ESTP and INFP Personality Types: Two Visions of the World 

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1. Personality Type Cognitive Functions

2. ESTP Characteristics

3. ESTP Cognitive Function Stack

4. ESTP Shadow Functions

5. INFP Characteristics

6. INFP Cognitive Function Stack

7. INFP Shadow Functions

8. ESTP and INFP Relationships

9. Personality Trait Stereotypes

10. Conclusion

Knowing about yourself is the foundation of success in all aspects of your life: in work, as a parent, as a partner, or any other life role.

What do you know about yourself? Are you clear about your strengths and weaknesses?

In this article, we look at two personality types—ESTP and INFP—in the Myers-Briggs personality types. Whether one of these personalities is your own, or that of someone else, having this knowledge can help you develop more fruitful relationships and unlock opportunities.

They also each have particular strengths and weaknesses and can interact in some very interesting ways. We will go through the features of each of these personality types, then the differences, and provide some insights to help these personalities achieve their potential in the world.

Personality Type Cognitive Functions

Each personality type has a dominant and shadow function. 

The following are the different primary functions as they relate to a personality type:

Dominant Function – Focuses on how an individual is seen in the world by themselves and others. They are concerned about other people’s perceptions of them since they have an extraverted, dominant function.

Auxiliary Function – Conducted by order, rules, and how the person functions in the world.  

Tertiary Function – The function uses the inner child and draws on how the ESTP responds to other people. Often it’s a childish response. This is a rather underdeveloped position as compared to the other functions.

Inferior Function – This function is the least developed among the primary functions. We are primarily concerned with how we relate to people who differ from us.

Depending on the personality, the functions that sit in each category above may vary. For example, an ESTP’s dominant function is extraverted sensing, but an INFP’s dominant function is introverted feeling.

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ESTP Characteristics

An ESTP is a thrill seeker who is at his or her best with putting out fires, whether literal or metaphorical. In their interactions with others and the world around them, they bring a sense of dynamic energy. They assess situations quickly and come up with effective ways to address immediate problems.

Active and playful, ESTPs are the life of the party and have a great sense of humor. Their keen observation ability allows them to assess their audience and adapt quickly to keep interactions lively. Though they typically appear social, they are rarely sensitive; the ESTP prefers to keep things funny and fast rather than serious or emotional.

    ESTP stands for Extraverted, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving. The term ESTP describes a person who is energized by time spent with others (Extraverted), who focuses on facts and details rather than ideas and concepts (Sensing), who makes decisions based on logic, and who prefers to be flexible and spontaneous rather than organized or planned (Perceiving). Because of their high-energy, active approach to life, we sometimes refer ESTPs to as Dynamo personalities.

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    ESTP Cognitive Function Stack

    The ESTP has four dominant functions. Individuals use this function to communicate with others and live their daily lives. Out of the four primary functions, the first is more dominant, and the fourth is more reserved. 

    Let’s look at the ESTP cognitive functions to see how they correlate to this personality type.

    Se – Extraverted Sensing. This primary, dominant function relates to the learning process of the ESTP. They have robust senses that help them understand information. ESTPs are drawn to sensory experiences.

    Ti – Introverted Thinking. The ESTP interacts with their world, seeks knowledge, and seeks understanding through this auxiliary function. ESTPs analyze information or use hands-on skills. ESTPs are great at organizing their senses and perceptions into a logical framework.  

    Fe – Extraverted Feeling. The third function is how the ESTP processes emotions and interacts with others. An ESTP enjoys others’ company. It is common for ESTPs to help others and show affection by doing things.  

    Ni – Introverted Intuition. Intuition is the weakest of the four functions of an ESTP. They can feel drained trying to harness intuition. The introverted intuitive trait allows ESTPs to rely on the information they have stored in their brain to predict outcomes and identify patterns.

    Depending on the personality, the functions that sit in each category above may vary. For example, an ESTP’s dominant function is extraverted sensing, but an INFP’s dominant function is introverted feeling.​​

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    ESTP Shadow Functions

    People often overlook the shadow functions. But they can be very revealing and help you better understand your limitations to become more open.

