How INTPs Mistype Themselves (and Why It Happens)

Categories: Self-Discovery, INTP

It can be difficult for anyone to decide which of Myers and Briggs' 16 personality types fits them best, but INTPs especially may have a particularly challenging time settling on their type. Personality type results might conflict with who an INTP would ideally want to be—which can distort the test accuracy further. Scoring near the middle of one or more of the personality dichotomies can make it challenging to pinpoint true preferences. 

There are other things that can distort a person’s view of themselves. Cultural values such as expectations for females to possess a more caring nature or males to be more assertive and extraverted can cause INTPs to alter their behavior to “fit in.” Short and long-term stressors also play a part, since we all behave differently under stress. Individually and together, all of these factors may dramatically skew results when an INTP takes a personality test. 

The most common personality mistypes for the INTP (in descending order) include the INTJ, INFP, INFJ, and even ENTP. Let’s find out why it happens. 

Stressor Overload

When events go out of the frying pan and into the fire...this is not the time to take a personality test. For INTPs, stressors include an overload of errands and important to-dos, back-to-back exams, papers, part-time jobs and too many extracurricular commitments that can eventually break any INTP’s boundaries of “chill.” 

The physiological and psychological effects of stress can drastically alter moods and decision-making. The effects of stress look different for every INTP: irritation, lethargy, tunnel vision—it usually takes a second perspective to clarify the situation. It’s best to take a personality test on a neutral (or normal) day for the most accurate results. 

A severely stressed INTP may lash out and wallow in floods of emotion—which could lead them to mistype as an INFP. Or, they can become rigid and stubborn in their views to mistype as an INTJ. Combine the two perspectives in equal measure, and the INFJ is another possible outcome. 

Let's look at a sample question from our own TypeFinder personality test (based on Myers and Briggs' typology). This question asks for a response on a scale of 1 to 5, Strongly Disagree (1) to Strongly Agree (5):

“I feel uncomfortable when I disagree with someone” 

Here are examples of how an INTP might answer this question on a:

  • Good (or even fantastic!) day: (1) Strongly Disagree – There’s always something to learn from each conversation, it just takes a positive mindset and attitude! 
  • Regular, run-of-the-mill day: (3) Neutral – It depends on the situation, and it’s best to access each disagreement individually, given time and with enough information.
  • Bad, everything’s-on-fire day: (5) Strongly Agree – It’s useless to try and resolve conflicts, as they only lead to more arguments...so why bother in the first place?

Cultural Values and Expectations

The INTP female is often expected to develop their caring and people-oriented side from a young age; to be gentle, patient and tolerant. This can conflict with their natural selves and lead to major identity crises come adolescence. INTP males, with similar challenges, may find themselves wanting to become more extraverted and assertive to better fit into their peer groups.

Cultural expectations may perpetuate the need for INTPs to uphold certain mannerisms and behaviors in order to feel accepted by people. At school or work, INTPs can adapt to the group’s social energy, although the results can be downright exhausting if overused. They’re good at playing the social chameleon role and morphing into other similar types through practice and repetition. An INTP who takes a personality test under these conditions may make selections based on who they’d like to be, rather than their authentic preferences. 

Looking at nnother example question from the TypeFinder, on a scale of 1 to 5: Strongly Disagree (1) to Strongly Agree (5):

“I am helpful to the people around me” 

Here are examples of how an INTP might answer this question mistyping as an:

  • INFP: (4) Agree – Yes, to my closest friends and family, also my belief that everyone deserves to be treated equally.
  • INFJ: (5) Strongly Agree – Absolutely—I constantly search for ways to improve, connect, and grow on a relational level. 
  • ENTP: (4) Agree – I’ve got a million ideas to help others around me, and enjoy being busy and productive. 

Unfamiliarity with Myers and Briggs’ Personality Model

Chances are, the first few results from a personality test could differ from each other. After multiple tries using different assessments, certain patterns begin to emerge. Usually, the Introversion (I) and Intuitive (N) preferences of INTPs remain stable. The latter two, Thinking–Feeling (T–F) and Judging–Perceiving (J–P), on the other hand, have a tendency to fluctuate. 

INTPs who have to be organized, driven and punctual in their jobs may believe they’re INTJs, when in actuality, their natural workflow is far more scattered and chaotic. Always showing up early and having an organized desk can be habits a Perceiver has cultivated through practice; it does not always represent his innate type. 

To cut through these habits, it helps to take a look at the INTP’s function stacks. Function stacks describe how each personality preference is ranked, that is, which of your four preferences (I/E N/S, T/F or J/P) is the most prominent. INTPs have their cognitive functions stack in the following order:

  1. Introverted Thinking (Ti)

  2. Extraverted Intuition (Ne)

  3. Introverted Sensing (Si)

  4. Extraverted Feeling (Fe)

As you can see, INTPs lead with Introverted Thinking (Ti). Compare this with the INTJ who leads with Introverted Intuition (Ni) and the INFP who leads with Introverted Feeling (Fi). 

