The INTP personality type is fairly rare, making up only three percent of the population, which is definitely a good thing for them, as there's nothing they'd be more unhappy about than being "common". INTPs pride themselves on their inventiveness and creativity, their unique perspective and vigorous intellect. Usually known as the philosopher, the architect, or the dreamy professor, INTPs have been responsible for many scientific discoveries throughout history.
THE UNEXAMINED LIFE IS NOT WORTH LIVING
INTPs are known for their brilliant theories and unrelenting logic - in fact, they are considered the most logically precise of all the personality types.
They love patterns, and spotting discrepancies between statements could almost be described as a hobby, making it a bad idea to lie to an INTP. This makes it ironic that INTPs' word should always be taken with a grain of salt - it's not that they are dishonest, but people with the INTP personality type tend to share thoughts that are not fully developed, using others as a sounding board for ideas and theories in a debate against themselves rather than as actual conversation partners.
This may make them appear unreliable, but in reality no one is more enthusiastic and capable of spotting a problem, drilling through the endless factors and details that encompass the issue and developing a unique and viable solution than INTPs - just don't expect punctual progress reports. People who share the INTP personality type aren't interested in practical, day-to-day activities and maintenance, but when they find an environment where their creative genius and potential can be expressed, there is no limit to the time and energy INTPs will expend in developing an insightful and unbiased solution.
WISDOM BEGINS IN WONDER
They may appear to drift about in an unending daydream, but INTPs' thought process is unceasing, and their minds buzz with ideas from the moment they wake up. This constant thinking can have the effect of making them look pensive and detached, as they are often conducting full-fledged debates in their own heads, but really INTPs are quite relaxed and friendly when they are with people they know, or who share their interests. However, this can be replaced by overwhelming shyness when INTP personalities are among unfamiliar faces, and friendly banter can quickly become combative if they believe their logical conclusions or theories are being criticized.
When INTPs are particularly excited, the conversation can border on incoherence as they try to explain the daisy-chain of logical conclusions that led to the formation of their latest idea. Oftentimes, INTPs will opt to simply move on from a topic before it's ever understood what they were trying to say, rather than try to lay things out in plain terms.
The reverse can also be true when people explain their thought processes to INTPs in terms of subjectivity and feeling. Imagine an immensely complicated clockwork, taking in every fact and idea possible, processing them with a heavy dose of creative reasoning and returning the most logically sound results available - this is how the INTP mind works, and this type has little tolerance for an emotional monkey-wrench jamming their machines.
LET THOSE WHO WOULD MOVE THE WORLD FIRST MOVE THEMSELVES
Further, with Thinking (T) as one of their governing traits, INTPs are unlikely to understand emotional complaints at all, and their friends won't find a bedrock of emotional support in them. People with the INTP personality type would much rather make a series of logical suggestions for how to resolve the underlying issue, a perspective that is not always welcomed by their Feeling (F) companions. This will likely extend to most social conventions and goals as well, like planning dinners and getting married, as INTPs are far more concerned with originality and efficient results.
The one thing that really holds INTPs back is their restless and pervasive fear of failure. INTP personalities are so prone to reassessing their own thoughts and theories, worrying that they've missed some critical piece of the puzzle, that they can stagnate, lost in an intangible world where their thoughts are never truly applied. Overcoming this self-doubt stands as the greatest challenge INTPs are likely to face, but the intellectual gifts - big and small - bestowed on the world when they do makes it worth the fight.
INTP STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
Great Analysts and Abstract Thinkers - People with the INTP personality type view the world as a big, complex machine, and recognize that as with any machine, all parts are interrelated. INTPs excel in analyzing these connections, seeing how seemingly unrelated factors tie in with each other in ways that bewilder most other personality types.
Imaginative and Original - These connections are the product of an unrelenting imagination - INTPs' ideas may seem counter-intuitive at a glance, and may never even see the light of day, but they will always prove remarkable innovations.
