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How to Spot an ISTJ Among Other Personality Types

ISTJ Key Difference Featured

The Archivist or the Logistician (common nicknames for the ISTJ personality type) comes off as observant and collected. This should not come as a surprise since their defining personality characteristics are logical thinking, dedication to duty, and integrity.

ISTJs are usually at the core of traditional families and organizations, making sure the rules are respected and followed. They are well-grounded in reality, reserved, and organized, which is why people can depend on them to complete their tasks and fulfill their duties. And while they take a while to open up and show their vulnerable side, they make for amazing partners, friends, and coworkers (read more about this in our ISTJ relationships analysis article).

However, ISTJs are not the only dependable and serious personality type. So what makes them different from, let’s say ISFJs or ESTPs? To understand the main personality traits that make ISTJs special, we compared ISTJs with all the other types (all 15 of them), so make sure to keep on reading!

We hope that by the end of this article you will be able to understand the differences and similarities between ISTJs and the rest of the 16 personalities gang.

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ISTJ Characteristics

The ISTJ is a personality type and is more often than not described as a “responsible realist.” They are reserved and calm, so it may be difficult to spot them at a first glance in a room full of people. But if you look close enough, these are the characteristics that give them away:

  • They have a conservative air around them and don’t mingle with the crowd
  • Their clothes and accessories are selected based on utility
  • Traditionalists at heart, ISTJs will almost always go for the classic option
  • Enthusiastic about sharing & debating factual information
  • Their environment is always organized and neat

ISTJs Compared to Other Personality Types

Before we start talking about the similarities and differences between the ISTJ personality type and the other 15 personalities, it’s important to take a quick look at the main factors that define these personalities.

In the case of the personality type indicator, these factors are Preferences and Cognitive Functions. Preferences showcase a personality’s natural tendencies and are grouped into pairs as follows:

  • Extraversion (E) vs. Introversion (I)
  • Sensing (S) vs. Intuition (N)
  • Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F)
  • Judging (J) vs. Perceiving (P)

On the other hand, Cognitive Functions are used to describe how each personality engages with the world. Moreover, the energy of these functions can be outward, toward people and surroundings; or inward, toward one’s thoughts. Therefore, there are personalities with Extraverted Sensing and personalities with Introverted Sensing, which highlights the fact that two Sensing personalities can have different ways of engaging with the world.

As you understand the differences these two factors bring, it becomes easier to understand how the personality typology works. Moreover, it also becomes easier to understand each personality type and its representatives.

ISTJ vs SJ Temperament Types

People with the SJ Temperament (also known as Melancholic) traits share Sensing (S) and Judging (J) Preferences, which means they are grounded in the present and value order and organization. They like security and respect tradition, which can make them a little inflexible in the modern world. They are the planners of the world, always looking to put together a schedule to tidy things up.

The Archivist personality type fits right in this temperament type together with three other personalities: ESTJs, ESFJs, and ISFJs.


ESTJs, also known as The Administrator personality type; are hard-working, dependable, and practical. They have the Extraversion (E), Sensing (S), Thinking (T), and Judging (J) preferences, which mean they place a high value on tradition and enjoy rules and regulations. They do well in supervisory roles and, more often than not, like to assume leadership roles in administrative positions. ESTJs are confident and have a ‘take-charge’ attitude that can easily intimidate others. As an extrovert, the ESTJ personality type is outgoing and enjoys spending time with like-minded people, sharing ideas, and discussing practical concepts. Moreover, they put a lot of effort into fulfilling their familial duties. Lastly, they look forward to participating in events with a traditional aspect such as weddings, anniversaries, family reunions, and more.

ISTJs share the Sensing (S), Thinking (T), and Judging (J) preferences with the ESTJs, which means they are quite similar. They too are fond of rules and organizations, appreciate the practical side of life, and favor logical thinking over emotions. In addition, ISTJs can also be intimidating since they’re often perceived as cold and distant. The one difference between the two types (Introversion vs. Extraversion), makes them quite unapproachable. Nevertheless, they don’t shy away from social interactions and enjoy sharing their thoughts and ideas with people they respect.

In summary, these two SJ types are more similar than different and tend to get along quite well. But ESTJs will always stand out given their boisterous and easy-going nature in social interactions. So, in order to spot an ISTJ, you should be looking for a quiet person who likes to observe and keep things organized.


