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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There's this thing I noticed about my behavior... I have a tendency to hide what I know, or understand. For example, when I join a conversation and listen for a while, I'll pretend not to understand what people are talking about, even though I figured it out. Or if I learn something about a person, e.g. from a mutual friend, I'll pretend I don't know it and act surprised when they mention it.

I've seen a couple of posts here saying that INFPs tend to be reserved and cautious, and this is definitely my case too. But there are two things I don't really understand about this specific behavior:

- I sometimes do it with completely innocuous things. I'll pretend I haven't heard about a certain band (even if it's nothing "embarrassing" to listen to :D ), or don't know what a new word or saying means.

- I do it automatically, and only think about it afterwards. Sometimes it can make sense to hide your cards, but often I find myself wondering why I felt the need to hide something.


So I was wondering, do any of you also do this? And did you find out where it comes from?
 

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Yeah you're not alone, I tend to play dumb a lot as well. I think it's just a shyness thing. I'm a type 9 as well so I tend to have problems asserting myself. I'd rather not stand out, so maybe that's why? Also it could be that I'm just weird, but who knows? :tongue:
 

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I...don't think so?

I generally do it because I don't want to hear others explain why they like it or care, which sounds cold, but I'm busy and don't have time for that.

When I'm not, I do make some time to listen and make the effort to do so.

I think if I know something bad about someone, and a coworker or friend has told me about it, I'll be more cautious about them. Other than that...not really.
 

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I call it tactical intelligence. Also sometimes you don't know what others know, so you don't want to embarrass yourself. Watching cooking shows, having a decent collection of kitchen equipment, and running my family's Thanksgiving for two years does not mean I can casually discuss cooking technique with a professional cook/chef.
 

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I feel like I'd be too overbearing or distractingly whimsical if I shared my opinions.. so most of the time I don't share unless I know a person really well.
I have to believe that they will be patient with me at the very least and won't take offense just from me opening my mouth since this actually happens sometimes.

I won't even open my mouth if I have inappropriate feelings for a person.. I've always been like that and always will be, I guess. :dry:
 

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Sometimes I play coy and dumb to get the attention of some guys I have a crush on. IMO, this 'tactic' tends to get the attention of dudes I suspect might be ExFJs :p

Other times I play dumb because I'm not in the mood or the right frame of mind to share anything insightful and lucid--I just don't want to be put on the spot if some people suspect I know something.

And sometimes I play dumb when I know somebody is saying something stupid and uninformed, so in a way I'm giving somebody enough rope to hang himself/herself as soon as I have an opening to start a mock Socratic inquiry conducted in bad faith (because I'm in a 'trolling' mood).
 

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I do this on occasion, if I feel uncertain about the topic or if I don't really want to go into a conversation about it. Sometimes if you play dumb, people leave you alone. I think I don't always come off as confident, and that makes people doubt me, even when I'm completely right and explain things thoughtfully, so I just don't always bother. When I do actually bother, sometimes I can get surprisingly argumentative and blunt if I'm comfortable. It tends to catch people off guard when I'm direct and concise but it happens if I really deem something important.

Sometimes it's knowledge related and other times I withhold weird things. My boss asked me what my major is and I told him I didn't have one yet, even though I already told him what my plan was. I think I half felt awkward because it has nothing to do with my current position and also because I was annoyed that he forgot. haha.

Conversely though, sometimes I pretend I know more than I do so that I don't feel inferior. I just kind of have a knee-jerk reaction either way if I'm not honest, which most of the time I am unless I'm anxious (social anxiety makes me do weird things).
 

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I do this too, sometimes. Mainly, when I don't feel like explaining myself and what I know. Feigning ignorance can make the conversation flow more smoothly. As long as the end result is the same, and it causes no harm. I also don't want to seem weird for knowing things, or come off as a know-it-all and make the other person feel dumb. So it's partly impatience/laziness, partly shyness/trying to be nice.
 

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I do this all the time because it makes people feel more comfortable. Confronting intelligence and knowledge makes people defensive. Playing simple allows people to open up and be themselves. I'd rather foster fun conversations than have someone know that I know this, this, and this already. Sometimes I just like to watch people talk too. I may not be learning anything new about what they're talking about but I'm learning about them by hearing them talk about it. That's what I like.
 

