I’ve liked Finn since my first viewing of The Force Awakens. After a quick Google search of how other people are typing him, it looks like most think he’s an FP type. From my perspective, though, he seems very much like an ISFJ. I get where they’re coming from typing him as an FP (since these types are driven by the desire to remain true to their core, authentic self). However, I think he’s more motivated by his past and by his desire to help other people. We’ll see what you think after reading my analysis of him as an ISFJ 🙂
Dangerous Levels of Empathy
Let’s start with the co-pilot function that Finn uses when interacting with the outer world. This is called Extroverted Feeling (abbreviated Fe). One of the criticisms I heard after TFA first came out is that Finn breaks his Stormtrooper conditioning too easily with no explanation. I think his personality type is that explanation.
The ISFJs who are soldiers, like Captain America, need something to fight for and want to know they’re protecting people. Finn doesn’t have that as a Stormtrooper. We know from his short story in the book Before The Awakening that Finn has been questioning his place in the First Order for quite some time before the moment where we first see him on-screen. It all starts because of his loyalty to the other troopers in his team, which prompts this comment in a conversation between Phasma and Hux.
“FN-2187,” Phasma said, “has the potential to be one of the finest stormtroopers I have ever seen … But his decision to split the fire-team and return for FN-2003 is problematic. It speaks to a potentially . . . dangerous level of empathy.”
Fe is a highly empathetic function that’s tuned-in to the needs of other people. Finn starts to question his programming after Phasma tells him not to help FN-2003 again. A short while later Finn’s fire-team goes on their first real mission and he hesitates when asked to fire on a real person. After that, while thinking back on this incident in a training simulation, he realizes this was never a game. Real people — innocent people — are going to die if he does what he’s told. And he knows he can’t live with that.
ISFJs are well known for filling protector/guardian roles, especially in fiction. They’re the Samwise Gamgee, John Watson, and Steve Rogers characters who are always there to help a friend and make sure everyone is okay. Finn is not as well-developed in his personality type as these examples (for obvious reasons — poor guy has been brainwashed his whole life), but we can still see him embracing this role.
In Before The Awakening, he considers losing a sparing match to an injured friend until he realizes the next person that FN-2003 fights might not be careful of his injury. Only when he realizes he can actually help his friend by winning does FN-2187 defeat him. It’s this friend who dies on Jakku, smearing his bloody hand down Finn’s helmet.
As soon as he escapes the First Order, Finn goes right back to trying to keep the people around him safe. He tries to rescue Poe (an ESTP) from the crashed ship, only to discover the pilot was nowhere to be found. Once Finn finds Nima Outpost, he immediately rushes over to help Rey when locals attack her (though she defeats them before he can help). Even after she beats him up thinking he killed BB-8’s master, the first thing he does when he realizes the First Order has arrived is grab her hand and try to get her to safety. Rey doesn’t much appreciate that, but she does seem somewhat impressed/surprised when his first thought after he got knocked out in an explosion is to ask, “Are you okay?”
Betrayed By Authority
Now let’s talk about the dominant/driver process of an ISFJ personality type. They use Introverted Sensing (Si), which is learning/perceiving process. This is the mental function they’re using to come up with ideas about how the world works. Si types take in direct, real-world sensory experiences, then filter those impressions through the lens of their past experiences.
SJs are usually most comfortable sticking with what they know and following the established tradition. It’s no surprise that the book Before The Awakening says in the opening chapter that everyone except FN-2187 thought he as a model Stormtrooper at first. Outwardly he appeared “loyal, dutiful, brave, smart, and strong.” Those are all ISFJ traits. But these types also have a well-developed sense of right and wrong. As much as Finn wants to trust the authority, he just can’t accept what they’re doing.
I’m sure the scene in TFA where Finn confronts Phasma, his former commander, had many ISTJS and ISFJs cheering inwardly. Hell hath no furry like an ISxJ has toward a trusted system that failed to work.
Reacting To Stress
As is normal for ISFJ types, Finn bases his perceptions of the future on what’s he’s known in the past. This is one of the best clues that he is not an INFJ type — Si pulls from memory when making decisions while Intuition would look more at the future possibilities.
ISFJs and ISTJs have Extroverted Intuition (Ne) as their inferior function. According to Naomi Quenk in her book Was That Really Me? the inferior function, which causes stress, “seems to color the everyday personality” of these two types. They are typically seen as worriers. Finn shows this side of the ISFJ personality more than other ISFJs in Star Wars (like Obi-Wan Kenobi and Rose Tico).
Finn reacts to stress for much of the first film by running way. Everything he knows about the First Order tells him that’s the only way to respond is he’s going to be free of them. But once he starts to experience other people standing up to the First Order successfully, he incorporates the possibility of resistance into his world view. And he discovers there are people he can fight for with a clear conscience — a new family to take care of.
A Resistance Hero
Finn’s character arc in The Last Jedi starts with him (apparently) running away again. This time, he’s doing it to save Rey. And he proves that’s Rose’s initial characterization of him as a resistance hero is becoming true by agreeing to a new plan, which they hope will save more lives,, and handing Rey’s beacon to Poe. Finn is becoming the type of character who will sacrifice for the greater good.
We also get to see his tertiary Introverted Thinking (Ti) at work for the first time as he and Rose (another ISFJ) problem-solve together. Their plan doesn’t work-out very well, but it makes sense to them and that’s what matters to Ti (this is a personal, subjective version of the Thinking function, which relies on impersonal criteria for decision making).
They soon switch back to their preferred mode of making decisions through the Fe lens of “how will this affect other people?” Finn orders DJ to give back Rose’s necklace because he knows how much losing it will affect her. He doesn’t react very strongly to DJ’s betrayal until the First Order starts firing on the transports (therefore hurting other people). He’s the one who makes an inspiring speech in the cave on Crait. And he tries his best to sacrifice himself for the greater good. He’s learning to be a hero, which is a nice complement to Poe’s arc as he grows from hero into a leader.
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- Before the Awakening
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- The Force Awakens (novelization)
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi
- The Last Jedi (novelization)