Disclaimer: Pandas do not have a monopoly on alienation. Every type, depending on the context, has probably felt a minor twinge of persecution in their life. Unfortunately, that’s also the primary reason why so many individuals tend to mistype themselves as Pandas—a thousand Pandas’ ears are ringing with the thought, “someone wants to be me?” The same things that can riddle a Panda with self-doubt—their underdog status, humble romanticism, and pragmatic idealism—can also turn non-Pandas green with temperament envy.
Maybe I’ll share my life with somebody; maybe not… but the truth is, when I think back to my loneliest moments, there was usually somebody sitting there next to me.
– Ally McBeal, Ally McBeal
It might seem offensive and a bit out of the ordinary to start off the Panda’s description with a negative trait, but as with most types, strengths derive from weaknesses and vice versa, and to fully understand the Panda, you need to know this first and foremost: they feel alone. A Panda’s purpose in life, like all Shamans, is to discover their inner self and help others do the same, and much like their Shaman sibling, the Dolphin, they prefer to accomplish this by working within a structured organization of people, such as the education system, the health care system, or the government. Unlike the Dolphin, though, Pandas usually don’t have a deep reservoir of extroverted energy, and instead of appearing spirited, they are frequently perceived as deeply guarded, an oddity among Shaman types.
Without the benefit of social popularity, the Panda’s genuine idealism often falls on deaf ears, or worse, faces extreme opposition; they’re the teacher who tries to change the grading system, the therapist who strays from DSM orthodoxy, or the politician who rails against corruption. It’s this struggle against the establishment while still working within the establishment that can leave a Panda feeling alone, trapped, and ultimately doubting their own convictions. On the bright side, if a Panda’s ever able to overcome the social restraints and figure themselves out—with their natural intrapersonal intelligence, most do—watch out! Their combination of altruism and pragmatism makes them a perfect conduit for real change.
To me who dreamed so much as a child, who made a dream world in which I was the heroine of an unending story, the lives of people around me continued to have a certain storybook quality.
– Eleanor Roosevelt
Perhaps it’s the Panda’s analytical nature and reserved demeanor that causes people to mistake them for their Smith cousins. Or maybe it’s their insatiable reading habit. Fiction and non-fiction, literature and poetry, physics and history, all have a habit of appearing on a Panda’s reading list. Consuming the written word is their way of interacting with ideas without the pressure of the external world—a teacher won’t be jumping out of the pages to lecture them on how they’re doing everything wrong, like some horrifying pop-up book from Shaman Hell. A Panda’s mind is a sanctuary filled with ideas and emotions they’re unwilling to share. Pandas, unlike the emotionally available Dolphins, fear vulnerability—a common Panda anxiety is the belief that by expressing their true self, they will most undoubtedly scare everyone away—so books act as virtual sparring partners, preparing the Panda for a fight they feel destined to have.
When that fight does happen, it’ll usually happen on the page. Pandas make excellent writers, and it’s not only due to their heightened emotional sensitivity and gift for metaphorical language, as all Shamans share those traits in some form or fashion. It’s mainly because, when compared to other Shamans, Pandas are more cautious than Dolphins, more emotionally stable than Baboons, and more focused than Humpback Whales, all traits that foster good writing. A good percentage of their literary capabilities can also be attributed to the aforementioned feelings they’ve been bottling up inside; for the Panda, writing is an exercise in catharsis, and the more words they peddle from their creative Peloton, the better emotional shape they’ll be in.
When people who don’t know me well, black or white, discover my background (and it is usually a discovery, for I ceased to advertise my mother’s race [white] at the age of twelve or thirteen, when I began to suspect I was ingratiating myself to whites), I see the split-second adjustments they have to make, the searching of my eyes for some telltale sign. They no longer know who I am.
– Barack Obama
A positive repercussion of experiencing emotional turmoil is that a Panda is well-equipped to recognize and understand the pain in others. This is not just because they’ve suffered. It is because of all the types, the Panda is the most self-aware, and thus, the most likely person to fully understand the source of their own suffering. This intrapersonal intelligence can be an incredibly powerful tool, as it allows them to connect on a personal level with their patients, students, or whomever it is they’ve chosen to mentor, by revealing relevant details from their own past.
