The sixteen Myers Briggs Types can be helpful for aiding writers in character creation (as I talked about in this post). As requested, here is a overview of the ISTJ type, geared specially towards writers and character development.
Disclaimer: This post is meant for help writers create characters, not to help ISTJs understand themselves. I am an INTJ not an ISTJ, and I am no expert in Myers Briggs Typing. So I am not speaking from personal experience or expertise. Instead, this post is a collect of research for myself (since I have an ISTJ character) and other writers. Feel free to correct the information in this post, but please keep this in mind when you do.
The Functions of the ISTJ*
- Introverted Sensing: ISTJs tend to have very good memories and dwell in the past, placing value on memories and tradition. When making decisions, they tend to rely on the past, and therefore are very systematic and can be predictable. ISTJ are not very good at improvising and do not enjoy it. ISTJs tend to like the routine and the familiar and struggle to break habits. This often means that ISTJs are very steadfast when it comes to worldview and religion. ISTJ are very detailed oriented and often don’t see the overarching picture. Most ISTJs are not obsessively driven by a goal or idea but think in a short-termed way and focus on one task at a time.
- Extroverted Thinking: ISTJs process everything through logic and are quick to take action. They analyze what makes sense and is tactically most beneficial and then being to work on it. So opinions tend to be blunt, and they care more about the truth and debating than people they might be emotionally hurting. An exception to this would be when an ISTJ’s painful memory might cause them to soften an issue (Si). They tend to be critical of everything, especially their own work, and are often perfectionists. In addition, they value systems and organization.
- Introverted Feeling: ISTJs struggle with social interactions and understanding other people’s motivations and emotions. Since ISTJs tend to expect everyone else to be logical and perfectionists (Te), they can struggle when people don’t see the way they do and make the same decisions. However, ISTJ experience intense emotions, even though they hide them from other people. ISTJ tend to process their emotions logically. However, if someone insults something that an ISTJ has placed value on, they are likely to feel upset and offended, even if they don’t show it outwardly. As an introverted feeler, ISTJs tend to have strong morals based on personal convictions, and they focus on what something means to them personally and not what it means to other people. ISTJs don’t love broadly but intensely and specifically. They hate being controlled or feeling stifled and value solitude.
- Extroverted Intuition: Surprisingly, ISTJs tend to jump from inspiration to inspiration and can procrastinate and be lazy. Moreover, if they constantly run into opposition or something just will not work, they will give up and move onto something that they feel more inspired about. More mature ISTJs analyze how things work together and draw themes from the data. They can also enjoy brainstorming to solve an idea, but only after their system (Si) has failed. Also ISTJs are not very good at manipulation.
*The personality types are not as simple as picking between two letters four times. The mixture of letters actually determines four cognitive functions as listed above. The dominant function is listed first and drives the type, while the inferior function is listed last and is often unused in immature types.
How to Manifest this Personality Type in Fictional Characters
Goals: Because of their dominant function, ISTJs want to preserve traditions, the past, and conventional ways of doing things. These are often reflected in their goals (but not always). ISTJs are known as the “guardians”, so it makes sense that they goal involve guarding some tradition, culture, or friendship. They can forget the “now” and often ignore/fear the future, so ISTJ goal are most likely to be orient about protecting the past.
Motivations: ISTJs tend to be primarily driven by good and bad memories. However, they are also driven by logic, personal convictions, and specific things that they value. It is unlikely an an ISTJ would be driven by a large picture or ideal.
Interaction with Other Characters: ISTJs tend to be very loyal to their close friends but don’t allow merely anyone to become a friend. In a group, they tend to be a perfectionist and responsible. Because they are not good at manipulation, looking at the future, or improvising, ISTJs are unlikely to lead a group but often take the role of administrator and remind other characters of the past/memories.
Young/Immature Characters: As a general rule, immature types rely on their first two functions and ignore or scorn their lower two functions. For ISTJs, this means that young ISTJ focus on absorbing and reflecting on personal experiences and information. They cling to traditions and resent change. Immature ISTJs are also known for poor decision-making skills. In addition, they can value logic and truth over emotions, resent emotionally driven people, and ignore their own emotions. They can also be rudely blunt and ignore the effect of their words on other people.
Matured Characters: As ISTJs mature, they develop and begin to use the Fi and Ne functions. They begin to accept and understand their own emotions more, and value emotions in their lives. A mature ISTJ is better at generating and connecting ideas, and therefore, they tend to make better decisions.
Examples of ISTJ Characters: Katniss Everdeen, Spock, Elsa (Frozen), Thorin Oakenshield, Severus Snape
A special thanks to KK Lanier for helping me with this post.
So are you creating ISTJ characters? Do you have any tips?