Assertive Defender (ISFJ-A) vs. Turbulent Defender (ISFJ-T)

The traits that influence both Assertive (ISFJ-A) and Turbulent (ISFJ-T) Defenders encourage caring for and generously supporting the people in their lives – typically in a humble way. They are often the unseen backbone of many a venture. But Identity differences sort each personality type into two subtypes and guide how they express their tendencies.

A Caring Mind-Set, With or Without the Worry

87% of Turbulent Defenders say they usually blame themselves first when something goes wrong, compared to 55% of Assertive Defenders.

Defenders tend to be sensitively perceptive individuals with an eye for details. They’re likely to spot when distress engulfs someone – or when something is amiss on a practical level – much quicker than most other personality types. Much about their caring nature emerges from this. Their mind-set encourages them to help when they see a need, and to do so in a down-to-earth manner.

However, our research suggests that this awareness is likely stronger among Turbulent Defenders. Both forms of Defenders have a liking for thoroughness. But because of their ever-watchful and often worried eyes, Turbulent Defenders typically remain the more detail-oriented of the two. They often spot problems long before their Assertive counterparts do.

This awareness can be a powerful tool that allows Turbulent Defenders to size up potential problems. But it can consume them. Compared to Assertive Defenders, more of them spend time worrying about things they can’t control in life, which can lead to frustration, disappointment, and even sadness. These personalities can take on too much responsibility for negative situations they notice around them.

Turbulent Defenders may see all that can be fixed in their world and frequently feel like they haven’t done enough. They very easily find fault with themselves, even if they don’t deserve it. They typically don’t have enough emotional armor protecting them, and these sensitive personalities end up blaming themselves too often and too quickly.

82% of Assertive Defenders say they prefer focusing on and managing how things are rather than how they should be, compared to 45% of Turbulent Defenders.

Assertive Defenders likely take on some of the responsibility when things go wrong as well. This is part of the sensitivity that defines Defender personality types. But they’re likely to be less affected by it and to know when to let go of difficulties. Assertive Defenders report, at a higher percentage, that they can release their worries soon after they realize that they have no control over such matters.

These Defenders may even balance their perception of negative things with other, more positive thoughts about the state of affairs, leaving them to focus more on the bright side. But this positive outlook can draw their attention away from problems on which they might be better off focusing.

71% of Turbulent Defenders say they are often (or very often) sad, compared to 44% of Assertive Defenders.

The Assertive Defenders’ approach to caring may take much less of an emotional toll on them. Assertive personality types generally report being happier than Turbulent personality types. This is no less true for Defenders.

But this shouldn’t leave Turbulent Defenders discouraged. There may be a trade-off here. Their higher levels of awareness and their vigilance might give them a head start on finding successful solutions. In turn, this can create a point of pride. Instead of a superficial sense of happiness, these personalities may find a strong enough sense of purpose that makes any negative feelings worth it for them. Besides, happiness is a subjective term that means different things to different people.

Defenders, Identity Differences, and People

51% of Assertive Defenders say they have received specific recognitions, awards, or honors in their careers, compared to 28% of Turbulent Defenders.

Neither Assertive nor Turbulent Defenders are prone to bragging or seeking credit. Both behaviors are likely too showy for them. But Assertive Defenders report that they’ve received more recognition or awards for the things they do at work than their Turbulent counterparts. Does this mean that these personalities are better at the work they do? Not necessarily.

Introversion meets a lack of confidence in Turbulent Defenders, and because of this, they may hold back from letting their lights shine. They may fear appearing flashy. On the other hand, Assertive Defenders are generally more confidently proactive and thus more visible. Those more visible in society have a greater likelihood of winning awards. This doesn’t mean that Turbulent Defenders aren’t working just as effectively in their more reserved style. Often, they may find themselves in a place of propping others up at the expense of their own recognition.

Turbulent Defenders also regard the opinions of others as important. Many state that the approval of others remains vital to their decision-making processes. Their Turbulent tendency is to wait until all the relevant people have had their say before they act. This can stall any actions these personalities may want to pursue. Their careful attempt at gaining a consensus may leave them looking a little less energetic.

64% of Assertive Defenders say they are harder to offend than most people, compared to 18% of Turbulent Defenders.

Defenders are typically too sensitive and concerned for others to act like bulls in china shops – as is sometimes the stereotypical case with their Assertive cousins from other personality types. Still, the Assertive Defenders’ relative boldness can have them moving faster than Turbulent Defenders in some situations. Though usually cautious, they may not always get as full an understanding of things before they act as their counterparts do.

Similarly, the opinions of others sit lower on Assertive Defenders’ list of things they typically consider essential. Because of this, these personalities may be a little more likely than their Turbulent counterparts to advise people without first checking to find out what they want or need. Their confidence, paired with their lower sensitivity to the opinions of others, may sometimes convince them that they know what is best for those around them.

Turbulent Defenders might find their cautious nature helpful. A gentler, more careful approach may sometimes be the right style, and Turbulent Defenders are more likely to weigh what the people in their lives say they want and need. This can make them much more considerate, and it allows them to come from a place of greater understanding.

Often in life, people don’t want to be “fixed.” They want to be heard. And while both types of Defender are likely to listen to a reasonable degree, Turbulent Defenders are somewhat more poised to hear what others have to say.


  • Turbulent Defenders more actively anticipate problems. This can help them head off problems before they become bigger.
  • Assertive Defenders are likely to let go of things they cannot control. Fewer Turbulent Defenders report that they do, which may leave them worrying about matters they can do little about.
  • Turbulent Defenders are quick to blame themselves when something goes wrong.
  • Assertive Defenders acknowledge problems, but with an eye toward silver linings. This may, at times, divert these personalities from the seriousness of a setback.
  • Assertive Defenders are likely more visible in the workplace. They may receive more recognition for their accomplishments than Turbulent Defenders because of this.
  • Turbulent Defenders rely on the opinions of others more. Sorting out opinions may slow some of their progress, but it may also help them be better listeners.
  • Since Assertive Defenders do not place as much value on the opinions of others, they may not listen to others as carefully as Turbulent Defenders.
  • Assertive Defenders may be somewhat more prone to confidently assuming that they know what someone needs or wants rather than asking them.

Generous Souls

Nothing is wasted in the world of personality types, and all types and traits have their unique superpowers. With Defenders, we find that Assertive Defenders tend to move the ball forward in more robust and positive ways. They are typically quicker to act and more decisive. Turbulent Defenders are more vigilant and focused on potential problems. They are more likely to value the opinions of others and seek a consensus before they advance.

When all is said and done, however, both variants of this “salt of the earth” personality type are likely to be loyal, caring, and hardworking. Defenders are generous individuals and have much to offer the world.

Are you a Turbulent Defender (ISFJ-T)?

Cover for the “Turbulent Defender Superpowers” ebook. A female Defender (ISFJ) joyfully sings a folk song front and center onstage. Accompanied by a male guitarist and a female with a tambourine, they form a connected trio, harmoniously entwined in the music.

Defenders tend to approach all that they do with dedication, empathy, and great sincerity, always seeking to build or maintain structure. But, at times, your Turbulent trait can open the door to self-doubt, leaving you struggling to feel happy or optimistic.

That’s why we made Turbulent Defender Superpowers: A Story of Inner Strength and Harmony. This powerful pocket guide gives you steady, practical steps to understanding and growing the aspects of yourself that support your values, your goals, and the positive feelings that make life enjoyable.

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