This sort of confessional therapy is normally frowned upon by the establishment for two reasons. One is the fear that the practitioner, by making things personal, will be leaving themselves emotionally vulnerable. The second is that, by admitting to their own personal struggles and flaws, they have relinquished their professional authority. When it comes to showing strength and establishing authority, Pandas could care less. Their only concern is what method is most efficacious, and they are willing to take great emotional and professional risks to help others. The rest of us should feel quite fortunate to have their courage in the world.
The Resolute Decision-maker
If the idea is to drive them out with firearms, let every Indian consider what precious little profit Europe has found in these.
– Mahatma Gandhi
Pandas have an incredible capacity to endure. Contrasted with the Gatherer Bear, who can withstand immense physical pain, the Panda can sustain itself under enormous emotional pressure, an ability that’s best attributed to their unparalleled strength of will. And unlike the Humpback Whale, whose idealism tends to venture more into self-sacrifice and voluntary exile, the Panda is not interested in leaving society. They know that being in the thick of things, even though it may be a situation they despise, gives them access to the people they want to help—sadly, it’s these same people who are frequently exerting emotional pressure on Pandas in the first place.
True to their diplomatic nature, Pandas usually choose the path of compromise or passivity, which can sometimes alienate their more Shamanic—some might call them idealogue-leaning—Shaman siblings, the Baboons and Humpback Whales. This moderate position is one from which the Panda makes decisions every day of their life, decisions that can be excruciatingly difficult by the fact that, due to the nature of compromise, nobody’s ever 100% satisfied. Thankfully, Pandas are pragmatic and disciplined, and like a doctor treating a petulant child, they will seek to alleviate society of its ills whether society likes it or not.
This is awesome. Thank you for this.
Wow, this is one of the best descriptions of INFJ I’ve come accross.
Thanks Eve! One thing we try to do is balance the positive and negative aspects of each type in a nuanced way. I hope we accomplished that.
I completely agree….fantastic site.
Daenerys Targaryen is actually INFJ, giant panda not what you have it now in the video…def suggest changing that!
Since Baboons (Daenerys) are fellow Idealists, they share traits with Giant Pandas. However, Dany’s aggressiveness and lack of caution/humility are traits that are an anathema to most Pandas. Contrast her inspirational, revolutionary style with Jon Snow’s more brooding, somber approach.
Eric, I agree with your assessment of Danaerys.. but don’t you think you may have possibly mis-categorized Jon Snow? Situationally, he’s very panda(infj).. but personality-wise he seems more humpback whale(infp). HBWhales “whose idealism tends to venture more into self-sacrifice and voluntary exile” sounds more like Jon Snow. Whales distort into martyrs and Jon has that in his personality.
Samwell Tarley seems more like a panda that wants to be part of society, but feels alone and escapes into books. Samwell also has that sneaky courage that takes risks to help others. Sam is a writer and a scholar.. and seems more panda than Jon.
Contextually Jon fits the role of martyr as it pertains to the show. But temperament-wise, he is far less daydreamer (Humpback Whale) than brooder (Giant Panda). Pandas emphasize people over principle (vice versa for Whales), and this shows in Jon’s natural tendency to want to bring people together. Jon really wants to belong. Whales, on the other hand, tend to be more withdrawn and less communal, especially when they’ve matured a bit, a la Bran Stark.
Samwell is a Bear. Outwardly similar to a Panda, but more grounded and focused on concrete matters. A good example is when they first meet: Jon is in search of who he is and where he belongs, whereas Sam already has a pretty good idea who he is and where he wants to be (he just needs to get stronger).
This is the most interesting description of INFJ….no matter I seem to be a true INFJ..
Always an ISTJ, this one says a Panda, INFJ. Sounds exactly like what I live every day inside and out. Thank you for the insight. I think you are right-on.
