ESFJ: The Caregiver (Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging)

An Overview of the ESFJ Personality Type

ESFJ is one of the 16 personality types identified by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. People with an ESFJ personality type tend to be outgoing, loyal, organized and tender-hearted. ESFJs gain energy from interacting with other people. They are typically described as outgoing and gregarious. They have a way of encouraging other people to be their best and often have a hard time believing anything bad about the people to whom they are close.

ESFJ Personality Type
Illustration by JR Bee, Verywell

According to psychologist David Keirsey, approximately 9 to 13 percent of the population has an ESFJ personality type.

Key ESFJ Characteristics

  • In addition to deriving pleasure from helping others, ESFJs also ​have a need for approval. They expect their kind and giving ways to be noticed and appreciated by others. They are sensitive to the needs and feelings of others and are good at responding and providing the care that people need. They want to be liked by others and are easily hurt by unkindness or indifference.
  • ESFJs derive their value system from external sources including the community at large rather than from intrinsic, ethical, and moral guidelines. People with this personality type who are raised with high values and standards grow up to be generous adults. ESFJs raised in a less enriched environment may have skewed ethics as adults and are more likely to be manipulative and self-centered.
  • ESFJs also have a strong desire to exert control over their environment. Organizing, planning, and scheduling help people with this personality type feel in command of the world around them.
  • ESFJs are naturally geared toward understanding other people. They are careful observers of others and are adept at supporting and bringing out the best in people. Because they are so good at helping others feel good about themselves, people feel drawn to ESFJs.
  • One common myth about ESFJs is that they can sometimes be doormat - allowing others to walk over them out of a fear of disapproval or rejection. While they are people pleasers, this does not mean that they are pushovers.

Strengths

  • Kind and loyal

  • Outgoing

  • Organized

  • Practical and dependable

  • Enjoys helping others

Weaknesses

  • Needy

  • Approval-seeking

  • Sensitive to criticism

Cognitive Functions

The MBTI suggests that there are a number of cognitive functions (thinking, sensing, feeling, and intuition) that help shape each individual’s personality. The hierarchical ordering of these functions is what contributes to the makeup of each personality type. Each individual function is expressed either inwardly (introverted) or outwardly (extraverted).

Dominant: Extraverted Feeling

  • ESFJs tend to make decisions based on personal feeling, emotions, and concern for others. They tend to think more about the personal impact of a decision rather than considering objective criteria.
  • ESFJs tend to judge people and situations based upon their "gut feelings." They often make snap decisions as a result and are quick to share their feelings and opinions. This tendency can be great in some ways, as it allows them to make choices rather quickly. On the negative side, it can sometimes lead to overly harsh judgments of others.

Auxiliary: Introverted Sensing

  • ESFJs are more focused on the present than on the future. They are interested in concrete, immediate details rather than abstract or theoretical information.

Tertiary: Extraverted Intuition

  • This cognitive function helps ESFJs make connections and find creative solutions to problems.
  • ESFJs are known to explore the possibilities when looking at a situation. They can often find patterns that allow them to gain insights into people and experiences.

Inferior: Introverted Thinking

  • ESFJs are organized and like to plan things out in advance. Planning helps people with this personality type feel more in control of the world around them.
  • This aspect of personality helps the ESFJ analyze complex information, but it is often a point of weakness, especially when it comes to making sense of abstract or theoretical concepts.

ESFJs You Might Know

  • Sally Field, actress
  • Sam Walton, Wal-Mart founder
  • William McKinley, U.S. President
  • Barbara Walter, television journalist
  • Joy, film character, Inside Out

Personal Relationships

As extroverts, ESFJs love spending time with other people. Not only do they gain energy from social interaction, they are genuinely interested in the well-being of others. They are frequently described as warm-hearted and empathetic, and they will often put the needs of others ahead of their own.

They typically feel insecure in situations where things are uncertain or chaotic. While this makes EFFJs well suited to positions that involve managing or supervising people, it can also lead to conflicts when they try to exercise control over people who do not welcome such direction.

Career Paths

Because ESFJs enjoy helping others, they often do well in practical settings that involve taking a caregiver role. Social service and healthcare careers are two areas in particular in which ESFJs may excel at applying their helping nature and desire for order.

ESFJs have a number of traits that make them ideally suited to certain careers. For example, their dependability and innate need to take care of others mean that they often do well in jobs that involve supporting and caring for people such as nursing or teaching.

Popular ESFJ Careers

Tips for Interacting With ESFJs

Friendships

ESFJ can be selfless to the point of overlooking their own needs to ensure that other people are happy. Being a good friend to someone with this personality type means you should express your appreciation of their giving nature, but also make sure that you reciprocate their kindness.

Parenting

ESFJ children are responsible and enjoy spending time with their family. Your child needs regular encouragement. Show your involvement by showing enthusiasm and support for their interests and activities. These children also have a strong need for routine. Establish rules and stick to them. ESFJ children feel more assured and confident when they know what they can expect.

Relationships

In romance, ESFJs are very devoted, supportive, and loyal. They are not interested in casual relationships and are focused on developing long-term commitments. You can support your partner by showing how much you love and appreciate them. Being responsive by showing affection and returning gestures of love is important.

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Article Sources

  • Keirsey, D. Guardian: Portrait of the Provider (ESFJ).

  • Myers, Isabel Briggs (1998). Introduction to Type: A Guide to Understanding Your Results on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Mountain View, CA: CPP, Inc.