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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

Guest (not verified) says...

Feels like I sit between a intp and intj but somehow these profiles make it seem like the natural human need for attachment is irrelevant for these types. I wonder if these types ever have a desire or need to be close to specific individuals but find themselves in cognitive dissonance because once they engage that partner or individual and intimacy becomes imminent their attention to that outer world becomes draining and they retreat back into their inner worlds to recharge. In the end causing these types to seem very calm and steady yet,internally ping ponging back and forth between emotional needs and the need to recharge.

Guest (not verified) says...

That would be a fairly accurate description of my love life.

DrMcSarcasm (not verified) says...

Has anybody else spent three hours deciding on a deodorant? The biggest epiphany of my life was learning the personality type. Now I fit in by understanding what all the other people prefer and how to identify them.

Guest (not verified) says...

That has very often been my experience, although there are very few people that I just haven't tired of, which can be just as alarming.

Guest (not verified) says...

That's me. I don't mind the concept of closeness but the reality leaves me fairly confused lol. I guess I understand people not at all, because their motivations and actions often leave me confused. That must be where the love being powerful but naive bit comes in. I do best being friends with emotionally quiet people, but in romantic situations I think my own life experiences have led to a me who is a little needy, which pisses me off, so I turn cold. Frustrating for the other person for sure lol

Scott Stratton (not verified) says...

So very late of a response, but just in case it helps anyone who is reading all of these comments a long time from now (as I am right now!):  I have learned in my research that INTP's are not really devoid of emotion - they have the same basic emotional needs and variability as any homo sapien. One difference is the role emotions play in our inner and outer lives is usually much lower than most people expect and so we can seem emotionless. On the contrary, I find that I and many INTPs are actually "hopeless romantics" in many ways. Naive is the word you used and I think that is perfect. We are idealistic in many ways. All of that combines to most INTPs (certainly including me) spending much of our lives simply not developing emotionally as much as we should. It sets up a viscious circle in terms of our emotions, when accessed, tend to be simpler and stronger than called for and so we become more suspicious of them and supress them more. When we get hurt we don't know how to handle it so push it deeper or make it worse with outsized reactions and demands. My life has been steadily improving since I understood this and have tried to just experience emotions more often, without judging them or myself or trying to "manipulate" or "banish" them But it's hard and its (apparently) a long road! HTH!

Kendo (not verified) says...

This is also a perfect description of the Enneagram Five, which I and (likely) most INTPs are.

Marquis (not verified) says...

Wow, this is me almost exactly. I've never felt so understood in my life. Seeing how rare this personality type is I can see why I feel so different from everyone I meet and why I'm so misunderstood.

Echo (not verified) says...

I feel exactly the same way, sometimes I used to worry about not being able to empathize well with others and why I felt so out of place even when all my friends are also introverts. this gives very good insight n the fact that it's okay to be different and how there are others who think the same way as I do.

Mae (not verified) says...

This describes me quite well, though I seem to cross over a lot with the INTJ personality too.

However, as a career graphic designer I would NOT suggest graphic design for INTPs. After 15 years I find this work so incredibly tedious and boring its practically painful. I will be going back to school in the next year or two and pursuing an education in either science or economics. Hopefully one of those careers will keep me interested for more than 15 years!

Confused (not verified) says...

I took the test a few times yesterday and earlier in the day and it gave me different personality types...ISTP, INFP. So I decided to retake it tonight and be completely honest with myself. I ended up with INTP. I didn't really think it was me so I retook it 2 more times, still the same even though I changed a few answers I felt could also describe me. All of them came back as INTP.

I do have a love for biology and I'm thinking of going back to school...however, I suck at math. I am also one of those people who can't stick to one thing and I get bored easily. I am beginning to think maybe I'm crazy.

Guest (not verified) says...

