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Myers–Briggs Type Indicator

INTP is an Introverted Thinking Type. (Another Introverted Thinking Type: ISTP)

Common traits of Introverted Thinking Types
  • Are analytical and impersonal
  • Are interested primarily in the underlying principles
  • Are organized in relation to concepts and ideas (if INTP) or facts (if ISTP) - but not people or situations, unless of necessity
  • Are perceptive, not dominating, as the decisiveness of the thinking usually shows only in intellectual matters
  • Are outwardly quiet, reserved, detached, perhaps even aloof except with intimates
  • Are inwardly absorbed in the current analysis or problem
  • Are inclined toward shyness, especially when young, as the chief interests of introverted thinking are little help in small talk or social contacts.[1]
INTP: Introverted Thinking Supported by Intuition

INTPs make scholars, theorists, and abstract thinkers in fields such as science, mathematics, economics, and philosophy. INTPs are perhaps the most intellectually profound of all the types. Intuition brings a deeper insight than is granted to thinking alone. It gives its possessors intellec- tual curiosity, quickness of understanding, ingenuity and fertility of ideas in dealing with problems, and an extra glimpse of possibilities that logic has not yet had time to reach. On the debit side, intuition makes routine harder, though an intuitive may, in the course of a lifetime, achieve a sufficient adaptation to it.

People of the INTP type, therefore, are particularly adapted to research and the attainment of new clarities. They are quite likely to be more interested in analyzing a problem and discovering where the solution lies than in carrying out their ideas. They formulate principles and create theories; they value facts only as evidence or as examples for a theory, never for their own sake.

A psychology professor of this type explained to an extraverted student, "This paper is perfectly correct, but you have put so much more stress on the facts than on the principle that it is obvious that you consider the fats the most important part. Therefore, your mark is a "B." The student was far more indignant over the reason than over the grade. "But of course the facts are the most important part," she said.

Many scholars of this type are teachers, especially on the university level, because the university values their attainments, and they them- selves value the opportunity for study and research; but it ischaracteristic of their teaching that they care more for the subject than for the students. Gauss, the great mathematician, found teaching so painful that he tried to discourage all prospective students by telling them that the course about which they were inquiring would probably not be given at all.

The problem of communication also hampers their teaching. When confronted by a simple question that needs a simple answer, the introverted thinkers feel bound to state the exact truth, with every qualification that their scholarly consciences dictate; the answer is so exact and so complicated that few can follow it. If the teachers would scale down their explanation until it seemed, in their own opinion, too simple and obvious to be worth saying, they would have it just about right for general consumption.

INTP executives are probably rare outside scientific or academic circles. The good executives will be those who have acquired a very definite facility at extraversion sufficient to keep them in touch with the situations they must handle. Exercising their authority in a perceptive manner, such INTPs will use ingenuity and understanding to find ways of achieving the desired ends. But they will test every proposed measure by the exacting yardstick of their principles, so that whatever they direct will embody their own integrity.

The temptation for INTPs (as well as for extraverts with intuition) is to assume that an attractive possibility suggested by their intuition is as possible as it looks. They need to check out even their most attractive intuitive projects against the relevant facts and the limitations these facts impose. Otherwise they may find too late that they have squandered their energies in pursuit of an impossibility.[1]

Harold Grant's function model

Auxiliary: Ne
Tertiary: Si

John Beebe's eight-function model

Auxiliary: Ne
Tertiary: Si
Opposing personalityTe
Senex/witch: Ni
Trickster: Se

Michael Pierce

Ti (— Se) - The Thinker

Temperament: Democratic

Loves internal thinking; hates external sensation;
an Eleatic thinker cooped up in their ivory tower; a professor or logician;
Rene Descartes, Immanuel Kant, Albert Einstein.[2]

Pierce Presents: INTP

“Architect.” That is what David Keirsey called them. I’ve also heard “Thinker” and “Engineer.” The INTP is stereotypically a ponderous individual; an absent-minded professor who spends all day pontificating on the implications of an intriguing principle, caring little for their appearance or others’ opinions, comically and endearingly awkward in social contexts and possessing a certain quirky charm. This is just a stereotype, and I’m going to do my best to offer a more substantial definition.

Let’s break down what constitutes the INTP functionally.

They are a Perceiving type, meaning that they prefer extroverted perceiving and introverted judging. This means that they base their judgment criteria on subjective, inner information, while simply observing and drinking in objective information and experiences. You could say that they are more receptive towards the outside world and more aggressive towards their inner experience.

