Personality Types (INTP & ISTP)

People interest me to no end. The way their personalities are formed, what their strengths and weaknesses are, how to interact with them, how different personalities relate to each other, how environment and major life changes affect people . . . ah, I’m sure I could study people all my life and not become bored!

One of my friends recently posted on his blog about taking the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test for a psychology class he took last year. His post got me thinking more about personalities once again.

What is MBTI?

About the MBTI Wikipedia states:

“The MBTI assessment was developed from the work of prominent psychiatrist Carl G. Jung in his book Psychological Types. Jung proposed a psychological typology based on the theories of cognitive functions that he developed through his clinical observations. From Jung’s work, others developed psychological typologies. Jungian personality assessments include the MBTI assessment, developed by Isabel Briggs Myers and Katharine Cook Briggs, and the Keirsey Temperament Sorter (KTS), developed by David Keirsey.

The MBTI preferences indicate the differences in people based on the following:

  • How they focus their attention or get their energy (extraversion or introversion)
  • How they perceive or take in information (sensing or intuition)
  • How they prefer to make decisions (thinking or feeling)
  • How they orient themselves to the external world (judgment or perception)

By using their preference in each of these areas, people develop what Jung and Myers called psychological type. This underlying personality pattern results from the dynamic interaction of their four preferences, in conjunction with environmental influences and their own individual tendencies. People are likely to develop behaviors, skills, and attitudes based on their particular type. Each personality type has its own potential strengths as well as areas that offer opportunities for growth.

The MBTI tool consists of multiple choice questions that sort respondents on the basis of the four “dichotomies” (pairs of psychological opposites). Sixteen different outcomes are possible, each identified by its own four-letter code, referred to by initial letters. (N is used for iNtuition, since I is used for Introversion). The MBTI is approximately 75% accurate according to its own manual.

I’ve loved taking two personality tests in the past and studying the results so I was eager to take this test as well. I also enjoyed reading about all fifteen other personality types at the Myers-Briggs website and guessing where some of my friends and family fit in. In case you’re interested, you can take the test online here for $5.00. Once you know what personality type you are you can read your profile page, relationship dynamics page (as friend, parent, or marriage partner), personal growth page as well as a suggested career field page.

You may read this related blog post to better understand how the results are determined.

Some of my characteristics

As I already knew and the personality test indicated, I spend a great amount of time thinking of a logical way to prove or disprove a theory I’ve recently come across, and figuring out solutions to problems, as well as reasons for bad or unresolved situations I see–especially those of relational or spiritual matter. I like to know the why and how of what happens. I am driven toward finding truth and clearly understanding every area of my life and then conveying it in writing. I also spend lots of time drifting into a brilliant, imaginative world which sometimes makes the real world seem a bit dull as well as make me appear distant and impersonal. I’m often so much more in my own world of thoughts than wherever my body happens to be in reality and understandably, this is often problematic. The results of this personality test characterized me as “the absent-minded professor.” Haha! Maybe that’s a good description. In case you’re interested, my test resulted in “The Thinker” personality type (INTP) meaning I dominantly have the preference for introverted thinking and secondarily have the preference of extroverted intuition. This type is also referred to as “The Architect” and “The Innovative Philosopher.” I’ve read this personality type is one of the rarest and only found in 1-4% of people. Among those people more than half are male . . . so I’m part of the less than 2% of female INTPs. No wonder people find me confusing.

“For indeed my life is a perpetual question mark – my thirst for books, my observations of people, all tend to satisfy a great, overwhelming desire to know, to understand, to find an answer to a million questions. And gradually the answers are revealed, many things are explained, and above all, many things are given names and described, and my restlessness is subdued. Then I become an exclamatory person, clapping my hands to the immense surprises the world holds for me, and falling from one ecstasy into another. I have the habit of peeping and prying and listening and seeking – passionate curiosity and expectation. But I have also the habit of being surprised, the habit of being filled with wonder and satisfaction each time I stumble on some wondrous thing.” –Anaïs Nin

(Maybe Anais Nin was an INTP too.)

A weakness I have is that I tend to be shy around people I don’t know well, but to grow I push myself out of my comfort zone and try to participate in good conversation instead of simply listening and gathering information from them (studying them). Around people I know well I can easily be a jabber-box  . . . that is if I let myself be in the moment when I’m around them.

