ISFP’s and INFP’s

Why you might mistype one for the other:

As I mentioned in the INFJ/ISFP post, it is a common mistake to think that anybody who takes an interest in learning, particularly learning abstract facts, must be iNtuitive. There is this misconception that Sensors must be totally incapable of processing anything that isn’t happening right at the moment. This is false. ISFP’s are not good at analysing the information they learn, but tend to be particularly interested in taking in new information about the world.

It’s not that difficult to tell the difference between an INFP and an ISFP once you know more. Despite only being one letter apart, they’re very different in lots of ways…..

Differences, similarities and how to tell them apart:

-ISFP’s and INFP’s are both highly sensitive and empathetic types of people who are very cognisant of their own emotions and make decisions based on their sense of empathy. However while ISFP’s will usually make decisions based on what their empathetic emotions are telling them at that moment, INFP’s are much better at considering how best to ensure people are happy in the future; how best to avoid causing pain in the present and how to respond sensitively to things that have happened in the past. This allows the INFP to develop a more consistent framework of moral values which they can stick to and enforce, whereas—while they might fancy themselves adherents to a moral system in theory–in practice it would not occur to the ISFP to base their behaviour on a set of pre-established values rather than on their feelings in each moment.

INFP’s can be exposed to a new statement or belief and instantly say “yes that fits with my values” or “no my beliefs are that those premises are morally wrong”. However, ISFP’s often go along with whoever has presented theirs as the most sympathetic viewpoint in the situation and would need some prompting to realise whether the consequences of this viewpoint would be desirable within their worldview.

This has its downsides for INFP’s though. INFP’s are more likely to have a harmful set of values that they enforce than ISFP’s are. For example, an INFP’s thirst for moral belief systems may lead them to subscribe to a religion that has conservative values, and unlike the ISFP they will not totally ignore this set of beliefs when deciding how to behave towards someone who may be hurt by them.

-Their greater tendency towards holding belief systems means that INFP’s are much more likely to get into a conflict with someone on a matter of principle than ISFP’s are. INFP’s, although they greatly dislike conflict and are upset by it, will be more likely to argue against something that is strongly opposed to their belief system, and will do so with great passion, sometimes eloquently, sometimes with sneering putdowns, sometimes with plenty of facts (though the facts might be biased). Conflict makes them panicky so they may come across as extremely angry or harsh in these moments. ISFP’s are more likely to respond to a disagreement by saying “well I’m not going to argue” or “each to their own”. Sometimes they will organically express their shock or disgust at a point of view but they will almost always drop it before long; they value fellow-feeling between people more than anything, and consider the creation of conflict to be a far worse fault than the (possibly immoral) statement that started it. ISFP’s care most about being nice, while INFP’s care most about being good.

ISFP’s view almost any statement of values as a mere difference of opinion, and would not think it worth fighting over a difference of opinion. If they really do believe the other person is objectively wrong, they may shut them down with a cheap shot or a simple “no you’re wrong” but they will not usually pursue the matter at length.

ISFP’s usually view an argumentative person as being worse than a provocative person, since they strive for harmony at all times; while an INFP often believes that arguing back against things they see as immoral is the only right thing to do.

-INFP’s are usually a good judge of character and use their judgements to determine how to treat people and when to avoid them. ISFP’s don’t make it their business to judge other people—which can make them open-minded people (although they may repeat other’s judgements uncritically), but also creates the problem that they may keep toxic people in their lives or encourage others to do so.

-ISFP’s generally take each face-to-face social interaction as is, and assume that people usually mean what they say, nothing more and nothing less. INFP’s on the other hand can have a tendency to overthink things and see hidden implications and patterns. They may worry a lot that people don’t like them: although standing up for their beliefs is very important for INFP’s and they are not just people-pleasers, they also harbour a secret desire to be liked by everyone. If they are not liked, they worry that they have done something terrible and may analyse conversations for signs that they are disliked. The ISFP is a lot more laid back about this. They see someone else’s judgement of them as just that person’s opinion, and take the attitude “if you don’t like me, you don’t like me”. Sometimes they will be upset if someone they thought they were on good terms with turns out to dislike them but they don’t worry over it or go looking for signs like the INFP or see it as necessarily a fault of their own.

