The Eight Function-Attitudes In Depth

Introverted Sensing (Precedent Seeker)

Introverted Sensing is the primary in ISTJ and ISFJ types and secondary for ESTJ and ESFJ types.

Qualities of Introverted Sensing

  1. As a Sensing function, it is concrete, verifiable, particular, and experiential.
  2. As an Introverted Perceiving function it is convergent, seeks depth, and takes cues from internal sources.
  3. Introverted Sensing is the part of the psyche that compares the current objective situation to subjective associations in the past. It emphasizes past impressions over present reality.
  4. It asks, “What has been done before?”
  5. It seeks repeatable, dependable behaviors.
  6. It tends to converge on singular or fewer solutions based on what has been done before.
  7. It overlays past related experiences on new experiences. For example, if someone repeatedly treated you rudely, your Introverted Sensing function will catalog each past rude behavior and remind you of these behaviors next time you see that person.
  8. It uses an internal database of remembered touch, taste, sight, sound, smell, body sensations, and emotional impressions as material for comparison with the present situation.
  9. It is primarily subjective. Even though memories are often clear and detailed, they are still subjective and may not agree with another person’s recollection

Additional characteristics

  1. Changing memory changes reality. People who lead with Introverted Sensing will not easily change what is remembered and might become defensive if their memory is challenged. However, once the memory changes the Introverted Sensor’s subjective past is revised and it can truly be like the previous memory never existed.
  2. Reliable actions are comforting. People who lead with Introverted Sensing favor repeatable behaviors such as routines and traditions. Improvisation is not favored.
  3. Rules, standards, and institutions are important because they increase order and reliability.

Introverted Sensing is the part of us that says things like:

  1. There must be a good reason it’s been done this way before.
  2. If it worked before, it’s good enough.
  3. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. There is no need to invent something new if we have a workable solution.
  4. If it is broken, someone has already found the best solution. If things are not working well, people who lead with introverted sensing will often look first to established ways of doing things as a guide. Therefore, they will review accepted expertise, traditions, and methods in addition to their own experience as a launching point for creative solutions.


  1. Planning and preparation for the future based on past patterns.
  2. Fact recollection. Remembering exactly what you said or what you were wearing two years ago, remembering how the specific details in a room have changed from one day to the next, or citing memorized texts in detail.
  3. Reliable and responsible. People who lead with Introverted Sensing are often willing to do the work that needs to be done - no matter how mundane it is - long after others have checked out.
  4. Internal body awareness. As an example, knowing exactly when one’s stomach is full of food.
  5. Insightful. Overlaying the past onto the present, giving a more complete grasp of the current situation, and leading to insights that might seem amazing to others
  6. Consistency. Past impressions get stronger and more satisfying with repetition.
  7. Creating order. Tends to be meticulous and detailed in presenting information.

Working with Introverted Sensors

These will apply primarily to working with ISTJ and ISFJ types but also to ESTJ and ESFJ types.

When you interact with people who lead with Introverted Sensing:

  1. Give them time and respect as they shift into new ways of doing things. The last thing you want to do is aggressively push them into something new. This will likely backfire interpersonally and in terms of productivity.
  2. Present new data with historical precedent and supported expertise.
  3. Honor their routines, ways, and traditions. This can help them feel acknowledged and pave the way for a productive collaboration.
  4. Acknowledge and appreciate their willingness to do the repetitive detail work that others would find fatiguing.

Brain insights from Dario Nardio

When measured on an EEG monitor, whole brain flow states show up as a uniform blue color. This means the brain is in a relaxed, receptive mode. Whole brain flow states often occur for Introverted Sensors when reviewing past events in detail. This is especially interesting because there are specific regions (C3 and F8) in the neocortex for fact and detail recall. C3 is located on the inside near the left ear and F8 is located just in front of the right ear. But Introverted Sensors somehow use the whole brain when recalling the past.

People who lead with Introverted Sensing tend to be highly specialized. They can switch brain regions on or off depending on their focused activities more than any other type. This switching ability comes from their preference for rote memorization and repetition. With each repetition, an activity becomes more deeply impressed in the brain’s circuitry. This is experienced as particularly satisfying for Introverted Sensors. When it’s time to do a practiced activity, an Introverted Sensor’s brain conforms completely to those demands. Brain regions that are normally dormant can become active.

People for whom Introverted Sensing is primary, both ISTJs and ISFJs, show activity in region T6, which helps attend to social feedback and fact memory. Region T5, which helps with felt memory and helps when people plan to do something, is also active for ISTJ and ISFJ types.   

Introverted Sensing quotes

“[I am not] one of those thoughtless people who always uncritically accept what is new as necessarily better.” -Joseph Ratzinger (Pope)

“By how much one has more experience of things past, than another, by so much also they are more prudent, and their expectations the seldomer fail him.” - Thomas Hobbes

“But an innovation, to grow organically from within, has to be based on an intact tradition” -Yo-Yo Ma

“I’m a guy that finds common-sense solutions to things as opposed to esoteric mumbo-jumbo.” – Rand Paul

“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” – George Santayana

“You should always be taking pictures, if not with a camera then with your mind. Memories you capture on purpose are always more vivid than the ones you pick up by accident.” – Isaac Marion

Try Introverted Sensing

  1. Do a task repeatedly in order to burn it into long term memory.
  2. Recall a time when you really enjoyed yourself. Recall as many details as you can regarding the people and the environment. For instance, what were the people wearing, what was the weather like, what was being discussed, what kinds of things were there in the setting  such as the furniture, the room shape and color, and so on.
  3. Develop a dependable routine.
  4. Reflect on the traditions you value and how they add to your life.
  5. What does this moment remind you of?
  6. Look at an object or a person. What or who do they remind you of?

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