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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 in their own heads: exploring concepts, making connections, and seeking understanding of how things work. 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 one of the sixteen personality types created by Katharine Briggs and Isabel Myers, creators of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®). INTP stands for Introverted, iNtuitive, Thinking, Perceiving, which are four core personality traits based on the work of psychologist C.G. Jung.

The INTP type describes 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. Other nicknames for the INTP include:

  • The Objective Analyst (MBTI)
  • The Logician (16Personalities)

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.

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How rare 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.

INTP Quotes

"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

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

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.

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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.

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!

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!

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.

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.

Kendo (not verified) says...

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

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!

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 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.

has3000 says...

It pretty much got all of that right, except that I do believe in God.
However, I do really enjoy learning and defending my faith with science and logic.
Other than that, this is definitely me!

Guest (not verified) says...

Not leaving my name so that this cannot be seen as a brag.

I am an actual genius INTP ( I did not make my brain, so it is no more than saying I have dark hair and wear a ridiculously large shoe).

I am also a Christian (and not forced that way by my parents when I was a kid). I am 44 years old and know what I know and why I believe and have analyzed to the hilt what I have experienced and found nothing lacking in terms of being able to accept faith. Between cognition and metacognition and the willingness to be independent but also reason and wonder and consideration, I have no doubt of the matter of faith, nor the existence of God.

I mean, really, back in the day the VERY SMARTEST guys on the planet--we are talking huge IQ's--thought the earth was flat and that there was no need to wash one's hands before delivering babies. Just because technology has not caught up to "the supernatural" does not mean it won't eventually.

While INTP's are analytic, they are also not locked in. They work easily in the abstract. They must consider possibilities or they cannot think and synthesize clearly. I would offer that an INTP who cannot accept that there might be more than we do not understand or put our hands on (be it God or something else) might be stronger, or perhaps straddle the fence, with another one of the personalities. I would also offer that there is a difference between fact and truth, which are not the same (thank you Indiana Jones ;) ),and I believe that one of the personality types relies on one while INTP's search for the other.

The Truth (not verified) says...

There is no god. You can't be a genius and believe in a fictional supernational creature that was created by a primitive society with a 5% literacy rate.   The alcoholic schizophrenic homeless guy living under the bridge is smarter than those people. I was smarter than them when I was 5.  Come on man. 

Guest (not verified) says...

I absolutely agree with you. I am very very analytical and process the way that God could have possibly made this vast and expansive reality. I am a 16 year old christian and it has taken an abundance of information and evidence to get me to believe that there is a God. Even though I firmly believe that after countless discussions in my head and hours of research, I still somewhat question the probability of aliens and such in the universe. You know the "well the Bible never clearly stated that there were NO aliens". The pure fact that the Bible never truly mentioned the existence of aliens got me thinking. Overall I agree with what you say and there is just too much evidence for the existence of a God.

Guest (not verified) says...

ok if you believe in the god of the bible than there is noway you are a logical and so forth type person becauase the bible is a load of crap.... your still young so that is only reason why you might still be this type but i highly doubt it.

Guest (not verified) says...

Same here. There isn't any conflict between science and spirituality in my mind, but I find it so hard to tell or convince other people.

Science and Logic (not verified) says...

SoSaysSunny (not verified) says...

Me, too!

As an intensely logical and objective researcher, I find no conflict between science and the Bible.

Science cannot disprove God because it cannot transcend the physical world to make any conclusions about the metaphysical. Any intellectually honest INTP must concede the possibility (however improbable) that a deity exists.

Though it is impossible to argue people into the faith, logical arguments can help remove their misconceptions. That's what I try to do.

Darko (not verified) says...

Hello. To accommodate us, I'll begin by simply stating that I'm barely an INTP, as I have only slight preference towards introvertedness. In the middle between the the architect and the visionary. Now, i must say that I'm kind of jealous that the INTJ are being called masterminds. To get to the point, I want you to know that I understand your belief in god. Children conditioned to be religious don't have a choice. The certainty of god's existence is equal to the certainty of a human's ability to breathe. Now, i simply want to state my personal, non judgemental opinion on the matter. To prove a point, I'll ask and answer a series of simple question. What is god as perceived trough a human mind? The creator of the universe. What is god as perceived by a christian? An old man that sees everything and can do anything, whose favourite hobby is watching what every particular human being does, praising those who do things that are "good" and punishing those who do things that are "bad". In short, the point is simple. If we assume the universe is infinite, god exists for sure. If we assume that it is not infinite, god may or may not exist. On that subject,De gustibus non est disputandum. However, since religion is a completely different thing from god and belief in god, that we can discuss. Religious establishments are there to answer questions about god. Answers are not necessarily true, but they serve their purpose. Once the answer has been given, the subject is not further discussed by people who accepted it, because od the human tendency to take the easiest, simplest path. My statement is the following: All religious traditions are irrelevant to both god and the belief of the religion, making them useless in the study of god. A more personal opinion, the ideas around which religions were formed were presented by wise men. The beliefs and traditions themselves that were formed around those ideas, have been run by non wise men ever since. Long story short, god is cool, religion sucks.