-Although all Perceiving types dislike excessive future planning, INFP’s as a type can be very easily worried and anxious about the future, and are good at recognising the cause-and-effect that would lead to certain possible futures and analysing the best choice to make in that way. For this reason, INFP’s usually like to spend a bit of time deciding what they’re going to do before they do it. They rarely rush into important decisions or decide to do extreme things on a whim. ISFP’s are much more impulsive in this sense.

However, what they do have in common in terms of planning is that they hate to get caught up in trivial, practical details and timetables. They will do it if they really have to, but they take absolutely no pleasure in it and often feel that it spoils the fun. Similarly, they would not judge other people for missing out on trivial details and are very laid back about when things get done. Both can be frequently late.

-Both ISFP’s and INFP’s tend to work in productivity spikes. Both like to work by themselves and for their own ends—for example they might like to study things or watch a lot of films/documentaries in their spare time. ISFP’s are great at absorbing a vast range of detailed information. INFP’s are not so interested in these details and much prefer to get a vaguer idea of the overall picture. They also much prefer to learn things related to people, in a very personal, emotionally-connected way—whereas ISFP’s don’t mind just getting a load of facts. INFP’s are good at doubting their sources and analysing what they are told to find what they believe is closest to the truth, whereas this is a weak point of the ISFP; they often take things at face value.

-ISFP’s and INFP’s may both like to look good, but ISFP’s are more committed to this as a priority because they’re so focussed on the sensory experience of how they look and smell. Consequently they will more often have perfectly styled hair, make up, scent etc. INFP’s can desire to look good and achieve this, but there’s always a fair chance they’ll have days when they just can’t be bothered because they’re so much more interested in a story they’re telling or a feeling they’re thinking about inside their own head than they are in the external world. INFP’s are much more concerned with their thoughts and feelings (and the thoughts and feelings of others) and they may often overlook things that are happening around them because of this. They can be very unobservant, whereas ISFP’s are automatically observant of what’s directly in front of them—though they may miss subtext and anything that it takes more effort to explore.

-All introverts need time alone since they are tired out by too much social interaction, so this is something ISFP’s and INFP’s have in common. However, the stereotype of an introvert is that they are very quiet in social situations, and this is far more true of the INFP than the ISFP. The ISFP can be awkward and go into “formal mode” around new people but they are often very gregarious when they are with good friends. The INFP on the other hand appears more consistently, stereotypically introverted, because they like to think before they speak and will usually talk in a very measured, considered way.

ISFP’s like to communicate non-verbally with their friends a lot, making in-jokes, noises or partial impressions that they all find funny, or by making short references to things that have happened. INFP’s, and all INxx’s, are not very good with this type of communication and they might find it cliqueish and uncomfortable. However both the ISFP and the INFP can be similarly very articulate when they get down to it and may both write well when describing their own experiences. They also both tend to like to describe their own life in writing or lives similar to their own, rather than going on wild flights of fancy and creating new worlds.

-The INFP can have a very sarcastic sense of humour. They will not usually make a cruel joke to somebody’s face but they may make harsh jokes privately. Although they are usually empathetic when dealing with someone directly, they can judge someone harshly in the third person when that person does not live up to their moral standards, and such a person might find that behind their back they have been on the receiving end of an acerbic barb. ISFP’s on the other hand rarely use any kind of biting sarcasm; they might find it funny when others use it but it’s not a type of humour they employ themselves at all. In fact, ISFP’s rarely employ verbal humour; their jokes usually consist of memes or funny pictures or any kind of slapstick/silly humour. They don’t joke a lot; they prefer to communicate in a very straightforward way when they’re in formal mode, and when in informal mode their humour is very nonverbal.

-The INFP be very, very hard on themselves when they don’t live up to their own standards of morality. ISFP’s are easy-going and forgiving with others and also with themselves; they will very rarely dwell on their own wrongdoings—only if they’ve done something truly unforgivable. If they’ve merely made a wrong decision, they will apologise to keep the peace and then move on with their lives while the INFP would be all torn up with remorse.

The ISFP will sometimes SAY that they would never forgive someone for doing this or that, or judge someone heavily for doing this or that, but these proclamations rarely if ever materialise—ISFP’s are big softies, more than they give themselves credit for.

