Dominant Introverted Thinking with Auxiliary Extraverted Intuition

Tertiary Sensing and Inferior Extraverted Feeling

Analytical • Adaptable • Ingenious • Independent

According to the MBTI® Manual, INTPs make up 3.3% of the population, making this type the 11th most common, of 16, in the US population.

INTPs are known for appearing detached, skeptical, flexible, and observant.  They prize competence, logic, and innovative solutions, and they use these qualities to develop logical systems to solve complex and/or unusual problems.  INTPs have a great appreciation for gaining knowledge and analyzing possibilities.  They may spend a great deal of time identifying problems and possible fixes. This is most easily accomplished in areas where problems are new, challenging, and interesting to them, rather than mundane.

Despite their often independent and contained exterior, INTPs are generally quite confident and talkative when it comes to their areas of expertise.  As family members and friends, INTPs are typically undemanding, and laid back.  They show enthusiasm when family members take an interest in things they find interesting, but they may struggle with expressing emotions.

In Stress

Normally, INTPs will be thrown off in environments where they feel controlled by others, are not allowed to go with the flow of the moment, are required to do simple and repetitive tasks, or where they are surrounded by individuals they view as incompetent. INTPs like autonomy in work and are typically stressed by depending on or being in charge of the quality of another’s work. They also struggle in environments where they lack time alone to work, and/or where they are often immersed in emotionally charged environments. They may often find it difficult to be in situations where their expertise is not appreciated or in places where rules are rigidly enforced.

When faced with stress overload, which may come from being confronted with intense emotions, having needs for space and introversion disregarded or disrespected (ex. others barging in without invitation or too frequently), or not having their strongly held values and/or feelings validated, INTPs may find themselves “in the grip” of their inferior function, Extraverted Feeling.  During this experience, the individual is likely to do things that are typically completely out of character.  This may include becoming almost emotionally obsessed with logic and proving a point, while organization goes out the window and objects become lost or misplaced. INTPs may become hypersensitive about their relationships with others and interpret tiny, insignificant details into the belief that others dislike or hate them, and they may become uncharacteristically emotional and bitter towards others.

Fortunately, going through and coming out of a grip experience can lead to growth and balance of the personality and the person.

To learn about INTPs under the particular stress that only comes from being chased by the dead, check out INTPs in the Zombie Apocalypse!

As Learners

In general, INTPs love the process of learning, and they are often referred to as “the genius type”.  They learn best when the big picture is presented first, and details are kept to a minimum.  Material sinks in more easily when it logical and general, and the INTP is allowed to explore it in an individualized way that examines systems and emphasizes problem-solving.  This is especially true when the problems are difficult and have not managed to be solved by others.

INTPs often excel at and enjoy learning through reading and computers, and they prize their ability for being able to understand complexity. INTPs like to learn in a way that allows them to develop their own processes to work on topics they find interesting, whether the topic is related to assignments or not. This often causes INTPs to be attracted to self-directed study.  Typically, INTPs place importance on their teachers’ competence levels, and they prefer to learn from individuals who are experts in their fields.  On the whole, INTPs are intrinsically motivated to learn and will dive head first into topics that pique their imaginations, without needing prompting from the outside world, but they may struggle with deadlines because they are so much more process oriented than product oriented.

Individuals of this type may find it helpful to seek expert opinions, through articles, etc., when having difficulty being interested in material.  They should try to remember to look at details that make up the big picture, instead of just the big picture.  Frustration may occur for INTPs in a classroom where they find the material frivolous or feeling based, and they may be helped by examining ways the material can relate to topics they are interested in and using a problem/puzzle-solving approach.

Time Management

Typically, INTPs think broadly in the long-term about what could later come from current actions, but they may not be very concerned with planning to bring their ideas to fruition.  They may prefer to simply watch the idea evolve and change.  INTPs often find that calendars, to-do lists, and other organizational aids are not set up in a way that works for them, so they will often find their ways to stay organized, including jotting notes down.  Motivation for INTPs comes from a deep desire to learn, understand systems and principles, and understand the world and how to make it work well.

INTPs are often thrown off in time management by underestimating the amount of time a project will take, overanalyzing, overthinking, or over complicating a project, and switching to a new project before completing an old one.  Procrastination may occur when the INTP focuses on the distance between reality and their ideal for a project.

Tips for staying or getting back on task:

  • Retain perspective on priorities by keeping an eye on the big picture.
  • Use the energy of an impending deadline to your advantage by understanding that it will likely help you prioritize.
  • When work becomes too deep or intense, put it down and do something else for awhile to regain perspective.

Decision Making

When approaching decisions, INTPs want to find solutions that are logically creative, imaginative, flexible, and demonstrate competence. They will often begin by using their Dominant Introverted Thinking to strategize and consider the bottom line in a way that is fair, objective, and logical.  They will then consider what patterns, possibilities, and innovations they can see for the big picture and systems of the situation, and INTPs will likely examine the situation by running either internal or written lists of pros and cons to determine the most rational solution that fits their own principles.

While INTPs may certainly want to talk out some decisions with others, they will likely wish to do internal work on the matter first, and INTPs tend to prize autonomy in the decision making process.  They want to think through the decision deeply, analytically, and completely, while often wanting to stay open to new information and options as long as is needed to be comfortable that the final decision is the best decision.  Individuals of this type will generally examine the decision after the fact by examining how their part in the decision impacted its success or failure, and they will appreciate the information gained through this reflection.