Guest (not verified) says...

Yes, science can't transcend the physical, but it doesn't need to, only the idea of empirical evidence does. You may argue that this is in fact why science cannot transcend the physical, because the supernatural leaves no physical evidence. Then how can the supernatural be proven? If you pointed to miracles as evidence of something we have no scientific explanation for, then your logic defeats itself because what you claim leaves no physical evidence in fact does.

SheWarMachine (not verified) says...

Took the words out of my mouth :D

DanTheSmudger (not verified) says...

Initial results weren't very conclusive whether I was a Thinker vs Feeler and whether I was a Judge or Perceiver but reading through the Architect I could nod my head pretty consistently as I went along. Some aspects of the Architect don't agree with me entirely but it's 80% accurate and in tough situations, I can imagine myself reverting to type.

Guest (not verified) says...

When you take your test look at the percentages. Look and the one letter differences of your lowest percentage.

Cassie (not verified) says...

The only thing that was off for me was in the least favorite careers. it was cosmetologist and thats what I want to do lol.

StaceyAce27 (not verified) says...

Cassie, I'm an INTP and I'm a hairdresser. I believe a became a hairdresser for a number of reasons. Since we are analytical thinkers and problem solvers; I felt by leaving the biomedical device industry and becoming a hairdresser gave me to flexibility and ability to work on larger creative and entrepreneurial projects. Go for it! So far (it's been2 years) I have been very happy with my career change. I miss critical thinking, but now I have more time for writing, research and a multitude of other projects for me to feel fulfilled in my work. Good luck to you! ;)

TouchofChange (not verified) says...

I'm leaving my current position in Communciations to pursue a career in Massage Therapy. I think this falls into the category of wanting to solve complex human problems since massage therapists often become more than just body workers for their clients. I'm also very excited about the prospect of running my own business they way i want to and having significant and meaningful connections with each of my clients on an individual basis (I don't connect well with lots of people, I'm much better one on one.) The section on my parenting tendencies was so spot on I got chills!

Dominator (not verified) says...

The test said I was either this personality type or a "Healer". Reading the descriptions of both, it seems I am an architect that keeps a foot (or maybe a toe) in the realm of the healer.

In terms of the suggested careers: most of the Architect's career options seemed much more interesting to me than the healer's whose options barely seemed bearable.

Jonathan (not verified) says...

I understand where you're coming from, as I feel similarly. I'm not sure where I found it, but somewhere in my research of personality types I read that INTPs are one of the more likely types to share aspects of other types. For instance, I also have a significant overlap with INFP, although I'm still mostly INTP.
Although I haven't done it myself, supposedly you can get a more complete typing by having a meeting with a certified Myers-Briggs Master Practitioner, although I believe that is fairly expensive.

Guest (not verified) says...

This description is beautifully accurate. As an INTP female, I have often been misunderstood to be cold or aloof. It's good to read a kind of explanation for my inability to exude cuddliness.

my4salebox says...

Cuddliness... Don't you hate it when a coworker brings in a baby and people are like "Hey--awww!--Hey, a baby!" and they look at you like you're supposed to squeal and run over cooing? (As if they'd ever seen you squeal and coo before). When I was in the Army and one of their wives brought their babies in, the guys would ask if I wouldn't prefer to see the baby with the other women (soldiers).

Random guy peer: "It's a baby! Don't you want to see the baby? ... You know you wannaaaaa :D "

What PERSON did he think he'd been working with until then?!

I'd crawl in my skin at the social awkwardness I KNEW would befall me if I did (because then that would mean mingling with cooing, giggling mommies and wanna-be-mommies, and then getting the "Is she an alien?" vibe from them after a few minutes).

I simply declined. I was there to do army stuff, not to be held out as a freak... which was unavoidable if I went over to the baby or stayed away from the baby.

Prairie Girl (not verified) says...

I am also a woman, and on more than one occasion have been called a cold-hearted b--ch. I accept that I am perceived as "odd" or "strange."

I am an extreme introvert and I find it interesting that someone can balance between extroversion and introversion. When I was a teen, my mother asked me in great exasperation if I could be "normal." I could not grasp that I was not "normal."

Relationships have been challenging. My "feeling" is absent. I am accused of thoughtless directness, and inconsiderate of others' feelings.

my4salebox says...

Yeah, when I was in my early 20's and among a lot of new coworkers, I found out later (from a trouble-making guy) that someone described me as a "stuck up b!tch" after ONE meeting with me which was over a practical business matter in which I was trying to be professional (and was unsure of myself).

It really hurt my feelings because:

A. It's inaccurate, made with very limited information.
B. In that part of life, I ran around always feeling like I didn't belong with others, not the other way around.
C. I hadn't yet been exposed to a lot of strangers who would take me as a full adult out on my own. And people were, as I was finding out, not that careful with their wantonly hateful & train-wreck opinions. Up until then, most of my social circle were other geeky and sweet kids who were into "topics" and what we're learning in life. We weren't running around calling people b!tches or getting into petty "Oh no you di-int!!" fights.

