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.
ISFJs are estimated at:
- 6.82% of the American population (sample size 9,320; Myers & McCaulley, 1985)
- 12.7% of the UK population* (sample size 1,634; Kendall & McHenry, 1998)
- 8.6% of the Australian population (sample size 3,373; Macdaid, McCaulley, & Kainz, 1986)
- 16.9% of the New Zealand population (sample size 993; Bathurst, 1995)
- 17.0% 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.
All we can say is that one study found a slight preferential relationship between ENTPs and ISFJ Protectors. Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, this is one of the two "ideal" types predicted by Keirsey in the original version of "Please Understand Me." (In the next version of the book, he changed his theory in accordance with his new view that Intuition and Sensing should match up between partners for the best results, hence only the INFJs are listed.) The question is, do ENTPs choose ISFJs because they actually prefer them, or do they choose them because ISFJs are common and INFJs are rare? Commonality implies a wider variety of choices and better opportunities for good type development. Rarity implies less choice, and it is often harder for rare types to achieve good type development. Hence the supply of "good" ISFJs is much larger than the supply of "good" INFJs simply because there are more ISFJs than INFJs.
In terms of Sensors, ISFJs tend to have average satisfaction with their marriage/intimate relationship. (Intuitives in general have lower satisfaction than Sensors, and most Sensors are more satisfied than most Intuitives regardless of type.)
A study found that ISFJs were the type which most liked the work environment characteristic "Employee loyalty and job security." They were the type which was least probable to like "International opportunities."
Over 80% of the ISFJs sampled also liked "Clear structure," "Loyalty/security," "Independence and achievement," and "Variety of tasks." ISFJs were among the top four types who most liked "Clear structure," "Loyalty/security," "Does not expect extra hours," and "Makes jobs simple" with over 50% of ISFJs liking each item.
ISFJs were also one of the two types that tended to have the highest long job length; i.e. they stayed working at the same place for the longest time of all types.
Hammer (1993) lists occupational trends for ISFJs as "Education," "Health care," and "Religious settings."
The job dissatisfiers for ISFJs were promotions, stress, and salary. The most important organizational value for ISFJs was "Happy family," while they were underrepresented for the values "Variety and challenge" and "Visible autonomy."
A study found that ISFJs were one of the two types least likely to have trouble in school. In terms of type and grades, ISFJs tend to be slightly on the low side of the type spectrum. For aptitude tests such as the ACT, SAT and IQ, Intuitives generally do better than Sensors; when compared to other Sensors, ISFJs are pretty much middle of the road.
ISFJs tend to have higher stress than most. A study found that they were among the top four most stressed out types for the areas of "Children," "School," "Health," "Care for aging parents," and "Balancing home and work." ISFJs are also among the four types most likely to develop heart disease or hypertension.
How do ISFJs cope with their stress? They were among the top four types for using the methods "Try to avoid stressful situations," "Rely on religious beliefs," Get upset or angry but don't show it," "Sleep," and "Watch television." They were one of the types least likely to cope with stress through "Exercise" or "Confront the problem."
One study measured type and burnout among workers as a major hospital. It turned out that ISFJs had the second highest burnout level when it came to the areas of "Emotional Exhaustion" and "Depersonalization." (Depersonalization is when a worker becomes calloused and uncaring about those they serve, i.e. patients or customers.)
A study found that ISFJs were slightly overrepresented for the leisure pastime "Watching TV 3 hrs or more per day." They were underrepresented for the leisure activities "Education/learning very important," "Achievement/accomplishment very important," "Playing with computers or video games," "Watching sport events," "Appreciating art," and "Playing sports." ISFJs were underrepresented for more things than all other types save the ISFPs, who shared a slight preference for TV.
Like all Judgers, ISFJs tend to be neat and to take that little bit of extra care with their appearance. Like all Guardians, ISFJs 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.
I won't be covering type dynamics or cognitive functions here. Type junkies may be wondering why not, since Si, Fe, Ti, and Ne are widely considered to be characteristic of ISFJs. 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.
- ISFJ forum on Personality Cafe - Meet and talk with real ISFJs.
- 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.