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What is an ISFJ?

ISFJ is an acronym used to describe one of the sixteen personality types created by Katharine Briggs and Isabel Myers. It stands for Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging. ISFJ indicates a person who is energized by time spent alone (Introverted), who focuses on facts and details rather than ideas and concepts (Sensing), who makes decisions based on feelings and values (Feeling) and who prefers to be planned and organized rather than spontaneous and flexible (Judging). ISFJs are sometimes referred to as Protector personalities because of their interest in keeping people safe and well cared for.

What are ISFJs like?

ISFJs are industrious caretakers, loyal to traditions and organizations. They are practical, compassionate, and caring, and are motivated to provide for others and protect them from the perils of life.

ISFJs are conventional and grounded, and enjoy contributing to established structures of society. They are steady and committed workers with a deep sense of responsibility to others. They focus on fulfilling their duties, particularly when they are taking care of the needs of other people. They want others to know that they are reliable and can be trusted to do what is expected of them. They are conscientious and methodical, and persist until the job is done.

What are the core values of the ISFJ?

ISFJs are driven by their personal values, and are conscientious in their behavior. They typically want to work hard, get along with others, and make sure they do what is expected of them.

ISFJs value relationships highly and strive to cooperate and maintain harmony with others. They want stability and longevity in their relationships, and tend to maintain a deep devotion to family. They feel most connected with people they know they can rely upon over the long term.

ISFJs appreciate tradition and like knowing how things were done in the past. They are loyal to established methods and values, and want to observe the proper, accepted way of doing things. They place great importance on fitting in with established institutions and contributing what they can to maintain strong, stable social structures. In groups, they often take on the role of historian, ensuring that new members respect and value the established customs.

How can I recognize an ISFJ?

ISFJs are characteristically humble and unassuming, and rarely call attention to themselves. They can often be found offering assistance to others in a modest, understated way. They are loyal and hardworking, and often commit themselves to tasks and projects with the aim of being helpful to their families, friends, and communities. They are typically involved in social groups, but do not want the spotlight: they are more likely to be found behind the scenes, working diligently to fulfill their role.

ISFJs are oriented to relationships, but can be reserved with new people. They rarely disclose personal information quickly. They tend to be focused and aware of their surroundings, and relate details from their own personal experience. They often converse in terms of what has happened to them and what they have seen first-hand. They are compassionate listeners, and typically remember details about people. They often enjoy hearing the facts about others in the process of making a connection.

For more information: The Art of SpeedReading People

Who are some famous ISFJs?

Famous ISFJs include Mother Teresa, George H.W. Bush, Laura Bush, King George VI, Kate Middleton, Rosa Parks, Princess Mary of Denmark, and Clara Barton.

How common is the ISFJ personality type?

ISFJ is the most common type in the U.S. population, and the most common type among women. ISFJs make up:

  • 14% of the general population
  • 19% of women
  • 8% of men

What do ISFJs like to do?

Popular leisure activities for ISFJs include cooking, gardening, painting, crafts, picnics, nature walks, and watching movies. They are also often found supporting their loved ones in their interests and activities.

What the experts say

"ISFJs emphasize loyalty, consideration, and the common welfare."

- Isabel Briggs Myers, Gifts Differing

"These ISFJs derive a great deal of satisfaction from caring for others, and they offer their comfort gently and helpfully, quietly seeing to it that caretaking is scheduled to protect the health and welfare of those in need."

- David Keirsey, Please Understand Me II

"Bound by fierce commitment, intense responsibility, and deep loyalty, the ISFJ is the embodiment of putting service above self in most aspects of their lives."

- Otto Kroeger, Type Talk at Work

Facts about ISFJs

Interesting facts about the ISFJ:

  • On personality trait measures, score as Conservative, Conventional, Guarded, and Reserved
  • Among types most likely to believe in a higher spiritual power
  • More likely than average to experience chronic pain
  • Among types most likely to suffer heart disease
  • Second most common type among education majors in college
  • More likely than other types to watch more than 3 hours of television per day
  • Personal values include Happy family, Health and Spirituality
  • Overrepresented among MBA students and male small business owners
  • Among three types with the lowest income
  • Commonly found in education, health care, and religious occupations

Source: MBTI Manual

Are you an ISFJ?

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Check out the ISFJ Discussion Forum

Want to have a more in-depth conversation about being an ISFJ? Head on over to our discussion forum and post your questions, comments, and/or general musings!


Guest (not verified) says...

I find that the careers for the ISFJ fit ok. I am positively ISF but I am between the P and J. The personality types are not completely accurate for every individual person, they are more like a stereotype. I love Science and am working on my Associates now. I love photography. I am excellent at taking super close up pictures because I have an eye for all the details. It's an art that just shows the beauty of the subject and can provide a new perspective.

Guest cookiezzz (not verified) says...

