ISTJ - The Reliant
Profile by Sandra Krebs Hirsch and Jean Kummerow
ISTJs are systematic, painstaking, thorough, and hardworking. They get the job done and complete it on schedule. They are serious and sincere in whatever they do. They work well within a structure, follow the hierarchy, and are particularly strong and careful in keeping track of facts and details. They are cautious, generally seeking to maintain the status quo. They are at their best getting things to the right place at the right time. They honor their commitments.
ISTJ children are serious, dutiful and reserved. They like a great deal of order and structure. In new situations or with new people, they are quite cautious and perhaps uncomfortable. They prefer familiar friends to new ones and select friends carefully. When they know what is expected, they act more at ease with others. They tend to enjoy traditional childhood activities. When they feel comfortable, they also enjoy group activities such as scouting, with doing their duty and serving their country fitting their world view of what is right. They like to be read to and appreciate hearing stories as well as the pictures that accompany them. They particularly like stories in which good triumphs over the forces of evil.
ISTJ children, perhaps more than others, enjoy having a schedule to follow and, even as kids, show a propensity for getting work-related responsibilities out of the way before they play.
ISTJ teenagers are down-to-earth types who seek to do the appropriate thing at the appropriate time. If they date, they tend to single out one person and date steadily. ISTJs may be chosen to lead school activities. They generally believe that one should earn one's keep. Even as children, they may request chores that help the family. As teenagers, they tend to have part-time jobs. They money they earn tends to be used for the important practical things in their lives. They do not like to ask their parents for money.
As young adults, ISTJs begin their career training early and find it hard to understand people who start and education but do not complete it. They believe that dropping out is irresponsible. They complete what they start. They may choose large and stable organizations in which they hope to find security and an opportunity to prove their worth. They are particularly realistic about their skills and needs, and prefer to learn the basics before risking something beyond their capabilities. Slow and steady on an unambiguous course is the way ISTJs prefer to navigate through life. As a result, they may select undergraduate programs in college that lead directly to employment.
ISTJs have a need to 'do right' with what they've been given, safeguarding traditions of the family and of the community. They often will take on extra personal responsibilities in order to maintain what they believe is important.
ISTJs may stay with a job or company they do not particularly like because they tend to regard financial well-being as very important and are willing to do without things, including emotional gratification, so that they can provide for their retirement. They worry particularly about being dependent on others for their needs and work hard to avoid that state.
ISTJs learn best and apply themselves most carefully in subject areas that are practical and useful. They are diligent and persevering in their studies. As learners, ISTJs tend to need materials, directions, and teachers to be precise and accurate if they are to trust the information that is presented. They prefer concrete and useful applications and will tolerate theory only if it leads to these ends.
ISTJs like learning activities that allow them time to reflect and to think. If the material is too easy or appears to be too enjoyable, the ISTJ may be skeptical of its merit. Because of their practical bent, they believe that work is work and play is play. Therefore, their preferred learning environment is task oriented, starts and stops on time, and has clear and precise assignment.
At work, ISTJs get things done on a timely basis. They honor deadlines, and they believe in thoroughness. A half-finished joy is not a joy well done. They established procedures and schedules, and are uncomfortable with those who do not do the same. ISTJs put duty before pleasure. As long as they can fulfil their responsibilities, they feel useful and thereby satisfied. Their work does not have to be fun, but it has to count toward something productive. ISTJs believe that vacations are something that one takes only when work has been accomplished; thus, at times they do not take vacations even when they could and should.
ISTJs prefer work settings that contain hard-working people who are focused on facts, details and results. They want structure, order, and some privacy for concentration without interruptions. They like tangible products and concrete accomplishments. They want to be secure and to be rewarded for their solid accomplishments at a steady pace.
They pride themselves on their organization, yet often think it is still not quite good enough. They usually have a great deal of factual information to deal with, and they take pains to properly label and file it. They put emphasis on cross-referencing and easy retrievals. A hands-on approach is important to ISTJs, because they make use of the actual or the visual memory of the concrete data in their hands.
