INTJ vs. INTP: How To Tell Them Apart

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 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 the two, as they can appear identical on the outside: aloof, mysterious, and not easily swayed by authority. They’re also both extremely intelligent and would make an ideal addition to any trivia or game show team.

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 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:

INTJ:

  • Introverted Intuition (Ni)
  • Extroverted Thinking (Te)
  • Introverted Feeling (Fi)
  • Extroverted Sensing (Se)

INTP:

  • 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, extroverted 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 extroverted 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 . 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 have 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 parties. 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, they 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 (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 a 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.

Closing Thoughts

The INTJ and INTP are eerily similar their outer presentation, but their thinking and reasoning process couldn’t be any more different. This quirky pair makes excellent friends and partners in crime—with a potential to shake up the status quo. Instead of heedlessly arguing over the Internet of outsmarting the other type when the end of the world hits, maybe consider compromising and working together. It just might work out.

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.

Comments

Monica2019 (not verified) says...

Omg, this is exactly like my husband and I....we are INTJ and INTP, respectively.  Lol!

LK (not verified) says...

My INTP man keeps me on my toes while squishing my brain into a pancake every now and then.

Greg Wochlik (not verified) says...

Yup, I'm most definitely an INTJ.

Slate (not verified) says...

An apt description of the other Introverted Intuitive too--INFJ--when it comes to conversation paradigms. Thank you for so accurately describing and naming my "progressing thought" M.O.: "A conversation with the INTJ [and INFJ] is progressive, centralizes around a 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... through analogies, metaphors, or imagery."

You also help me see why my INTP co-worker and I make excellent friends and natural conversational partners, given his freewheelng curiosity and his special ego-free capacity to explore with me through our passionate give and take viewpoints and possibilities beyond the typical limits of conversational breadth and depth.

Curuma (not verified) says...

Great explanation!

Jeanne G Dorismond (not verified) says...

Actually, this article just muddied the waters for me yet again, since I am again flopping between these two.

For example, I am all about idea generation, but I also have the ability to get things done!

In social situations, I don't much care about decision-making and will "go with the flow," but in business or family situations, I can rise up and take command.

In emotional situations, I can turn inward and binge eat(or binge withdraw from the world via a book or videos), OR I can blow my top from banked up frustration!

I have both wide-spanning and focused interests, depending upon the subject or category: for example, I love a wide span of music(as long as intonation is good!), yet I can dissect particular areas of it with a fine-toothed comb!

I do care deeply(about a surprising number of people, whom I regard as family, regardless of blood ties), yet I can also (at times) let lose with a zany sort of alter-ego!

I can sometimes power through a problem, but I can also think-outside-the-box and get caught up in overthinking, which can bring me to a standstill in getting started with something, especially if someone intentionally interrupts my thought systems.

Finally, I can present an organized presentation, either prepared or adhoc, but I also truly enjoy going with the flow in a wide-ranging conversation, in which the conversation can be a sort of unwinding game of intellectual flow!

So, really, which am I? INTJ or INTP?

 

Coach (not verified) says...

A.  When communicating (by nature not training) are you more comfortable being direct eg. "Get some milk while you're out" or indirect "we're out of milk"

 

B. Are you (by nature not training) more comfortable initiating and leading the conversation or responding to others who initiate and lead the conversation? 

C. By nature not training,  are you more comfortable moving slowly and at your own pace (not in a hurry), or moving quickly because you must make progress and start new projects?

Jenice Lumo (not verified) says...

Hi!

By the nature of your comment, i'd say you are definately an NP

Lol! I am also an NP.

Realize that the MB four category system does not take into account, strictly speaking "Intellect and Will" 

While my natural tendencies enjoy thingking and brainstorming and problem solving how to solve a problem,

It does not mean I am incapable of functioning in society or do not enjoy or force my slef to accomplish practical things, or fullfill my goals.

People are smart, and learn till it becomes 'second nature'.

But while an  INTJ may question thier type, im not sure they would see it as significant to really know. (Like on a disscussion....ok, but whats your point?)

But of course, there are always exceptions....;) 

 

 

 

 

Kimberly Pounsel (not verified) says...

Just wondering if you might be a Gemini? I too felt the same way about the article and in general I am unable to get off the INTJ/INTP fence. However, I am a Gemini and wonder if that may be why my personality type is a bit two- faced?

Roger Ryskamp (not verified) says...

You sound a little more like an INTP. 

Smit (not verified) says...

The description that you gave sounds like an INTP with a few INTJ characteristics

GAYATRI MISHRA (not verified) says...

You are you. Why should you be type casted? Is there a necessity to be typecasted ? Well of course it then brings a question on this MBTI concept altogether , maybe the two types haven't been completely understood well enough to give clear differences. 

