INTP personality

Whether the chicken crossed the road or the road crossed the chicken depends on your frame of reference.

Albert Einstein

The INTP personality type is fairly rare, making up only three percent of the population, which is definitely a good thing for them, as there’s nothing they’d be more unhappy about than being “common”. INTPs pride themselves on their inventiveness and creativity, their unique perspective and vigorous intellect. Usually known as the philosopher, the architect, or the dreamy professor, INTPs have been responsible for many scientific discoveries throughout history.

INTPs are known for their brilliant theories and unrelenting logic – in fact, they are considered the most logically precise of all the personality types. They love patterns, and spotting discrepancies between statements could almost be described as a hobby, making it a bad idea to lie to an INTP. Ironically, owing to their Prospecting (P) trait, INTPs’ word should be taken with a grain of salt – it’s not that they are dishonest, but INTPs tend to share thoughts that are not fully developed, using others as a sounding board for ideas and theories in a debate against themselves rather than as actual conversation partners.

INTP personalityThis may make them appear unreliable, but in reality no one is more enthusiastic and capable of spotting a problem, drilling through the endless factors and details that encompass the issue and developing a unique and viable solution than INTPs – just don’t expect punctual progress reports. People who share the INTP personality type aren’t interested in practical, day-to-day activities and maintenance, but when they find an environment where their creative genius and potential can be expressed, there is no limit to the time and energy INTPs will expend in developing an insightful and unbiased solution.

They may appear to drift about in an unending daydream, but INTPs’ thought process is unceasing, and their minds buzz with ideas from the moment they wake up. This constant thinking can have the effect of making them look pensive and detached, as they are often conducting full-fledged debates in their own heads, but really INTPs are quite relaxed and friendly when they are with people they know, or who share their interests. However, this can be replaced by overwhelming shyness when INTPs are among unfamiliar faces, and friendly banter can quickly become combative if they believe their logical conclusions or theories are being criticized.

When INTPs are particularly excited, the conversation can border on incoherence as they try to explain the daisy-chain of logical conclusions that led to the formation of their latest idea. Oftentimes, INTPs will opt to simply move on from a topic before it’s ever understood what they were trying to say, rather than try to lay things out in plain terms.

The reverse can also be true when people explain their thought processes to INTPs in terms of subjectivity and feeling. Imagine an immensely complicated clockwork, taking in every fact and idea possible, processing them with a heavy dose of creative reasoning and returning the most logically sound results available – this is how the INTP mind works, and this type has little tolerance for an emotional monkey-wrench jamming their machines.

Further, with Thinking (T) as one of their governing traits, INTPs are unlikely to understand emotional complaints at all, and their friends won’t find a bedrock of emotional support in them. INTPs would much rather make a series of logical suggestions for how to resolve the underlying issue, a perspective that is not always welcomed by their Feeling (F) companions. This will likely extend to most social conventions and goals as well, like planning dinners and getting married, as INTPs are far more concerned with originality and efficient results.

The one thing that really holds INTPs back is their restless and pervasive fear of failure. INTPs are so prone to reassessing their own thoughts and theories, worrying that they’ve missed some critical piece of the puzzle, that they can stagnate, lost in an intangible world where their thoughts are never truly applied. Overcoming this self-doubt stands as the greatest challenge INTPs are likely to face, but the intellectual gifts – big and small – bestowed on the world when they do makes it worth the fight.

Famous INTPs:

Rene Descartes
Blaise Pascal
Isaac Newton
Carl Jung
Albert Einstein
James Madison
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Gerald Ford

Want to read more? Our premium profiles go into more detail about various aspects of INTP personality type, including advice on personal and professional growth.

Strengths & Weaknesses


Your name:
Aug 21, 2014 01:55:07
INTP! For the first time in 28 years.. someone gets me! :D I gave this to my sister and told her to read it so she can MAYBE understand me a little more and how my mind works. Love it!
Aug 20, 2014 15:03:34
i think this fits me very well
Aug 20, 2014 01:19:47
Awesome! I'm inside that 3%! I feel all special now! lol Plus I didn't know that second-guessing was so common among INTPs; now I don't feel so awkward.
Nicki Lee
Aug 20, 2014 00:22:12
Finally I feel like I'm not an alien living among humans who don't understand me!!! I'm actually really socially awkward. I don't like crowds because I'm afraid that people will judge me. I'm afraid of failing, I'm a perfectionist, and I feel that other people expect me to be perfect as well. But ironically I perform in musical theater a lot. Everyone thinks that I'm some outgoing, extraverted, musical theater kid, and that I have self-confidence to spare, but really that's the total opposite of me; and I think that that is what makes me feel so alone. The truth is, I really only perform because I was born with a relatively good voice. I've been performing since I was 4 and it's gotten to the point where I feel like it's the only thing that I can do. I mean, I enjoy it too, but I guess I feel more comfortable on the stage as someone else than being me. I always felt that no one really understood me. This test helped me understand myself better in a way, and reassured me that I'm not the only one who feels this way... Although I guess only about 3% of people are INTPs like me.
Aug 16, 2014 01:56:33
Am I the only one who tend to write a lot more than I need to in the INTP personality type? Honestly I haven't found a lot of people who I can relate to. Like, for example, all of my friends, who now I guess im starting to question. I don't really think that we get along as well as we think we do (or at least as well as they think we do). I'm glad that it isn't just because im a freak in the social world. At least there are others like me. It's actually pretty cool how much this was on point. I always thought I was just pretty forgetful and possibly slightly weird for talking in my head and sucking at telling stories and explaining (I find myself saying "never mind" a lot when it comes to explanations) Anyway, I'm glad. XD