INTP Personality Type – Introverted Thinking with Extraverted Intuition
The INTP personality type (as outlined by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® Test, or MBTI® Test) is the Introverted Thinking with Extraverted Intuition type. INTP types are proficient at giving an unbiased report on a given issue or project, regardless of their personal feelings or the feelings of others. They are judicious, precise, capricious, and highly intelligent. Myers-Briggs® test INTP personality types are self-sufficient solution finders who develop their own internal ways of interpreting and comprehending the outside world. Their introspective, swift-thinking nature makes them excellent employees:
- Probe for answers to questions that other people may feel uncomfortable asking, without a fear of failure, even when the topic is highly un-researched or complex
- When they are placed in a setting where themselves and others are working together, their perceptive judgments are often an integral part in solving the present problem
- Discover patterns and underlying structures that others cannot often sense
- Always looking to learn more to enhance themselves, especially if this newly acquired information will further help them solve more problems in future projects
- Devise complicated, abstract ideas to clarify the workings of things around them
- Thoroughly enjoy conjecturing about possible solutions, either for new problems or to revamp an older solution
Internal Problem Solvers
MBTI Test -assessed INTP types develop their own internal ways of interpreting and comprehending the outside world around them. They often produce their best jobs when working alone, without outside help or interference, especially on a subject with little former information supporting any foreseeable solution. They are inquisitive about everything around them. INTP personality types find discrepancies and irrationalities quickly, and find happiness in formulating new plans or ideas for older, potentially-already-solved problems.
INTP personality types don’t enjoy completing mundane or uncomplicated duties, feeling as though their time and talent is being wasted; however, when presented with a complicated problem, they attack the issue with ferocity, zeal, and heavy doses of concentration. Although they mostly keep to themselves, MBTI Test -assessed INTP types enjoy engaging in conversations about topics with which they are rather familiar. They develop strict principles that they put towards their every thought and feeling. Because of this, they are very honest, but only dispute their beliefs and opinions when they believe the conversation is levelheaded. When discussing opinions, INTP types are usually open-minded to the thoughts of others. Additionally, in discussions, this personality type appreciates clear communicators who don’t overload the conversation with unnecessary comments or ramblings.
With such a wealth of information at their fingertips, it’s quite easy for MBTI test -assessed INTP types to get stuck in their heads, focusing too much on empirical data instead of experiencing and learning from the world around them. Because of this, it can be difficult for INTP types to discuss their knowledge with others, not knowing how to appropriately act. This can lead to Myers-Briggs test INTP types to act derogatory or cynical toward others, so much so that it can ruin friendships and business relationships. Dismissing others also goes along with INTP types tendency to not fully understand the consequences of how they treat others.
This personality type’s disconnection with the world around them can lead them to not understand how emotional connections work, and they therefore disregard the needs of others. Similarly, MBTI test-assessed INTP types may dismiss certain thoughts and feelings as frivolous simply because these feelings don’t agree with the reasoning in their minds.
Furthermore, an INTP types inability to fully understand connections can actually affect their intelligence, as they may find it difficult to take their knowledge together as a whole instead of simply viewing what they know as separate pieces of information that do not relate. By working towards understanding the connections in the world around them, as well as taking time to get out of their heads and into the present world, Myers-Briggs Test -assessed INTP individuals can strengthen their work ethic and their personal relationships.[ Information was referenced from the following publication- (Isabel Briggs Myers, 1998, CPP Inc.)]
Career Opportunities for INTP Types
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Personality Test INTP types straightforward intelligence and conceptualized solution-seeking makes them excellent workers in the areas of the arts, computerized technology, and building (engineering/architecture). The artistic INTP types are often drawn to written expression, making exceptional editors and craft artists. The most intelligent of the INTP types go on to become engineers, architects, executives in scientific or construction fields, political scientists, and legal workers, where they are happy to use their overwhelming intelligence to better their respective fields (Allen L. Hammer, 1993, CPP Inc.).
To get the most out of their work experiences, INTP types must get out of their heads and begin participating in the world around them. This could mean anything from establishing long-range goals that continue on past the projects that they are currently working on, devising a list of priorities for themselves in work and in their personal lives, or by putting themselves out there more in order to network and build wider and stronger connections with others.
A tendency to focus simply on what is reasonable in life as opposed to what an INTP really wants can often thwart professional and personal growth. By diving deep down and asking oneself what he or she really wants out of their occupation, their relationships, and ultimately, their life, Myers Briggs-assessed INTP types can develop their own personal goals and principles outside of logic and reason. Through externalizing part of their lives, strengthening their friendships and network, and by creating realistic, long-term goals, MBTI test -assessed INTP types can become the best employees (and people!) that they can be.
