The ISFJ personality type is the most common type among women. Because of this, there’s a clear stereotype attached to this personality type. The stereotype is strongly linked to traditional gender roles, and claims that ISFJs are quiet, organized, and more emotional than men. Obviously this stereotype exists for a reason, but it’s also a gross oversimplification. As with all people in general as well as personality types, the truth is a lot more complex, and more varied, than the stereotype claims. And this applies particularly to this personality in the field of academics as you’ll see below.
ISFJ Learning Style
The ISFJ learns best when new material is logically laid out and slowly built upon. This is why they usually do so well in high school, when their learning is strictly guided and monitored. They will probably have some difficulty adjusting to the learning style preferred at most schools, where the students sit and listen, as they’re strongly practical and would probably prefer to engage with what they’re learning. But the ISFJ is also hardworking and observant, so they usually adjust quickly to these types of limits on their behavior.
The ISFJ usually dislike abstract subjects, seeing no point to them, but enjoy learning practical facts and figures that appeal to their emotions in some way. This type uses introverted sensing as their dominant function. This cognitive function is usually linked to memory, and many people who use this function well demonstrate amazing powers of recall. This can be an amazingly helpful quality for an ISFJ at school. The best way to engage an ISFJ’s memory is to show them how new material or facts will allow them to help other people. The ISFJ are natural caretakers, in fact many of them end up in medical fields, and so their minds engage best when they can see a way to meet the needs of others through their learning.
ISFJ Learning Challenges
The ISFJ is strongly based in the concrete world. They usually rely almost exclusively on concrete facts and figures, and have no time for or interest in abstract ideas. The ISFJ relies on their primary function, introverted sensing, to gather information, and their secondary function, extroverted feeling, to make decisions about the information. This combination causes them to vet any information they’re given through a practical, deep seated need to make the people around them happy. So if the ISFJ sees no practical use in an idea, they become completely uninterested. And an ISFJ who isn’t interested won’t learn very well and will probably completely dismiss the new idea. This can be a major problem for this type in some more abstract subjects.
High School and the ISFJ
High school can be difficult for the ISFJ type. They’re not usually the type to push themselves forward and demand attention for their work or themselves, and this can lead to problems in this environment. People with stronger, or just louder personalities can often take advantage of the ISFJ kindness and need to help others, leading to unhealthy social relationships. This is often particularly obvious in the high school years, when the ISFJ is still maturing and doesn’t have strong boundaries yet. For the ISFJ this can be a major problem for their social health and wellbeing, and is an area in which they need to be very careful and aware of this weakness.
Academically, the ISFJ usually does well in school. They have a deep respect for tradition and authority which usually makes them attentive and obedient students. Their teachers will probably enjoy having the ISFJ in their class, because they’re quiet but studious and require little attention. As long as the ISFJ understands that they’re doing the right thing, and that their teacher approves, they’ll be happy and productive students. The ISFJs naturally meticulous, perfectionist behavior will also encourage them to work hard and get good grades as well. 1
Higher Education and ISFJs
ISFJs may have a lot of concern about moving from high school into college. They may even fear what happens after college, when they have to go into the world without that support. This is because of the ISFJs inferior function, extroverted intuition 2. For people who use this as a strength, extroverted intuition drives them to explore and make patterns about information, events and people in the external world. But this is a weakness for ISFJs and it often manifests early as worry about change and even avoidance of it. This is an issue that they will probably have to work on throughout their lives, and there are a number of strategies that can help quiet this worrier part of their brains.
An ISFJ must choose their course carefully when they go to college. They are natural caretakers, which means that all types of medical fields often appeal to them. In fact, any career where the ISFJ can see themselves helping others will probably appeal to this personality type. And as long as they choose their courses based on their own preferences they should do perfectly well in college. However, because this type often wants to make others happy, and prefers to avoid conflict, this could be a major problem for the ISFJ and negatively affect their college experience. This is one area in which the ISFJ needs to make a choice based on what they want and stand behind it.
The ISFJ is more than the stereotype of the quiet, studious and organized woman. Putting people into boxes like this is not only harmful for the people it does describe, it also leaves out everyone who doesn’t fit within the stated boundaries. Although most ISFJs are women, there are male ISFJs as well, just as there are ISFJs who enjoy pastimes and careers not generally considered to be attractive to ISFJs. People are more than the stereotypes, and they are more than their cognitive functions. And as these guidelines show, there is a lot more to the ISFJ than the stereotype admits as well.
- “ISFJ Friends“. (Retrieved Jan 2018).
- Antonia Dodge. “The ISFJ “Protector” Personality Type“. March 25, 2017. (Retrieved Jan 2018).
- Elaine Schallock “Extraverted (Ne) & Introverted Intuition (Ni) as Inferior Functions“. (Retrieved Jan 2018).
- “ISFJ – The Nurturer“.
- This perfectionist behaviour is often part of their tertiary function, introverted thinking. If this function is relied on too much, it can result in the person constantly seeking perfection, which can be very harmful.
- For most people, the inferior function manifests at times of stress and usually in a negative way. Typically this function doesn’t start to develop until mid-life, and it will never be at the level of some of the other functions. For the ISFJ, this function can cause paranoia and suspicion of others or general catastrophizing. This occurs because extroverted intuition sees possibilities, and this personality type isn’t equipped to deal with that kind of speculative input.