You know, you can definitely show aspects of more than one type! I am an INFP/ISTP cross for sure. I love understanding things both theoretically and practically. I understand the boredom problem as well. I think that is an aspect of the perceiving type. However, it helps if you look at it as a challenge.
One more note: I am a student in the biology field (genetic manipulation in plants) and it is very exciting and rewarding. My intuitive side gets to theorize about the effect the genes will have on the plant's physiology, and my sensing side gets to put it to use in a practical way.
Don't worry! You're not crazy!

Matt (not verified) says...

I took this test to find out more about myself, I have trouble connecting with people and i finnaly know why but also in that response I find it interesting because tryin to find a friend just to hang out with that is really a friend is really hard to do because they ither get really tired of my thought process or always offended by my openess when really I try to help, this test has really helped me along my way of discovering who I am and what I want to be, sadly still long way to go very very little intersts me anymore.

sandra.sharratt says...

I have a few really good friends that just get me so I am very lucky that way. I went through a long period of not being able to find anything that really interested me too. I got rid of cable tv, and just use the internet now and I am writing all the time. I have finally found interests and like minded people online. Twitter is a great place too, if you want to find like minded people, you set the parameters and vet the sources yourself. It has been really helpful and I feel less like a freak and more apart of something big. Good luck and I hope you find something soon, there is a whole world of issues out there that need an INTP to unlock and solve.

ephemeral_ (not verified) says...

The description itself is good although it doesn't atually describe how INTPs work. However, what they are describing isn't so much the INTP in the cognitive sense, but more akin to something like enneagram 5. An unfortunate overlap. As an actual INTJ 5w4 (I usually score INTP on MBTI tests though), I relate a lot to these descriptions. The question one needs to ask is what they are genuinely trying to describe here.

Holly (not verified) says...

When I took the test I was profiled as an INTJ, however, J was my lowest percentage advantage over P at 11%, (if I remember correctly). Reading descriptions of both personality types I related more to the INTP personality. In doing further research on the difference between J and P I found that I definitely swayed towards P more; I like open ended decisions, for instance, and generally dislike making detailed lists and planning my time (which annoys my ENTJ father to no end.)

Guest (not verified) says...

I believe that most of what has been said fits in with me. But I think that given 'emotional' experiences and situations in the past, even simply of those around me, I can then 'file' and expand on those emotional factors in my thought processes, enabling me to relate to people with a stronger Feeling component.

Guest (not verified) says...

This fits me perfectly. I'm self-reliant, but not in the best of ways. I find it extremely hard developing friendships and forming them to begin with. Sure I feel misunderstood but it bothers me, I hardly give it much attention since I value independence above all. I don't believe in God, and I despise conformity; I find it important that I be different than others in every way I can.

Katharine (not verified) says...

Hi there, I am an intp but I don't come across as very 'cool'. Could this be because my main interest and area of passion is people and relationships. Thus, I am always interested in people and generally freindly towards them? Do any other intp's relate to this - perhaps particularly any other female intp's?

pch98 says...

I can understand how you might feel this way. I always felt as though I was an outsider... Confused by the behavior/attitudes of others. So, I chose to study psychology to get a grip. Eventually wound up working in non-profit mental health field. I guess I concluded that in trying to understand the behavior of others I'd have to suspend judgement. And, the more you immerse yourself in the passion... such as psychology/mental health it only makes sense to cultivate empathy as it would seem that for the client to experience empathy from someone who is working with them would help to develop trust. And if you are not a "cool" intp... it would mean that you are a warmer intp, just the kind of intp that a client could feel comfortable in working with. For me, being a true introvert, working with people can tax my energy so I have to pace myself. So that might be a difference between you and I. Yes, I can relate... I am a female intp.

Guest (not verified) says...

I am a female INTP as well. Keep in mind that one of the defining aspects of being an INTP is a driving motivation to understand how the world works; that includes people. One of the most renowned psychologists (who was also greatly interested in metaphysics), Carl Jung, was an INTP. In my experience we spend so much time trying to understand and dissect emotion that this naturally leads us to be interested in people and relationships in general, even if it is from a detached viewpoint.

