Dominant Introverted Feeling with Auxiliary Extraverted Sensing

Tertiary Intuition and Inferior Extraverted Thinking

Gentle • Flexible • Trusting • Friendly

According to the MBTI® Manual, ISFPs make up 8.8% of the population, making this type the 4th most common, of 16, in the US population. ISFPs are known for appearing reserved, spontaneous, and kind. They prize harmony, observation, and freedom to perform tasks in their own time and way, and they combine this with their love of people to devote their energies to processes that improve the lives of others in practical ways.  This is most easily accomplished in areas where expectations and procedures are flexible and in line with the ISFP’s values.  ISFPs generally excel in and enjoy learning new things by the actual act of performing day to day tasks. Despite their appearance of being reserved and somewhat difficult to get to know, ISFPs are extremely loyal to those they are close to, and, in those arenas, they can be quite playful and even exuberant.  As family members and friends, ISFPs are typically extremely comfortable in a care-taking role, tend to be flexible, and will often express affection by doing practical tasks for their loved ones (ex. laundry = love).

In Stress

Normally, ISFPs are most thrown off and stressed out by environments where there is a great deal rigidity in rules and timelines or where their values have been violated.  ISFPs will likely become stressed when they are not allowed ample time to spend alone, and they often struggle when they feel a barrage of demands falling or being forced upon them. They may find it difficult to be in situations where they are forced to do a great deal of specific, data driven, long term planning.  ISFPs also tend to struggle in environments where they feel criticized or unappreciated. When faced with stress overload, which may come from a gross or frequent violation of their deeply held values, spending time in an emotionally toxic and/or excessively critical environment, or worrying that they are about to lose someone or something (relationship, task, etc.) close to them, ISFPs may find themselves “in the grip” of their inferior function, Extraverted Thinking.  During this experience, the individual is likely to do things that are typically completely out of character.  This may include critically lashing out at others, and obsessing over their mistakes, lack of competence, and flaws.  These criticisms usually turn inward at some point in the grip experience.  The ISFP, in the grip, may have an intense urge to do something to fix perceived problems and right wrongs, but these actions often make matters worse. Fortunately, going through and coming out of a grip experience can lead to growth and balance of the personality and the person. To learn about ISFPs under the particular stress that only comes from being chased by the dead, check out ISFPs in the Zombie Apocalypse!

As Learners

In general, ISFPs enjoy learning within a loose structure that allows them to explore with their senses..  They learn best when practical explanations, real life examples, details, facts, and expectations are presented first, rather than first being presented with abstract theories or encountering expectations along the way. Material sinks in more easily when the real life applications are apparent and/or highlighted by the instructor, and using stories about how information has applied in the lives of actual people will likely allow the deepest connection to the material. ISFPs often excel at memorization, and will usually be able to hang on to details that they find personally meaningful and useful in their own lives. ISFPs like to learn within the structure provided by the instructor, and they typically prefer to work individually, at their own pace, using their own preferred system.  Typically, ISFPs enjoy getting feedback from an instructor regularly, and in a way that is supportive and does not call attention to her or him.  ISFPs also like to have ample time to work through the learning process, as they tend to struggle when they feel rushed by a teacher going through material too quickly or in a high-level manner. Individuals of this type may find it helpful to ask teachers for real life examples when they are not present.  They should try to remember to look at details together, to see the big picture, in addition to their natural method of examining details as details.  Frustration may occur for ISFPs in a classroom that is too rigid or lacking in fun, so they may want to discuss options for assignments with teachers, which will hopefully allow the ISFP to add both fun and their own processes to assignments.

Time Management

Typically, ISFPs greatly prefer attending to present concerns over planning the future, though they will make plans for projects they regard as personally important.  ISFPs like to maintain flexibility and autonomy in how they plan.  They may appreciate the use of calendars, to-do lists, and other organizational aids to keep track of when things are due and tasks that must be completed, but they typically prefer to leave their time less structured.  Motivation for ISFPs comes from bringing their values to fruition, in practical aid to others, and the more they believe in something, the more they will contribute to it. ISFPs are often thrown off in time management by packing too much into a day, switching gears when an important person needs an immediate hand, and getting caught up in other people-oriented distractions.  Procrastination may occur when the ISFP sees no practical payoff attached to a planned task or when the task to be tackled opposes a strongly held value. Tips for staying or getting back on task:

  • Take time alone to recharge, by making yourself temporarily unavailable to others who may distract or seek help from you.
  • Look to your own values and the opinions of trusted individuals to remember where your priorities lie.
  • Realize that some issues, which may seems like immediate needs in the moment, can actually wait until you are done with the project at hand.