Open-Minded - INTPs couldn't make these connections if they thought they knew it all - they are highly receptive to alternate theories, so long as they're supported by logic and facts. In more subjective matters like social norms and traditions, INTPs are usually fairly liberal, with a "none of my business" sort of attitude - peoples' ideas are what matter.
Enthusiastic - When a new idea piques their interest, INTPs can be very enthusiastic - they are a reserved personality type, but if another person shares an interest, they can be downright excited about discussing it. More likely though, the only outward evidence of this enthusiasm will be INTPs' silent pacing or their staring into the distance.
Objective - INTPs' analysis, creativity and open-mindedness aren't the tools of some quest for ideology or emotional validation. Rather, it's as though people with the INTP personality type are a conduit for the truths around them, so far as they can be expressed, and they are proud of this role as theoretical mediator.
Honest and Straightforward - To know one thing and say another would be terribly disingenuous - INTPs don't often go around intentionally hurting feelings, but they believe that the truth is the most important factor, and they expect that to be appreciated and reciprocated.
Very Private and Withdrawn - While INTPs' intellectualism yields many insights into their surroundings, their surroundings are ironically considered an intrusion on their thoughts. This is especially true with people - INTPs are quite shy in social settings. More complicated situations such as parties exacerbate this, but even close friends struggle to get into INTPs' hearts and minds.
Insensitive - Oftentimes INTP personalities get so caught up in their logic that they forget any kind of emotional consideration - they dismiss subjectivity as irrational and tradition as an attempt to bar much-needed progress. Purely emotional situations are often utterly puzzling to INTPs, and their lack of timely sympathy can easily offend.
Absent-minded - When INTPs' interest is captured, their absence goes beyond social matters to include the rest of the physical world. INTPs become forgetful, missing even the obvious if it's unrelated to their current infatuation, and they can even forget their own health, skipping meals and sleep as they muse.
Condescending - Attempts at connecting with others are often worse than INTPs' withdrawal. People with the INTP personality type take pride in their knowledge and rationale, and enjoy sharing their ideas, but in trying to explain how they got from A to B to Z, they can get frustrated, sometimes simplifying things to the point of insult as they struggle to gauge their conversation partners' perspective. The ultimate insult comes as INTPs give up with a dismissive "never mind".
Loathe Rules and Guidelines - These social struggles are partly a product of INTPs' desire to bypass the rules, of social conduct and otherwise. While this attitude helps INTPs' strength of unconventional creativity, it also causes them to reinvent the wheel constantly and to shun security in favor of autonomy in ways that can compromise both.
Second-Guess Themselves - INTPs remain so open to new information that they often never commit to a decision at all. This applies to their own skills as well - INTP personalities know that as they practice, they improve, and any work they do is second-best to what they could do. Unable to settle for this, INTPs sometimes delay their output indefinitely with constant revisions, sometimes even quitting before they ever begin.
When it comes to romantic relationships, INTPs have an interesting mixture of traits that often pleasantly surprise their partners. People with this personality type are always full of ideas, but they have few opportunities to explore their more romantic notions. As with any of their theories, INTPs love sharing with others, and in finally meeting someone where romantic thoughts are appropriate, they show themselves to be excited, enthusiastic, and even playful, flirting with word-play and intellectual games.
None of this is to say that these relationships come easily to INTPs - they are shy and withdrawn individuals, and getting out and meeting new people, risking rejection and making themselves the center of attention in emotionally delicate situations are far from being their strengths. It is more likely that INTP personalities will leave a trail of breadcrumbs for a potential partner, allowing them to make the first move and committing to their partner as an act of reciprocation rather than bravado.
