As someone who shows up in all three Star Wars trilogies, and as a key influence on several other main characters, Yoda is one of the most influential people within the Star Wars universe. He plays a unique role in the story, and it seems fitting that (as the only INFJ main character) he also has a unique personality.
I’m honestly surprised there aren’t more INFJs in Star Wars. Yoda is the only one I type as INFJ, and several people question whether or not that’s really his type (you’ll also see Obi-Wan typed as an INFJ, but I’ll be writing a post soon about why I think he’s really an ISFJ). INFJs are pretty rare in the real world, and evidently that carries over into the galaxy far, far away as well.
Typed as an INTP, Yoda sometimes is. Take time out from a battle for a spiritual pep-talk, however, the INTP does not. To motivate people by focusing on their feelings and individuality, and INFJ thing it is.
In the first episode of The Clone Wars, Yoda travels to a remote Toydarian moon to oversee secret negotiations (it’s worth noting here that David Keirsey identifies diplomatic intelligence as a strength of NF types). When Ventress (who is an INTP) offers to capture Yoda and prove to the Toydarians that the Jedi can’t protect them, Yoda accepts the challenge.
Yoda isn’t just proving the Toydarians can trust him, though. He’s also using this as a teaching opportunity for the three clone troopers. After the first encounter with the battle droids, he says, “See, see? Size is not everything. Smaller in number are we, but larger in mind.” Later, when they’re pinned down and the clones are losing hope, Yoda has them remove their helmets.
“In the Force, very different each one of you are. Rys, always focused on the enemy are you. For inspiration look to yourself and those beside you. Jek, concerned about weapons you are. Weapons do not win battles. Your mind, powerful it is. Out think the droids you can. Thire, rush not into fights. Long is the war. Only by surviving it will you prevail. Clones you may be, but the Force resides in all life forms. Use it you can to quiet your mind.” — Yoda, TCW S1, E1 “Ambush”
Yoda’s individualized encouragement is based on things that most people wouldn’t notice and even if they did wouldn’t comment on. Not all the Jedi see clones as individuals, and even the ones who do rarely speak to them about their strengths and feelings. But Yoda addresses each clone individually, encourages them, and assures them, “Left behind, no one will be.”
Once the droid attack is finally defeated, Yoda asks, “Learn something today, have you?” Winning the battle was a secondary concern for him behind giving the clones an opportunity to learn and connecting with the Toydarian leader. All FJ types prioritize connection and harmony among people, and NFJ types in particular thrive in teaching roles. Yoda takes on the role of teacher over and over again the Star Wars — for the younglings, for these three clone troopers, and finally (reluctantly) with Luke. Kylo Ren/Ben solo (an ENFJ) betrays a similar tendency when he tells Rey, “You need a teacher” during their duel in The Force Awakens.
Emotion, Yet Peace
One reason Yoda is often confused with an INTP is that INFJs and INTPs share some of the same cognitive functions (if you’re not familiar with cognitive functions in Myers-Briggs® theory, click here to read a quick introduction). Both types use Introverted Thinking and Extroverted Feeling, just in a different way.
INTPs are most comfortable with their Thinking side (it’s their dominant function), and their Feeling side isn’t very well developed at all (it’s their inferior function, which usually shows up under stress). For INFJs, Feeling is their co-pilot (we’ll talk about the function they lead with in a moment). Thinking is their tertiary function, which most people start to develop in middle-age. Since Yoda is over 800 years old in his earliest appearance on-screen, he’s had plenty of time to become the most mature, integrated version of his personality type possible. His logical, thinking side doesn’t make him an dominant Thinking type — he’s just an example of an INFJ with well developed tertiary Ti.
Some might think that INFJs are too emotional to share a type with a Jedi master like Yoda. However, even the greatest Jedi Masters aren’t emotionless — they just don’t form attachments to individual people. Yoda has feelings that he controls and channels, and he’s very much in tune to the feelings of others. All INFJs pick up on the emotions of others to a certain extent, even in the real world, and for Yoda this is magnified through the Force. In the book Dark Disciple, Yoda says he can see the history of a person’s soul, which is what makes it possible for him to tell that Quinlan Vos has turned to the Dark Side when no one else can sense it.
Yoda can also channel his Feeling side’s desire for Harmony among individuals into an appreciation for the balance between all life. While many INFJs in our world find feeling others’ emotions overwhelming, Yoda has found peace with it that. This fits beautifully into the alternate version of the Jedi Code (“Emotion, yet peace” instead of “There is no emotion, there is peace”), which he would be familiar with since it is taught to younglings.
A Different Perspective
We’ve spent a lot of time so far talking about Yoda’s Thinking and Feeling sides as an INFJ. But those aren’t the most prominent aspects of an INFJ’s personality. INFJs lead with a mental process called Introverted Intuition. Since this is an introverted process, it’s a little harder to observe from the outside but we do get indirect hints of it in Yoda’s character. People who use Introverted Intuition comfortably (like INFJs and INTJs) look at big-picture ideas, watch patterns to speculate on things they can’t know directly, and eventually become comfortable with taking on many perspectives at once (Personality Hacker, p. 66).
INFJs don’t usually think or work in straight lines. In the Clone Wars episode we just talked about, Yoda doesn’t take the most direct path toward the meeting with the Toydarians because the enemy also lies along that path (which probably wouldn’t have stopped someone like Anakin, an ENTJ). Yoda says, “To reach our goal, a straight path we will not follow.” You might say he adopts the same philosophy in other areas of his life.
Yoda’s tendency to not follow a straight path in his plans or even in his sentences frustrates some of the more straight-forward, practical types around him. But they also know that he’s usually right and have come to respect this strange little space wizard and his perspective on the universes.
“Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes. Even between the land and the ship.” – Yoda in Empire Strikes Back
Not Always (But Usually) Right
Mature INFJs aren’t tied to their own perspectives, which gives them a great adaptability. They also tend to come across as knowing more than they should because they get so good at predicting what might happen and adjusting to what does happen. Often, an INFJ’s wisdom just comes from lots of observation and a keen sense for what is the right thing to say in any given situation. And, since INFJs notice more than they share, they often end up privately giggling at the world without explaining the joke to people around them (something Yoda does all the time).
I also want to note here that even though INFJs can adopt a meta-perspective on things and have great insight into what’s going on behind the scenes, their perspectives are not always accurate. No matter how observant they are, the way they process things is still inward focused and subjective.
Though Yoda knew the Dark Side was clouding things in the Prequels, he wasn’t able to look “behind the curtain” enough to realize that Senator Palpatine was actually Darth Sidious. Similarly, Yoda thought that the future of the galaxy depended on Luke completing his training before facing Vader (and possibly, but not necessarily, sacrificing Han and Leia). It is implied, though not directly stated, that he agreed with Obi-Wan that Vader could not be saved.
However, we might also argue that Yoda wasn’t as tied to the idea of killing Vader as Obi-Wan Kenobi was. In Yoda’s death scene, he tells Luke, “You must confront Vader. Then, only then, a Jedi will you be” (confront, not kill). And this is true — Luke (an INFP) becomes a Jedi when he confronts Vader and chooses not to kill him. So in the end, Yoda’s prediction is true. This makes me smile since we (I’m an INFJ as well) can be purposefully cryptic at times to make sure that whatever we say will cover several different outcomes.
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