ISFP (Introversion, Sensing, Feeling, Perception) is an abbreviation used in the publications of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to refer to one of sixteen personality types. The MBTI assessment was developed from the work of prominent psychiatrist Carl G. Jung in his book Psychological Types. Jung proposed a psychological typology based on the theories of cognitive functions that he developed through his clinical observations.
From Jung's work, others developed psychological typologies. Jungian personality assessments include the MBTI assessment, developed by Isabel Briggs Myers and Katharine Cook Briggs, and the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, developed by David Keirsey. Keirsey referred to ISFPs as Composers, one of the four types belonging to the temperament he called the Artisan. ISFPs account for about 5–10% of the population.
By using their preference in each of these areas, people develop what Jung and Myers called psychological type. This underlying personality pattern results from the dynamic interaction of their four preferences, in conjunction with environmental influences and their own individual tendencies. People are likely to develop behaviors, skills, and attitudes based on their particular type. Each personality type has its own potential strengths as well as areas that offer opportunities for growth.
The MBTI tool consists of multiple choice questions that sort respondents on the basis of the four "dichotomies" (pairs of psychological opposites). Sixteen different outcomes are possible, each identified by its own four-letter code, referred to by initial letters. (N is used for iNtuition, since I is used for Introversion). The MBTI is approximately 75% accurate according to its own manual.
According to Myers-Briggs, ISFPs are peaceful, easygoing people who adopt a "live and let live" approach to life. They enjoy taking things at their own pace and tend to live in the moment. Although quiet, they are pleasant, considerate, caring, and devoted to the people in their lives. Though not inclined to debate or necessarily even air their views, their values are important to them.
According to Keirsey, Composer Artisans are grounded in the here and now. They are extremely sensitive to their environment, attuned to the perceptions of their five senses even more than other sensing types are. They notice small variations in their physical world or in the people around them. They are very sensitive to balance and understand well what does or does not fit, whether in a work of art or any other aspect of their lives. ISFPs are highly conscious of their companions, but they prefer to allow others to direct their own lives. ISFPs tend to be emotionally well rounded and empathetic toward others.
Drawing upon Jungian theory, Isabel Myers proposed that for each personality type, the cognitive functions (sensing, intuition, thinking, and feeling) form a hierarchy. This hierarchy represents the person's so-called default pattern of behavior.
The Dominant function is the personality type's preferred role, the one they feel most comfortable with. The secondary Auxiliary function serves to support and expand on the Dominant function. If the Dominant is an information gathering function (sensing or intuition), the Auxiliary is a decision making function (thinking or feeling), and vice versa. The Tertiary function is less developed than the Dominant and Auxiliary, but it matures over time, rounding out the person's abilities. The Inferior function is the personality type's Achilles' heel. This is the function they are least comfortable with. Like the Tertiary, the Inferior function strengthens with maturity.
Jung and Myers considered the attitude of the Auxiliary, Tertiary, and Inferior functions to be the opposite of the Dominant. In this interpretation, if the Dominant function is extraverted, then the other three are introverted, and vice versa. However, many modern practitioners hold that the attitude of the Tertiary function is the same as the Dominant. Using the more modern interpretation, the cognitive functions of the ISFP are as follows:
Fi filters information based on interpretations of worth, forming judgments according to criteria that are often intangible. Fi constantly balances an internal set of values such as harmony and authenticity. Attuned to subtle distinctions, Fi innately senses what is true and what is false in a situation.
Se focuses on the experiences and sensations of the immediate, physical world. With an acute awareness of the present surroundings, it brings relevant facts and details to the forefront and may lead to spontaneous action.
Attracted to symbolic actions or devices, Ni synthesizes seeming paradoxes to create the previously unimagined. These realizations come with a certainty that demands action to fulfill a new vision of the future, solutions that may include complex systems or universal truths.
Te organizes and schedules ideas and the environment to ensure the efficient, productive pursuit of objectives. Te seeks logical explanations for actions, events, and conclusions, looking for faulty reasoning and lapses in sequence.
Later personality researchers (notably Linda V. Berens) added four additional functions to the descending hierarchy, the so-called "shadow" functions to which the individual is not naturally inclined but which can emerge when the person is under stress. For ISFP, these shadow functions are (in order):