And btw looking at your answers you seem to be an INTJ. 

Jeanne G Dorismond (not verified) says...

Thanks, Coach.

I am more likely to go and get the milk myself.

I am okay with either starting or responding to a conversation. Much depends on my situation (I have learned to be adaptable, though I think, originally, I am happiest responding rather than initiating)

Same thing with moving: I take time to think through what I can/should do, but once a decision is reached, I am capable of moving forward pretty forcefully, with determination. (I do not, however, like to "rush in where angels fear to tread")

That said, when I was in Haiti during and after the 2010 quake, I became quite a leader, taking charge, evaluating and moving forward pretty quickly when I needed to do so (it was almost as though I were watching myself from outside of myself, while inside I was a basket case from the stress and trauma, outside I was clear, cool, calm and collected.)

Destin Scott (not verified) says...

Hi Jeanne, for the longest time I had also been really on-the fence between the -TJ and -TP. When I got into personality stuff enough to use it as a lens for others' decisions, I bought myself a few books that REALLY really helped cement which I see more of.

The first are actually two, to be used together. "Please Understand Me" 1 & 2, by David Keirsey. It was through these I figured out I'm super INTJ, but just pretty well balanced and great with surprises and can have fun just talking to "taste their mindscape" sometimes, with no goal. I guess the goal for me is to enjoy the connection, so the goal is still technically met.

Last is "Neuroscience of Personality" by Dario Nardi. This guy is pretty passionate about it and gave his personal understanding of each of the MBTI cognitive functions, through his profession of neurology. This is a very fun read, and even further helped really add to how I see certain function in others and myself. It also really helps that he's physically mapped out where on the EEG the cognitive functions light the brain up, and with what frequencies. 

I don't know if you're interested enough in the first place to consider buying that clarity, but I've loved them. I've lent out each of them probably 3 times now to coworkers and family. My favorite is the neuroscience of personality, for sure. Its a large-but-thin book that's very satisfyingly consistent in how it shows the visuals and connects the dots in plain english. I hope this helps for a source for later for you Jeanne!

Meagan B (not verified) says...

Thank you! This was just the article I needed to help confirm my type, as INTP, after feeling that I had gotten false results in the past. There are some aspects where I may lean more the other direction, but I think that's normal for everyone, as I see each characteristic as a spectrum, not a definite. But overall this makes it clear which way the majority falls for me, with some hilariously poignant quotes to drive it home. Side note - I also identify with the author's "knack for just missing the bus." What a perfect summation of the struggle side of INTP existence.

Lisa Campbell (not verified) says...

I laughed so hard at the description of an INTP's music Playlist! It discribes mine perfectly. 

KEM (not verified) says...

I'm an INTJ with a very strong 'J' preference - its fascinating to realize how one letter can result in such fundamental personality differences.   

Wish I knew an INTP - sounds like a fun, crazy friend! 

Patty_10 (not verified) says...

MBTI articles are mostly fun and I take it with a grain of salt, but this guy C.S. Joseph takes it to another level of wow - sounding pretty viable. His videos are long, but his insights about all persoanlity types hit home for me; helping me understand what each type values the most and opened my eyes to view them with another lens and approach them in a way that they would be more open to work with me.

I gotta say, you maywant to start with his earlier seasons in youtube to get a basis first.

Type Grid from C.S. Joseph: https://csjoseph.life/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/GRID_TYPING_V2.png

How do INTJs compare to INTPs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0ttE91ks70

RJColorado says...

Interesting article, but at the end of the day I find that I'm still an INT J+P. For some of your examples I'm a "J" and for others I'm a "P". But I did find the article interesting.

OutsideMadness (not verified) says...

Wow. This is my wife (INTJ) and myself (INTP). When it's good, it's never been better. When it's bad, it's only gotten worse. Great job. I do favor a few INTJ traits, a solid 85% INTP from this selection of examples tho. 

Slate says...

 

THE MYERS–BRIGGS "JP PREFERENCE" (JUDGING VS PERCEIVING): NOTES FROM AN INFJ 

A follow-up to my first comment because comments by others got my wheels turning . . .

 

"The JP preference shows how a person prefers to deal with the outer world." —Isabel Briggs Myers, Gifts Differing

 

Note: As a J, I prefer parallel construction, but throughout my comment below, I reverse Myers's order (JP) above ^ and lead with P (e.g. P/J)—because as an F, I've got other crayons in my crayon box that I like to color with besides my T-crayon (my Thinking-crayon) of standardization. (Hope you got a kick out of that.)

 

1. Wet Paint or Dry Paint

As an INFJ, I've so far found it pretty easy to distinguish, through conversation and other kinds of interaction (work and play), an INTP from an INTJ.