ESFJs are known as The Caregiver personality type and come off as kind and sympathetic. The ESFJ personality type has the Extraverted (E), Sensing (S), Feeling (F), and Judging (J) preferences which means they are highly-organized, dependable, and grounded. As extroverts, they take their energy from social interactions, but they are also genuinely interested in other people’s feelings. Moreover, they seek validation from others, so it’s not uncommon for them to put the needs of others before their own (due to their Feeling (F) preference). Warm and empathetic, ESFJs value family and traditions and feel uncomfortable in situations where they feel they can’t control their environment.

ISTJs only share two preferences with ESFJs (Sensing and Judging), so it is quite easy to set them apart. Moreover, due to their Thinking vs Feeling difference, ISTJs can seem cold and calculated, when compared to the empathetic and approval-seeking ESFJ. An ISTJ can easily hurt an ESTJ’s feelings, without meaning to, simply because they put logical thinking before emotions. In addition, ISTJs are introverts who get their energy from spending time alone and prefer one-on-one interactions to large groups.

In summary, these two personality types are quite different in the way they recharge and make decisions. But they both love organization and rules and like to take a practical approach to life.


The ISFJs, also known as The Defender, are kind-hearted, empathetic, dependable, and detail-oriented. Their main focus in life is to help those in need – a personality trait that makes them a bit needy for other’s validation. As a result, they are a bit on the people-pleasing side, which is why they can easily get overburdened with tasks at work or in their personal life. If they learn to establish healthy boundaries, the ISFJ personality type won’t allow others to take advantage of their kindness. Of course, this doesn’t mean they won’t lend a hand to a friend or coworker in need (if they have the time and energy).

Therefore, a well-rounded ISFJ is social (despite being an introvert) and reliable. They also care a lot for their family and close friends, although their views are a bit geared towards the traditional.

The ISTJ type is also an introverted sensor, but their Thinking (T) preference makes them lean towards logical thinking, even if there’s a risk they’ll hurt people’s feelings. Moreover, they don’t shy away from offering criticism when it’s necessary. This can be problematic with the sensitive ISFJ type, who tends to take negative comments to heart. Also, ISTJs use logic to make decisions and can get irritated with the Feeling types, who tend to put their emotions first.

In summary, to spot an ISTJ from an ISFJ, you’ll have to observe how they interact with other people. Although they are both introverted types, the ISFJ is more social and empathetic in comparison to the ISTJ, which is more interested in debates and logical discussions.

ISTJ vs SP Temperament Types

SP Temperaments (also known as Sanguine) share the Sensing (S) and Perceiving (P) preferences, which means they are well-grounded in the present and love adventure. As a rule of thumb, these types are energetic and love to accept all sorts of challenges in order to keep their life interesting. Moreover, whether introverts or extroverts, the types that fit this category are likable, curious, and playful.

Considering that Sanguine types (ESTP, ESFP, ISFP, and ISTP) don’t find rules and schedules very appealing, they may clash with The Archivist personality type, who feels uncomfortable without a well-detailed plan.


The Daredevil personality type is outgoing, dramatic, and action-oriented. As extroverts, ESTP type loves spending time with people, which is why they have a large circle of friends and acquaintances. As Sensors, they care about present events and tend to focus on details rather than considering the broader perspective. They are also open to new ideas and situations, as they feel shackled by excessive planning, and make quick decisions using logic and facts.

ISTJs have a similar approach when it comes to making decisions and using available details and facts that are relevant. However, as introverts, they need time alone to recharge. ISTJs also prefer smaller groups and face-to-face interactions, but they can also manage large social interactions, as long as they are surrounded by like-minded people. The biggest difference between these two types comes from their Judging (J) vs Perceiving (P) preferences. ISTJs are Judging people, so they feel comfortable with well-detailed plans and get uneasy when unexpected things happen.

In summary, an ISTJ may seem reserved and controlling to the easy-going and adventurous ESTP. On the other hand, an ESTP may come off as reckless and noisy to an ISTJ, so it’s rather easy to tell them apart. Just look for the quiet organizer in the room, and you’ll find someone who exudes the ISTJ personality traits.


