Seriously, Why Does Everyone Think They're INTJ?

Something I've noticed: there are more articles for INTJs out there than for any other type. And apparently, they’re all written by INTJ authors.

This means one of two things.

Either, that a handful of super-productive bloggers are churning out an ungodly amount of articles about their type. Or, there are way too many INTJs – far more than the statistics reckon there are, which is around 2 percent of the population.

Now, these hypotheses are vague and irritating answers, and logically inconsistent. If I told you that 20 percent of the population were INTJ and every piece of research ever conducted was completely wrong on this issue, could you stomach it? Clearly, there’s something else going on here. So let’s take a look at why someone – even the most unlikely candidate – might think he’s INTJ.

1. Birds of a feather flock together

It’s no secret that INTJs are programmed to be analytical and naval-gazey, so there’s a fair chance that INTJs who’ve heard of personality typing disproportionately take the test.

How disproportionate? Well, there’s a guy on Quora who reckons that 28 percent of all personality test-takers are INTJ. That’s a massive number! I don’t know where these figures come from but even if they’re wildly inaccurate, it gives you some sense of the magnitude of the discrepancy.

If I might go a step further, and this is totally anecdotal evidence, the more relieved someone is to discover that he’s not “weird” and just INTJ, the more likely he is to shout about it from the online rooftops. The internet is a safe space for the socially awkward and INTJs surely find a community there. Online, if not in life, we come out of hiding.

So, it’s not that people are testing wrong, and it’s not that there are more INTJs than the data suggests there are. It just looks that way because they’re all hanging out in one place.

2. Wishful thinking a.k.a confirmation bias

Since the 16-type system is a self-reported test, it’s only accurate if people answer the questions truthfully. Unfortunately, a lot of people game the system to claim the “rare” or “cool” type they most want to be.

For some reason – and I assume it’s because they want to feel special, intelligent, rare or gifted and have somehow forgotten the robotic, nerdy, heartless and socially awkward part – INTJ is a type that people want to be. In an era where weirdness is cool, INTJ looks fifty shades of enigmatic compared to the other types and let’s face it, being rare is a bonanza for the ego. So, they keep taking the test until they get the preferred result.

Most of the aspiration here focuses on Intuition over Sensing. Not so long ago, it was desirable to be Extraverted over Introverted since Introverts were perceived as shy, underperforming and standoffish. Now, the pendulum has swung the other way. Sensing hasn’t received the same renaissance. In many ways, it’s still seen as the little brother to Intuition which, being both rare (30 percent of the population) and “extrasensory,” is imbued with all sorts of mystical powers.  

Who doesn’t want to be rare and ethereal and have flashes of superhuman illumination? If I were a linear, logical, specific, boring ISTJ, would I keep taking the test until I tipped over into Intuition? Would I?

3. They are unintentionally testing wrong

When you take a personality test in a professional setting, you are warned to answer truthfully as you really are. Not as you wish to be, and not as the persona you take on at work to get the job done. Ignore this advice, and it’s pretty obvious that your results won’t bear any resemblance to your true personality.

This is good advice …. but it assumes that people are capable of greater personal insight than they actually are. “It is as hard to see one's self as to look backwards without turning around,” wrote Henry David Thoreau, and the difficulty is multiplied tenfold when you’re parsing multiple personas – boss, wife, mother, volunteer, counselor and family maid. We’re vastly complex beings. Knowing yourself is much harder than it sounds.

Who is more likely to get it wrong and test INTJ when they’re not? Well, ISTJ is the obvious choice. INTJs and ISTJs have a lot in common. They both:

  • Are Introverted
  • Have auxiliary Extraverted Thinking, so will make decisions using logic and objective analysis
  • Have tertiary Introverted Feeling, so are private about their feelings and won’t be led (misled?) by their emotions. Both types have a strong moral compass that guides their decision-making.

