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.
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 another 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:
Introverted Thinking (Ti)
Extraverted Intuition (Ne)
Introverted Sensing (Si)
Extraverted Feeling (Fe)
- 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.