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The 10 ISFJ Cognitive Functions Explained

ISFJ (Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging) is one of the 16 personality types identified on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. People who have the ISFJ personality type are generally loyal, supportive, and reliable individuals who are committed to the people they consider to be important. More often than not they will go out of their way to ensure the well-being of the people around them. They put their own personal needs aside to address the needs of others. They have a great ability to organize and they prefer working with already established policies and procedures. They respond well to working with set schedules and deadlines.

1. Introverted Sensing
This function leads ISFJs to focus mainly on the details and facts. ISFJs prefer information that is concrete instead of abstract theories. They are highly attuned to the immediate environment and are firmly grounded in reality. The longer they are immersed in a particular set of circumstances, the more difficult it can be for ISFJs to open themselves to alternatives. Because of how they perceive things, they are less inclined to function as front line activists for their beliefs than ESJs, whose dominant function is a judging function. ISFJs instead prefer to spend their time reflecting on the past or their cherished traditions.

2. Introverted Thinking
ISFJs are known to be great planners and they tend to be very well organized. This function can often become stronger as people grow older and involve utilizing logic in order to understand how the world works. As they take in new information and experiences, ISFJs will look for connections and commonalities in order to find patterns. Trying to understand a small part of an issue doesn’t catch the interest of an ISFJ, who will instead explore how things will fit together and how they function as a whole. With time and maturity, ISFJs can grow more comfortable with this function and appreciate its value.

3. Extraverted Feeling
ISFJs place a great emphasis on personal considerations. This function enables them to focus on developing social stability and connections. This is accomplished through behaviors that are viewed as socially appropriate or beneficial, such as being considerate, helpful, kind and polite. ISFJs may have a difficult time perceiving their own emotions compared to perceiving the emotions of other people. ISFJs are less equipped to independently manage their emotions compared to ISFPs. While they don’t necessarily look for other people to solve their problems, ISFJs value emotional support, empathy, and reassurance. They may be more open and direct with their concerns and grievances when they are socializing with close friends.

4. Extraverted Intuition
ISFJs can be blinded to the point where this inferior function impacts their decisions and behavior. Without having sufficient awareness and integration of this function, ISFJs will be prone to making unwise decisions in their lifestyles, careers, and relationships. While they tend to be focused on the present and on concrete facts, this largely unconscious function can help balance personality by helping them focus on possibilities. After they take in the facts about an issue, ISFJs can then explore the “what-ifs”, which can lead to new insights about problems. They are concerned with connecting ideas, brainstorming new theories, and conceiving alternate options.

5. Hardworking
When a task needs to be completed, ISFJs go about their business in an intense and serious manner. They are super-competent go-getters who bring a hard-nosed approach to their work that can sometimes come across as excessive to others. However, it is important to remember that ISFJs care deeply about other people. When they put hard work into their tasks it is a sign that they believe what they are doing will improve people’s lives and is worth taking seriously. Even when their tasks change on the fly, though they may not be quick to change, ISFJs are adaptable and continue to work hard.

6. Reluctant to Change
Since they put value in traditions and history in the decisions they make, being able to make changes can be difficult for ISFJs. A situation sometimes needs to reach a breaking point before ISFJs are persuaded by circumstance, or the strong personality of someone they admire, to alter course. If ISFJs don’t see a need to change what they are doing, it will take a lot to convince people with this personality type to take a step back and review their actions. ISFJs will sometimes need to see their actions break down right in front of them before they can understand why they can be so detrimental.

7. Too Altruistic
ISFJs have a wonderful quality of altruism as they are warm, good-natured people. While they are optimistic about situations and believe that things will get better soon, they sometimes fail to see the big picture. They are willing to let things slide and will try not to burden other people by accepting their offers of help, while their own troubles mount unassisted. This can cause further emotional and mental exhaustion to ISFJs. Their sense of optimism tends to be blind as they are so eager to see the good in others while at the same time disregarding any potential red flags.

8. Self-Neglect
Their strong senses of duty and perfectionism combine with their aversion to emotional conflict to create a situation where it is much too easy for ISFJs to either overload themselves or to be overloaded by others. Attempting to fulfill their need to help other people, their perfectionism will cause them to fall flat on their own expectations. Though they may be practical in solving problems, ISFJs are not as well versed in being practical about their own limits or emotional capacities. Though they make amazingly caring and thoughtful friends, they take their own best interests for granted, allowing themselves to get hurt.

9. Shy and Humble
ISFJs also happen to be extremely shy and humble. Possibly the biggest challenge that ISFJs face is the fact that they can’t express their emotions, can be overly concerned with the feelings of others, and they fear the spotlight. Therefore they are unable to take any recognition for their work, even if they crave it. The high standards ISFJs have for themselves make them significantly downplay their successes. However, they also don’t desire to look boastful or arrogant of their hard work, even if they can afford to pat themselves on the back. Often they will allow other people to take the credit for their successes.

10. Too Sensitive
Another problem ISFJs experience is that they come across as taking things too personally. They often have trouble separating personal and impersonal situations. Any negativity or conflict that develops from any situation can carry over from the professional aspect of their lives to their personal aspect. Their penchant for seeing work as a reflection of their values also means that there may not be a fine line between what is professional and what is personal. Any ideas pitched by ISFJs that are criticized or turned down at work are stumbling blocks for them. Harsh criticism is one of the main reasons why they avoid confrontations.


Though they may be quiet and reserved, ISFJs don’t have a standoffish behavior. They are known for their compassion and caring for others, often working to secure the safety of other people without asking for thanks or anything in return. Being quite social and well attuned to the feelings of others, ISFJs would make a good fit for careers in fields like healthcare and mental health. They are also meticulous and orderly, making them suited for jobs that involve attention to detail, planning, and structure. ISFJs can most likely obtain jobs as teachers, nurses, bankers, bookkeepers, accountants, office managers, and administrators.

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