What makes an INTP tick?
The INTP personality type has many nicknames including “the absent-minded professor”, “the thinker”, “the architect”, and “the logician”, and they all pay tribute to an incredible mind. Albert Einstein, Adam Smith, and Abraham Lincoln were famous INTPs, after all.
This past year, I’ve gotten to know a few INTPs well. What’s struck me about their personality is how easily they combine logic and creativity. They’re master problem solvers with an unparalleled ability to focus. To hear from two INTPs, check out this podcast.
Our world owes a lot to INTPs. Here are just a few reasons INTPs are awesome.
1. They’re thinkers.
An INTP’s thoughts are logical, skeptical, and reductionistic. Renee Descartes is a great example. He was a famous INTP philosopher who questioned whether people actually exist. Taking nothing about reality for granted and refusing to build off of the ideas of other philosophers, he argued we can know that people exist because they think. (“I think, therefore, I am.”) The only way he was happy building a case for man’s existence was to do it from the ground up.
INTPs also have an incredible knowledge of systems. They like to know why and how all the parts work together. They know how a computer, monitor, keyboard, and mouse communicate. They also understand how a car’s transmission, pistons, electrical system, and breaks work together. This knowledge, then, helps them diagnose the cause of a problem when, for example, a laptop freezes or gets stuck on the “black screen of death”.
One of the things that I love most about INTPs is their depth and breadth of knowledge. Most introverts know a good deal about their passions. INTPs, however, are walking databases for a host of subjects.
My brother-in-law, for instance, knows almost every 80s song and who sings it. Another INTP I know plays the guitar, starts businesses, designs websites, teaches, and pastors. The founder of personalityjunkie.com, AJ Drenth, has written some of the most thorough Myers-Briggs articles on the web, and as a result, numerous experts and authors have cited his work.
2. They’re artists.
Logisticians aren’t just logical; they’re also extremely creative. Every INTP I know is currently working on multiple creative projects. My brother-in-law, whom I mentioned earlier, is into puppeteering, projection mapping, and sound design. A few Christmas’s ago, he recorded a multitrack audio journey for my sister where his puppet traveled from Carlisle, Pennsylvania to the North Pole to save Christmas. A family friend, who’s an INTP, is a skilled woodworker. He’s made everything from etched doll beds to handmade furniture.
Many INTPs express their creativity through music. My favorite guitar teacher is an INTP. He started out as a professional musician who wrote and performed fingerstyle arrangements of famous songs. My INTP friend from church regularly leads worship, and he has the voice to make it as a professional singer.
Music appeals to INTPs because it’s patterned, mathematical, and logical. INTPs enjoy learning music theory, but they also enjoy music’s technical side. It’s increasingly tech-driven, and every musician needs at least a working knowledge of audio equipment and recording technology. INTPs usually possess both in abundance.
3. They’re tech gurus.
When you combine logic and creativity, you get the ultimate problem solver – someone who understands a system in its entirety and can also think outside the box to come up with solutions when parts or processes fail. Coupled with an affinity for independence, this combination is a near perfect fit for IT jobs. It’s no surprise, then, that many INTPs wind up in the field of technology. They’re at their best when troubleshooting computer glitches, installing networks, testing fircewalls, and programming applications.
My brother-in-law runs the help desk for a government organization, and he recently became a certified ethical hacker. I used to make fun of my family for bombarding him with pleas for tech assistance, but now I’ve joined the bandwagon. I stole an hour of his life he can never get back asking him how to partition a hard drive and reinstall my current operating system.
4. They’re sentimental.
INTPs can also be a bit sentimental. Many line their desks and bookshelves with Star Wars or Lord of the Rings figurines and sci-fi memorabilia. Others hold onto old hardware. One of the students I taught this year, whom I’m convinced is an INTP, brought in a 90s Apple mouse for show and tell. INTPs enjoy hanging onto fond memories and may have a hard time discarding possessions.
A few days ago, my family and I finished cleaning out my grandparents’ attic. Grandpa asked us to figure out what should be sold, kept, and thrown out. While we were cleaning, my ENFJ sister and INTP brother-in-law regularly butted heads: She wanted to pitch almost everything, but he saw value in the antiques. I’ll let you guess who drove home with a vintage 8-millimeter video camera.
5. They’re great companions.
Deep down, INTPs love to help people – especially when helping means problem-solving. They don’t mind showing you how to set up a TV or stereo system, and they’ll probably be able to tell you how you can save money in the process. INTPs are dependable companions and incredible listeners.
The challenge of being an INTP is opening up. INTPs need to know someone is honest and trustworthy before they’ll begin to reveal their true colors, and like most introverts, they also despise small talk. They’d much rather talk about a topic of interest, such as technology or creative project.
The fact that their minds work differently further complicates matters. When solving a problem, they’re able to skip from a to c, bypassing b. Most people can only arrive at c after they’ve first progressed from a to b. While this thinking ability is a gift, explaining it to someone who doesn’t understand can be a curse. How do you verbalize what only you can understand?
That said, the time you invest to get to know a thinker will be worth the effort. You’ll win a dependable friend who will let you in on a unique way of seeing the world you may have never experienced otherwise. Hang in there!
All in all, INTPs tend to have smaller circles of friends and connect better with other NT personality types who better understand and appreciate their thought processes. INTPs are also close with family.