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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

Randy Cox (not verified) says...

I respectfully disagree. I've taken the real test (not FB copycat tests or short non-MB versions) three times and gotten the same results as INTP. The first time I took the test was in the 90s as part of a company-wide initiative for understanding and working with team members. I was incredible surprised by those results bc I worked primarily in client service, sales and management roles. BTW, I suck at sales. Even my boss was skeptical of those results. But as I reflected, and continued to get the same results two more times years later, I believe this is my core/intrinsic nature. I can certainly "turn on" the other side, especially the extrovert but my core is introvert because I recover best alone, prefer the company of my dogs, am thinking all the time, and usually land on creative solutions to problems. Also work best in a flat organization that allows for creativity and little bureaucracy.  But that’s just my two cents …

Will Cahoona (not verified) says...

Your writing reeks of INTP. From the precise structure of your sentences, to your use of forward slashes and double quotes as semantical aids; I can tell you know how to get your point across. Categorical thinking is also evident in the way you use contrasting concepts and hierarchical structures to describe yourself and the world around you. You are the real deal.

-A fellow INTP

Nique (not verified) says...

You are an INTP! And I take great delight in applauding your comment because only an INTP can hear the exact description of themselves in another INTPs self analysis 🙏🏽

Best comment for sure.

 

sincerely, 

Another INTP

 

Jeremy87 (not verified) says...

You have basically described myself as well. 

I was and am still working part time in a "salesy" job which i despise. I really "suck" at sales, and I hate retail customers. I have not got the energy to deal with a continius stream of customers without a goal in sight. I only was mesaured by my sales which made me supper unhappy. The company I work for is super hierarchial  and way too stagnant and unflexibel in their decisions. When I am getting audited by the company I am getting measured by my paperwork which is not on point, as I find it super hard to conentrate on such tasks. 

After my shifts I need quite a few hours to myself to recover, and I feel blown out quite a lot. I can act as an extrovert, but I need my recovery time as well. I love stupidtly long walks just to myself, and I love the idea of a nice house in the middle of nowhere but with a decent internet connection, so I can work on ideas, develop my skills and learn new things. I am heavily into photography, and I tend to learn things the traditions proper way, I like to know the theory and why things work the way they are. I am not a fan of these "crash course in photography" type of things, as the don't satisfy me. I studied music composition, and therefore struggled at the beginning to make a living from it, but doing it satisfies me... :( Hence that job I had to do... Luckily I am able to cut it down to 3 days a week, but even those days feel extremely exhausting to me...

I can spend hours just thinking... My parents are a lot more "simpler" in their minds. They used to call me a "dreamer" who can't do normal things to survive in life. I had to do everything the traditional way. I managed to study what I wanted at least though... But because of that, in my younger years I was way too focussed on trying to be "normal" which I regret now, as it really does not fit with me at all. I am also very picky on who I call my friends :)

Sorry for my bad English, but it is not my first language :)

Danjal (not verified) says...

INTPs can learn to master any skill that catches their interest.

They key is, it needs to catch their interest. We're some of the best chameleons of all types.

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.

As long as nobody questions our reason or logic? Or insists on using emotions or feelings as a basis for functioning? We're not likely to stand out as INTPs.

You actually mention a key aspect about the introversion of the INTP. "I recover best alone." Introverts aren't defined by their inability to act like extroverts. But their need to recover at some point. You recognize an introvert from an extrovert, not by observing how they act, but by observing what they do AFTER.

The fact that you prefer an organization without too much bureaucracy or hierarchy is just icing on the INTP cake.

Jabra Jab (not verified) says...

Yeah man, but they are a special types of chamelions who can have at most 16 colors together. They failed Newton' white light

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.   

smharclerode42 (not verified) says...

This is absolutely fascinating to me. I've scored (quite firmly + consistently) as an INTP since I first encountered the MBTI - something like 12-15 years ago; and somewhat concurrently, I've long (LOOONNNGGG) understood that the general and default state of apathetic detachment & emotional numbness/emptiness with which I am accustomed is...well, honestly, at a minimum it seems to be moderately disconcerting to most others, if not straight-up unsettling/distressing to them (which is, frankly, even more common).

For years now, I'd just sort of settled on to the possibility/probability that perhaps I was just a sociopath (which I mean, btw, in the textbook, literal sense - not in the sensationalist, "I'm a sadistic, misanthropic caricature of a Disney villain with an insatiable bloodthirst because people need a clear good/evil demarcation and can't accept the fact that real people are neither of those things with any degree of distinction in either absolution or practicality" sense...just to be clear) - excuse the tangent, sorry, though I'm assuming[/hoping] the general audience here will find tangential-ranting to be fairly relatable - but I digress. So anyway, it's only recently occurred to me (and has been spurred on considerably by the series of posts to which I'm replying) that, just maybe, there is something to the INTP personality-type that is intrinsically prone to apathy and/or emotional detachment. Hmm...

Now, I will admit that I don't really have anything of substance to add to the discussion - but I felt compelled to at least outline the core of my now-immense curiosity on the topic at hand. So...la-di-da-di and all that such-and-such (as the kids say, that is...or maybe they don't, I dunno). Oh, and lastly: Any other related thoughts (specifically from other INTP's, obvs) would be most welcome.

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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