I tend to avoid clearing conflict by bringing it up if I know the conflict will go away soon on its own. If I know it’s important to face, I will do so, but will usually approach it from a very analytical perspective (rather than a feeling or sensing perspective). A few of my friends say I over-analyze life, and they tell me not everything can be analyzed . . . I’m unconvinced of this, but I try to be more considerate of others than I used to be and not exasperate them with my analytical thoughts. I’ve taught myself to plan ahead for longer what I’ll say so I come across as succinctly and clearly as possible.

I was surprised to see that my preference to live simply actually fits with my personality type. I decorate simply, I dress simply, I cook simply, I spend my leisure time simply, and I want simple, basic, relationships–nothing complicated. Simple things make me happy. Perhaps it’s because I spend so much of my energy in my internal world I don’t have a lot of energy leftover to have a complex personal outside world.

I work and figure things out best on my own, but I still love to have a few close friends around to share my ideas and thoughts with. I’m excited and thankful when they affirm my thoughts or share their contradictory ideas and bring new insights to my already formed conclusions . . . even with strong convictions I try to stay open to considering I may be wrong. That’s part of the reason why I like to blog and hear from my blogging friends!

The career fields suggested were interesting to me. When I was little I wanted to be either a lawyer or judge for quite awhile. I might have pursued one of these fields if I were a man, but as a woman it’s not what I want to do with my life. Both careers were suggested on my list. Photographer was also listed, which I enjoy. On a similar page of another website being a librarian was suggested, and I’ve always thought that would be fun.

Type Dynamics

About the dynamics between the way a personality is mixed together with how a person prefers to process and behave both in their introverted side and extroverted side, Wikipedia says this:

“Type Dynamics refers to the interrelationship among the four cognitive functions in a psychological type. Far from being a simple combination of initials, the full type creates a rich interwoven system of perceiving and judging that explains much of the similarity and difference among the types. Type Dynamics has garnered little to no empirical support to substantiate its viability as a scientific theory. Nonetheless, it currently remains deeply entrenched in the Myers-Briggs community.

As a practical example of Type Dynamics, consider the two types known as the introverted thinkers (ISTP and INTP). They share dominant introverted thinking, which gives them a solid interior grasp of underlying principles. The ISTPs, with their preference for extraverted sensing, love understanding physical, mechanical systems. The INTPs, with their extraverted intuition, love understanding theoretical systems. ISTPs are often quite skilled in using whatever materials are at hand in their building projects, using available tools to their full capabilities to serve their goals, through their extraverted sensing. INTPs, like their Sensing cousins, love using the right tool for the right job, but they also consult their intuition to solve problems. They are particularly comfortable with “virtual” tools, reflecting their love of technology.”

INTPs and ISTPs in Relationships

INTP types, as well as ISTP types find it difficult to develop relationships, especially intimate ones except–

Where friendship develops rapidly, almost instantly, is when an INTP meets another INTP or similar temperament (such as ISTP). Communication between such people can become extremely intense, leaving outsiders baffled. When two INTPs get together, watch out! All forms of social graces and host-guest protocols become irrelevant. Both want only to share concepts and interests and absorb the intellectual stimulation of the other. Interruption of this process by any social necessity is undesired and annoying. Often the pair will become oblivious to everything around them and this may seem almost comical to an outsider. Introductory greetings such as “how are you?” may just be given and received with nonchalant disinterest. Conversations are more likely to open with something like: “Hi, I think I’ve worked out how changes in the Borg’s command protocols can be routed through sub-space without compromising their universal teleconnectivity!” knowing that the other person knows exactly what he’s on about. Later, the host may offer the guest a drink after an hour of discussing the latest developments in computer technology, and the guest may then notice that he is thirsty.” –From INTP.Org

My Similar Friend

I have a friend who I’m pretty sure is an ISTP, so I’ve thought a lot about the relationship between the two of us the last couple days. It’s interesting that since we probably have the same dominant characteristics we understand many things about each other, but since our extraverted side is completely different (mine is intuitive, his is sensing) there are complexities about each other that we don’t understand. For instance, my friend’s personality is described as one which tends to live and think realistically in the present, moment to moment and to see life one piece at a time. I, on the other hand, see the world around me and understand things “big picture” as I dream about future possibilities. Sometimes this friend and I get on splendidly (and I do mean splendidly–probably more so than any other friend I’ve had); but when we don’t understand each other or get along, it’s a terrible mess.

