As the fun-loving, people-oriented caretakers of the 16 personality types, the ESFJ and ESFP love lending a helping hand to people in need. They’re empathy-driven, down-to-earth, and often popular among their peers. But how can you tell them apart? This article will look at the similarities and differences, comparing ESFP vs. ESFJ.
Before we jump in, you should know that this is one post in a series about understanding the differences between “Judging” and “Perceiving” personality types.
A High-Level Summary
ESFJs are more organized and strategic in their approach towards sustaining relationships, while ESFPs possess a more free-wheeling and spontaneous view to their bonds. Both extraverted sensing feelers often have multiple circles of friends they love dearly and will go the extra mile for.
Let’s take a deeper look and see how these two types compare, below.
Functions Stack: ESFJ vs. ESFP
Below is a comparison of the cognitive function stack for each of these two types. Cognitive functions are what each of us use to analyze our world, and the order (or “stack”) varies by personality type.
- Extraverted Feeling (Fe)
- Introverted Sensing (Si)
- Extraverted Intuition (Ne)
- Introverted Thinking (Ti)
- Extraverted Sensing (Se)
- Introverted Feeling (Fi)
- Extraverted Thinking (Te)
- Introverted Intuition (Ni)
Expressing vs. Experiencing (Fe vs. Se)
ESFJs find ways to express their love and appreciation towards others, through a variety of love languages—be it quality time, acts of service, words of affirmation, physical touch, or gifts. They’re verbal about the people they enjoy the company of and also of those they avoid.
As a result, most of their conversations revolve around other people and what they’ve been up to. Has uncle Paul been working on his deck lately? Is aunt Helen still working in her flower shop? In a nutshell, ESFJs love discussions about people.
ESFPs, also people-oriented, find their happy place through adventures with friends. One second, they may be exploring local coffee shops in the town next to them. The next second, they may be booking a ticket across the globe to go on a retreat.
ESFPs’ primary function, extraverted sensing (Se), allows them to process their surroundings quickly, which makes them wonderful explorers with a million reasons to relish each moment.
Memories vs. Values (Si vs. Fi)
ESFJs rely on their memories to make decisions based off how it’d affect the feelings of others. How has a friend helped them out in the past; what is their reliability track record?
ESFJs enjoy traditions and keeping many albums of the past—happy times, memorable moments, and touching sentimental items. They love the warm rush of nostalgia they feel when they revisit these memories, and can easily share their experiences with others. Their auxiliary function, introverted sensing (Si) is responsible for all this.
ESFPs hold deep values that they base their friendships and decisions on, because of their auxiliary function, introverted feeling (Fi). They typically work on these values as a younger teenager, and solidify them as they grow older: through heartbreaks, rejections, and issues.
ESFPs can make highly creative artists who can touch the hearts of many. They often have the gift of gab—and make excellent public speakers and podcast hosts.
Ideas vs. Methods (Ne vs. Te)
ESFJs have a secret talent for brainstorming and can bring out the best in their colleagues who excel in ideation, thanks to their shared extraverted intuition (Ne). They enjoy discussing plans with friends for the future and intricately plan down the details—from the restaurants to Airbnbs.
ESFJs can nurture their more creative side by engaging in more open-ended activities, such as creative writing, attending art galleries, improv, and stand-up comedy.
ESFPs seem relaxed and quite chaotic on the surface, but possess a skill for organization if the situation calls for it. Thanks to their tertiary function, extraverted thinking (Te), they can adapt to guidelines and rules.
In an argument, they want facts about what happened: what, when, where, and who. ESFPs place less value on the “Why?” and often ask their intuitive friends for advice after gathering the facts. They may surprisingly enjoy one or two more rigid subjects in grade school, such as math or chemistry.
Reasoning vs. Hunches (Ti vs. Ni)
ESFJs, under extreme stress, will shrink and become critical of small details that are irrelevant to the larger issue at hand. They’ll become overly critical and pessimistic—which will worry their loved ones. ESFJs will insist on accuracy and value the facts over others’ emotions, which may lead to bouts of irritation and disappointment. Their thinking will become more rigid, and they can finally adopt a detached, exasperated stance to any misfortunes.
ESFPs, in contrast, will become paranoid and catastrophize their future under stress. They’ll start to believe one negative event will snowball into an ever larger problem—which often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Their thoughts may become their reality, when they start catastrophizing their life. ESFPs will then, because of this paranoia, stop taking risks altogether and “play it safe” to avoid harm and more potential setbacks.
Career Differences: ESFJ vs. ESFP
ESFJs crave a position where they can collaborate with people, assume leadership, and inspire others. ESFJs can find satisfaction in their work as retail managers, school nurses, event planners, fundraisers, and special education teachers. (View full list of ESFJ careers here)
ESFPs are more spontaneous and want a career to match their high energy levels. They can enjoy working as elementary school teachers, nurses, servers, bartenders, social workers, actors, and travel agents.
(View full list of ESFP careers here)