Guest (not verified) says...

As a female INTP, I've noticed that as I've grown up and matured, I've felt more of a need to be with people. A lot of times, the emotional openness and outgoing personality that I've developed doesn't fit descriptions of INTPs. The main cause of this has probably been my friendships with actors, who are generally outgoing and friendly people. So, you may have just adapted to your group of friends/peers? For me, my interest in people is draining though, so my case may be a bit different. Also, a female, there often is pressure culturally to be friendly and fit in with the crowd. So, I'm guessing that the main cause here is just your situation socially. It's not really related to being INTP, but more to the personality that you've developed over time.

diamondvrio says...

Hello Katherine.
I am also a female INTP. I think I may have a thought as to why you ask those very questions. We are known to find the human mind infinitely fascinating. I have learned to manage people in the way society has been enforcing into me since I was a child. I learned from others on how to study, manage, cope and blend into the social norms, so to speak. I use my social teachings that I had to use in order to understand people. People tell me things that are very personal that they would never say to others. Perfect strangers...waitresses,check out clerks, I am friendly so to gain their trust to learn about sociology. Being female is a definite bonus because we are perceived as less threatening and trustworthy? Just my theory.

Saya (not verified) says...

I do think I am a more warm and friendly than a typical INTP and I think its mostly because that's what society demands from us and I adapt(pseudo-personality). While I refuse to divert from my more basic principles. I hate to argue and wish to settle things peacefully .I'm inclined to think I'm more of an ambivert than an introvert and i believe INTP is just a basic platform, it is up to us to be more than that . Don't box yourself in to a stereotype.I am a female INTP who loves art,psychology, music,science.I love to write,draw,coming up with theories and stuff. And I still have no idea what I should do with my life

Guest (not verified) says...

I thought this was pretty good, apart from the fact the aspect relating to children was totally wrong for me (having raised 2 alone and thrown myself into it fully and willingly) until that is I read some of these responses - now I'm left doubting the veracity of the test.

Guest (not verified) says...

I thought it was more about competency or ability to perceive emotional needs, than enthusiasm. Other types simply are better at sensing and connecting on an emotional level. Ask one, they'll tell you. Agree that natural mode for this type is to connect on ideas rather than feelings, even with kids.

Guest (not verified) says...

This website is excluding an important aspect of personalities and that is the functions. INTPs dominant function is introverted Thinking while extroverted intuition is secondary. Meanwhile An INFJ has a dominant introverted intuition and extroverted feeling yadayada. Anyways it's impossible for an INTP to understand a mind dominated by quick tendencies from the unconscious. I think this is where the Myers Briggs truly shines. Just pointing out this flaw like the good little INTP that I am.

Mystic Michael (not verified) says...

For years, I tested out as being right on the border between INTJ and INTP. I believe that's mostly because I have trained myself to develop certain characteristics that may not be quite so natural for an INTP - such as emotional intelligence, and the ability to put abstract principle into actual practice.

However at the core of it, I'm definitely INTP. I'm most comfortable - and competent - in the world of abstract theory. I have a deep, inborn need to discover the operating principles behind all things. I am exceedingly precise in my use of language - even concerning mundane things. And I have a deep, abiding aversion toward all things petty, political, superficial and mendacious.

Guest (not verified) says...

This is all exceedingly interesting I'm dominant in INTP.

I consistently test as Introverted and Intuitive but I fluctuate within the feeling (F) and thinking (T), and judging (J) and percieving (P).

