ISFJ: The Defender

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ISFJs, or the “Defender”, get this nickname because they are loyal, gentle and want to protect (and defend!) the wellbeing of others.

In this article, we will cover an ISFJs strengths, weaknesses, cognitive functions, career considerations and what famous people are likely to be ISFJs! If you’ve tested as an ISFJ, then we hope this article offers you a little bit more of an insight into this type.

ISFJ Meaning

The ISFJ, or the Defender, is one of the of the “16 personality types” that we see in several different models based on the work of Carl Jung. These models include the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and Keirsey Temperament Sorter, among others.

ISFJ represents an individual who has Introverted, Sensing, Feeling and Judging. This means that they are the type of person who is energized by spending time along, they focus on facts and details, make decisions based on emotions and values and prefers to be planned and organized.

ISFJ Traits

People with the ISFJ personality type process the world around them internally. This means that they will use all five senses to take in information in a concrete and literal manner. They tend to process information according to how they feel about it and how it fits into their personal value system. In general, most ISFJs are genuinely warm, kind, and have an overwhelming desire to see the good in others. Sometimes, ISFJs will give people the benefit of the doubt to their own detriment.

ISFJs, or Defenders, pay attention to details and have a strong memory, especially when a person or situation has made a lasting impression on them. Security, laws, and tradition are important to them, and these types of people follow them to the letter. They are not necessarily interested in changing the way things operate in their inner world, or the world at large, if everything seems to function fine the way it is.

ISFJs received their nickname “The Defender” because they have a genuine interest in keeping others safe and ensuring they are well cared for. Typically, ISFJs are conscientious, compassionate, caring and enjoy contributing to society in a way that helps others.

Strengths and Weaknesses of ISFJs

ISFJs are extremely dependable and therefore family, friends, managers, and co-workers can count on them to follow through with any task or project they commit to doing. They are keenly aware of their own feelings, and the feelings of others. However, Defenders tend not to share their own feelings unless pushed to do so. Since expressing feelings and emotions about others is difficult, ISFJs may build up internal judgments against them and struggle in relationships because of it. However, they are quick to speak up when they notice the mistreatment of other people.

An ISFJs strong sense of responsibility and duty make it difficult for them to say no. Therefore, it is easy for others to take advantage of them because the put others  well-being above their own. They also crave positive feedback and if they don’t receive it, they can feel discouraged or even depressed.

ISFJ Cognitive Functions (Functional Stack)

Each of the 16 personality types has four cognitive functions, as introduced by Carl Jung. These functions are the two scales of Sensing-Intuition (used to process information) and Thinking-Feeling (used to make decisions), each of which can be expressed both in an extraverted manner (e.g., displayed outwardly/externally) or an introverted manner (e.g., displayed inwardly or internally). The ISFJ  has a ‘Si, Fe, Ti, Ne” cognitive stack. However, they are called the ‘SiFe” due to their top two functions. This cognitive stacks means that:

  • Dominant: Si (introverted Sensing) means that ISFJs can remember their impressions of the experiences they’ve had. ISFJs have an organized internal world, and their mind can easily put similar pieces of information into appropriate categories and they can learn strategies and rules with each.
  • Auxiliary: Fe (extroverted Feeling) is the primary way in which the Defender personality type (ISFJs) interact with and understand the people in the world around them. It allows ISFJs to focus outwardly and take in information about others, such as their thoughts or feelings.
  • Tertiary: Ti (introverted Thinking) means that, when an ISFJs uses this cognitive function, they are analyzing things in a categorical and organized manner and are seeking the truth about experiences and situations.
  • Inferior: Ne – (extroverted iNtuition) is an ISFJs last function, and thus the least natural. It encourage ISFJs to crave simple new experiences and ideas.

ISFJs and Work/Career

Best careers for ISFJs
Given their nickname, “Defenders” of the most promising careers for ISFJs is likely to be in nursing, as the ISFJ can follow rules and protocols and defend (help) others. Similarly, other healthcare careers will suit defenders as these please their natural desire to care for others. Roles in administration are likely to suit ISFJs as they can use their organized, methodical and reliable approach to get the job done.

Check out our comprehensive page on ISFJ careers to see more job titles specific to ISFJs.

Famous ISFJs

In the general population, ISFJs is the most common type of personality! Famous ISFJs are likely to be characterized by their desire to help others. Some famous INFJs are:

  • Kate Middleton
  • Mother Teresa
  • George H.W. Bush
  • Laura Bush
  • King George VI
  • Jimmy Carter
  • George Marshall
  • Rose Parks
  • Clara Barton

ISFJ Hobbies

  • Baking, especially for a food bank/church
  • Knitting sweaters, hats, scarves, placemats
  • Creating calligraphy for art and cards
  • Spending quality time with loved ones
  • Gardening and growing new plants

ISFJ Quotes

“One of the greatest things [about being a famous actor] is the ability to give back. It feels wonderful.”
– Mark Hamill

“Well, love motivates me in everything I do.”
– Vin Diesel

“Memories of our lives, our works, and our deeds will continue in others.”
– Rosa Parks

“Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.”
– Mother Teresa

“We are all made for cooperation, like feet, like hands…like the rows of the upper and lower teeth. To act against one another then is contrary to nature.”
– Marcus Aurelius


Those who score as an ISFJ (Defender personality type) will sit somewhere on the identity scale, ranging from assertive (A) to turbulent (T). The ISFJ-A tends to be confident and sure of themselves. Despite their introverted nature, they are more likely that ISFJ-Ts to take visible roles in a workplace. With their confidence also comes the ability to not let problems set them back.

The ISFJ-T is more sensitive than the ISFJ-A. They are more worrisome and tend to actively anticipate problems. Although this can be very helpful, as they tend to spot and deal with small problems before they become too large!

ISFJ vs. Similar Personality Types


The ESFJ thinks of their generosity through the greater community and social movements, because of their dominant function, Extraverted Feeling (Fe). ISFJs, on the other hand, prefer a more quiet and intimate approach to their care and thrive in one-on-one environments, as they lead with Introverted Sensing (Si).


The INFJ prefers a futuristic approach to their goals rather than consider the present merit, becuase their dominant function, Introverted Intuition (Ni), allows them to do so. ISFJs instead thrive in careers where they see their care acknowledged instantly, such as in nursing or childsitting, as they retain information from their five senses, in the present.


The ISTJ views their duties through a lens of practicality and logic rather than others’ feelings, as their secondary function, Extraverted Thinking (Te) allows them to comply to an external set of rules or systems. ISFJs are natural caregivers and want to have their efforts acknowledged in a gentle, postive manner by their loved ones and have secondary Extraverted Feeling (Fe), which focuses on group harmony.


The ISFP wants to explore and wander according to their whims rather than preserve and protect, because they lead with Introverted Feeling (Fi). ISFJs wish for stable relationships and a home environment with plenty of love expressed in a consistent manner, due to their nostalgic and perserving function Introverted Sensing (Si).

Next Steps

The Career Project can help you find rewarding work that is well suited to your skills and abilities. Browse our career guides to learn about different career options. Or, check out our job profiles, which are informational interviews with real-world professionals sharing their “inside scoop” on what their job is really like.

Finally, for more about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, read our first post in this series.

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