The INTP Personality Type Explained

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In their momentous research, Isabel Briggs Myers and Katherine Cook Briggs have discovered 16 different personality types. Their classification of personalities can be used to better understand yourself and the people you interact with. Even more so, by discovering a person’s psychological preferences, you can gain an important understanding of the individual you are confronted with. The reason for this is that an individual’s personality ultimately shapes how they perceive the world and how they interact with it. In the following, we’ll have a look at the INTP (introversion, intuition, thinking, perceiving) personality type. Here’s what characterizes INTPs and the different personality traits they possess.

Even though the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator was only intended as a handbook for women that were entering the workforce, it quickly gained popularity in other areas as well.

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”
Marcus Aurelius

In fact, the 16 personalities developed by the two scientists have unexpectedly outgrown their original purpose. Luckily, one must say, because the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is an exceptionally accurate description of the different psychological preferences. Even more so, its psychological classification is one of the most widely used.

INTP Personality type

Here’s everything you need to know about the INTP personality type.

In the following, we’ll have a look at the INTP personality type as described in the classification of personalities by Myers and Briggs.

The INTP Personality Type Explained

If you yourself are an INTP, the following will give you numerous important insights into your personality. It will help you to better understand yourself and the underlying factors of your thoughts, emotions, and behavior. At the same time, the following insights about the INTP personality type will also help you to better understand INTPs you’re dealing with.

Table of contents

What does INTP stand for?
INTP personality traits
INTP careers
INTP relationships
Famous INTPs

Let’s begin this exploration of the INTP personality type with a short explanation what the acronym actually stands for.

What does INTP stand for?

INTP stands for Introversion, iNtuition, Thinking, and Perceiving. As such, these four terms are the psychological preferences of individuals with this personality type. Underlying to this categorization are the four psychological types Karl Gustav Jung developed. Here are his four dimensions:

  • How a person focuses attention (introverted or extraverted)
  • How information is perceived (intuitive or by sensing)
  • How decisions are met (by feeling or thinking)
  • How life is approached (by perception or judgment)

By assessing an individual’s preferences in each of these categories, one can discover the underlying personality type. Here’s a detailed explanation of each letter of the acronym and how it applies to INTPs:

  • I – Introversion: INTPs are rather quiet, reserved, and introverted individuals. In general, the INTP prefers to limit social interactions. At the same time, solitude helps them to recharge their batteries whereas too much interaction with others may deplete them.
  • N – Intuition: The INTP prefers to focus on the big picture rather than getting involved with all the details.
  • T – Thinking: INTPs meet decisions that are based on logic and rational evaluations. Consequently, they attribute more meaning to such objective criteria than on their own subjective opinion.
  • P – Perceiving: Contrary to other personality types, INTPs avoid meeting decisions early on. Therefore, they are no long-term planners and prefer to adapt their behavior to the present situation.

Let’s move on with an in-depth explanation of the character traits of INTPs.

INTP personality traits

Investigating INTPs can be quite astonishing, especially when considering that this personality is quite scarce. Due to the fact that it is estimated that INTPs occur only in about 2-5% of the population, you might not encounter these individuals on a daily basis. But when you do, it can be quite helpful to fully understand what motivates them. Let’s have a look at the INTP personality type and the various characteristics of these individuals.

Introverted and very creative

In general, INTPs can be described as quiet, reserved, but also exceptionally creative individuals. At the same time, INTPs are exceptionally thoughtful. As was already mentioned in the above, the INTP personality type prefers introversion rather than extraversion. Consequently, INTPs need regular intervals of solitude to recharge their batteries. In fact, this personality type thrives during these phases. Spending time alone helps them to analyze problems and to analyze each aspect of the question. It also allows them to come up with unique solutions to these very problems.

Non-conformist

When dealing with INTPs, you should avoid pressuring them. The INTP personality type generally dislikes it when others try to persuade them to change themselves. As a consequence, INTPs can become quite insubordinate and may even do the entire opposite of what you wanted them to do.

Exceptionally curious

Interestingly enough, INTPs are exceptionally curious about discovering how things operate. For this reason, they are naturally attracted to architecture, law, science, or psychology. However, they often struggle with the existing bureaucracy and the strict hierarchies in these fields.

Dislike for status symbols

When it comes to status and titles, you will not often come across an INTP who brags with their assets. In fact, most INTPs prefer to ignore titles and other status symbols. To them, these concepts of status are nothing more than obstacles in the exploration of knowledge and ideas. Even more so, many INTPs feel that such status symbols are often not rightly earned by their owners.

This attitude to status symbols may cause quite some controversy with personality types that are more status oriented. At the same time, this characteristic comes with many benefits. One such benefit is that INTPs evaluate ideas and the labor of others solely based on quality and value. As such, INTPs do not allow status symbols or authority to influence their judgment. Consequently, they are regarded as fair individuals and leaders. At the same time, their objectivity allows them to meet sound decisions.

Highly analytical

INTPs are exceptionally proficient at analyzing and understanding complex ideas. Once they have gained a good understanding of these subjects, they can effectively help others in comprehending such complex concepts. The reason for this is that INTPs have an inherent ability to break down complex subjects and to simplify them. Even more so, INTPs possess the unique ability to convey complex subjects in an easy-to-understand manner. This may make them very popular amongst those that struggle with all too complex ideas.

The downside to their distinct ability to understand complex ideas is that INTPs may become obsessed over details. As such, they may overwhelm or bore their listeners by providing too much detail that is not of relevance to them. Therefore, INTPs may sometimes be regarded as individuals that willfully increase complexity rather than reducing it. To an INTP, however, such detailed explanations are necessary precisions without which the listener may not fully grasp the presented information.