The ESFP personality type, or The Entertainer, is a warm and empathetic extrovert who enjoys entertaining others. They are often seen as the “class clown,” as their main objective is to make their audience feel good. ESFPs have the Extraverted (E), Sensing (S), Feeling (F), and Perceiving (P) preferences, so they are comfortable with unexpected situations and embrace change quite easily. In addition, they use emotions to make their decisions, have a great eye for detail, and are grounded in reality.

Compared to this forever happy and warm personality type, ISTJs may look gloomy or downright cold. Since they are introverted sensors, ISTJs are grounded in the present and need time alone (they may feel drained by crowds). They are also Thinking types, they use logical thinking and enjoy a well-organized environment.

In summary, ESFPs and ISTJs are very different personality types who only share the Sensing (S) preference. Therefore, it’s easy to tell them apart since the ESFP will always draw a crowd, looking to be the center of attention. The ISTJ will be on the side (usually alone), thinking about organizing their day and working on their current tasks. They may also feel irritated by the ESFPs’ easy-going attitude and subjective view of the world.


Easy-going, peaceful, and quiet are the words usually used to describe someone with the ISFP personality characteristics. Also known as The Adventurer, this personality type has the Introversion (I), Sensing (S), Feeling (F), and Perceiving (P) preferences. As a result, they seem quiet and reserved given their introversion, but they speak up when their personal values are threatened. Due to their Feeling preference, ISFPs are caring, warm, and peaceful. They keep an open mind and are accepting of people as they are. Detail-oriented, the ISFP type is more of a “doer” than a “visionary”, as they dislike abstract theories that have no practical applications.

ISTJs are also introverted sensors, meaning they will focus on the present and favor practical solutions to abstract ones. They are quiet and need time alone, but ISTJs don’t have any issues speaking up and giving their opinion. In fact, due to their Thinking preference, they offer their opinion and criticism even when they may hurt someone’s feelings in the process. As a result, the Feeling types like the ISFP may feel intimidated by their attitude. Moreover, the ISTJs Judging preference keeps them focused on organization and planning, which tends to clash with the ISFP’s easy-going nature.

In conclusion, ISFPs and ISTJs have different views of the world. ISFPs are more accepting and caring, while ISFJs look to understand how things work in order to fix them. In addition, ISTJs tend to be more controlling due to their need to organize and plan everything. Therefore, it should be easy to set these personality types apart. Both are quiet and grounded in reality, but the ISTJ is more logical and organized, while the ISFP is more emotional and open-minded.


The Tinkerer personality type places great value on their independence and enjoys action, hands-on activities, and adventure due to their Perceiving (P) preference. As the nickname suggests, they want to know how things work, so you’ll usually find them buried in a project that requires physical work (whether as a hobby or for their daily job). The ISTP type has the Thinking (T) and Sensing (S) preferences, which means they’re focused on the present, observant, and practical. It also means they’ll use logical thinking when making decisions, which can be a bit intimidating for Feeling types. Overall, people with an ISTP personality type are result-oriented, always looking to find the best solutions for the problems they encounter.

ISTJs share the Introversion (I), Sensing (S), and Thinking (T) preferences with ISTPs, but they tend to see them as reckless in their thrill-seeking behavior. ISTJs thrive in routine and enjoy the comfort of a well-established plan. Therefore, it is difficult for them to understand why ISTPs would enjoy the thrill of fast-paced activities, such as surfing or motorcycling.

In all, these two personality types are quite similar in their pursuit to understand how things work (both types love pulling things apart in order to understand the mechanism behind it). Moreover, both prefer practical solutions and are focused on details. However, ISTJs are cautious in their approach and a bit of a stickler when it comes to rules and planning. Therefore, you won’t see them looking for adventure or practicing any risky sports without some kind of plan.

ISTJ vs NT Temperament Types

The NT Temperament types share the Intuitive (N) and Thinking (T) preferences. As logical thinkers, they are focused on achieving their goals, people with this temperament are determined in their pursuit of greatness. They are also curious, driven by an acute thirst for knowledge and an investigative spirit. Therefore, people who fit the NT Temperament type (also known as the Choleric type) have a great chance of becoming inventors and researchers.

Moreover, their ambition and determination can put these personality types on a path to becoming powerful leaders and visionaries. Since they share the Thinking preference, ISTJs can relate, to some degree, to the Choleric types (ENTJs, ENTPs, INTJs, and INTPs).


