ISTP

Dominant Introverted Thinking with Auxiliary Extraverted Sensing

Tertiary Intuition and Inferior Extraverted Feeling

Objective • Practical • Observant • Flexible

According to the MBTI® Manual, ISTPs make up 5.4% of the population, making this type the 8th most common, of 16, in the US population. ISTPs are known for appearing independent, quiet, and adaptable.  They prize practicality, skill, and realism, and they use these qualities to troubleshoot and solve problems as they arise.  ISTPs have a great appreciation for understanding how things work, and solving new, concrete puzzles.  This is most easily accomplished in areas where they are allowed to focus on their own working process with minimal distractions from excessive and/or emotional talk or abstract concepts that cannot be of immediate use in the given situation. Despite their often reserved and contained exterior, ISTPs are generally quite confident and talkative when it comes to their areas of expertise.  As family members and friends, ISTPs are typically quite respectful of boundaries, and they place a great deal of importance on not being controlling of others or being controlled by others.  They will often bond with family members on a one on one basis where the two parties are participating in an activity of common interest.

In Stress

Normally, ISTPs will be thrown off in environments where they feel controlled by others, are not allowed to go with the flow of the moment, or where logic, practicality, and competence have taken leave.  ISTPs 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 there is little challenge or variety in day to day tasks 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, ISTPs 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. ISTPs 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 ISTPs under the particular stress that only comes from being chased by the dead, check out ISTPs in the Zombie Apocalypse!

As Learners

In general, ISTPs love the process of learning, especially when it is combined with or made to be fun.  They learn best when practical explanations, real life examples, details, facts, and expectations are presented in a way that is process oriented and involves as many senses as possible. Material sinks in more easily when the real life applications, especially in the present, are apparent and/or highlighted by the instructor. They often excel at memorization and detail observations, and they love to have ample time to develop systems that bring them understanding of material. ISTPs like to learn within a flexible yet organized structure provided by the instructor, and they typically prefer to work individually within that structure to explore assignments in a way that meets their individual interests and satisfies their love of logic. Learning in an environment that is filled with emotional material or emotional conflict will likely distract and bother individuals of this type.  ISTPs also tend to struggle when they feel rushed by a teacher going through material too quickly, or not thoroughly enough, or by an impending deadline. Individuals of this type may find it helpful to ask teachers for real life examples when they are not present.  They should try to remember to look at details together, to see the big picture, in addition to their natural method of examining details as details.  Frustration may occur for ISTPs in a classroom that only has one or two methods of instruction, and they may need to seek ways to engage their other senses on their own time.

Time Management

Typically, ISTPs greatly prefer getting things done to planning things out, as planning often seems like an impediment to the process.  Instead, they prefer to know what the point of the project or task is, and they want to figure out the most direct and reasonable course of action.  The rest can be learned along the way.  They will often appreciate the use of calendars and to-do lists mostly as ways to back up their memories of what has to be done, and what they accomplish may not match what is written.  Motivation for ISTPs comes from immediate needs and a desire to understand how things work and can be fixed, through troubleshooting and/or working around rules and systems. ISTPs are often thrown off in time management by packing too much into a day, starting a new task before finishing an old one, and spending too much time on current needs at the expense of long term needs and plans.  Procrastination may occur when the ISTP sees no practical payoff attached to a planned task or when their creative energy is not currently present and will not arrive until brought by an impending deadline. Tips for staying or getting back on task:

  • Try assigning deadlines to lists that have been ranked by priority.
  • Figure out ways to bring fun and energy to projects that seem less interesting.
  • If a result seems too far in the future to be currently relevant, try to find steps that can be taken in the here and now that will provide some smaller outcome.