The only difference is how they think about the world: Introverted Intuition for INTJs (focusing on big picture ideas using symbols, hunches, patterns, clues and other impressions) and Introverted Sensing for ISTJs (focusing on practical, matter-of-fact details and concrete realities – what is, rather than what could be).

Is that one difference enough to tip the personality scales in the right direction? With a perfect test, it should be. But consider ….

4. Many tests are biased to throw out Intuitives

Is it possible that the test is biased to throw out INTJs left and right when clearly the test-takers are something else? I think so. On a personality assessment, questions that are designed to spot an Intuitive preference as easy to find.

One of my favorite test questions is this one: “Your mind is always buzzing with unexplored ideas and possibilities.” Obvious, right? Any question that features words like “possibilities,” “ideas,” “imagination” and “future” is leaning in the direction of Intuition.

In the interests of research, I ran this question by my friend. She answered with a “strongly agree.” So, I asked her to elaborate. “My mind is always buzzing with ideas for creating new home furnishings, what we can do on vacation, activities I can do with my scout group,”  she said. “And you know I’d love to turn my home furnishings ideas into a business someday.”

Is my friend an Intuitive? Nope. She’s a walking-talking stereotype of an ESFJ. She clearly churns out ideas by the bucket load, but look at her ideas. They’re all so enviously real. And as much as she enjoys the possibility of her future business idea, she barely has the time between her day job, her family commitments, her volunteering, community groups, yoga classes and all the other stuff she packs her days with to do anything about it. The test doesn’t do justice to the breadth and depth of the roles she plays.

Me? I answered this question positively too, but less emphatically than my friend. I only “agree” that my “mind is always buzzing with unexplored ideas and plans” because – INTJs will recognize this – if it’s a great idea, I won’t leave it unexplored! I’ll do something about it, even if it’s just sitting in a dark room for several hours mulling over the variables and deciding whether to accept or reject the hypothesis.

As for the “buzzing” part, who’s to say that my friend’s definition of buzzing is the same of mine? My head is so buzzy, I carry it as background noise. Maybe my friend spots her ideas more than I do, because they come less frequently. Maybe her ideas are more realistic and implementable than mine so she pays more attention to them – I’m not her, and I can’t even begin to understand the rich and broad nature of the way we receive information.  

But you can see how certain questions trigger an Intuition preference, giving an INTJ type description result to people who really should be typing as something else.

Do you know for certain you’re an INTJ?

How do you know for certain that you’re an INTJ? Unless you peg out to the extreme of all four dichotomies, I’m not sure you can. Even when you’re a clear-cut case, there’s a risk that you’ve been less than truthful with yourself, like someone who lacks social skills claiming the INTJ label as a crutch.

All of this is one hundred percent completely normal.

And it doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter that someone’s typed INTJ when the label doesn’t fit him perfectly. Maybe it fits him 70 percent, and that’s good enough. Maybe he’s a stressed out ESFP who’s got it horrendously wrong, but following the guidance for INTJs will help bring him back to normality. Maybe he’s looking for relationship advice and the tips for INTJs have been the most helpful.

Point is, personality type was never meant to explain everything. Does it matter if someone thinks he’s INTJ when he’s not, as long as he’s getting something from the label?

Jayne Thompson

Jayne is a freelance copywriter, business writing blogger and the blog editor here at Truity. One part word nerd, two parts skeptic, she helps writing-challenged clients discover the amazing power of words on a page. Jayne is an INTJ and lives in Yorkshire, UK with her ENTJ husband and two baffling children. Find Jayne at White Rose Copywriting.

Comments

xXx (not verified) says...

I completely understand the 'issue' and the possibilities mentioned here seemed to be valid - in certain percentage of the final result. The thing is that also one of main characteristics of INTJ is actually that as they are focused internally in their own processes and systems, they are most probable to get to know themselves for example to get their own inner world working as efficiently as possible and that would of course also mean to map the system, optimally to the most possible extent.