Especially when it comes to P or J.

I look at it this way. I'm right-handed. But when I play the piano, my left hand does great. I play tennis right-handed, but I also enjoy playing left-handed. I'm not nearly as good playing left-handed, but as recreational tennis goes, I play just fine left-handed. 

But here's the thing that we all know: No matter how well I practice and develop my left hand playing the piano and tennis, I will always be right-handed. Which means . . .

My left hand plays the supporting role to the lead role of my right hand.

And unlike Raphael Nadal—the right-handed king of clay who plays tennis left-handed—that's not something I can hide from my tennis friend on the other side of the net.

She knows.

Ditto with my P and J preference.

I can't hide it.

(And probably, neither can you.)

My outer world "let's keep it open-ended and spontaneous" accommodating Perceiving side plays the supporting role to my "let's decide and move on" closure-motivated Judging side.  

Because as much as I do like to keep the paint wet, I do so only if it helps buy me time to envision more clearly what to do next, what to decide, toward what I set out to create: a finished painting. (I mean this as a metaphor, but I actually am a painter.) I like wet paint. But you know what I like even more? Dry paint.

Ps like wet paint.

Js like dry paint.

 

2. Explore or Score 

My goal, especially when it comes to my work, whether self-directed or as a member of a team is simple. 

To score.

And you can't score without a goal. 

My INFJ operating system runs a lot like an INTJ's (because we're both Introverted Intuitive). I take a deep total-focus dive to the bottom of the sea and bring to the surface the best options I can come up with—then I pick one. 

As a J, when I work on a project, I aim to line up the choices—like an INTJ, choices generated by my vision/by what I envision, namely, by my Intuition (N)—in front of the black-robed judge of my heart and soul and mind then hand down a decision. Decision after decision . . . relentlessly . . . till I get the project over the finish line. To one degree or another, FJs prefer to give the edge to their heart and soul (F: Feeling—my "Decider," my Judge), while TJs and TPs prefer to give the edge to their mind (T: Thinking—their "Decider," their Judge). 

I run on the rocket-fuel of decisions.

Decisions (judgments, evaluations, choices) about how best to move forward, do this or that, this way or that way—how best to inspire and encourage others to make choices that move them forward or us forward, eagerly cheerleading their choices if they strike me as sound, to keep us moving toward our goal. Say, to design a house, select a flight, or complete a chapter of a book. 

(Or tap out a hilariously wayyyyy long comment online.)

Even if all I decide is to make a tentative plan or "working decision," I'm programmed not to explore in an open-ended way just for the sake of exploring as my INTP friends tend to do, who feel like a fish in water not deciding, not drawing a conclusion, not making a judgment about yes or no, or stop or go . . . simply enjoying the bliss of the exploring itself. 

Ps like to explore.

Js like to score.

 

3. Journey or Destination

For a P, the journey is the destination. 

The destination plays the supporting role to the journey.

For a J, the journey leads to the destination. 

The journey plays the supporting role to the destination.

That's why a J sets out on a trip in the first place: to get somewhere. Even if our destination turns out blissfully to be other than what we thought—and as much as we seek to enjoy the journey—the journey has little meaning if it doesn't help us get where we hope to go.

That said, both desires, both life pleasures—journey and destination—can be wonderfully balanced for both a P and a J (just as both hands can be—and typically must be—to play the piano well). But for the P and the J, when it comes to which leads and which follows on the dance floor of life—journey vs destination, spontaneity vs goal, "explore-for-explore sake" vs "explore-for-desired-destination sake," "leave it open-ended" or "let's check it off the list," "let's figure it out as we go" or "let's make a plan"—P and J type people tend to choose opposite sides of life's ballroom coin.

 

(OK, I'm drunk on metaphors, but you catch my drift?)

 

4. For Example: Road Trip

My INTP friend set out on a road trip from Seattle to San Francisco. He didn't book any motels before he set out on his three-night trip.

He texted me along the way, "You wouldn't do that, would you?" We laughed. Nothing's funnier than the truth.

No. I'd research the route and motel costs and estimate time and money and book reservations for all three nights. I might change the reservations en route, but I'm unlikely to set out without those three motel reservations functioning at least as placeholders.

My P friend doesn't need placeholders. In fact, he doesn't want them. He'll get to San Francisco. How he gets there—spontaneously, exploringly—that's what rocks his boat.

But stir this into my J road-trip mix, showing how our P/J sides balance us in individual ways, unique to each of us. Other than those three checkpoints (those 3 motel reservations) along the way, plus the start time and destination time (for which I'd allow wiggle room, my P/J blend), I'd P my way along the route spontaneously with regard to all stops in between . . . eager for surprises and serendipity-moments that cause me to detour and do things I didn't plan.

