People with the ISTP personality type form around 5% of the population and possess many interesting traits that can easily baffle outsiders. They are usually very rational and logical, but they can also surprise everybody by suddenly becoming more spontaneous and enthusiastic. While most other types tend to be easily recognizable and have clearly outlined traits, this is definitely not the case with ISTPs. Even people who know them well may not be able to anticipate their reaction to something.
This stems from the interesting combination of Thinking (T) and Prospecting (P) traits. People with this type lean toward mechanical, rational projects and ideas, and they can be very calm and rational for a long time. However, their inner spontaneity does not go anywhere; it simply stays in the background, accumulating the energy and awaiting the right moment to release it at once. It is that release that often surprises everyone around the ISTP, especially if they have not seen anything like this before. People with the ISTP personality type are likely to be very good at controlling their energy and saving it for things they consider important.
ISTPs are relatively private individuals, which makes it even more difficult for other people to tell what is really going on in their minds. ISTPs can also become unexpectedly stubborn and vocal, especially when their principles and habits are being criticized. This kind of behavior is uncommon among Explorers (SP) and may confuse other people even further.
People with the ISTP personality type tend to have a very good sense of humour, which may either help defuse a tense situation or make things even more complicated if the ISTP makes a joke that could be seen as insensitive. ISTPs are not naturally emotional, and they may have difficulties recognizing the boundaries of what is allowed and expected in emotionally charged situations. Consequently, they may unwittingly hurt people belonging to more sensitive types.
Unlike most other Introverted (I) types, ISTPs do not really care much about personal space. This goes both ways: ISTP personalities do not hesitate to express their interest in something that another person is working on, and they may be surprised if their reaction is less than friendly. On the other hand, ISTPs do not mind if someone else wants to get involved in one of their own projects—as long as that does not threaten the ISTP’s principles and lifestyle.
ISTPs should try to pay conscious attention to this particular trait as they generally do not see anything wrong with such behavior. However, this can cause major problems, both in the workplace and in personal relationships. Most other people are quite protective of their personal space and act very defensively when it is violated.
ISTP personalities are brilliant in areas that combine creativity, freedom, and practicality. They tend to be great engineers and troubleshooters, but these strengths stem from their practical experience and vision rather than scientific theories. ISTPs may get bored very quickly while studying, especially if they do not really see a way to apply that knowledge in practice. Consequently, this often leads to difficulties in the academic environment, even though ISTPs can do quite well in areas that require a hands-on approach. ISTPs always soak in lots of facts from the outside world (especially when they can experience something firsthand), and this makes practical activities much easier for them.
I wanted to live the life, a different life. I didn’t want to go to the same place every day and see the same people and do the same job. I wanted interesting challenges.
Fairness and equality are two other qualities that are very important to ISTP personalities. ISTPs would rather bend or break the rules of the existing system rather than fail to meet their own personal standards when it comes to these things. Consequently, you will never see an ISTP in an environment where their personal rules are likely to be violated. ISTP personalities are also extremely loyal to their friends, but they may need a lot of “alone time” to recharge.
In general, ISTPs tend to be very optimistic, generous, and confident in their abilities—as long as they are not pushed into a corner, burdened with rules and guidelines, or asked to commit to something they are not yet ready for. Unique and mysterious traits of this personality type may never cease to amaze people close to them, but it is also possible that ISTPs themselves will be surprised by them every once in a while.
If you would like to learn more about the ISTP personality type and its traits, download the full ISTP profile – a 60+ page guide covering a number of diverse topics.
Zachary Taylor, former U.S. president
Tom Cruise, actor
Clint Eastwood, actor
Milla Jovovich, actress
Frank Zappa, the composer
Simon Cowell, television personality
“Michael Westen” from Burn Notice
“Jack Bauer” from 24
“Indiana Jones” from Indiana Jones series
“John McClane” from Die Hard series
“Angus MacGyver” from MacGyver