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Articles > The ISFP Personality Type

The ISFP Personality Type

ISFPs' quiet, kind, and reserved exterior hides their inner spontaneity.

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

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

What does ISFP stand for?

ISFPs stands for Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, and Perceiving.

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

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

Here’s how to understand ISFPs on all four dimensions:

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ISFPs have an introverted attitude or orientation.

ISFPs 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.


ISFPs 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.


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


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

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

ISFP 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 ISFP,

  • 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
  • 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 ISFP prefers the four cognitive functions of intuition, sensing, thinking, and feeling:

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

Why? ISFPs have an introverted attitude (I) and a perceiving attitude (P), so they present their perceiving function (S) to the external world.

However, as an introverted type, ISFPs 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 preferred judging function: feeling (F).

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

In MBTI theory, the tertiary function is the opposite of the auxiliary function, which for ISFPs is intuition.

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

How rare is the ISFP personality type?

According to the MBTI, somewhere between 3% and 9% of all people will be classified as an ISFP.

ISFP compatibility with other types

For comparisons between ISFPs and other types from the 16 Personality typology, visit any of the type pairings below:

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