So nope.

J doesn't stand for Journey.

P doesn't stand for Plan.

 

(By the way, my INTP friend and I go together like Peanut butter & Jelly.)

 

5. Buddy Movie

Where do you fall along the P to J spectrum? You might be at one end of the spectrum to the extreme. Or you might fence-straddle the two.

Either way, remember: We all have a P side and a J side to our unique personalities. It just boils down to how well developed each side is in their own right and also relative to one another—and which hand, P or J, has the upper hand in our lives. Which one is our default. Because it's our go-to mode. The one we lean on more. Trust more. 

Which one, in the movie of our lives, plays the best friend and which one plays the hero. 

But our P & J buddies, to one degree or another, always operate in us, encouraging us to sort out how much we choose to wait and see (P) or plan and go (J).

Ready. Fire. Aim. (P)

Or

Ready. Aim. Fire. (J)

Our P side goes with the flow and doesn't plan. Acts spontaneously. Lives in the moment. 

Our J side looks down the road, sketches out a plan of what we hope lies ahead. Maps out the future. 

 

6. Are you Star-Lord or Rocket?

Ask yourself as you watch GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY or read the following scene from the movie:

Is Peter Quill (aka Star-Lord) P or J? 

How 'bout Rocket?

 

Peter Quill : I have a plan. 

Rocket Raccoon : You've got a plan? Okay, first of all, you're copying me from when I said I had a plan. 

Peter Quill : I'm not copying you, I have a plan, that's not that unique of a thing to say. 

Rocket Raccoon : And secondly, I don't think you even have a plan. 

Peter Quill : I have part of a plan. 

Drax the Destroyer : What percentage of a plan do you have? 

...

Peter Quill : I dunno... Twelve percent? 

 

So while it might not be entirely true of all Ps and Js, from what I've seen in the behavior of people I know, when it comes to INTPs and INFPs vs INTJs and INFJs—and in the P & J mix, the swing, the sliding scale, within myself:

Ps plan 12% and don't plan 88%.

Js plan 88% and don't plan 12%.

 

Ps roll. The trust their gut as they blaze a trail to reach their goals. 

Js map. They trust their vision-plan as they follow their yellow-brick road.

 

But in ways unique to each of us, no matter which one plays the lead in the P/J Buddy Movie of our lives, we are all both Star-Lord and Rocket. 

 

7. Who am I?

The analogy of left and right hand? I owe that analogy to the Myers-Briggs SME (Subject Matter Expert) Isabel Briggs Myers and her remarkable book Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type. 

 

(But don't take the left hand/right hand analogy too literally because as Myers makes clear, unlike our handedness, we are not born with our MBTI profile—on the contrary, we learn it: we learn through experience and inner and outer shaping forces which faculties we most trust.) 

 

As I turned one page after another in Myers's book, the fog of confusion lifted. 

 

On page 75, INFP Myers (daughter of INFJ Katherine Cook Briggs) shows a table of "Effects of the JP Preference." She lists 10 contrasting preferences of "Judging Types" vs "Perceiving Types." I'm not going to cherry pick them. Here are all 10 pairs (no surprise to me, my INFP truelove put a checkmark in her copy of the book next to every statement about Perceiving Types):

  • Judging Types "Are more decisive than curious."
  • Perceiving Types "Are more curious than decisive."
  • Judging Types "Live according to plans, standards, and customs not easily or lightly set aside, to which the situation of the moment must, if possible, be made to conform." 
  • Perceiving Types "Live according to the situation of the moment and adjust themselves easily to the accidental and the unexpected." 
  • Judging Types "Make a very definite choice among life's possibilities, but may not appreciate or utilize unplanned, unexpected, and incidental happenings."
  • Perceiving Types "Are frequently masterful in their handling of the unplanned, unexpected, and incidental, but may not make an effective choice among life's possibilities."
  • Judging Types "Being Rational, they depend on reasoned judgment, their own or borrowed from someone else, to protect them from unnecessary undesirable experiences."
  • Perceiving Types "Being empirical, they depend on readiness for anything and everything to bring them a constant flow of new experience—much more than they can digest."
  • Judging Types "Like to have matters settled and decided as promptly as possible, so that they will know what is going to happen and can plan for it and be prepared for it." 
  • Perceiving Types "Like to keep decisions open as long as possible before doing anything irrevocable, because they don't know nearly enough about it yet." 
  • Judging Types "Think or feel that they know what other people ought to do about almost everything, and are not averse to telling them."
  • Perceiving Types "Know what other people are doing, and are interested to see how it comes out."
  • Judging Types "Take real pleasure in getting something finished, out of the way, and off their minds."
  • Perceiving Types "Take great pleasure starting something new, until the newness wears off."
  • Judging Types "Are inclined to regard the perceptive type as aimless drifters." 
  • Perceiving Types "Are inclined to regard the judging types as only half alive."
  • Judging Types "Aim to be right." 
  • Perceiving Types "Aim to miss nothing."
  • Judging Types "Are self-regimented, purposeful, and exacting."
  • Perceiving Types "Are flexible, adaptable, and tolerant."

