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Articles > The ESFP Personality Type

The ESFP Personality Type

Uninhibited, flamboyant, and friendly, ESFPs often feel energized by being in the spotlight.

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

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

What does ESFP stand for?

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 ESFP’s place on all four dimensions:

Extraverted

ESFPs have an extraverted attitude or orientation.

ESFPs 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

ESFPs 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

ESFPs 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, ESFPs lean on their acute understanding of others’ emotions, desires, and perceptions.

Perceiving

As a perceiving type, ESFPs tend to present their perceiving function of sensing to the external world.

Because they present their favored perceiving function of sensing externally, other people see ESFPs as highly observant realists who focus on the facts and the present moment.

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ESFP 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 ESFP,

  • 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
  • P: This type has a perceiving attitude or orientation and will present their favored perceiving function (sensing) to the outer world

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

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

Why? ESFPs have an extraverted attitude (E) and a perceiving attitude (P), so they present their perceiving function (S) to the external world.

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

ESFPs’ secondary function, feeling, 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 ESFPs is thinking.

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

How rare is the ESFP personality type?

According to the MBTI, somewhere between 2% and 12% of all people will be classified as an ESFP.

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