According to David Keirsey, the author of “Please Understand Me II”, almost any especially gifted artist, painter, sculptor, designer is likely to be an ISFP. Together with other SP types, he classified ISFP people as “Artisans”, i.e. people with natural ability to excel in arts, but noted that the ISFP has the best “grasp of what fits or doesn’t fit in any and all kinds of artistic works”. He estimated that ISFPs account for about nine to ten percent of the population although a more recent estimation by CAPT (Center for Applications of Psychological Type) cites slightly lower numbers.
ISFP Personality Overview
Generally, ISFPs are gentle and compassionate people who are in touch with themselves and the world around them. Similar to the ESFP, they tend to live in the here and now. Quiet and reserved, people who belong to this personality type are keen observers; they enjoy the moment and what’s going on around them.
Naturally considerate and respectful, they do not force their views and opinions on others. Unfortunately, their gentle nonimposing nature is often misunderstood and interpreted as weakness and lack of direction (Otto Kroeger, Type Talk).
Thanks to their reluctance to express themselves verbally, the ISFP is one of the most mysterious personality types. Their reluctance to speak isn’t a lack of ability but disinterest. Unlike many other personality types, the ISFP prefers to express themselves through action, often through art.
ISFPs don’t like to stay idle, but they choose their activities spontaneously, without much planning. Doing something is better than doing nothing to the ISFP; because they are naturally impulsive as other SP types, they do whatever they feel like doing at the moment and not what needs to be done. Needless to say, this may result in a long list of unfinished projects, which can be very frustrating even to ISFPs themselves.
When it comes to work, the ISFP Artist wants to serve others while money takes second place. More often than not, ISFPs work quietly behind the scenes helping others solve problems or achieve their dreams. To be happy at work, the ISFP needs two things:
- being active
- and interacting with other people.
Praise, recognition and high salary aren’t nearly as important as long as he or she can feel busy and useful.
ISFP professionals are often shy to push their services and often lose their opportunities to less talented and more aggressive types. Generally, ISFP men and women tend to sell themselves short. If they did an amazing work, they are likely to think it was just an accident. If someone compliments them, they dismiss it as “not really meant” (Otto Kroeger, Type Talk).
Relationships with friends and family are extremely important to ISFPs. Unlike many others, they invest a lot of time and effort in nurturing their relationships. As they age, ISFP men and women usually find themselves loved and cherished by the people who know them well, thanks to all their effort over the years (Sandra Hirsh, LIFETypes). It is their relaxed but active style, their acceptance of others and their ability to enjoy simple things in life that makes them so lovable and pleasant to be around.
ISFP stands for
- Introverted. Being introverted means that you prefer to focus internally on your own thoughts and feelings. Despite the fact that ISFPs like to be around other people, they still need plenty of time alone to rest and reflect.
- Sensing. Being a sensor means that you are a practical and grounded person who prefers facts and details rather than abstract ideas and concepts. Typical sensors don’t worry much about the future and don’t obsess about the past; instead, they prefer to live in the here and now.
- Feeling. Having a feeling style means that you are a warm and nurturing person who prioritizes relationships and makes decisions based on gut feelings.
- Perceiving. Having a perceiving style means that you don’t believe in planning and prefer to stay open and flexible. Generally, all perceivers are spontaneous people.
ISFP Cognitive Functions
According to Carl Jung, Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist and the author of “Psychological Types”, it’s not possible to demonstrate introversion and extroversion in isolation. Each of the 16 personalities is assigned cognitive functions that help understand it better. In case of the ISFP, cognitive functions are as follows:
- Introverted Feeling (Fi)
- Extroverted Sensing (Se)
- Introverted Intuition (Ni)
- Extroverted Thinking (Te)
Myers-Briggs works (MBTI assessment), Keirsey Temperament Sorter and works of many others who expanded on the subject of the 16 personalities are based on Jung’s original insights. You can learn more about it here.
Other names for ISFP
Like all other personality types, ISFP has many descriptive names given by different reputable personality researchers who wrote on the subject of 16 personalities:
- Composer Producer (Linda Berens, the author of “The 16 Personality Types”),
- Artist (David Keirsey, the author of “Please Understand Me”),
- Composer (David Keirsey, the author of “Please Understand Me II”),
- Seeker and Keeper of Human Values (Alan W. Brownsword, the author of “It Takes All Types”),
- Amiable Artisan (Jonathan P. Niednagel, the author of “Brain Typing” and “Your Best Sport: How to Choose and Play It”),
- Versatile Supporter (official MBTI site).
