Note: before you read this post, you should know that it quotes outdated information about type distributions. Currently, ENTJs are the rarest type in the population. I may rewrite/update this post at some point in the future, but for now you can read more about current type distributions at this link: “How Rare Is Your Myers-Briggs® Personality Type?”
As an INFJ, I often see people talking about how it’s the rarest personality type. According to every type distribution I’ve seen this statement is true. However, I’ve also seen quite a few INFJs treat this rarity as if there’s a huge gap between how rare we are compared to the other personality types. Some also treat this rarity as meaning that we INFJs are so rare no one else can relate to us and/or that it makes us extra special.
While INFJs are the rarest type overall, there are other types that are almost as rare. And when we break type distributions down by gender, INFJ is not the rarest type among women (though it is among men). You can see the Estimated Frequencies of the Types in the United States Population in this chart:
Relative Rarity For Each Type
As you can see from the type distribution chart at the start of this post, most of the Intuitive types each make up less than 5% of the population. The estimates from Center of Application for Psychological Type cover a pretty broad range, though. The Myers-Briggs® Foundation offers more specific estimates in addition to the ranges. These percentages pin-point INFJ at 1.5%, ENTJ 1.8%, INTJ at 2.1%, and ENFJ at 2.5%. They’re all pretty rare.
Even some Sensing types are more rare than others, though Sensors as a whole make up about 70% of the population. ESTPs only make up 4.3% of the population and ISTPs are 5.4%. This makes both of them much more rare than ENFPs, who come in at 8.1% (they’re the most common Intuitive type). I guess the idea that Sensors can’t understand what it’s like to be outnumbered by other personality types is a myth (at least in part).
Rarity By Gender
Breaking things down by gender is when rarity of personality types gets really interesting (at least to me). While all the INFJs that I talk with feel that they’re rare and misunderstood, it’s especially pronounced for INFJ and ENFJ men. This isn’t to down-play the experiences of INFJ women like me, but we are far more likely to find other women who share a similar type to us than INFJ men are.
Not only are NFJ men especially rare, but in many cases they also face cultural pressure to act “more manly” since FJ types are very relationship-oriented and that’s often stereotyped as a feminine quality. Something similar happens for INTJ and ENTJ women. These are the rarest types among women and they often face pressure to act in a “more feminine” way. I often wonder how much personality stereotypes and traits play-into cultural expectations of gender, and I talk about this more in my post “‘Thinking’ Women and ‘Feeling’ Men.”
How Special Are You?
While it’s true that INFJs are the rarest personality type there is also more to the question of “rarest type” than just slapping that label on the INFJs. Several other types are also very rare. And when you bring gender into the discussion we can see there’s even more nuance to the rarity breakdown. I’m sure there are other ways of breaking down type rarity within groups, but the official statistics I found only focus on gender so I don’t have percentages for things like type breakdown in certain industries (for example).
Most importantly, though, we need to realize that rarity doesn’t make any type better or worse than others. The only thing relative rarity tells you is how many people in the population have brains that are “wired” similarly. Type rarity is not a statement on how important or special each type is. Every personality type plays a key role in society.
Further reading: Susan Storm has an excellent post on this topic that’s based on slightly different percentages than what I found online. Check it out here: “How Rare Is Your Myers-Briggs® Personality Type?”
Featured image credit: Anastacia Cooper via Pixabay
If you’d like to know more about the INFJ personality type, check out my book The INFJ Handbook. I just updated it with a ton of new information and resources. You can purchase it in ebook or paperback by clicking this link.