How to Tell if You’re an ISTJ vs. ISFJ

ISTJ vs ISFJ blog cover

If you’re reading this post, there’s a high chance that you’re trying to work out if you’re an ISTJ vs. ISFJ personality type. These two types are often confused because they share many of the same characteristics. Both types are reliable, practical, and grounded. They stick to their words, and you can count on them to be there when you need them.  

But there are also some core differences between how these types think and experience the world. In this post, we explore these core differences. If you’re unclear about your type, we hope this helps you.

So here are five differences between the ISTJ vs. ISFJ personality types:

1. Dealing with emotions.

ISTJs and ISFJs deal with feelings in very different ways. For starters, ISFJs tend to be more comfortable dealing with the irrational nature of emotions than ISTJs.

In addition, ISFJs tend to focus on other people’s emotions. They innately absorb the feelings of others in real-time.

This means that they are highly empathetic, and they truly feel other people’s emotions as if they are their own. It can happen with anyone or anything.

It could be a close family member, someone they are sitting next to on the train, or an animal in a book. When they are around happy people, they naturally take on similar emotions, and the same goes for other scenarios, such as when those around them are sad.

However, ISFJs can struggle to understand their own emotions to the same degree. On the other hand, ISTJs can find it harder to understand both other people’s emotions and their own. This is because they are so logical.

While ISTJs do feel things deeply, they often try to rationalize their emotions. This is because they can find it hard to accept anything that doesn’t have a logical explanation.

Seeing as emotions often don’t have an entirely rational origin, ISTJs can find them confusing or even overwhelming. ISTJs are most comfortable when dealing with facts and linear reasoning.

For example, knowing that they will lose 1kg if they have a 7,700-calorie deficit is comforting to an ISTJ. In order to accept something, they like to have evidence, but this just isn’t possible when it comes to emotions. The same goes for ISTJs dealing with the emotions of other people for similar reasons. 

2. Making decisions.

ISFJs and ISTJs focus on different criteria when making decisions. When deciding on the right path, ISFJs prioritize emotions, while ISTJs place more of an emphasis on logic.

ISFJs primarily base their decisions on how they will affect others. They want to create win-win scenarios and avoid hurting anyone’s feelings.

Of course, this isn’t always possible, and when they do have to take actions that involve hurting other people, it deeply affects them. ISFJs are often the peacemakers in their families or social groups. They will try to see both sides of every issue and find a resolution that works for everyone.

When making decisions, ISFJs ask: “How does this impact the group?” Ultimately, they are always looking to create harmony with the outer world.

ISTJs use deductive logic to make decisions. This means they start at the facts, then go to the theory, and then return to the facts.

Essentially, ISTJs use logic that is based on what is verifiable in the outside world. They tend to focus on the end result they are looking to achieve and work backward from there in order to decide on the best decision to get to that point.

When making decisions, ISTJs ask: “Does this make sense based on facts?” They are always thinking about what is the most rational and efficient path.

3. Sociability.

As introverts, ISFJs and ISTJs need a lot of alone time. Both types are independent, but ISFJs tend to be more sociable.

Despite being introverts, ISFJs are people-oriented. They have a strong need for deep connections, and it’s highly unlikely that an ISFJ will feel fulfilled without them.

This need for connection motivates ISFJs to be more sociable than ISTJs. However, they tend to avoid large groups and prefer one-on-one interactions or small gatherings of close friends. Ultimately, ISFJs are a paradox of wanting to connect with people but also finding social interactions exhausting. Finding that balance is essential for the well-being of ISFJs.

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On the other hand, ISTJs are content with fewer close relationships and usually spend less time socializing. They are independent and self-sufficient, and they’re perfectly happy spending time alone.

In fact, they often pride themselves on their ability to be self-sufficient. In addition, ISTJs are more skeptical than ISFJs and can be wary of other people having ulterior motives. This means that they tend to be guarded and can struggle to open up to others.

4. Communication style.

ISTJs and ISFJs can both need time to collect their thoughts. However, ISTJs are much more direct in the way they communicate, while ISFJs consciously think about how their words will impact others.  

ISFJs are warm in the way they communicate. It’s common for people of this type to ask a lot of questions because they are deeply curious about people, and they are incredible listeners.

ISFJs are more likely to be expressive and emotional in their communication style. They may use anecdotes and personal stories to help explain their points, whereas ISTJs are more likely to use facts.

Both types are private about their feelings, but ISFJs are slightly more likely to be open about their emotions. In addition, ISFJs choose their words carefully and are often persuasive. Not in a salesy way, but in a subtle manner because they know exactly what makes people tick.

