PersonalityHacker.com-INTP-Personality-Type

We have a philosophy at Personality Hacker that each of the Myers-Briggs types is imperative to the social ecosystem. Like an orchestra that requires every musician, we all bring something that the world needs.

Depending upon the time period in history and the culture of any particular location, the niche our personality type fills may be celebrated or demonized.

Since our self-esteem can’t help but be influenced by the world’s feedback some of us can take it rather personally, especially if we fall in the ‘demonized’ category. Keeping that in mind, let’s talk about INTPs.

The INTP Personality Type

To get inside the experience of an INTP it’s important to acknowledge how they enter the world and how the world responds back.


INTP car diagram picIn our car model, an INTP’s Driver is Accuracy, technically called Introverted Thinking.

Accuracy is the part of us that asks, “Does this make sense?” It scans for incongruities and/or when information doesn’t add up. It seeks truth without judgment.

If you’re mistaken and an Accuracy person corrects you, it’s not personal. They honestly would want that information themselves and so they expect you want it, too.

The Co-Pilot process is Exploration. Its technical name is Extraverted iNtuition.

Exploration figuratively rolls up its sleeves and engages with the environment, exploring the world and understanding new patterns.

Some of this can be done conceptually, reading about new ideas and concepts. But the highest quality Exploration is done when the person is experiencing something novel to them and getting out of their comfort zone.

Accuracy combined with Exploration creates a zoom-in/zoom-out dynamic with information. Accuracy zooms way in to see all the moving parts of a system (whether conceptual or mechanical) and master how they interrelate with each other. Exploration zooms out to take in a much bigger picture and determine if the system fits into the larger meta-system.

Sometimes complete mastery of an idea or subject leads to erroneous conclusions if there is no cross-pollination with other disciplines. Exploration helps keep an INTP from too much subject myopia. It also encourages a test/iterate process, a necessary tool in vetting hypothesis.

This results in identifying holes in logic, seeing how concepts break down and then playing with other concepts.

For an INTP ideas are like Legos with an infinite number of combinations, though some constructions are clearly superior to others. If you tell an INTP your belief system, their talent is to spot all the strengths and weaknesses in the design.

This hasn’t always gone well for INTPs.

INTPs have historically been in a precarious situation. They offer to the world a healthy dose of radical honesty by questioning the status quo and the accepted belief systems of the time. That’s a tall order. We get pretty attached to our belief systems and we’re none too friendly to people who try to take them from us.

Not that an INTP is trying to take anything from anyone, they’re merely observing what seems obvious to them. Or maybe questioning what seems obvious to everyone else, but makes no sense to the INTP. In times past, merely suggesting anything other than the status quo could get you a hemlock cocktail for your troubles.

Please don’t think I’m implying that all INTPs are “know-it-alls” or even that their own logic is always sound. In fact, the more developed an INTP gets the less they assume they know everything and the more they’re open to being wrong. But woven into the fabric of an INTP mind is a talent for formal logic, and if they pursue the skill they can outclass just about everyone else. It is, after all, what they bring to the ecosystem.

personalityhacker_childlike_astronomyWhen an INTP is allowed to be themselves without punishment there is a real sense of childlike wonder for the world. There are so many possibilities and so many delightful puzzles to solve.

Even if an INTP ends up with more questions than answers, that’s okay. At least they had the opportunity to ask them! There’s no desire to hurt anyone, only a desire to know.

To an INTP, all thoughts and belief systems are subject to change as information is collected and evidence mounts. To attach to an idea means losing your edge.

I’ve seen an INTP argue vehemently for a position only to hear a piece of data that had them completely restructure their thoughts in real time. With eyes widening in understanding and pausing long enough for all the data points to switch around internally, it was as if a piece of the puzzle they didn’t know was missing finally presented itself.

There was no ego to it. No “you won, I lost.” There was only gratitude at getting one step closer to truth.

INTPs and Respect

Show an INTP that not only do you know your stuff but that you have novel new patterns to share and you’ll gain an instant fan. It’s so delightful to an INTP to find someone who knows more than they do in any field that interests them. Even if they graduate beyond you, there will always be a sense of appreciation for the part you played in their lives.

Unfortunately, not all of us hold so loosely to our beliefs and ideas. In fact, most people will only let you pry their paradigm from their cold, dead hands.

We call it having our faith ‘shaken’ and it can be devastating, some of the most real pain a person will ever experience in their lives. INTPs can also experience a “shakening,” but for the INTP there’s a powerful intrinsic reward for rooting out dissonance.

Other types can also gain rewards for getting closer to their subjective truth, but not nearly on the same level. So INTPs take the plunge for us.

We love and hate them for this, celebrating them as characters in TV shows and movies but resenting them when they’re debating the ever living hell out of our arguments in real life.

Our fickleness takes a real toll on them. We mistake their digital approach as robotic and we forget just how much our responses can hurt their feelings. If you continually presented gifts to other people and they continually rejected them it would be easy to question the value of your gifts.

Most of us conflate our beliefs with our identity. An INTP gives the gift of challenging that identity and those beliefs. They challenge people to question who they are at the core.

It’s not that the gift of radical honesty is without value, it’s that most of us aren’t ready for that kind of gift. When we are ready, though, it’s invaluable.
Albert-Einstein-INTP

INTPs are powerful. When at the top of their game they can alter how entire societies see reality. While we can’t know their types for a certainty, there’s a lot of yammering about Einstein and Socrates being INTPs. We now experience reality differently because of the thoughts of these men.

On the flip side, when an INTP is suffering they can bring a powerfully toxic element. Without rigorous intellectual honesty the gifts of an INTP can become a weapon, hurting others as they themselves hurt.

The more an INTP gets into their Co-Pilot process of Exploration, however, the more they see how to present their ideas in a way that doesn’t immediately turn others off.

Intellectual dog piling, while seductive, is the least effective way to persuade another person. But comedy, formal debate, scientific research and technological advancements… these are all extremely influential. When an INTP experiences enough of life to gain clarity on what means something to them and goes for it they can be truly unstoppable.

A Word on Motivation

Many INTPs struggle with being motivated to do anything. This can come from being repeatedly ‘knocked down’ by other people in their lives, or it can simply be from seeing the absurdities of life. Self-discipline can be difficult to develop, though it’s just a skill like any other.

personalityhacker_intp-motivationThe easiest way to develop self-discipline is to ask yourself which problems are most interesting to you to solve and go after them like a juggernaut. When you’ve discovered the answer for yourself, do what you can to share the solution with other people.