Decision Making

When approaching decisions, ISFPs want to find solutions that are practical, functional in the here and now, flexible, and foster harmony amongst the impacted individuals.  They will often begin by using their Dominant Introverted Feeling to consider consequences for people and relationships and how the decision fits their personal set of values.  They will then consider how they can combine knowledge and processes that currently work well with past experience and commonsense to explore the realities and details of the situation, and ISFPs will likely weigh the pros and cons of options either mentally or in written form to gather as much information as possible on the course of action that is most inclusive of others.  In fact, ISFPs often put others ahead of themselves when making decisions. While ISFPs typically place a high value on gaining the opinions of others, they may wish to do internal work on the matter before talking it out.  They want to think through the decision deeply, carefully, and thoroughly, while often wanting to stay open to new information and options as long as is needed to be comfortable that the final decision is the best and least abrasive decision.  Individuals of this type will generally examine the decision after the fact by looking at where their efforts could have been better and whether or not the outcome was in the best interest of others who were impacted. ISFPs may fail to consider the analytical, rational, and objective aspects of decisions, and they may also neglect examining current and future possibilities and knowledge outside their own experience when making decisions.  To find more balance in the process, all types may consider discussing decisions with friends of different types to gain new insights and/or utilizing the Zig-Zag Method, which encompasses exploring decisions from the perspective of all four functions.  ISFPs will likely find this process more natural when exploring Feeling first, followed by Sensing, Intuition, and Thinking.

In Careers

Personality type is one important part of the process of choosing a career that is a good fit, but it is far from the only part.  It is important to first look at your personal goals and values when making a career decision.  These may involve retiring early, helping others, having time for hobbies/avocations, having time to spend with kids and family, making lots of money, making use of a specific talent (singing, art, athletic ability, etc.), following in family footsteps, or following a childhood dream. It is also important to look at skills and preferences.  If you hate math, maybe engineering is not the way to go, and you may want to skip being a doctor or nurse if the sight of blood makes you queasy.  Interests, from loving the great outdoors to being fascinated by the depths of the human mind, play a huge role in the career choice process as well.  Below are some type specific commonalities in the career world. ISFPs often…

  • Seek careers that allow them to use their depth of concentration, adeptness with detail, hands on approach, adaptability, and warmth to help other people or animals.
  • Prefer environments where they can help others in a one-on-one fashion or even indirectly, and they want a harmonious and fun environment that allows time for individual work and focus.
  • Enjoy tasks that help individuals in practical ways, that aid in easier and more productive functioning in day to day life.  This is often in a way that is action oriented and hands on in the moment.
  • Might struggle with too much structure, strict deadlines, disharmonious environments, and situations that require long term planning.  They may also tend to downplay their excellent qualities and talents in the job search process.
  • Are often attracted to careers such as:
      • Nursing (emergency, intensive care, hospice)
      • Medicine (family doctor, OBGYN, pediatrics, physical therapy)
      • Office work (data entry, administrative assistance, bookkeeping)
      • Teaching (K-12, religion, health)
      • Veterinary work ( veterinarian or vet tech)
      • Coaching
      • Trades (electrician, carpenter, gardener)
      • Customer service (store keeper, library worker)
      • Aviation (flight attendant, crew member)
      • Civil service (law enforcement, fire fighter)
  • May be less interested in careers involving a focus on data, conflict mediation, analysis, or abstract theory.  They may also shy away from extremely structured careers.

If the career you are interested in does not appear on this list, or if you simply don’t find any appealing careers listed here, do not worry!  Personality type is not meant to sentence you to a life of misery in a career you hate, and this list is far from exhaustive.  You may want to check out descriptions of thousands of possible careers at O*Net, and then contemplate how your type may play into some of the careers that do interest you.  Also, if your university has a career counseling center (and most do), visit them to gain assistance in finding a career that suits your needs and wants.

As Team Members

ISFP team members will likely contribute to the team by tuning into and providing the practical needs of other individuals.  This often fosters a cooperative and collaborative environment. ISFPs have a great love of flexibility, harmony, tolerance, and inclusiveness.  They appreciate the view points of others, and they are good at providing practical support in a crisis situation. While ISFP team members have many strengths, they may find it difficult to accept change, if it is a type of change that involves abandoning their comfort zone.  They may also have a tendency to keep their own thoughts and needs to themselves, in favor of taking care of and appreciating the ideas of other people in the group.  ISFPs sometimes also lose the big picture in the details and their tendency to live in the current moment.  Awareness of these areas, as well as seeking out the perspectives of team members with different preferences, can help ISFPs gain balance and appreciate team and type diversity.

As Leaders

ISFPs make open and flexible leaders who set the course of the team by including the view points of others and using their own personal set of values.  They tend to focus on current realities as a starting point for working with their teams, and they are typically very realistic about what is possible or not.  ISFPs are known for being good at building trust and harmony in teams, while quietly leading by example, and they are often helpful in scenarios that require troubleshooting. ISFPs may find it challenging to focus on future ideas, preferring to focus on the here and now.  Their often quiet, agreeable nature may result in them deferring to the ideas and thoughts of others, and it may prevent their ideas from being heard.  It may also be difficult for ISFPs to remember to challenge others and use confrontation when needed.

