ISFPs are gentle and compassionate, open and flexible. They are considerate of others and do not force their views and opinions on them. They often focus on meeting others’ needs, especially those who are less fortunate. Having a quite, modest, self-effacing style, ISFPs avoid disagreements and seek harmony with people as well as with nature. They enjoy life’s precious moments and often add a touch of beauty to the environments where they spend their time. They are at their best ensuing others’ well-being.
ISFP children are pleasant, quiet, and kind. Their talents may be easy to overlook because they shun the spotlight and do not have a strong need to demonstrate their strengths to others. They may be particularly drawn to people, animals, and plants who need the gentle care that ISFPs provide.
ISFP children generally relate well with others and tend to have friends because they are easy to like. They are interested in others’s feelings and notice particularly when disharmony exists. It is quite difficult for ISFPs to see their friends in conflict with one another. When this occurs, they will try to help ease the disagreements by playing the role of peacemaker.
ISFP children notice and attend to the delights of the senses. Often they will make special gifts for people whom they particularly like. These gifts are usually unique and original, with much attention paid to color, line, texture, and form. They are often very conscious of the internal sensations in their bodies. They tend to be aware of what their body will and will not do.
As teenagers, ISFPs may blend into the woodwork because they are quiet and unassuming. They are oriented toward deeply felt personal values, and they may find themselves on the outside of social groups if the groups do not share the same values.
In adult life, ISFPs work quietly, often behind the scenes, helping individuals meet their goals and dreams. They like a life of action and interaction, and often choose careers that allow them to exercise their ability to see the needs of the moment and respond quickly. They have little desire to impress others or to impose their will. However, they can be gently and persistently persuasive if they believe some action is in another’s best interest.
ISFPs enjoy their friends and their families, and spend time nurturing their relationships. They bring an air of spontaneity and easy acceptance to all they meet and are rarely quickly judgmental. Only when people do something grossly out of line will the anger of ISFPs surface. They will then stand firmly against the infraction to support the victim.
Learning and Working
ISFPs learn best through hands-on experience. They may not be as interested in traditional academic subjects as some other types. They prefer application and practicality rather than studying the theoretical and only potentially useful. Making drawings, constructing miniature models, or using other direct representations to master the subject matter are appealing activities for them. They dislike structure and institutional settings that take away their spontaneity and freedom. They want their learning to be relevant to what is going on in their world. They have less patience with conceptual and abstract learning.
ISFPs enjoy learning subjects that relate to helping and knowing about people. They may be easily overlooked in the classroom unless the teacher has recognized their special ways of learning and their unique contributions. Encouragement helps draw out ISFPs.
At work, ISFPs contribute by attending to the practical facts relating to the needs of people and all living things in their environments. They can infuse a particular knod of joy into cooperative nature. Because they pay attention to the humanistic aspects of the organization, they act in ways that ensure others’ well-being. People enjoy ISFPs because they bring understanding yet adaptability to the realities of their work.
ISFPs enjoy occupations that allow them to be flexible and adaptable and to meet the here-and-now needs of others. They enjoy responding to the moment and choose work where they can offer practical, specific help in times of difficulty.
Some occupations are more appealing to ISFPs: Bookkeeper, carpenter, personal service worker, clerical supervisor and secretary, dental and medical staffers, food service worker, nurse, mechanic, physical therapist, X-ray technician, and other occupations that allow them to provide gentle help to all living things.
For the ISFP, love means devotion, loyalty, care, humor, and consideration for the needs and wants of the loved one. When ISFPs first fall in love, they may feel consumed by it. They may become naive and focus entirely on the romance of it – ‘falling in love with love.’ Future worries are cast aside in favor of the present realities. ISFPs may ignore all else in order to experience their love life most fully. Doing this can leave them vulnerable to the whims of others.
Because being loved and cared for is important to ISFPs, they make sure that relationships are nourished so that they can continue to grow. When They are in love, they find a multitude of ways to show their affection and their appreciation for the other person. Often ISFPs will go so far as to rearrange their careers, start or stop working, move geographically, or make other changes to maintain their relationships.