Click on one of these corresponding popular INTP Careers for detailed information including Career Stats, Income Stats, Daily Tasks and Required Education: Actuary/Risk Professional, Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators, Architectural Drafters, Archivists, Art Directors, Food Science Technician, Geographer, Geoscientist, Librarian, Network and Computer Systems Administrators
Further Understanding INTPs
INTPs tend to think in a highly analytical way, solving problems quickly, efficiently, and systematically. They thrive in challenging situations, and push themselves and those around them to develop new, innovative ways of thinking. Connections between seemingly unrelated facts seem to come naturally to INTPs, and they are able to process large amounts of information seemingly effortlessly. They also tend to value information in and of itself, rather than simply as a means to an end. In other words, they enjoy and are fulfilled by understanding how the world around them works, as well as how the parameters of real-world situations might be tweaked to allow for other possibilities.
INTPs, however, do tend to be individualistic, preferring to work alone rather than in teams, and may come across as reserved or even detached especially to more social or extraverted personality types. They tend to be easily frustrated when they need to coordinate large groups of people, especially those who find it difficult to follow directions, or who think in very different ways from how they do. As a result, most INTPs would benefit from making an effort to develop their interpersonal behavior.
Another defining characteristic of INTPs is their need to belong and be appreciated. If INTPs are not respected and appreciated, or if they feel that their gifts and contributions are not optimal, then they may turn their analytical nature inwards and become cynical and destructively critical. This risks making it even harder for others to relate to them, which in turn may cause them to turn inwards even more, cutting themselves off from the outside world. As such, INTPs should make an effort to develop their more sensitive personality preferences as well.
INTPs’ Learning Style: Analytical and Critical
Myers-Briggs® INTPs learn by analyzing course content and synthesizing it with what they know about the world around them. They critically consider the learning situation, evaluate why they are learning information, and draw connections between the classroom environment and the outside world. This type of logical, analytical thinking also helps INTPs solve problems systematically and often by using a form of a cost-benefit analysis that weighs the value of an outcome against the value of the resources one would invest in achieving it.
MBTI® INTPs tend to prefer flexible learning environments in which they are able to freely explore connections. They enjoy being able to do their own research, but often appreciate having general guidelines or principles presented to them to frame their future investigations. INTPs also tend to prefer working independently, without the guidance of instructors or interference from peers, unless their group can help them develop deeper or more nuanced understandings of the material they are trying to learn. For instance, “what if” or problem-solving scenarios presented in a group can often be stimulating for INTPs, while simply completing a task in a group when the task could easily be completed individually, is less interesting for them. In general, INTPs strongly prefer analytical problem solving tasks, rather than simply being asked to regurgitate information on a written evaluation.
In terms of their relationship with their instructors, MBTI® INTP personality types derive the most benefit from strong, logical instructors who clearly present information or who can develop innovative task-based assignments and assessments. INTPs are easily irritated by having their time wasted, an expect instructors to maintain a crisp, clear, and efficient classroom environment. When they are given feedback, INTPs need to have a high degree of respect for the person giving their feedback. Otherwise, they tend to default to self-evaluations. Either way, they tend to dismiss general positive or effusive feedback, instead valuing specificity and applicability of feedback to future situations.
INTPs’ Leadership Style: Efficient and Focused
INTPs are strong, competent leaders who have the ability to imagine clear, long-range future visions while also being able to develop concrete plans for achieving their future goals. Along the way, they are able to gather large amounts of information about the context and realities of implementation, and integrate these facts to select the most efficient and effective of a number of different options. That said, INTPs’ understanding—while comprehensive—may be too overly theoretical, making it somewhat challenging for them to explain their ideas in layman’s terms. Along the same line, they may value the elegance and coherence of a solution to a particular problem over the practical constraints that may render such a proposal impossible.
INTPs may also have difficulty rallying their department or employees behind them, as they tend to prefer working individually than in conjunction with others. Furthermore, because they tend to be very internally motivated, or motivated by their fascination with the elegance of a particular undertaking, they may be dismissive of others’ needs for more personal motivation. At times, INTPs come across as being aloof or uninterested in personal relationships. As such, those individuals who are more emotionally inclined may have difficulty identifying with or being motivated by INTPs’ more objective approach. Finally, because of their distance from others, INTPs may fail to notice political connections or nuances. In other words, they may not understand the relationships between human organizations and motivations, even though they are highly analytical and have an impressive ability to understand the objective world from a scientific perspective. For this reason, INTPs, rather than choosing their connections in a politically savvy manner, may choose to ignore politics or organizational hierarchies to simply choose the individuals or connections they wish to accomplish a particular task.