Anyway, by then I was friendly with the person who called me that name (hence, the guy was trying to make trouble). So I swallowed the insult and kept the friendship. By then I knew she knew she made a mistake. And I began to realize some guys are capable of that rotten sh!t "Do you know what XYZ said about you?" that a lot of silly girls fall for. I've seen it a lot of times since before learning how to keep certain types of people out of my life.

In fact, I've been in absolutely absurd (and thankfully rare) situations where a silly girl has come up to me to challenge what I said about her, though I said no such thing. Other types can be infuriatingly damaging... and they call US cold.

Eh... I'm on a soapbox. I'll come down now.

Guest (not verified) says...

I completely agree with your assessment. Being an INTP female has led to many personal questions about why I haven't felt like I fit with the general picture of femininity as portrayed by most women... once I discovered how atypical I am from the general population, and especially other women, I didn't seem so out of place to myself.

bekkahz (not verified) says...

Most people say the ideal type for femininity in women are the ESFJ (and ESTJ for masculinity in men) and this type is diametrically opposed to every aspect of a true INTP. The only real upside to this I can see is that, being an INTP, we, generally speaking, just don’t care what society thinks of us.

Rick Harrison x cassie (not verified) says...

true dat.

Guest (not verified) says...

Completely relate to this. I just took the test (from multiple sites) and discovered that I fall under the INTP (somewhat INFP) female personality. The description has certainly provided explanations to many befuddling questions... how I struggle to find people who think like me, why I have a small group of friends, or why I tend to bury myself in my own world when no one seems to 'understand' me. The only thing is I'm not sure where to go from here. I certainly don't know anyone who is an INTP and this makes it harder to get over some self-doubt issues.

Guest (not verified) says...

Me too

Guest (not verified) says...

I feel you :/

gregor (not verified) says...

I completely agree and identify with that. As being only 3% of people and 2% of women, we just arent as filly understood as some people. Though I did have a borderline personality type and can identify with traits from N/S and P/J, I think this test is quite good and I have gotten INTP before on other sites.

renee (not verified) says...

i totally agree with both of you! this was so accurate for me as well. i feel like we should all be friends so i can know people who think like i do. i'm beginning to understand more and more that the way i think is not something i should expect from other people.

Jennifer Miller (not verified) says...

You can count me in the female INTP tribe. I may not fit into a gender role expectations created before the dark ages, but it still feels great being a freethinker. 

engurch (not verified) says...

hummmmm. well im speechless.... this is so accurate.. im so wishing to meet and share with people of these mentality....... this is where I belong and I wish meeting people of this category............ if u know any way of meeting n relating with more intps pls share with me......

Guest (not verified) says...

I'm an INTP and I only know about one other person like me and I find it frustrating that other people do not see things at all the way I do. We should all start a new country for INTPs or something....

Tyler Reid Matos (not verified) says...

Yes, that is a great idea!

Edward (not verified) says...

An INTP country! Could you imagine! Businesses would work on flex time and telecommuting and emphasize the generation of ideas. We could design a working prototypes and outsource working out the fine details and fabrication to other personality type islands. Debates would be a national sport. No one would have their feelings hurt or be offended by a particular subject, as we would all be able to understand things from the different angles, and appreciate the debate as a means of education and understanding. Speaking of education, the schools, being run by introverts instead of extroverts, would focus on individuality, appreciating what makes you "you" rather than driving to have you conform. Imagine what the radio stations, TV programs, and movie theaters would be like! While we may not all like the same music, shows, and movies, I believe we like similar elements of each. It would be fascinating to see what media we would identify with and broadcast in our country.

Jennifer Miller (not verified) says...

That sounds like Heaven on Earth, Edward. I would love to join the INTP national sport (debate) team. LOL. 

    In an INTP country, we'd have freedom of the press. No politician would call the media "the enemy of the state" over a difference of opinion. They'd consider the perspective of the news media, also. Imagine the novels, also. People would write everything from literary to the genre, with better internet access too. That would save trees. More businesses and newspapers would switch to the internet. More people would work from home on the internet. Think of the environmental friendliness we could create without all the bureaucracy. I would love to live in a quiet, peaceful, and open-minded land. There are plenty of countries for those who are addicted to their emotional chains. We need a serene, thoughtful country for deep thinkers, where ideas matter more than skin color or gender.

    We need our own island. The earth-friendly, truely free country to live. Who could ask for more than living in the land of respect for individuality? We would always have leaders like James Madison and Abraham Lincoln. Wow. Great idea. 

Goolia (not verified) says...

I foresee well-made documentaries as our go-to entertainment media for sure. I've taken the test several times over the years and find that I have learned to be ENTP at different periods in my life. I think a nice group of switch-hitters of all types would be appropriate for our new country otherwise everyone would sit around arguing by themselves.

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