-The ISFP can be very earnest in a way that the INFP usually isn’t. Not that INFP’s are cynical—far from it, they’re one of the most idealistic types—but they are very conscious of the context of things and how words come across. ISFP’s are just a little bit less self-conscious about that kind of thing, so they might not notice that something they say, share on social media or hang on their wall would be seen as very corny or clichéd by the INFP.

-The INFP isn’t quite as skilled at motivating themselves to learn new things alone as the ISFP is. The ISFP is usually always teaching themselves new hobbies, but INFP’s require a lot of encouragement and discussion from others.

Compatibility:

ISFP/INFP may initially be drawn to one another’s kindness, introversion, laid back attitude and shared interests. The INFP might like the ISFP’s silly jokes and corny quotes “ironically”, while the ISFP might enjoy the INFP’s sarcastic jokes. Many ISFP’s also have a lot of musical and/or artistic talent that the INFP might admire, while the ISFP might like the INFP’s warm manner and encouragement. However there are several major areas of conflict.

The INFP is likely to become irritated by inconsistency in how the ISFP applies their moral values, which they may interpret as hypocrisy. At that point, those cheesy jokes and quotes might start to look like a lack of self-awareness more than a cute quirk. Equally, the ISFP’s tendency to back down instantly in a conflict is often interpreted as cowardice by the INFP; they are anxious about conflict as well, but they will pursue the conflict if they believe the other person is morally wrong. The ISFP on the other hand will get sick of the INFP’s moral crusading, falsely thinking that they are just trying to cause arguments for no reason and not being sensitive to people’s differing perspectives. They may feel the INFP’s desire to teach others to be better people comes off as very patronising and unnecessary.

The INFP may feel a lot of angst that the ISFP does not understand why they are guilty, why they get caught up on things long-past, why they worry about the future—and they’re probably right.

They may enjoy consuming a lot of the same media, but have completely different ways of consuming it (ISFP focussing on the raw content and INFP analysing it to bits). This will satisfy the ISFP—who likes hearing other people’s analysis, even though they do not usually come up with much themselves—but the INFP might feel the ISFP’s side is somewhat lacking. This will be the same when they’re discussing people they know or real-life situations, at which point the ISFP might get tired of the INFP’s over-analysing and worrying.

Meanwhile the ISFP might get quite sick of the INFP not having as many of their own hobbies or being as self-motivated to do new things as they are. Sometimes the INFP may feel they do not deserve the ISFP, who easily motivates themselves to keep up an interesting and attractive appearance and seems to be a wealth of knowledge and love for everyone. They know that, by contrast, they can spend more time thinking/analysing than doing, meaning keeping up things like their personal appearance, tidiness, and other hobbies can suffer and they may not feel emotions as purely.

As a couple, they would never get to their holiday destination, on time, with all their luggage, and find their hotel—neither is at all capable of organising the practical details. The ISFP would keep the home clean and tidy probably without complaint, but the bills would never be paid on time and the bank statements never filed or shredded. They’d be fairly likely to fall for a scam or a crappy deal because neither of them could be bothered to read the options properly. Over time, although they are both at fault for that state of affairs, this would likely lead to tension.

How to read my MBTI posts

Just a heads up.

A lot of people will say that in order to really understand MBTI you need to understand how cognitive functions work, what each of the Jungian functions means and what they indicate in each position (primary, secondary, tertiary etc).

Just going to mention upfront that I don’t buy into that. I don’t think MBTI is some kind of objective scientific truth about how brains work. I don’t think there’s sufficient evidence that there is Exactly This Number And Order of cognitive functions in each of the types. For example, I’m an INTP and according to the Jungian theory that would mean that my functions are Ti-Ne-Si-Fe with Fi somewhere down in the deepest pits of my psyche–yet every cognitive functions test I take indicates that my two most prominent functions are Ti and Fi, and I’d agree with that–so that particular attempt at description fails for me and I’ve noticed it fails for other people as well. People who subscribe to that whole thing also say that your MBTI type never changes throughout your whole life…well I don’t really see any reason why that would be the case, nor do they provide a convincing case for it. They suggest that even if you become more Sensing, you become so by using your iNtuition, but I don’t see how you can become more Feeling by using your Thinking or why one couldn’t overtake the other.

Basically, I just think it’s a kind of pseudoscience…it’s not falsifiable, there’s not much in the way of empirical evidence for it.

