

  • When conducting a meeting, stay task-oriented. Run through the agenda in a logical way and stick to the task at hand. Identify things to be done and allocate clear-defined tasks to individuals with deadlines.

  • Use cost-benefit analysis to make decisions. Consider pros and cons of each using a list. What are the consequences of each decision?

  • Take an objective approach to managing conflict. Explain the logical basis of your point of view and ask the other party to do the same. Do this without bringing in emotions or values.


The developmental paths of individuals are unique to themselves according to the environment, culture and social norms they were brought up in.

Some cultures value certain personality traits more than others, affecting the personality development of an individual.  Lastly, it is good to remember that no two people need to develop the same way, and hence only some of the above may apply to you.

This page only serves as a general guide for anyone using it as a reference. If you like to learn more about your unique developmental path, please contact me.

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