So depending on where I am in life I can come out as INFP; INFJ and INTJ as well. I had many temper issues as a child I felt isolated with my own thoughts about the world, I actually felt like an adult trapped inside a childs body with only children to talk too. I craved adult company so I could debate and reason and discuss logic, philosophy and society, primary school teachers, middle school teachers and secondary school teachers on the whole were not up to it. I was lucky enough to have 2 teachers in my whole time in school that managed to get any form of engagement out of me and I excelled in those subjects the others were an exercise in coasting whilst one other which I was completely opposed to studying as I could see no point I failed miserably, in fact I didn't care as it was pointless. As a result I did not go to University I could not face another 4 years in the education system that did not meet my needs.

I now have a legally technical job in an unusual tax field where I can utilise my knowledge of my 2 favourite subjects, sadly where once I had autonomy and could do things my way standard working practices have been implemented which are a real struggle for me as they defy logic, so whilst I had found my perfect job it is no more!

Anyway I digress, as a child I could not relate to other people at all and it got me into a lot of trouble and to resolve this the only logical thing to do was to develop those areas of my personality that were under represented which I think is reflected in my varying results.

Guest (not verified) says...

this is pretty accurate for me...combined with INTF its a dead ringer. I first read INTF and thought it was missing many aspects such as fixation on wordsmithing, passion for efficiency and extreme dislike for mundane tasks and beaurocracy. I work for the Fed Gov and I hate my life right now...pretty much b/c of the beaurocracy and mundane aspects that stress me out to the point of failing health. this is helpful to push me out the door and look for something more suited to my personality. why force a rhombus into a square hole??

Guest (not verified) says...

INTF? Perhaps you mean INTJ?
..also, I'd like to point out that squares are rhombuses. Pushing a rhombus into a square hole doesn't seem that far-fetched. ;D

Guest (not verified) says...

You mean INTP?

Guest (not verified) says...

this is incredibly accurate to me. how very bizarre.

Guest (not verified) says...

Everything is pretty right on, especially the children part...

Guest (not verified) says...

This totally describes me. I trained as a physicist but I was more interested in the cosmological aspects of how the universe worked than the more practical ones. I was also very interested in metaphysics (despite the fact that we are supposed to be least likely to believe in a higher power). It is all part of me trying to understand the universe. What I like about this grouping is that it explains my artistic as well as my scientific tendencies. I subsequently became a writer and I see that this is a good use for my skills as it involves analysis of life, world building and use of language precision.

DJ Arctic (not verified) says...

This describes me to a t. Whenever my parents tell me to do something, like get a degree or go to college, I always question the necessity of it. Why do I have to go to college? Why do I have to get a degree? How will it benefit me? Give me a logical reason, and I'll be ok, but anything else will tick me off. I enjoy having reasons for actions and absolutely despise the catch-all parental answer, "because I said so." That gives me nothing to work off of and deprives me of information.

Guest (not verified) says...

I was surprisingly accurate. Thats me. I even couldnt have said it better

Guest (not verified) says...

Are we really so rare? I wonder why that is?

Guest (not verified) says...

Because we are awesome ; D In all seriousness, however, it is probably because the human race doesn't need a million Einsteins (apparently we tend to be the "dreamy professor type") and that other personality types are preferable to ensuring the survival of the human race.

Jeremy S (not verified) says...

It likely has something to do with natural selection...that is, if you believe that typology represents the expression of "hard-wiring" inherent to each of our brains. Introverts and intutitives are fewer in society, as are perceiving types. This is probably due to a decreased "need" for what we provide, and limited congruency with the outside world, as it were. There is evidence suggesting that many of these traits are genetically induced. So...introverts are less tuned in to living in society in many ways. multiple Sensory types are required to convert the ideas of intuitives into tangible realities...society is finite in many ways, and Judging types create and maintain that with more efficiency than percieving types. I digress...tugether, INTP traits are often equally fascinating and confounding to many others, but we are generally...sort of inefficient people. The need for us, and similarly the tolerance for our traits is somewhat limited, so we are not selected for as often by potential mates. Additioanlly, our traits tend to be more paticular to male brain chemistry, further decreasing our numbers. Anyhow...this is a theory. It may be lunacy...and in short, it's because we're interesting, profound, but replete a with highly inefficient grouping of traits. I feel that we're vital to society, but they don't need many of us...and really, only the brightest among INTPs are techincally useful. Which is my battle in life...wondering about my own efficacy.