Their preferred way of doing this is through extroverted intuition and introverted thinking. Extroverted intuition is innovative: it perceives and seeks out new possibilities from objective data, finding the ones with the most promise and bringing them to fruition. Introverted thinking is deductive: it seeks to develop an internally consistent logical system by deducing all the necessary implications of a set of premises.

Third, they are very similar to the ENTP; both prefer Ne and Ti. The INTP, however, prefers Ti more than Ne. Nevertheless, they are in some sense the same type, or at least sister types. I personally like to call NTP types the “Thinkers”, because they combine a passive, multifaceted examination of possibilities in the world with rigorous ordering and logical deduction within their minds, thus appearing to quietly observe the world and ponder on it. Of course, “Thinker” is merely a nickname to help me remember the NTP nature, and does not mean that NTPs are the only types that think, or the best at thinking, or even more likely to pursue a career or lifestyle that is centered around this stereotypical kind of thinking.

The INTP, then, is a “thinker” for whom their inner logical principles and deductions are more interesting and important than their objective observation of possibilities. They are primarily concerned with developing and ordering their subjective understandings of things into consistent systems.

The word I like to use to describe the INTP nature is “abstracting.” Perhaps the most distinguishing characteristic of the INTP nature is their great interest in getting to the bottom of things, stripping away all the accidental traits and getting at the underlying, bare, mathematical framework of a system or idea. For the INTP, this is the great search for truth, the search for the underlying principles of the universe.

This process results from the combined efforts of Ti and Ne. Ne observes objects through a fuzzy lens, so that it’s easier to imagine what other things the object could be and to associate the object with other objects. In exchange for clear facts it obtains possibilities and connections. This is combined with Ti, which tries to organize its impressions of objects into a perfect architectural system. Thus, the INTP looks at a fuzzy, interpretative image of objects, discovers the logical framework behind that interpretive image, and the resulting framework is something that can be applied to many other objects. In other words, if you had an animatronic bear, and you stripped away the outside suit and all of its outwards artistic appearance and skin covering and laid bare the undecorated, cold, but essential mechanics, then you could redress the robot in whatever skin you wanted: bunny, duck, fox, crocodile, human. The underlying mechanics would be the same. The INTP is not just looking for the underlying logical structure of things, but is looking for logical principles that are applicable to a multitude of appearances or circumstances.

For instance, an INTP would likely be fascinated by a structure made entirely of the same size of triangle. With that one idea of a triangle you have nearly infinite possibilities, you could practically make anything, big or small, simple or complex, and all you need is that one simple triangle. They love the great ingenuity and cleverness involved in such architecture. Other examples might include an INTP taking a trading card game, stripping away the card art and nonessential Fe appearances to get to the underlying structure of the game, and then replicating it with simple playing cards. Another example could be represented in The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell, which describes the underlying archetypes behind various mythologies. This is why I like to use the word “abstracting,” because the INTP wants to make bare the abstract principles behind a thing, despite how cold or lifeless the thing may now look. The INTP’s Ti searches for a basic principle or idea from which a grand multitude of Ne possibilities can be derived.

This abstracting nature of the INTP provides several interesting characteristics. First, the INTP has a strong belief in universal morality. This is demonstrated by other types, but it is critical in the INTP. A great example of this is Immanuel Kant, who sought to provide the world with a set of objective, universal moral standards: his Categorical Imperative. These standards are meant to be universal, affecting everyone no matter their accidental circumstances, and built from three simple maxims.

Second, the INTP does not want to be influenced by the crowd. The INTP values individuality: they say, “I won’t bother you if you won’t bother me,” and “don’t take my word for it, figure it out yourself.” The INTP believes individuals should be their own moral and intellectual authority, firmly independent and self-sufficient. For this reason INTPs are known for their great dislike of bureaucracy, which they perceive as an inconsistent, unruly and inefficient engine made of unquestioning, unthinking soldiers. In this sense the INTP may appear very similar to the INFP, in that both have a certain individual quirkiness to them because their values or principles develop isolated from others. The INTP, however, although it is repressed, perceives values, feelings, or emotions as negative and entirely superficial things, at least when compared to logical principles, while the INFP is the opposite: they replace logical principles with deeply felt values; logic is seen as common, unsubstantial and misleading. If Fi is a protestor standing in front of a Te bulldozer, then Ti is a serene monk unmoved by all the dramatic demonstrations of power by their enemy. Despite others’ emotional outbursts and fierce pageantry, INTPs prides themselves in remaining thoroughly cool-headed and purely logical no matter the circumstances. They hold firm to their internal logic despite outside sentimental opposition.

