ISFJ: The power of four letters

isfj - inside an introvert's mind

Introverted – 83%
Sensing– 38%
Feeling– 38%
Judging – 22%

When you’re a teenager, all you want to do is figure out who you are and to fit in. I could never understand how I could be one person in a certain situation, and act like someone entirely different around another group of people. I felt like I was in a constant state of personality crisis.

I can’t for the life of me remember what it was called, but there was once a website devoted entirely to personality tests and quizzes, and it quickly became one of my favourite time-wasters. I took and retook almost every quiz on that damn website, hoping for a result that would, I don’t know, change my life? Eventually I realised I was far from the only girl on earth who adjusts herself depending on social situations, and, more importantly, that I was who I was.

That said, the Myers-Briggs personality test is generally a good indicator of a person’s traits. Four letters – that’s all it takes. As an ISFJ, I’m part of a group that Wikipedia reckons makes up 9-14 per cent of the population.

Like the ISFJ description suggests, I learn best by visual reinforcement (diagrams, writing things down) or better, by doing.While I was always a pretty good student, tertiary presented more of a challenge for me, and I knew I was never going to be a candidate for grad school (not that it’s really very useful in my field). Conceptual theories and theoretical discussions tire me like nothing else can.

I’ve always thought that the world rewarded extroverts. In the working world, introverts get trampled, passed over. ISFJs hate conflict and confrontation, and don’t do well with criticism – two traits I’ve always, always struggled with (especially the first one, and I don’t think I’ll ever get over it. I know nobody likes fighting, really, but it’s like I regress to childhood and clam up completely in the face of argument).

Obviously, each personality type also comes with its own strengths (hurrah!).

  • The ISFJ feels a strong sense of responsibility and duty. They take their responsibilities very seriously, and can be counted on to follow through
  • Usually good (albeit conservative) at handling money
  • Take their commitments seriously, and seek lifelong relationships (and here I thought that was called “maturity”!)
  • Likely to put others’ needs above their own
  • Excellent memory for details which are important to them
  • Value security, tradition, and peaceful living

What’s your Myers-Briggs personality? I’d especially love to hear from other I-types (at 83%, it’s my strongest tendency of the four preferences); I so rarely encounter other like minds…

22 thoughts on “ISFJ: The power of four letters

  1. My father used to run Myers-Briggs conferences for years. As a teenager I was ENFP – just like my Dad. My Mom is an ISFJ like you. Now in my mid-30’s I have transitioned to an INFJ. (This is based on the internet versions of the tests though, so I’m not sure that’s 100% accurate.)

  2. Close! Mine is INFJ. I LOVE this stuff, and it’s interesting that the divide between extraverts and introverts is pretty much equal – we think there are way more extraverts (I guess because they hog all the attention), when in reality, we do just as much processing and have just as strong opinions – we just do it internally 🙂

  3. Ive had to take the MBTI in two classes. The last class was about 1/4 figuring out our MBTI type. I’m an ESTJ. We did a full class on ensuring we had the right type – lots of people don’t – by doing other tests, quizzes, and answering questions. Then the teacher split us up into groups of our own personality types! I got to hang with 4 other people with the same personality type (ESTJ) as me for awhile, and we talked about our likes and dislikes. It was fascinating. Then, we heard from the introverts – who told us what they don’t like and do like when interacting from us.

    Overall a pretty awesome experience!

  4. I definitely think the world, especially in work and politics, cater to the extrovert. While I understand the need for leaders that are very articulate and inspiring, I wonder if our world would operate better if we did not so easily overlook those who are on the quieter side. They may have great ideas and just need a little push to become leaders, yet are overlooked at meetings etc.. simply because someone talks louder.

    I am definitely an introvert but I think I have extrovert moments, if that makes any sense!

  5. Huh. I took the test and it says I’m 100% introverted. I’m not surprised I’m an introvert but 100%??? Well, maybe it’s not too far off. I took this test in high school and I think I’ve always had an ISTJ personality.

    Introverted – 100%
    Sensing – 38%
    Thinking – 38%
    Judging – 1%

    From Wikipedia: ‘ISTJs thrive on organization. They keep their lives and environments well-regulated. They bring painstaking attention to detail in their work and will not rest until a job is well completed. They are often dissatisfied with unresolved issues, whether in life or in fiction.’

    Haha. I wonder what they mean by “whether in life or in fiction.” It struck me as funny because I really can’t stand books that end either unhappily or with unresolved issues. It bugs me for days, even weeks when that happens. There are books I read in childhood that to this day I still can’t get over because of the unsatisfying ending.

    1. Oh, I’m just the same, and I LOATHE ambiguity in endings (hence often disliking short stories). I don’t want to fill in the blanks myself, I want to know what YOU dreamt up for the characters!

  6. Mine’s ISTJ:

    Introverted – 11%
    Sensing – 25%
    Thinking – 1%
    Judging – 28%

    Apparently I’m not much of a thinker, lol! I’ve always found these tests to be slightly misleading, however, I think my results have changed since the last time I took the test.

  7. I used to be INTP, now I’m ENTJ, The Fieldmarshall type. Apparently I got more judgemental and social as I got older, who knew?

  8. ISTJ. Always have been, probably always will be. Have you read The Introvert Advantage? I haven’t yet, but it was once recommended to me.

  9. INTJ.

    We did this for frosh week, and a friend told me I should have kept trying the test until I got “E”. I told them I didn’t think that would be possible without lying.

  10. Hey thanks for popping into my blog and leaving this link. I was interested to learn from your post about your 4 letters. You have an interesting blog here. I look forward to reading more.

  11. Neat – Thanks for letting me know about this post! I guess PF bloggers enjoy analyzing their personalities in addition to their finances! I’m an INTJ and it is a deadly accurate description of me, flaws and all.

  12. There is more to Myers Briggs than 4 letters. To really understand how to type people you have to understand the FUnCTIOnS that each type has. Changing types isn’t as easy as just ‘becoming mor extraverted’ or something.
    Most people typed themselves incorrectly at some point (or always type incorrectly) and don’t know it.
    The preferences on tests are hard to measure. It’s not really a scale, despite what the test seems to tell us. Like I said, you have to understand the theory of functions.

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