ISFJ Development
The Unique Growth Path of the ISFJ

This section ISFJ Development is about the unique developmental path of the ISFJ personality from birth to midlife. While an individual’s personality development is unique, personality type provides a good general framework for you.

To understand the ISFJ’s development, we have to understand the hierarchy of mental functions for the ISFJ. The hierarchy of mental functions for the ISFJ is about which mental function (Sensing, Intuiting, Thinking or Feeling) the ISFJ is most comfortable with using and which they are least comfortable in using.

Without going too much into Type dynamics, let’s look at the ISFJ’s hierarchy of mental functions:

The ISFJ is most comfortable with using the Dominant Function Introverted Sensing and least comfortable with using the Inferior Function, Extraverted Intuition.

From Childhood to Puberty:
Development of Introverted Sensing

As a child, the ISFJ will develop the Introverted Sensing function. They will show their preference for the world of activity and games rather than the world of fairy tales and stories.

They will also be in tune with what is going on around them in the classroom and at home, responding to details in colour, shape, sizes and show awareness when interacting with people.

If they have not properly developed this function in their youth, they may make value judgments too quickly without first considering the necessary facts.

From Puberty to about Age 30:
Development of Extraverted Feeling

During puberty, the ISFJ will start developing the auxiliary function, Extraverted Feeling. They will show this development by becoming sensitive and caring to those around them.

They will possess a high need for approval from their peers and their parents and will do what is pleasing to these people to earn it. They become committed friends as well, willing to step in for their friends in times of need.

If they have not been allowed to develop this function, they may not know how to use their stored life experiences to achieve their goals or make their decisions.

Areas for ISFJ Development

Assuming the environment is supportive to their development, most ISFJs would have developed Extraverted Feeling and Introverted Sensing by 20 years or so.

Their areas of improvement will most likely come from the underdeveloped sides of Extraverted Intuition and Introverted Thinking. Below are some suggestions for improvement:

  • Be assertive without being emotional
  • Give and receive negative feedback constructively
  • Learn to be more comfortable with uncertainty
  • Socialize and network with people more
  • Assess personal situations objectively and logically

From Age 30 to Midlife:
Development of Introverted Thinking

If those functions are not developed by the age of 30, the ISFJ will feel the tension to continue growing and developing the Tertiary Function Introverted Thinking.

The ISFJ may start to use objective and logical thinking to approach situations that they used to take a personal (and possibly emotional) stand on. They may also start to become straightforward and frank in their language when they deem it necessary.

The ISFJ can further develop the Introverted Thinking function through these simple exercises:

  • Pick up a game that requires strategic thinking like chess, bridge or other strategy games. Learn to make better decisions as you progress in the game.

  • Use cost-benefit analysis to make decisions. Consider pros and cons of each using a list. What are the consequences of each decision?

  • Study a controversial subject. Read up for more information through books and media while suspending any judgment. Look at both sides of the argument and try to notice their merits.

From Midlife onward:
Development of Extraverted Intuition

From midlife onward, the ISFJ’s focus turns toward the inferior function, Extraverted Intuition. Their underdeveloped Extraverted Intuition function comes out in a childish and undeveloped way when they are under stress, causing them to over-worry or catastrophize.

But in midlife, there is an unconscious shift and desire to develop that inferior function in order to achieve wholeness and continual growth. It is an uncomfortable but necessary transition.

Here are some simple exercises to consciously develop the Extraverted Intuition function:

  • Brainstorm ideas for activities you can do over the weekend; make a list of things that you have never done before, with people you do not usually meet.

  • Read into world affairs across countries and consider global patterns and trends that may link all of these together.

  • Write a poem about something from nature without using physical attributes to describe it. (i.e. don’t talk about its colour or shape or size)


The developmental paths of individuals are unique to themselves according to the environment, culture and social norms they were brought up in.

Some cultures value certain personality traits more than others, and ultimately several factors affect personality development. No two people need to develop the same way, and hence only some of the above may apply to you.

As such, this page only serves as a general guide for anyone using it as a reference. If you like to learn more about your personal, unique developmental path, please contact me.

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