INTPs are known for their quest for logical purity, which motivates them to examine universal truths and principles. They are constantly asking themselves and others the questions ‘Why?’ and ‘Why not?’ Clear and quick thinkers, they are able to focus with great intensity on their interests. They appreciate elegance and efficiency in thought processes and require them, even more so, in their own communications. They may be seen as unwilling to accept what everyone else regards as truth. While often low key in outward appearance and approach, the INTP is ‘hard as nails’ when challenging a truth. INTPs do not like to deal with the obvious. They are at their best in building conceptual models and developing unusual and complex ideas.
As children, INTPs are inwardly focused, often enjoying their won thoughts more than the company of others. They are full of questions, sometimes voiced, most often not. INTP children often challenge and even stump their elders. They enjoy fantasy, mysteries, inventing, thinking and doing things that may be somewhat atypical for other children of their age, and they sense their uniqueness early on. If INTPs are fond of books or games, it is likely that their choices will be the current rage. If and INTP is fond of music, it is likely to be of and unusual sort.
INTPs tend to either respect and go along with society’s rules, or to question and rebel against them. Their response to these rules depends on how the rules might affect them. When INTPs do not like the rules, they are quick to find the flaws in the rule makers’ thinking, regardless of their status, position in the hierarchy, or renown.
As young adults choosing careers, INTPs either set a course and work toward it quietly yet forcefully or continue to resist and rebel against society’s expectations and irrational rules. They may either focus in depth on a major interest or move from one interest to another without showing others – friends, colleagues, and bosses – their reasons why. It is the process, the quest, that has been most interesting to them. Once they have found the answer, they do not often share it because the answer is obvious, and documenting the obvious is redundant. This attitude includes a tendency not to response or speak up in groups, because the INTP feels that what he or she was going to say seems so obvious that no one would want to hear it. As INTPs mature, they continue their quest for logical purity, but now it includes more balance in their activities.
Learning and Working
The INTP is a relentless learner in areas that hold his or her interest. They often seem ‘lost in thought,’ and this characteristic appears very early. INTPs enjoy the life of the mind and the learning process, regardless of whether that process takes place in a formal sense. They are often characterized as life-long learners.
In school, well-rounded INTPs work on their assignments with a great deal of inward energy and interest that is usually not apparent to others. They tend to connect unrelated thoughts. As learners, they are able to find logical flaws in the thinking of others. They analyze these flaws and find ideas for further study. They go to great depths in their analysis.
In taking exams, they prefer theorectical questions. When INTPs view a test, teachers, or subjects as irrelevant, they may respond as follows: ‘I know what I need to know about this topic; I may even know more than my teacher. The teacher made this test, and this test is dumb. Therefore, my teacher is dumb, and I will not do the test.’ Because of such reactions, the INTP’s academic record may include successes or may be filled with failures.
INTPs contribute a logical, system-building approach to their work. They like being the architect of a plan, because of the scheming and thinking involved, far more than being the implementer of that plan. Implementation tends to be drudgery. They are content to sit back and think about what might work, given their view of the situation. INTPs may ignore standard operating procedures. The hours that they spend are not what is important to them, but rather the completion of their thought process. When their projects are of interest to them, they can become mesmerized and may even work through the night. when their projects are not intriguing, their work is considered drudgrery, and the INTP finds it difficult to stay motivated.
INTPs usually find a place in their work for using their logical and structured thinking. They enjoy work that allows them to abstract, to generalize beyond the data, and to build models. Flexibility is desired because INTPs like to ‘do the job when they want to do it and as they want to do it.’ They also prefer occupations in which the hierarchy is minimal and not important. This attitude seems from their firm belief that, to be legitimate, a hierarchy should be built on the competency of individuals who are logically placed according to their talents.
Some occupations seem to be more attractive to INTPs: biologist, chemist, computer programmer, computer system analyst, lawyer, photographer, psychologist, researcher, surveyor, writer and other occupations that allow them to use their logical thinking in appropriate ways.
For the INTP, love has three distinct phases: falling in, staying in, and getting out. These phases relate to their thinking preference and its need for order and sequence.
An INTP characterized falling in love as a stage of complete loss of rationality that may last a year or less. When an INTP falls in love, he or she falls hard – an all or nothing phenomenon. At this stage, INTPs are likely to be very lively, almost giddy, in their new love. The experience rushes over them and carries them along. They do not structure or control it but simply enjoy and experience it. They do many loving things and they are curious about their loved one and are able to overlook his or her flaws. They may bravely ignore the realities of distance, weather, and time to be with the loved one.
As relationships progress to the staying-in-love phase, INTPs begin to evaluate their structure and form. They may withdraw at this point because they are moving toward their more customary inward style. Outward demonstrations of affection lessen, and the giddy state changes. Interactions are more matter of fact, perhaps even impersonal. INTPs take their commitments to their partner seriously; however, they may not discuss these commitments at any length with their partner or with other people, because their commitments seem so obvious to them.
Falling out of love, which may not always occur, results from an analysis of the real expectations and needs of the relationship. Often an undefined line is crossed that neither partner knows about ahead of time. However, the INTP knows after the line has been crossed, and then the relationship deteriorates or ends. If INTPs recognize their emotions and needs as valid, they are able to sever relationship ties fairly cleanly. However, if they misjudge their own needs and those of their partner, the breakup can be messy, perhaps affecting other aspects of their lives for a long time. If the INTP shares some common interests with the former loved one, the relationship continues but on a different level. When INTPs have a reason to continue relationships, they do.
