ISFJ: Defender (Description + Functions + Examples)

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Practical Psychology

I don’t know anything about your personality, but if I were to guess Myers-Briggs Personality Type you were, I would guess ISFJ. Why? Not because you’re reading about the ISFJ type! ISFJ is the most common personality type out there, especially among women. Experts aren’t really sure why ISFJ is so common, but it is! Most likely, you have a friend or family member who is an ISFJ.

Not sure if you're an ISFJ? Learn more about the Myers Briggs Test to find out!

What Does ISFJ Stand For?

ISFJ, or "The Defender," is one of the 16 Myers Briggs Personality Types. The four letters stand for one of eight different traits identified by Isabel Myers and Katharine Briggs and inspired by the work of Carl Jung. ISFJ specifically stands for introvert, sensing, feeling, and judgement.  

Printable Myers Briggs Matrix

First, we’ll break down what each of these letters mean.


I is for introvert (as opposed to extrovert.) An introvert is more likely to be focused on their internal thoughts and feelings, rather than outside stimulation. There is a misconception about introverts: that they are shy, quiet, and reserved. Not always. Think of being an introvert as someone who gains more energy from reflecting on their own feelings than by surrounding themselves with other people and external stimulants. They have to be alone to “recharge.”


S is for sensing (as opposed to intuition.) This is also identified as “observant.” Rather than relying on intuition, ISFJs use real-time facts and observations to interpret what is happening around them. They look for the most obvious, concrete solutions over abstract ones that may require more reach. People with “sensing” in their personality type may be called out for providing “narrow-minded” solutions, but this is only because of the limited facts and factors that they are using to come to their conclusion.


F is for feeling (as opposed to thinking.) Of course, people with both “feeling” and “thinking” in their personality type can do the other. ISFJs may rely more on how they, and more importantly others, feel. If they want to make a decision, they are more likely to ask around for opinions instead of doing research in textbooks. This often means they feel the weight of the world. Stats may not sway them as much as a story.


Finally, J is for judgement (as opposed to perception.) Judgment and perception are often identified as the “least obvious” of the four letters in your personality type. Think of this as how a person works within structure. People with a J in their personality type prefer structure. They take control of the structure of their day. They make judgements about how tasks are approached and when a job gets done.

When you put this altogether, you get a person who looks out for the well-being of others. Their good nature makes them the perfect defender of others. That’s why experts have labeled ISFJ as “The Defender.”

Functions of ISFJs

What do defenders do? Well, they defend! Often, their behaviors are the result of one of four functions. Out of the eight “functions” developed by psychiatrists Carl Jung, Isabel Myers Briggs, and Katharine Briggs, ISFJs perform four.

Introverted Sensing

Let’s start with the dominant function of ISFJ types: Introverted Sensing (Si). The introverted sensing function allows ISFJs to focus on hard facts and multiple details. They enjoy processing clear, logical information rather than abstract ideas. They are very grounded in reality and feel most comfortable relying on what they know to be true from past or present experiences.

Extraverted Feeling

The auxiliary function of ISFJ types is Extraverted Feeling (Fe.) ISFJs use their extraverted feeling to seek harmony and balance in social situations. They are very aware of what is considered polite or non-offensive, and they act in order to keep situations peaceful. Therefore, they put others’ needs/happiness before their own to avoid conflict.

Introverted Thinking

The tertiary function of ISFJ types – Introverted Thinking (Ti.) This function of ISFJs gives them the ability to plan well and remain organized when absorbing new information. They organize through logical practices and often seek out patterns or connections between their experiences to see how everything functions together.

Extraverted Intuition

Finally, the inferior function of ISFJ types is Extraverted Intuition (Ne.) ISFJs will use this function without any awareness, so they don’t notice how it affects their behavior and decisions. That being said, this function helps them balance their strict logical approach by providing new insights for them to explore.

Real-Life Examples of Famous ISFJs

A lot of the most famous ISFJs are historical figures and activists. Not all of them dedicated their lives to fighting for the rights of others, but many of them did! Here are some of the most well-known ISFJs:

  • Kate Middleton
  • Prince Charles
  • Jimmy Carter
  • Mother Teresa
  • Rosa Parks
  • Tiger Woods
  • Halle Berry
  • Bruce Willis
  • Beyonce
  • Barbra Streisand
  • Selena Gomez
  • Kendrick Lamar

In addition to activism, politics, or becoming the world’s best golfer, ISFJs make wonderful teachers, social workers, and healthcare workers! Of course, there are ISFJs holding just about every job there is.