Sharing your discoveries with others requires you to pick up all sorts of skills, including the art of persuasion. Stay focused and on track.

When you’re really into something you can focus on it like it’s the only thing in the world. Choose something that fascinates you, is a challenge to be solved, and continue to develop enough compassion to bring your findings to the world. That is the seed of motivation.

If an INTP shows up cynical and in pain, always needing to be right and self-protective, they can shut off their compassion mechanisms. They retreat to their 10 Year Old process of Introverted Sensing, or what we call “Memory.”

Memory’s greatest desire is to feel safe, and when done well people who favor this function ensure that we’re all going to be okay. But it does so by finding a status quo, the very thing that most INTPs are accused of trying to compromise. So how does this work?

The INTP finds their own ‘sweet spot’ of safety, their own individualized status quo to which others must conform. Massive Multiplayer Online games showcase this kind of society, as does the seedier places of the net like 4chan, where insulting each other’s mother is foundational.

It’s both hilarious and horrifying, and while (as an ENTP) I can find the hilarity, it’s pretty clear that these are not the healthiest examples of any type.

When an INTP loses their compassion it’s done out of cynicism, a fear that they (and their gifts) will never be acceptable.

Since their 3 Year Old process is Extraverted Feeling, or what we call “Harmony,” they actually have an easier time of pretending they don’t care what others think of them. Any pain of rejection is easy  to compartmentalize, with a mistaken belief that it’s been handled. There’s a sense of, “Fuck you, I’m making my own rules [and community, in the case of MMO groups, etc].”

This may be fine for a time, and by ‘for a time’ I mean up to many decades for the INTP. But there’s no real sense of meaning or purpose, and their inner wisdom can’t help but scream they’re bullshitting themselves.

In the midst of cognitive dissonance, ultimately the INTP turns on themselves like a starving animal eating its own tail. It’s not sustainable.

Destruction to Make Way for Creation

I liken INTPs to the intellectual version of Shiva, the great Hindu god of destruction. Shiva destroys to make ready for new creation, like a brush fire removes dead wood and prepares the soil for new growth.

personalityhacker_shivaNobody really likes Shiva when he’s in full destruction mode, but without the service there would only be stagnation and ultimately doom.

In a similar vein, nobody really likes to have their long-held beliefs questioned. But without the service we would stagnate in every technology: social, evolutionary, paradigmatic, and gadgetry.

A lot of our pain lives in our 3 Year Old process since it’s also our blind spot.

For most people the struggles of companionship, connection and contribution are solved using the Harmony process, even if it’s not a function in their ‘car’. But for an INTP the need to connect with others can sneak up on them, even if they’re better than most at ignoring or even transmogrifying that need.

I often refer to the 3 Year Old mental process as the Aspiration. I think I picked this up from Linda Berens, or maybe even Dario Nardi. Regardless, the theory is that we experience challenges that seem easy for other people to solve because they have easier access to the ‘appropriate’ cognitive function. If that function is our inferior – our 3 Year Old – we don’t have the same access because it’s our blind spot. We’re forced to come up with novel new ways of solving those same challenges using our native strengths.

It can be frustrating work. And for an INTP, figuring out how to connect with other people can be exhausting. The current world undoubtedly favors the Harmony process over Accuracy. An INTP has to figure out how to connect with other people without playing all of the social games.

I’ve observed INTPs do this through skill development that blows other people away (like Neil Peart, the drummer of the progressive rock band Rush); by owning their quirkiness unapologetically while keeping their genius (like Albert Einstein); by being hilarious (like comedian Dmitri Martin); by creating an environment they would want that helps others (like Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh); or through massive contribution (like Marie Curie).*

INTPs and Approval

There is a Janus-like quality around approval for an INTP. The need to be recognized for one’s work seemingly contradicts the need to be independent and set fire to the status quo. Contribution sates both desires.

personalityhacker_intp-cute-loveAnd, of course, love. An INTP in love is an adorable thing, and while they may not be the most attentive lovers in a traditional sense they can be some of the most solid. There is a sense of loyalty an INTP develops since connections are so difficult to come by. The INTP also has an admirable respect for the other person’s individuality.

As mentioned before, the process of Accuracy adopts a nonjudgmental stance about information and personal truth. If you’re forthcoming with your own truth an INTP has the capacity to hold space for things that would send other people into the seventh orbit of the sun.

For people of other types, knowing they’re going to be honored as an individual without judgment can be a pretty heady thing. Full acceptance is a novel experience to a lot of people. It can be a challenge to stop playing all the emotional games we’ve been programmed to play.

If an INTP is interested in you as a person you’ve already passed their vetting processes. Once given the green light (and they sense no real danger) an INTP can develop intimacy at a surprising speed. And, again, that childlike wonder surfaces.

Friendships are extremely important to INTPs, with humor often being a cornerstone. Connecting with other people through a shared appreciation of the absurd is an easy, nonthreatening inroad. But there’s always going to be a desire to spar intellectually and play with other people. If you’re an INTP and your friendships don’t allow for a healthy amount of intellectual play it’s time to branch out and get that need met.

stormthetest-jovialFinding people of like minds is imperative. When an INTP is accepted for the gifts they bring of radical honesty, cheerful wonderment, and intellectual playfulness; when they are in a position to solve puzzles and challenges and share their findings with others; and when they accept that their gift may be socially thankless but they’re going to persevere and keep going, you see a happy and extremely healthy INTP.

And we need as many of them as we can get.

-Antonia

 

*With the exception of Tony Hsieh, I haven’t personally profiled any of these people, some of whom are dead. Type guesses are just that and subject to being wrong.

 

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Showing 76 comments
  • katie
    Reply

    intp approved.

    • Antonia Dodge
      Reply

      Cool, thanks. 🙂

      -A-

      • akash jena
        Reply

        great job. very accurate.

      • raghav
        Reply

        can you please tell me what do you mean by compassion mechanism ?

        • A
          Reply

          Brave effort. Seems cursory. You knew we’d bring our atomic microscopes and pull this apart. At least there weren’t any major explosions.😝

    • Fermi
      Reply

      Second that INTP approval.
      Well done Antonia.
      More insights and understandings… num num num 🙂

    • Phil
      Reply

      Yes, so good

  • Mike
    Reply

    Bravo Antonia,nice piece. Do you resonate with some of these ideas yourself? You’re on the other side of the same NTP coin after all…..

