10 Things You Should Know About The ISTP Personality Type

Updated January 13, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Understanding your personality type can help you discover more about yourself including what makes you feel comfortable, how to use your strengths and weaknesses to your advantage, and even what careers you might consider pursuing. ISTP—one of 16 personality types from the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator—stands for Introversion, Sensing, Thinking, and Perceiving. Each of the 16 personalities has unique traits that make them stand out, and ISTP is no exception. Although no two people who have the ISTP personality will be exactly alike, they often have many things in common. Are you an ISTP personality type? Let us look at some of the things that you should know about the ISTP personality type, which may help you understand yourself or others on a deeper level. 

Want To Explore Your Personality In More Depth?

Traits Of An ISTP Personality Type

  1. They Are Problem Solvers

People with the ISTP personality type often have an intuitive understanding of machines. Few things feel unsolvable to an ISTP when given enough time. They typically like using their introverted thinking to solve different problems and optimize functioning. ISTPs are usually imaginative when dealing with practical things. Problem-solving abilities may come naturally to them and they usually like putting their ideas into action.

People with the ISTP personality are often very analytical, which can make them great problem solvers. They are skilled at using their mind and hands to solve different puzzles. ISTPs prefer to break down problems into many parts and try to find out the interrelation and framework associated with the details. After getting an accurate understanding of how everything might have happened, ISTPs may then examine the problem once again to check for any inconsistencies. Next, they might look at the concrete facts and the most reasonable solution to the issue at hand. On the downside, they can be too focused on the facts and miss real human elements present in the problem.

  1. ISTPs Prefer Hands-On Activities

ISTPs have great hand-eye coordination, are mechanically inclined, and enjoy solving problems using their hands. ISTPs often display high levels of energy and prefer to use their hands and body to explore the concrete world. They prefer hands-on activities and are likely to underperform academically due to a lack of stimulation. As parents, ISTPs can often up with many different hands-on activities that help their children learn and have fun at the same time. In the majority of situations, they prefer hands-on experience as opposed to the theoretical part of things.

  1. They Are Effective At Prioritizing Things

Even though ISTPs are spontaneous, they can also reign in their spontaneity until such a time when it is necessary. People with the ISTP personality type can use their energy when and where it is most needed. Sometimes, ISTPs have a "do not care" attitude that may impede prioritization. ISTPs normally like to live in the now and try to remove barriers that are holding them back.

  1. They May Get Easily Bored And Engage In Risky Behaviors

ISTPs are effective thinkers, but they can have a weakness in concentrating on long-term things. They like to move to the next agenda as soon as possible. People with the ISTP personality love to keep their minds busy and enjoy the thrills of life. When forced to stay dormant for too long, ISTPs get bored. They like to have something to keep them constantly busy; monotony and idleness often bore them. ISTPs live in the present and enjoy the freedom to change their mind each moment without judgment. 

  1. They May Avoid Commitment

People with the ISTP personality live each day for the moment and might dislike commitment. Long-term commitments, even in romantic relationships, can be a challenge for ISTPs. It can be oppressive to an ISTP if they are held back by something for an extended period. Although they may run from long-term commitments, they might be able to comfortably remain in a lifelong relationship if they are given the space to take it one day at a time. If they are forced to decide on a long-term commitment prematurely, they might get uncomfortable. ISTPs enjoy the freedom of choosing what they want, and longstanding commitments may remove the freedom of choice. However, when ISTPs find a person or thing worthy of their commitment, they can stick around.

  1. They Have An Adventurous Spirit

People with the ISTP personality type are curious by nature. Their insatiable adventurous spirit gives them the desire to learn new things. People with this kind of trait are likely to start a project and then midway abandon it once they understand how it's supposed to be done. ISTPs enjoy thrilling and new experiences, which may lead them to engage in risky behaviors. It is common to find people with the ISTP personality type in risky hobbies such as ice hockey, bungee jumping, and motorcycling. ISTPs are stubborn and might avoid long-term commitments, which can make them vulnerable to risky behaviors. 

Want To Explore Your Personality In More Depth?