MARRY! A GOOD WIFE MAKES HAPPINESS, A BAD ONE, PHILOSOPHY
From the start, INTPs take their relationships seriously - their imagination and vision, and the challenge of getting to know new people, make them all too aware of how important it is that they're involved with someone, and they will prove themselves surprisingly loyal. Even early the dating phase, INTPs are unusually direct and honest, doing their best to express their mindset and create mutual understanding, believing that this shared knowledge will help to minimize misunderstandings and avoid conflict.
As their relationships progress, INTPs' daily needs prove remarkably simple. Gifts, surprises, complex social plans and date nights are all fairly unimportant to people with the INTP personality type, but this is also one of their chiefest weaknesses - their partner may very much need these things, and it won't even occur to INTPs to plan them out. For all their analysis and attempts at mutual understanding, INTPs are notoriously bad at picking up on others' emotional needs.
When it comes to conflict, there is a certain willful ignorance for INTPs, and they often set aside their partners' feelings, and their own, for far too long.
When these conflicts do arise and are inescapable, INTPs will do their best to find a logical solution. But this hardly helps if the problem is logic itself, that INTP personalities aren't meeting their partners' emotional needs. INTPs should keep this in mind, and try to meet their partners halfway by communicating on an emotional level - if they make this effort, understanding partners will recognize and appreciate the gesture, clumsy though it may be. After all, they need to afford INTPs the same benefit, and meet them halfway with logic and simplicity as well.
BEWARE THE BARRENNESS OF A BUSY LIFE
All this material asceticism and conflict avoidance support one primary goal - to free up mental resources for more important things. INTPs' creative, vivid imagination make for a surprisingly enthusiastic, passionate, and romantic partner. While INTPs may prioritize their inner world too much, imagining interesting and exciting intimate situations that are never expressed to their partners, they also use this rich inner world to achieve as much as possible in intimacy - they rarely want for ideas.
Physically, intellectually and with a little effort emotionally, INTP relationships are rich and rewarding connections. Partners who share the Intuitive (N) trait are usually best, along with one or two opposite traits to create variety and balance, but so long as INTPs remember that they are with people who have their own, independent wants and needs, and so long as their partners remember the same of their INTPs, these are long-lasting and satisfying relationships.
Many of the usual motivations for making friends - emotional support, social validation, shared routine - simply don't apply to INTPs. More likely, these concepts are met with disdain, as people with the INTP personality type prize intellectual depth above all else. It is not easy to become good friends with INTPs, but if there is a common interest and a common train of thought, the connection is likely to spark instantly, surprising everyone else who thought they had this distant personality type pegged.
BE SLOW TO FALL INTO FRIENDSHIP...
INTP friendships are knowledge-based, defined by the exchange of ideas, theories, and concepts, and those who aren't able to keep up with this, or who have sharply differing tastes (don't talk to INTPs about celebrities) will find stony faces that border on rude. To INTPs, communication is often more of a nuisance than a pleasure, and conversation is reserved for topics that they find meaningful, or for people they already like enough to stick it out.
Unless there's a natural affinity for this intellectual style, few have the patience to try to penetrate their shields, and INTPs are left with a naturally small circle of good friends.
Other Analyst (NT) types are a natural fit for INTPs, who share their passion for new ideas, riddles and solutions. People with the INTP personality type are knowledgeable and intelligent, and have a great deal of respect for those who can keep them on their toes in this regard. They will gladly help to tackle any dilemma thrown their way, offering up sound advice and rational solutions. As valuable as these qualities are though, they are not always the best approach - when it comes to emotional support or advice in dealing with matters of the heart, INTPs are at a loss.
It's not that INTP personalities don't feel - quite the contrary, they actually have very strong sentiments. But Feeling (F) is one of INTPs' least developed traits, making their emotional reactions strong, untrustworthy and naturally in need of being tempered by their well-trained logic and rationalism. Still waters run deep.