Strengths and Weaknesses of ISFJs

What makes someone a good defender? Looking out for others and having a strong sense of morals helps! These are some of the top strengths held by some of your favorite ISFJs:

  • Supportive
  • Reliable
  • Patient
  • Imaginative & Observant
  • Enthusiastic
  • Loyal
  • Hard-Working
  • Practical

Often, when people are so worried about the well-being of others, they lose themselves. ISFJs have weaknesses, too. If an ISFJ were to say what they want to work on about themselves, they would probably tell you they:

  • Take Things Too Personally
  • Repress Their Feelings
  • Resistant To Change
  • Overload Themselves
  • Are Overly Altruistic

Even though not all introverts are shy, ISFJs are likely to take their humility to a level that holds them back. ISFJs aren’t the life of the party, but they are one of the best people to have by your side.

Living and Working with ISFJs

ISFJ is the most common personality type. It’s likely that you work with, hang out with, or have dated an ISFJ! Whether you are an ESTP or an INTJ, you may see things differently than an ISFJ. You might have different communication styles. Getting to know your ISFJs better is a great way to ensure harmony at work, at home, and in your social circles. 

ISFJs At Work

Don’t overlook your ISFJs! They are very humble colleagues and will not be the first people to boast about their achievements. Achieve they will, and they’ll make sure everyone achieves together. Treat them with the same respect they are likely to treat you. Be kind, engage in small talk, and ask them about their goals. Plan your day accordingly so that you are not proposing a meeting two minutes before it happens. When you do this, the ISFJs on your team will remain loyal and provide you with great work.

Have a conflict with an ISFJ at work? You don’t have to kick and scream for them to listen to you. Passive aggression doesn’t work, either. Be calm when explaining what needs to be done. ISFJs will consider your viewpoint and are unlikely to fight back. They’re defenders, but they’re not defensive. 

ISFJ Friendships

ISFJs take all of their relationships very seriously and rely on them to fulfill specific needs. They are very giving personalities and will put others’ needs before their own without asking for anything in return. However, they require attention from others to keep them emotionally fulfilled but have trouble expressing their needs and will take most things very personally. 

ISFJ Compatibility and Romantic Relationships

In all relationships, including romantic relationships, ISFJs are loyal and trustworthy. They enjoy commitment and well-functioning relationships. They are most compatible with sensible people who can anticipate their personal needs so that they won’t feel personally offended.

Often, these sensible people are ESTP or ENTP! The “defender” and the “debater” make an excellent love match!

This doesn’t mean that introverts or other personality types can’t have a healthy relationship with ISFJs. Just take the advice of this INFJ on Reddit. Here’s what they have to say about their relationship with an ISFJ: 

“...this is the first time someone and I really clicked this way, it feels incredibly natural. I don’t always need to excite or entertain her, we can just be in silence around each other while our company is enough. There is a clear balance between both of our logic and sensitivity; since though I’m hyper logical (I thought I was INTP or INTJ), the difference isn’t remotely extreme to make it a big problem. I could honestly type paragraphs, but I don’t want to make this too convoluted.” 


Of course, relationships work because the people in the relationship put in the time and effort to understand each other and satisfy the other person’s needs. But when you get to know the way an ISFJ’s mind works and their strengths in relationships, you can satisfy their needs more successfully! 

In a relationship with an ISFJ? Other Reddit posts have advice for how to love them and what makes ISFJs so wonderful! If you are an ISFJ, you can also contribute to the conversation and share how you like to be loved and cared for!

Basic Stats About ISFJs

You already know that ISFJ is the most common personality type! The least common personality type, INFJ, only makes up around 2% of the population. This one difference, observing vs. intuition, is much more common. ISFJs make up 14% of the general population! This personality type is much more likely to be associated with women. Almost 1 in 5 women (19%) are ISFJs! 8% of men are ISFJs.

Assertive vs. Turbulent ISFJs

Did you know that there are two types of each personality type? That’s right! The Myers-Briggs Personality Types were developed in the 1960s, but the study of these types continues to evolve to this day. A few years ago, experts added a new set of letters to the personality types: A vs. T. Defenders are either an assertive defender or a turbulent defender.

Assertive ISFJs (ISFJ-A) are more likely to be easy-going in situations they can’t control. When problems arise, they can look at them with a positive mindset, which might downplay the severity. They are also quite confident, making them more outspoken and causes them to assume things about other people without asking.

Turbulent ISFJs (ISFJ-T) have more awareness when facing conflict and often anticipate problems before they are made clear. If they don’t have control of something (opinions, problems, etc.), they are more likely to feel guilty and concerned. Their consideration allows them to be good listeners when solving problems.

Reference this article:

Practical Psychology. (2021, April). ISFJ: Defender (Description + Functions + Examples). Retrieved from

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