The INTP Personality Type In-Depth - Understanding "The Thinker"
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INTPs are known for their ingenuity, independence, and intellectual nature. They are often given names likes “the absent-minded professor” or “the wizard”, but these stereotypes aren’t always fitting, or if they are, they fail to explain many characteristics of this type. INTPs make up a mere 3.3% of the U.S. population.
INTPs are interested in grasping theories and underlying principles. They want to take apart the world around them and understand how it works from the ground up. The more challenging the problem, the more they are invigorated by it. Their aim is precision and accuracy, and they don’t mind taking their time to analyze an idea or rule to see it from the most objective angle.
The INTP is an internal architect that is constantly building a framework with which to hold their ideas, theories, and truths. “What’s the truth?”, “What’s logical?”, “Do I have any biases?”. These are the kinds of questions INTPs ask when they try to solve a problem or make a decision. The more unbiased and logical they can be, the more they don’t have to worry about being unfair or being impacted by personal feelings that may be inaccurate or untrustworthy. When presented with an idea, INTPs first look for any logical inconsistencies or errors that might be present.
INTPs are always trying to find the most precise, organized categories to order and arrange all the information they collect in their minds. They don’t accept rules or facts based on tradition or social norms; instead, they constantly sift through data to see what is usable, accurate, and logical. INTPs don’t want to push their agenda on others or force others into their way of thinking; they are independent and believe in “living and letting live”. But they’re also unwilling to compromise just to reach a consensus with others – if it doesn’t make sense to them, they can’t go along with it.
When INTPs perceive the world around them and absorb information, they use a mental process called Extraverted Intuition. Ne allows them to see a plethora of possibilities, relationships, connections, and outcomes. It gives the INTP an eye for the future, the potential, and “the big picture”. When faced with a problem, INTPs are flooded with ideas and possibilities that they sort out using introverted thinking. They look for patterns and processes that are hidden from plain view, and they try to find imaginative angles and connections that other people have missed.
The development of Introverted Sensing comes as kind of a surprise to those who know INTPs well. This function is nearly the opposite of Extraverted Intuition, the function we just discussed. While Ne is all about seeing new possibilities and abstract connections, Introverted Sensing is all about using your personal experience and deriving practical, concrete applications from that. INTPs usually develop Si in their 20’s or 30’s, and then it becomes a process they really enjoy using creatively or as a way to relax and find relief.
Extraverted Feeling is the inferior function of the INTP. This tends to be an area where INTPs struggle and trip up in day-to-day life. They often feel uncomfortable using this function or stressed if they have to rely on it a great deal. Fe is all about connecting with the emotions and moods of other people and maintaining morale. It’s about sensing the “emotional atmosphere” of the people around you; the social cues, customs, expectations, needs, and wants of others.
INTPs, who have inferior Fe, can struggle with knowing and understanding the emotions of other people or the needs that they are dealing with. They tend to feel uncomfortable in social gatherings where reliance on small talk or social pleasantries is expected. When they are in emotionally charged environments, even if those emotions are good, they might feel uneasy and unsure of how to respond to people.
If an INTP is experiencing extreme or chronic stress, they might fall “into the grip” of Extraverted Feeling. When this happens, they start to behave unlike their normal selves; more edgy, more emotional, more expressive, more concerned with what other people think. They might have unusual emotional outbursts and lose their normal objective, logical frame of mind. This is usually a very disconcerting time for the INTP. They can feel lost, confused, and irritated at themselves because they know they are not operating in their element.
INTPs gradually develop and mature in their use of Fe as they get older, especially as they reach their 50’s and 60’s. When this happens, they become much more in tune with the needs and desires of others, and they become much more concerned with making decisions that are not only logical, but address the needs of the group. They become more tactful and more capable of giving praise and warmth.
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