    • Antonia Dodge
      Reply

      I do, quite a bit. But whenever I write about either NTP type I do my damndest not to color the piece with my own experience. It’s challenging with INTPs, it’s nearly impossible with ENTP content. I’m biting my nails about what I’ll do when we get to ENTP week. :p

      -A-

      • Mike
        Reply

        ENTP week may require a slightly more impartial piece from Joel instead 🙂

  • Mark8v29
    Reply

    For me it is sometimes more “accurate” to be slightly inaccurate, and once I have a good idea of the scope of the whole, I very often choose only 80% of the whole. I choose to be 80% accurate, if it takes only 20% of the effort. Efficiency and minimising effort for the most gain, is very important to me. If to be 100% Accurate takes 100% effort and to be 80% Accurate takes 20% effort. Guess which I choose.

    I have to be really motivated (which I am not) to expend energy inefficiently.

    However I would guess an SJ type would choose Accuracy over Efficiency, and happily expend huge amounts of effort to achieve that final accuracy (accountants, surveyors etc) ?

  • Mark8v29
    Reply

    To explain my attitude to accuracy further. INTPs are know to be able to zoom into the details and zoom out to see the big picture. They can do this at will. They are not slaves to detail (accuracy). To get a more accurate picture I zoom in and I zoom out. When I am zooming out I am in a sense sacrificing accuracy (resolution) to give me a greater field of view. However, the greater field of view allows me to more accurately assess the object of my observation. It also allows me not to be distracted by the detail, allowing me to come to a more accurate conclusion.

    • Antonia Dodge
      Reply

      I apologize if I gave the impression that ‘accuracy’ is the same as ‘detail oriented’. The reason we chose the word Accuracy as a nickname for Introverted Thinking is to connote a sense of precision about ideas and concepts. Another word I use a lot to describe Ti is “leverage.” Details very OFTEN take one off center from conceptual precision, putting our thoughts ‘in the weeds’. Your 80/20 principle about accuracy in your other comment is a great example of leverage.

      Thanks for contributing more precision to the discussion. 🙂

      -A-

      • Mark8v29
        Reply

        Antonia, no one can cover 100% of the scope of a topic. It far easier to pick holes in what someone has written, than to write something in the first place! No need to apologise for anything! 🙂

      • Fermi
        Reply

        Right on!
        80/20 is the way I (INTP) learn most things. A good conceptual understanding of a topic is usually sufficient to sate my thirst for knowledge (before moving on to the next 5 topics).
        One recent exception has been personality and related typologies. When something piques my interest more intensely, then I’ll give more than the average 20% effort.
        I never really decided that this was the highest leverage method of acquiring knowledge; It was just the way I did it.

    • Judie
      Reply

      Oh My Gosh! This is ALL so good and explains so much about me! As far as the zooming in zooming out someone once said to me that I don’t know if I’m coming or going. Cuz even in my physical eyesight I naturally have one eye that’s nearsighted and the other is farsighted!

      It felt kind of confusing when they said that. But you have cleared it up with the zoom in zoom out. I also always wondered if I was a detail person or an overall person cuz I could do BOTH!
      I am so thankful for this!
      Cuz now I know this is how I’m meant to be!

  • Mark8v29
    Reply

    Antonia, you didn’t use the word “subjective” in your description! INTPs seek subjective truth, which is one reason they are so accepting of others positions (so long as they don’t force those positions on the iNTP).

    You’re right about accepting different ideas and challenging beliefs including their own. When I am ever inclined to have someone question my beliefs and ideas, I want to listen to a person (or read their book) who is at the top of their game and at least has a chance of changing my mind. I get very bored and disappointed if they don’t get to within 80% of success, and I get very excited if they overthrow my belief or idea! Unfortunately most people I know seem easily convinced and I feel uncomfortable when they are enthusiastic to me about a “convincing argument” that I find woolly. This happens a lot in the religion/science debate or religion/religion debate. Both sides of the debate are so often ignorant of the other sides position. It’s amazing how sloppy in thinking a fundamentalist christian can be, and its amazing how sloppy in thinking a scientist with a PhD can be. Perhaps such slopping thinking is the result of appearing on TV shows! ha! ha! 🙂

    • Antonia Dodge
      Reply

      I did mention subjective truth, but only once. :p

      After rereading the article I realized I got sloppy a couple of times and did a pretty big edit. I included a couple of phrases about personal truth. Hopefully that rings clearer.

      -A-

      • Mark8v29
        Reply

        It’s funny. My Si (memory) is clearly not strong. For many years I felt I was an idiot because my memory was so poor. Exams were always incredibly difficult for me even though I attained a PhD.

        I’m re-reading these comments I made on your blogs, and had forgotten I made them!

        Because my memory is so poor, when I reached my early 20s I chose to only remember what I was obliged to remember. A few decades on and I don’t really live in the past at all. Nor much in the future (because I have few desires). I live mostly in the present moment. Rather like SP Artisans perhaps?

        I rely heavily on my computer to remind me of what I’m obliged to remember.

        • Melissa
          Reply

          I suffer from a memory problem as well. I had a period where I was pretty depressed and my doctor said it was likely because of that. Not that i’m suggesting that you’re depressed but that’s just my way of relating to your memory problem. It can be super frustrating. If i want to remember something, i have to find a way to ground it to reality in some fashion. I need to ponder it and give it some sort of practical application. My best friend of 25 years has to remind me how I know people. She will prepare me for it like we’re going into a white house briefing haha.

          Her: ok, so n so is gonna be there
          Me: i don’t know so n so
          Her: yes you do…remember when we went and did this and so n so was there?
          Me: oh yeah..i remember that. now i know who it is haha

          If it wasn’t for her, I would be offending people all over the place lol

  • James B.
    Reply

    The section about motivation really hit home for me. I’m in my final year of a business degree, and I’m finding it really hard to keep going, even to the point of leaving/taking a hiatus. I just want to play with stats and write code, but I’m forced to study things like sales and how to make an ad. :/

    • Paulineee
      Reply

      So just write code or be a statistician! Programmers are very well paid, what holds you back? ; )

  • Gregory Schroeder
    Reply

    As an INTP who is unemployed and seeking direction and purpose in life, this article resonated well, especially the sidebar on motivation (or more specifically, lack of motivation!).