INTPs exhibit the greatest precision in thought and language of all the types; they tend to see distinctions and inconsistencies in thought and language instantaneously. The one word which captures the unique style of INTPs is architect-the architect of ideas and systems as well as the architect of edifices. This type is found in only 1 percent of the population and therefore is not encountered as frequently as some of the other types.
INTPs detect contradictions in statements no matter how distant in space or time the contradictory statements were produced. The intellectual scanning of INTPs has a principled quality; that is, INTPs search for whatever is relevant and pertinent to the issue at hand. Consequently, INTPs can concentrate better than any other type.
Authority derived from office, position, or wide acceptance does not impress INTPs. Only statements that are logical and coherent carry weight. External authority per se is irrelevant. INTPs abhor redundancy and incoherence. Possessing a desire to understand the universe, an INTP is constantly looking for natural law. Curiosity concerning these keys to the universe is a driving force in this type.
INTPs prize intelligence in themselves and in others, but can become intellectual dilettantes as a result of their need to amass ideas, principles, or understanding of behavior. And once they know something, it is remembered. INTPs can become obsessed with analysis. Once caught up in a thought process, that thought process seems to have a will of its own for INTPs, and they persevere until the issue is comprehended in all its complexity. They can be intellectual snobs and may show impatience at times with others less endowed intellectually. This quality, INTPs find, generates hostility and defensive behavior on the part of others, who may describe an INTP as arrogant.
For INTPs, the world exists primarily to be understood. Reality is trivial, a mere arena for proving ideas. It is essential that the universe is understood and that whatever is stated about the universe is stated correctly, with coherence and without redundancy. This is the INTPs final purpose. It matters not whether others understand or accept his or her truths.
The INTP is the logician, the mathematician, the philosopher, the scientist; any pursuit requiring architecture of ideas intrigues this type. INTP’s should not, however, be asked to work out the implementation or application of their models to the real world.
The INTP is the architect of a system and leaves it to others to be the builder and the applicator. Very often therefore, the INTP’s work is not credited to him or her. The builder and the applier gains fame and fortune, while the INTP’s name remains obscure. Appreciation of an INTP’s theoretical work frequently comes posthumously-or the work may never be removed from library shelves at all and thus lost.
INTP’s tend not to be writers or to go into sales work. They are, however, often excellent teachers, particularly for advanced students, although INTP’s do not always enjoy much popularity, for they can be hard taskmasters. They are not good at clerical tasks and are impatient with routine details. They prefer to work quietly, without interruption, and often alone. If an organization is to use the talents of an INTP appropriately, the INTP must be given an efficient support staff who can capture ideas as they emerge and before the INTP loses interest and turns to another idea.
Our “architect” is not merely a designer of buildings. There is the architect of ideas (the philosopher), the architect of number systems (the mathematician), the architect of computer languages (the programmer), and on and on. In short, abstract design is the forte of the architect and coherence is the primary issue.
INTP’s take their mating relationship seriously and usually are faithful and devoted-albeit preoccupied at times. They are not likely to welcome constant social activity or disorganization in the home. In all probability, the mate of an INTP will initiate and manage the social life. If left to his or her own devices the INTP mate will retreat into the world of books and emerge only when physical needs become imperative. INTP’s are, however, willing, compliant, and easy to live with, although somewhat forgetful of appointments, anniversaries, and rituals of daily living unless reminded. They may have difficulty expressing their emotions verbally, and the mate of an INTP may believe that he/she is somewhat taken for granted. As a parent, the INTP is devoted; they enjoy children, and are serious about their upbringing. The home of an INTP parent is usually calm, low-key in discipline, but well run and ordered.
INTP’s deal with the environment primarily through intuition, and their strongest quality, the thinking function, remains relatively hidden except in close associations. Therefore, INTP’s are often misunderstood, seen as difficult to know, and seldom perceived at their true level of competency. They are inclined to be shy except when with close friends, and their reserve is difficult to penetrate. They are very adaptable until one of their principles is violated. Then INTP’s are not adaptable at all! They may have difficulty in being understood by others because they tend to think in a complicated fashion and want to be precise, never redundant in their communications. Because their feeling qualities may be underdeveloped, they may be insensitive to the wants and wishes of others, often unaware of the existence of these wants and wishes.
At midlife the INTP might do well to work on increasing awareness of emotional responses, responding to the value preferences of others, and verbalizing to others the INTP’s awareness of these values. At midlife one of the tasks of the INTP is to develop an ability to play for play’s sake; not to learn something or to somehow improve a skill. Working on the sensual side of his or her nature may provide a source of new pleasure and excitement.
Why would this abstractionist find the ESFJ “seller” attractive? Think broadly of selling. This amounts to persuading another to receive something of value to the receiver. The seller is essentially caring for the receiver (quite apart from the fact that the receiver pays). This is the essential attitude of the ESFJ seller, and this attitude is perceptible to the receiver (buyer); he feels this nourishing approach. That is what is attractive to the INTP architect-philosopher-the nourishment which anchors him to the real world.
What attracts the ESFJ “seller”? Here is a person who, like a balloon filled with hydrogen, is likely to escape the earth (in his abstract attitude). He needs to have a string attached so that he can be hauled down to earth now and then. In a sense, he needs to be “sold on reality,” so indifferent is he to it.
The INTP also has a second likely target to attract him: the ENFJ “pedagogue.” What is a pedagogue? A catalyst of the growth process, someone who has that uncanny ability to “bring out” the other, to activate the differentiation or “unfolding” process in the learner. All NFs seem to have this capability in some degree and the accompanying desire to exercise it, but the ENFJ seems to have it in abundance. This relationship-the ENFJ-INTP-can be “deep and meaningful” for the former and anchoring in a charismatic way for the latter.