Highly Sensitive Refuge
A happy highly sensitive person

How Sensitivity Shows up in Different MBTI Types

Any of the 16 personality types can be highly sensitive people — but each type “does” sensitive a little differently.

Have you ever felt as though you might not actually be as sensitive as you thought you were because your personality doesn’t fit the typical description to a tee? For example, perhaps you’ve never been much of a crier. Or perhaps you actually have a high tolerance to pain and other physical stimuli. If so, you’re certainly not alone. HSPs come in all sorts of different forms and we have a beautiful variety of personalities. 

In the past few years, I’ve been committed to learning more about myself through multiple avenues. (Yes, I’m that friend who is constantly talking about astrology and personality tests to understand people and our inner motivations.) I think that self-discovery is particularly valuable for HSPs to unlearn many of the misconceptions we’re fed about our traits, get in touch with our many strengths, and learn how we can grow.  

By far, the typing system I’ve found the easiest to understand is the Myers-Briggs Type    Indicator (MBTI). If you can relate to the opening statement, you might benefit from understanding how sensitivity might manifest differently depending on your particular personality type. 

All 16 personality types can be highly sensitive people. Yes, even the Thinkers!

What Is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator? 

The MBTI is a self-report inventory designed to identify a person’s personality type. It was developed in the 1940S by Isabel Briggs Myers. According to the MBTI system, there are sixteen unique personality types. All 16 types can be highly sensitive people. (Yes, even the thinkers!) Each of these personality types is defined according to its “preferences” in how it sees, and interacts with, the world.

The Preferences That Define Each Personality Type

According to the MBTI system, each type has a preference in four specific areas:

  • Prefers to focus on either the inner world (Introversion) or outer world (Extroversion)
  • Prefers to focus on on objective information (Sensing) or abstract meaning (Intuition) 
  • Prefers to make decisions based on logic and consistency (Thinking) or people and special circumstances (Feeling)
  • Prefers to deal with the world decisively (Judging) or by remaining open to possibilities (Perceiving)

Your personality type is represented by four letters, depending on what your preferences are. For example, if you are extroverted (E), prefer to focus on objective information you can sense (S), base your decisions on people and feelings (F), and prefer to remain open to new possibilities (P), your personality type is ESFP. 

Based on the preferences alone, many people make assumptions about which personality types tend to be more sensitive. While it’s true that HSPs may be over-represented in certain types, it’s important to remember that sensitivity is just one personality trait; it doesn’t determine the entirety of a person’s nature. 

And, sensitivity often comes out in ways that aren’t stereotypical. For example, high sensitivity is stereotypically associated with caretaking roles and the arts. But the deep processing HSPs do is just as useful in math or the sciences, where it allows for breakthroughs other people don’t think of. Thus, Thinkers and Feelers — and all the other types — can be be highly sensitive people; they just “do” their sensitivity a little differently.

As mentioned, learning more about your personality type can remind you of your special gifts.   Together, we’ll explore why each and every personality type is essential to the well-being of our world and how sensitivity affects them. 

A great, user-friendly resource for anyone seeking to learn more about the MBTI is through 16personalities.com. There, the personality types are divided into four different categories — the Analysts, Diplomats, Sentinels, and Explorers. Below, I’ll take you through the MBTI types through the lens of these four types, answering questions such as: What are their strengths and weaknesses? And how does sensitivity manifest for them? 

The Analysts as Highly Sensitive People

These amazingly rational people share a preference for both intuition and thinking. They’re known to listen to their heads over their hearts. Because they are so strategic and logical, many assume that analysts are robotic. However, nothing could be further from the truth. These people are brilliant creators who are passionate about standing up for what they believe in. 

INTJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging)

INTJs are also known as The Architects — how fitting! They are one of the rarer types, making up 1-4 percent of the population. They are astute and imaginative. That being said, they deal with their fair share of social struggles. For instance, they value the truth over fluffy social norms, like small talk. If something doesn’t make sense to them, they will tell you that. 

My sister is an INTJ and I do believe she’s sensitive, too. She’s a natural-born engineer with an artistic flair. She loves soulful music, makes awesome clay sculptures, and uses her observational humor to make the people around her laugh. 