We have many of the same strengths and pretty much the same list of weaknesses. We are both indecisive. We tend to distrust others, so don’t become friends with many. We’re careless about others’ feelings since we don’t act based on our own feelings and even try to suppress them as much as possible—but when we do let them out it’s all at once in a rash, inappropriate display because we don’t know how to handle expressing ourselves in this way. We’re both terribly stubborn when we feel pushed into something. Lastly, these two types, out of all sixteen, are the two with the lowest level of coping resources.

“Independence, derived primarily from strongly introverted thinking, leads to perhaps the most difficult aspect (for others) of the INTP, namely stubbornness. If an INTP is pushed into doing something he will automatically resist. The reason for the resistance is simply that any action must first be filtered by the introverted thinking, guided by the extraverted intuition. He must be given the chance to reach an independent decision, approving or rejecting the action. Hence, he must withdraw to allow the analysis process to work. If withdrawal is not allowed then stubborn resistance is the inevitable result. However, others may not always find the INTP excessively stubborn, since the decision-making process can sometimes be rapidly accelerated when intuition takes the upper hand. The best way to get an INTP to do something is to suggest the idea as an option and let him sleep on it. Ultimately, the INTP must always believe that it is his decision. Once he is satisfied that the decision was independently reached, then he is content.” –From INTP.Org

“When someone tries to push or control the ISTP into these situations, he or she is likely to ‘walk away’ from that person without looking back . . . Their resistance to structure may cause them to . . . quit relationships that have too many expectations. ISTPs are often likeable and have more friends and social interaction than is normal for an Introvert. The ISTP genuinely enjoys the company of their friends, and needs their input in his or her physical world to maintain their understanding of their own place in the world. An ISTP’s feeling of success is dependent primarily upon their mastery of their physical world, but is also dependent upon the existence of strong, reliable, interpersonal relationships. Without these relationships, the ISTP is likely to avoid relationships, isolate him or herself, and feel very vulnerable to rejection and hurt. ” –From PersonalityPage.com (ISTP Personal Growth)

I’m sadly afraid our friendship might abruptly end someday when we aren’t getting along. I hope this doesn’t happen, and I’ll do all I can to prevent it. I’m willing to let go if that’s what my friend wants to do, even though he’s the one outside of my family who I’ve let know me well. Friendship which is pressured for or given out of any sort of obligation doesn’t interest me at all–it isn’t real friendship.

Upon reading through the different personality types, and considering my weaknesses I will work deliberately on understanding people who have the sensing and feeling preferences, since I don’t lean toward expressing myself or processing things by either of these preferences (especially feeling) so it’s hard for me to care and value these people in my life like I should.

I’ve found one of the best ways to grow is to learn about, understand, and identify with many different kinds of people, including myself (if I don’t know myself, how can anyone else?). Having an objective view and understanding of the world is healthier than the easy and narrow view of subjecting what’s around me to only what I know and have experienced.

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5 responses to “Personality Types (INTP & ISTP)

  1. I’m pleased that you view this information as an opportunity to understand others better, as we often perceive other’s actions through our own “preferences.” After years of studying psychology and participating in billions of these assessments, I’ve found this to be the most fruitful use of personality theory. Too often, a fascination with the MBTI comes from a desire to affirm one’s self, with a general disinterest in how to better relate with others. If you’re able to use this resource to identify ways in which communication can be enhanced (through better understanding of a friend’s preferences), it can be helpful in a spiritual way.

    I am particularly drawn to the studies on attraction and healthy relationships, as the study seems to shed some light on how “opposites attract” to some degree, and yet bonding occurs in the commonality of other preferences. For example, we are typically drawn to those with opposite preferences regarding extroversion/introversion and judging/perceiving, but are most likely to share preferences in sensing/intuition or thinking/feeling.

    As such, you would find yourself most drawn to someone with an ENTJ profile: one who understands and trusts your intuitive thought processes, but responds to people and tasks in such a way that compensates for your weaknesses. Similarly, as an ENFP it seems natural to protect the INFJs in my life; I jokingly refer to this type as my “siren,” because I tend to know them when I see them and have gone to embarrassing lengths to get to know them.