INTPs may fail to consider the people side of decision making, including emotional impacts on themselves and others, and they may also fail to consider current realities, details, and past experiences when making decisions.  To find more balance in the process, all types may consider discussing decisions with friends of different types to gain new insights and/or utilizing the Zig-Zag Method, which encompasses exploring decisions from the perspective of all four functions.  INTPs will likely find this process more natural when exploring Thinking first, followed by Intuition, Sensing, and Feeling.

In Careers

Personality type is one important part of the process of choosing a career that is a good fit, but it is far from the only part.  It is important to first look at your personal goals and values when making a career decision.  These may involve retiring early, helping others, having time for hobbies/avocations, having time to spend with kids and family, making lots of money, making use of a specific talent (singing, art, athletic ability, etc.), following in family footsteps, or following a childhood dream.

It is also important to look at skills and preferences.  If you hate math, maybe engineering is not the way to go, and you may want to skip being a doctor or nurse if the sight of blood makes you queasy.  Interests, from loving the great outdoors to being fascinated by the depths of the human mind, play a huge role in the career choice process as well.  Below are some type specific commonalities in the career world.

INTPs often…

  • Seek careers that allow them to use their skills in technical analysis, concentration, adaptability, and creativity to gain deep understanding of complex problems and processes.
  • Prefer environments where they have time to work alone to focus on the task at hand, diving deep into the topic.  They want an environment where competent individuals surround them and where they will have the freedom to work to their strengths in their own way.
  • Enjoy tasks that involve the focus on analysis of systems and processes, rather than the end result of the processes.  They also love to be challenged intellectually in ways that involve looking at abstract data in new and exciting ways.
  • Might struggle with tasks that require extended periods of attending to details, where their creativity is squelched by a lack of freedom, or where they are required to deal with emotional situations in the workplace. They may also struggle to communicate a desire for warmth and collaboration in the work environment and in the job search process.
  • Are often attracted to careers such as:
      • Law (lawyer or judge)
      • Science (biology, life, chemistry)
      • Research
      • Teaching (13+)
      • Social and Political sciences
      • Computer science (designing programs, IT)
      • Creative work (arts, writing, acting, directing, fine arts)
      • Psychology (Industrial/Organizational, clinical)
      • Engineering (biomechanical, aeronautical, software)
      • Medicine (pathology, research, psychiatry)
  • May be less interested in careers involving repetition of detailed processes or a great deal of emotional or nurturing work.

If the career you are interested in does not appear on this list, or if you simply don’t find any appealing careers listed here, do not worry!  Personality type is not meant to sentence you to a life of misery in a career you hate, and this list is far from exhaustive.  You may want to check out descriptions of thousands of possible careers at O*Net, and then contemplate how your type may play into some of the careers that do interest you.  Also, if your university has a career counseling center (and most do), visit them to gain assistance in finding a career that suits your needs and wants.

As Team Members

INTP team members will likely contribute to the team by being innovative, critical, and intellectual.  INTPs have great respect for competence, expertise, and logical systems and processes.  They appreciate objectivity, flexibility, and autonomy, and they are known to be strategic and contemplative team members.  Often, INTPs excel at providing insight and vision, in an intellectual and analytical manner,  which can relieve stress by providing a dispassionate ear.

While INTP team members have many strengths, they may find it difficult to simplify the change process, in favor of critiquing nuances.  They may also have a tendency to appear disinterested and aloof in team environments because of their tendency to work independently, and they can sometimes forget to take into account the impact their critiques and their processes may have on people.  INTPs sometimes also lose sight of the end goal by focusing on systems and processes.  Awareness of these areas, as well as seeking out the perspectives of team members with different preferences, can help INTPs gain balance and appreciate team and type diversity.

As Leaders

INTPs make visionary and ingenious leaders who understand systems and how to use them to move a team in a desired direction.  They tend to be quietly loyal to those that they value.  INTPs are known for being good at finding elegant and logical ways to improve processes, and they are often better working one on one with those they lead than in a whole group.

INTPs may find it challenging to simplify processes and take practicality into account as they search for solutions that have elegance and broad capabilities.  Their autonomous nature may lead others to see them as uninterested and/or unapproachable, and it may prevent them from building strong relationships with team members.  It may also be difficult for INTPs to see the competence levels of others as being equivalent to their own, and they may forget to praise and encourage team members.

In Relationships

INTPs take commitment seriously, and they want to know their partners share and honor that commitment.  This extends to fidelity, support, and listening.  They also prize a good sense of humor and being able to enjoy spending time together, especially one-on-one.  In addition to this, INTPs also want to feel stimulated intellectually in a relationship.

As partners, INTPs tend to be independent and playful.  They love coming up with ideas for doing things, while still tending to focus more on their own projects than those of the outside world.  INTPs are innovative problem solvers who love to share, and be appreciated for, ideas and creativity, and they love to connect with their partners on a deep, intellectual level.  They may struggle with expressing and nurturing emotions, following through on their own ideas for interactions or plans with others, and not having enough space and alone time in a relationship.




  1. Terri Ducker

    Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You got the INTP right!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. z

    I am a INTP and so proud, to be one of the few in the world!

  3. Bor

    It is “pique”. Not peak.

    Who needs spell check when you have an INTP language freak?

    1. Sadie (Post author)

      Good catch, Bor! I am sure there are a few typos on the site, as it’s sometimes hard for me to reread my own work immediately after I write it. Thanks!


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