In Relationships

ISFPs value harmony and emotional intimacy in relationships.  They take commitment seriously, and they want to know their partners share and honor that commitment.  This extends to fidelity and shared listening.  They also prize being able to share and create fun, sharing values, and being able to enjoy spending time together, especially one-on-one. As partners, ISFPs tend to be very warm and very focused on keeping loved ones happy.  They will often be accommodating and nurturing and place the needs of their partner and others before their own. ISFPs typically crave spontaneous appreciation from their partners for their kindness and helpfulness.  While they enjoy sharing deep feelings and intimacy with loved ones, ISFPs will only do so when they feel safe from criticism, which they tend to struggle with.  If they feel criticized, ISFPs will tend to retreat, rather than engage in conflict.




  1. Murray

    I would be very grateful for some guidance please! I feel stuck between understanding whether I am an FJ, of a TP. How would T’s preference for rules manifest differently from J’s?

    I relate to the keeping options open aspect of P, and the thrill of a last minute burst of activity to meet a deadline sparking creativity and being strangely energising. But I do also have a clear need for rules, especially clear parameters around behaviour, manners etc. So, might that be Fi? Or a T function interacting with P? Or am I just a deluded FJ who procrastinates? How can I tell?

    Very many thanks!

    p.s. I wonder if you are thinking…hmmm….a T type would never write a query this verbose. 😉

    1. Sadie (Post author)

      Hi Murray,

      The Judging preference is not really about rules. It is about beginning with the end in mind and loving getting things done and off of your list. Judging types do procrastinate (that’s a human thing, not a type thing), but finishing something at the last minute causes more nervousness than thrill for Judging types. The thrill is typically considered to be a Perceiving quality.

      Thinking and Feeling types both deal with rules, but Thinking types typically want to apply them evenly to all involved, while Feeling types prefer to bend them and tweak them to suit individual situations.

      If this doesn’t answer your question, feel free to ask another. I promise not to think you’re deluded or verbose. 🙂

      1. Murray

        That’s great! Thank you so much. I will ponder which of the J or P you describe is more accurate for me. As a stay-at-home mother of 2 small children, my innately preferred modes of intaking & filtering info, and going about acting on it have become somewhat obscured!

        I think just getting a single preference nailed down would help me. Do you have a tip for which is easiest to start with identifying for sure, for someone rather at sea with all this? I feel as though I am sort of between the two in every function, even whilst knowing that just isn’t possible!

        Thank you!

        1. Sadie (Post author)

          J and P are often tough to figure out, especially for Introverts because you will be one way in your inner life (which is where Introverts live) and the other in your outer world. It may help you to hash out what you consider to be your inner and outer worlds and think about which way you tend to be in each. Your outer world with determine if you are a J or P.

          With the other preferences, start off by not feeling bad about the confusion. You are not alone in having trouble deciding. Remember that preferences are inborn, but the world sometimes does not support your use of them. The challenge is to get back to your core self to see who you are (as if that’s super easy 😉 ). Thinking about your tendencies as a kid may help, and consider whether those around you (parents, teachers, friends) supported your actions or encouraged you to act differently. Most importantly, remember that you will act in both sides of all preferences, but consider what makes you tired or bored after awhile versus what feels like second nature… or at least doesn’t drain you.

          I would also say that I often find that people go too deep with looking at Introverted and Extraverted forms of the functions before they know their type. Type dynamics are amazingly wonderful, but getting too deep (especially on your own) before feeling confident in the basic will often cause more confusion than clarity.

          If you haven’t already, you may check out this article ( ) and this page ( ). They may help you get back to the basics and dig through what is blocking you from finding your best fit type. The struggle in finding it can only help you know yourself even more! 🙂 Feel free to continue to ask questions.

          1. Murray

            Thank you so much for making time to respond in such helpful depth. Much appreciated. I shall go back to basics as my first step 🙂

          2. Murray

            I’m two paragraphs into the first article you linked to. Genius!!! What a relief to know I’m not the only one having a “Triceratype” struggle….lol…

          3. Sadie (Post author)

            Glad you’re enjoying it! The “triceratype” term came to be because of a good friend of mine who was deciding between ENTP, INFP, and ENFP. 🙂

          4. Murray

            It was funny! Humour out of Myers-Briggs mindbend has to be good – a welcome relief!

            My struggles seem to be in part because having thought I’d worked it out (INFJ) I chatted to a much more introverted and globally idealistic close friend who identifies herself as INFJ and I just thought that ruled it out for me.

            Plus I relate emotionally to Introversion, yet the descriptions of Introverts and/or N types never seem to correlate with the relative physical competence and energy I have.

          5. Sadie (Post author)

            I am an INFJ, and I can tell you that we come in many varieties! I know some INFJs who are incredibly calm and poised in a way that blows my mind, others that seem very withdrawn and anxious, many that are vegetarians and yogis who seem tapped into the universe, and others that are bubbly and quirky. I’ve always joked about alleged INFJs that are famous… They say that Martin Luther King Jr., Ghandi, and Mother Teresa were INFJs, but I identify more with Billy Crystal (the comedian). 🙂 I am very chatty, not at all shy, and I will crack a joke anywhere I can find a place for one, but INFJ still fits me. Just remember, you’re looking for what fits you best, rather than what fits you perfectly. You’re a unique human first. 🙂

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