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I tend to hold back my knowledge of Jungian functions and MBTI because (1) it is an extremely specific esoteric area of interest that never comes up in daily conversation and (2) being an INFP is something that is important to me and I guard closely to my heart, so is it weird I don't want people to know the depth of which I connect to it? If that makes any sense. Especially acquaintances/strangers. I spent a lot of time reading Jung's descriptions of functions and studying it in depth because it captivated me for some reason -- it was as if I was glimpsing into this mirror that I had not spotted before that had numerous facets to be left explored. In a way, it felt like I was peeking into the realm of the phantasical, unconscious recesses of the mind. I also really love his writing too because of the imagery he conjures. It got to the point where I knew more about MBTI/Jungian Cognitive functions moreso than the person who had introduced it to me in the first place; this became clear to me whenever me and my friend would discuss typing characters. So in that way, I "hold" myself back.

In a way, I'm also scared of sharing the emotional depth to which I feel things, because I'm afraid of revealing how dark I can get so everybody else I suppose just sees the fluffy side of me. In a way, I'm like my ISFP friend, who hides a lot of her dark inner fantasy world through her art, and even then it is merely only perceptible to the observer.

I also tend to hold myself back when it comes to people asking me what I want to do with my life, future plans, and the like. I have always a specific vision of who I wanted to become, the dreams/goals I wanted to pursue are both specific and vague in nature at the same time. But I am scared to tell people because I'm afraid they'll laugh at me and tell me I'm unrealistic and naive.

I think it does help to feign dumb sometimes, because sometimes I want to listen what the other person has to say so I can be an equanimous confidant and take off the weight to contribute equally.
 

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I do it all the time. I can't really not do it; I only show off what I know about anything in the company of someone I trust, and only then when directly asked. I keep my mouth shut mostly. I'm fun at parties.
It's something I chalked up to enneatype 6 which has the element of security, boundaries, etc (I don't want to attempt to explain that and look like an idiot - although actually, on topic, me typing that is an example of me doing exactly the thing) but it's not necessarily a 6 thing at all. No idea, really. To an extent I guess it's the general nature of being reserved, although this is a specific breed of cautiousness.

I ask questions I know the answer to, not because I want the answer, but because I want to gauge the other person and often provide something to make them feel at ease and a little in control. People like knowing stuff so I tend to give others the opportunity. Part of this is supreme laziness but a good part of it seems very reserved and defensive. I like being underestimated, to a point.
Generally it serves the purposes of social cohesion, making sure of myself, being able to gauge others, and having something up my sleeve. I seem to manage to do it in a way which just seems reserved rather than dumb as such, in that people leave with the impression they don't know much about me. I like that. It's part of my alluring mystique, or something.

I mean, this sounds pretty bad, but the effects are largely positive. I'm not trying to deceive anyone as such, but...there's a time and a place to show off. Being the distrustful, sneaky introvert I am, this is approximately never.

SUDDEN AFTERTHOUGHT sharing how I feel about things with anyone except my tiny inner circle of ne'er-do-wells. Uh, no. All anyone else is getting is the distant look which gives a clue that I'm thinking or feeling something, without giving any clue whatsoever as to what.
Yeah, I'm annoying.
 

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I wouldn't exactly call my demeanor playing dumb, but people do tend to underestimate me. They just think I'm this cute cuddly little thing that doesn't know a thing about this world. I don't even do it on purpose, it just happens. I give them that impression and then... Oh how disappointed they are when they see that I'm nothing like they expected. It's quite funny sometimes :D
 

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I do this all the time because it makes people feel more comfortable. Confronting intelligence and knowledge makes people defensive. Playing simple allows people to open up and be themselves. I'd rather foster fun conversations than have someone know that I know this, this, and this already. Sometimes I just like to watch people talk too. I may not be learning anything new about what they're talking about but I'm learning about them by hearing them talk about it. That's what I like.
this, exactly. i also like to hear other people's explanations and understandings of things i already know.

another reason is that if i can't already feel out what a person's attitude or opinion on a certain topic might be, i'll just act like i have no opinion myself and let them talk about it for a bit, or outright state their opinion if they feel inclined to. this way i won't offend them or push them away if i happen to have a conflicting viewpoint, or i can gauge how exactly i should state my conflicting viewpoint.
 
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I don't play dumb, though I used to. I feel the social pressure to dumb it down sometimes, in certain social circles. I've decided that those are toxic environments, and I'm not doing anyone any favors by pretending we can only be friendly and nice when we're pooling our ignorance. I can see how it could get to be a habit, and I'd rather encourage people to be themselves. I don't show off what I know, but I do contribute when it's relevant to the conversation.

But I do hold back a lot, so I get underestimated a lot too.
 

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I can't relate. I'm really a mouth piece, unless I'm trying to sleep with someone. Then I just agree with almost every asinine they say.
 

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I played dumb a lot in social situations.

It's just that growing up it seemed that people were vying for dominance, and so playing dumb was an easier way to remove myself from that disgusting game. I prefer to be let alone to do my own thing, and allow others to try to cannibalize and dominate social environments, unless someone's directly threatening a friend.