    • Fermi
      Reply

      I hear ya!
      I have also struggled with purpose and direction in life (more so prior to learning typologies). So many options – apparently no ultimate reason for bothering.
      Oh well, might as well continue searching for ultimate truth 🙂

  • Virgílio
    Reply

    Very good article. I’m unemployed at the moment and I’m using the free time to make sites and games, and study more about it, like virtual reality or artificial intelligence. I really want to work making digital games. Some times I just go and get all the day working, but there are days I just want to rest, I just can’t understand why sometimes I’m so motivated and sometimes I’m not.

  • ryan
    Reply

    Some of this hurt to read, but it was very spot-on. I only wish I’d read this at 18.

  • Really accurate
    Reply

    This is by far one of the most descriptive article of INTP Personality, I really suggest you to develop more in our struggles also especially in the social part, because when you find ur own way different from other’s one you just choose it over whatever were the consequences, unfortunately, the world is not idealistic as what we believe on, sometimes, you’ve got to choose social recognition over your idealistic logically based path, however it’s not what we choose even though we know that and we assume the responsibility after all !

    • Drak sn
      Reply

      I was reading the comments again and I realised people were having problems with small talk. I’ve tried many ways of skipping it since its quite pointless but none work. So these days i use the small talk as data and attempt to psychoanalyse them for fun. I ask them questions and mine data and they feel like I’m participating while I get to understand them better and survive the pain of small talking.

      Not sure its the right way(if there is one) but it works for me and my friends seem happy to go with it…

  • Øyvind
    Reply

    I greatly appreciated this article. Reading it was a small shock, because I always feel so alien, but the author seemed to understand me. How could someone I never met know me?

    I wish I read this a decade ago. It would have saved me much pain, I think. I would be well underway on a journey I am now just starting.

  • Kent Fredric
    Reply

    I spotted a minor quirk in the metadata.

    The “Car” image linked seems to have a JPEG file titled “ENTP-car-diagram-pic.jpg”, which initially made me wonder if the image had been mis-linked.

    After additional research and reading, I found the image itself was in fact the intended one, just the file name was a distracting detail.

    ( Cough, yes, I’m an INTP ¬_¬ )

    I also see the “Unemployed” trend sometimes and based on INTPs I know, I can’t help wondering if the propensity of us to find difficulty fitting in with society in regards to financial motivation.

    Makes us seem like we have a lazy work ethic, when we’re just more purists of what pursuits we follow ( I suspect ).

    Otherwise I didn’t see anything I disagreed with. =)

    • Antonia Dodge
      Reply

      Handled! Thanks. 🙂

      -A-

      • Aubrey Ann Parker
        Reply

        Hi,

        I still see the car model as being innaccurate. It is currently showing the car model for ENFP, with Exploration as the driver and Authenticity as the Co-Pilot.

        Is it possible that you could fix?
        Thanks!

        • Charis Branson
          Reply

          Fixed. Thanks for pointing it out.

          • Veronica

            Hi! I see the name of the picture is now back to what Kent noted originally, “ENTP-car-diagram-pic.” It seems like the content/pic itself is accurate for the INTP type, but the name is misleading and makes it seem inaccurate (and apparently it’s also great INTP bait, haha).

          • Antonia Dodge

            This has got to be some crazy cache issue with WordPress. Three of us individually have attempted to fix this issue by erasing and re-uploading the image multiple times with the correct extension name.

            It remains a burr under my saddle, but alas and alack. We’re just gonna have to make peace.

            -A-

  • Alex Orozco
    Reply

    INTP here, I really liked the article! At least in my case, you were pretty accurate; intimacy, child likeliness with private passions, the dilemma of not giving a fuck, but just a lil’ bit once in a while. I was smiling through the whole text and sometimes laughing when I identified with many things of what you wrote. I’ll share this at my facebook (thou I know many of my friends won’t give 2 shits since they don’t like my posts for being too harsh honest or nerdy like about weird themes) for the people that actualy wants to know the why I am the way I am.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Alex! Just keep being you. 🙂

  • Jupiter
    Reply

    Is it possible for intps to be slow in their ability to respond? It resonates amazingly. Spot on. Except for the speed of exploration… I am much slower than you’ve described. When I evaluated cognitive functions I’ve resonated most with TI and NI – I’ve got to have a lot of time to decide what I think perhaps this is the accuracy part. Are their any patterns that you’ve described where NI and TI seem to resonate with one individual? I am willing to put in 100% effort in order to get it right. How does someone like me it in here? I also see myself evaluating all the information past present and possible future to make a decision. It’s helped a lot to realize this when I am communicating with others who are only looking at this moment as immediate. Is this a bad use of memory?

    • Antonia Dodge
      Reply

      The introverted judging processes – both Ti and Fi – can be slow since one has to check in with inner alignment or ‘sense making’. If there’s a lack of reference points within the person it may take a while to suss out how the person really feels or thinks about that particular thing.

      The more Ne the INTP does, however, the more reference points and the faster the process goes.

      I’d say Ti can definitely be slow moving, though in any area of expertise the process can seem lightning fast.

      I’m not sure if what you’re describing would be a ‘bad use of memory’, unless you’re using it as a stall tactic. Memory 10 Yr Old (aka Si tertiary) loves to keep an INTP in their comfort zone. Are you in perpetual ruminating mode in order to avoid getting out of your comfort zone (which Ne would require of you)? If so, then it could be a bad use of Memory/Si.

      The type that seems to use Ni and Ti the most are INFJs. I’ve seen a crazy amount of INFJs resonate with INTP descriptions, especially if they experience Fe as a source of pain for them.

      Hope that helps. 🙂

      -A-

  • JohnINTP
    Reply

    I think you did well to relate motivation and emotions (Fe or Harmony in case of INTP). I realise as an INTP that it is important for me to incorporate my Fe(Harmony) in whatever endeavour I am planning to go after, we simply can’t seek the truth about something if we don’t find it meaningful. It might be helpful for INTPs to tell themselves or try to visualise how whatever they are panning to do can help others in a certain way , directly or indirectly.

    • Naomi
      Reply

      One thing I’ve found is that if you go trying to appease your Fe (Harmony) by looking for a way to help people, but you don’t use Ne (Exploration) *EXTENSIVELY* to figure out whose on what page, the motivation to help people as an INTP can horribly, horribly misfire.