 

And remember, at least as I see it, we're in a buddy movie, but titled toward one buddy more than the other. Whichever preference has the upper hand in us, we are not simply, totally, even the most extreme Ps or Js, 100% one or the other all the time. We all express in our outer lives some individual preference for the ratio of how these two competing preferences blend or partner, depending on the circumstances—perhaps, like me, swinging from 12% P / 88% J to 88% P / 12% J. (Especially when I pal around with my fun-loving, spontaneous, ESFP Star-Lord friend, truly "The Entertainer.") 

 

As one of my J friends puts it, "We give Ps an axis. They give us the spin."

 

Thanks to Gifts Differing, the fog lifted not only about my JP preference. But also about my EI preference and TF preference. 

 

Plus, I learned the answer to this over-arching question: Who is the General that runs my show? Perceiving or Judging? 

 

Get ready for a head-scratcher, because surprise, the general that runs my INFJ show? Perceiving (N: Intuition). Ditto for an INTJ. Because for us, while our J preference in the outer world manifests itself as the rocket-fuel of decisions, rocket fuel isn't Mission Control. That's run by our General, who stays in our tent, our inner world, running our show behind the scenes, sending our Aide (our judging process: F/Feeling for INFJ and T/Thinking for INTJ) into the outer world to make decisions that manifest themselves as a J (Judging) preference. But these decisions flow from the perceptions of the INFJ's and INTJ's General: Intuition.

 

And for an INTP? The general that runs their show? Again, surprise. Judging (T: Thinking). Because for an INTP, while their P preference in the outer world manifests itself as the rocket-fuel of curiosity, rocket fuel isn't Mission Control. Myers says of types like INTP, "Introverts whose dominant process is a judging process, either thinking or feeling, do not outwardly act like judging people. What shows on the outside is the perceptiveness of their auxiliary process, and they live their outer lives mainly in the perceptive attitude" (Gifts Differing, p. 13). As for all introverts, an INTP's General acts behind the scenes, pulling the strings from the safety of their inner world, sending their Aide (their perceiving process: N—Intuition), an INTP's second most adult and conscientious process, into the outer world to explore, manifesting itself as a P (Perceiving) preference. But curiosity and exploration flow from the judgements of the INTP's General: Thinking.

 

Introverts only present their General's Aide, their auxiliary process, their second best faculty, to the outer world, not their General. And for an INTP, the second best process is Perceiving (P). And for an INTJ and their next-door neighbor, INFJ, the second best process is Judging (J).

 

I'm doing the best I can to put accurately into words my grasp of these concepts. But go to the horse's mouth, Gifts Differing. Isabel Briggs Myers lays it all out great. The analogy of the General and the Aide? That's her analogy too.

 

Thanks to Myers & Briggs, the mother-and-daughter team of social scientists who created the deeply insightful architecture of 16 personality types, especially and crucially in the form of Myers's book, I've inched closer to an answer to the question at the heart of the human condition: Who am I?

 

Gifts Differing has helped me to do what the ancient Greeks advised (one of the Delphic maxims inscribed in the vestibule of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi): "Know Thyself." 

Isabel helped me to see my inner architecture.

What makes me tick.

And others too. 

 

Like my explorer San Francisco-bound INTP friend, blissfully hitting the road without having made pre-trip overnight reservations . . . traveling wide-eyed . . . and spontaneously . . . adaptable and free . . . aiming to miss nothing . . . 

 

Thrilled to have set out on his adventure (I can see the movie poster), "Motel-less from Seattle."

 

 

M.A.R.S. says...

 

THE MYERS–BRIGGS "JP PREFERENCE" (JUDGING VS PERCEIVING): NOTES FROM AN INFJ 

A follow-up to my first comment because comments by others got my wheels turning . . .

 

"The JP preference shows how a person prefers to deal with the outer world." —Isabel Briggs Myers, Gifts Differing

 

Note: As a J, I prefer parallel construction, but throughout my comment below, I reverse Myers's order (JP) above ^ and lead with P (e.g. P/J)—because as an F, I've got other crayons in my crayon box that I like to color with besides my T-crayon (my Thinking-crayon) of standardization. (Hope you got a kick out of that.)