Now, I feel like I'm trying to be more assertive when I have a conflicting opinion or different perspective, but I still go back to feeling like, "well...people are going to believe what the *want* anyway, and do I really want to bother? Don't they just have to figure some things out on their own?"

The thing about playing dumb, is that it lets you sit back into the background and observe.

I do enjoy being listened to...and sharing my perspective. But I'm often not going to shove it down someone's throat, nor am I going to dress it in wax lips and fake eyelashes to get someone to pay attention to it. I usually question the validity of it myself, so it is easy to not push it forward unless I am absolutely certain about it (which I rarely am). But those that I do feel strongly about, I may put out there.

I am probably not even talking about the subject of this thread anymore--but tbh, I usually don't "play dumb" seriously, unless I am being defensive. Like in arguments, I will sometimes pretend not to get someone's sarcasm, or I will graciously accept a backhanded compliment...which can be really annoying, I gather. But then...so can receiving backhanded compliments. I consider this more of a passive aggressive defense, but it works well enough so long as it isn't a constructive argument, in which I should be showing them I understood the feelings behind the sarcasm, in order to create better understanding. But then, sarcasm isn't always the best way of clearly communicating in an argument. So probably better done with strangers. With people I'm close to, I am usually much more open and willing to express my thoughts.

Also...I do think it's related to being afraid to stick out. People often want to cut down a tall poppy, and I can remember lots of times where people seemed to harass because of things that had nothing to do with any intent of mine, or trying to hurt them. So I try to feel safe and be more open now--it's one of my new goals--to be more honest and share when I disagree or have a conflicting or very different perspective. Because it does help with understanding for us to share that...we can't just sit back and expect people to learn the same things we've learned. They might not be true, but it feels better to express them than to get irritated at others lack of consideration for that perspective.
 

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I feel like I'd be too overbearing or distractingly whimsical if I shared my opinions.. so most of the time I don't share unless I know a person really well.
I have to believe that they will be patient with me at the very least and won't take offense just from me opening my mouth since this actually happens sometimes.

I won't even open my mouth if I have inappropriate feelings for a person.. I've always been like that and always will be, I guess. :dry:
This^^^ All of it.

I think I internalize things way more than I should and then explode out of frustration. People will never really know how I feel about them if I have negative thoughts towards them, since I've learned that I can hide it, and I tend to not confront them. When I'm truly mad at someone (bottled up feelings), people have said that my eyes pierce right through with a frightening intensity. One friend has compared it to daggers "shooting out of my eyes", and I don't even realize it. My eyes are mostly watery looking, like:



So the intensity/shift is difficult to grasp/interesting to think about. I don't really get angry though, and I think my anger manifests itself through frustration more than anything else.

But anyway, yeah, I know what you mean. My thoughts can be very whimsical and airy-fairy sounding so I keep it to myself nearly all of the time. No one knows what really goes on in my head, I feel. I'm a little more difficult to get to know and I never want to be overbearing because I know that I won't like being smothered. But I can be very positive and happy/extroverted on the 'net as it is my playground!!! :laughing: :kitteh: People do take offense with what I say sometimes, as my thoughts are rushing constantly and my mouth can't keep up… or I feel something so deeply/strongly and I can't quite articulate what/how I want to say it. (I don't want to throw the misunderstood card.)

I'm glad when I meet the few individuals who are patient enough to see my point of view or at least attempt to understand it and/or not swat me away. When not met with patience with the people I trust/love deeply I can cocoon into myself and will refuse for a time to open up to them about my thoughts/feelings, unless I decide to.

To answer the OP, I'm not sure if it's exclusive to INFPs, but yes, I've played dumb, and I know I still do. I hide what I know. It's easier that way, at first, if I want to connect with others. I take life and friendships deeply and seriously and can sometimes be annoyed by the lack of depth in others, so I've learned not to expect too much although I still do, deep down. I also play dumb because I know that it will be sometimes be met with resistance.

I also play dumb when I want others to have the spotlight/want to listen to what they have to say. It's fun. :DDD :))) :kitteh: <3
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Yes, a lot of the thoughts on this thread also sound familiar to me... Shyness, wanting to make others feel comfortable, fear of sticking out, trying to find out what others know... I can relate to all of these. Thinking about it, for me, it might also have to do with the fact that as a kid, I would read a lot and memorize a lot of trivia, which I would then share randomly with whoever happened to be around. Growing up, it was quite a surprise to find out that this is not universally appreciated. :D So maybe that's another reason why I tend to hold back my knowledge.
 

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Yes, I do this a lot too. I'm glad I'm not the only one. Everything I had to say about it has already been said so I'll leave it at that.
 
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