      Our Accuracy process is great at finding ways to make better systems — hardly an effort at all to find logically valid ways to help people — but as almost any Feeling type will tell you, our “help” is not often wanted (and can often result in our being demonized) unless we have really gone to the effort in truly allying with and befriending the group we seek to help.

      Woe betide the INTP who tries to help an ESFJ (for example) who only sees a long road of painful and annoying social wrangling to accommodate the changes you’re bringing to the table.

      This is why I keep thinking I should be trying just to help INTPs like myself. 🙂

      • Attila
        Reply

        I tought a lot why I want help to others people and I figured out the reason. Help to myself solve a new problem feed my statisfaction.

  • JohnINTP
    Reply

    By the way , I am very thankful for the article , I learned a lot.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks John! I’m glad you found the article useful. 🙂

  • Laurie
    Reply

    Wow -I have always felt a little “different” and this really resonated. The accuracy in how it described me was simply uncanny. I am a female INTP, brought up in a fairly large family of varying types of sensors. Luckily my immediate family was very understanding and I think by being close to such a diverse group of individuals, it has taught me how temper some of my natural tendencies.
    I tend to do best in situations where I am in control and can lead so work related things are fine but thrown in a social situation with no parameters, I flounder. Right now I am in a bit of a challenging situation, having moved to a new place (Key West). People tend to like me when they get to know me but making new friends is hard because the most obvious places here to meet folks are the bars and such where my uncomfortable awkwardness radiates and a night out will leave me emotionally exhausted. I would love to know more ways to overcome this anxiety. Once I can find a common topic, activity or interest, I’m golden but man, oh man, getting there is so hard. I wish I could skip this phase of small talk or find a system to make it easier.

    • Katy G.
      Reply

      A female INTP here too… I hope someday we find the key to skipping the small talk phase because it is literally the worst process I’ve ever had to deal with (besides getting over the preceding social anxiety, lol). I feel tangible relief when I find I common point as well, and I pine away for the day in relationships where the individual and I can sit in comfortable silence. I wish other INTPs were easier to find, but I find that INTJs are so easy to connect with intellectually and be comfortable with.

      Cheers.

  • Ingela
    Reply

    Wow… So much of this is so spot on. “If you continually presented gifts to other people and they continually rejected them it would be easy to question the value of your gifts.” Cut out my heart and throw it on the fire, why don’t you? 😀 I’m not even aware of giving until someone is genuinely grateful, and when they are, I remember it forever. It’s moments like those that make me feel just a little less like an Ent.

  • Stella
    Reply

    This is really accurate. I’m a female INTP but my dad (who is my hero) is a raging INTJ, so I’ve always exhibited some INTJ-ish behaviours. I did actually think I was an INTJ for a while, but I have quite different motivations from an INTJ and your site has really helped me understand that.

    Oddly enough, I have not gotten on with the other INTPs whom I have met. Perhaps this is because I still hold typical INTJ behaviour as the “ideal”, or because there are lots of less healthy INTPs out there, since so many of us have experienced some disillusionment with society?

    I agree with Laurie, above – I always tell people I’m socially awkward, but people who know me even a little say they don’t see this at all. But it’s so hard to get to know someone “even a little” and keep that connection going. Most of my “friends” are connections from work, where I find socialising much easier because I know exactly what everyone’s job description is, what their special interests are and what I can contribute. I’ve actually had a lot of success with living with strangers – but somehow I can’t bring myself to speak to people I don’t know, outside of a well-defined context (e.g. colleague, specialist in such-and-such, prospective flatmate). How on earth does one get past this?

  • Firefly
    Reply

    My ex is an intp and this was so true about him. We still keep in touch. One of the most complicated beings I’ve ever been intimate with. I find him fascinating. I’m a infp, by the way. Still love him to bits. He acts robotic, but he’s a little, fuzzy teddy bear inside. He’s a reporter and always tells me: “Accuracy is very important to me.” LOL

  • Michael M.
    Reply

    INFP here. This article describes one of my INTP engineering friends pretty well. I’ll have to share it! XD INTP’s are pretty rad

  • Sharada
    Reply

    So true……….

  • Mark8v29
    Reply

    You are correct Antonia, as an INTP I feel as though I am on the “edge” of groups – whether that be at work or church or any other social group. I have a strong Sx Enneagram instinct but my So Social instinct is almost non-existant. So one to one friendships are very important to me, but I am not interested at all in what a “group” of people thinks, says or does. So I live on the “edge” of such groups and mostly keep my mouth shut or share with individuals how uninspiring the “group dynamic” is to me.

  • Seth
    Reply

    I’ve noticed in the different car model diagrams that you advise indulging the tertiary function in times of play/intimacy.

    Why is this? I had previously been imagining the tertiary function as a passive, geriatric part of the personality that emerged only when necessary to chasten youthful zeal of the auxiliary function. The inferior function seemed to have more to do with play/childlikeness, as it thwarts the seriousness of the dominant function and emerges in ways that resemble childish games like “playing house” or “playing dress-up” (what I’ve seen called “jumping the stack” or mimicking those whose dominant is your inferior).

    I’m open to looking at it differently, but I’m curious why you guys link the tertiary function to play. What would it look like for the INTP’s Memory function (love the names you guys picked for the functions, btw) to manifest in a playful way rather than a defensive way?

    • Veronica
      Reply

      I’m also wondering about this. Maybe I don’t yet fully understood what is meant by the “Memory” label; I’m having a hard time to see how Memory could ever relate to play or intimacy, two things that it seems for which you’d want to be firmly in the present to fully experience.

    • Naomi
      Reply

      I’ve been thinking about Memory in the function of play as well, and have had some thoughts — namely that we INTPs do love to hearken back to favorite TV shows (Monty Python, Futurama, etc) and use nostalgia for the interest-obsessions of our shared pasts (e.g. the Starcraft game for me and my current partner) to enrich what can otherwise be a mundane scenario.

      It is also pretty funny to use Memory to pretend to be “normal” — to hyper-imitate the heteronormative stereotypes and relationship “rules” that many people take so seriously.

      Finally, I have seen in myself that what I love to do most when I’m out with someone I like, and what people find really charming when I’m at my best, is to use “baked in” memory patterns I’ve learned (like Karate) in the service of something seemingly unrelated (like ballroom dancing).