  • Ti asks, “How does this make sense to me?” 
  • Ni asks, “How will the future be affected by this?”
  • Fi asks, “How does this fit in with my values?” 

How INTPs Mistype Themselves: Closing Remarks

The INTP’s tendency to mistype could stem from a variety of factors—be it biological, psychological, or cultural. Stressors and cultural expectations have the power to alter test responses. Unfamiliarity with Myers and Briggs’ personality model could also lead stereotypes to cloud an INTP’s judgment of what their best-fit type should or “ought to” look and behave like. When it boils down to the basics, INTPs seek clarity in thought above all; to connect the dots with a colorful blend of ideas and knowledge. 

It may take a few months or years to figure out a best-fit type, as self-awareness is an intensive and continuous process. The upsides of personal discovery for the INTP are limitless, as it opens doors to fulfillment in relationships, careers, and growth. 

Lily Yuan

Lily Yuan is a personality psychology writer who tests as INTP and constantly questions her type. Learn more and reach out at www.lily-yuan.com. Explore her blog at www.personality-psychology.com. She also writes for www.thecareerproject.org.

Comments

Conor Cook (not verified) says...

The functional stack point was extremely helpful, as I have often worried that I test as INTP because that's what I want to be, kind of a reverse of this article. Yet, when it comes to looking at the dominant function, I'm fairly certain I ask the Ti question first, "How does this make sense to me?" I rarely ask about the future, and I don't think I'm aware enough of my own values beyond those explicitly stated by my faith. Anyways, my whole exploration of self and what is true seems to imply that I am an INTP.

Thank you, Lily!

Lily Yuan says...

Glad to clarify, Conor!

Matt M (not verified) says...

I relate most to the INTP (on this site and a few others, (different places have different opionions on F vs T )) I often type an INFP as well. I currently belive this is due to a lack of clearly defining Feeling and Thinking.
Most tests seem to define Thinking only as the opposite of Feeling and Feeling only as the opposite of Thinking. This doesn't really seem to be so.
1) To me it more like handedness (left hand vs right hand). Just because you perfer to and are really good at using one hand to do something doesnt mean the other hand is horrible at it. (i.e. Left and Right are arbitrary distinctions that pretty much only define each other, in defining direction they are mutually exclusive, but in defining preference they are not)
2) We don't define the top of something as "not the bottom of it", so Feeling shouldn't be defined as "the not thinking part"
3)  "Making a decision based on your personal values" (A question used to define if you are a "Feeler") is equally true if you are a "Thinker" or a "Feeler". Especially so if your values include "Logically fits into my personal understaning"

Zmrzlinevpatek (not verified) says...

An extreme change of environment, culture, actually of my whole life put me (INTP) under constant stress for the past 10 years. I think I was in an Fe grip phase and my separation from husband really helped me get back on my feet again. I'm constantly doubting whether I'm an INFP or an INTP, but since the separation I can't figure out what I'm feeling or rather whether I'm feeling anything or not. I'm emotionally detached, never get upset, nothing really makes me happy (although I'm content with my life now), constantly trying to read and anaylize my emotions but in vain. In my grip phase I had extreme emotional outbursts, couldn't think logically, self-absorbed, self-justifying , looking for other people's faults and weaknesses and blaming them for everything that went wrong. Now I don't blame anyone and the past is something that teaches me an important lesson. I'm future-oriented and trying to act like a J-type. 
 

atim (not verified) says...

For years my tests showed infp. I think its because of the stress i had those day. Since I realised I am an intp I couldn't be happier with the definition of me. It exactly describes me! I could know myself better and improve. But when I resulted infp I couldn't relate with it and so that couldn't improve myself. I feel alot better now!

PathSeeker says...

My strongest cognitive functions (based on an assessment) are Ti, Ni, Ne, and Fi, so I guess it would be easy for me to mistype. I've only ever mistyped as INTJ though, and I've sometimes scored as INTX.

JustJenn (not verified) says...

I found the article helpful. I've been wondering because I was a INTP as a youth and now test as INFP in my adult years (gen xer). The thing is, I use other people and feelings to determine if my own self check systems are correct. I'm a biologist by education, and find that in dealing with the human organism that emotions are part of how and why we opperate. This is why I too am so confused because I do understaned and value feelings, but they have to have a sort of logic (not sure if that makes sense of not). TBH, I think the big changer was becoming disabled and then I questioned everything. To keep from despair I think I had to develop more into an INFP, survivial really. It is what kept hope alive in the darkest of times.KWIM?

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