ISFJ Personality Type: The Nurturer

ISFJ (introverted, sensing, feeling, judging) is one of the 16 personality types identified on the Jung Personality Test. People who have ISFJ personalities tend to be reserved, warm-hearted, and responsible.

According to David Keirsey, ISFJs make up about 9 to 14 percent of the population.

If you haven’t already, you can take the free Jungian personality test here.

ISFJ Characteristics

The test identifies your personality type by looking at four main areas: 1) Extraversion vs Introversion, 2) Sensing vs Intuition, 3) Thinking vs Feeling and 4) Judging vs Perceiving.

For each of the four main dimensions, the test identifies whether your personality tends to lean toward one dimension or the other. As you can see, the ISFJ personality type leans toward Introversion, Intuition, Feeling and Judging.

  • Introversion (I): ISFJs are introverted and tend to be quiet and reserved.
  • Sensing (S): ISFJs prefer concrete information rather than abstract theories.
  • Feeling (F): ISFJs place a greater emphasis on personal considerations rather than objective information.
  • Judging (J): ISFJs are planners and tend to be very well-organized.

People with INFJ personality types tend to have the following characteristics:

  • Reliable, stable and down-to-earth
  • Enjoys order and structure
  • Dislikes conflict and confrontation
  • Kind, warm-hearted and considerate
  • Practical-minded
  • Likes concrete information
  • Very aware of other people’s feelings
  • Has a great memory for detail

ISFJs enjoy structure and strive to maintain this order in all areas of their lives. While people with this personality type are introverted and tend to be quiet, they are keen observers and are focused on other people.

Because they are so perceptive, ISFJs are good at remembering details about other people. Those with this personality type are particularly well-tuned in to the emotions and feelings of others.

Because they are quiet, people sometimes misinterpret this as standoffish behavior. As Keirsey notes, this is far from the truth.

ISFJs are known for their compassion and caring for others, often working to secure the safety and well-being of other people without asking for thanks or anything in return.

Because they are hard-working, dependable and rarely seek accolades for their own accomplishments, ISFJs are sometimes taken for granted by those around them. In some cases, people might even try to take advantage of this reliability.

While ISFJs are good at understanding the emotions, they often struggle to express their own feelings. Rather than share their feelings, they may bottle them up, sometimes to the point that negative feelings toward other people can result.

When dealing with life struggles such as illness or the death of a loved one, they may keep quiet about what they are experiencing in order to avoid burdening others with their troubles.

ISFJs tend to have a small group of very close friends. While they may be quiet and reserved around people they don’t know well, they are more likely to “let loose” when they are around these close confidants. They place a high value on these close friendships and are always willing to support and care for the people they are close to.

ISFJ Compatibility

In relationships, ISFJs usually stand back until a certain point, after which they can show unconditional devotion to their partner. They pair well with extraverted and sensing types, because they typically need someone who is willing to take the initiative with them and eke out their true feelings. They are less compatible with introverted and intuitive types, because the partners may have difficulty overcoming their mutual reticence and understanding the different ways they express themselves.

ISFJ Women

ISFJ is the most common personality type for women, characterizing about 20% of the female population. ISFJ women are much more common than ISFJ men, and you are probably acquainted with at least one in your daily life.

The most prominent trait of ISFJ women is their empathy. These women are especially nurturing, and often their greatest goal in life is to be a good mother. They are also very dutiful in fulfilling their commitments, which allows their compassion be actualized.

ISFJ women prefer to serve others in their careers, but as introverts they usually go for positions outside of the limelight. Nurses, schoolteachers, and social workers are likely to be ISFJ women.


Men with the ISFJ personality type are very empathetic and affectionate, though they are generally reluctant to say this outwardly, vastly preferring to show it by their actions. They will go to great lengths for others, but can begin to resent those who take advantage of them.

These traits make them ideal as doctors, assistants, and activists — though they are very hesitant to embroil themselves in any particularly controversial cause. Similarly, while they greatly enjoy helping out in their community, they prefer to stay away from local politics.

ISFJ males need to learn to set healthy boundaries to prevent others from relying too much on them. While they generally will not directly stand up to abuse of their generosity, it can embitter them and cause them to withdraw from charitable activities.

Famous People With ISFJ Personalities

By looking at their lives, works and behaviors, researchers have suggested that a number of famous individuals fit in with the characteristics of the ISFJ personality type. Some of the possible famous ISFJs include:

  • Mother Teresa, nun and humanitarian
  • Louisa May Alcott, author
  • Elizabeth II, Queen of England
  • Robert E. Lee, general
  • Mary I, Queen of England
  • Kristi Yamaguchi, figure skater
  • Michael Caine, actor
  • Alfred, Lord Tennyson, poet

Famous ISFJ Fiction Characters

Some fictional characters that fit in with the ISFJ personality type include:

  • David Copperfield, David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  • Ophelia, Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  • Dr. John Watson, Sherlock Holmes series by Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Bianca, The Taming of the Shrew
  • Joel Barish, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Best Careers/Jobs for ISFJs (Nurturers)

ISFJs have a number of characteristics that make them well-suited to particular careers. Because they are so attuned to the feelings of others, jobs in mental health or the health care industry are a good fit. They are also meticulous and orderly, making them suited to jobs that involve planning, structure or attention to detail.

The following are just a few of the career options that are a good match for people with an ISFJ personality type.

  • Social worker
  • Counselor
  • Nurse
  • Paralegal
  • Book keeper
  • Child care provider
  • Office Manager
  • Administrator
  • Teacher
  • Banker
  • Accountant