A Few Caveats
Please bear in mind that none of this has to be a stereotype that rules your life. You're a unique individual with a unique background, and this description is simply a generalization based on statistics and averages. It is not your destiny, your fate, or anything like that. Don't take what you read here as limitations, but as an invitation to grow outside your core strengths. And especially don't use this description as an excuse. You're better than that! :) Besides, why box yourself in? Type is a starting point, not an ending place. Enjoy it and then grow from it.
ESFJs are estimated at:
- 13.97% of the American population (sample size 9,320; Myers & McCaulley, 1985)
- 12.6% of the UK population* (sample size 1,634; Kendall & McHenry, 1998)
- 10.11% of the Australian population (sample size 3,373; Macdaid, McCaulley, & Kainz, 1986)
- 8.2% of the New Zealand population (sample size 993; Bathurst, 1995)
- 6.0% of the Singapore population (sample size 1,733; Lim, 1994)
*Be chary about comparing the UK estimate with the others. There's a long explanation.
A caveat. Isabel Myers (INFP) married a man named Chief, an ISTJ and a good man. They were happy together, but according to Isabel's own type theory they weren't predicted to be perfect for each other. Later on, Myers said that if she had known about type theory, she probably wouldn't have married Chief. Hm! There is a lesson to be learned here: type is not everything, nor should it be the decisive factor in choosing your lifemate. Take it from the founder of type herself.
Then too, the connections between type, attraction, love and marriage haven't been well studied yet. (The question is more complicated than you'd think.) You can read about this question and the various attempts to answer it here.
ESFJs are unique for having the highest marital/intimate relationship satisfaction of all types. (They almost also had the highest satisfaction with their friendships and family relationships too, but the ENFJs and ESFPs managed to beat them out by a neck.)
ESFJs were the type that most liked the work environment characteristic "Toe the line expectations." (However, liking is relative here, since only 43% of ESFJs actually liked it.) The most important workplace characteristics for ESFJs were "Clear structure," "Loyalty/security," "Variety of tasks," "Independence and achievement," and "Teamwork." All were liked by over 80% of the ESFJs sampled. When compared with other types, it can be seen that ESFJs are among the top four types for liking the characteristics "Clear structure," "Loyalty/security," "Teamwork," "Makes job simple," "Does not expect extra hours," "Toe the line," and "Goes by the book." In fact, ESFJs were the type that appeared most frequently on the top four types list for liking work environment characteristics.
According to Hammer (1993), the occupational trends for ESFJs include "Education," "Health care," and "Religion." ESFJs tend to like and perform social work such as "helping others, teaching, or counseling" (Myers, McCaulley, Quenk & Hammer, 1998).
The most important organizational values for ESFJs included "Happy family," "Outgoing affiliation," (enjoyment of teamwork) and "Business sociability" (i.e. sociability used to help clients).
A study found that ESFJs were "Satisfied with work," "Satisfied with company," and "Unlikely to leave." ESFJs are among the types with highest job satisfaction. They had the highest amount of satisfaction of all types for the work aspects "Respect I get" and "Predictability/stability of job." Other satisfiers included "People I work with," "Responsibility," and "Societal contributions." The only dissatisfier was "Promotions," but pretty much all types complained about that.
ESFJs have a unique place in the school system. This is because 80% of elementary school teachers are patient, children-loving ESFJs.
An ESFJ spends the first six years of their education in an environment where they are taught by people who learn, think and behave just like them.
When ESFJs leave elementary school and enter high school, it must be something like moving from a greenhouse into the great outdoors. Even though high school is dominated by Guardians, the type composition changes and there are fewer ESFJs. For the first time, ESFJ students find themselves having to deal with teaching methods that do not match their natural preferences.
When ESFJs move from high school to college (which is dominated by Intuitives), the situation gets even more difficult. However, ESFJs stick with it--they are one of the types with the highest college retention.
What do ESFJs do when they get to college? They become Education majors! In fact, a study found that they were the #1 represented type for this major.
ESFJs have a moderate amount of stress compared to other types. They were in the high stress group (top 4 most stressed types) for the areas "Health," "Care for aging parents," and "Balancing home and work." They were in the low stress category for "work." ESFJs tend to be somewhat more likely than average to develop heart disease or hypertension.
ESFJs were the type most likely to cope with their stress using the methods "Talk to someone close" and "Rely on religious beliefs." They also used the method "Try to avoid stressful situations."
In a bizarre twist, ESFJs are the most common cult leader type. Yeah, weird huh? A researcher named Yeakley studied the local chapters of six different cults. He typed the cult leaders and found 3 ESFJs, 2 ESTJs, and 1 ENFJ. If you are lucky enough to be demented or otherwise abnormal, there could be a bright future here. ;)
A study found that ESFJs were the only type that was not overrepresented for a single leisure activity. Which basically translates to either a.) ESFJs are busy little beavers who work rather than play, or b.) ESFJs like activities that weren't on the survey.
At any rate, the ESFJs were underrepresented for one leisure pastime, namely "Writing." So at least we know one thing that they don't view often view as fun.
Like all Judgers, ESFJs tend to be neat and to take that little bit of extra care with their appearance. Like all Guardians, ESFJs tend to dress conservatively and to wear nice clothes. Tieger notes that males will seldom have long hair, and that Guardians tend to put the functionality of their clothing before style. The ESFJs tend to value "prestige" more than other types, and they may be inclined to wear more expensive clothing or accessories to display their accomplishments. (Note--no type attached a high value to prestige. The ES types, however, were on the high end of low.)
I won't be covering type dynamics or cognitive functions here. Type junkies may be wondering why not, since Fe, Si, Ne, and Ti are widely considered to be characteristic of ESFJs. But there is doubt over whether the cognitive functions exist. You can read about it here.
Essentially, I see no point in pouring more time and effort into a bucket so full of holes, and will not be discussing this part of the MBTI theory.
- Dr. McCoy - Chief Medical Officer on the starship Enterprise (Star Trek, the original series)
- ESFJ forum on Personality Cafe - A place where real ESFJs gather to meet.
- Nurture by Nature: Understand Your Child's Personality Type - And Become a Better Parent - Dig up more info on parenthood and type here.
- The Art of SpeedReading People - Learn how to type people you meet within minutes.
- Mother Styles - Type and parenting.
- 16 Ways to Love Your Lover - Type, romance, and making things work after the marriage.
- See the Citations page.