mbg Spirituality & Relationships Writer
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Writer, and a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor’s in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.
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January 28, 2022 — 11:05 AM
If you’ve never taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), it’s one of the most popular personality assessments out there, with 16 personality combinations a person can have. In the case of the ISFP type, these folks are quiet, creative, and approachable people. Here’s what to know about this personality type, from how they are in relationships, in the workplace, and more.
The ISFP personality type.
ISFP stands for introverted, sensing, feeling, and perceiving. According to Dario Nardi, Ph.D., personality expert and author of Neuroscience of Personality, ISFPs make up about 4% of the general population, with twice as many females as males.
Nardi describes this type as playful, reflective, action-oriented, and driven by personal values. And as John Hackston, head of thought leadership at the Myers-Briggs Company tells mbg, ISFPs have a quiet, tolerant approach that can lead to them being underestimated by others–and even themselves.
“They’re flexible and spontaneous but may find routines and strict rules difficult to cope with,” he notes.
5 key traits of an ISFP:
Set yourself up for success with a good night’s sleep.*
If you’re looking for an ISFP in the room, they’re likely not going to be the center of attention. According to Hackston, this type can often be found quietly taking in what is going on around them. “ISFPS are generally quiet, kind, tolerant, trusting people who are very aware of the people and things in the world around them, in particular the feelings and needs of others,” he explains.
2. Driven by personal values
While they may not push their values on you, ISFPs have a strong sense of what matters to them (like freedom, and their own happiness), and they stick to it. “They typically have very strong, deep-rooted inner values, and want to live their own lives in accordance with these,” Hackston says.
Being a “feeling” (F) type, as opposed to “thinking” (T), ISFPs have a deep emotional world–even if they don’t outwardly express it. As Nardi explains, “They tend to have a very strong reflective side and really keep their needs, emotions, values, and so on, close to their chest. Even if they come off nice and relaxed, they’re still mostly focused on their own emotional experience.”
ISFPs are pleasant and approachable, thanks to their tolerant nature. Hackston notes that they’ll rarely force their views on others–and not because they don’t have their own opinions. “They like to do their own thing, in their own time, and feel that other people should be allowed to do the same,” he tells mbg.
Lastly, Nardi notes that ISFPs have a knack for bringing a creative and artistic flair to everything they do. They’re known for their ability to trust their intuition and combine it with their senses, to create something beautiful–whether it be through photography, music, acting, etc. “Some of the greatest, most notable artists of all time are ISFPs,” he says.
Hackston adds that this type also often values and feels an affinity with the beauty of the natural world.
Hardworking (when personally interested or invested)
Shy about commitment
Can succumb to laziness
Can resist authority & structure
ISFPs in relationships.
If you’re curious about ISFP compatibility, these folks can be difficult to get to know, as they take their time forming new relationships, according to Hackston. But once forged, he says, their relationships are extremely important to them. “They will spontaneously show their affection in straightforward, practical ways,” he tells mbg, noting that they notice the moods and needs of others and want to be helpful.
Nardi adds that ISFPs have a “really incredible capacity to be present with the other person in the very concrete, physical, emotional way”–but they also have a strong capacity toward retaliation and revenge. “Hell hath no fury like a scorned ISFP,” he says.
According to Hackston, ISFPs are often attracted to other ISFPS, and relationships with ESFPs, ISTPs, and ISFJs also often work very well. Nardi says in general, they get along well with other SP (Sensing and Perceiving) types and SF (Sensing and Feeling) types and adds that a relationship between ISFP and an NTP type is “very unlikely to even get started.”
And by the way, if you’re dating an ISFP, Nardi says the secret to dealing with them when they’re upset is to change the physical context, such as going for a walk or a drive. A new physical setting will “quickly take them out of the worry mode and back into something that they trust, which is the joy of the present moment,” he explains.
ISFPs in the workplace.
As aforementioned, ISFPs do have a creative streak, even if their career isn’t inherently creative. Nardi explains that ISFPs aren’t always artists, and do well in business, psychology, social work, and even tech.
“They need some kind of capacity to design–to express themselves and their values. They actually can be huge assets in the workplace when they’re listened to, because they have this keen sense of identity, and they’re practical and pragmatic,” Nardi says.
And Hackston notes that ISFPs also want to be friendly and collaborative, enjoying workplaces where these actions are reciprocated by their co-workers. “They look for an environment that fits with their beliefs,” he says, adding they dislike routines and noisy environments, preferring flexibility and spontaneity.
“It is not easy to give a list of suitable jobs for an ISFP, because the best job for an ISFP is one that allows them to follow their passions and beliefs; and these will vary from one to the next,” Hackston explains.
How to thrive as an ISFP.
According to Hackston, one of the best things an ISFP can do is think carefully about what they’re passionate about–and follow a career that allows them to express it. He adds that they also need to remember they can say no to people. “Maybe keep a to-do list to avoid taking on too much,” he adds.
Because this type can be underestimated, Hackston also notes they should try to avoid underestimating themselves, as well as taking what other people say too personally. ISFPs can struggle with self-esteem, Nardi notes.
Nardi also recommends ISFPs figure out the way they learn best, as this type can have the hardest time in a traditional school structure. “I would also say a body-mind practice is great,” he adds, explaining that something that brings their brain, spirit, emotions, and body all together (like yoga or martial arts), really keeps them aligned.
The bottom line.
Each of the 16 Myers-Briggs types has its strengths and weaknesses–in the workplace, in their relationships, and more. But the good thing about these personality assessments is, the more we understand about them, the better we’re able to work with the cards we’ve been dealt.
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