...BUT WHEN IN FRIENDSHIP, CONTINUE FIRM AND CONSTANT
While they may not be able to help directly with these sorts of problems, INTPs help indirectly with unambiguous and reliable friendships. INTPs' friends need never worry about power games or emotional baggage - they are liked for their minds and abilities, not their status or possessions. While it may not be easy to establish true friendships with INTP personalities, once the link is made, they will provide years of understanding and thought-stimulating ideas, making them well worth the effort.
INTPs are solitary, eccentric, and independent - none of which is listed as desirable for corporate positions, which are usually designed for very different personality types. INTPs duly struggle in finding careers that meet their needs, but what they do bring, qualities in much higher demand, are creativity, a passion for theoretical methods and ideas, and an entrepreneurial, innovative spirit. If they are able to put this better foot forward to secure a position in a suitable line of work, people with the INTP personality type will find that, whatever the job listing says, these "less desirable" qualities will prove an asset after all.
A POEM OF NUMBERS
Chief among INTPs' interests is exploring and building models for underlying principles and ideas, even going so far as to find these concepts, in their own way, beautiful - this makes them natural mathematicians, systems analysts, and career scientists, especially in more abstract fields such as physics. There are many other careers that allow INTPs to explore these interests, but many of them are far too rooted in uninteresting practical applications. As useful as it is to develop a better vacuum cleaner, it is no Large Hadron Collider.
INTP personalities are self-driven and have very high personal standards - "good enough" is never good enough - but have few environmental needs. Despite this relative simplicity, they are often hard for more people-centric types to understand. INTPs live primarily in their own heads, and have little interest in social distractions like chitchat and motivational speeches.
All INTPs really want is to immerse themselves in an interesting project, and anything that interrupts that, be it overactive managers, the need to manage others, or office parties or meetings, are simply unwelcome burdens.
For this reason, the flatter the workplace hierarchy, the better, making small, technical workplaces and fields such as law, forensics, and laboratory research very desirable for INTPs. Insightful and open-minded managers who can accommodate these needs will find their INTP subordinates to be a tireless generator of brilliant and unique ideas. However, many people with the INTP personality type may do away with the immediate hierarchy altogether, opting instead to provide their services on a freelance basis as consultants.
EMOTIONAL VALUES: A MERE ILLUSION
Where INTPs do not thrive is in workplaces that require them to provide a high degree of emotional satisfaction - cruise ship masseuses they are not. INTP personalities struggle to understand emotional exchanges, and service-oriented positions will prove baffling and exhausting for them. Though INTPs are talented analysts who are perfectly capable of understanding the theoretical importance of customer service, the day-to-day application of such a scheme is simply better left to more people-oriented personality types.
Business is growing more complex every day, and this complexity is managed with technical systems, economic theories, and data. The need for novel approaches is stronger than ever for people and organizations to distinguish themselves. Though general people skills are often phrased as a must, it is the technical work that creates something to talk about, and it is in this pursuit that INTPs thrive.
Work as business analysts and corporate strategists is well suited to INTPs, but they can also move things forward as data analysts, mechanical, electrical and software engineers, and even as technical writers and journalists, provided the field is interesting enough. If they can smile and shake hands just long enough to establish themselves as the brilliant innovators that they are, people with the INTP personality type will find that whatever the expectations for social conduct, it is the qualities unique to them that are truly in demand.
INTP IN THE WORKPLACE
The running theme for INTPs is their desire for solitude, need for intellectual stimulation, and the satisfaction of the final piece of a puzzle clicking into place. Whether in subordinate or management positions, with colleagues or working alone, these privileges and the freedom to pursue them unfettered by social obligations and progress reports are about all people with the INTP personality type look for in their workplace.
Though INTPs may scoff at the notion, they actually function best when paired with another person. Their position determines which personality type best fits their needs, but INTPs' tendency to live in their heads and vent inspiration and creativity seemingly at random demands the presence of an implementer, preferably a Sentinel (SJ), to ensure that no stroke of genius goes unnoticed.
