ESFJ (Extraversion, Sensing, Feeling, Judgment) 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 ESFJs as Providers, one of the four types belonging to the temperament he called the Guardians. ESFJs account for about 9–13% of the population.
- 1 The MBTI instrument
- 2 Characteristics of ESFJs
- 3 Cognitive functions
- 4 References
- 5 External links
The MBTI instrument
- How they focus their attention or get their energy (extraversion or introversion)
- How they perceive or take in information (sensing or intuition)
- How they prefer to make decisions (thinking or feeling)
- How they orient themselves to the external world (judgment or perception)
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.
- E – Extraversion preferred to introversion: ESFJs often feel motivated by their interaction with people. They tend to enjoy a wide circle of acquaintances, and they gain energy in social situations (whereas introverts expend energy).
- S – Sensing preferred to intuition: ESFJs tend to be more concrete than abstract. They focus their attention on the details rather than the big picture, and on immediate realities rather than future possibilities.
- F – Feeling preferred to Thinking: ESFJs tend to value personal considerations above objective criteria. When making decisions, they often give more weight to social implications than to logic.
- J – Judgment preferred to Perception: ESFJs tend to plan their activities and make decisions early. They derive a sense of control through predictability. 
Characteristics of ESFJs
ESFJs focus on the outside world and assess their experiences subjectively. They largely base their judgments on their belief system and on the effects of actions on people. ESFJs are literal and concrete, trusting the specific, factual information gathered through their physiological senses.
ESFJs project warmth through a genuine interest in the well-being of others. They are often skilled at bringing out the best in people, and they want to understand other points of view. They are serious about their responsibilities, seeing what needs to be done and then doing it. Generally proficient at detailed tasks, they enjoy doing little things that make life easier for others. They value tradition and the security it offers.
Easily hurt, ESFJs seek approval. They take pleasure in other people's happiness. They give generously but expect appreciation in return. Sensitive to the physical needs of others, they respond by offering practical care. As expert people readers, ESFJs often adapt their manner to meet the expectations of others. However, they may have difficulty recognizing the shortcomings of loved ones.
ESFJs tend to be vocal in expressing their sense of right and wrong. Their judgments in regard to the external world are often based on interpersonal ethics, with attention to social give and take. Compared to their ENFJ counterparts, ESFJs' values tend to be based more on those of their social group than on an independent internal set of ethics. ESFJs raised in an environment of high ethical standards tend to display true generosity and kindness. However, those who grow up surrounded by a skewed set of values may develop a false sense of integrity and use their people skills to selfishly manipulate others—particularly if their intuition is poorly developed, leaving them unable to foresee the consequences of their actions.
ESFJs seek structured, controlled environments, and tend to be good at creating a sense of order. They generally feel insecure in an atmosphere of uncertainty. They value the rule of law and expect the same of others. ESFJs may be less interested in understanding the concepts behind the rules, tending to shy away from the abstract and impersonal.
Correlation with Enneatype
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 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's 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 ESFJ are as follows:
Dominant: Extraverted feeling (Fe)
Fe seeks certain social connections and creates harmonious interactions through polite, considerate, and appropriate behavior. Fe responds to the explicit (and implicit) wants of others, and may even create an internal conflict between the subject’s own needs and the desire to meet the needs of others. 
Auxiliary: Introverted sensing (Si)
Si collects data in the present moment and compares it with past experiences, a process that sometimes evokes the feelings associated with memory, as if the subject were reliving it. Seeking to protect what is familiar, Si draws upon history to form goals and expectations about what will happen in the future. 
Tertiary: Extraverted intuition (Ne)
Ne finds and interprets hidden meanings, using “what if” questions to explore alternatives, allowing multiple possibilities to coexist. This imaginative play weaves together insights and experiences from various sources to form a new whole, which can then become a catalyst to action.
Inferior: Introverted thinking (Ti)
Ti seeks precision, such as the exact word to express an idea. It notices the minute distinctions that define the essence of things, then analyzes and classifies them. Ti examines all sides of an issue, looking to solve problems while minimizing effort and risk. It uses models to root out logical inconsistency. 
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 ESFJ these shadow functions are (in order):
- Introverted feeling (Fi): 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. 
- Extraverted sensing (Se): 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. 
- Introverted intuition (Ni): 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. 
- Extraverted thinking (Te): 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. 
- "Myers-Briggs Foundation: The 16 MBTI Types". Retrieved 2009-05-07.
- "Keirsey.com Portrait of the Provider". Retrieved 10 January 2010.
- "CAPT". Retrieved 2008-10-13.
- Myers, Isabel Briggs (1998). Introduction to Type: A Guide to Understanding your Results on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Mountain View, CA: CPP, Inc.
- Myers, Isabel Briggs; Mary H. McCaulley (1985). Manual: A Guide to the Development and Use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (in English) (2nd edition ed.). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologist Press. p. 52. ISBN 0-89106-027-8.
- "Changing Minds: Extraversion vs. Introversion". Retrieved 2009-01-10.
- "Changing Minds: Sensing vs. Intuiting". Retrieved 2009-01-10.
- "Changing Minds: Thinking vs. Feeling". Retrieved 2009-01-10.
- "Changing Minds: Judging vs. Perceiving". Retrieved 2009-01-10.
- "Personality Page ESFJ". Retrieved 2009-02-12.
- * Wagele, Elizabeth; and Renee Baron (1994). The Enneagram Made Easy. HarperOne. ISBN 0-06-251026-6.
- Barron-Tieger, Barbara; Tieger, Paul D. (1995). Do what you are: discover the perfect career for you through the secrets of personality type. Boston: Little, Brown. ISBN 0-316-84522-1.
- "Cognitive Processes: Extraverted Feeling". Retrieved 2009-05-12.
- "Cognitive Processes: Introverted sensing". Retrieved 2009-05-12.
- "Cognitive Processes: Extraverted intuition". Retrieved 2009-05-12.
- "Cognitive Processes: Introverted thinking". Retrieved 2009-05-12.
- "CognitiveProcesses.com". Retrieved 2008-05-21.
- "Cognitive Processes: Introverted feeling". Retrieved 2009-05-12.
- "Cognitive Processes: Extraverted Sensing". Retrieved 2009-05-12.
- "Cognitive Processes: Introverted intuition". Retrieved 2009-05-12.
- "Cognitive Processes: Extraverted thinking". Retrieved 2009-05-12.