The personality type indicator system describes ENTJs as assertive and outspoken. As extroverts, they enjoy being in the spotlight and entertaining large groups at a time. Also known as The General, people with this personality type have good verbal skills and like taking charge. Their Intuition (N) preference allows them to think about the future and appreciate the big picture, rather than focusing on minor details. In addition, their Thinking (T) preference lets them think about each decision in a logical and rational manner. Since they don’t use emotions to make their decisions and don’t shy away from giving their opinion (good or bad), ENTJs can come off as cold and calculated at times.

The ISTJ personality type shares the Thinking (T) and Judging (J) preferences with ENTJs. However, they are introverted sensors, a trait that clashes with the ENTJs’ extraverted intuition. Therefore, while ISTJs are detail-oriented, well-grounded, and practical; ENTJs are focused on the future and don’t pay as much attention to details. For ISTJs, concrete details and solutions with immediate results are better than abstract solutions and theoretical concepts (ENTJs’ favorite way of thinking). And, of course, there is the difference between Extraversion and Introversion. ISTJs don’t have issues expressing their thoughts and ideas in public, but they need time alone to process and recharge, which is not the case for the vocal ENTJ.

To summarize, since both these types enjoy planning and favor logical thinking, we have to look at the way they interact with the public to spot the ISTJ personality type. It also helps to focus on how detail-oriented and grounded one is (personality traits specific to the ISTJ).


The ENTP personality type (nicknamed The Debater in the 16 personalities community) is a skilled debater and in constant pursuit of knowledge. They enjoy hearing other people’s perspectives and constantly look to broaden their own, which is why their ideas are seen as innovative and clever. Due to their Extraversion (E) and Intuition (N) preferences, ENTPs are popular within their group and always find new conversation partners to discuss all sorts of abstract topics. However, due to their lack of organization and planning, many of their ideas remain in the initial stages, without ever taking any definitive shape. Their Thinking (T) preference prepares them for intellectual debates, and their reasoning is always appreciated in professional environments since they use logical thinking to make decisions.

ISTJs and ENTPs share the preference for logical thinking and analysis, but the similarities stop here. As introverted sensors, ISTJs are grounded in the present and focus on practical solutions. Due to their Judging (J) preference, ISTJs constantly look to organize and control their environment. As a result, they can achieve their goals according to the plan, and most of their projects come to fruition. This is a trait that ENTPs don’t have but could use. Lastly, ISTJs are not as passionate about debates and feel better when they engage in face-to-face conversations with people they know and respect. Still, unlike ENTPs, ISTJs can be inflexible at times due to their respect for traditional values.

As we draw the line, it’s easy to see these two types can be each other’s match in a one-on-one debate on various intellectual topics. Given that the ISTJ is detail-oriented and aware of their surroundings, they may find the ENTP’s lack of awareness and abstract thinking a bit annoying. On the other hand, the ENTP is happier in larger groups, where they can jump from one conversation to another, enriching their intellectual resources. So, to set them apart, know that the ISTJ will not last long in large groups, and they don’t appreciate the ENTP’s easy-going nature with regards to planning and organizing.


The INTJ personality type (also known as The Mastermind) has the Introverted (I), Intuitive (N), Thinking (T), and Judging (J) preferences. As introverts, they prefer spending time with close friends or small groups and recharge their social battery by spending time alone. Due to their Thinking preference, INTJs are highly analytical and place great emphasis on logical thinking and objective information. In addition, they have the tendency to organize and plan – they feel more comfortable when they are in control of their environment. INTJs are creative and like to focus on abstract information rather than details, which is why they are most likely to have solutions and plans for the future.

In comparison, ISTJs are grounded in the present, with a strong focus on details. They are aware of their surroundings, are practical, and highly observant, which puts them in contradiction with the idealistic INTJ. Both personality types like to get lost in their work (they enjoy working alone), but they can also enjoy the company of like-minded people. In addition, since these are two Thinking types, they can spend a lot of time discussing logical topics (as long as the topics are not too abstract).

In summary, these two types are quite similar. This happens because of their shared Introverted (I), Thinking (T), and Judging (J) preferences. Therefore, it may be a bit difficult to tell them apart at a first glance. To spot the ISTJ in the group, you would have to look for someone who is interested in practical solutions, with good attention to detail and good observational skills.