Every test (except this) said that I’m ESFP, but this told me that I’m INFJ.. I’m confused
This test is different than most of the other, A vs. B type tests. The easiest way to determine which one of the two you are is to read the full portraits, while trying to eliminate the bias you might have of typing as an ESFP in the previous tests. To be honest, the fact that you’ve taken the time to take the test and leave this question already has me leaning in one way (I won’t say which).
This has been indeed helpful. Thanks
I know that I am an INFJ. I match the description exactly. However in other tests, I did not come out as INFJ. I know perfectly well how to act extroverted when I need to, and really like people (when I have the energy to be around them). I’ve heard that the INFJ is the ‘most extroverted of the introverted types’ – mostly because of their commitment to reaching out to and helping others. So when I fill out a test based on how I act, versus how I deeply feel inside, it does not type me correctly. This is one of the only tests I’ve taken that types me as what I am – an INFJ.
That’s great Mimi! We tried to design the test without the stringent dichotomy (ex: “E” vs. “I”) due to the same fact that you mentioned: whether you’re an “E” or an “I” doesn’t necessarily manifest itself strictly by the definition. One of the clearer examples being ENTPs (Chimpanzees) and INTPs (Owls). The difference between the two has nothing to do with whether they are extroverted or introverted, but rather how they process information (through experimentation or theory).
Sorry but, are Exxx always experimenting and Ixxx theorizing? Because it seems so.
I think it makes sense in the example above, as conceptual Rational types (as opposed to the pragmatic ones) like the two mentioned focus heavily on abstract ideas and how they manifest in the universe. However, when comparing another, more concrete, pair, like let’s say a Stag (ESTJ) and Beaver (ISTJ), the difference is predicated on how they approach duty (a priority to those two and Guardians in general). Stags follow a chain of command and Beavers follow the rules. I could see how a Stag’s assertiveness could appear as experimentation, but they’re usually far too practical and risk averse to view it that way.
Wow! This is actually one test which I feel really describes me.
Thanks so much for such a wonderful site.
Yes I’m still an INFJ. Every test I’ve taken comes out with the same result! A very interesting article. Thank you
This is so well written and so incredibly right on. I also really needed to hear it at this juncture in my life. Trying to make a decision between continuing to teach within a broken school system, or going my own direction and trying to change the world in a different way. I love my job so much, but it’s like banging my head against a wall.
Anyhow, thank you for this eloquent and accurate description and for your site. I am heartened knowing that although I think I’m alone in this feeling, I’m not. ❤
Out of curiosity (especially as a teacher), do you ever contemplate starting your own school? Is that even a thing..? Lol
It has become clear to me that many of our society’s woes are being mistreated. Instead of promoting lasting, far-reaching solutions by treating problems at their roots, we are only slapping bandaids on “symptoms.”
A complete overhaul of our education system is an area that I believe could have one of the greatest impacts on the future health of our society.
Maybe you and I can join forces???
I have a lot of ideas about non-conventional subjects and methods that should be incorporated into a modern curriculum/administration. I’m sure you have tons of ideas too!
This is just a fantasy of mine at the moment, but perhaps with more knowledgable partners on board, such as yourself, we can create something better.
Even if this is not a path you care to pursue personally, I would still love to discuss this topic with you if you’re interested!
Either way, here is my email: firstname.lastname@example.org and I hope to hear from you!
[…] The Giant Panda – INFJ […]
This is a great test. Very original and innovative. Result: INFJ, which is perfectly in line with the various other tests I have completed. Some things surprise me, though. The humpback whale (INFP) is described here like an old soul, whereas I always thought the giant panda (INFJ) is considered to be an old soul. INFP: the heart of a child; INFJ: the soul of a sage. Furthermore: I am not moderate, especially about politics. I actually consider myself to be far left – between anarcho-communism and Trotskyism. One more thing: pragmatism? I have done another MBTI related test. Not the official test, but this one is quite comprehensive with 130 questions. This test also gave me a match for each type, INFJ: 99%. It also showed some keywords that others are more or less likely to use to describe me. Pragmatism: 0… Anyway: this is not to criticize. I personally think ambiguity is part of the whole MBTI theory and practice. Great test and a great site. I especially like the fact that you put emphasis on the fact that INFJs are both thinkers and feelers. You do not have to choose between them: you can use both to make the crucial decisions in life.
