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Articles > The ISFJ Personality Type

The ISFJ Personality Type

ISFJs' modesty and trusting nature make them loyal, reliable teammates and friends.

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

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

What does ISFJ stand for?

ISFJs stands for Introverted, 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 ISFJ’s place on all four dimensions:

Introverted

ISFJs have an introverted attitude or orientation.

ISFJs tend to focus more on the inner, subjective world of concepts and ideas, while an extraverted attitude leads to a greater focus on the external world of objects and people.

Sensing

ISFJs 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

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

Judging

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

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

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ISFJ 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 ISFJ,

  • I: This type has an introverted 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 ISFJ prefers the four cognitive functions of intuition, sensing, thinking, and feeling:

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

Why? ISFJs have an introverted attitude (I) and a judging attitude (J), so they present their judging function (F) to the external world.

However, as an introverted type, ISFJs prefer an orientation to the inner world, so their primary cognitive function is not what they show to the external world. Instead, their primary cognitive function is their perceiving function: sensing or sensory perception (S).

ISFJs’ secondary function is the one they show to their external world: feeling. This counterbalances their introverted primary function.

In MBTI theory, the tertiary function is the opposite of the auxiliary function, which for ISFJs is thinking.

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

How rare is the ISFJ personality type?

According to the MBTI, somewhere between 4% and 20% of all people will be classified as an ISFJ, depending on the test format and the demographics of the sample.

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