INTPs like using their big, analytical brain to understand how different things work and come up with solutions to various problems. As introverts, they have a rich inner world and enjoy spending time alone with their thoughts (that’s how they recharge). And, since large crowds drain them of energy, they prefer face-to-face meetings or small group encounters, usually with people they know and share common interests with. As a result, they have an intimate circle of friends that they’ll cherish for life. Lastly, INTPs enjoy the freedom of thinking “outside the box” and feel limited by planning and structure.

ISTJs, on the other hand, enjoy organization, planning, and structure, which is why they may clash with the free-thinking INTP. Besides, ISTJs tend to be focused on details and traditions, while INTPs like to see the bigger picture and find innovative and unorthodox solutions. Moreover, INTPs are prone to self-doubt, and any criticism may affect their mood. Even though they are both Thinker types, the ISTJ is most likely to be unintentionally insensitive towards the INTP, which won’t help their relationship. Overall, ISTJs are grounded in the present and put high-value on their bonds with traditional structures, whether at work or in their personal life. They are focused on achieving their goals and have a well-detailed plan to get where they want to go. And even though they come off as insensitive at times, their contribution to the community is well-received, and people see them as respectable citizens.

As we draw the line, we notice both personality types have the brain and potential to have amazing contributions to society, but each in their own way. INTPs are more imaginative and enjoy pondering the “what-ifs” of the world, while ISTJs are more practical and prefer solutions with immediate real-life impacts. Therefore, to spot the ISTJ, look for the logical thinker with an attention to detail and a tendency to plan and control.

ISTJ vs NF Temperament Types

Also known as Phlegmatic types, NF Temperament types share the Intuition (N) and Feeling (F) preferences. Therefore, they are highly idealistic, always focussed on the abstract, with their view set in the future. NF Temperament types are, in general, easy-going, adaptable, and tolerant, but they can also get caught in their own fears (especially when it comes to making important decisions). While they dislike conflict and have a peaceful view of the world, they will stand up for the values that are important to them.

These are the personality types (ENFJs, ENFPs, INFJs, and INFPs) that will always promote harmony and friendship, but they are also the ones most likely to feel intimidated by the ISTJ’s logical thinking and seemingly cold appearance.


ENFJs are among the friendliest personality types and maybe the most people-oriented. They can befriend almost anyone, regardless of their personality traits, and they enjoy being in touch with everyone. The Guide personality type is warm, open, loyal, and outgoing, but they also adapt easily to other people’s personalities. As a result, they know how to find a common ground with others, even if it’s some of the most reticent types. Their friendliness is balanced by their desire to help others become the best they can be, which is why people enjoy their company. Overall, ENFJs are strong extroverts with a focus on the bigger picture and a love for structure and organization. They are also quite sentimental at times and use their emotions when making decisions, which can be a bit irritating for the rational types.

ISTJs are reserved, logical, and well-grounded in the present, which is quite the opposite of the social butterfly that is the ENFJ. ISTJs prefer spending time alone or in the select company of like-minded people and focus on learning about their environment while looking for logical solutions to the problems they encounter. They are focused on finishing their tasks, are dedicated to their duties, and step up if something doesn’t go according to their plan. Detail-oriented folks, The Archivist personality type doesn’t have time or place in their life for abstract concepts or ideas.

In summary, if we take a look at their preferences, the only thing ISTJs and ENFJs have in common is their need for organization and structure (Judging preference). Therefore, they should be easy to tell apart since one is an extrovert who needs to connect with as many people as possible and, the other is a logical introvert who comes off as cold and unapproachable. Of course, both have their charm, but in this case, the ISTJ should be easy to spot.


People with ENFP personality traits are charismatic, creative, and energetic. They love their independence and feel limited by structure and schedules – their creativity and innovation need to run free! Also known as The Optimist, ENFPs are energetic extroverts who are enthusiastic about meeting all sorts of people. They genuinely care about others and often-times position themselves as leaders since they have the necessary charisma to rile people up to get behind various ideas. Warm and empathetic, ENFPs dream amazing new ideas but struggle to bring most of them to fruition (they are no planners). In addition, they get easily bored with routine and always look for something new to keep them excited. This is also why they are easily distracted and tend to be quite the procrastinators when they get bored at work.