Interesting. The way you describe yourself is much more in line with a Humpback Whale. A good distinction is how you often felt as a child. Humpbacks feel lonely whereas Pandas feel left out–fine distinction, but still a distinction. Our issue with the standard MBTI test–which is why we are trying to evolve past it–is that the dichotomy created by the questions is often theoretical and not contextual (e.g. a Chimpanzee in theory might get “extroverted” but in most situations, their “lab” is where they want to be). Likewise, the difference between Humpback Whales and Pandas are that the former often work to change society from the margins and the latter try to change it from the inside.
Dear Eric G, Maybe I should explain a bit more about myself. As a child I felt more left out, I guess. Most of the time I felt like not good enough and that others were dismissive of me. Also, from child’s age I developed a sense of perfectionism. My enneagram types are 1 and 4 (perfectionist and individualist). According to several cognitive functions tests, my main cognitive functions are introverted intuition and extroverted thinking. On various big five tests I score high on openness, conscientiousness, agreeableness and neuroticism. Mostly I try to change society from the inside (I am a member of 3 political parties), but sometimes I worry this will not change the status quo. Furthermore, I did not have problems in education. So, I guess I am not that rebellious. I finished my MSc in Biological Sciences in 2013. Currently I am working as a language teacher and I like to help people with learning new things. Furthermore, I like reasoning and logic. I also like to research many things. Before watching a new movie for example, I start with checking the reviews. First I thought I was NT, but I do not like criticism and disputes. I also see myself as compassionate and put great value in equality, mercifulness and egalitarianism, while rationals prefer justice and impartiality. Lastly, I can be very critical and dismissive when people are disorganized and/or do not respect my values. For example: I really hate littering. I hope this clarifies something. Best regards, Gert-Jan ten Ham
I have forgotten to mention: I have been called manipulative sometimes, without me having the intention being so.
After doing the test several times again, I keep getting INFJ. I suppose it is correct then after all, right?
I am a 69 yr old grandfather. I was always considered the oddball. A Narcissist magnet. Tried always to fit In. Big time dreamer, love to write, especially poetry. Can’t stand crowds for long. Draining. Can see insincerity with my eyes closed. Can’t stand arrogance. I know when something is wrong when I walk in a room. Then I found I was infj. It was a relief. At least there was a reason for being different. But why would those who are not infj want to be. It has been painful.
I JUST WANT TO BE UNDERSTOOD!
This question I can only answer for myself. I do not want to be an INFJ. Why would you want to be something you are not? It is just a road to self discovery. I would think that people who desperately want to be a type would opt for an INTP or an INTJ. Possibly that it is just me, though. Maybe generally speaking people prefer to be what they are not? Since INFJs are known for their dark side as well, you can say this type is not exclusively about the positive things. Some of both the best and worst people in history were considered to be INFJ, so it is like a double edged sword. Of course other types have their rotten ones as well, but in INFJs this contrast seems relatively radical.
[…] According to Youtopia, Pandas are an INFJ […]
Wow, this is one of the nicest and most true personality descriptions I have read about myself! Thank you for this.
Am I really an INFJ, because I am mostly found thinking and thinking, analysing things, etc. Last 2 websites proved me an INTJ, 4 times. So, gow can I know am I feeling driven or thinking driven.
I am a Giant Panda and an INFJ which is quite accurate as I am an INFJ.
I have been taking MTBI and other personality tests for years, the results never felt right to me. An off comment by my husband led me to the INFJ personality type, which is undoubtedly my own. I wasn’t going to take this test because they are never accurate, but someone’s comment about how perfect this test is peeked my curiosity. It is the ONLY personality test I have ever taken that has accurately typed me! Props to whomever created this and wrote the type description!