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Articles > The ESFJ Personality Type

The ESFJ Personality Type

ESFJs are compassionate, caring, and enthusiastic about making things better.

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This series of short articles touches on several aspects of the ESFJ personality type.

You can jump straight to any section by clicking the links below, or keep reading to learn about the definition of the ESFJ personality type.

What does ESFJ stand for?

ESFJ stands for Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling, and Judging.

In the popular Myers-Briggs or 16-personalities tradition, all personalities belong to one of 16 types. Each type is defined by preferences across these four dimensions:

  • Introverted vs. Extraverted
  • Sensing vs. Intuitive
  • Thinking vs. Feeling
  • Perceiving vs. Judging

Here’s how to understand the ESFJ’s place on all four dimensions:

Extraverted

ESFJs have an extraverted attitude or orientation.

ESFJs tend to focus more on the objective world of people and their external environment, while an introverted attitude leads to a greater focus on the inner, subjective world of concepts and ideas.

Sensing

ESFJs prefer to use the cognitive function of sensing over intuition when taking in information about the world.

This dimension, sensing vs. intuition, is known as the perceiving function in MBTI theory.

Sensing refers to perceiving and gathering information directly through the sensory system. People who prefer sensing trust their five senses to directly observe the world, and they can be more skeptical of more intuitive, theoretical approaches to learning and understanding.

Feeling

ESFJs prefer using their feeling function when judging information and assessing values and needs among people.

This dimension, thinking vs. feeling, is known as the judging function in MBTI theory.

By prefering feeling over thinking as their judging function, ESFJs lean on their acute understanding of others’ emotions, desires, and perceptions.

Judging

As a judging type, ESFJs tend to present their judging function of feeling to the external world.

Because they present their feeling function externally, other people see ESFJs as sensitive and empathetic.

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ESFJ cognitive functions

The four-letter types from MBTI theory encode each type’s attitudes and preferred cognitive functions.

  1. The first letter indicates an introverted vs. extraverted attitude
  2. The second letter indicates the preferred sensing function
  3. The third letter indicates the preferred judging function
  4. The fourth letter indicates a judging vs. perceiving attitude

For the ESFJ,

  • E: This type has an extraverted attitude
  • S: This type prefers perceiving through sensing over intuition
  • F: This type prefers judging through feeling over thinking
  • J: This type has a judging attitude or orientation and will present their favored judging function (feeling) to the outer world

From this, we can determine how the ESFJ prefers the four cognitive functions of intuition, sensing, thinking, and feeling:

  • ESFJs’ primary function is feeling (F)
  • ESFJs’ secondary (auxiliary) function is sensing (S)
  • ESFJs’ tertiary function is intuition (N)
  • ESFJs’ inferior function is thinking (T)

Why? ESFJs have an extraverted attitude (E) and a judging attitude (J), so they present their judging function (F) to the external world.

Like all extraverted types, ESFJs prefer an orientation to the outer world, so they present their strongest cognitive function (F) to the outer world and other people.

ESFJs’ secondary function, sensing, is the one they rely on more heavily in their inner, subjective world. This counterbalances their extraverted primary function.

In MBTI theory, the tertiary function is the opposite of the secondary function, which for ESFJs is intuition.

Lastly, the inferior function is the opposite of the primary function, which for ESFJs is thinking. The inferior function in all personality types is the least developed function.

How rare is the ESFJ personality type?

According to the MBTI, somewhere between 4% and 20% of all people will be classified as an ESFJ. The rarity of the ESFJ within a sample varies based on the the version of the MBTI assessment and the demographic makeup of the sample.

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