ISTJs prefer occupations that require thoroughness, accuracy, perseverance, and follow-through. They would rather work in situations in which they can see concrete, tangible results. Accountant, auditor, dentist, electrician, first-line supervisor, math teacher, mechanical engineer, police supervisor, steelworker, technician, and other occupations are particularly attractive to ISTJs.
While not directly seeking leadership positions, ISTJs are often placed in such roles. They build a reputation for reliable, stable, and consistent performance that causes others to select them to lead. ISTJs use their past experience and their factual knowledge in their decision making. They respect traditional, hierarchical approaches and seek to reward those who get the job done by following the rules and standard operating procedures. In their view, rewards should go to outstanding contributors who do not violate the rules while completing their work. ISTJs are more task oriented than relationship oriented in their style.
Leisure for ISTJs must be earned. Leisure-time activities usually take place after work is accomplished. If they engage in leisure before their work is done, it is usually because of the circumstances in which they find themselves. For example, an ISTJ with a fun-loving spouse might engage in more playful activities.
For ISTJs, leisure needs to have a purpose and a result, and a beginning and an end. And they like to schedule their leisure time. They enjoy spending time alone and need to be aware of their potential to become isolated from others. For example, they may become absorbed in watching television because it allows them time to reflect and yet appear to be doing something. This time may also be an opportunity for them to be physically present with their family, though in some cases somewhere else mentally.
For the ISTJ, love means commitment, steadiness, and consistency. ISTJs expect themselves and their mates to be responsible, practical, and dependable. When in a relationship, they behave appropriately for what the situation or their role demands. For example, if the relationship is in the courting stage, the ISTJ will exhibit courting behaviors, such as giving boxes of candy, red roses and presents. These are worthwhile and important traditions to uphold and observe because they give direct evidence of commitment.
When ISTJs give their word and are ready to settle down, they follow through. Because they are dutiful, they expect their partners to behave in a similar fashion. They offer their partners stability and security. They do sensible things for the relationship, such as paying the bill and making household repairs.
ISTJs may stay in poor relationships out of their sense of duty, even when it is to their benefit to leave. They prefer the certainty of the current relationship to any future unknowns. When feeling scorned, ISTJs may not let their partners or others know it. Because they focus internally and because the facts all support the conclusion that the relationship is over, ISTJs may feel it redundant to express to their partners or others what is going on. When it seems clear to the partners that the relationship really is over, ending it is the practical thing to do. However, when a decision to part is not so clear to ISTJs, they may continue to rehash the past rather than look to the future and other relationships.
Profile by David Keirsey
ISTJs are characterized by decisiveness in practical affairs, are guardians of time-honored institutions, and, if only one adjective could be selected, dependable would best describe this type which represents about 6 percent of the general population. The word of ISTJ's is their bond, and they experience great uneasiness by thoughts of a bankrupt nation, state, institution, or family.
Whether at home or at work, this type is rather quiet and serious. ISTJs are extraordinarily persevering and dependable. The thought of dishonoring a contract would appall a person of this type. When they give their word, they give their honor. ISTJs can be counted on to conserve the resources of the institution they serve and bring to their work a practical point of view. They perform their duties without flourish or fanfare; therefore, the dedication they bring to their work can go unnoticed and unappreciated.
ISTJ's interest in thoroughness, details, justice, practical procedures, and smooth flow of personnel and materiel leads this type to occupations where these preferences are useful. For example, ISTJs make excellent bank examiners, auditors, accountants, or tax examiners. Investments in securities are likely to interest this type, particularly investments in blue-chip securities. ISTJs are not likely to take chances either with their own or others' money.
ISTJs can handle difficult, detailed figures and make sense of them. They communicate a message of reliability and stability, which often makes them excellent supervisors of, for example, a ward in a hospital, a library, or a business operation. They would be capable of handling the duties of a mortician, a legal secretary, or a law researcher. High-school teachers of business, home economics, physical education, and the physical sciences are ISTJs, as are top-ranking officers of the Women's Army Corps. Often this type seem to have ice in their veins, for people fail to see an ISTJ's vulnerability to criticism.
ISTJs are patient with their work and with procedures within an institution, although not always patient with the individual goals of people in that institution. ISTJs will see to it that resources are delivered when and where they are supposed to be; materiel will be in the right place at the right time. And ISTJs would prefer that this be the case with people too.
