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The INTP Personality Type

INTPs are philosophical innovators, fascinated by logical analysis, systems, and design. They are preoccupied with theory, and search for the universal law behind everything they see. They want to understand the unifying themes of life, in all their complexity.

INTPs are detached, analytical observers who can seem oblivious to the world around them because they are so deeply absorbed in thought. They spend much of their time focused internally: exploring concepts, making connections, and seeking understanding. To the Architect, life is an ongoing inquiry into the mysteries of the universe.

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What does INTP stand for?

INTP is an acronym used to describe one of the sixteen personality types created by Katharine Briggs and Isabel Myers. It stands for Introverted, iNtuitive, Thinking, Perceiving. INTP indicates a person who is energized by time alone (Introverted), who focuses on ideas and concepts rather than facts and details (iNtuitive), who makes decisions based on logic and reason (Thinking) and who prefers to be spontaneous and flexible rather than planned and organized (Perceiving). INTPs are sometimes referred to as Architect personalities because of their intuitive understanding of complex systems.

How common is the INTP personality type?

INTP is one of the less common types in the population, especially for women. Among women, INTP is the fourth rarest type (after INTJ, ENTJ, and INFJ). INTPs make up:

  • 3% of the general population
  • 5% of men
  • 2% of women

Famous INTPs

Famous INTPs include Albert Einstein, Thomas Jefferson, Rene Descartes, Charles Darwin, Marie Curie, Socrates, and Abraham Lincoln.

For more information: Famous INTPs

INTP Values and Motivations

INTPs present a cool exterior but are privately passionate about reason, analysis, and innovation. They seek to create complex systems of understanding to unify the principles they've observed in their environments. Their minds are complicated and active, and they will go to great mental lengths trying to devise ingenious solutions to interesting problems.

The INTP is typically non-traditional, and more likely to reason out their own individual way of doing things than to follow the crowd. The INTP is suspicious of assumptions and conventions, and eager to break apart ideas that others take for granted. INTPs are merciless when analyzing concepts and beliefs, and hold little sacred. They are often baffled by other people who remain loyal to ideology that doesn't make logical sense.

How Others See the INTP

INTPs are often thoroughly engaged in their own thoughts, and usually appear to others to be offbeat and unconventional. The INTP’s mind is a most active place, and their inward orientation can mean that they neglect superficial things like home décor or appropriate clothing. They don’t tend to bother with small talk but can become downright passionate when talking about science, mathematics, computers, or the larger theoretical problems of the universe. Reality is often of only passing interest to the Architect, as they are more interested in the theory behind it all.

INTPs are typically precise in their speech, and communicate complex ideas with carefully chosen words. They insist on intellectual rigor in even the most casual of conversations, and will readily point out inconsistencies of thought or reasoning. Social niceties may fall by the wayside for an INTP who is more interested in analyzing logic, and they may offend others by submitting their dearly held values and beliefs to logical scrutiny.

For more information: The Art of SpeedReading People

INTP Hobbies and Interests

Popular leisure activities for an INTP include reading, art and cultural events, chess and other strategy games, writing, taking classes, working with computers, backpacking, hiking, and meditation.

Facts about INTPs

Interesting facts about the INTP:

  • On personality trait measures, score as Candid, Ingenious, Complicated, Independent, and Rebellious
  • More likely than other types to study a foreign language
  • Most frequent type among college students committing alcohol and drug policy violations
  • Have lowest level of coping resources of all the types (with ISTPs)
  • One of types least likely to believe in a higher spiritual power
  • Highest of all types in career dissatisfaction (with INFPs)
  • In school, have lower grades than would be predicted from aptitude scores
  • More likely than average to complete engineering programs
  • Personal values include Autonomy, Freedom, and Independence
  • Overrepresented among working MBA students
  • Commonly found in science and technical occupations

Source: MBTI Manual

Quotes About INTPs

"INTPs are perhaps the most intellectually profound of all the types."

- Isabel Briggs Myers, Gifts Differing

"What is important is that the underlying structures of the universe be uncovered and articulated, and that whatever is stated about the universe be stated correctly, with coherence and without redundancy."

- David Keirsey, Please Understand Me II

"INTPs are free-spirited idea mills and absentminded professors, which makes them fun to be around, easily diverted, and a plethora of unending creativity."

- Otto Kroeger, Type Talk at Work

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Comments

INTP 2-Percenter (not verified) says...

Maybe it's a Feeler who has just traipsed through the INTP comments.

Jennifer Miller (not verified) says...

Not likely. LOL. 