That sounds like I hate MBTI, which is a bit mad for someone who spends a lot of time writing about it. Here’s my thing: I think MBTI works as a descriptive tool. It’s there to categorise people, not to reveal some fact of their neurobiology. I’m not sure discussing in terms of cognitive functions really adds to that–it just provides a description that most people don’t understand, and most people who type by functions seem to get it wrong all the time anyway (no doubt they’d say I’m the one who’s wrong, but I’ve never been wrong predicting someone’s type yet).

Here’s how I advise getting into Myers Briggs.

-Write out all the types in a list (subdivided by their middle two letters): ESFP, ESFJ, ISFP, ISFJ,  ENFP, ENFJ, INFP, INFJ,  ENTP, ENTJ, INTP, INTJ,  ESTP, ESTJ, ISTP, ISTJ.

-Go through the people in your life–mum and dad if you have them, siblings if you have them, friends if you have them, colleagues etc. Type them according to the “four letters” method. How do they get their energy–from time alone (I) or time with friends (E)? How do they process information–by looking for patterns and the bigger picture (N), or focusing on facts in isolation (S)? How do they make decisions–by listening to emotions (F) or reason (T)? And lastly, how do they live their life–do they like to plan everything in advance and get the same flavour ice cream every time and organise everything and hate surprises (J) ? Or are they scatterbrained and spontaneous and not always predictable even to themselves (P) ?

-You can also type fictional characters, celebrities or historical figures that you know a lot about (though steer clear of seriously evil people–they’ll be atypical examples of whatever type you give them. For example, some people say that Hitler was an INFJ, which I sort of doubt anyway. But either way, that doesn’t at all help you to understand what a normal INFJ is like OR why Hitler was a genocidal dictator, so it doesn’t really achieve anything.)

-Once you’ve typed each person, write their name under the type you’ve given them. So if someone likes time alone (I), likes learning facts but not really analysing (S), makes a lot of decisions based on emotion (F) and doesn’t like planning (P), you would write their name under ISFP. Gradually, you should start to notice patterns emerging–that everyone under each personality type has a lot in common and you now have a clear idea of what each type means. While previously it might have all looked like a jumble of letters, each set of four letters will start to gain meaning.

-the four-letters method of typing isn’t foolproof. Each letter affects how the other letters manifest, so this is why an INTP is more confusable with an INFJ than an INTJ (the “J” softens the “F” just like the “P” softens the “T”). However, by writing out these lists, you’ll start to notice if one person fits better in another category. You’ll also see that each type has more in common than just what the four letters tells you, and also that there are patterns–such as xSxJ’s being particularly organised and tidy, xxTJ’s being dogmatic, or xNFx’s being interested in film or literature.

So yeah. Basically the way I do Myers Briggs is such that most people who are into Myers Briggs would hate me. But I am right though.

ISFPs and INFJs

Why you might mistype one for the other:

– ISFP’s studious nature and love of facts may lead to their being mistyped as either an INFP or an INFJ. This is due to a common misunderstanding of what being a Sensor means. Although sensors do tend to be more aware of their surroundings than iNtuitives, it’s a common misconception that they can only deal with information they can see, smell, taste, feel etc, and can’t deal with anything abstract.

Sensors tend to be less comfortable with analysing information to find patterns or come up with their own theories, but many of them are perfectly happy to take in information and learn abstract facts, none more so than the ISFP. Most ISFP’s love reading books or watching films or listening to lectures, and usually do quite well in subjects where they have to learn a lot of information, but less well when they are required to come up with their own theories.

You will notice that the ISFP tends to recite other people’s theories as facts and will rarely engage with them critically, whereas an INFP or an INFJ will be far more critical when reading other people’s thoughts and come up with their own theories and reasoning about the subject. However, the ISFP will be likely to retain far, far more facts and details about the topic at hand than their INFP or INFJ counterpart, and will usually be able to describe them eloquently.

– A common cause of confusion: ISFP’s are the most tidy Perceivers and INFJ’s are the most messy. The reasons for this are quite simple. Like all Perceivers, ISFPs are not naturally inclined to be organised. However, ISFP’s love things to look pretty, and they’re not going to look pretty if they’re a mess! ISFP’s tidy up for the aesthetic appeal and not for the sake of having an organised system in place. Actually, a lot of Perceivers tidy up for this reason, but ISFP’s are the most committed to it, because their Sensory nature means they are more aware of their surroundings, their Introversion means that the place where they relax alone is very important to them, and usually xSFx’s are more sensitive to the aesthetic appeal of things than xSTx’s.