As a husband or wife, the ISTJ is a pillar of strength. Just as this type honors business contracts, so do they honor the marriage contract. Loyal and faithful mates, they take responsibilities to children and mate seriously, giving lifelong commitment to these. Duty is a word the ISTJ understands. The male ISTJ sees himself as the breadwinner of the family, although he can accept a working wife-as long as responsibilities to children are not shirked. The male ISTJ's concept of masculinity is patriarchal, and both female and male ISTJs make steady, dependable partners. The female ISTJ may abandon the frivolous for the sensible and may not always deepen her sensuality.
As parents, ISTJs are consistent in handling children, and the rules of the family are made clear. A rebellious, nonconforming child may have a difficult time, however, with an ISTJ parent-and vice versa. As a child, the ISTJ is apt to be obedient and a source of pleasure to parents and teachers.
Although ISTJs are outstandingly practical and sensible, they can marry people who are thoroughly irresponsible, with the marriage developing into a relationship more parent to child that adult to adult. The ISTJ fluctuates from being rescuer to reformer of the wayward mate. The marriage then becomes a lifelong game: On one side, there is Irresponsibility, Promise of Reform, Brief Period of Reform, and Irresponsibility again; on the ISTJ's part, the cycle is Disapproval, Rescue, Scolding, Forgiveness, Acceptance of Promise To Do Better, and on and on. This pattern often is seen when an ISTJ marries an alcoholic and enters a life of caretaking punctuated by periods of anger and rejection. Somehow, although ISTJs can accept periodic fickleness and selfishness in significant others, they do not see this kind of behavior as acceptable in themselves.
ISTJs have a distaste for and distrust of fanciness in speech, dress, or home. The ostentacious is abhorred, and a neat, orderly, and functional home and work environment is preferred. Durability of furnishings are of primary concern, aesthetics given slim consideration. The clothes of an ISTJ tend to be practical and durable rather than in the latest style or luxurious. "No nonsense" in both food and clothes seems characteristic of this type who tend not to be attracted by exotic food and beverages, or places.
The male ISTJ may enjoy stag, men only parties and use a different sort of language when only men are present. The yearly hunting or fishing trip as a male ritual is often a part of recreation for an ISTJ. More than the female, the ISTJ male is apt to be involved in community service organizations that transmit traditional values to the young, such as Boy Scouting. They understand and appreciate the contributions these groups make in preserving the national heritage. Along with the SJ's, the ISTJ takes particular delight in festive occasions held in the context of rituals, for example, weddings, holiday feasts, and birthdays. At work, the ISTJ is apt to see the holiday office party as a necessary nuisance and would be likely to participate and enjoy these events.
At midlife ISTJs might develop an interest in collecting art objects and indulge themselves in using time to craft objects which have utilitarian purpose. ISTJs might enjoy relaxing physically and psychologically from a decision-making role, perhaps even schooling themselves to allow others to wait on them. They might want to increase their capacity to engage in frivolity and, for a change, let someone else worry about the future. Continuing to put off vacations, wanted luxuries, rest periods, and other long-overdue activities could well be abandoned in favor of some self-indulgence.
Here is the paragon of insurance, preparation, and consolidation-a person with a strong desire to be trusted. Small wonder that he looks upon accounting, banking, and securities with a benevolent eye. Try to imagine him married to one of his own kind: Two Rocks of Gibraltar, each steadfastly tempering the other's steadfast tempering! We can safely guess that this sort of relationship wouldn'ts work very well.
The attraction, rather, is for the "entertainer," for the vivacity and sparkle of ESFP, the opposite of ISTJ. ISTJ is the ultimate saver who is fascinated by, and frequently marries, the ultimate spender! Here is complementarily to the nth degree! Just as often, ISTJ finds his or her opposite on the intuitive side: the ENFP. Perhaps he senses in the ENFP's desire to spread the word something similar to the ESFP's desire to put on a show. Certainly the vivacity and sparkle is apparent in both, an attribute which must be quite enchanting to the sober and careful ISTJ.