"To really understand something you've got to reduce it to its principles."

INTPs at a Glance

  • Logical, analytical, and well-reasoned.
  • Laid-back, independent, and dispassionate.
  • Intellectual problem solvers and systems analysts who trust principles rather than going case by case.
  • Pensive theorists who are often more interested in pure understanding than in application.
  • Have a preference for theory and abstractions and may come across as distant or have a hard time engaging others emotionally.

INTPs as They Typically Are

When reading type descriptions, remember that "type portraits" can never accurately describe all people of a given type. Descriptions and portraits like these can only describe the types as they typically are.

INTPs are logical-minded yet laid-back individuals. They tend to be very curious about the world around them and prefer to observe and slowly learn as they approach a new topic. INTPs like to categorize, define and systematize the information in their heads and, of all the types, they are perhaps the most meticulous with regards to precise implications and analyses. Nevertheless, INTPs tend to take a playful approach to learning where the end goal isn't as important as what they learn and explore. They tend to dislike standardized testing and oftentimes would prefer an individualized curriculum.

Since they are often highly logical, INTPs can sometimes be perceived as a bit pedantic. For example, if someone says something that seems incorrect or inconsistent, INTPs will often feel called upon to correct them or to engage them in conversation in order to try and get a better sense of exactly what they mean. INTPs tend to like hearing the thoughts and ideas of others, and they often have fun just freely talking, exploring and speculating on what could be derived from a quaint idea that someone else voiced, or whether something quirky or surprising could be made to work in the real world. While not emotive as such, most INTPs are nevertheless sympathetic, and in almost any conversation they will engage out of a sense of fun and bemusement, no matter how silly it may seem at times. They do so just to see where it goes and what kinds of ideas and interesting thoughts that will turn up and that they themselves can come up with.

In social situations, INTPs often exhibit a sense of laid-back play and spontaneity, although they tend to prefer more intellectually orientated activities at heart. This can make them seem nerdy, and their laid-back, forgiving, and down-to-earth side is often just a persona that they accept and flaunt to get along with others. Inwardly, they tend to spend a lot of time in their own heads and can appear scattered or remote to others. Often they will tend to appear forgetful with regards to everyday life and to be poor at scheduling.

INTPs tend to have diverse interests but, in general, to prefer the harder sciences as they like to understand things which can inherently be systematized. On the other hand, however, it is not unheard of for them to develop an avid interest in the arts. But here, once again, they tend to take a theoretical approach to the subject where they are more interested in perceiving and creating frameworks to understand it and systems to organize it rather than simply staying with the sensory experience in full.

INTPs are often fans of speculative science or science fiction, and many take a theoretical and open-ended look at scientific advancements that are currently in the pipeline to try and understand how humanity will deal with things in the future and how technology will shape the world to come.

INTPs tend to gravitate towards scientific or knowledge-based jobs where they like to discover new frameworks of understanding and develop abstract models for what is occurring around them. They tend to dislike detail work and are not naturally good leaders or managers. They tend to be at their best when they work independently and they prefer it when others are also able to work in this manner, that is, without needing a lot of guidance.

INTPs tend to be creatures of habit. They often like to explore and drift about a bit, but at the end of the day, they tend to like predictability and will resent things which they feel are imposing themselves on their private spheres or trying to make them conform to a different way of doing things when they feel their way is better thought out or more logical. As a result, they can be stubborn and withdrawing at times, when they tend to want to live and organize life on their own terms.

While they have an accommodating demeanor, and can even be very expressive at times, INTPs tend to have a hard time with emotions. With their highly logical nature they are often somewhat dismissive of really emotional points of view, or are less likely to see emotion-infused rhetoric as a valid way of arguing. They can have a hard time recognizing others' emotional needs as valid, and at times they can stubbornly refuse to meet the needs that are set before them or to conform to some standard if they do not personally agree with the expressed reasoning behind it or find it logical. While normally laid-back, they often aren't afraid of conflict in this manner. However, INTPs are rarely dictatorial: They don't seek to change others or what they are doing. Instead they will just refuse, abstain, or make their thoughts known and move on. In short, they will refuse to be part of what is going on.

INTPs tend to be better thinkers and problem solvers than communicators and can have a hard time explaining their ideas to others as they tend to work in highly specialized fields and to not always be aware of how they are coming across. They are often adept at coming up with elegant solutions to analytical predicaments and solving complex problems. However, they often need a lot of time and space to do what they do and tend to dislike fast-paced or rapidly changing environments.

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