Seeing as HSPs love to get lost in their rich inner lives, highly sensitive INTJs are likely to cherish their time alone with their creative hobbies. They might love building train sets or doing other activities that encourage them to use their unmatched logic and artistry. They’re the analytical sort of HSP that will never let a single detail escape their attention, due to their depth of processing. Mozart is said to have been both an HSP and INTJ.   

INTP (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving) 

INTPs, also known as The Logicians, are quick-witted and unique. They represent anywhere from 3-5 percent of the population. They love to lose themselves in theories of all sorts — scientific, philosophical, and beyond. There’s no territory they won’t explore. They prefer to focus on big ideas rather than details. Logicians have a reputation for being extremely reserved; however, they tend to get really close to a select few — usually, those who share their penchant for thinking outside the box. One of my best friends is an INTP and I adore our colorful discussions about… everything! 

A highly sensitive INTP would be delightfully unique. Like their other analyst cousins, INTP HSPs might enjoy intellectually challenging hobbies as part of their inner life, like reading or puzzles. They are also likely to deal with overwhelm from lots of social interaction, which can make them seem aloof and distant. In reality, though, they are extremely responsive to people’s needs, constantly seeking to help others solve their problems with their inventive minds. 

ENTJ (Extroverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging)

An ENTJ personality type is also known as The Commander — and they’re the second rarest personality type, representing around 2 percent of the population. Decisive, ambitious, and results-oriented, everyone wants an ENTJ on their team. Not only can they get a job done effectively, but they do it in style. They are known to be particularly charismatic, making them effortless networkers and great leaders

A highly sensitive ENTJ would use their empathy to create genuine, mutually beneficial  connections with others. In the workplace, they would use their deep understanding of people to lead their team to success. They are likely to represent the HSP tendency to be conscientious and detail-oriented. At the same time, they provide the perfect support for the success of their loved ones. Want to get a perfect score on your exam? Call your HSP ENTJ friend to help you make cue cards. Barbara Streisand may be a great example of the highly sensitive ENTJ. 

ENTP (Extroverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving)

ENTPs, also known as The Debaters, make up about 3 percent of the population. They use their quick-witted humor to make people laugh. However, although they’re known to make jokes at other people’s expense, it’s all in good fun. ENTPs are known to be contrarian, but they certainly aren’t mean-spirited — they simply won’t follow the rules for the sake of conforming. They stand up for what they believe in. My dad is an ENTP and his non-conformist attitude was evident from an early age. (Maybe that’s where I get it from.)

The highly sensitive ENTP fights the stereotype that sensitivity makes people weak. These people will stand up for themselves — and the causes that they’re passionate about, even if their stance goes against the status quo. Stan Lee is said to be a highly sensitive ENTP. 

The Diplomats as Highly Sensitive People

These caring, compassionate people are traditionally associated with sensitivity. They tend to be over-represented in the online HSP world. They are naturally concerned about the well-being of others and strive to maintain harmony around them. They have the power to make a difference with their empathy and desire to help people. They share a preference for intuition and feeling. 

INFJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging) 

INFJs, or The Advocates, are actually the rarest personality type, representing only 1-3 percent of the population. Despite there being so few of them in the world, tons of INFJs identify as highly sensitive, and they have made a huge impact in the world. They are artists, writers, civil rights activists, and more. No matter what they do, there tends to be a deep meaning behind their actions.  

Highly sensitive INFJs want purpose in their lives, which is why they might be drawn to creative outlets, like art, music, and storytelling. They are also known to be fearless defenders of the underdogs in society. For example, Martin Luther King Jr. was apparently a highly sensitive INFJ. 

INFP (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving)

I’m an INFP, the personality type also known as The Mediator. INFPs make up about 4 percent of the population. We are seekers, constantly striving to find our place in the world. Unfortunately, it’s easy for us to feel lost. Like our INFJ cousins, we want a sense of purpose in everything we do. Many of us end up being creatives and also thrive in the caring professions. 

Being an INFP and HSP tends to go hand-in-hand. The highly sensitive INFP is likely to be very empathetic and responsive to the emotional needs of others. People likely feel very comfortable opening up to them, as they know the INFP will listen non-judgmentally. Though these people are gentle and unassuming, they are ready to stand up for what they believe in. Princess Diana was allegedly a highly sensitive INFP.  

