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9 INFJ Cognitive and Shadow Functions Explained

Known as the rarest personality type, the INFJ can seem hard to understand. However, once their cognitive and shadow functions are explored, it becomes quite easier to recognize their motives and aspirations. In this post about 9 INFJ cognitive and shadow functions, you will find details and examples for each personality function.

Each personality has four cognitive and four shadow functions that justify the way to act and react. Let us explore the nine functions of the INFJ.

9 INFJ Cognitive and Shadow Functions Explained

9 INFJ Cognitive and Shadow Functions

The Core Cognitive Functions

The four core cognitive function of a personality type dictates the way in which a certain personality type will respond to certain factors in their lives. These functions can influence the way in which and INFJ processes information, how they interact with others and the environment around them, and the way they might view logic. Let us take a closer in-depth look at the four cognitive functions that dictate the way INFJs function day today.

#1 Introverted Intuition or Ni

The first and most dominant core cognitive function is introverted intuition or Ni. This is essentially a framework of how the INFJ perceives what is presented before them, specifically information. They tend to also stick to their intuitions which can often make them seem stubborn as they typically will not change mindsets.

Given that they tend to stick to their intuition, it also happens to be quite informative and beneficial. It is fueled by past details and information that is then stored in their minds. This information is later used when necessary, making their intuition seem quite powerful, however, there is also the logic behind their instincts.

#2 Extraverted Feeling or Fe

Extraverted feeling, or Fe, is the function that connects this personality type to those around them and their emotions, though it is mainly focused on others, this function is also how they process their own emotions. Although this is seemingly a great function, the fact that it is more focused on others’ emotions results in caring and being more receptive to their emotions and needs. Therefore, it is more likely for an INFJ to prioritize others people’s emotions over their own desires.

Extraverted feeling allows the INFJ to empathize with those around them which can sometimes result in them completely absorbing others’ emotions. By absorbing their emotions, it is as if the INFJ is experiencing those exact same emotions.

#3 Introverted Thinking or Ti

The third cognitive function is introverted thinking, or Ti, which is the function in which the INFJ makes decisions–decisions that are more than likely based on logic and facts. Now this logic is typically formed from their own understanding. As the third function, and therefore not as dominant as the previous functions, introverted thinking is usually only utilized when this personality type is alone.

Ti can often pose a problem when it creates doubt within an INFJ. The most dominant cognitive function in this personality is Ni, introverted intuition, which makes intuition their driving force.

When Ti comes into play it can be quite difficult for the INFJ to function as both Ti and Ni are at war, Ti creating that uncertainty and Ni wanting to go with their intuition.

#4 Extraverted Sensing or Se

The last cognitive function for this personality type is Se, otherwise known as extroverted sensing. As the last cognitive function, it makes it the least developed, also known as the “inferior” function. Although it can present itself, it is not as likely.

The extroverted sensing cognitive function is focused on helping the INFJ become fully aware of the environment around them.

Typically extraverted sensing creates a sense of organization and stability to the outer world for a personality. However, given that this is an inferior function, the INFJ can often struggle to find that connection with their surroundings. So if Se is developed within the INFJ personality it becomes a positive impact on their personality, allowing room for growth.

The Shadow Functions

The shadow functions of any personality tend to have a bad reputation, perhaps because they operate in the unconscious or perhaps because they can have some negative impacts if one is not careful. Like established previously, shadow functions are the opposite of the core cognitive functions of a personality. They are more likely to appear when an individual is under extreme circumstances or stress, though those conditions are not necessary.

#5 Extraverted Intuition or Ne

The first shadow function that opposes the cognitive function of Ni, is extraverted intuition, or Ne. Essentially extraverted intuition tends to lead the INFJ to make multiple connections or perceive different possibilities, or at least attempt to. However, given that this is a shadow function, and it is not well developed, this personality type struggles to execute this function correctly and effectively.

It is also important to note that this shadow function often presents itself as a defense mechanism. The INFJ is not opposed to extraverted intuition, in fact, they prefer when others around them can be open to multiple interpretations and perspectives.

However, given that this is a shadow function, it can come off as hypocritical, as INFJs tend to be stubborn about their own views and morals. Not to mention that sometimes they feel themselves get overwhelmed if too many perspectives or interpretations are thrown their way.

#6 Introverted Feeling or Fi

Introverted feeling, or Fi, is the next shadow function, opposing extraverted feeling. Introverted feeling is typically more concerned and attuned to the INFJs emotions and desires, whereas extraverted feeling tends to focus on others and their wishes. However, as this is a shadow function, Fi tends to have a negative impact on the INFJ.

Due to their dominant function, this personality type tends to focus on what is best for a group collectively. So when Fi manifests itself this function makes the INFJ become quite judgemental and critical to their own actions and hesitations.

They can begin to have negative thoughts about how they don’t tend to stand up for themselves or even cause doubt about how genuine they are since they cannot support their own morals.

This negativity makes the INFJ lash out on themselves but also at those around them as they can begin to hold resentment.

#7 Extraverted Thinking or Te

The third shadow function for the INFJ is extraverted thinking, also referred to as Te. As a cognitive function, Te presents itself as a decision-making function that is based solely on logic and doesn’t really care if they disrupt those around them or hurt people’s feelings. However, as a shadow function, Te begins to portray others around the INFJ falsely causing misunderstandings.

This function seems to manifest around other personality types that do use Te effectively, typically it is someone who has this function as one of their cognitive if not their most cognitive function. The INFJ will feel the need to challenge them especially if they believe they are being controlled.

 A personality type that uses Te correctly may be trying to assist the INFJ, rather than control them like the INFJ believes, however Te–as a shadow function–seems to manifest itself in negative ways. It tends to distort the way this personality type views other people’s intentions.

#8 Introverted Sensing or Si

The last shadow function, which also happens to be the least developed and suppressed out all the shadow functions discussed, is introverted sensing or Si.

Typically introverted sensing is the function that recollects past patterns and experiences. With this function, the past is utilized to make smart and informed decisions. However, as this is an underdeveloped function it manifests negatively as it seems to focus on the mistakes of the past rather than the possible lessons.

As a shadow function, Si tends to fixate on any trauma that might have come from the past that it might cause the INFJ to inaccurately remember how things might have actually happened. It is so negative that it clouds this personality type so that they only focus on failure rather than the possible growth that can be learned.

Bonus Functions:

#9 Sarcastic Functions:

A great way to view the cognitive functions is sarcastic as it provides a simple explanation through current examples. Introverted intuition, Ni, can be thought of as the one person who always gives the best advice to everyone but fails to follow their own advice.

As mentioned earlier in this INFJ Cognitive and Shadow Functions post, extraverted feeling, or Fe, can be thought of as a sponge that absorbs anything it comes in contact with, much like a person absorbs the emotions of those directly around them. Introverted thinking, or Ti, is to be thought of like that person who must have the right circumstances for everything–they must look for the time and place.

As for extraverted sensing, Se, this function is the type of person who tends to binge-watch a show to avoid all responsibilities.


As one can see, the INFJ personality type has a lot of complexities but once those complexities are explored, it becomes easier to understand how this type functions. This information is particularly important for INFJ types to know so that they can understand destructive behaviors that are in their nature, and do their best to avoid them.