Under the right conditions, INTP subordinates are innovative, resourceful, and hard-working, easily wrapping their minds around whatever complex problems are placed in front of them and delivering unorthodox but effective solutions. However, these qualities require a great deal of freedom, something stereotypical managers are loath to cede. It is difficult to quantify these qualities on a resume - several other characteristics, like a relative indifference to job security and to being liked, exacerbate the challenge - and it can take time to grow to trust INTP subordinates enough to allow this latitude.
INTP personalities prefer to work alone, but at the same time they despise "grunt-work". Their focus on conceiving new and exciting ideas and ignoring the details of execution means that INTPs need someone alongside to keep things in order and actually put into practice their often unrefined ideas. Such a condition can't be forced on INTPs, but a few logically phrased criticisms (certainly not emotional appeals or pep talks about working as part of a team) and clever management can make it happen.
For INTPs, colleagues aren't so much a group of people who they socialize and work with as they are a series of obstacles and diversions with occasionally useful knowledge. Mingling, chitchat, drinks after work - these make INTPs want to work alone, not get up in the morning. Despite this distance, people with the INTP personality type are unusually good at developing insightful and unbiased interpretations of others' motivations, though sometimes they overthink it, becoming unnecessarily suspicious of others' goals.
What they do enjoy are riddles and patterns, and any INTP would be proud to be the guru who is sought after as arbiter on the validity of an idea, or for their insight on how to apply a principle to novel situations. INTPs love discussing theories, at least with "proven" colleagues, and are almost always available as impromptu consultants. This, however, does not apply to emotional riddles and conflicts, INTPs' Achilles Heel - in these charged situations, INTP personalities have no clue what to do.
While INTPs don't care for managing other people, it is likely the most rewarding position as it provides the opportunity to direct concepts and theories while others handle the logistics. INTPs have a very tolerant and flexible style, characterized by an openness to logical suggestions and relative freedom for their subordinates. But this freedom comes at a cost - INTP managers have very high standards, and they expect others to grasp their insights instantly, and to provide their own in equal measure.
As well as their demand for innovation, INTPs are better than any other type at noticing logical discrepancies - their tendency to ignore others' feelings means that their criticisms often come hard and fast as they direct projects to their own perfectionistic standards. Here again INTPs do best with a partner, this time a delegator who can filter their thoughts and direct their team in more socially productive ways. A liaison can also help to deter schmoozing and attempts at emotional manipulation, a sure mistake for anyone who tries
INTPs' intelligence and logical reasoning skills are a force to be reckoned with. Be it a minor debate or a life-changing decision, INTPs will find it easy to entertain multiple ideas and keep a cool head. This allows INTPs to overcome many challenging obstacles - yet they can be easily tripped up in areas where careful and rational thinking is more of a liability than an asset.
Whether it is finding (or keeping) a partner, making friends, reaching dazzling heights on the career ladder or learning to make difficult decisions, INTPs need to put in a conscious effort to develop their weaker traits and additional skills.
What you have read so far is just an introduction into the complex concept that is the INTP personality type. You may have muttered to yourself, "wow, this is so accurate it's a little creepy" or "finally, someone understands me!" You may have even asked "how do they know more about me than the people I'm closest to?"
This is not a trick. You felt understood because you were. We've studied how INTPs think and what they need to reach their full potential. And no, we did not spy on you – many of the challenges you've faced and will face in the future have been overcome by other INTPs. You simply need to learn how they succeeded.
But in order to do that, you need to have a plan, a personal roadmap. The best car in the world will not take you to the right place if you do not know where you want to go. We have told you how INTPs tend to behave in certain circumstances and what their key strengths and weaknesses are. Now we need to go much deeper into your personality type and answer "why?", "how?" and "what if?"
This knowledge is only the beginning of a lifelong journey. Are you ready to learn why INTPs act in the way they do? What motivates and inspires you? What you are afraid of and what you secretly dream about? How you can unlock your true, exceptional potential?
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