How smart are INFPs?

Very. 

I mean, wouldn’t it be fun if that was the whole article? It is true, though, if it’s a simple answer you’re looking for. A more complex answer would obviously require for us to get into an in-depth analysis of several factors, including “how would we define intelligence?” to be the first question that needs to be addressed. So, let’s do that, and we can go ahead and figure out how smart INFPS are. 

Intelligence: a multi-faceted approach. 

It may have been easy to answer the question of the level of smartness of an MBTI personality type in the past. Because, up until some time ago, intelligence was measured only based on how high or low one scores on an IQ test. That was it. During such dark times, it was common knowledge that level of intelligence in an individual is the evidence of their intellectual potential. It used to be believed that intelligence is in a person’s DNA; that it is something we’re born with, and that people have a low, close to zero, chance of changing or enhancing it. It was also very objective and measurable in numerical terms. Sort of robotic and a little too unemotional for my liking, to be honest. 

Growing up as an INFP kid in a South Asian culture with dial-up internet, I would often wonder if I would ever be good at school. We were taught hard sciences, and of course, math. I didn’t mind the sciences, but math was never a strength of mine. And just as I was beginning to question my level of intellect, I found out what an IQ test is, and I was sure that I was useless. Despite never having come across such a test before, and despite having to take a long time to comprehend each puzzle (again, due to lack of exposure to such things), I let logical reasoning and analytical questions make me anxious to the point that I became spooked and left the test midway. A lack of analytical skills caused my self-esteem to plummet to the ground. Because, the idea that I wasn’t “smart” gave way to an intense kind of self-doubt to make its way into my head.

After that, I really struggled with my education, and it wasn’t until I chose a field that was well-suited for the kind of person I am, that I began to get some of that confidence back. 

Once I enrolled myself in a psychology program, it was the first time that I realized I loved being a student and learning. My inherent empathy and compassion had always pulled me towards the wisdom and knowledge that lies within the mysteries of the human condition, so this was a perfect fit for me. I recognized my ideal path quite late, though, because of an outdated, standard viewpoint regarding intelligence that is still going strong in many Asian communities. 

A more modern and highly inclusive viewpoint was presented by Psychologist Howard Gardner, in the year 1983. In his book, Frames of Mind, Gardner talks about how he believes that the traditional psychometric views of intelligence are too limiting. He presented the Theory of Multiple Intelligences, in which, as he shares, his work suggests that people have different types of intelligences; based on their aptitude, what comes to them naturally, and the kind of personality they may or may not have. 

According to him, there are 8 kinds of intelligences, to be precise. Let’s see which type is best suited for INFPs. 

Visual-spatial

People who possess this type of intelligence are good at visualizing things. They have a way with videos, visually interpreted data (i.e. charts, graphs, etc.), have a naturally good sense of direction, and are intrigued by videos and pictorial forms of data.

INFPs can really fit in with this type of intelligence. They are curious people, who enjoy reading and can be excellent writers. They also enjoy putting together puzzles occasionally. INFPs have strong interpretational skills and can do really well with virtually represented data. As creativity comes naturally to INFPs, they can be remarkable at drawing, painting, videography as well as photography.

Linguistic-verbal

Individuals who are strong in linguistic-verbal intelligence tend to have a way with both written and spoken words. They are excellent storytellers, avid readers, and have a knack for memorizing large chunks of information with ease. 

INFPs are highly introspective, and they tend to explore their emotions rather deeply before they can express them to other people. This really opens up a place for them in the linguistic-verbal department, because when INFPs do talk, they know exactly what it is that they wish to communicate, and they do so in a rather impressive manner. They can be highly persuasive with their words, and tend to flourish most when they express themselves through writing, as it takes away the element of social awkwardness that they often struggle with. 

Despite the fact that they hate the spotlight, an INFP can do wonders when it comes to talking about something they are passionate about. 

Logical-mathematical 

Logical mathematicians are good at pattern recognition, logical reasoning and analysis of complex problems. These individuals are fascinated by patterns and numbers. 

Despite what is popularly believed, given the right training, INFPs can become very skilled at mathematics, if they feel a connection to numbers. They also constantly like to push themselves to improve, so a motivated INFP can most certainly practice and polish their logical reasoning and analysis skills. 

Although, they do things their own way, and using their imaginative skills and their ability to come up with endless ‘what if’ scenarios, they can become detail-oriented, think pragmatically, and be rational. They also use their creativity to come up with calculated yet out-of-the-box solutions to flourish in their particular line of work.

Once I was comfortable and at peace to have found my true calling at college, I returned to a failure of mine that had bothered me for a long time. I began attempting logical reasoning and analytical problem-solving questions just for the sake of utilizing the left side of my brain more often. I now seek websites as well as videos with such material that I can challenge myself with, for fun!

Bodily-kinaesthetic

People who possess bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence are excellent at performing actions, body movement, performing actions, and have impressive physical control. This is because such people have dexterity and good hand-eye coordination. 

Although they’re not usually athletes, INFPs can be excellent dancers. These introverts are creative and artistic in general; their talents know no bounds, and they can very well express the depth there is to their personalities and being, using bodily movements.

Musical

Musically intelligent people are good with patterns, sounds and different rhythms. They not only listen to music, they feel it. These people know how to truly appreciate music, and are good at instrumental performance, singing, and/or composition. 

Music is open to interpretation, and it involves creativity. Music soothes the hearts of INFPs, and they often find themselves to be intrigued by the different rhythms and different kinds of beats and sounds that can come with different forms of music. INFPs’ creativity makes them well-suited for possessing this type of intelligence.

Interpersonal 

Those who have high interpersonal intelligence tend to have a way with people. They are understanding and appreciative of the human condition. They can easily interact with others as they are skilled at reading and analysing the intentions, motivations, desires and especially emotions of people.

Intrapersonal 

These people are well in-tuned with their own emotional states. They tend to reflect inwardly, and are quick to criticise and correct their mistakes. Their in-depth understanding of themselves helps them explore and build strong relationships with other people.

It makes most sense for INFPs to have both inter as well as intra-personal types of intelligence. Their empathetic nature and undying compassion towards other people is one of their defining features. INFPs are empaths who can absorb into them, the emotions, intentions, desires and motives of other people without even asking or them opening up. 

They are also very well in-tuned with their own thoughts, feelings, and emotions. As INFPs tend to comprehend and reflect on afore mentioned matters internally, they definitely seem to possess both inter and intra-personal intelligences. 

Naturalistic 

This type of intelligence has been met with some controversy and resistance, but people who are high in naturalistic type of intelligence find it easy to connect with nature, and are most peaceful when surrounded by it. They are nurturers, explorers of the environment, and care deeply for different life forms that exist on our planet. 

It may not come as a surprise to people who know an INFP personally and closely, that they feel most at peace when they’re surrounded by nature. They’re also caring and nurturing to humans, animals and plants, alike. These people can very well be naturalistically intelligent, and it all comes down to if and how this side to an INFP is nurtured and developed as they grow. 

I have basically just told you the exact same thing as I did at the beginning of this article. INFPs are very smart people, indeed. They may appear to be mysterious and often times outright strange, but they are highly intelligent beings. It varies from person to person, but out of the above mentioned types given to us by Gardner, different INFPs can show promise in one or more types of intelligence, and excel in whatever it is that they’re good at (granted their abilities are supported and nurtured). 

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