    An ESTP’s shadow functions are non-dominant parts of their personality. ESTPs’ shadow functions can be perceived as critical, deceptive, manipulative, or oppositional when they are fully visible. We usually experience shadow functions when we are tired, annoyed, or in a situation that causes tension.

    There are four shadow functions to a Myers-Briggs personality, and they fall into these categories: 

    Opposing – This is the first of the shadow functions, and it acts as your primary defense mechanism when you are faced with a challenge. For ESTPs, this is Si. Comparing past and present experiences is the goal. This function helps keep the Se (Extroverted Sensing) function in check.

    Critical Parent – The critical parent functions as the voice in your head, what some people call your conscience. This results in an extreme focus on creating order for an ESTP. They can become critical and see others as incompetent. They may highlight explicit competition and confrontation when Te occurs.

    Deceiving or Trickster – This shadow function works like a knee-jerk reaction when the ESTP feels threatened, making quick and harsh judgments in order to protect themselves. In an ESTP, disorder is created when FI is experienced. ESTPs may use deception when they feel attacked. Or they may or aim their sights at other people‘s emotional shortcomings.  ​​

    Devilish and Destructive or Transformative – The shadow function is your weakest link in all of your cognitive functions. For ESTPs, it shows up when they feel their ego is threatened. Because the ESTP does not draw on abstract thinking, this function can make an ESTP feel frustrated and lost. As a result, an ESTP will exhibit confusion or even become scatterbrained when experiencing Ne.

    The shadow functions of an ESTP are opposite to all the primary cognitive functions. So, an ESTP who is an extraverted sensing person has the opposing shadow function of introverted sensing. 

    The shadow functions arise at the worst times, usually when we feel stressed and are quick to do something hurtful. When an ESTP expresses shadow functions, expect to see normally uncharacteristic actions. ESTPs, who are usually focused and logical, may become passive-aggressive and scattered when faced with unexpected challenges.

    Some of the ESTP shadow functions can be harsh and especially mean when compared to their primary functions nature. 

    ESTPs are unique, logical, attentive, and understanding, but they can be crabby, quick to criticize, and over-analytic when their shadows appear.

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    INFP Characteristics

    Guided by their core values and beliefs, INFPs are imaginative idealists. Always looking at possibilities, the realism of the moment holds little consideration for INFPs. As a result, they see potential for a better future and pursue truth and meaning with their own flair.

    In addition to being sensitive, caring, an​​d compassionate, INFPs care deeply about their own and others’ development. Individualistic and nonjudgmental, INFPs believe each individual must find his or her own path. They are open-minded and encourage others to take the same steps to explore their own ideas and values. INTFPs are creative and often artistic people who seek new avenues for self-expression.

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    INFP Cognitive Function Stack

    The same principles apply to the cognitive functions for an INFP. Individuals use these functions to communicate with others and live their daily lives. Out of the four primary functions, the first is more dominant, and the fourth is more reserved. 

    Here are the four cognitive functions for an INFP. 

    FI – Introverted Feeling. INFPs internalize experiences on their own.They really want to feel their way through the world solo, even when around others. So, in a group, they need to come out of solo thinking, and this requires energy. This is their dominant mode of being.

    Ne – Extroverted Intuition. If INFPs are concerned with who they are in an introverted sense, they can be extroverted when it comes to discovering who they do. In order to develop their sense of self, they look to the world outside of themselves.

    SI – Introverted Sensing. Especially when they have internalized the past through the first two functions, INFPs value the past. IFFPs are not bound by tradition, but will honor traditions they have experienced and assimilated when they believe that those traditions reflect their values and speak to their identity.

    Te – Extroverted Thinking. This function is like a secret craving for order. This feeling-based group of people can be perceived as unfeeling because they are so quiet, but they also value structure, even though they are seen as disorganized.

    INFPs want an open, supportive exchange of ideas. They treat others with acceptance and non-judgment, believing that each individual must follow their own path. They are flexible and accommodating and can see many perspectives. In turn, the INFP emphasizes supporting other people.

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    INFP Shadow Functions

    The shadow functions can stay hidden but tend to come to light when the INFP is under stress. For an INFP, this could be when someone tries to steamroll them into a new way of thinking or doing. Or, when the INFP must mix and mingle in a large group.

