The INFP cognitive stack was mentioned a little in The Basics of INFP.
The only cognitive functions mentioned were the four primary functions:
“Fi”, “Ne”, “Si”, “Te”.
These are the primary functions, the key ways of thinking, perceiving, and making decisions. These develop first in your life, and these are the functions that you prefer most using.
Again, you only prefer them, like how an introvert prefers to be introverted. However, that introvert can be extroverted, it just makes them feel very uncomfortable.
Like with preferring introversion, INFPs prefer those functions, but they can use “Fe”, “Ni”, “Se”, “Ti”.
Those are the shadow functions, the least used of an individual’s functions.
(More on shadow functions here.)
Usually, when we use our shadow functions, we experience them in a negative way. (however, sometimes they can be quite helpful)
So these functions are helpful and all, but there is more to them then just “I have Fi first, so I usually judge things around me according to my morals and values first”.
Each function has a role it plays according to its place in the cognitive stack.
The Leading Role
Every individual’s first function operates in a leading role. This is the function that first develops in an individual’s childhood, and will mature as the individual gets older. When the individual nears adulthood, this function will be most developed and used of all the functions.
For the INFP, Introverted Feeling has the leading role. Constantly, the INFP is unconsciously judging the world around them based on their own morals, values, feelings, and standards. Introverted Feeling
I say unconsciously because “Fi” is most developed of functions. Whenever the INFP use a function lower on the cognitive stack, the INFP will sometimes “notice” that they are using that functions. More often than not, the INFP will be in an Introverted Feeling mindset, a mindset concerned about internal feelings, morals, etc. Because the INFP is always in this mindset, they won’t always notice they are judging things around them through “Fi”. Sometimes, especially during times when the surroundings are stressful, the INFP will notice that they are using “Fi”.
The Supporting Role
The second function in the stack is the supporting role. It is how the individual is helpful to others and to themselves.
The INFP’s second function is Extraverted Intuition. Extraverted Intuition is basically noticing the hidden meanings in the world and interpreting them. The INFP will often be able to notice several possible interpretations of one event, being able to see all the things that could spawn from one event. Extraverted Intuition
Because “Ne” is in the supporting role, the INFP is most helpful to other people when using this role.
In a group setting, the INFP would be most helpful brainstorming ideas and offering new ideas or points of view.
Also, because this is the INFP’s first Extraverted Function, this is how the INFP will often present him or herself to friends and family. As an Introvert, the INFP won’t share much with strangers and other people, but when they begin to act Extraverted, they may seem quirky and witty, showing off a few characteristics of “Ne”.
The Relief Role
This third function is called the relief role. It is how an individual recharges and energizes him or herself. It is how the individual relaxes.
The INFP’s third function is Introverted Sensing. It involves storing data and information, and it constantly compares and contrasts current events, situations, ideas, thoughts, and the world around the individual with past ones. Because it is a Sensing function, it is concerned about concrete details. In this way, the INFP is concerned about internal concrete details, like feelings, emotions, pains, and hungers. Introverted Sensing
Because “Si” is the relief role, the INFP relaxes and recharges through Introverted Sensing. For instance, the INFP can only relax when the internal body is comfortable. Once all hungers, pains, and emotions are sorted out, the INFP can feel comfortable and happy.
Now, you might say, “Hey I can’t relax when I’m hungry.” That is true, however, out of all of the personality types, INFPs and INTPs (who also have “Si” has the third function) struggle the most with hungers and pains.
Often times, after a stressful or stimulating situation, the INFP may often go over the memory of the event several times in their head, most of time, unintentionally. It’s like an unconscious reflex, they can’t stop thinking about that memory until they feel calm.
Here’s another example of “Si”. If the INFP is in a new situation or in a stressful situation, the INFP can only feel comfortable and calm down once things seem familiar, when the situation matches up with past situations. For instance if the INFP is a new situation, but a friend is there with them, the INFP will feel more comfortable being in that situation.
The Aspirational Role
The fourth function has the aspirational role. Though its a harder role to explain, basically, an individual will first experience it through the function’s negative aspect of projecting our fears and negativities onto others. It also in some aspects the role that kicks when an individual is stressed out. Most of time, when an individual engages in this function, they will look immature to others, only because it is one of the least developed functions.
Because “Te” is the INFP’s aspirational function, the INFP, when stressed out, may become overly concerned about the external organization of things. The INFP will overemphasize the importance of the logic in an argument or the scheduling of an event. For instance, if an INFP has an important deadline, the INFP will get stressed out if they don’t schedule and complete their day-to-day duties in order to be able to complete the assignment before the due date. Extraverted Thinking
Extraverted Thinking doesn’t always show up during negative, stimulating experiences, especially when the INFP has a more developed version of “Te”. Once the INFP learns to use “Te”, the INFP can be very helpful to others in their ability to sort the world around them.
As I’ll show you in Part 2, the least developed functions usually only show up during more situations and events that are very stimulating to the mind, especially when these functions aren’t used very often. When the INFP becomes stressed out and his or her mind is very stimulated, the least-developed functions come into the INFP’s conscious, with Extraverted Thinking being one of those functions.
Basically, since “Te” holds the Aspirational Role, an INFP will feel confused and will feel like they can’t concentrate when things are unorganized and out of order. This is rather interesting, in that INFPs inherently prefer to be flexible, more Perceiving, and they don’t care much for organization. However, because “Te” is in the “stress” position, an INFP may not seem like their normal self when in stressful situations, acting more ESTJ than INFP.
The INFP will not seem like themselves the most when their shadow functions are in play, and that will be discussed in INFP Cognitive Functions (Part 2)-Shadow Functions.