Also statistically speaking- most extroverted people don't need to go so deep into their own personality, they usually are focused on external world, being in social situations etc. Types other than INTJ are usually also not so interested in that particular goals of changing the world, spend less time in research. Not everyone also likes analysing things that much and like constantly, every item in the world around them. Majority is also not so interested in self development. Nowadays it is all quite popular. Yet, INTJ type, amongst others of course, have this inner desire naturally.

People with this kind of interest in things and how things and people work are sooner or later bound to find MBTI, Big Five, etc. Personally I noticed not many people U meet actually know about MBTI - it is different from people U meet on the internet.

Like research of political prefference - there is always huge difference in between the research thru internet and other - plastic - way of research.

Also - how about INTP ? ENTP, ENFJ or ENTJ? INTPs for example have very similar traits to INTJ.

And I would also mention to the tests - yes, the questions are actually so easy to read that it can be easilly manipulated or unintentionally misrepresented. Like many people misinterpret shyness with introversion.

It is upon each individual, if they become interested in the topic to research more and validate the type, wheter it really fits their inner working to get the most out of it.

Leanna (not verified) says...

I would say it depends on the test you take too. You can answer the same answers to the same questions from two different provider's tests and get different results. Also interesting to note that most people don't pay for an official test. In fact, some don't take a test at all! Some just compare themselves to memes on the internet and go, "Oh wow, every single INTJ meme reminds me of me!"

I know depending on the test it will put me as ISTJ or INTJ. I'm pretty sure I'm one of the real INTJ's, though. It's the same for me with more ideas than I can implement, realistic or not, currently attainable or not. It would be hard for me to believe your a Sensing type when your daily dreams are Instantaneous transporter (I know this is far in the future, I'm still working on it all right!!) and a Dinosaur Zoo (after many trips to the African Jungle and lots of bioengineering).

KellyL (not verified) says...

Unless you test everyone on the planet, there's no way of knowing that an INTJ is so "rare" and only 2% of the population. Maybe most INTJs are the only ones taking these kind of personality tests, and writing about them.

Oh please (not verified) says...

Well actaully thats not correct at all. If it was then all statistics known to human kind would be wrong! It's called a population sample. Look it up

pagesculptor says...

I actually tested as INTJ the first time around. Immediately that was a red flag.  I thought, "no way I could be that rare or clever." Or maybe that introverted.  I mean I am introverted, but man can I put on a good face and be an entertainer.  Again, it boiled down to I am just not this rare or clever.

So I read through all the rest and figured I am an ENTP on a good day and ENTJ on a grouchy day. They just seemed to fit more of my daily nature.  Of course, we can never really see how we are. For years people would tell me how others just did not think or act like me, and I thought they were crazy.  It isn't only until my 40s that I realized they were right.

So I guess it doesn't really matter is about as good as it gets.

Oh please (not verified) says...

What? it has nothing to do with how clever you are! the very fact you said this proves you are not!

Rachael Kvapil (not verified) says...

And how is pointing out the obvious supporting your argument? 

 

CSLuke (not verified) says...

I just have to say, I am an INTJ (a real one mind you; so much so that this is one of the few times I will post a comment in a public space) and this is the funniest article I have read in quite some time. Considder, "Is my friend an Intuitive? Nope. She’s a walking-talking stereotype of an ESFJ. She clearly churns out ideas by the bucket load, but look at her ideas. They’re all so enviously real."-- Truth. Also, "It doesn’t matter that someone’s typed INTJ when the label doesn’t fit him perfectly. Maybe it fits him 70 percent, and that’s good enough. Maybe he’s a stressed out ESFP who’s got it horrendously wrong, but following the guidance for INTJs will help bring him back to normality. Maybe he’s looking for relationship advice and the tips for INTJs have been the most helpful."--I think that it is quite possible for an ESFP to get there, but he came to the wrong place for relationship advice!!