Finally, when it comes to actually mobilizing initiatives and reaching goals, INTPs often have a strong and even exclusive focus on the task at hand. They do not generally take breaks or deviate from a task until it has been completed. This level of focus is rare, and may even be unnerving to others who require outside stimulation to remain motivated.
As MBTI® INTPs continue to develop their less utilized leadership style, they would do well to make a concerted effort to improve their willingness and effectiveness in working with others as a team towards a common goal. They should attempt to build relationships, for instance by giving compliments or assigning important jobs to others rather than attempting to take everything on themselves. In doing so, they will strengthen the loyalty that their team members have for them, and hopefully motivate them to perform their tasks with even more dedication.
INTPs and Emotional Outlook: Confident but Detached
INTP personality types are highly aware of their mental state, and are confident and realistic in their evaluation of their own competence, especially when it comes to accomplishing individual tasks or achieving goals successfully. On the other hand, when it comes to identifying or coming to terms with particular emotions, it may end up taking them a longer time. Because of this high level of intellectual confidence and valuing of objective achievement, INTPs often direct their time, energy, and other resources into intellectual pursuits. They are highly organized and logistically-oriented, deriving emotional and mental satisfaction from identifying the most parsimonious solution to a challenging issue. However, they may feel that they are losing control or that they are performing inefficiently if others on their teams think illogically. INTPs are surprisingly flexible, until their peers stop thinking logically, at which point they become impatient and irritable.
When it comes to communicating with others, INTPs tend to be as impatient with others’ emotions as they are for their inefficiencies. INTPs have little interest in others’ emotional states, though they are willing to listen to others talk about a variety of topics and to help them find solutions to their problems. That said, INTPs are not typically emotionally supportive listeners. Instead, they maintain their problem-solving mentality and seek to show commitment to those who are close to them by helping them solve their problems. As such, INTPs often prefer to discuss scientific principles or ideas rather than emotional ones; they are very conservative with their emotional energy and typically maintain only a small group of personal friends, though they may have a larger circle of professional associates.
Despite some of their lack of social interest with others, INTPs must be given credit in that they are genuine people – they are not particularly politically savvy, and so if one is having a conversation with an INTP, one can rest assured that they are actually interested in the content of the discussion rather than simply in making a good impression or in some other form of self-interest. INTPs’ competitive nature and focus on achievement also makes them strong, competent leaders.
As INTPs work to develop their personal challenges, they should make an effort to develop their emotional instincts and build more personal relationships. On a more analytical level, they may wish to try to reflect more concretely on strategies to test their theories and models in the real world. This way, they can have a practice or dry run before actively implementing their plan. Doing so, will greatly expand the career prospects of INTJs, and increase their possibilities for success more than ever.
INTP Personality Types in The Workplace
Individuals who assess as an Introverted-Intuitive-Thinking-Perceiving (INTP) personality type are highly analytical and detail-oriented. They value intelligence and competence above interpersonal skills, and generally believe that a person’s knowledge and ability are significantly more valuable than their social networks or popularity. INTPs are hard workers and dedicated contributors to the workplace, and are known for their ability to observe trends and patterns in large amounts of complex data. In group settings, they are often the voice of reason. They provide concise summaries of complex information and even draw parallels among situations or facts that others may not even remember. On the other hand, INTPs do prefer to work independently and may be perceived as being isolated or even aloof from their co-workers or colleagues. They may become impatient or judgmental of those who do not live up to their exceedingly high standards. Nonetheless, their energy and intensity can bring life to an otherwise mundane environment.
INTPs and Communication in The Workplace: Detailed and Efficient
INTPs tend to be patient, well-informed communicators who often act as a resource for the remainder of their teams. They thoroughly prepare for group discussions and presentations, and gather relevant information from both within their organization and beyond it. During discussions, they listen carefully and attentively, and absorb the opinions and facts presented by their colleagues. INTPs’ contributions to such discussions are razor-sharp, cutting to the heart of an issue, its premises, and its implications. For example, if a topic seems tangential to the underlying issue, an INTP might ask if it is relevant at all. Alternatively, they might ask if anyone had considered a specific long-term implication of a proposed idea.