Ignacio Beltrán (not verified) says...

My best friend is a Psychologist which I tell uses ONE channel to arrive at a conclusion: that of realism, the kind that you can see and count. INTPs have many more channels: the creative, intuitive, deep perception and thought that would just be similar to a VW Bug trying to race a Ferrari.

At the end, he hates to say: It seems you are right on your asertions, after a year of saying how wrong and out of reality an idea he dislikes, is. LOL.

SaraSerenity93 (not verified) says...

That's anecdotal evidence.

Guest (not verified) says...

Almost 100% accurate and the only test sample is yourself? Your experience is only one experience, I doubt you can validate the entire system with it (no mean to be rude).

In my opinion, what most sites say is correct: this is a guide, not prescription. And the fact is that some may be between two personality types as well: I get both INTP and INFP depending on what test I take- and in a sense this excludes me from both personality types as the system depends on the subject having strong preferences to determine personality. INTP's are described as logical and mathematical bordering on cold, and INFP's as artistic and emotional- due to only the difference between thinking and feeling these two types are cast as almost opposites.

If you score strongly as one personality type, then yes, this test is probably pretty helpful, as it describes what the ultimate character of that type would be. But for most people(?) this is not the case as people can be between two traits, or be between four traits so therefore between several personalities. But like I said before, it is hard to say that I am both personality types as there isn't any analysis or diagnosis on what it means to be both a thinker and a feeler, which probably changes the what a IN*P is altogether.

Guest (not verified) says...

Wow all you INTPs sound like intriguing, mechanical aliens to me xD I'm an ENFP O.o

Cene (not verified) says...

Hahahaha...We arent - We're just very, very smart.

Guest (not verified) says...

As an INTP, I would describe myself as intelligent, but not smart :p

Guest (not verified) says...

this is the most profound comment ever, i have arrived at this conclusion a 1000 times. i would like to say as an INTP, our talents and skill sets are the most useful , I will call it overbalanced, like a computer. Being smart is being able to navigate life and get ahead no matter what and not letting your values get between you and progress. As human computers, INTP's neglect the value of feelings and feeling can atimes just be a shorter window to achieving your goal other than hard logic. To be smart, intp's need to substitute their hard wired logical reasoning talents as a background machine, and let in a lot more of feeling and illogical banter, then they would seem more normal to the world but still be able to apply their power of machine thinking at any given moment. If you stick to your raw machining thinking all the time, you would have a harder time passing through the world..... simple!

INTP's are mostly intelligent, not smart, because intp's don't use people, intp's dont really gossip, intp's beleive in good over evil.

sorry my typing and grammar is bad, ......

mdoheny says...

thanks .. i was on the fence between being an INTP or an ISTP when i read this :
"not smart, because intp's don't use people, intp's dont really gossip, intp's beleive in good over evil"

now, how to get smart and stop letting less intelligent people use me? (i mean ... us lol)

Undisclosed (not verified) says...

I agree with you totally, other than the statement "INTP's believe in good over evil.". If that is the case, I am the Moriarty of the Sherlock Holmes. I believe INTP's can develop a great understanding of "The Gray Area" in life. Even though we call ourselves the "computers" out of the human species. We are much more than a true, false processor. With all the knowledge and wisdom we can amass and call upon, we could all deduce that nothing can be good or evil in a true sense, but maybe that's just me?

Unnerved by INTP (not verified) says...

agree. we dance in the gray areas. 

Scott Stratton (not verified) says...

I see nothing in the world but greater and lesser shades of grey ... in greater or lesser patterns of complexity ... in more loosely or more intricately linked connections; and with all of it in motion; changing. Those who see only black and white are necessarily seeing selectively and often transforming what they see, sometimes extraoridinarily so. However, there are times when clarity of purpose and action is the greatest need, and the INTPs endlessly swirling greys are crippling, then And then there are those that see light (or dark) so strongly, and their own personality is so powerful that they can impose their view of the world onto it, and change it ... and sometimes that is what is needed.

INTPs, perhaps better than anyone else, can see all of these things for what they are: see when analysis must give way to action and how harnessing emotions as a tool and "seeing" (or tactically choosing to see) only one truth for a while is the optimal strategy ... but the INTP cannot do it themselves. They can see that the White Knight whose strength of conviction ignores 90% of the actual reality, and they see how the White Knight will change the world anyway, maybe for the good but never in the simple way they think ... the most penetrating INTPs see exactly how that black & white view + choices and actions + reactions + time + luck will inevitablye fracture into shades of gray ... they see, but with seeing can they use that knowledge to do it themselves (if it is necessary)? Or it would result in a worse world - can they use that knowledge to interevene? Rarely, I think. That is one of our great weaknesses.