Decision Making

When approaching decisions, ISTPs want to find solutions that are practical, functional in the here and now, realistic, and flexible.  They will often begin by using their Dominant Introverted Thinking to troubleshoot and consider the bottom line in a way that is fair, objective, and logical.  They will then consider how they can combine knowledge and processes that currently work well with past experience and commonsense to explore the facts and details of the situation, and ISTPs will likely weigh the pros and cons of options either mentally or in written form to gather as much information as possible on the best course of action. While ISTPs may certainly want to talk out some decisions with others, they will likely wish to do internal work on the matter first.  They want to think through the decision deeply, carefully, and thoroughly, 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 looking at what worked and what could have been better in a way that is honest and to the point. ISTPs may fail to consider the people side of decision making, including emotional impacts on themselves and others, and they may also neglect examining current and future possibilities and knowledge outside their own experience 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.  ISTPs will likely find this process more natural when exploring Thinking first, followed by Sensing, Intuition, 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. ISTPs often…

  • Seek careers that allow them to explore and understand how things work and how they are useful in day to day life, in a hands on, practical way.
  • Prefer environments with flexibility and time for to focus on projects independently, and they enjoy an environment with fun elements.
  • Enjoy tasks that serve a logical and practical purpose in the here and now and that involve hands on problem solving.  They usually love to take things (computers, lawnmowers, spreadsheets, buildings) apart for the joy of understanding their inner workings, and they typically enjoy troubleshooting.
  • Might struggle with vague expectations, too much structure, intensely emotional work environments, and tasks that are largely filled with abstraction and theory.  They may also have difficulty with tasks requiring long term planning.
  • Are often attracted to careers such as:
      • Engineering (mechanical, electrical, computer)
      • Outdoor work (forestry, farming, agriculture)
      • Mechanical work (machinist, mechanic, assembler, engine repair)
      • Computer science (IT, system administrators, server administrator)
      • Surveyor
      • Teaching (tech school or coaching)
      • Law
      • Science (physics, geophysics, geology)
      • Civil service (law enforcement, military, fire fighter)
      • Management/Administration (government, small business)
  • May be less interested in careers involving a focus on abstract theory or intense work that focuses on relationships, feelings, and people.

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

ISTP team members will likely contribute to the team by being calm in a crisis, an excellent source of factual data, and adaptable.  ISTPs have great respect for realistic processes and details, and they have a great ability to confront conflict and challenges in a detached and pragmatic manner.  They appreciate logic, thoroughness, and objectivity, and they are known to be straightforward team members. While ISTP team members have many strengths, they may move too quickly into change without a plan.  They may also have a tendency to keep thoughts and ideas to themselves and can sometimes forget to take into account a situation’s impact on people.  ISTPs sometimes also lose the big picture in their desire to pick apart details.  Awareness of these areas, as well as seeking out the perspectives of team members with different preferences, can help ISTPs gain balance and appreciate team and type diversity.

As Leaders

ISTPs make resourceful and flexible leaders who can think on their feet to create solutions quickly.  They tend to value a sense of competition and competence in those that they lead.  ISTPs are known for having a casual style that makes them approachable, and they have a knack for processing large amounts of information down to succinct statements, which facilitates team understanding. ISTPs may find it challenging to focus on new ideas, preferring to work from past information and already proven systems.  Their independent nature may cause difficulty with building close relationships in the workplace and may cause impatience in situations where long term collaboration is needed to complete projects.  ISTP leaders will often be either quite slow in completing tasks or jump into action before the task has been completely processed and/or evaluated.

In Relationships

ISTPs crave and prize fun in relationships.  They take commitment seriously, and they want to know their partners share and honor that commitment.  This extends to fidelity and support.  They also place importance on physical compatibility, a good sense of humor, and being able to enjoy spending time together, especially one-on-one and in fun. As partners, ISTPs tend to be calm, laid back, and good in a pinch.  If something needs to be fixed, they are often adept at fixing it.  This applies to material objects as well as meeting obvious needs that their partner may have.  They enjoy playing and being adventurous, as well as teaching their partners how to perform hands on tasks or games. They may struggle with expressing and sharing emotions, as well as letting loved ones into their private and independent worlds.

ISTJ   ISFJ   INFJ   INTJ   ISTP   ISFP   INFP   INTP  ESTP   ESFP   ENFP   ENTP   ESTJ   ESFJ   ENFJ   ENTJ

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