ENFJ (Extroverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging)

ENFJs are rightfully nicknamed The Protagonists. This personality type makes up about 2.5 percent of the population. They often feel called to a deeper purpose and have such a special way of going after what they want. They have the gift of motivating and inspiring others without coming off as pushy or controlling. And, they strive to make a big difference in the world, leading in a charismatic, nurturing way. Interestingly, they are over-represented in the world of social media stardom. 

The highly sensitive ENFJ has such a gift for forming deep, authentic relationships with people and they may become known as the “mom friend” in their social circles. They not only seek to accomplish their life purpose, but they have the power to inspire others to achieve their dreams, too. They are natural caregivers and their loved ones typically appreciate them deeply. 

ENFP (Extroverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving) 

ENFPs are also known as The Campaigners. They make up around 8 percent of the population. They have light, sunny spirits that uplift everyone around them. They also have a curious, gregarious nature that has them dipping their fingers into every pie. ENFPs seek purpose and meaningful connections in their lives and can actually be quite spiritual

Many ENFPs identify as highly sensitive. They are empathetic, non-judgmental, and seek meaning in life. In addition, ENFPs tend to be very expressive, making them talented creators. They are known to be natural helpers, as well, which is why so many of them can be found working as social workers, teachers, and childcare professionals. Highly entertaining and empathic, highly sensitive ENFPs can sense an unhappy person from miles away and will do all they can to uplift them. 

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The Sentinels as Highly Sensitive People

Sensitivity tends to come easily for this remarkable group of people. They strive to maintain order in their world and value security. They create a safe place for everyone they interact with. Sentinels all share a preference for sensing and judging. They love physical comfort and all the pleasures of a safe, snug home — and they know just how to create that for themselves and others.

ISTJ (Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging)

ISTJs are also known as The Logisticians. They make up a large portion of the population — approximately 11 percent — and make the world go around with their commitment to getting things done. They are practical, down-to-earth, and even-keeled, even when they’re faced with an emergency. 

Highly sensitive ISTJs might not be outwardly “gushy,” but they show their love through acts of service. They often feel responsible for keeping their loved ones comfortable and will do their due diligence in order to never let others down. These HSPs tend to be particularly sensitive to their environment, too, seeing as they have a preference for sensing. To avoid the discomfort of the unknown, they tend to plan each and every step. They can be quite averse to change or risk. And, using their gift for empathy, they strive to make sure no one else has to feel uncomfortable around them. 

ISFJ (Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging)

ISFJs, also known as The Defenders, are everyone’s go-to comfort blanket and make up 9-14 percent of the population. I have the privilege of being close to two ISFJs — my mother and fiancé. These are caring, compassionate people with a love of tradition and a gift for making everyone feel safe and cared for. 

It’s very common for ISFJs to identify as HSPs. Both their minds and bodies are sensitive to their environments, and they notice all the subtleties around them. They likely have a flair for decorating and making practical creations, like furniture or knitted pieces. They put their talents to use during their much-needed alone time. My mother — who is both highly sensitive and an ISFJ — is a gifted woodworker. She has created multiple pieces that my finacé and I enjoy every day (our bedside tables, our coat hook, and our outdoor bench, to name a few). Bob Ross is thought to be a highly sensitive person and ISFJ, too. 

ESTJ (Extroverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging)

ESTJ, also known as The Executive, represents about 13 percent of the population. They are results-oriented, ambitious, and successful, which are great qualities that are, unfortunately, not typically associated with sensitivity (though sensitivity can actually help us reach our goals). Many political leaders share this personality type, which shows their refusal to back down from a challenge. So how do these traits show up in an HSP? 

The highly sensitive ESTJ is highly principled. For example, they follow through on their promises, so as to avoid affecting others negatively, and they expect the same from people in their lives. They tend to be detail-oriented, competent, and love to plan ahead. Like the other HSP sentinels, ESTJs don’t tend to love new experiences, because of their cautious nature, but they make up for their lack of spontaneity with their ability to make everyone feel safe in their strong, protective presence. Courtney Cox thinks of herself as highly sensitive and she’s an ESTJ. 

