You might be surprised which of the 16 types test as highly sensitive people — and which don’t.
Today, we are going to rank MBTI personalities based on how sensitive each type is. “Sensitivity” includes emotional and physical sensitivity, which often go together — and some types are usually far more sensitive than others.
What does it mean to be ‘sensitive’?
As a personality trait, scientists define high sensitivity as taking in more information from your environment, processing it more deeply, and doing more with it, according to Andre Sólo, coauthor of Sensitive and one of the founders of Sensitive Refuge. Sólo says that the sensitive brain is actually wired to process all information more deeply — effectively spending more time and mental resources on doing so — which means sensitive people tend to notice details others miss and make connections that others don’t see.
Because of this deep processing, sensitive people tend to have certain traits. Many are creative deep thinkers who pick up on subtle details and nuance. Most have high levels of empathy, because they process emotional cues more deeply, too. And many are highly attuned to their physical environment, noticing even the tiniest changes around them. These are all advantages, but the sensitive brain can get overstimulated in loud, chaotic or emotionally intense environments. They do best in calm, quiet settings with plenty of time to think.
Of course, everyone is sensitive to some extent. Sólo says that researchers now see sensitivity as a continuum, with most people in the middle, a few at the low end, and about 30% scoring high for sensitivity. These highly sensitive people, or HSPs, are what we mean when we say “sensitive people.”
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How Sensitive Is Each Myers-Briggers Personality Type?
Just because nearly 1 in 3 people are highly sensitive, however, does not mean that every personality type is represented equally. In fact, although any of the 16 Myers-Briggers personality types can be sensitive, there are certain types where it is much more likely — and some that are often barely sensitive at all.
Here is my take on which types are which, based on the tendencies they exhibit. Each individual has their own sensitivity level, of course, but here are the sixteen MBTI personalities ranked from least sensitive to most sensitive.
The 16 Personality Types, Ranked from Least Sensitive to Most Sensitive
16. Least Sensitive Type: ISTJ
ISTJs prefer to concentrate on material necessities rather than emotions. However, they put a lot of effort into making sure their loved ones are taken care of. Because they lack emotional sensitivity, ISTJs frequently choose to suppress their feelings in order to accomplish their goals. They frequently dismiss things and are not readily upset by others.
People who are ESTJs prefer to ignore their own feelings and have strong convictions. They respect effectiveness and want to complete tasks. Because they are unsure of how to respond to excessive emotion in others, ESTJs frequently find it uncomfortable. When someone they care about says or does anything to harm them, they may become sensitive, yet they habitually respond to this with fury. When someone triggers their emotions, ESTJs despise not having control over them and are quite angry.
ENTJs are brilliant people but they have two traits that are at odds with sensitivity: First, they often drive things forward as quickly as possible, the opposite of the slow, thoughtful approach of HSPs. Second, although they can be very warm and friendly, their empathy is often transactional — doing a favor for someone else know that person will do a favor back to them in the future. In fact, ENTJs don’t really perceive themselves to be sensitive, and they frequently find emotional displays to be upsetting. They may even suppress their own emotions in an effort to concentrate on what matters most to them. Strong and driven, ENTJs constantly strive to improve their productivity and level of effort. They are really angered when others allow their emotions to rule them since they regard people who can do tasks to the best of their abilities. The remarks of others rarely move ENTJ because they are not overly sensitive people.
The fact that INTPs value reason over feeling does not imply that they are not also sensitive. They frequently lack self-awareness which might occasionally lead them to suppress their emotions. INTPs favor seeking logical explanations for events, particularly when it comes to feelings. This tendency to hold things inside might sometimes wear an INTP out emotionally over time. Overall, INTPs do exhibit sensitivity in terms of being deep thinkers and may also be very creative, but may struggle with empathy or understanding their own emotions, and are not likely to test as highly sensitive people.
ESTPs tend to move constantly and appreciate being in the present. They also make quick decisions rather than spending time contemplating and reflecting, making them the opposite of sensitive people in that regard. While ESTPs don’t place a lot of importance on feelings, they do react when their loved ones do something. Although ESTPs are compassionate individuals, if they see that others are not appreciating them, they react strongly.
Because they tend to be very inwardly focused, ISTPs frequently lack situational sensitivity. They are indifferent to other people’s sentiments and tend to favor reason over emotion. Additionally, ISTPs hardly ever feel hurt or offended by others and generally prefer to remain by themselves. However, they can be very contemplative, and their broad interests and tendency to go deep into them makes them a step more sensitive than the ESTP. ISTPs seek to gain a deeper understanding of the world around them rather than reacting.
ENTPs are extroverted, intellectually curious individuals who are always looking to learn new things. They want to keep their brains engaged in exploration and detest sitting stationary for too long. They are aware that individuals are fallible and believe that others will constantly disappoint them with their actions. But, unless it is someone very close to them, ENTPs typically do not let this disturb them. Even if they do not express it outwardly, someone they care about profoundly can frequently have an impact on an ENTP. However, to the rest, ENTPs are not typically thought of as sensitive individuals, and they rarely take offense at the words and deeds of others.