Third, the INTP has a definite thirst for universal, underlying knowledge. Unlike the INTJ who seeks to understand their environment in order to get a foothold on it, the INTP seeks to understand the principles behind the environment in order to get a foothold on their understanding of it. The INTJ seeks knowledge as a means to an end, being whatever goal they’ve decided they need to accomplish in the outside world, while the INTP seeks knowledge for its own sake, so that they can better understand the theoretical principles running the universe. In this way the INTJ is more materialistic while the INTP is more metaphysical. The INTJ wants to grasp an idea in their hands and use it as a tool, to substantiate it or manifest it in reality, while the INTP doesn’t care as much if this happens, seeing as reality is a world of appearances, and they are interested in the underlying truths behind it. INTPs search for dispassionate knowledge, separate from emotional baggage or unessential appearances. This is why the INTP is perceived as very ponderous, because they often are. They prefer the thinking over the actual doing, and they may even struggle with sticking with a project long enough for it to fully mature in reality, due to the thirst of their Ne for more and more possibilities over complete ones.

The INTP demonstrates a tertiary Si. Like with the INFP, this can give the INTP an appreciation of routine and preparation to balance out their Ne and approach the future more thoughtfully. Because neither of these opposite functions is repressed, they can better coordinate or combine their efforts to grant the INTP a certain meticulousness; Si grants the INTP an attention to detail through their intense inspection of subjective experiences, and combined with the multifaceted searching of Ne, they tend to view all sides of a subject meticulously, in a more controlled way, potentially making their arguments or thoughts airtight from all sides.

The INTP’s inferior or repressed function is Fe. The INTP feels that truth is the underlying, raw, cold, pure logical principles and framework, which is covered by nonessential, ornamental fluff and detail. This view is a result of the INTP’s overwhelming preference for Ti. The INTP is very often agitated or even disgusted by others’ emotional irrationality, or what they perceive as such; in other words, others conforming to sentimental appearance instead of obeying a consistent logical standard, such as the ENFJ drifting to the right or left of logic in order to present things more dramatically. INTPs pride themselves in holding fast to their principles, staying rooted to the ground.

They are unaffected or even aggravated by people trying to connect with them on the level of appearances. Of course, INTPs often find themselves somewhat clumsy when dealing with objective emotions or sentiment, feeling unfulfilled, empty or agitated in social situations or whenever they must deal with customary appearances, especially if they seem to sacrifice efficiency or detract from the core of what needs to be done. The INTP can also have difficulty expressing their own emotions, and may show childish enthusiasm, disproportionate frustration, or numb coldness in all of the wrong situations. The INTP is not a robot; they have very genuine feelings and values, but their attempt to express things in a pleasing or emotionally appealing way can seem peculiarly unpracticed or immature, conveying that the INTP is genuinely happy, sad or excited, but in rather clichéd, superficial, or overblown ways.

So in summary, the INTP is “abstracting,” seeking to strip away all that is nonessential to an idea or system and get at its underlying structure, from which they can apply whatever skin they want. This promotes a sense of universal morality, honesty, and a thirst of knowledge for its own sake. Their tertiary Si provides a meticulousness and appreciation of routine, while their repressed Fe gives them a dislike of mere appearances and emotional displays, as well as a certain clumsiness or juvenility in handling such things.

Thanks for reading, and to all the INTPs out there, thanks for trying to get down to the bottom of things and show us what really underlies our universe.[3]

Keirsey Temperament Sorter*

*Differences between KTS and MBTI

Architect INTP

Abstract, Pragmatic, Informative, Attentive
Temperament: Rational
Role: Engineer
Role Variant: Architect
Interaction role: Responder

Linda Berens' Lenses[4]

Designer Theorizer INTP

Temperament/Essential Motivator: Theorist
Interaction Style: Behind-the-Scenes
Intentional Driver: Enhancing


[1] Myers, I. B., & Myers, P. B. (2002). Descriptions of the Sixteen Types. In Gifts differing: Understanding personality type (pp. 83–114). essay, Davies-Black Pub.
[2] Pierce M. (2020), Motes and Beams: A Neo-Jungian Theory of Personality, Chapter 7: The Sixteen Types, Democratic Types (136)
[3] Pierce M., Pierce Presents: INTP
[4] Berens L. (2022), Designer Theorizer INTP

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