 

1. Wet Paint or Dry Paint

As an INFJ, I've so far found it pretty easy to distinguish, through conversation and other kinds of interaction (work and play), an INTP from an INTJ.

Especially when it comes to P or J.

I look at it this way. I'm right-handed. But when I play the piano, my left hand does great. I play tennis right-handed, but I also enjoy playing left-handed. I'm not nearly as good playing left-handed, but as recreational tennis goes, I play just fine left-handed. 

But here's the thing that we all know: No matter how well I practice and develop my left hand playing the piano and tennis, I will always be right-handed. Which means . . .

My left hand plays the supporting role to the lead role of my right hand.

And unlike Raphael Nadal—the right-handed king of clay who plays tennis left-handed—that's not something I can hide from my tennis friend on the other side of the net.

She knows.

Ditto with my P and J preference.

I can't hide it.

(And probably, neither can you.)

My outer world "let's keep it open-ended and spontaneous" accommodating Perceiving side plays the supporting role to my "let's decide and move on" closure-motivated Judging side.  

Because as much as I do like to keep the paint wet, I do so only if it helps buy me time to envision more clearly what to do next, what to decide, toward what I set out to create: a finished painting. (I mean this as a metaphor, but I actually am a painter.) I like wet paint. But you know what I like even more? Dry paint.

Ps like wet paint.

Js like dry paint.

 

2. Explore or Score 

My goal, especially when it comes to my work, whether self-directed or as a member of a team is simple. 

To score.

And you can't score without a goal. 

My INFJ operating system runs a lot like an INTJ's (because we're both Introverted Intuitive). I take a deep total-focus dive to the bottom of the sea and bring to the surface the best options I can come up with—then I pick one. 

As a J, when I work on a project, I aim to line up the choices—like an INTJ, choices generated by my vision/by what I envision, namely, by my Intuition (N)—in front of the black-robed judge of my heart and soul and mind then hand down a decision. Decision after decision . . . relentlessly . . . till I get the project over the finish line. To one degree or another, FJs prefer to give the edge to their heart and soul (F: Feeling—my "Decider," my Judge), while TJs and TPs prefer to give the edge to their mind (T: Thinking—their "Decider," their Judge). 

I run on the rocket-fuel of decisions.

Decisions (judgments, evaluations, choices) about how best to move forward, do this or that, this way or that way—how best to inspire and encourage others to make choices that move them forward or us forward, eagerly cheerleading their choices if they strike me as sound, to keep us moving toward our goal. Say, to design a house, select a flight, or complete a chapter of a book. 

(Or tap out a hilariously wayyyyy long comment online.)

Even if all I decide is to make a tentative plan or "working decision," I'm programmed not to explore in an open-ended way just for the sake of exploring as my INTP friends tend to do, who feel like a fish in water not deciding, not drawing a conclusion, not making a judgment about yes or no, or stop or go . . . simply enjoying the bliss of the exploring itself. 

Ps like to explore.

Js like to score.

 

3. Journey or Destination

For a P, the journey is the destination. 

The destination plays the supporting role to the journey.

For a J, the journey leads to the destination. 

The journey plays the supporting role to the destination.

That's why a J sets out on a trip in the first place: to get somewhere. Even if our destination turns out blissfully to be other than what we thought—and as much as we seek to enjoy the journey—the journey has little meaning if it doesn't help us get where we hope to go.

That said, both desires, both life pleasures—journey and destination—can be wonderfully balanced for both a P and a J (just as both hands can be—and typically must be—to play the piano well). But for the P and the J, when it comes to which leads and which follows on the dance floor of life—journey vs destination, spontaneity vs goal, "explore-for-explore sake" vs "explore-for-desired-destination sake," "leave it open-ended" or "let's check it off the list," "let's figure it out as we go" or "let's make a plan"—P and J type people tend to choose opposite sides of life's ballroom coin.

 

(OK, I'm drunk on metaphors, but you catch my drift?)

 

4. For Example: Road Trip

My INTP friend set out on a road trip from Seattle to San Francisco. He didn't book any motels before he set out on his three-night trip.

He texted me along the way, "You wouldn't do that, would you?" We laughed. Nothing's funnier than the truth.

No. I'd research the route and motel costs and estimate time and money and book reservations for all three nights. I might change the reservations en route, but I'm unlikely to set out without those three motel reservations functioning at least as placeholders.

My P friend doesn't need placeholders. In fact, he doesn't want them. He'll get to San Francisco. How he gets there—spontaneously, exploringly—that's what rocks his boat.

