How to Spot an ISTJ
What follows is a small selection of raw observations that can help you more quickly and accurately type ISTJs. Not all descriptions will be noticeable or perfectly capture the impression of all types of observers – often, the nuance of a word changes depending on the person reading it. However, this page will be regularly updated with new descriptions, photographs, and videos to provide examples and evidence supporting the observations provided below. Please enjoy!
- Bobblehead. A large head relative to the body. This is especially apparent on women.
- Bug eyes. ISTJs tend to hold their eyes as wide open as possible without seeming to be straining. Depending on genetics and age, the whites of their eyes are often visible underneath their irises.
- Smile. Almost never smile unless genuinely happy, or when forced (e.g. taking a photo). The former looks bright and innocent; the latter, forced and horrified. The same holds true for all emotions, and they generally have quite blank faces.
- Gaze. Almost always look at what they’re going to do (e.g. looking at a bench before sitting, looking at a piece of food before eating).
- Wrinkles. Older ISTJs often have very few wrinkles, with the exception of laugh lines, which can be quite deep.
- Skeletal. When thin, ISTJs have a stiff, bony appearance, similar to a cartoon skeleton villain. Many ISTJs remain very thin and bony throughout their whole lives.
- Tank. When fat – which is the vast majority of the time only possible for middle-aged or older ISTJs – they remain stiff, but often appear more square or blocky, like a tank. Some older fat ISTJs may have big guts which affect this illusion.
- Posture. Often hunch the body into the letter C, especially when walking. This is more common in older ISTJs, especially Boomer men. Otherwise, the posture will be very stiff and upright. Shoulders may or may not be scrunched up toward ears.
- Movement. Very restrained. Precise. Take up very little physical space, given body size. Minimum motion (including facial changes) necessary to complete action.
- Coordination. ISTJs almost never fall, trip, or drop things. It’s not impossible, but it’s very, very rare. They can eat Taco Bell without spilling. They don’t struggle to perform fine or complex movements with different parts of their body at the same time – for instance, a willing ISTJ dancer is capable of very impressive, complex simultaneous movements. (Unwilling ISTJs do not dance.)
- Jerkiness. Despite their coordination, they’re not graceful like ISFJs. They often move in jerks, quickly and effortlessly from one position to another, but lacking smooth transitions. Notice the difficulty with which Chen Lizra attempts to seductively sway, below right.
- Arms. Elbows are often held either at 90 degree angles or fully extended.
- Hands. Fingers usually move in unison unless specificity is necessary. Very easily handle small instruments, tools, untangle jewelry, etc. without any seeming display of difficulty.
- Sitting. Generally seated symmetrically. Often adopt a ‘pharaoh’ pose with both feet flat on the floor, and arms either flat on the armrests or hands clasped in the lap. Women often sit cross-legged, in which case they are still seated symmetrically with stick straight backs.
- Rhythm. Some ISTJs, particularly young men, are constantly drumming or tapping on a table, particularly when listening or speaking to others. Many ISTJs have an excellent sense of rhythm and are talented musicians.
- Fidgeting. Occurs when anxious or restless. Almost always rhythmic and repetitive, involving things like rapid shaking of a body part, spinning a pen, or the aforementioned drumming. Very rarely tug at clothes, play with hair, rub eyes, etc.
- Waiting. When standing stationary (e.g. giving a speech) or waiting for something, they will either rock slowly from leg to leg, covering some distance, or stand completely motionless, legs straight and stiff. You can see this in both the Alberto Salazar and Angela Merkel videos to the right.
- Eating. Chew food very thoroughly. Swallow one bite completely before taking the next. Rarely comment on food while eating, although may make anticipatory comments or reference favorite foods in conversation. Don’t make enjoyment sounds (“mmmm”).
- Gestures. Look very natural and precise performing gestures appropriate to a particular culture or subculture (e.g. winking and blowing a kiss for a pop star, headbanging for a metal fan, pointing with two fingers for an flight attendant). Almost never perform idiosyncratic or novel gestures, however.
- Symmetry. Gestures and body movements are almost always symmetrical, unless doing so would be wrong or unnatural (e.g. waving)
- Conversation tics. Older ISTJs clear their throat a lot.
- Responding. Often slow to respond to questions or comments by others. May stare straight ahead, at people’s faces, the ground, etc. while thinking of an answer. Give the minimum necessary physical responses, including brief nods, one thumbs up, or small shrug. More animated when in control of the conversation. See Shane in the video to the right.
- Emotions. Again, almost never smile unless genuinely happy, the reason for which is usually immediately apparent. Negative facial expressions are even rarer, even when angry. Surprise is not uncommon. Very small, jerky head movements are common when expressing deep emotion. This is difficult to describe via text, so look at “Quarter Past Four” to the right, on the words ‘where I’ve been‘, and later ‘floating in the wind’. Occasional outbursts of laughter that seem to come out of nowhere, as in Eartha Kitt at right.
- Participation. Don’t generally seem embarrassed when acting or pretending (e.g. in a music video, or when asked to do something in an interview or by a teacher). However, will often refuse a request when not associated with a tangible goal (for instance, may refuse dares with friends). In the former situation, may confess to discomfort, embarrassment, or distress later.
- Disagreeing. When disagreeing, uncomfortable with what someone is saying, or after being interrupted – often either open mouth slightly or purse lips, and tilt head slightly, waiting for a chance to speak (although they may choose not to). See Amy Goodman, to the right.
- Intonation. Have extremely flat intonation in relation to other speakers of their native language. Perform minimum necessary intonation to convey meaning.
- Pitch and volume. Unlike Ti-doms, often speak loudly and clearly, with a noticeable pitch variation compared to their peers – many ISTJs have either a much higher voice (usually, but not exclusively, women) or a much lower voice (almost always men) than is typical.
- Clothes. Usually very practical and coordinated. Rarely garish. Fit their age and gender profile well – for instance, ISTJ young women often dress in a fairly feminine manner, gravitating toward colors like light pink. ISTJ older men often wear athletic clothing, like baseball caps and windbreakers. Older ISTJ women almost always wear quite thick, conservative clothing, which covers their bodies entirely and masks their shape.
- Subcultures. Many ISTJs are members of particular subcultures, particularly those centered around given activities, and their aesthetic reflects it perfectly. Common subcultures for young ISTJs include the heavy metal scene, pop music, theater, art and graphic design, and urban startup culture. For older ISTJs, the subcultures may include business/Wall Street, sports, religion, construction, or outdoor activities. In rarer cases, ISTJs may have an idiosyncratic interest, such as the 1940s or the occult. It is rare for them to mix subcultures and they rarely conform to more than one or two of these spheres.
- Adaptation. ISTJs “try on” other aesthetics very easily. This is especially visible with actors and singers. They almost never look unusual or uncomfortable in outfits or surroundings that don’t match their true preferences.
- Presentability. Almost never have hair out of place, stains, holes in clothes, messy makeup, wrinkled clothes, etc. However, makeup application technique may be very poor (or nonexistent) and hairstyle may be very unattractive with youth/lack of experience or indifference.
- Facial hair. It is very common for ISTJ men to have facial hair, especially full beards and/or mustaches. This may either be scraggly and wild, or trimmed to perfection, depending on experience and interest. Rarely in between.