Are you one of the rare introverted personality types?
7 min. read
Are you an Introvert who sometimes get mistaken for an Extravert? Is your memory about past events so sharp it impresses and frightens people? Do you sometimes make big decisions but then realize you haven’t actually told anyone?
The very fact that we’re mentioning these different types of Introversion (they are real and there are many, many more) confirms something we all know: there’s more than one way to be an Introvert.
Some are common and others are rare, but which are you?
The MBTI framework gives us right Introverted types and eight Extraverted types. Of course, people are way too complex to be just one type all of the time, but the 16 types are a great starting point for understanding yourself and what you generally tend to do.
The middle two letters of someone’s MBTI personality type also say a lot about a person’s type.
They represent the information gathering and decision-making processes and capture the core or essence of a person’s type. One of these middle two letters will be the dominant or favorite process—the one typically used most that feels most comfortable with. The other is the second favorite. Everyone uses both, and one of those processes is always introverted. The other is extraverted. This is true for everyone.
What this means is that for all the introverts out there (56.8% of the world’s population*), their dominant process—the driver—is not seen by other people. This is because it’s happening internally. Remember, for introverts it’s the inner world that’s most energizing.
So, if you’re an introvert, your top process—whether it’s S, N, J or P—is happening inside your mind.
How does an Introvert buy a chicken sandwich?
Here’s an illustration, taken from our podcast episode about Introversion. “You have two people, one an Introvert, one an Extravert, who go to get lunch in a sandwich shop,” explains John Hackston from The Myers-Briggs Company. “They both walk into the shop. The Extravert looks at what's on the menu and says outloud, ‘Oh, what should I have today? I normally have ham and cheese, but you know I quite like a change occasionally. What's special today? Pastrami banana. Pastrami banana? That's a bit weird. I don't think I’ll have pastrami banana, but I don't fancy ham and cheese. I know. I'll have that chicken sandwich, that sounds good.’ What the Introvert says is … ‘I'll have a chicken sandwich.’
Now, the same processing is going on for both people. But with the Introvert, that processing is going on inside their head.”
While this illustrates a big basic difference between a typical Extravert and Introvert, what about the differences between the different types of Introverts?
What can they look like?
‘There’s no way you’re an Introvert’
Melissa, our podcast host, has preferences for INFJ and this is what she said about it on the Introversion episode: “A lot of times I have been mistaken for someone who prefers Extraversion because people say, ‘Oh, you relate to people so well, you're so friendly and bubbly and you seem so social.’ And I am all those things, but that's because for my type, INFJ, the F—the feeling preference—is what I Extravert. So that’s usually what people are picking up on. And the feeling preference is all about making decisions based on people, values, and how those decisions affect people.”
Melissa is people-oriented, at least when it comes to the impact of decisions. But because she extraverts that part of her personality, this is what others see—and this is where incorrect assumptions can be made. People see the people side of Melissa.
What they don’t see is the main driver of her personality type, which is the other middle letter of her INFJ type – Intuition (N). This is what she introverts. All the possibilities and ideas that inform her people-oriented decision-making processes are actually happening in Melissa’s inner world. Many of them won’t ever get verbalized (the occupational hazard of being an Introvert).
Who’s in the driver’s seat?
When it comes to MBTI type, we’ve already established that the middle two letters are the core, and form those two letters, one is extraverted and one is introverted. And one is the favorite (dominant), the other is second favorite.
For Introverts, the favorite process—the driver—is introverted. It’s happening inside. Which means it’s the second favorite that’s out there doing all the interacting with others. But even though it’s pretty good at this stuff, it’s not in charge. It’s the co-pilot, the second-in-command.
So, whatever it collects from the outside world needs to be passed from co-pilot to driver to be processed– internally—and then passed back so the co-pilot can put a response out into the world.
This explains why there’s often a delay when talking to Introverts (a point of frustration for Extraverts? Discuss!).
If the co-pilot and driver get in each other’s way, especially if there’s time pressure, a mess (of words) gets served to the outside world. Sometimes, it’s so scrambled that nothing comes out at all.Embarrassing, right?
At times, such is the way of the Introvert. They have a chain of command internally that Extraverts don’t. For people with extraverted preferences, you talk directly to the driver because that driver is extraverted and interacting with the outside world themselves.
Now let’s compare two types with just one letter different.
ISFJ and INFJ—pretty much the same?
“On the surface, someone with ISFJ preferences will be very similar to INFJ,” says John, “because what people are seeing is extraverted Feeling. They're seeing that need for people to live in harmony and so on.
“But it's driven by something very different. For INFJ, it's driven by ideas and possibilities. For ISFJ, it’s driven by introverted Sensing, which is about the importance of their past memories and experiences. So, people with introverted Sensing will have a real typical core of memories and experiences from their lives that they've stored away. And sometimes those people will even say that ‘things are more real when I go into my memory store, when I'm actually living things at the time.’”
By now, you should be starting to see what shapes the different kinds of Introverts (and really, all 16 MBTI types). A lot of it comes down to the middle two letters and which one is extraverted or introverted.
Let’s finish with a couple of statistics about most and least common types.
The most common introversion type is…
The most common introversion type is ISTJ. In fact, it’s the most common of all MBTI types, including the extraverted types.
15.9% of the whole population has preferences for ISTJ, and more of them are men (18.9%) than women (13.3%).
And the least common introversion type is…
INFJ—but if that’s you, don’t shout (or introvertedly write) about your ‘most rare’ status just yet, because once you look at the same type through the perspective of gender, it’s only true for males.
2.3% of the population are INFJ. 1.4% are male, 3.1% are female.
For females, the least common Introverted type is INTJ. 2.6% of the population are INTJ with 3% being male and 2.2% being female.
So, INFJ males and INTJ females are the least common introverted types.For comparison, the most common extraverted type is ESTJ (9% of the population). The least common is ENTJ (1.8%), which is also the least common E type for females (1.5% of the population). The least common E type for males is ENFJ (1.4% of the population).
To find out more about different types and learn how common/uncommon they are, check the different MBTI type pages, then download the 2024 World Introvert Day infographic.
To spend some quality quiet time with Melissa and John while they talk about introversion, check the introversion episode of The Myers-Briggs Company Podcast.
And if you haven’t taken the assessment and got your official MBTI type yet, what are you waiting for? Do it right here.
Happy World Introvert Day!
*Global survey, 2020, The Myers-Briggs Company