This perfectly describes me ^-^

nurfitriani (not verified) says...

this is a positive character

Guest (not verified) says...

what if you are interested in another person with the same personality type? it doesn say anyhing about relationships with same type

Eden R. (not verified) says...

Hey, I'm an ISFJ and have done a lot of studying of types, especially my own, and it's important to note that ISFJs normally have a very good sense of aesthetics, so the thing about photography being a bad choice for an ISFJ is pretty wrong.

Also, after reading the comments section, I've noticed some misunderstandings of the theory. Your Myers-Briggs type is just the way you process things mentally, not a dictator of every individual personality trait, personal choice, mental illnesses, likes/dislikes, et cetera. It affects your personality, but no one will be completely stereotypical. For example, most ISFJs have very organized home spaces, but my room is an absolute mess, and I'm okay with that. No one will fit the stereotype, and you shouldn't expect yourself or others to. Also, getting different results on the test when you take it different times is normal. I would take a few tests to get a general idea, then look at a chart explaining the basic differences between each letter and type yourself. You know yourself more than a computer does.

Additionally, I've noticed a few "this is a girl type" comments. I absolutely must refute that. There are no "boy" or "girl" types. None of these types are inherently masculine or feminine. I will admit that I am a female ISFJ, but there are plenty of male ISFJs. It does not make you girly just because you are concrete, caring, introverted, and organized. Saying "this is a girl type" reinforces a gender stereotype that suggest that masculine men should not be quiet or loving or show emotion or do things for people they care about. Saying "this is a girl type" suggests that many positive ISFJ qualities should not be expressed in men, which is oppressive, and in some cases, toxic to a male who feels he cannot express himself. Conversely, this also suggests that females cannot be what a stereotypical male should be. One stereotypically masculine MBTI type is the ESTP type, which is generally spontaneous, outgoing, assertive, and self-assured. These are qualities that are socially considered masculine traits, but can be held by any person of either sex. I know several ESTP girls; in fact, one of my old friends is an ESTP. So in conclusion, don't say "this is a girl type," because that confines the different genders to a set of characteristics, even when the characteristics are perfectly okay things for both sexes to be.

FathaAma (not verified) says...

Right on. Well said.

Guest (not verified) says...

Thank you. I'm a male ISFJ, and I don't think being faithful, or being a caring or nurturing father/friend/etc makes me "girly." I think it makes me a better man.

Kyle Hearst (not verified) says...

My personality is very sensitive. I don't show it but I care a lot. I also watch out for who people are. I don't let many people into my life.

Jodie (not verified) says...

Everything, is very accurate but the information that states that I will mostly suffer heart disease and chronic pain is very offensive. I hope that this is not true and that if its not, that you will take it off and put something better.

Guest (not verified) says...

It's pretty accurate for me except that I prefer jobs that are not only in the sciences, such as chemistry( which they said that were unpopular) but ones that I can do alone or in a very very small group.

Guest (not verified) says...

I enjoyed taking this test. Quite accurate in fact. Career selection on point, I'm a social worker. Also enjoyed reading other ISFJ's comments. would be great to have my husband take the test:).

Guest (not verified) says...

I like to help people in the easiest way possible. If it is hard, ill find a simpler, easier way to do it. If it is easy and requires nearly (or no) effort, then ill do it no problem.

Aprille (not verified) says...

Strange. I got a four-way split between ENFJ, INFJ, ESFJ and ISFJ. Maybe I have multiple personalities (bahahaha!). It makes sense, though. I think I was born (inherently) an INFJ, but life has forced me into a caretaker role for so long, that I it has impacted my personality. Lots of people think I am an extrovert, as I appear to be quite sociable at work, but being around people is very draining for me.

kev (not verified) says...

says im a protector its accurate seeing that im protective lol

Stew (not verified) says...

I've always wanted to be an interior designer... I am a civil engineer. I hate my job. My heart is broken because I am not using all my creative imagination. Instead I have to always follow stupid rules. It's like a butterfly in a closed jar.

Grasshopper (not verified) says...

I understand how you feel because I am a mechanical engineer and I don't really enjoy my job, either.

eweng (not verified) says...

That's why I want to go back to graphic design rather than programming. I am a ok programmer, but it doesn't come natural to me. I don't get lost in it. But when I am designing / creating images, time flys.  

Stew (not verified) says...

Exactly, it's like we are lost, if we do not create and show the world what our imagination and talant can give to express the emotions we feel, to show the world our way of thinking/helping. When we work something else, there's like no passion in this "measurement", like it's "never mind", like it's no love. And I personaly truly believe, that all of us here give 1000% of everything when we do what we love, because this is what we want. And there is no such thing like "big money" or carriere here, it's just being pleased of what you do.

Guest (not verified) says...