INFJ’s, like all Judgers, are inclined to be organised, but they are much more interested in organising abstract concepts than physical objects. INFJ’s are VERY big on this whole elaborate canon thing they have in their head. As long as they have the concepts of the room organised in their head—this is where this pile of physics books is, this is where I keep all my Wiccan spell ingredients, this is where I keep my collection of model dragons—they’re not that bothered about making it look organised for anyone else. In fact, tidying up for them upsets their understanding of the room, and throws them off balance.

Differences, Similarities and how to tell them apart:

– INFJs and ISFPs both share the trait that they can be passionately interested in science yet invested in something that seems contrary to the scientific method–for example they might be interested in something like astrology or homeopathy. To an xNTx type, this may seem a very contradictory and confusing trait. But ISFP’s and INFJ’s each have their reasons for forming their beliefs this way. ISFP’s love to absorb facts in their rawest form and view each fact as an individual entity. ISFP’s may be interested in science because of the facts they can learn, but they are usually not so interested in analysing the facts because working out the way that concepts relate to each other is not so interesting to them.

The fact that ISFP’s view each fact individually and don’t like to perform analysis means that they often do not even realise when one fact they believe might be inconsistent with another fact they believe—and because of their spontaneous nature, they may change their mind about whether they accept a point of view from moment to moment. INFJ’s belief systems on the other hand, usually have a lot of internal consistency. Even though they may not meet many xNTx’s ideas of “logic” (in the sense that there is not always proof of their truth-tracking capacity) their belief systems always have some kind of internal logic. Unlike for xNTx’s, it is the beautiful and detailed internal logic of a belief system (the “canon” of it) that appeals to them, rather than its truth-tracking powers—which allows them to commit to irrational belief systems as well as rational ones.

– Another thing that ISFP’s and INFJ’s have in common is that they can both be short-tempered. Just as an ISFP may change their mind about facts from one minute to the next (sometimes living so much in the moment that they do not realise they are doing so), they may also change their mind about people very quickly. This can be a good thing—they are by far one of the most forgiving types—but it can also mean that they fly off the handle without considering whether they are being consistent in their demands. Their lack of analysis can also make them poor at determining the real cause of their anger, meaning they might take their anger out on someone unfairly without realising it. xSxP’s are very impulsive and xxFP’s can act on unfiltered emotion and xSFx’s can have poor emotional analysis (preferring to experience/express emotions in their purest form), so the combination of all three is not good if you catch them on a bad day. On the other hand, these are often the same traits that make them so charismatic and appealing on a good day.

An INFJ is far more consistent, and much more likely to bear a grudge. INFJ’s are one of the most empathetic, and sensitive types—which means that when they’re angry, they are REALLY angry, and being xNxJ’s, they’re not likely to forget about it in a hurry either. Both types are likely to have been very upset by the conflict and might not want to be near you for a while afterwards—being IxFx’s they’ll need some time alone anyway. So you’ll know if it’s an ISFP or an INFJ you’re dealing with based on how quickly and completely they forgive you afterwards (though bear in mind the ISFP might just be too shy/ashamed to make this explicitly clear and the INFJ might be seething with a smile on their face).

-Both types can be VERY stubborn when challenged to change their viewpoints—INFJ’s because they dislike changing an aspect of their belief system however good the reason for doing so, and ISFP’s because they often do not understand why they should accept the logical argument being put to them if it doesn’t appeal to their feelings. However, an ISFP will be far more likely to accept a new viewpoint that is presented with a strong emotion behind it, as long as it is not presented as a direct challenge to their current viewpoint—whereas an INFJ will instantly recognise something that does not fit with their current viewpoint and reject it. At worst, INFJ’s can cling to viewpoints that have long ceased to be workable.

-Being xSxP’s, ISFP’s don’t mind doing things very spontaneously as soon as they are suggested, whereas INFJ’s don’t like surprises or unexpected changes and prefer to have everything clear in their head (integrated into their internal system) before they act. INFJ’s can consequently be very very indecisive while ISFP’s act as soon as they think and can consequently sometimes get themselves into bad situations.

