ISFJ vs INFJ: How to Tell Them Apart

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on March 03, 2022
Categories: INFJ, ISFJ

While it seems like two personality types with one different preference would be similar, the differences between them can be staggering. Looking at two similar types may help you realize the similarities you first thought reigned supreme aren’t as deep as you once thought. The ISFJ vs. the INFJ is a case in point: the two types share many commonalities but are different when broken down to their nuts and bolts. 

The ISFJ and INFJ are both compassionate types with an immense threshold for empathy, and although you might call them “people” persons, the differences between them make it easy to spot which type is which. Here’s what to look for to tell them apart.

ISFJ vs INFJ thought processes through Sensing and iNtuition 

When it comes to their thought processes, the ISFJ and the INFJ couldn’t be more different. Their preferences, “Sensing” and “iNtuition,” make these two types from the 16-type system vary in how they process information. 

By looking at their similar preferences, you’ll notice the ISFJ and INFJ are both Introverted types, Feeling types, and Judging types. However, because an ISFJ is a Sensing type, the ISFJ will focus more on facts and tangible details when analyzing information. At the same time, an INFJ’s iNtuitive preference means they’ll lead with ideas and concepts, putting hard logic aside when they don’t feel it fits into the pattern they’re seeing. 

This Sensing vs iNtuition preference rules many factors in a person’s life, whether taking in information about a new person they met, discerning other peoples’ thoughts and desires, or learning information during a course or career training event.

ISFJ and INFJ: introverted Sensing vs introverted Intuition

Going off of the differences between the ISFJ and INFJ, the most obvious is their introverted Sensing and introverted Intuition, respectively. An ISFJ’s dominant function is introverted sensing (Si), while the INFJ’s dominant fiction is introverted intuition (Ni). Si and Ni differ in many areas, the first being the INFJ’s tendency to see the bigger picture, while the ISFJ tends to focus more on the small details. 

Read more: Beginner’s Guide to Understanding the Cognitive Functions  

While the ISFJ possesses an uncanny talent to remember details of the past and present, the future-focused INFJ will spot oft-missed patterns and metaphors that can change the shape of their visions and goals. Furthermore, an ISFJ is often hands-deep in the gritty details of life, while an INFJ lends their minds to less practical matters by observing patterns and analyzing concepts others overlook. 

ISFJ vs INFJ at work  

The ISFJ wants to do what the boss expects them to and receive accolades for following the rule book. The INFJ does, too, but not when it comes to sacrificing their core values or feeling like they’re “selling” themselves out for money.

Despite their shared desire to do meaningful work, the ISFJ can hang onto a job longer than the INFJ if their boss’ and colleagues’ reception of them is top-notch because they get fulfillment in people’s acceptance and praise. Because the ISFJ values fitting in and doing the right thing in terms of job perception, they’ll view the facts and stay with a profession, even when they might have other dreams (though, in the end, they may move on if they find their vision fits into a logical plan for their lives). 

Meanwhile, the INFJ wants to feel they’re doing something meaningful so, if they don’t have a deep emotional connection with their profession, they’ll leave to try a different, more fulfilling path. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that an INFJ can better accept change than the ISFJ personality type, who may find it much harder to move on from a comfortable status quo.

ISFJ vs INFJ creativity

It may be unsurprising that the INFJ, known for creativity and open-mindedness, is more conventionally creative and imaginative than the ISFJ. But what’s the reason for the difference? Again, it has to do with the combination of preferences present in the two types. As a rule, the iNtuitive preference brings out more creativity compared to Sensing types, but it doesn’t mean the ISFJ isn’t creative (they often are).  

The ISFJ and INFJ are skilled crafters, and you might spot them at art supply stores. The difference lies in how prolific and what type of art these two create. The INFJ will be unafraid of every medium, ready to dive in and learn, no matter their failures. They’ll also incorporate outside-the-box thinking because their iNtuitive nature makes them more creative because they’re open to abstract concepts. The ISFJ, however, might stick to the book more, creating things based on what they know they can achieve and what they feel is helpful to them and others. 

ISFJ vs INFJ problem-solving  

Problem-solving isn’t an easy feat, but the ISFJ solves problems with logical ease. Since INFJs are “Idealists,” their nature is to fix issues with a flexible, creative light. However, creativity isn’t always the quickest solution. In contrast, an ISFJ will look at the down-and-dirty details of the problem, figure out how best to incorporate a logical and achievable solution, and make it happen. An INFJ, on the other hand, may find themselves stuck on one or several options that sound great on paper but struggle to come to fruition in the real world. An ISFJ also has a one-up since they’re better at planning than the INFJ is, despite their shared Judging preference.  