INTPs, I believe, are deep and profound thinkers and often have a clearer view of the world - and what forces and systems move it - than any other type; but like all types,it is what we do with that ability, and whether we can overcome our particular weaknesses that determines if the particular person is extraordinary or not; is "smart" and not just "intelligent". I think that equation exists for all and is not dependent on type; only the specifics of their strengths and weaknesses and the actual life they live.

willowrivers (not verified) says...

I am an INTP. i identify so much with the person who sees himself self as intelligent but not sure about smart. to me, they are very different things. i possess intelligence because i have the ability to learn, to analyze, to express myself, to research until I find the information I seek, to meet most any challenge BUT that doesn't mean the things I do are always smart. I make dumb decisions and dumb comments. I also frequently book myself to be in more than one place at a time...

Jesse Richardson (not verified) says...

I have been called smart many times in my life, but have felt stupid an equal amount. I like distinguishing between being intelligent and being smart. I work with computer programmers in my daily job and it's a constant reminder of the fact I am not smart. I've lost count of how many times I've made what I thought was a smart comment only to have it completely shot down by one of the programmers. However, I am creative, worldly, and philosophical; so I am able to draw on these traits which equate to wisdom and intelligence. To me, knowledge = smart; wisdom = intelligence.

INTP-Josh-582 says...

we are the coldest humans, but the WARMEST machines. but make no mistake, as an actual human being, i DESPERATELY want to utilise my Fe much more than my capability allows me. i desperately seek human connection--i just don't know how to be successful at that grand endeavor of mine to the level of success that i desire. my inability to properly read social cues is my achilles heel, i.e. not picking up on when someone close to me needs emotional support based on non-verbal communication such as body language or ambiguous hints. this has damaged all of my romantic relationships, as well as putting strains on my familial ones. but yes--we are like the warmest, gentlest robot that you'll ever meet. just allow us to articulate our ideas to you in our manner of communication (monologue form in most cases) and do not argue a point based on your emotions and we'll get along just fine. and for the love of god (in my way of thinking: the perfection of the universe--i suppose you could cal me an agnostic deist) JUST TELL US when you need emotional help because we will most likely NOT pick up on your non-verbal cues. be concrete in your pleas for need because ambiguity will not get you what you desire from us. and just understand that most of us WANT to establish deep human connections with others, we just don't quite know how that process works. and if you romantically like us, DO NOT PLAY GAMES--just tell us; that being said, we'll tell you right back whether or not we like you. but don't get offended if we say that we are not interested—we value the truth above all things and our honesty can come off as quite brutal at times, but spreading misinformation is tantamount to sinfulness to the INTP. treat us gently—for most of us carry around a child-like innocence to us; and despite our outside appearances of cold aloofness, our feelings can be very fragile. hope this helps…

mark esparza (not verified) says...

And how! 

INTP-Eric (not verified) says...

Amen.  Well said.

Kangkan Krishna Sarma Pegu (not verified) says...

I felt like ur my identical twin from a different mom....

LilRicky (not verified) says...

Hi so a little about my experience with this. I found that I tested highest as the commander, ENTP however as I dove into that type I found inconsistencies. Long and short of my conclusion is that at heart or base I am an INTP. this is how I am without work or outside influences. how I think and feel about things. When given a task or at work I morph into an INTJ where structure is the most efficient way to give consistent results. In a position where there is a lack of leadership I will actually morph again into an ENTJ. I am not naturally an extrovert but as I have gotten older I am much more comfortable with pulling it off when I need to and have more confidence in my conclusions and path to success then the person in charge. For me, My Scores were 64% ENTJ, 62% INTJ and 61% INTP. But like I said as I did research and read more about each profile, and the phases through life, mental decision process, etc, I am 99% sure that I am an INTP at hart. I don't know enough about the finer details to understand exactly why I morph depending the different situations but it does make sense that it would be a natural occurrence. In all it is fascinating to me!! I think this will help me with my relationships and to understand why I respond in certain ways under stress. It is relieving to know that I'm not the only one with these challenges; not to conform but a means to an end to be more successful at work and home.
My two cents :)
Cheers,
-Christian

bekkahz (not verified) says...