-ISFP’s can often be very, very good with words, but they also switch this tendency off. When they socialise, they often prefer not to use their gift of language, saving it for times of reflection alone or writing projects. While ISFP’s will happily talk to each other in non-verbal in-jokes and memes, INFJ’s don’t understand how to participate in that kind of communication. They may not be as eloquent as the ISFP when the ISFP is really trying—due to their sensitivity to their surroundings and feelings, ISFP’s are often great descriptors who can create great atmosphere in a story. But INFJ’s like to communicate with their friends in full clear sentences, while ISFP’s often find this needlessly formal.

The tendency to communicate in in-jokes and references and to laugh uproariously at these can also make ISFP’s seem a bit cliquey to INFJ’s, as well as to many INxx’s, who are not good at this type of communication.  These communication preferences of the ISFP sometimes lead to them being misinterpreted as Extraverts owing to their seeming high energy around friends. In fact, being introverts, both types thrive in their alone time, but INFJ’s are seen as more stereotypical introverts since they speak about things intellectually and dislike spontaneity.

-A bit more about that difference in writing! INFJ’s are great at creating really elaborate canons, often for sci fi or fantasy universes. J.K. Rowling is an INFJ, for example.

ISFP’s aren’t as interested in that aspect. They’ll usually pick one or two characters to focus in on. They’re brilliant at describing scenes and using vivid language to evoke different sensations. They can also capture personality in dialogue very well. They’re often drawn to fan fiction (or something like it) because then they can work with characters to whom they’re already attached and familiar.

Due to ISFPs not using their eloquence in day-to-day life, their capacity for good writing often greatly surprises their friends. INFJ’s however tend to write in a similar style to how they talk, to the extent that you can easily read their writing in their own voice.

-This one’s much less set-in-stone and certainly not true in 100% of cases, because it’s dependant on so many other factors such as social pressure. However, you are much less likely with an ISFP than with an INFJ to find yourself squinting and going “what is going on with that outfit?”

Again, this is to do with INFJ’s and their internally-motivated orientation. An INFJ who wrote a lot of fairy stories when they were little might spot a fairy necklace that reminds them of that, and then put it on due to its personal significance—without stopping to wonder whether wearing a fairy necklace with a business suit appears completely normal. Again, they’re not that interested in organising physical objects, so their clothes aren’t necessarily co-ordinated outfits. ISFP’s on the other hand are very conscious of the physical appearance they’re projecting and very interested in making it appealing.

Compatibility:

Despite the fact that they may seem to have superficial interests in common and may both be very empathetic, INFJ’s and ISFP’s have some conflict with each other. INFJ’s often find the ISFP’s changeability unnerving and can be irritated by their lack of consistency. They often find it difficult to communicate with ISFP’s due to the ISFP being able to switch off their wordiness so easily. However, they often have admiration for ISFP’s because ISFP’s act on emotion and empathy without feeling the need to process or rationalise those emotions, a trait which INFJ’s respect. They also admire ISFP’s conviction in their own beliefs—except where those beliefs do no coincide with their own. ISFP’s usually like INFJ’s but may feel that they can be boring because they rarely find non-verbal jokes funny. They also do not understand the INFJ capacity for bearing grudges or analysing things that are happening. However, because ISFP’s are easy-going types, they can usually go with the flow and put that down to an idiosyncracy of the INFJ in question. Both being empathetic, INFJ’s and ISFP’s can always lend one another a listening ear and share emotions, and ISFP’s may like INFJ’s very much for introducing new ideas into their lives.

THE ISFP SERIES part 1: What is an ISFP?

Overview:

The ISFP is deals in pure, unfiltered information and emotions. During alone time, they take in a lot of information, both sensory and factual, and love to be creative. However, they don’t tend to analyse things so can suffer from irrationality or impulsiveness. They are very laid back, prefer going with the flow, and are forgiving and accepting of everyone.