But stir this into my J road-trip mix, showing how our P/J sides balance us in individual ways, unique to each of us. Other than those three checkpoints (those 3 motel reservations) along the way, plus the start time and destination time (for which I'd allow wiggle room, my P/J blend), I'd P my way along the route spontaneously with regard to all stops in between . . . eager for surprises and serendipity-moments that cause me to detour and do things I didn't plan.

So nope.

J doesn't stand for Journey.

P doesn't stand for Plan.

 

(By the way, my INTP friend and I go together like Peanut butter & Jelly.)

 

5. Buddy Movie

Where do you fall along the P to J spectrum? You might be at one end of the spectrum to the extreme. Or you might fence-straddle the two.

Either way, remember: We all have a P side and a J side to our unique personalities. It just boils down to how well developed each side is in their own right and also relative to one another—and which hand, P or J, has the upper hand in our lives. Which one is our default. Because it's our go-to mode. The one we lean on more. Trust more. 

Which one, in the movie of our lives, plays the best friend and which one plays the hero. 

But our P & J buddies, to one degree or another, always operate in us, encouraging us to sort out how much we choose to wait and see (P) or plan and go (J).

Ready. Fire. Aim. (P)

Or

Ready. Aim. Fire. (J)

Our P side goes with the flow and doesn't plan. Acts spontaneously. Lives in the moment. 

Our J side looks down the road, sketches out a plan of what we hope lies ahead. Maps out the future. 

 

6. Are you Star-Lord or Rocket?

Ask yourself as you watch GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY or read the following scene from the movie:

Is Peter Quill (aka Star-Lord) P or J? 

How 'bout Rocket?

 

  • Peter Quill : I have a plan. 

    Rocket Raccoon : You've got a plan? Okay, first of all, you're copying me from when I said I had a plan. 

    Peter Quill : I'm not copying you, I have a plan, that's not that unique of a thing to say. 

    Rocket Raccoon : And secondly, I don't think you even have a plan. 

    Peter Quill : I have part of a plan. 

    Drax the Destroyer : What percentage of a plan do you have? 

    ...

    Peter Quill : I dunno... Twelve percent? 

 

So while it might not be entirely true of all Ps and Js, from what I've seen in the behavior of people I know, when it comes to INTPs and INFPs vs INTJs and INFJs—and in the P & J mix, the swing, the sliding scale, within myself:

Ps plan 12% and don't plan 88%.

Js plan 88% and don't plan 12%.

 

Ps roll. The trust their gut as they blaze a trail to reach their goals. 

Js map. They trust their vision-plan as they follow their yellow-brick road.

 

But in ways unique to each of us, no matter which one plays the lead in the P/J Buddy Movie of our lives, we are all both Star-Lord and Rocket. 

 

7. Who am I?

The analogy of left and right hand? I owe that analogy to the Myers-Briggs SME (Subject Matter Expert) Isabel Briggs Myers and her remarkable book Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type. 

 

(But don't take the left hand/right hand analogy too literally because as Myers makes clear, unlike our handedness, we are not born with our MBTI profile—on the contrary, we learn it: we learn through experience and inner and outer shaping forces which faculties we most trust.) 

 

As I turned one page after another in Myers's book, the fog of confusion lifted. 

 

On page 75, INFP Myers (daughter of INFJ Katherine Cook Briggs) shows a table of "Effects of the JP Preference." She lists 10 contrasting preferences of "Judging Types" vs "Perceiving Types." I'm not going to cherry pick them. Here are all 10 pairs (no surprise to me, my INFP truelove put a checkmark in her copy of the book next to every statement about Perceiving Types):

 

  • Judging Types "Are more decisive than curious."
  • Perceiving Types "Are more curious than decisive."
  • Judging Types "Live according to plans, standards, and customs not easily or lightly set aside, to which the situation of the moment must, if possible, be made to conform." 
  • Perceiving Types "Live according to the situation of the moment and adjust themselves easily to the accidental and the unexpected." 
  • Judging Types "Make a very definite choice among life's possibilities, but may not appreciate or utilize unplanned, unexpected, and incidental happenings."
  • Perceiving Types "Are frequently masterful in their handling of the unplanned, unexpected, and incidental, but may not make an effective choice among life's possibilities."
  • Judging Types "Being Rational, they depend on reasoned judgment, their own or borrowed from someone else, to protect them from unnecessary undesirable experiences."
  • Perceiving Types "Being empirical, they depend on readiness for anything and everything to bring them a constant flow of new experience—much more than they can digest."
  • Judging Types "Like to have matters settled and decided as promptly as possible, so that they will know what is going to happen and can plan for it and be prepared for it." 
  • Perceiving Types "Like to keep decisions open as long as possible before doing anything irrevocable, because they don't know nearly enough about it yet." 
  • Judging Types "Think or feel that they know what other people ought to do about almost everything, and are not averse to telling them."
  • Perceiving Types "Know what other people are doing, and are interested to see how it comes out."
  • Judging Types "Take real pleasure in getting something finished, out of the way, and off their minds."
  • Perceiving Types "Take great pleasure starting something new, until the newness wears off."
  • Judging Types "Are inclined to regard the perceptive type as aimless drifters." 
  • Perceiving Types "Are inclined to regard the judging types as only half alive."
  • Judging Types "Aim to be right." 
  • Perceiving Types "Aim to miss nothing."
  • Judging Types "Are self-regimented, purposeful, and exacting."
  • Perceiving Types "Are flexible, adaptable, and tolerant."