  • Captain Tightpants
    Reply

    Wow, as someone who just encountered the whole concept of MBTI types a week ago, this article really relates to me and I see a lot of aspects about my personality much clearer now. Some parts read like you somehow got access to my diary and rewrote it to fit your website. Not that I have any diary in the first place, but still…

    A little bit of backstory: A few days ago encountered some commend on Imgur – so I was happy to see an unexpected 4chan reference here, although I favor Imgur over 4chan – and started to get into the MBTI system. Funnily enough I did the test over at Humanmetrics.com twice (one time after I just read about the MBTI basics, and another time after comparing some of the types). I came out both times as INTJ but I feel a much closer relation to the INTP type as you describe it here. But the test resulted only in a slight preference of P over J, so I guess it makes sense and after all, this online test just could be inaccurate. The tests also showed a strong inclination to the I type and medium preferences to NT, which seems about right.

    As I said, I relate to pretty much every detail from your text. For example the zoom-in/out dynamic from accuracy/exploration: I like to get involved into details, and surely could be called a perfectionist, but I also love to see the big picture. The question of life, the universe, and everything so to say. This is also where a lot of the childlike wonder comes into place. I’m a physicst currently doing my PhD, and physics always fascinates me, but over time I managed a strong appreciation for other topics like biology (evolution – there’s the “big picture” I was talking about!) or even history. (The beginning of civilization in ancient Mesopotamia? Yes I’d like to know more!)

    I often feel slightly(?) misunderstood in some way as I’m having a hard time finding, or even defining, my place in society. And this comes from someone who almost never talks about his inner feelings, so my comment here is kind of a unique situation 😉 I guess it has a lot to do with the longing to find an objective truth, without ego involved, even when discussing personal matters with others. Like you wrote, it’s almost never about “who’s right” for me but about the objective-as-possible answer to the question we’re discussing. I have the feeling others might not see it in the same way as I do… This is something which I had in some way realized before by myself, but this article brings some clarity to the way I perceive my interactions with other people. If I try to boil it all down, I’d say that it never occured to me that others might have completely different processes of thinking and perception, and in my mind it was always clear how to process new ideas.

    The section about approval is also spot-on. I respect everyone I know as an individual and always try to see others without prejudice. Of course there are people I just don’t like, but even for those there’s some base level of respect unless they really, really fucked up. In which case I do my best to ignore them and get on with my own life. As you can imagine I have a really small circle of close friends. With one of them (also physicist) I tend to discuss any new idea I have encountered, like this MBTI thing. Actually this friend is the only one up to now who I talked to about the MBTI and my newly encountered personality type. (The response was that the MBTI system is seen as scientifically inaccurate – which might be true or not, but it doesn’t stop me from gathering the concepts about different personalities). I have a strong sense of respect for this friend who is very like-minded and probably more intelligent than me. You included a well-put sentence in your article about the “desire to spar intellectually and play with other people” and this couldn’t be more true. I’d never thought how important this could be until I encountered said friend, with whom I like to discuss all the things which truly interest me, especially the “big picture” ones.

    This has become a really long comment and as I mentioned, I seldomly talk about myself. It actually feels quite good to do this, although it’s also a bit weird for me. So what’s left to say? Of course, thank you for this well-written article which already helped me a lot to appreciate my personality, and for this whole website in general. You are definitely helping people develop their characters and finding their place in society!

    • Smarty Pants
      Reply

      Captain Tightpants, your sentiments reflect mine. I’m also new to MBTI and personality types in general. I always thought everyone perceived and processed information the same way as me so I’ve been forever frustrated in life, never fitting in and constantly finding myself confused and in a lot of conflict with others, who simply just are not getting it right. A number of times, including on this here site, I’ve typed out as an INTJ, but this is often a frequent misdiagnosis I gather from all the info that abounds in trying to separate the two. I definitely identify with both, but I’d have to say that this is my home base. Answering the questions of Life The Universe and Everything is my life’s work, and I often regret I didn’t do a PhD in physics… though you never know… better late than never I suppose… it could still happen. I just have an aversion to maths, even though I feel like I use a mathematical scanning algorithm in all my perceptions. It has something to do with living in The Matrix and hyperspace I’m sure. Isn’t the universe supposed to be a giant brain? Or a holographic video game? I feel like it’s both and none and all possibilities and then I feel like I don’t know anything at all. What I do know is I agree with your last two sentences the most. This site is a fantastic resource and I’ve discovered in the past couple of days that ENTPs are my go-to people for inspiration. I’d really love to see Dave Asprey from Bulletproof Radio interview Antonia Dodge, because the two are both Visionary ENTPs doing the most awesome high quality work I’ve seen in a very long while and I’m curious how this interaction would play out – like the universal brain meets big bang of fresh expansive ideas, and we all get to benefit. I actually feel compelled to push for this and I’m going to start nagging both parties to form a collaborative link. I see great potential for connection there. Coaching, hacking, self-improvement, insight, entrepreneurial sprit… c’mon guys, the world needs to see this happen! You need to get this site affiliated with London Real as well. If you profit from either of these collaborations you can re-gift me with free access to premium content, and we’ll all be in a better place of expansion and growth 🙂

  • Drak sn
    Reply

    Great article! I’ve been subscribed to personalityhacker for about a year and read quite some of the articles but strangely enough, I only touched onto my own personality about now. I found most of the descriptions in this passage rather accurate – I could identify with most of it. However, what puzzled me was the Si component…I’ve had a horrible memory, bad enough to forget most of anything I read, barring the vague general concept. The whole idea of “memory” is a little strange to me in this regard, although I suspect I may have interpreted this wrongly.

    Another thing that struck me was about the intp sense of wonder, something I’m afraid I have lost mostly. I live in Singapore, which is a ridiculously meritocratic country, with a heavy focus on academics. That, coupled with an ESFJ mum, probably stifled my exploration and subjective accuracy I enjoyed, in favour of comformity and “correct textbook answers”. I’ve sank into some form of intellectual isolation, pursuing my interests alone in my small pockets of free time. Generally, my friends are isfj or istj are are only interested in academic work tested in exams. I highly doubt this development is healthy…after reading philosophy, I’ve started to go into existentialism, especially the whole absurdity theory. Given how existentialism started after World War 2, I don’t think this bodes well…

    Any intps had such an experience before? I identified with this piece as well as the comments after it, so I really do hope for some pointers 🙂

    • Antonia Dodge
      Reply

      “Memory” is just a nickname for Introverted Sensing, a complex cognitive function that perceives the world in terms of matching new information to what is already known. That doesn’t mean people who have it as a strength automatically have a good memory, nor that those who have it as a weakness have a bad memory (though there are trends that direction).