Guest (not verified) says...

I just have to say that your theory and your statement that "only the brightest amongst INTP's are technically useful" is beautiful. I completely agree with everything you just said.

Guest (not verified) says...

I have been read as INTP several times. Definitely, it is a problematic type to cope with being a female.

I am quite uncomfortable as the center of attention, a role that I am called to fill as part of my volunteer work. And yes, being around people is draining- I must have sufficient alone time to recover my psychological center. Only then do I again emerge to strike a few notes and retreat! :-D

Guest (not verified) says...

I really felt like this described me very well. but while i enjoy being independant I allways feel a intense need for romantic partner and will often sacrifice some thing or other to please them. im also more artisticly and politically minded than this sugests. does this match other personality types (ive taaken multiple versions of this with the same result)? while i'm flattered that i might be put in the same catagory as Albert Einstein or Abraham Lincon im not sure i can measure up to their greatness

Guest (not verified) says...

do visit this link for detailed description of INTP http://intp.org/intprofile.html
hopefully by knowing thyself we might shine more..

Guest (not verified) says...

I'm male, intp, don't need much company, or much social chit chat. Very few friends, (all bright females) enjoy thinking creative solutions in information technology and manage a team of bright individuals who I know will solve problems once I've determined journey to travel. Screwed up quite a few relationships but really want to be with someone bright enough to give me my space. Love my kids but found it so much easier once they were in early teens. Just diagnosed with autism - Asperger's syndrome thanks to my latest ex! I'm in my late fifties and finally feel I understand myself. Wish I knew earlier as would at least have been able to explain why I'm so puzzling to be with and why I need space to process everything that's in my head. All my best managers have given me the space to think and been pleased at good very high quality creative work , which has meant better simplified processes and fewer staff.

jimthearchitect says...

Seriously, this test nailed me. Even the bad stuff. Darn it. :) Actually, that's a good thing. Now I can focus on working on those things.

This INTP person relates to wishing to know the theory behind everything. (I even have a book called Unified Reality Theory! It's great, btw, but a little difficult to comprehend all at once.)

For instance, when learning how to dance, I asked if there was a class on theory of dance. Pretty funny. Well, to me anyway, but we INTPs are a little off-beat, right?

The space thing, the independence thing, the inconsistency-awareness thing. All of it. I am a little stunned right now. Need some quiet time to process!

Peace,
Jim

PS - I hope I was courteous. I really don't want to be fried and served on toast. I would rather be toasted and served with fries. Thank you.

Guest (not verified) says...

Oh my gosh!!! Lately I have been wondering about conciousness - it's such a weird concept, I really need to get this book!
I love this site so much (:

Guest (not verified) says...

I agree with what a few fellow INTP's mentioned before; although we rely heavily on logic and reason, we may use that to come to the conclusion that a Higher Power does, indeed, exist. Because of this, apologetics may be a fitting field for those of our tendencies.
I am grateful for the explanations presented here because they provide a lot of comfort; as a young female, I am often alienated from my peers for being so darn different. INTP articles explain the reasons for this very well.
It is also important to note that we are not heartless, but we simply have different priorities.
In closing, INTP's are awesome.

Guest (not verified) says...

I so agree. I just turned 22 and the second someone mentions Kylie Jenner's lips, I want to walk away. Of course, they're offended when I don't want to talk about celebrities or shopping.

Guest (not verified) says...

I also agree, and you literally describe my exact feeling I get everyday. Even when people are not into the whole celebrity thing, there reasoning behind it is usually irrational and has no logic behind there reason. There reason is simple to be different than everyone else.

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