ESFJ (Extraversion, Sensing, Feeling, Judging) is an acronym used in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) publications to refer to one of the sixteen personality types. The MBTI assessment was developed from the work of prominent psychiatrist Carl G. Jung in his book Psychological Types, which proposed a psychological typology based on his theories of cognitive functions.
From Jung's work, others developed psychological typologies. Well-known personality tests are 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 Guardian.
ESFJs enjoy people. They are warmly interested in others. They use their Sensing and Judging characteristics to gather specific, detailed information about others, and turn this information into supportive judgments. They want to like people, and tend to be skilled at bringing out the best in others. They strive to understand other points of view. The ESFJs' strong desire to be liked, and for everything to be pleasant, makes them highly supportive of others. People like to be around ESFJs, because ESFJs have a gift for making people feel good about themselves.
Dependable ESFJs take their responsibilities seriously. They value security and stability, and have a strong focus on the details of life. They often see before others do what needs to be done, and do whatever it takes to make sure that it gets done. They enjoy these types of tasks and excel at them.
ESFJs are warm and energetic. They need approval from others to feel good about themselves. They are hurt by indifference and don't understand unkindness. They are giving people who find personal satisfaction in the happiness of others. They want to be appreciated for who they are and what they give. They're sensitive to others, and they freely give practical care. They may find it hard to see or accept a difficult truth about someone they care about.
With Extraverted Feeling dominating their personality, ESFJs are focused on reading other people. They have a strong need to be liked and to be in control. They often change their own manner to be more pleasing to whomever they're with.
The ESFJs' value system is defined externally. They usually have well-formed ideas about the way things should be, and are not shy about expressing these opinions. However, they weigh their values and morals against the world around them, rather than against an internal value system. Their strong moral code is defined by the community they live in.
ESFJs who grew up surrounded by a strong value system—one that is ethical and centered around genuine goodness—tend to be kind and generous, with a selfless quality that is genuine and pure. ESFJs who grew up in an environment lacking a positive external value system may develop questionable values. In such cases, these ESFJs often believe firmly in the integrity of their skewed value system. In weighing their values against their society, they seek support for whatever morality they wish to justify. Using their dominant Extraverted Feeling, but perhaps without a well-developed Intuition to help them understand the consequences of their actions, these ESFJs may use their people skills to manipulate others for their own ends, yet believe that they are following a solid code of moral conduct.
All ESFJs have a natural tendency to want to control their environment. Their dominant function demands structure and organization, and seeks closure. They're not likely to enjoy things that involve abstract, theoretical concepts or impersonal analysis. They do enjoy creating order, and tend to be good at such tasks. ESFJs should be careful to avoid trying to use these skills to control other people.
ESFJs respect and believe in the laws and rules of authority, and believe that others should as well. They're traditional, and prefer to do things in the established way, rather than venturing into uncharted territory. Their need for security drives them to accept and adhere to the policies of the established system. This tendency may cause them to sometimes blindly accept rules without questioning or understanding them.
ESFJs who developed in a less than ideal way may be prone to insecurity, focusing all their attention on pleasing others. They might also be controlling, or overly sensitive, imagining bad intentions when there were none.
ESFJs are typically quite conscious about gender roles and are most comfortable playing a role that suits their gender. Though sensitive toward others, male ESFJs tend to be quite "masculine," just as female ESFJs tend to be quite "feminine" (however their society defines those terms).
ESFJs at their best are warm, sympathetic, helpful, cooperative, tactful, down-to-earth, practical, thorough, consistent, organized, enthusiastic, and energetic. They enjoy tradition and security, and seek stable lives that are rich in contact with friends and family.