      Having your Exploration (Extraverted Intuition) process stifled and being encouraged to conform/take the safe textbook path is actually an expression of the Memory (Introverted Sensing) process showing up in an unhealthy way for an INTP. The encouragement is to take risks. If you feel stifled in this way you’ll definitely lose your sense of wonder and cheerfulness.

      Hope that helps clarify.

      -A-

      p.s. For more information on Memory (Introverted Sensing) here are some resource:

      Why Personality Hacker Uses Nicknames for the 8 Cognitive Functions: http://www.personalityhacker.com/nicknames-for-8-jungian-cognitive-functions

      Sensing Personality Types Podcast: http://www.personalityhacker.com/podcast-episode-0093-sensing-personality-types

      • Drak sn
        Reply

        Thank you so much, that helped a lot 🙂

  • Atlas
    Reply

    Quite darn accurate. I’m an INTP (though other sites’ tests tell me my F and T are nearly evenly split) and sometimes I just do stuff just to see what happens. My daydreams are also rather wild, ranging from “What happens if the Senkaku Islands were bombed off the face of the Earth by ISIS?” to “Why are people self-absorbed toward the wrong attributes (flashiness), and not to the more fulfilling attributes (self-affirmation)?” Obviously both require a mix of logical and emotional aptitude to consider, which I somehow have to a small degree. My brother is an INTJ through and through – he thinks I’m too fickle and I think he’s too rigid!

    I do have a question, though: What could I do about short attention spans? I have problems focusing on lessons in school and it’s really affecting my results. Double whammy because I’m in a course I argued at length to enter, and now that spark is all gone. Or perhaps it’s just a motivation issue, and I’m applying it correctly. Either way, some help would be appreciated.

  • My INTPness
    Reply

    Me =
    80/20 = jack of all trades master of none.
    “Memory” symptom… I feel safe when sleeping, I want nothing more than to sleep to escape argument or emotional conflict.
    Recently trying to delay safe behaviors when emotionally interacting with wife.
    Developed new bad habit… say things I really mean with smile or as joke.
    Gotten so good I use for fun to insult OTHER ppl to their face, they seem to like it??? Oi!

  • Shaki
    Reply

    One of my friends introduced me to MBTI personality types a couple of weeks ago and like a true INTP I have been researching my personality type non stop just for the fun of it. Your articles about INTP is probably the best I have found so far. I finally feel like someone finally understands me. I always thought curiosity, thirst for knowledge and seeing the bigger picture in complex systems was really odd because I do not know a lot of people who are like this. It also makes sense most of my friendships have always been based on being intellectually stimulating.

  • Intplady
    Reply

    First off, it’s hysterical to me the amount of data questioning on this thread about this article! Woe to the person with a full INTP audience! Forget that the audience IS the subject…

    Second :
    “We love and hate them for this, celebrating them as characters in TV shows and movies but resenting them when they’re debating the ever living hell out of our arguments in real life.”

    This is my entire life. I’ve said it almost just like this. I wish I could get an INTP ID so people could immediately know where it’s all coming from. Specifically, the ego-less questioning of systems. I can’t help it. It’s like having a splinter I can’t get out to have to work within poorly thought out workplaces. And jeeze, everyone gets defensive….just a couple suggestions….

  • Melissa
    Reply

    I love it when i can find someone i can bounce ideas off of but they are few and far between. I was a musician in college but once i took my first philosophy course, i was hooked lol. My professor told me that i needed to drop my music major and move on over to Philosophy and i agreed. He said i just had a mind for it. I loved the debates and was always guilty of playing devil’s advocate. I would argue a side i didn’t even believe in, just to see if i could do it haha. I would know the flaw in my argument but i would wait to see if anyone else could realize it first. My idea about it was, even if the argument was wrong, it would still inspire the other person to think. As Socrates said, “I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think.” My professors knew exactly what i was doing and they would always giggle behind their books at me when the person i was debating started to get frustrated and angry lol. I would eventually take my hooks out of them though 😉 and i would usually end it with a silly joke to lighten the mood. It was a lot of fun though. I’ve taken this test numerous times and always get INTP. So i’m gonna have to assume that this is me 🙂 it’s pretty doggone neat though.

  • INTP
    Reply

    I’M A 14 YEAR OLD INTP 🙂
    I’m procrastinating right now because I’m reading about my personality types

    PS is it bad I’m learning about my personality type at 14 because my personality hasn’t really develop

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      I wish I had learned about my type at your age. I think it is awesome you will have an early understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. 🙂

  • Brandon
    Reply

    One of my best friends is an intp (I am an infp) and the main level we connect on is our sense of humour. It is very, very similar. I believe sharing the third function with somebody in some sort correlates with a similar sense of humour.

  • Annie
    Reply

    I’m somewhat unsure of my personality type. Two years ago, I was a full fledged INTJ and last night for whatever reason I felt compelled to take another personality test and found I was in fact, an INTP. I have now taken numerous tests and still recieve the same result.

    It feels strange since two years ago, I did the same thing and was certain that I was an INTJ. The funny thing is both personality types are apt descriptions of myself. I adore viewing things from every perspective possible which is an intj trait, yet I have a need to find the unbias truth which is resemblant of the intp. This is one of many conflicted areas I find myself in, between such types. I find myself to be 50% intj and 50% intp. Naturally, this irks me, because it seems non-sensical to be both intj and intp. Then again, I’m sure I can identify with other intuitive types.

    Which begs the question, perhaps the whole construct of personality types is somewhat flawed? I can’t help but think that it’s virtually impossible to categorise ourselves to one type or another. There are certain variables in life. Call them ‘constant variables’ if you will. People and personalities are such variables.

    Does it make sense to try and pin-point ourselves to 1 out of 16 types? Surely, we are more complicated and multifaceted than that? Yet, maybe that’s my belief that as humans we are not meant to be understood but we try so vehemently to do so. My point is, well I think it’s more of a question: is human nature fuelling our need to categorise ourselves into such types?