INTPs’ intense focus and analytical thought process may come across as overly critical, particularly to others who have more feeling personality types. They may even appear to enjoy discovering flaws in others’ work or proposals. These perceptions could not be farther from the truth, however. INTPs’ intent is almost always to pursue truth and to reach the most logical, elegant solution to a given problem. That said, INTPs may become irritated by teammates who devote too much time to introductory pleasantries or chitchat. In contrast, INTPs prefer to get down to business, resolve the issue, and move on to the next challenge quickly. They see social obligations as distractions at best.
INTPs harbor a similar impatience for more social, sensitive, or traditionally-minded personality types who value sentiment, conventional authority, or even popularity more than effectiveness, elegance, and efficiency. For example, INTPs see no need to accept or even solicit suggestions from peers who they consider incompetent or whose opinions they do not respect, regardless of the social or emotional consequences. Similarly, if a hierarchical organization structure impedes implementing an initiative, they are inclined to subvert the structure entirely rather than attempt to work within it, even for the sake of personal or professional advancement.
INTPs who are seeking to become more effective communicators should try to articulate their positions clearly, concretely, and simply enough for their more practical peers to understand. Furthermore, they might check for understanding, for instance by asking what the listener thought of their position. INTPs should also consider how their behavior, opinions, statements, or actions might affect others. Building social relationships and becoming better communicators can greatly benefit INTPs in the long run.
INTPs and Workplace Contributions: Analytical and Objective
INTPs’ greatest contributions to the workplace are their extraordinary analytical skill and their ability to identify and focus on underlying issues. For example, INTPs can detect patterns and trends in large amounts of complex information seemingly effortlessly, and then use those trends to propose other initiatives or interventions that could improve, sustain, or change the trend’s direction. Being able to analyze and detect patterns allows INTPs to solve problems quickly, efficiently, and with an elegant simplicity. INTPs’ attention to detail also allows them to design logical and complex systems themselves. They can conceptualize the immediate, short-term implications of their positions clearly and even extrapolate them into the long-term future.
While it may be surprising, INTPs’ habitual systematic analysis of any situation often reduces team stress and anxiety. For example, say a project has to be delayed by a few days because a client has not responded. An INTP would analyze the situation, consider the implications of this delay, and be able to articulate concrete changes that need to be made or that will result from this change. Being aware of necessary changes allows their teams to prepare for them and take appropriate action to reduce their impact and therefore their stress. INTPs can also reduce their team members’ stress by serving as sounding boards for their ideas or proposals before they are presented to a larger audience. INTPs are often among the most critical in their peer groups, and so less analytical individuals often benefit from receiving initial feedback in private and having the opportunity to strengthen their presentations before moving on to situations with higher stakes.
INTPs and Workplace Culture: Reserved and Independent
INTPs focus intently and even exclusively on the tasks to which they have been assigned. They prefer to work independently whenever possible, and thrive when given the time, space, and freedom to consider possible solutions without practical constraints. In part because of their desire to focus and in part because of their introverted nature, INTPs prefer environments that are quiet, with as few interruptions as possible, including e-mails and meetings. INTPs may feel constrained or stifled in environments that have rigid policies or procedures, such as requiring a specific dress code or having to arrive or take a lunch break at a specific time each day. Instead, they value independence and flexibility in thought and behavior. They prefer flat, unstructured, and nonbureaucratic organizations that reward originality of thought and self-determination. From their perspective, individuals should be evaluated by the impact of their contributions, not how well they adhere to institutional policies.
When it comes to interacting with their co-workers and peers, INTPs tend to be friendly and egalitarian, as opposed to hierarchical, with those whom they consider equals. On the other hand, they can be critical of those who they consider incapable or incompetent. While INTPs may unconsciously sacrifice harmony in the workplace in favor of objective accuracy, fairness, or even justice, they are also fiercely committed and loyal to those who are important to them. Although, they tend to be subtle rather than openly or effusively demonstrative, for instance they might nod their head in approval rather than gush with praise. Their more reserved nature may make them seem aloof or disinterested to more open or communicative personality types.
INTPs and Leadership in The Workplace: Logical and Conceptual
INTPs are strong, organized leaders. They set explicit and specific ground rules and expectations, and ensure that their team members always know what is expected of them and how they are being evaluated. They have little respect for established roles and hierarchies, and reward independent thought and autonomy. They refuse to micromanage their direct reports, and may even express impatience or frustration with those who require close supervision.
