This was requested in the comments on Fictional MBTI – Loki, and since I went to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier on Friday it seemed a good time to write a post about Steve Rogers/Captain America. Incidentally, I will reference Winter Soldier in this post but will try to keep it spoiler-free. If you don’t want to know anything about the plot, though, go watch the film and then come back 🙂
In support of typing Steve as an ISFJ, I’ll be citing quotes from Captain America, The Winter Soldier, Gifts Differing by Isabel Myers, and Was That Really Me? by Naomi L. Quenk.
Isabel Myers describes the Introverted Sensing (Si) types – both ISFJ and ISTJ — as “remarkably dependable … they base their ideas on a deep, solid accumulation of stored impressions, which gives them some almost unshakable ideas” (102). For Steve Rogers, this resulted in the attitude that earned him consideration in Dr. Abraham Erskine’s experiment — “I don’t want to kill anyone. I don’t like bullies; I don’t care where they’re from” (Captain America). The same deeply rooted ideas that form his character also gave Steve the conviction to stand-up to Nick Fury when asked to compromise his values to create a “safe” world — “This isn’t freedom; it’s fear” (Winter Soldier).
In the right person, the traits of Si are perfect for military command. Si types are extremely stable, not entering “into things impulsively” and, “once in, they are very hard to distract, discourage, or stop” (Myers 102). When convinced he is in the right, Captain America is an unstoppable force, whether he is performing a one-man rescue mission in WWII or leading a team against Hydra.
Since Si is an introverted function, there are aspects of their private reactions that ISFJs usually keep to themselves. Only when they feel “off duty” and are around people they trust will they share insights into their unique way of viewing the world. These impressions “may be absurd, irreverent, touching, or hilarious, but never predictable, because their way of sensing life is intensely individual” (Myers 103). Steve tends to joke before going on missions, such as his dialog with Peggy Carter before he parachutes behind enemy lines in Captain America, and that scene from the beginning of Winter Soldier (which is also in the trailer) when he says he doesn’t anything to do on Saturday night because his barbershop quartet is dead.
Though an auxilary function, Extroverted Feeling (Fe) is the most easily visible aspect of an ISFJ. Heavily informed by dominant Si, this manifests in ISFJs as an emphasis on “loyalty, consideration, and the common welfare” (Myers 104). Myers also says that a well-balanced ISFJ will be very hard working and more practical than a typical introvert. They also “carry responsibility well,” though they do not necessarily enjoy leadership (102).
Fe is a social function, to the point that some introverts who use Fe may be mistaken for extroverts (this explains why you’ll sometimes see Steve typed as an ESFJ). It adapts to situations and strives to act in a way that is acceptable to as many people as possible. An ISTJ probably wouldn’t have agreed to become the “star-spangled man with a plan,” but ISFJ Steve was convinced that was how he could best serve his country. He stuck with that role up until it conflicted with his deeply held Si convictions. In this aspect, ISFJs resemble INFJS, in that both will try to please others for as long as possible without compromising their ideas.
Psychologists disagree about whether or not the tertiary function should be described as “introverted” or “extroverted” (so it’s opposite of the auxiliary function), or simply listed by itself. Whichever the case, Jung says that this third function is under conscious control to some degree as it supports the auxiliary function (Quenk 33, 51). For an ISFJ, tertiary thinking helps with clarity in crisis situations, strategy and logic, and suspending feeling to evaluate other people’s actions. We can see this any time Captain America is planning something strategic, as he sorts through sensing data and comes up with a plan.
All dominant sensing type are uncomfortable with intuition, and highly skeptical of unverified facts. They can’t consciously access their inferior, or shadow, function of Extroverted Intuition (Ne) and are made uneasy by it. In every day life, this comes out as a general sense of worry and a skepticism about new ideas. This can be useful for detecting flaws in new proposals and warning about negative possibilities, which Steve does quite often in The Avengers. For ISFJs to become comfortable with something new and unexpected, they need time alone to process, such as Steve hiding from the world in The Avengers until he feel needed again and has had time to come to terms with his time displacement.
Anger is a typical response for ISFJs, particularly ISFJ men, when stressed. Stress can also cause ISFJs to become more outspoken, “irritable, and pessimistic” (Quenk 220). They are likely to feel a “loss of control over facts and data,” become more impulsive, and focus on worst-case scenarios (Quenk 221).
Stress triggers for inferior Ne include people whose types use intuition as a dominant function (such as Tony Stark/Iron Man), noisy and disorganized environments, unsubstantiated statements from authority figures, “not having sufficient information to do a good job,” and delays in goal achievement (Quenk 219). These last three triggers play a major role in the opening events of Winter Soldier, when Steve becomes angry that Nick Fury didn’t give him all the information about a rescue mission.