The friends, family members, and even pets of the ISFPs’ partners become important to them as well. ISFPs take it upon themselves to make their environments places where there is the potential to have a harmonious existence for all.
In their desire to please others, some ISFPs may not be confident enough to speak up for themselves about what they need. If the relationship turns sour, the ISFP may believe that it was caused by something that they personally did. They may assume more of the blame than is necessary. When they are scorned, they may retreat and repeatedly analyse the situation internally. When they do face reality and finally let go, they can become more assertive and self-directed in the resumption of their lives.
ISFPs are found in about 6 percent of the general population. The best name for this type is free spirit, for they have an intense need for freedom. The simple rural life, life in the wilderness, the tribal/communal life-all these may call them. Their need for social interaction, however, is not as great as that of the type they most resemble, the ESFP. So an ISFP may forgo all social ties of any duration to preserve the freedom to wander. The lyric, “I was born under a wandering star…”, might capture the spirit of the ISFP in this respect. The flower children of the 1960’s may have been largely ISFPs, though the ESFPs also seem attracted to communing with others.
ISFPs also resemble INFPs in needing to achieve intensity of feeling. The focus, however, with the ISFPs seems to be more on the sensuous side than the meaningful side. The ISFP is orgastic, in the sense, demanding of life that it provide the excitement and pleasure of drinking deeply at the Dionysian well. Not revelry (that is the forte of the ESFP) but experience is what attracts the ISFP to these kinds of activities. Music, like wine, is incorporated and internalized, and the introverted nature of the ISFP requires this internalization. There is a reason why the flower became the symbol for what the flower children wanted: Flowers are warm, alive, sweet, colorful, rhythmic, natural, absolute, needing no statement, no interpretation-a pure being-in-self.
ISFPs are not articulate. They communicate through action. They do not verbalize their meanings, but, for example, offer a lovely flower and a smile. Their actions speak of the pastoral and the bucolic.
They do not seek philosophy or science or literature. These are too distant from life for the ISFPs. They seek, rather, the pounding surf, the river, the forest, the ship, the truck, the racing car, the horse, the potter’s wheel, the hoist, the bulldozer-some kind of action where they can keep their fingers on the pulse of life.
It is not that people are unimportant to the ISFP-indeed they are-but people are more the framework for the activities of the ISFP, providing a shadowy background. Perhaps this type is the least understood of all the types-and yet often the most envied. They are so fiercely independent and insistent that they live in and for the moment, in action, fully savoring the urges they feel and discharge, that others often find them difficult to comprehend or understand. Gaugin, perhaps, provides a prototype of the ISFP as he walked away from his affluent position in society, off to Tahiti to an unknown future, and without a backward glance!
At midlife ISFPs may be subject to strong temptation to follow Gaugin’s lead, to abandon their current style of life, and sacrifice home, children, and mate for the lure of the unknown bucolic life. The cost of following this impulse must, of course, be reckoned. If the ISFP has not found in work a source of pleasure which continues past midlife, he or she may want to opt for an early retirement and enter into a new career where their need to be close to nature can be satisfied.
Pursuit of two themes-closeness to nature and artistic activity-places the ISFP quite a distance from the utilitarian outlook. Yet it is precisely that outlook that seems to attract the bucolic spirit. The opposite on the N side is the ENTJ “fieldmarshal,” the most militant of all types in his desire to run things. ISFP is most likely to become a pacifist or environmentalist, and yet also is likely to seek out the person who is temperamentally suited to tactical leadership, military or otherwise. ISFP is likewise attracted to the ESTJ “administrator,” the person temperamentally suited to be “in charge” of establishments. Note that the person most likely to deprecate the establishment is attracted to the head of an establishment. It is rather doubtful, should an ISFP actually marry an ENTJ or ESTJ, that there is any intent or desire to change the spouse into a pastoral. Of all types, ISFP is most likely to “let be” whoever or whatever. It seems more likely that the latter provides a kind of anchorage to enterprise and to civilization.