Exceptionally independent

As a result of their preference for introversion, INTPs are not too fond of having to work in groups. You may also find that the INTP is quite independent. As a result of this independence, INTPs often prefer to explore the world around themselves on their own.

Poor planners and organizers

When it comes to planning and organizing, INTPs reach their limits. To say it bluntly, INTPs are exceptionally poor organizers. Combined with their distinct fear of failure, INTPs are often reluctant to meet final decisions. They may overthink problems and may readapt solutions numerous times before finally taking action.

Oblivious of social customs

In general, INTPs do not feel too comfortable when interacting with others. They may also not understand many of the existing social subtleties. For this reason, it can happen that the INTP personality type offends another person with their insensitivity to social customs. Similarly, you may notice that INTPs become quite impatient when confronted with social norms that they find unnecessary or illogical.

Especially when confronted with personality types that prefer Sensing and Judging, INTPs struggle greatly with their patience. This is because INTPs simply cannot logically understand why such personality types are blindly accepting ideas and instructions based on mere status and authority. Another weakness of INTPs is their tendency to often get lost in their thoughts.

INTP careers

INTPs are highly analytical individuals. At the same time, they have an above-average interest in investigating how things work. Because of their curiosity for systems, INTPs often choose professions in the area of science, psychology, architecture, and law but also philosophy.

The INTP personality type thrives in professions where they have to solve complex problems. This is especially true when these problems require unique and innovative solutions. In general, INTPs prefer developing theoretical solutions rather than applying these solutions in the real world. For this reason, professions that require them to develop the idea without having to practically implement the solution are most suitable for INTPs. At the same time, INTPs may choose career paths that allow them to work on their own or in a relatively small group.

INTPs excel in professions that deal with technology and computers. Here are some career paths that are most suitable for the INTP personality type:

  • Computer scientist
  • Database administrator
  • Software developer
  • Network administrator
  • Mechanical engineer
  • Web developer
  • Computer programmer
  • Aerospace engineer
  • Nuclear engineer
  • Anthropologist
  • Chemist
  • Medical scientist
  • Psychologist
  • Physician
  • Sociologist
  • Market research analyst
  • Graphic designer

Due to their impatience with social customs and niceties, INTPs tend to avoid social professions. They will also avoid career paths that require them to interact with too many people.

INTP relationships

As was already mentioned in the above, INTPs are rather introverted individuals. They have a very vast and rich inner landscape. For this reason, the world around them may seem rather dull in comparison. At the same time, INTPs spend a lot of time alone, which helps them to recharge their batteries. Consequently, INTPs limit not only their interactions with others but also the number of relationships they establish. It is not unusual that INTPs prefer having only a few close (but highly cherished) relationships. However, if they do form a relationship, INTPs are very committed and loyal.

Problems in their relationships may result from their difficulty at understanding other people’s needs and feelings. Even close confidants may often perceive INTPs as unapproachable and difficult to fully understand.

INTPs as partners

When INTPs engage in a relationship, they are quite committed to it. Usually, they are very serious about their commitment and quite faithful. INTPs are also very affectionate with their partners.

People that are engaged to INTPs may describe them as imaginative partners that are easy to get along with. One reason for this is that the INTP personality type prefers a rather simplistic external life. As a result, they are not at all demanding of their significant other. Their partners will also value INTPs for their straightforwardness. At the same time, INTPs are unusually uncomplicated, which makes them pure and honest partners.

However, an INTP’s great weakness lies in their inability to quickly identify their partner’s emotions and needs. At the same time, INTPs greatly struggle with expressing their feelings. This, however, should not be interpreted as a sign of a lack of love. In almost all cases, quite the contrary is the case. INTPs may have formed a deep bond with their partner but are simply struggling with expressing what they feel.

INTPs as parents

Ideas and knowledge are very important ideals to INTPs. As such, they are keenly interested in passing on to their children what they have learned about the world. When it comes to parenting, INTPs are very committed and wish that their children become as independent, analytical, and logical as they themselves.

The children of INTPs will be given many freedoms that allow them to make their own experiences in life. Similarly, INTPs are highly reluctant of trying to fit their children into existing systems.

Due to their terrible organizing skills, INTPs depend on their spouses when it comes to planning and providing a structure for their children. At the same time, INTPs may struggle with defining boundaries for their children and observing these boundaries. Another weakness of INTPs is that they may not always quickly note when their children are confronted with emotional difficulties.

INTPs as friends

While INTPs prefer having only a few friendships, they think highly of the friends they do have. This is because they only establish relationships with those they are highly compatible to.

Usually, INTPs seek friends with similar or compatible personality types. As such, they prefer individuals that have identical beliefs and share many of their own interests. Basically, any personality type that is interested in theoreticizing and abstract ideas is a good fit for INTPs.

Famous INTPs

There are many notable individuals that can be categorized as INTPs. Here are some famous INTPs:

  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Immanuel Kant
  • Albert Einstein
  • Marie Curie
  • Adam Smith
  • Milton Friedman
  • Larry Page
  • Sergey Brin
  • Alan Greenspan
  • Charles Darwin

I hope you enjoyed this synopsis of the INTP personality type.

For an introduction to all the other personality types, have a look at the 16 Personalities of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

Stay victorious!


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Steve is the founder of Planet of Success, the #1 choice when it comes to motivation, self-growth and empowerment. This world does not need followers. What it needs is people who stand in their own sovereignty. Join us in the quest to live life to the fullest!

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