"Online, if not in life, we come out of hiding."-- I disagree. While it may be easier to vocalize our voices, we do not feel oligated to peep out and show our selves.

Thanks for this wonderful article!

Sam G. (not verified) says...

Good question you ask, and I really enjoyed reading this. I agree, we all like hanging out in the same cyber spaces. That makes perfect sense. My son, who tested ISTJ (and he is boring 😂), could easily test INTJ at times.

I knew for certain I was an INTJ when I was looking through one of my MBTI books and it said “Right now, INTJs are looking through every page of this book to see what applies to them.” Seems like it’s the same thing on the web.

Anyway, glad I opened and read this :)

Nach (not verified) says...

What this article even encessary?

I mean, you are not giving groundbreaking information here, rather rehashing what people who criticise the MBTI like to peruse about: "It's grooming you into answering for a certain type.'' ...Really? If this test was geared to churn out intuitives, you would have more of them in the statistics of the general population, don't you think?

Also, don't confuse online PRESENCE with dominance of intuitives. A lot of the people who are online are there as a "relief" from the external world and its flurry of commitments, financial burden, social expectations and sensory overload. Most of them are definite, introverts, not necessarily intuitives or even thinkers. Some of them only post sporadically (i.e comment sections of any online publication), others consider an online forum some sort of private club where they can gather anytime of the day (i.e reddit, quora, etc).

Overall, this article was pointless and useless. "It doesn't matter", just like you concluded.

AnINTJ (not verified) says...

The article's supposition ignores a (or the) likely cause of the over-representation of INTJ articles (if this is indeed even true) and then goes on to support related errant logic streams.  More precisely there is a sampling error in trying to correlate the prevalence in the general population of a phenomenon with the frequency of internet blogs on the subject.  

Using this logic, I expect to see dinosaurs, flying cars, and the zombie apocalypse.  But I don't.  What gives?

Tepishane_13 (not verified) says...

I tested as an INTJ when I was in a highly extroverted major in college. This was the actual test the school paid for, and it seemed to be highly accurate. When the counselor was explaining the 16 types to us, she skipped INTJ because, "There's no INTJ here, right?" After a year, I eventually shifted to another program. 

I'm really friendly, lazy, and clumsy, and I am against world domination. My friends don't even accept me as an INTJ because of the psycho-stigma it has. Hahaha. I guess pin-pointing the real INTJs isn't that easy at all. Many INTJs have grown into better versions of the stereotype such that we look really normal. : )) 

Sad INTJ (not verified) says...

So INTJ of you to make an article to dismantle INTJdom, but then basing it off how many internet blogs that are written by INTJ proclaimed authors - not the most accurate measuring stick, wouldn't you think? 

With that said, I don't know why anyone would want to type as an INTJ for fun. There's a reason most people type as sensors, because it's usually quite accurate - especially the actual test. I do type wrong often, usually as an INTP, which I think may come out when I'm not sleeping enough and turbulently diving into my work without much pre-thought. Sometimes I test as INFJ when my self-esteem plummets and I go into people-pleasing mode. Otherwise my Fe is the lowest function. I could even see myself testing as an ENTJ in the future when I get over my ego and start to appreciate the value of networking. Find your best matching cognitive functions and keep trying to discover more about yourself - the more you know, the more success you will drive.  Like you say at the end, it doesn't matter.

Najwa (not verified) says...

Bismillah, 

Based on the opinion given to the issue, I can say that it is back to how we view our self. Maybe most people INTJs, they jus don't realize it yet because every human being is leader in this world. We just have to improve and maybe we all can create a better world for future generation.

Guest (not verified) says...

300 years from now the meyer briggs personality test will just be considered a farce, similar to how astrology is regarded nowadays.

(not that I think astrology or meyer briggs is bs, truth nuggets can be derived from nearly anything)

Wonder what new thing will replace it. Probably a virtual reality simulator personality test. Now that may be accurate.

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