  2. I’m drawn to the same studies you talk about here–how healthy relationships are developed. I’ve thought before about how people say “opposites attract,” but personally how I’ve been better friends with people who are similar to me. I didn’t understand until recently how in a way they can be “opposite” and be similar at the same time.

    I agree, I would be very attracted to an ENTJ. I think one of my friends from Boulder probably has the ENTJ personality type, which was new to me when I first met him. I got along with him wonderfully and he’s a good friend. He was obviously an extravert–although not loud and boisterous (which I’m not particularly drawn to). He is a fluent verbal communicator, we enjoyed many intellectual, deep, exciting debate/conversations and he seemed honestly interested in knowing me and hearing from me. I saw he had good self confidence, a strong leadership ability, and was a driven individual. I hope I will meet more ENTJ types.

    It’s interesting how you can see so easily when someone is an ENFJ. I wish I could tell so easily what people’s personality types are when I meet them. Maybe I can learn to, it would be useful.

    I think two of my good friends are ENFP types, so if I were to pick a second I’m most attracted to, it would probably be that type even though the research doesn’t necessarily say that would happen. I think I’m attracted to their feeling preference, since it’s rather absent from my personality, and I appreciate that we both think intuitively–so in that way we easily understand each other and get along. The ENFPs I’ve known are also great communicators, they’re excited about life, passionate about their beliefs and ideas, deep in their relationships, and warm, kind, and caring . . . even toward strangers. I like to see each of those traits in a person.

    • I’d like to think that these positive qualities are true of me as an ENFP, though our weaknesses tend to be as vulnerable and upfront as our strengths; I think it takes a lot of grace and stability to weather our storms at times. 🙂

      Likewise, I think the intuitive preference is most attractive to me, whereas the others have been more flexible — particularly in regards to introversion and extroversion. I can be a bit of a social chameleon at times (as a maturing extrovert), but my most intimate friendships have been intuitive-minded people, and whether consciously or not, it seems to be the only common thread in the women I’ve been attracted to. A particularly strong sensing type has been interested in me for a long time, and I can’t get over the fact that she cannot adequately trust or enjoy my intuition according to her own scientific process, and being trusted is rather non-negotiable as a man praying for a lifetime helper.

      • I read that “for people whose personality types are dominated by Decision Making functions, (i.e. Thinking or Feeling), their ideal partners will include both Sensing and Intuitive types. Many people have problems communicating effectively with people who do not share their same preference for Information Gathering. So, if you have a very strong preference for Sensing or Intuition, you will need to give the personality type with the same preference a higher value as a likely natural partner.”

        I’ve been on a very long road trip the last few days so part of the time I’ve thought of this topic more. I decided I look to know different personalities as simply friends as I do for the man I’ll marry someday. All my life I’ve made better friends with similar personalities to mine, but I hope to marry someone more different than I so we’re more complete when it comes to our strengths and weaknesses.

        I also spent some time thinking about which types would best compliment mine… even though I know any two could be happily married if they worked hard on the marriage. So technically an ENTJ would be the best or me, then ESTJ, and ENFJ. Following this pattern an ESFJ would be next but I’m making it a personal rule not to marry someone that extremely different. Replacing the perceiving preference for the judging preference would probably be next, but I’d have to exclude the ENTP because it’s too similar to me (the extrovert version of my personality type), and the ESTP and ESFP because their strong sensing preference and dominant Information Gathering function would tend to clash with my strong intuitive preference and dominant Decision Making function. That leaves the ENFP. Next I’d switch out introversion for extroversion and do the same letter combos otherwise… INTJ, ISTJ, INFJ, ISTP, INFP, and ISFP. I don’t know if switching the “J” and “P” is more important to do first or the “E” with the “I.”

        It was all more of a mind game to keep me busy than actually caring about this formula.

        The strangest part of thinking through all this was to consider what my family members are. It looks like my older sister and I have quite nicely complimentary personalities whereas my mom and I are an INTP compared to an ESFJ… couldn’t be more different. I think most of my friends over the years have been in the “Satisfactory” category. If I were to create a list for complimentary friendship types for an INTP, I think the “Satisfactory” category for marriage would the “Excellent” category for simply friendship.

  3. Pingback: How MBTI Results are Determined | Living Life Fully·

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