INTPs are also visionaries. They have a way of identifying patterns and trends in the big picture and then extrapolating from these features to create a vision for the future. This systemic, conceptual way of thinking makes INTPs visionaries capable of thinking outside the box. They tend to attract support from those who are similarly motivated by the elegance of an idea. Of course, this lofty way of thinking is not without its shortcomings. INTPs may think so theoretically that they lose hold of the nuances of a real situation and the details of implementation. They may prefer an elegant but theoretical solution over a messier but more practical approach to a problem. Another shortcoming of their theoretical approach are occasional lapses in their ability to articulate instructions to other members of their team. The initial discovery of a solution is so satisfying to INTPs that they may find the implementation dull or even superfluous.
Perhaps the greatest shortcoming of INTPs as leaders is their difficulty in considering or even noticing others’ motivations—what makes them tick. INTPs are so wholly motivated by the problems with which they are presented that they may have difficulty engaging with those whose motivations diverge with their own. This is one reason INTPs most enjoy leading other independent thinkers who are similarly motivated by the challenge. Another reason may be their proclivity for interacting with peers on an intellectual rather than emotional level; their closest friends are often built around debates and discussions rather than shared experiences.
INTPs and Problem Solving in The Workplace: Focused and Conceptual
INTPs pride themselves on being able to quickly and efficiently identify solutions to even the most complex problems. They are innovative, conceptual problem solvers who often forego traditional and even intuitive approaches to instead welcome diverse views, thinking, and perspectives. They think and behave flexibly, and often employ a number of different brainstorming techniques to facilitate their thought processes. That said, unlike others who may get sidetracked or distracted by detail, INTPs have a strong focus on the task at hand and encourage others to work steadily and tirelessly alongside them.
However, despite their passion, INTPs have three great shortcomings as problem solvers. First, they tend to get lost in the joy of theorizing and procrastinate on taking action. INTPs can lose the forest for the trees and stay focused on examining a situation or data set from every possible perspective without stepping back to consider a plan of action. Second, they may become protective, even defensive of their ideas, especially when under stress, to the extent that they may adhere to an illogical position despite having been presented with information to the contrary. Finally, INTPs often neglect the feelings and opinions of others as they commit to a decision. As they continue to grow as problem solvers, leaders, and individuals, INTPs should make a concerted effort to tie their thoughts to concrete actions, to consider their own positions objectively without getting defensive, and to incorporate the impact their initiatives will have on others into their calculations and analysis.
INTPs and Areas of Growth in The Workplace: Personal and Social
Developing a leadership mindset is essential to INTPs’ continued professional growth and development. Having the best ideas or being an expert in your field becomes even more powerful when your ideas are widely accepted. Make an effort to analyze social networks. Identify who your higher-ups are, their position and sphere of influence, and what you can do to make them notice you and your contributions. Learning to collaborate with others goes hand-in-hand with a leadership mindset. While working alone may be faster and even less stressful, being able to achieve a goal as part of a team is a different and increasingly important skill set. It is important to note that you can still increase your participation in workplace culture even if you are not able to work as part of a team. For example, try keeping your office door open for an hour or two, or walk around the office to check in with your co-workers. A little effort can go a long way in establishing yourself as an essential part of the workplace.
On a more personal level, INTPs should make an effort to become more sensitive to the needs of others and learn to understand and value others’ contributions and motivations even if they do not initially seem logical. INTPs can also grow by learning to manage their stress. If your usual approach of analyzing the implications of a situation is not successful, try opening up to friends or peers. There is no shame in leaning on those close to you. In fact, doing so could strengthen your relationships even more.
While change and improvement takes time and effort, a little bit goes a long way. You can improve your workplace contributions, change how your peers perceive you, and even become a more effective professional leader.
Learn More About the MBTI INTP Personality Type
Explore additional information that delves deeper into the INTP Personality Type by examining various personality and career based subjects:
- How the MBTI INTP Type relates to Innovation
- How the MBTI INTP Type relates to Project Management
- How the MBTI INTP Type relates to Emotional Intelligence
- How the MBTI INTP Type relates to Leadership
- How the MBTI INTP Type relates to Communication
- The INTP Celebrity Personality Types
Click on a link below to read more about different MBTI Personality Types
Introduction to Type (Isabel Briggs Myers, 1998, CPP Inc.)
Introduction to Type and Careers (Allen L. Hammer, 2007, CPP Inc.)
Introduction to Type and Leadership (Richmond, S. CPP. 2008)
Introduction to Type and Learning (Dunning, D. CPP. 2008)
Introduction To Type® and Emotional Intelligence. (Pearman, R. CPP, 2002)
Introduction To Type in Organizations (Hirsh, S. & Kummerow, J. CPP Inc., 1998)