Christian, a couple of thoughts. Firstly, each of the four sets of letters is a continuum. It is possible you are very strong on the N/S and T/F but much weaker on the I/E and P/J. If this is the case, you would be much more easily able to access that aspect of your personality. Secondly, typology is not your personality but how you are wired. Just because something is how you were born it does not mean you cannot learn different ways of doing things. You can think of it as nature vs. nurture. You are born one way but learn from experience. Keirsey calls this temperament vs. character and claims your personality is the interplay of these two things.

paryswest says...

We have the same struggle. I get typed as an INFP and an INTP. I've even went so far down the rabbit hole to understand and analyze the functioning stacks of both INTP and INFP. I have values, but that doesn't mean that they can't be swayed. I will see someone and call them out on something that is illogical and then analyze them to death on why did they say "XYZ" today when they said "ABC" about 2 weeks ago. I love science, I have emotions, but I don't like to show them to people. I'm warm and friendly at times, but in general, I guess you can state that I'm borederline Misanthropic. I've been analyzing this (my personality type) for weeks now and I'm no closer to an answer specifically due to the stacking. I literally sound like both of them. I want to help others, but only if they helped themselves. I follow my own rules, but at the same time, I will follow (or disregard rules) depending on how much sense they make. 

Sometimes I feel/think that I am lying to myself by calling myself an INTP, however, I don't fully relate to an INFP either. With the continued analysation, I've been giving myself a headache, but I refuse to stop this until I discover the goddamn truth. Period. 

Bonus, does it help to state that I swear like a sailor and kind of disregard people's feelings but at the same time, I kind of don't? I personally believe that people cannot fit in to one box. 

To state that someone can is just preposterous at best to me. 

Guest (not verified) says...

Depends on if you take the test on what you feel, not what you know ..... ex. The test said I like to be active when truthfully I'm a couch potato and so I respectfully disagree with YOU.

Monika (Guest) (not verified) says...

To be honest, after reading your comment I started to doubt I'm really an INTP. Not all of these things are true about me, especially the fact I don't have and don't want to have anything to do with science but also others. Since I found my personality type I was doubting it because of this. I retook it multiple times (including now) and I got INTP everytime.
I don't think that people's personalities 100% fit into 16 personality types.

Chloe S (not verified) says...

Just because one person gets a result that accurately decribes them, it doesn't mean someone else will. Some people have mixed personalities, or personalities that shift. It kinda depends on the person. :)

Guest (not verified) says...

You can't fit everyone into a box. These are more like outlines, with fuzzy, barely-there borders. Most people are going to spill into more than one category, and that's fine.

I identify with nearly everything stated in the description of INTPs, and partially with that of ENTPs. It makes sense, most days I want nothing but time alone to think, but sometimes I'm loud and talkative and want to see the world. I'm always shit in social situations, however.

Missed up (not verified) says...

Haha.. Yes that is me to a T.

Guest (not verified) says...

yup you got me pegged. LOL

me down packed

Gui (not verified) says...

It has more to do if you usually get tired when you are with people, than when you are not.

Jennifer Miller (not verified) says...

I have my John Adams days also. Is grumpmeister a word? Grammarly says, "No".

Night fire (not verified) says...

Agreed, I myself am an INTP and I don't behave the same exact way as they say, but then again, just because someone has the same personality, doesn't mean they think the same.

Kendo (not verified) says...

I guess I'm really responding to all previous comments, but there's truth in it all. I have nearly all traits mentioned, but ended up pursuing psychological and artistic endeavors (and in an iconoclastic manner), and am fond ofthe Enneagram Personality Types, which closely mirror--generally--most of these types, such as INTPs are certainly Fives...which I am.

GOJU (not verified) says...

Kemdo I often call myself GOJU and prefer the Jitsu arts and annoying people with knowledge. The way arts are good to keep fit and keep a Zen spirit but my Tai Ho Jitsu training has specific techniques for unarmed combat against the Sword.

 

afeighner6914 says...

Yep. I fit both INTP and ISTP. I have some of each characteristics, however, I identify more with INTP

jonatan (not verified) says...

I believe that it is because this is based on the basics of the behavior of INTP and i think you have to include that you have life-experiences and made your own way of thinking and getting things done, meaning that this is the primal thinking and behavior. That is what i believe and i also think that you have to compare this with as if you had no life experience or any type of specific knowledge, I do that and when I do it fits me really good coz that is how i'd be without my way of belief and experience

Latebloom789 (not verified) says...

