An INFJ’s Social Experience
Do you ever feel like a chameleon? Do you find yourself picking up the characteristics of those around you and easily adapting your behavior to meet their needs? Do you change depending on who you are around?
INFJs often feel as though they are different people depending on who they are with. One friend causes them to feel jovial, exuberant and the life of the party, whereas another friend may have them feeling melancholic. At work they may stand confident and assured, able to lead the masses, then at social gatherings they blend into the crowd.
Everyone changes slightly depending on their environment. However, many INFJs report changing dramatically, immediately and effortlessly. In some instances, they hardly notice that they have absorbed the characteristics of those around them until after the fact when they are remembering the experience. This change in behavior is referred to as the Chameleon Effect.
The Chameleon Effect stems from the INFJ’s cognitive functional stack which is perfectly designed to absorb the behaviors and personalities of others. The first piece of this chameleon-like ability stems from the INFJ’s inferior function, extroverted Sensing (Se).
Se function works subconsciously absorbing large amounts of sensory information. Aspects of another’s personality that most would miss and even the INFJ may consciously miss is being meticulously studied by their Se. This information is then fed to the dominant introverted iNtuition (Ni) function which can piece together large amounts of data effortlessly to reach an accurate conclusion, seemingly out of nowhere. Add in the extroverted Feeling (Fe) auxiliary function which causes the INFJ to want to connect with others on a comfortable level, and the recipe produces the Chameleon Effect.
An INFJ interacts with someone. Their Se absorbs large amounts of information about that individual. The Ni makes sense of that information, piecing it together to gain awareness of the bigger picture of who the individual really is. The Fe uses this knowledge to alter the INFJ’s behavior, ensuring complete comfort and satisfaction along with the ability to connect on a deeper level.
This functional stack is part of what makes INFJs feel like they can connect with almost anyone as well as allows them to easily understand any individual they meet.
On the whole, this can lead them to greater understanding of humanity in order to make phenomenal changes in the world. However, when the INFJ is frequently submerged in this chameleon-like state without taking time to reflect on who they truly are, they may begin to lose themselves in others, which can lead to an unhealthy state of being.
Consider whether you ever feel like a chameleon. Look back on recent interactions and think about how you altered your behaviors, whether consciously or subconsciously, becoming more like the person with whom you were interacting.
Recognizing this behavior is a fascinating look at the functional stack in action. As long as you become aware of what is occurring and remember to keep the real you from disappearing, observing the Chameleon Effect is a fun lesson in social science.