  1. They May Struggle With The Verbal Expression Of Emotions Or Feelings

ISTPs are generally uncomfortable with expressing their feelings. When friends and loved ones are in a difficult situation, the ISTP personality may get uncomfortable when asked for emotional support. They would rather offer practical solutions for problems instead of sympathy. This isn’t to say that people with the ISTP personality don’t have emotions; rather, they often hide their emotions as they are unsure of how to express them. They often lack the right words to express themselves to their partners, which may be a problem in their intimate relationships, especially if their partners expect an emotional connection. ISTPs generally prefer non-verbal expressions.

  1. ISTPs Generally Like To Spend Time Alone

ISTPs are introverts and like spending time alone. They require time alone to process their thoughts and regain their energy. ISTPs also take time away from others so that they can figure out their ideas. In relationships, ISTPs may unintentionally neglect others because of their need for safe space, or alone time. They love when they are on their own since they are intelligent people who like having space and time to process information.

  1. ISTPs Can Be Insensitive

People with the ISTP personality type are often uncomfortable with showing their emotions; therefore, when in situations where one is required to show empathy, ISTPs may seem insensitive. It is not that they do not care, rather they have a different view of how to handle things. ISTPs use logic and reasoning instead of emotions when dealing with any kind of issue. 

When a person with the ISTP personality tries to show empathy or emotional sensitivity, it may not come out correctly. Personality types that value emotional displays often find people with the ISTP personality type insensitive and unwilling to connect with them emotionally. As a result, people with certain personality types may avoid developing any kind of relationship with people with the ISTP personality type—simply because they cannot connect with them, and not because of the personality type itself. 

  1. They Tend To Act First And Think Later

ISTPs tend to act first and think of the consequences later. They have a big challenge with acting too fast. For example, an ISTP may tell an offensive joke or abandon a significant project when something more exciting comes up. At that moment, they may feel that they are making the right decision, but regrets and consequences commonly follow such actions. ISTPs like to go with the flow and can easily abandon something without an afterthought. It can be futile to try to change the ISTP’s way of doing things because they may be very stubborn.

Online Counseling With BetterHelp

Therapy can help you more thoroughly comprehend the reasons behind your actions and emotions. If you’re not comfortable meeting face to face for counseling, with BetterHelp, you’ll be able to participate from the comfort of your home. Your messages won’t be removed, so you’ll have a record of your treatment that you can refer to when you want to review certain topics or interesting discussions. Your therapist can work with you to uncover aspects of your personality you don’t understand or want to know more about. Over time, you can learn how to achieve greater self-awareness and use that knowledge to experience growth. 

The Efficacy Of Online Counseling

An increasingly large body of evidence points to online counseling platforms as valuable tools for those who want to better understand their personality, and how it affects their mental health. In one broad-based review, researchers examined the effects of online therapy on a range of issues, including panic and anxiety disorders, smoking cessation, and depression. Over 90 total studies, with nearly 10,000 total participants, were included in the final report. Researchers found that there is significant support for the utilization of online platforms when administering therapy, noting that these interventions were as effective as in-person therapy. These findings are in line with similar studies on the benefits of online therapy.

Counselor Reviews

“Tamara Nixon is the first therapist that I feel really took interest in me, on a deeper level. Other therapists I went to were focused mainly on my problems, but not at all on my personal interests and hobbies and I feel this is really important in them understanding my personality and my likes/dislikes. Also I appreciate that she is proactive and she sends me things to read and worksheets to work on. I really feel safe with telling her about my issues.” 

“Victor has been very supportive towards my current with-standings and issues that have grown over the past few years. He has full understanding of my personality and certain areas I struggle with. I do feel I am healing slowly and surely after just 2 months of therapy. I am very hopeful that I will come out of this process feeling reborn and more like myself, well more connected to the part of me I have lost.”

The Takeaway

Many people with the ISTP personality type can relate to the above points, but it can vary greatly from individual to individual. If you are not sure whether you are an ISTP or another personality type, you can try taking one of the personality tests available online. These can provide great insight but are not replacements for professional advice—which you can also find online. For more information on how you can relate to people more effectively as an ISTP, you can reach out to a qualified mental health professional through platforms like BetterHelp. 

For additional help & support with your concerns

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get The Support You Need From One Of Our TherapistsGet Started