ESFJ (Extroverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging) 

ESFJs are nicknamed Consuls. They make up about 12 percent of the population. They are responsible individuals who love to serve others and give back to their communities. They are also gifted at making people feel special, with personalized gifts and gestures, and they take it very personally when their efforts to celebrate loved ones are not appreciated. 

Highly sensitive ESFJs are the ideal host and know how to show their loved ones a great time. They pay very close attention to detail and their great empathic skills give them the ability to make anyone feel better when they’re down. Dolly Parton is a great example of someone who’s likely a highly sensitive ESFJ, as her screen presence can be likened to a warm hug. 

The Explorers as Highly Sensitive People

Explorers are special people who feel effortlessly comfortable in situations that tend to fill the rest of us with fear. They love trying new things, don’t sweat the small stuff, and love to live life to the fullest. Though traditional learning and work environments present a challenge for them, when they discover their strengths and learn to carve a niche out for themselves, they unlock tremendous power. Eventually, when they do what makes them happy, they can learn to deal with the monotonous parts of life. And they share a preference for sensing and perceiving. 

ISTP (Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving) 

The ISTP, also known as The Virtuoso, represents about 5 percent of the population. They love to explore the world around them through first-hand experience, experimentation, and troubleshooting. ISTPs have mechanical abilities, and love working with machines and using their hands. At first glance, they may appear much like a calm-steady sentinel. But when you get to know them more closely, you might find that they have a ton of impulsive energy inside them just waiting to be released. 

For example, a highly sensitive ISTP might use their excellent problem-solving skills to help loved ones get through challenging times. Not only do they have brilliant troubleshooting skills, but they are able to remain calm — even in extremely stressful situations — making them a safe haven during a crisis. These HSPs might escape the stresses of everyday life by doing something active, like exercising, or making something with their hands. Kristen Stewart may be a highly sensitive ISTP with her extremely calm, cool, and collected energy. 

ISFP (Introverted, Sensing, Feeling Perceiving)

If you were to ask who the artists of the MBTI are, most people would say it’s ISFPs, who make up about 9 percent of the population. These unique people are extremely creative and imaginative, and love to express the impressions they pick up from their environments. They’re known to have artistic talent and love exploring the world in search of inspiration. 

So it’s no surprise that many ISFPs are highly sensitive. There’s a lot of overlap between ISFPs, artists, and HSPs. The highly sensitive ISFP will have a deep appreciation for the arts, whether that means written works, film, music, or the fine arts. They are so lovely to be around, too, because of their warmth and open-mindedness, yet they are still introverts and need to recharge after social interaction. Because they love to please their loved ones so much by gracing them with their immaculate vibes, they might find themselves burnt out and neglect their own needs. These HSPs do well when they master self-care. Artist Frida Kahlo was likely a highly sensitive ISFP. 

ESTP (Extroverted, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving)

The ESTP, also known as The Entrepreneur, represents approximately 4 percent of the population. They have everything it takes to dive into a business idea and make it happen, on account of their penchant for risk-taking. They are intrigued by unexplored territory, too, like their other Explorer cousins.

A highly sensitive ESTP has all the tools to be extremely successful in their business ventures. They do best in sectors that involve helping others. In business, they can put their understanding of others, and heightened senses, to great use. Their sensitivity will help them empathize with their clients to decipher their needs. And their curious, risk-loving natures defy stereotypes about HSPs being overly fearful. Angelina Jolie may be an example of this dynamic type of HSP. 

ESFP (Extroverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving) 

ESFP is also known as The Entertainer. These extremely charming people make up about 9 percent of the population. They are made for the spotlight with their unmatched aesthetic sense and their dazzling personalities. They are the fashionistas, the performers, and the visionaries. 

The highly sensitive ESFP is extremely magnetic, as they have this ability to draw people in without even opening their mouths to speak. They know how to make others feel good, and because of their HSP tendency to be a people-pleaser, they use this ability often. Marilyn Monroe is an iconic example of someone who was likely a highly sensitive ESFP. 

So, can you identify with your MBTI type? Let us know in the comments!

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