ISFJs are exceptionally thoughtful, and they tend to filter what they say through a lens of how their words will impact others. This means they might not always respond quickly because they want to take a second to consider their audience’s life experiences and perspectives.

ISTJs are straightforward and detached when they communicate. Seeing as they focus heavily on facts, they see the world as relatively black and white.

This means they are clear about what they think and, in turn, what they say. ISTJs often look for one answer based on facts.

Additionally, they like to get to the point when they communicate because they are so focused on efficiency. This also means that they can feel it’s a waste of time to go back and forth discussing different points of view.

Ultimately, ISTJs tend to be articulate and are often seen as people of few words. They can struggle when it comes to verbalizing their emotions.

5. Showing love.

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ISFJs and ISTJs take different approaches with regard to how they show love. In general, ISFJs are more open about showing someone they care.

ISFJs are always looking for ways to help their loved ones, and they feel happiest when they are able to do so. They are naturally aware of the needs of others, and they try to meet those needs in whatever way they can.

As a result, ISFJs make a conscious effort to let people close to them know that they are loved. They often do this in many ways, depending on what they think that person needs at that specific time.

Ultimately, you won’t be left wondering whether an ISFJ cares about you or not. They will make it known.

ISTJs, on the other hand, are not as naturally inclined to show their love and care in such overt ways. For ISTJs, actions speak louder than words, and they often express their love through thoughtful gestures.

This doesn’t mean that ISTJs don’t care about their loved ones; it’s just that they tend to express it more subtly. At times, they can come across as cold, and this tends to be unintentional.

ISTJs are naturally so logical and efficient that they sometimes forget to show their softer side, especially if they are feeling tired or stressed.

ISTJ vs. ISFJ frequently asked questions

So now we have explained the key differences between the ISFJ vs. ISTJ personality types. Even for those who have explored personality types in depth, it can still be hard to tell the difference between these two types.

Let’s now look at some frequently asked questions about each personality to help make it clearer for you.

Are ISTJs vs. ISFJs more practical?

ISTJs and ISFJs are two of the most practical personality types. It’s a close call, but when it comes to practicality, ISTJs just edge out ISFJs.

Here’s why: ISTJs are all about efficiency and getting the job done right the first time. They’re logical and methodical, and they’re not afraid of hard work. ISFJs, on the other hand, are more concerned with caring for others and making sure everybody is happy.

While this is certainly a noble goal, it doesn’t always lead to the most efficient use of time and resources. So, in a way, you could say that ISTJs are more practical because they’re more focused on results. But at the end of the day, both types are highly capable individuals who are dedicated to getting the job done.

Are ISFJs people-pleasers and ISTJs selfish?

There is a common misconception that ISFJs are people-pleasers and ISTJs are selfish. Of course, as with any type, there are people out there of these types who display those characteristics. But healthy ISFJs have strong boundaries and healthy ISTJs care about other people’s needs.

ISFJs are able to find a balance between making sure people around them are happy and looking after their own needs. It’s true that they’re naturally more aware of other people, but they are able to access different aspects of their personality to work out when it’s time to shift the focus to themselves. 

ISTJs are not innately selfish. Yes, they are direct, and they know what they want, but they also have a compassionate side. It’s just not always obvious. ISTJs are more likely to make decisions based on logic, and this can be viewed as selfish by some people, but they see it as choosing the path that makes the most sense.

Are ISTJs vs. ISFJs more introverted?

Both ISTJs and ISFJs are introverts, but they tend to be at different ends of the introversion spectrum. ISTJs are considered to be one of the most ‘introverted introverts,’ while ISFJs are one of the most ‘extroverted introverts.’

However, it’s worth noting that while these two types need a reasonable amount of alone time to feel their best, they also have the ability to spend time interacting with people and the outer world when necessary.

ISFJs have more of an innate tendency to come out of their introverted bubble because they are more people-oriented. For ISFJs, their loved ones play a significant role in their life, and they strive to make them happy. In addition, they are just innately interested in human psychology.

ISTJs are driven by logic and are more likely to show extroverted tendencies when there is a clear reason. It can sometimes be a stepping stone to achieving a goal. For example, they may show more of their extroverted side while leading a team or a company.

Even though they are at opposite ends of the introversion spectrum, ISTJs and ISFJs are actually quite similar in the big scheme of things.

Final thoughts on ISTJ vs. ISFJ differences

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our individual ISTJ and ISFJ posts, which delve deeper into each personality type. Last but not least, you might also enjoy our post about INFJ vs. ISFJ differences.

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