Both commonly dubbed as ‘emotionless robots’ or ‘logical masterminds’ with no clue on how to navigate the social sphere or figure out romantic encounters, the INTJ and INTP in Myers and Briggs' typology are among one of the most difficult pairs (and brains) to pick apart. Since they’re both Intuitive Thinkers (NT), it’s quite common to mistype as the other.
Based on first impressions, it can be extremely difficult to differentiate between an INTJ and INTP. They can appear identical on the outside: aloof, mysterious, and not easily swayed by authority. Both types are extremely intelligent and would make an ideal addition to any trivia or game show team.
INTP vs. INTJ: How to Tell the Difference
It may be easy to assume that final Judging or Perceiving preference simply if you’re an inbox-zero fan at heart or have a messy desk. But it’s not that simple, and can be even more confusing when your personality test results show you sit right on the fence between the Judging-Perceiving scale.
For that reason, the cognitive functions come in handy when trying to differentiate between these two types. Believe it or not, INTPs and INTJs actually share none in common! From the most to least dominant in strength, here are their respective function stacks:
- Introverted Intuition (Ni)
- Extroverted Thinking (Te)
- Introverted Feeling (Fi)
- Extroverted Sensing (Se)
- Introverted Thinking (Ti)
- Extroverted Intuition (Ne)
- Introverted Sensing (Si)
- Extraverted Feeling (Fe)
To give that some context, here are seven subtle but key differences between the two strikingly similar types:
1. Efficiency vs. exploration
Productivity may as well be the official INTJ slogan. Their secondary function, Extraverted Thinking (Te), is carried out in the external world and they can get things done, on their own agenda. They will — undoubtedly — have a deliberate reason behind each new skill they acquire to bring their larger vision for the future into life. Efficient and calculated, you can bet each stepping stone had been laid out carefully.
In contrast, the INTP’s Extraverted Intuition (Ne) is all about idea generation and exploration. This translates to toying around with ideas and playing the devil’s advocate for the sheer sake of it. It’s pretty common to find them nibbling upon another crazy conspiracy theory or learning about something new. Who said there’s such a thing as being too far-fetched? If it’s interesting, it’s worth looking into.
2. Caring about micro-decisions vs. rolling with the punches
When going out with a group of friends, do you have strong opinions on where to eat and visit, or do you also resort to, “Whatever’s fine”—sans sarcasm? The INTJ will definitely have a more pronounced decision on what they want, whereas the INTP would probably play eenie-meenie and pick whatever.
3. Overindulging vs. emotional eruptions under extreme stress
Extreme stress gives center stage to the grip function, which is the last function in the stack. For the INTJ, it’s Extraverted Sensing (Se). The reliance on this function comes in many forms of escapism: binge eating, drinking, NSFW-ing, or Netflix marathons.
The INTP, in contrast, will be uncharacteristically emotional, thanks to Extraverted Feeling (Fe). This shows up as explosive tantrums, long-winded monologues, and careless hookups (resulting from rebounds).
4. More focused vs. wide-spanning interests
This can be seen through music taste, as the INTJ will generally gravitate to one or two set genres. They also prefer listening to full albums (at one time) and are often loyal fans of a select few artists. This is consistent with their books, movies, and shows. This makes them intensely knowledgeable specialists who are true experts in their field.
The INTP, on the other hand, will have a haphazard collection of just about everything. It’s common to find a lot of unknown artists and subgenres. Take one look through their music playlist, and you’ll suspect that it’s a collaborative playlist made while drunk or stoned with the local death metal groupie, their grandma, and airhead from grade school. Bonus: If you ever want an absurd video on command for whatever reason, ask the INTP — they probably have a whole vault of that stuff.
5. The secret caring vs. goofy side
When someone finally manages to crack that impossibly cold exterior, there lies a warm and embarrassingly squishy heart (hush, now). This holds true for both INTJs and INTPs. The warmth shows up a little differently for the types, however. The INTJ cares deeply about those they hold dearly, almost resembling an INFJ under such circumstances.
The INTP, however, turns into a party animal, resembling more of an ESFP under the influence of a little booze and a group of close friends. The alter ego can be quite drastic, and those who aren’t familiar with this side are in for a shock. The differences are so pronounced — even their closest family members may scratch their heads in confusion after observing such a sight.
6. Active change vs. passive rebellion
If there is a problem, the INTJ will get down to business and fix it — pronto. Evaluate the feasible options — pros and cons — and settle on a decision. No mess, no fuss. Goal-oriented and achievement-driven, INTJs work hard to meet (and beat) their exceptionally high standards.
The INTP, however, will expand the problem until they walk back to where they began, and brainstorm a gazillion ways to solve (or overthink) it. They’re also notorious for being quiet rebels of the system and will find their own way to pave their definition of success.
7. Progressing thought vs. losing train of thought
A conversation with the INTJ is progressive, centralizes around the main idea, and often finishes with a firm conclusion, which links back to the main point. This is due to their primary function, Introverted Intuition (Ni). Their speech is succinct, clear, and logically flowing. They make for excellent leaders and influencers due to their gift of gab — whether that be through analogies, metaphors, or imagery.
The INTP can babble on and on and forget what they were talking about in the first place. A discussion about metaphysics can be pulled toward the meaning of life — which may then jump to human nature — and end up in politics. If it was a road trip, then it’s one with no brakes nor destinations. A complete lack of articulation (major bonus points for using obscure adjectives) is a dead giveaway that you’re dealing with an INTP.
In a conversation between the two types, the INTJ may ask, “What’s your point?”, to which the INTP might reply, “There isn’t any, we’re just having a discussion.” This illustrates the difference between their two extraverted auxiliary functions, Extraverted Thinking (Te) and Extraverted Intuition (Ne), respectfully. Another way to confirm the difference is that Judgers appear organized on the surface but their inner world is more of a trainwreck — whereas Perceivers appear to be nothing short of a mess but actually have a (very effective) method to their inner madness.
INTJ vs. INTP: Closing Thoughts
The INTJ and INTP are eerily similar in their outer presentation, but their thinking and reasoning processes couldn’t be any more different. This quirky pair makes excellent friends and partners in crime — with the potential to shake up the status quo. Instead of heedlessly arguing over the Internet or outsmarting the other type when the end of the world hits, maybe consider compromising and working together. It just might work out.