    Opposing: Extraverted Feeling (Fe) – When someone challenges the INFP’s values or makes a threat to their ego, the INFP may lash out and appeal to external values or the values of “the group” in order to solidify their argument.

    The Critical Parent: Introverted Intuition (Ni) – The critical parent is often harsh and hypercritical. It seeks to establish limits and control, and it defends itself by denying oneself or others. Often immature, the critical parent sets limits on their own plans and dreams because they have a hunch that they will fail.

    The Trickster: Extraverted Sensing (Se) – The trickster’s primary function is to manipulate and create paradoxes. It distorts INFP experiences. They may become impulsive, reckless, or focused on the moment at the expense of their ideals and dreams.

    The Demon: Introverted Thinking (Ti) – This function can be harmful to an INFP. Systematizing things may become too important to them, or they may try to apply cold, hard logic to arguments and define and re-define terms. Over time, they may become flustered and will tear apart existing models and frameworks to prove they are inconsistent. Additionally, they may become increasingly self-critical and focus on their own logical inconsistencies and failures.

    While being true to your ideals is admirable, in the real world, it may be impossible to achieve anything until the INFP can find a way to give and take a little and achieve practical, albeit imperfect, solutions to problems.

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    ESTP and INFP Relationships

    Do ESTP and INFP personalities get along? At first glance, it may appear the two personality types have nothing in common—and in fact, they do have unique ways of seeing the world and thinking about things.

    ESTPs and INFPs

    The first time an ESTP meets an INFP, until you discover a shared interest, it may seem that you have nothing to talk about. They are idealistic, sensitive, and empathetic. They take their values seriously and feel things deeply. INFPs are very well informed about the state of the world and the emotions of the people living there, and they always think about making the world a better place. Fantasy and imagination attract them, making them lose track of what’s going on within the real world.

    Despite your differences, you have a lot to offer each other. The INFP may inspire you to think more deeply about what you’re doing rather than just doing what seems right at the moment. You can help them get out of their heads and enjoy life as it is.


    You’ll want to know the common threads you have with an ESTP because you have many differences. You tend to be idealistic, sensitive, and empathetic. In contrast,the ESTP is all about action. They prefer to get things done in the moment instead of in their heads. Fantasy is not a favorite for them, so they keep their minds grounded in reality. They do not think about how the world could be different; they’re too busy enjoying it as it is.

    For these two personality types to get along, each side must understand how the other operates in the world, what their priorities are, and practice listening to another view of life.

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    Personality Trait Stereotypes

    Knowing your personality type is essential to understanding how you work best in relationships and on the job. But in-depth understanding, like we use at elevanation, examines how to both recognize traits and harness them to lead a successful life.

    Taking a 15-minute test and thinking you know all about your personality type can lead to superficial stereotyping and confusion about reconciling your dominant and subordinate functions. Or whether to work on shadow functions. 

    Although you can use personality types as a foundation to create balance in your personal life and career, avoid stereotyping as a way to excuse inappropriate behavior or frustration at work.

    Well + Good lists stereotypes for each Myer-Briggs personality types. Let’s look at the stereotypes of ESTPs and INFPs. 

    ESTP stereotype: They’re con artists

    Some people may think ESTPs are fooling them, since they’re charming and confident. They are just incredibly straightforward and want to make sure they are doing their best for people. If you ask an ESTP where you stand with them, they will tell you. When they feel something, they will verbalize it. When they want something to change in your relationship, they’ll explain it to you. They prefer being honest. 
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    INFP stereotype: They’re mushy pushovers

    Deep down, INFPs are romantic and idealistic. But they also learn from their mistakes and, in time, do not allow themselves to be exploited. They’re often skilled at filtering positive influences and healthy romantic perspectives.

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    When You Want Change but Want to Be Yourself

    Dreaming about your vision is not about changing who you are. When you want to make a change, the most successful change comes from knowing yourself, aligning your talents and strengths with your vision, and taking action steps.

    When your action steps are based on a solid foundation, you can make changes that are even more you, without limiting beliefs that hold you back.

    At elevanation we mentor people for success. If you want to know more about yourself and make successful and meaningful change, Schedule Your FREE Action Call.

    We get you to your vision.