Yes that is true. It was only from my natural responses to people and environment whenever i am uncomfortable was i able to see what i naturally fit in. Although i am not a hardline theorist, logician or debater, from my coworkers in training, i was found to be more analytical, prone to asking deeper questions (overanalyzing) and into debates though i don't often see the it as a debate. Think i am more pissed when i am asked to shut up more than state my point or their point. And i am really irritated when people would rather move on quickly than delve on a topic. Also i used to think that my adhd factor might have something to do with it which somehow contradicts some of my functions. And also that lack of self awareness, as well as lack of social experiences made me at a loss for the judgement of my character.

Sigh. I also found out that when i have an intensive knowledge about the subject, i find myself being more keen in my use of the appropriate word. And this is something of a hindrance in the faster paced sales career like in the medical representative fields. Now if only i was able to recall the precise and most direct answer at a faster rate, i think i could do well at it. But i often miss non verbal cues or misinterpret them or at the worst find a loss of possible reaction i could give. Which just might somehow be a hindrance. I am in the process of trying to do it. Dang it. Im an outgoing intp but i lack experience in social situations...yet i am trying to enter into a socially extensive job. But it is the only way i can know myself fully as opposed to staying in the comfort of the family business.

David S (not verified) says...

That is the point of experience, to shape and or temper your personality.You were born with a personality that gets shaped through experiences. Your base personality never truly changes, experiences cause you to make small adjustments and some of those adjustments are taken from other personality types.
I really like this forum and website, one of the very few places where intelligent conversation is the norm and analytics is cool!

Jane Cando (not verified) says...

mine as well it`s really not easy to accept some of it but their are parts that says "most of intp`s" so don`t feel too down about it

renhel.ellehcim says...

also there can be categories you're the border for i'd suggest also checking out 16personalities.com because they give you a percentage for how strong you are in each category

Stardust (not verified) says...

www.intpexperience.com This guy is phenomenal in his explanations of how we INTPs function. His articles feel like they are telling my life story. Maybe it will help give better insight into your inconsistencies.

The Stranger (not verified) says...

Check out INFP and see what you think

Guest (not verified) says...

I think your response is very INTP.

Guest (not verified) says...

I wonder how much is gender-specific, because I, too, do not relate to some of it. I am a philosopher, but am socially tied in enough to dress appropriately and try to be polite. It has occurred to me in the past, when my mind has been engrossed in something to the exclusion of some of my environment, that if I were a man, people would probably think me an absent-minded genius. But as a woman, they mostly think I'm a ditzy blond.

Guest (not verified) says...

THIS. My whole life. Ugh.

Guest (not verified) says...

I feel like this would have been a struggle especially for INTP women in the past as their personalities would have definitely contrasted from what was socially acceptable at a time such as the Victorian era. It would be interesting to find out how they would've got on living in a position suited better for sensing, feeling types.

carita (not verified) says...

I felt exactly the same, untill it all made parfect sence. Now, im just proud to belong to this group of geniuses.

Claudiaintp (not verified) says...

I believe people can hover between more than one personality type; you are not necessarily solely intp :)

INTP 2-Percenter (not verified) says...

Interesting idea bandied about by INTPs in an INTP forum:

INTPs are the type to most doubt they were identified for the right personality type. So they go off to analyze & analyze & analyze if they may be something else. And they always end up back at INTP, but still they go "I don't know..."

Rinse and repeat.

If that helps.

bekkahz (not verified) says...

Part of the reason for this might be the fact that, according to one study I saw, INTP are the type most frequently misapplied to people during testing (followed closely by INTJ and, oddly enough, ESTJ). While the percentage was relatively small these three types were about twice as likely to be miscategorized as the other thirteen.

Another explanation, and a more likely one, could be the Dunning Kruger effect. This is a cognitive bias that claims, in its most simplistic form, is that the less a person knows the more they think they do and the more the actually know they less comfortable they are with what they do know.

EnnCee (not verified) says...

I am not sure, but it seems to me this inventory is based on identifying polarities in personalities. As we work on our own issues and continue to bring balance and reconciliation into our characters, the questions/answers may appear to produce more ambiguous results. This is, perhaps, a reflection of our movement toward a center.

Even with the ambiguity in several areas, I found the INTP to be spot on when I sat and actually thought about how I live my life. I think, for me, the over-riding quality was my incredulity when other folks just seem to skip over the facts to reach an emo conclusion. This makes me more remote in many cases than I would like to imagine myself to be because it sets up a such a distance between me and others...not what I'd like, BUT 'tis what I am. After taking a deep breath and re-reading the profile, I am slowly coming to terms with the traits...just another step on the path. No matter how we profile out, it is a step toward becoming content in our owns skins.

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