ISTJs are serious about their duties and focus all their efforts towards accomplishing their goals and meeting deadlines. People with these traits like spending time alone or in small groups and are aware of their environment in detail. Besides, they use logical thinking to make decisions, which can be off-putting for the Feeling types like the ENFP. Moreover, ISTJs are traditionalists and like to learn from past experiences, often dismissing new and innovative ideas in favor of already-established ones (a reason they may seem inflexible). Since ISTJs care so much about deadlines and structure, they can easily get irritated by the easy-going ENFP who likes to feel free and dream big.

In conclusion, ISTJs and ENFPs are the complete opposites, they don’t share any preferences. Therefore, it should be easy to point out the ISTJ only by looking for the quiet, serious person who always seems to have something to organize or plan. On the other hand, ENFPs will always be in the spotlight, connecting with people and inspiring the crowds.


People who exude the INFJ personality traits are caring, idealistic, and gentle. Also known as The Sage, this personality type is highly idealistic, with a strong focus on the future. They have the Introverted (I), Intuitive (N), Feeling (F), and Judging (J) preferences, so you’ll usually find them alone, contemplating the meaning of life. When they’re not alone, INFJs enjoy spending time with close friends and discussing deep, abstract topics. INFJs have high moral standards but struggle when it comes to being objective. As a Feeling type, the INFJ is bound to use emotions when making decisions, which is why their view is subjective. Lastly, they are empathetic and kind, but when it comes to taking a stand for their deeply held beliefs, the INFJs won’t lose their focus. While idealistic, they understand how the world works and won’t back down in the face of adversity.

ISTJs, on the other hand, can be objective and take pride in their ability to put emotions aside and make logical decisions. In addition, they don’t quite understand how the Feeling types get so swayed by their personal convictions and emotions when the facts and data tell them otherwise. Therefore, it’s easy to see why a warm and empathetic personality like the INFJ could find the ISTJ a bit cold and off-putting. Still, they are both introverts and judging personalities, so they can find common ground at work and in personal life.

In short, these two introverted personalities may be a bit difficult to tell apart by observing their social behavior. They are both happy to spend time alone and have a close circle of friends. Therefore, you should pay attention to their attention to details and manner of thinking. The best way to spot an ISTJ is to look for grounded people who pay attention to their surroundings while thinking logically.


The Mediator personality type is represented by idealistic people with strong moral values. They are kind, introverted, and creative. INFPs are introverts at heart and you can usually find them alone, spending time with their thoughts. This doesn’t mean they don’t like to interact with other people. They love chatting with close friends and always look for ways to make the world a better place. INFPs are driven by a constant desire to improve themselves, which is why they constantly have new projects on their mind. Sadly, they struggle to follow through and have the tendency of leaving things unfinished. INFPs are open-minded and accepting of other people, practicing a “live and let live” policy. As Feeling and Perceiving types, INFPs like to keep their options open (they don’t like structures or plans) and use their emotions and personal views when making decisions. Lastly, INFPs are free spirits who feel shackled by structure and fixed schedules. They get easily bored by routine and tend to procrastinate when things don’t excite them.

ISTJs, on the other hand, are also introverts and are reserved in social situations, but they are far from the idealistic INFP. ISTJs use logic and cold-hard data to make their decisions and can easily come off as insensitive compared to the INFP. Besides, an ISTJ doesn’t see any appeal in discussing abstract topics that don’t have any practical application in the present. Therefore, these two personalities don’t quite get along, especially since the INFP will likely find the ISTJ cold and intimidating. Not to mention that INFPs tend to take criticism personally, and ISTJs are not shy about sharing their opinions (positive or negative) in a direct manner.

In conclusion, even though both are introverts, ISTJs and INFPs don’t mix together. Therefore, to spot the ISTJ, you should look for the introvert who uses logic to make decisions, is organized, and pays attention to their surroundings. As for INFPs, they tend to be lost in their thoughts most of the time (hence their nickname), while the ISTJ is present and actively trying to control their environment.

After having compared the ISTJ with all the other personality types, it’s safe to say they are not the friendliest of types. However, they are dependable, serious, and focused on their goals. In addition, The Archivist personality cares about family and traditional values and makes amazing friends and colleagues. Anyone who earns their respect and support is lucky to have them by their side!