  • An ISFP is an easy-going, open-minded person who accepts a diverse range of people for who they are. They value harmony and peace and everybody getting along. Due to their high empathy and easy-going nature, they often value keeping peace more than they value doing the right thing according to any system of objective morality. Consequently they would hold a dim view of one person wishing to exclude another person or a person attempting directly to change the minds of others. In situations of conflict, they are more likely to apologise to keep the peace, than to try to analyse who did what wrong and how to improve in the future.
  • ISFP’s live completely in the moment and experience each moment in isolation, without reference to potential future consequences or continuity with the past. This can be a very positive thing since they don’t mind going with the flow and doing things spontaneously. They are not inclined to get hung up on boring details or judge others for not being organised. They almost never hold a grudge for any length of time and very quickly forgive past misdemeanors. However this can also be a fault. Their spontaneity and lack of forward thinking can lead them to do stupid things without considering the consequences. Since they do not themselves bear grudges or dwell on past misdemeanors, they would not understand why anyone would continue to be upset with their behaviour after a conflict is over. This trait can also lead them to hold onto toxic relationships, or encourage others to do so, since they wish everyone to get along at the moment and do not think much about the past or potential future.
  • They can be loud and gregarious with friends (to the extent that they might be mistaken for Extraverts) but greatly value time alone, reflecting and often reading and writing. ISFP’s like to learn facts about the world and often have a wide-ranging and detailed general knowledge. They are eloquent at describing that knowledge, as well as describing the sensory information around them and their emotions. ISFP’s are very self-motivated and can easily learn new things in their spare time alone. They may teach themselves languages, read books, or teach themselves to knit. They are self-sufficient and don’t need a lot of time with others. They like things to look beautiful and can be very creative with the space they are given and with their own personal appearance. Their high awareness of their surroundings and desire for aesthetic pleasure often makes them tidier than other Perceivers.
  • ISFP’s easily bond with other people who are similar to themselves and form long-lasting, robust friendships with a great deal of emotional bonding. They have a lot of love to give. Once ISFP’s have formed this close bond with somebody, they often like to communicate with them non-verbally and through in-jokes, which INxx types might find very offputting. Due to this tendency, the ISFP may come across in social situations as not being very intellectual. Consequently people are often very surprised by how eloquent, knowledgeable and artistically engaged an ISFP can be when they want to. Although ISFP’s get on very well with close friends—to the point of nonverbal codes or a “secret language” between friends—they are often awkward with new people.
  • The ISFP is not a person who particularly enjoys being analytical. This may seem in conflict with the ISFP’s group of interests—because they love information and beautiful sensory experiences, ISFP’s often have interest in art, music, history, literature and other subjects that are commonly subject to analysis. ISFP’s are good at putting these things into categories—for example, they can recognise if something is punk-inspired or gothic—but generally prefer to absorb them as they are without analysing further. When analysis is required, they will sometimes recite other people’s analysis as though it were solid fact. On the other hand, they are very good at remembering and describing small details in an articulate fashion.
  • ISFP’s are one of the least consistent types, meaning that although they are empathetic in each moment, they can lack the analytical skill to translate that into consistently moral behaviour. For example, ISFP’s sometimes parrot viewpoints they have heard without recognising that those viewpoints may be harmful or not consistent with their empathetic outlook. They are poor at forming judgements of people, which can be a good thing (it’s what leads them to be non-judgemental most of the time). However, when they do try to do these things, they do it very badly and often form unfair judgements. Their lack of consistency can cause them to hold others to different standards than they hold themselves. ISFP’s act on pure emotion; they do not process that emotion to determine if they are being reasonable or not. They may not correctly identify the cause of their feelings, meaning they may lose their temper with people who are not at fault in the situation.
  • ISFP’s can sometimes appear to be very opinionated. Although they generally accept that people have differing opinions, they tend to interpret passionate and lengthily-justified disagreement as a personal attack and respond as such. They don’t like to discuss things very much. This can cause problems because again, the ISFP’s expressed views often haven’t been thought through and may be inconsistent or offensive—and they will back down immediately or get upset if challenged. This can be an issue between ISFP’s and xxTP’s, who like to debate things for pleasure. The xxTP thinks they are having an interesting discussion about an issue, while the ISFP feels that they are being personally criticised.

In summary, the ISFP is a caring, creative person with a wide range of interests and a close bond with their friends–but don’t expect them to debate the finer points of moral philosophy or political theory with you; they won’t like it. They empathise in each moment and act on that empathy; they love to learn and be creative, but they come across as very laid back, down to earth people.