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10 ESFJ Cognitive Functions Explained

The Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator is a self-report inventory created to identify the personality type, strengths, and preferences of a person. Isabel Myers and her mother Katherine Briggs developed this questionnaire, and they based their work on Carl Jung’s theory of personality types. The MBTI is one of the most widely used psychological instruments in the world. ESFJ (Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging) is one of the 16 personality types identified by the MBTI. People with an ESFJ personality type can be outgoing, organized, loyal and tender-hearted. Generally described as gregarious, ESFJs gain energy from interacting with others. They tend to encourage other people to be their best and often have difficulty believing anything negative about the people they are close to.

1. Introverted Thinking
ESFJs are organized and they like to plan things out in advance. This kind of planning helps people with this personality type feel more in control of the world around them. Having this aspect of personality ESFJs are enabled to analyze complex information, but it can often be a point of weakness, especially when it comes to making sense of abstract or theoretical concepts. ESFJs can be readily blinded to a point where their inferior function impacts their decisions and behavior. ESFJs are much better at understanding and helping others than they are themselves. They are more “other-aware” than self-aware.

2. Introverted Sensing
When it comes to focus, ESFJs tend to focus more on the present than on the future. Concrete and immediate details interest them rather than information that is abstract or theoretical. Introverted Sensing contributes to ESFJs’ propensity to function as conservators of the past. It is often harder for them to break out of patterns if they do something in a particular way for a long time. When they are adults, ESFJs often continue in the worldview of their youth. When they are immersed in particular sets of circumstances, it becomes more difficult for them to be open to alternatives.

3. Extraverted Feeling
This is the dominant function of ESFJs. They tend to make decisions based on personal feelings, emotions, and concern for others. They will think more about the personal impact of a decision rather than considering any objective criteria. ESFJs happen to judge people and situations based on what their “gut feelings” tell them. Snap decisions are often made as a result and ESFJs are quick to share their feelings and opinions. While this tendency can be great in some ways, because it allows them to make choices quickly, it can also sometimes lead to overly harsh judgments of other people.

4. Extraverted Intuition
This is a novelty-seeking function that helps ESFJs make connections and find creative solutions to problems. People with this function are more concerned about exploring options than they are with experiencing sensory or material novelty. ESFJs prefer to keep their options open whether the situation is easy or difficult. They can often find patterns that allow them to gain more insight into people and experiences. On one hand, they may fancy themselves to be clever, creative, or savvy. On the other hand, this function can be a stumbling block because wrestling with ideas that contradict their worldview can be uncomfortable.

5. Seeking Approval
What drives ESFJs in their pleasure from helping other people is that they have a need for approval after they provide help. They expect their kind and giving ways to be noticed and appreciated by other people. They have a sensitivity to the needs and feelings of others and are good at responding and providing the care that people need. They want to be liked by other people and they can be easily hurt by people who show them a lack of kindness or indifference in return. ESFJs want assurance that their good deeds mattered to those that they helped.

6. Controlling the Environment
All ESFJs have a natural habit of wanting to control their environment. This function demands structure and organization and seeks closure. ESFJs will feel in command of the world around them if they have time to plan and schedule the activities they would like to perform. Environments that have structure are what ESFJs prefer. They most likely won’t enjoy performing certain activities that involve impersonal analysis. When they are allowed to create order and structure ESFJs will thrive as they are very good at these kinds of tasks. They are often unaware of how controlling they can become in situations.

7. Motivators
One positive trait shown by ESFJs is that they try to bring the best out of people. They are naturally geared toward understanding others, and they are careful observers of what other people need. Because they are very good at helping other people feel good about themselves, many will feel drawn to ESFJs. The supportive and reassuring attitude of an ESFJ serves as a positive influence for others. Especially when other people are in an emotionally fragile state where they need to be motivated, ESFJs will feel compelled to lift them back up and help them find and develop their strengths.

8. Personal and Outgoing
ESFJs love socializing. Not only do they become more energetic from social interaction, but they are also generally interested in what is happening to the people around them. They are often described as warm-hearted and empathetic, and they will make the needs of others their top priority. While they are well suited for positions that involve managing or supervising people, if personal relationships become uncertain or chaotic, ESFJs will try to exercise control over people who don’t want to be controlled. ESFJs want to be friendly and start conversations with others, and they want things to be positive on a personal level.

9. Loyal and Dependable
ESFJs have a tremendous sense of loyalty towards friends and family relatives, and they can often be depended on when help is needed. ESFJs can be selfless to the point of overlooking their own issues just to make sure that other people are happy. When it comes to romance, ESFJs are very loyal and devoted. They are not interested in casual relationships and instead focus on developing long-term commitments. ESFJs are sensitive towards the relationships they make and won’t readily abandon them. They are so caring that they sometimes have difficulty seeing or accepting the truth about someone they care about.

10. Sensitive to Criticism
One drawback of the ESFJ personality type is that people are prone to not handle criticism well. Being very observant and careful about how they are perceived by other people, ESFJs will always try to put their best foot forward. When they make a mistake or fail at an activity, they don’t respond well to criticism, especially if it is harsh. Their strong need to be liked can be played against them if they try too hard to impress. When they experience criticism ESFJs are likely to shut down, quit an activity and walk away, not wanting to think about what had happened.


At their best ESFJs are warm, sympathetic, helpful, cooperative, tactful, practical, organized, enthusiastic and energetic. They will seek stable lives that are rich in contact with friends and family, and they will look past the faults of others in order to help them. Popular careers that ESFJs can pursue would be in fields like childcare, nursing, teaching, social work, bookkeeping, and office management. ESFJs often thrive in practical settings that involve taking a caregiver role. Many traits of ESFJs are suitable for careers that guide other people, such as their dependability and their innate need to take care of others.

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