    And if we succeed in doing so what does that achieve? Are we more self-aware or have we fallen prey to a percieved self-awarness fuelled by the limitations of human nature itself? In other words, have we fooled oursleves?

    Similarly, I do understand that the study of one’s personality type can be fulfilling and enjoyable, yet there are times when we are, in my mind blinded by our humanity.

    This is definitely more of a philosophical question and can probably be applied to many aspects of life and much like trying to categorise ourselves to personality types, my attempt to assert the limitations of human nature on various constructs is quite non-sensical also. Alas, I do it anyway. (Prime example of the contradictory nature of man.)

    It might also be worth noting that I am 18 and perhaps my personality is still underway. Hence, I am no longer the intj I was at 16, and now at 18 I have evolved into an intp. Perhaps, these personality types are an accurate reflection of your personality at the time, but naturally, are subject to change.

    This fact is what leads me to believe that as humans, we are simply too much of a variable to pin-point and define in the long-term. From this standpoint, personality types are redundant, but in the short-term they are quite an accurate tool.

    Strangely enough my question was exactly that: how accurate are personality tests? But through that ramble I managed to somewhat make sense of it.

    Feel free to add to this.

    • Morpheus
      Reply

      Brilliant! Thank you for articulating that so well. Couldn’t agree with you more. Humans are too multifaceted and changeable for it to be possible to fit any of us into any one personality box long term. After the initial INTP result 14 years ago, I now have tipped over ever so slightly into INFP territory (can you believe it, crossing over from a T to F!?), and who knows where I might end up another 14 years from now. Some entirely new and yet unidentified/uncategorized personality type perhaps? Looking forward to shape-shifting some more! 😊

  • Kevin
    Reply

    I am frustrated learning about Ti and Fi. I don’t know if I am INTP or INFP. You stated that INTP lacks motivation, and yes, I do. What about INFP? They only do what they’re passionate about. When no desire = it’s not done. So what’s actually the different traits between types that NO OTHER TYPES can have? I find all these descriptions are too broad and situational.

    I’ll give some details in hope you can help me determine my type? Much appreciation before.

    My relation to feelings:
    I am depressed and care much about the meaning of my life, why am I conscious? I also dreamt about bringing contributions to the world and be remembered (when I was a child).
    My emotions are turbulent, I can’t recall any of them when I’m not feeling it. It’s even hard to explain because it’s highly inconsistent. Borderline pd might contribute to this. I didn’t like my feelings and tried to push them aside. But I also engage with it alot.
    I have a high sense of idealism, and sensitive when weak people or animals are wronged. I am disappointed with the world in regard of this. I care about silly things no one cares about (maybe), like how everyone ought to learn parenting before having any children.
    I have blunt expression, but I laugh big when I am with my friends. Love-hate relationships with people. Studied psych. Get bored and tired with relationships.
    I don’t think I have vivid imaginary world like many INFP descriptions. I do alot of concepts and possibilities, but in my mind they’re only vague structured images.

    So…what confuses me is my relation to Ti:
    In discussion, I always detach myself from emotions and bias. I don’t like to mix up feelings with truth. You may feel certain ways, but truth is truth. I like to analyze how something works before engaging with it. I have to understand the inner working of things from the scratch by myself. Back in the days, I used to argue alot and asked why, and I don’t remember when I started to shut up. In school, I argued with my religion teacher. I didn’t learn math and got best scores in classes whenever logic can still be applied. I suck at memorizing those math formulas. Now I have fear about getting more and more stupid, ever since I’ve been highly depressed, I feel like that… Sometimes I don’t think or feel anything. Sometimes it bursts out in negative way or inspiring way.

    My opinion about Fe: I don’t do it well.
    About Te: when I read about it, my first thought was it was against my method… I don’t apply or agree to something before I understand how it works.

    I identify with Fi (at least now) and see alot of it in me. But I have close relationship with accuracy, even before knowing MBTI. Looking into the theory, I could not accept that someone can’t have both Fi and Ti. It’s not about my ideation, it’s just how it is if I’m being honest. In fact, it’s been a vital theme in my life: considering both feeling and reason together. So, my explanation is the theory is not adequate enough explaining this or the function definitions are not differentiated enough.

    However, I see the logic behind Jung’s framework and would keep trying to frame it myself. Sorry for the long (cynical) comment! I just couldn’t get it out of my mind. Give me your opinion about my type. 🙂

    • Kevin
      Reply

      Also sorry for bad english.

  • penguins
    Reply

    hi , I’m just wondering. How accurate are your tests exactly? I usually test ENTP but in your test i test INTP.

    Your description of INTP and how they are wired on the “inside” feels very accurate, but at the same time, the way they are described on the “outside” feels a little less accurate.

    Not that I particularly enjoy people or try to actively find arenas to hang out with them or anything. However when I do find myself around them, I’ve never had a problem “owning the room” or getting attention if i wanted it. I cannot remember to have had particularly huge problems with human interaction of any kind tbh, and that is not very similar to how you describe the way INTPs are usually described.

    Is such traits not much more ENTP than INTP trait?

    Also I’m usually rather happy and content about life and the universe and everything in-between…. That doesn’t sound very much INTP neither.. they seem more….. “serious” perhaps?(or am I giving all INTPS unfair depression traits now? if so, sorry!)

    the real question is :

    Is it possible to be wired as an INTP on the inside and then act as an ENTP on the outside?
    INTP feels like the “classical nerd” while ENTP feels like “the nerd that has gone wrong”..

    I think I associate more with the “nerd that has gone wrong” as I’m not really a good nerd at all(even though I do try my best)…mm that must be the answer….

    But that means you test is inaccurate…and it can’t be.. can it?

  • Jordan
    Reply

    Most definitely an intp type personalty here. Obviously a few things do not fit the bill for me. like allot of people I had other people’s ideals and belief systems forced on me growing up. It was seriously confusing growing up obviously wanting to make your parents and peers happy but at the same time knowing that things just didn’t feel right.
    When your curiosity and individualism is being squashed by everyone telling you that this is what you have to believe in. I feel it tends to send someone of an intp type into a very rough place mentaly…I found this and other articles on personality types very helpful and informative.

  • mian
    Reply

    I so want a “perfect” conclusion that will answer all possible related questions that could be raised (or will not raise any question or objection at all) that at times I end up debating with myself.

    I am an INTP. Is this why I’m like this? XD

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