ISFJ vs INFJ future planning

Although the ISFJ is better at planning than the INFJ, their two focuses will yield different outcomes in a logical sense. The ISFJ will be better at planning, and thanks to their rational mind, will also be better at incorporating goals in the present, but those may be short-lived due to their lack of insight for the future. On the other hand, since the INFJ is so future-central, they might seem incompetent when formulating a day-to-day plan toward their goal, but their results, in the long run, may surprise you, despite their struggle to incorporate small milestones. The INFJ’s all-in attitude can change their fortunes in an instant, despite their less-than-meticulous plan.  

ISFJ vs INFJ routine

The ISFJ and INFJ both share hardy respect for routine, but how much they have will vary. As a rule, the “Judging” preference of the two types should instill a love of schedules, organization, and routine, but how far their love of structure goes depends on their other preferences. The ISFJs’ love for facts and logic (due to their Sensing preference) combined with the Judging preference makes them bigger sticklers to the day-to-day schedule than an INFJ. While an ISFJ doesn’t mind each day being the same, an INFJ has an internal fight with their “iNtuitive” preference, making a strict schedule feel too structured after several days. Despite their desire for organization and commonality, an INFJ also yearns for variety. When their creative whim takes them in a separate direction from their usual routine, they want to follow the flow. The ISFJ, however, doesn’t mind their task list as a rule. 

The takeaway

The ISFJ and INFJ share a lot of common traits, but some easy ways to spot who is who include whether they’re traditional or outside-the-box thinkers and how they handle life in social and professional aspects. ISFJs might look to the past and present more than the INFJs, and both types, despite their need for structure, display differing schedules and desires that rule their day-to-day lives.

Sensing and iNtuition play the largest part in the ISFJ and INFJs’ differences, so once you know how to spot these traits, you’ll have an easier time discerning who is who. 

Cianna Garrison

Cianna Garrison holds a B.A. in English from Arizona State University and works as a freelance writer. She fell in love with psychology and personality type theory back in 2011. Since then, she has enjoyed continually learning about the 16 personality types. As an INFJ, she lives for the creative arts, and even when she isn’t working, she’s probably still writing.

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About the Clinical Reviewer

Steven Melendy, PsyD., is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He specializes in using evidence-based approaches in his work with individuals and groups. Steve has worked with diverse populations and in variety of a settings, from community clinics to SF General Hospital. He believes strongly in the importance of self-care, good friendships, and humor whenever possible.

Comments

Thomas J. Sodwith (not verified) says...

     I can generally spot the differences in either an ISFx or an INFx. I, appreciate the differes as well as utilizing the differences accordingly to the different people that I speaking with at the time. I don't mind being corrected if someone else has a preference in the style in which they would find more beneficial for communication. I understand that, I appreciate their expressing their needs, and I will attempt to reciprocate accordingly. 
 

     I generally understand the patterns which people are expressing their feelings in, but also appreciate the details. I generally like to learn both the needs and desires of anyone who I am conversing with at the moment.  All types need to be respected. Better communication equals a more harmonious world. 

Cianna Garrison says...

Hi Thomas! 

 

Thank you so much for the comment. It's best for everyone if we can all respect all personality types, as they are all equal with strengths, likes, and dislikes:) 

 

Have a wonderful day.

Annie Qurat (not verified) says...

I loved reading this article, it's really insightful and the author seems to have a lot of grip on the two personality types. I am an INFJ and my partner is an ISFJ. I find my work so meaningless and depressing, as a data analyst and supply chain consultant. While my partner being an accountant, doesn't enjoys her job, but she still does it. I feel like I'm slowly whithering inside doing a job that is depressing me more and more. I wonder if there is a way I can enter MBTI, psychology, writing, and make money out of these things that I enjoy so much. 

Chad Hsieh (not verified) says...

I'm an INFJ and my partner is an ISFJ too. I'm a software engineer and I also find this job is kinda meaningless to me. I want to tell you there is a way to make money out of the things you enjoy. I love psychology, MBTI, Economics, Photography, Crypto, etc. You can start to build your personal brand (FB, IG, Youtube) and share what you are passionate about. I would recommend you to watch some good Youtube channels (Gary Vee, Simon Sinek) and read some books (Rich Dad Poor Dad, Early Retirement Extreme). Hope this helps you :) Feel free to send me an email if you want more discussions.

Kennethguest (not verified) says...

Thank you for the clear article! It was well written. You noted that the differences are easy to spot. I am trying to discern whether I am an INFJ or an ISFJ, but it difficult! Both sides describe me very well. Even as I read through the article I would think "Yup that is me!" But then I would read the other side and think the same thing. The 16personalities test has labeled me as both, and im at about 55% Sensing or Intution, depending on the day!

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