There are some other ISFP names that spread online. That includes Adventurer and Sensual Artist.
When compared to four temperaments personality system, the ISFP is the equivalent of mixed Phlegmatic-Sanguine temperament.
ISFPs make nurturing and supporting partners who put the needs of their partners before their own. When they first fall in love, they might become totally consumed by it and take important decisions regarding their future and marriage that may eventually ruin them. They become naive and hopelessly romantic; things like status, financial security, intellectual compatibility and education aren’t important to a love-struck ISFP. The ISFP Artist sees no problem in marrying someone from a completely different background, with a shaky financial status and difficult relatives. What the ISFP cares about is this:
- having fun together,
- being understood.
To ISFPs relationships with their partner are a clear priority, and for the sake of the relationship, they are ready to make important changes in their lives, such as
- stop working if that’s what their partner wants,
- start working in order to support their partner,
- move to another country,
- give up on things they like to do if it bothers their partners.
ISFP Compatibility with Other Personality Types
There is no space to talk about the ISFP’s compatibility with all 16 personality types, but because asking about ISFP INFJ and ISFP INFP compatibility is very common, we will address that here.
ISFP and INFJ
ISFP and INFJ are a good match because both share a lot in common. Both are private and sensitive people and are likely to spend a lot of time alone, with each other. Because both prioritize the relationship, they are likely to be very considerate of each other and try to please each other as much as they can. Even better, both desire harmony and have a tendency to avoid conflicts, which makes their relationship very stable.
On the negative side, the ISFP may feel like the INFJ over-complicates and overthinks things. He or she may wish that the INFJ partner would be able to be more present in the moment and more alive. Another potential problem area is that the INFJ is busy with his or her thinking while the ISFP partner wants to think less and do more. Money is another potential problem area: The INFJ tends to be on a frugal side while the ISFP likes to spend freely and easily.
Because both partners tend to avoid conflicts, they may avoid having a discussion until their little differences become major issues.
ISFP and INFP
Although the ISFP and the INFP have a lot in common, it is their differences that attract them to each other. The ISFP is drawn to the INFP’s originality while the INFP admires the ISFP’s ability to be mysterious and fun at the same time.
On the negative side, ISFPs may find themselves unable to live up to INFPs’ expectations. The INFP tends to idealize their relationships, and the ISFP may feel guilty if reality doesn’t meet the expectations.
ISFJ vs. ISFP
Another common question is what’s the difference between ISFJ and ISFP. The answer is that the ISFP and ISFJ share three type preferences and obviously have a lot in common. Both are sensitive, quiet and down-to-earth type of people. However, there are some important differences between them:
Source: “Just Your Type” by Barbara Barron-Tieger and Paul D. Tieger
Generally, ISFPs of either gender don’t project a strong image. Men who belong to this personality type are known for being quiet and private, but they are also known for having a great sense of humor. Because of their private nature, it might be difficult to get to know them at first, but over time, their talent, loyalty and natural respect of other people’s boundaries become obvious. Despite complete lack of desire to lead or control, male ISFPs are often successful in various roles and make very good romantic partners (Otto Kroeger, Type Talk).
ISFP Strengths and Weaknesses
- good listeners,
- good taste,
- not good at planning,
- often don’t finish what they start,
- avoid conflict or any kind of criticism,
- don’t speak out.
ISFPs have two seemingly contradicting desires: on the one hand, they are people oriented, and on the other hand, they need a quiet space that they can customize according to their liking. The ideal work setting for ISFPs should:
- allow a lot of freedom,
- be active and busy,
- provide the ISFP a private corner where he or she can work and observe others.
Careers to Avoid
- anything that requires long-term planning.
Following celebrities and famous people are likely to belong to the ISFP personality type:
- Michael Jackson,
- Steven Spielberg,
- Brad Pitt,
- Jessica Alba,
- Britney Spears,
- Lady Gaga,
- Christina Aguilera,
- Pharell Williams,
- Paul McCartney,
- John Travolta,
- David Beckham,
- Jackie Kennedy,
- Ashton Kutcher,
- Marie Antoinette.
Fictional ISFP Characters
- Charlie Brown from “Peanuts”
- Jessica Jones,
- Luke Skywalker from “Star Wars”.