Well Stew it is time to use your creative imagination on something that interests you. Like invent something in your field, you have enough knowledge.

Genie (not verified) says...

I used to be the ISFP, but the result says I'm ISFJ-T for now. I'm still changing maybe. I wonder if it is accurate because this is result from myself.

JWilderness (not verified) says...

This really described my personality right on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Guest (not verified) says...

wow indeed this is really me....ISFJ #painting..... watching movies....

Guest (not verified) says...

I've taken a similar personality test before, and it had sorted me as an INFJ, which I find highly accurate for me. Although, some ISFJ traits are very similar to my personality too, usually relationship and communication wise, all the rest is either wrong or sounds far fetched for the kind of person I am.

kayla Dinsmore (not verified) says...

I found every thing on this website true as an ISFJ .

Mike (not verified) (not verified) says...

I have not read through all of the comments to see if anyone else noticed, but George H.W. Bush is listed as both a famous ISTJ and ISFJ...

JJA (not verified) says...

Just took the test, it said im a ISFJ which is the "protector" and a good caretaker and I care. This i feel, is very very inaccurate becuase I hate people and am very selfish, lazy, and I am not a caring person to others. I seriously do not care about others and I am not good with others.

Marie Philomene (not verified) says...

I'm sad to read this. I am INTP, and it's always been so hard for me that my ISFJ mom was so cold, distant, and emotionally unavailable! It says here that ISFJ's don't get along with INTP's. I tried so hard to get her affection, thinking I should be more logical, more rational, show less emotion, and then she would like me and I would feel loved! Instead, she got more and more distant. I wish I had known about the temperaments as a teen. That would have at least been an explanation as to what was going on. I still FEEL hated and hate-worthy even as an adult, even though I know it's not "logical". :(. For all the ISFJ people reading this, please remember that a little understanding goes A LONG WAY. If you have xxTP kids,  please stop asking them to emote, and listen to how they are desperately trying to show love in their own way. Logic is only the xxTP'S default (and they can no more change it that you can change your feelings-default) , and when they are stressed or worried, they fall back on their default. If you are patient, give them space, stop criticising their natural temperament, they will eventually open up to warm, affectionate feelings. They do have them, same as everyone else, and among them is the wanting to be loved by their own parents. But feelings are super vulnerable to xxTP's. They need to feel like they will be accepted if they open up. If you're criticising and manipulating for emotion, they don't feel safe enough to show their vulnerable feelings. You will never see their intense pain. You will probably, however, end up complaining how they never appreciated you, and they'll be thinking: "I did everything I could to get her /him to like me, but it never worked! All I wanted was acceptance, but it never came!" And because xxTP's are confused and frightened by too much emotion, including their own strong emotional desire for parental connection, they will deal with emotion the only way they can: they will go "cold" on you. As I said, a little understanding, sympathy, and patience for your Thinkers and Perceivers can go a very long way. Please don't forget this!

eweng (not verified) says...

So true... my giving and harmanous nature and my keen senser spotting being taken advantage of will set up a storm in my mind that will last for days. So, today, I took a day off (notify via email, Ha!) and just forget about being responsible for once. Feels nice.


Rob004 (not verified) says...

heh. proud isfj here. so, i've heard isfj is considered a feminine type? nah, i think men can be isfjs while keeping their machismo.

Felicia M Cirlos (not verified) says...

Meyer Briggs knew what she was doing when she formulated the personality tests. I'm an ISFJ and I feel a lot of the aforementioned characteristics are true and I work as a nurse, I've always known I wanted to be a nurse since I was 4.  I feel that a lot of it is so accurate due to the fact Meyer Briggs took into account our different facets that make up our individual personality such as how we portray ourselves in a social setting leading to the conclusion of either introvert or extrovert, how we respond to anothers' situation, how we are or view ourselves when it comes to demands such as work.  Everything tied in nicely.

Lauren Grice (not verified) says...

This describes me perfectly. I'm glad I finally have some guidance about what to do with my life. I was so lost, but the characteristics are exactly me. 

Guest (not verified) says...

Why is insurance agent listed in the best AND worst careers? 

Guest (not verified) says...

Not really a traditionalist, nor do I make crafts. I also don't watch much tv or many movies, but I do love nature walks and just being outside. But yes, I have an excellent memory, especially about people, and an eye for details. I definitely catch things that other people miss, but I think my Fe isn't well developed, because I don't willingly volunteer to do things all that much. But when my father was dying, it was as if I was given a higher purpose, a calling, to be there at the end of his life like he'd always been there for my life. It was a privilege to be by his side, although it wasn't always easy. I know ISFJs also get a reputation for being organized and good at planning, etc. I'm not at all and still wonder how I'm going to put away for retirement. I also eat too much. Most of the other SJ types I know are good at watching their weight and what they eat, etc. Weight Watchers seems to be popular with the SJs I know. 

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