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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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Willowbreath (not verified) says...

" Our innate indifference enables us to "get along" with a lot of other types and our tendency to avoid conflict means we end up mimicking those around us. "

Yes, this. I realized in 9th grade that I needed to "play human" to make others more comfortable around me. I've been doing it for so long (30 years) that often I'm not sure if I agree with someone or am just parroting back to them what they need to hear. Like a couple of other users on here, I also took the test in the 90s, and periodically thereafter, and I'm always an INTP. Knowing it has made me a lot more comfortable in my skin, since it explains so much of why I do the things I do.

Kenneth D Black (not verified) says...

Interesting that you say you needed to play human.  I have, all my life felt the same way.  I know I don't think like most people around me and in my life and I have to study and think about how to communicate with people. Occasionally through my life I have met a person with whom communication was more natural but for the most part it is a chore to communicate with others.   I am a successful professional so I have done well in life but still social interactions are trying.  I have tested as INTJ every time over many years until today when I tested as INTP.  Of course similar types.   

Nathan Lee Shrum (not verified) says...

I found writing to be my passion and am currently mastering the field now. Also just recently found out I was an INTP and am pleasantly pleased with officially knowing I'm not ALONE but at the same time rather unique.

MargaretB (not verified) says...

Hi Randy,

The things you wrote sound just like me! Could you tell me what type of jobs/professions you had and have now? I’m trying to figure out the next step and having a difficult time finding direction as an INTP. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you!

Coop (not verified) says...

Hi Margaret,

  My apologies if I'm jumping in and answering this for Randy, but I thought it was a good question and wanted to offer some insight in case anyone else ever stumbles onto this. What I've found to be the most "relieving" jobs which I have worked have been positions that require a consistant mental focus, a lot of repetition, a fair amount of daily interaction with at least 3-4 people, and a little bit of creativity. Jobs I have worked (and enjoyed) have included: shipping and receiving for a bookstore (preparing orders, unpacking orders, managing inventory), shipping and receiving for a clothing apparel store, franchised food service, and financial accounting. Each of these positions was super structured, so what I would recommend would be to choose a position with a structured set of rules, devote time from the very beginning to memorize the rules, and then in the background, because you're a thinker, you're going to come to realize "why" these rules were embeddened in the field, and it will help you develop a sense of trust and compassion for whatever position you choose and for whoever it is you are helping. Another person mentioned earlier that we are the great chameleons, well this may explain why this happens, and maybe why I've never truly ever "hated" a job, perhaps only struggled.

  One person mentioned that they had trouble with sales - I worked a similar sales position once and went through very similar struggles, and it wasn't until I really connected with the family I was working for (it was a small business, summers only) and memorized my own set routine of responses to potential client questions and methods of approach in my off time (between summers) that I was finally able to develop a sense of comfort and enjoyment in working that job. I would almost suggest that with any job you ever take on, being this personality type, try to be interested in it, and from day one, keep planning and learning what you're doing during the daytime while you're at home. It'll be because you develop that mastery of what your career/job requires that you pick up that sense of safety and relaxation that will allow you to really shine.

Happy hunting, and good luck =)

Stel (not verified) says...

Nice response!

The thinker (not verified) says...

These are generalizations. If YOU truly feel that this is a good description of you then it is your type. Keep in mind though that this is simply a guide and points out what MOST INTPs USUALLY do.

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