 

And remember, at least as I see it, we're in a buddy movie, but titled toward one buddy more than the other. Whichever preference has the upper hand in us, we are not simply, totally, even the most extreme Ps or Js, 100% one or the other all the time. We all express in our outer lives some individual preference for the ratio of how these two competing preferences blend or partner, depending on the circumstances—perhaps, like me, swinging from 12% P / 88% J to 88% P / 12% J. (Especially when I pal around with my fun-loving, spontaneous, ESFP Star-Lord friend, truly "The Entertainer.") 

 

As one of my J friends puts it, "We give Ps an axis. They give us the spin."

 

Thanks to Gifts Differing, the fog lifted not only about my JP preference. But also about my EI preference and TF preference. 

Plus, I learned the answer to this over-arching question: Who is the General that runs my show? Perceiving or Judging? 

 

Get ready for a head-scratcher, because surprise, the general that runs my INFJ show? Perceiving (N: Intuition). Ditto for an INTJ. Because for us, while our J preference in the outer world manifests itself as the rocket-fuel of decisions, rocket fuel isn't Mission Control. That's run by our General, who stays in our tent, our inner world, running our show behind the scenes, sending our Aide (our judging process: F/Feeling for INFJ and T/Thinking for INTJ) into the outer world to make decisions that manifest themselves as a J (Judging) preference. But these decisions flow from the perceptions of the INFJ's and INTJ's General: Intuition.

 

And for an INTP? The general that runs their show? Again, surprise. Judging (T: Thinking). Because for an INTP, while their P preference in the outer world manifests itself as the rocket-fuel of curiosity, rocket fuel isn't Mission Control. Myers says of types like INTP, "Introverts whose dominant process is a judging process, either thinking or feeling, do not outwardly act like judging people. What shows on the outside is the perceptiveness of their auxiliary process, and they live their outer lives mainly in the perceptive attitude" (Gifts Differing, p. 13). As for all introverts, an INTP's General acts behind the scenes, pulling the strings from the safety of their inner world, sending their Aide (their perceiving process: N—Intuition), an INTP's second most adult and conscientious process, into the outer world to explore, manifesting itself as a P (Perceiving) preference. But curiosity and exploration flow from the judgements of the INTP's General: Thinking.

 

Introverts only present their General's Aide, their auxiliary process, their second best faculty, to the outer world, not their General. And for an INTP, the second best process is Perceiving (P). And for an INTJ and their next-door neighbor, INFJ, the second best process is Judging (J).

 

I'm doing the best I can to put accurately into words my grasp of these concepts. But go to the horse's mouth, Gifts Differing. Isabel Briggs Myers lays it all out great. The analogy of the General and the Aide? That's her analogy too.

 

Thanks to Myers & Briggs, the mother-and-daughter team of social scientists who created the deeply insightful architecture of 16 personality types, especially and crucially in the form of Myers's book, I've inched closer to an answer to the question at the heart of the human condition: Who am I?

 

Gifts Differing has helped me to do what the ancient Greeks advised (one of the Delphic maxims inscribed in the vestibule of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi): "Know Thyself." 

Isabel helped me to see my inner architecture.

What makes me tick.

And others too. 

 

Like my explorer San Francisco-bound INTP friend, blissfully hitting the road without having made pre-trip overnight reservations . . . traveling wide-eyed . . . and spontaneously . . . adaptable and free . . . aiming to miss nothing . . . 

 

Thrilled to have set out on his adventure (I can see the movie poster), "Motel-less from Seattle."

 

Steven123 (not verified) says...

Still don't know if I'm really intj or intp lol. 

It's like I take traits from both types. For example, when I'm discussing with my other INTP friend, he tends to think and speak much faster than I am. I'm almost always asking "what's the point" while he says " There isn't any, this is just a discussion." I think he's more unconventional than I am in terms of dressing and courtesy.

However I take very long to make decisions and I can be very indecisive. I tend to explain out of context and I tend to procrastinate a lot (till I feel good or strong enough to do something). I don't really know

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