Contrary to popular belief, INTJs are not insensitive people; many actually test as HSPs, even though you’d never guess it Simply said, INTJs have powerful emotions but tend to overlook those emotions in favor of logical solutions to issues. Nonetheless, in the long run, they can projecting in ways that may appear very sensitive — they like to solve problems for people, and can often act very compassionately even if their demeanor is not warm and fuzzy. INTJs are also highly intelligent individuals, and can be extremely perceptive to details and the words of others (at least those they hold in high regard). They are among the most sensitive of the “Thinker” types — in the sense that they process information deeply, not necessarily that they come across as warm, sensitive people. (In fact, they are generally very guarded about who they let close to them since they care a great deal about the individuals they accept into their lives.)
The exceedingly endearing ESFP personality type enjoys cheering up their loved ones. They want to focus on the here and now, which can make them perceptive, but also means they may not be as contemplative as the more sensitive types. They are usually attentive to the words and deeds of others but maybe easily offended by what others say — ESFPs want to be liked and will typically take it personally if someone doesn’t seem to like them. This combination means that ESFPs are moderately sensitive; some may be highly sensitive people whole others may not.
ESFJs have big hearts but they are often very concerned with maintaining the appearance of harmony, which is sometimes at odds with hearing and responding to peoples’ actual needs.
Despite not being as likely to test as HSPs as other “Feeler” types, ESFJs can easily have their feelings hurt by the people close to them. They are susceptible to this because they have a keen awareness of other people’s emotions and they know when someone is upset with them or has a low opinion of them. They can also use this ability to read people for good, however, and sometimes an ESFJ’s concern for others can make them much more sensitive. They put a lot of effort into taking care of their family members and just want to be accepted and appreciated by them.
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ISFJs are deeply compassionate individuals which frequently makes them more sensitive than other people. They find it upsetting to see their loved ones in pain and get angry over it. ISFJs put a lot of effort to protect the people they care about and do everything in their power to aid them. At the same time, ISFJs may not always value the big-picture thinking and connecting different concepts that comes hand-in-hand with high sensitivity. They are more likely to take things at face value and trust their five senses than they are to extrapolate or draw connections to other ideas. This means not all will score as highly sensitive people despite their high sense of empathy.
Because of their enthusiasm and empathetic nature, they happen to be another tribe of relatively sensitive people. While they are resilient individuals, they do harbor a wide range of emotions. The people they love will constantly hurt them easily, and their remarks might irritate them readily. However, ENFPs are also skilled at letting go of this hurt and tend to forget things pretty fast. They are more sensitive than certain other types due to their passion, but this is also what makes them stand out.
ENFJs are also very compassionate individuals and broad-minded thinkers, and unsurprisingly, they happen to be very sensitive. ENFJs are regularly affected by the words of those closest to them and can be hurt by harsh treatment. LIkewise, much of what they do in life is motivated by helping others — including strangers, whom ENFJs will fearlessly talk to and befriend. ENFJs tend to develop large friend groups and know people everywhere they go, and they remember little details about each and every person they meet, going out of their way to do kind things for them. ENFJS are also typically incredibly strong individuals, proving that sensitive people are strong and resilient.
ISFPs are often drawn to the arts and can be the embodiment of the “sensitive artist” archetype. They are emotionally sensitive people by nature of their high reactivity to their environment. They have a tremendous imagination and strong sense of inner morality, showing a great deal of compassion for others. Likewise, they are deeply affected by the actions of others — in particular, when someone they love does anything to hurt them, ISFPs become easily affected as well. ISFPs are likely among the most sensitive of all the types.
Simply because they have such large hearts, INFPs tend to be sensitive individuals. They possess a depth of emotion that is quite strong and occasionally overpowering. They work hard to accomplish as much good as they can because they want to change the world. They are also dreamers and visionaries, the model of the deep thinking sensitive person. Likewise, with this personality type strive very hard to show others that they care. In many ways, the INFP’s sensitivities are what makes them very strong and unique, not faults. A strong case could be made that they are actually the #1 most sensitive personality type.
#1 Most Sensitive Type: INFJ
INFJs usually exhibit high levels of sensitivity and have a deep affinity for other people’s feelings. INFJs have strong emotional connections to both their own feelings and the feelings of others. They are incredibly sensitive to suffering and are unable to just turn away from someone who is in pain. They tend to experience sadness about the cruelty they witness in the world which can lead them to have isolated periods. It’s this intense empathy that pushes INFJs to the top of the sensitivity list — they are often deep thinkers like INFPs, and are also incredibly attuned to the needs of the people around them. INFJs are highly sensitive to the words and deeds of those close to them. INFJ is regarded as the most sensitive personality type. Some estimates suggest that 80 to 90% of people who test as INFJs also test as highly sensitive people, because the traits of the two overlap so much.
What do you think — do you agree with this ranking, or would you rank them differently? Which type do you feel is the most sensitive, and which type is the least? Leave a comment and let us know!
You Might Like:
- How Sensitivity Shows up in Different MBTI Types
- Being ‘Sensitive’ Isn’t Considered a Personality Trait. Here’s Why That Needs to Change.
- Do You Cry Easily? You Might Be a Highly Sensitive Person
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