INTP: The Thinker

INTP (introverted, intuitive, thinking, perceiving) is one of the 16 personality types described by the Jung Personality Test. INTPs are often described as quiet and analytical. They enjoy spending time alone, thinking about how things work and coming up with solutions to problems. According to psychologist David Keirsey, creator of the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, approximately one to five percent of people have an INTP personality type.

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INTP Characteristics

The test identifies personality preferences and tendencies in four key areas: 1) Extraversion vs Introversion, 2) Sensing vs Intuition, 3) Thinking vs Feeling and 4) Judging vs Perceiving. As you can tell from the four-letter acronym, INTP stands for Introverted, iNtuitive, Thinking and Perceiving.

  • Introversion (I): INTPs prefer to socialize with a small group of close friends.
  • Intuition (N): INTPs tend to think about the big picture, rather than focusing on every tiny detail.
  • Thinking (T): INTPs are logical and base decisions on objective information rather than subjective feelings.
  • Perceiving (P): INTPs like to keep their options open and feel limited by structure and planning.

Some of the common characteristics exhibited by people with this personality type include:

  • Quiet, reserved and thoughtful
  • Enjoys theoretical thinking
  • Tends to be flexible and tolerant
  • Highly logical and objective
  • Good at thinking “outside of the box”

As introverts, INTPs prefer spending time alone for the most part. Unlike extraverts who gain energy from interacting with a wide group of people, introverts must expend energy in social situations. After being around a lot of people, an INTP might feel like they need to spend some time alone to recharge and find balance. While they may be shy around people they do not know well, INTPs tend to be warm and friendly with their close group of family and friends.

INTPs can be very independent and place a great deal of emphasis on personal freedom and autonomy. In some cases, they can be aggravated by authority figures, particularly those that they feel are trying to suppress their ability to think and act for themselves. Because of this, INTPs typically do best in careers with they have a great deal of flexibility and independence.

Because INTPs enjoy solitude and deep thinking, they sometimes strike others as aloof and detached. At times, people with this personality type can get lost in their own thoughts and lose track of the outside world. They love ideas and place a high value on intelligence and knowledge.

In social situations, INTPs tend to be quite easy-going and tolerant. However, they can become unyielding when their beliefs or convictions are challenged. Their high emphasis on logic can make it difficult to not correct others in situations where other people present arguments that are not rational or logical. Because they rely on their own minds rather than others, they can also be very difficult to persuade.

INTP Functions

Each personality type has four cognitive functions, Primary, Auxiliary, Tertiary, and Inferior. For the INTP, these functions are Introverted Thinking, Extraverted Intuition, Introverted Sensing, and Extraverted Feeling.

These cognitive functions can be seen as the key to any distinct personality trait. For example, INTPs’ primary function, Introverted Thinking, causes them to view the world logically and tend to neglect emotions — their own as well as those of others.

The position of the functions within an individual develops with age. In young INTPs, Introverted Thinking is practically the only visible characteristic. Later on, other aspects of their personality start to come out and bring balance to their intellectual and emotional life.

INTP Compatibility

INTPs in relationships are very passionate in their own way. They have particular standards for a romantic partner and require intellectual stimulation. They are very averse to mundanity in a relationship, though their ideas of excitement may not conform to those of others.

The partner of an INTP is ideally willing to engage in plenty of rational discussion, while being able to discern the INTP’s emotions without too much pressure. INTPs are therefore most compatible with ENTJs, who typically share their values and perceptions and are capable of balancing and complementing their traits.

INTPs tend to do poorly in relationships with types such as ESFP, who focus more on emotions while at the same time appearing insensitive to the INTP’s needs. Communication is often awkward and stilted between such a pair, making a relationship extremely difficult, though not quite impossible.

INTP Women

INTP women are quiet, independent, and imaginative. They think logically but always maintain a creative structure of thought, and prefer to keep this mostly within themselves.

Women with this personality type do not follow the general expectations for feminine behavior, and they may seem insensitive at times. Their emotions can in fact be very pronounced, but they are usually hesitant to reveal them.

In keeping with all this, INTP women prefer to be independent and reserved in relationships. It may take some time for them to show their feelings. Similarly, they tend to have a small number of very close friendships.

Famous People With INTP Personalities

Based on analysis of their lives and works, some researchers including Keirsey have suggested that the following famous individuals exhibit INTP characteristics:

  • Albert Einstein, scientist
  • Charles Darwin, naturalist
  • William James, psychologist and philosopher
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower, U.S. President
  • C. G. Jung, psychiatrist
  • Socrates, philosopher
  • Sir Isaac Newton, mathematician, physicist and astronomer
  • J.K. Rowling, author
  • Abraham Lincoln, U.S. President

Some famous fictional characters that exhibit INTP characteristics include:

  • Sherlock Holmes
  • Brian Griffin, Family Guy
  • Data, Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter

Best Career Choices for INTPs

Because they enjoy theoretical and abstract concepts, INTPs often do particularly well in science-related careers. They are logical and have strong reasoning skills, but are also excellent at thinking creatively.

  • Chemist
  • Physicist
  • Computer programmer
  • Forensic scientist
  • Engineer
  • Mathematician
  • Pharmacist
  • Software developer
  • Geologist

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