All About The INTP Personality Type

Medically reviewed by Paige Henry, LMSW, J.D.
Updated April 29, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

The INTP personality type is generally one of 16 personality types that can be determined by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which is primarily based on the work of Carl Jung. INTP usually stands for Introversion, Intuition, Thinking, and Perceiving. Those with this personality type tend to be abstract thinkers who can be quite reserved. They may focus on the big picture and base their decisions on facts and logic. INTPs can be loyal and affectionate, but they can also be insensitive and struggle with communication at times. To learn more about your personality type and how it may affect your life, it can be helpful to work with a therapist online or in person.

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Discover how your personality type may affect your life

An overview of the Myers-Briggs Type indicator

In the 1940s, Katherine Briggs and Isabel Myers developed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a personality self-test that can still be used today. Myers and Briggs generally based their research on the work of Carl Jung, who theorized that everyone may have a personality style and that humanity may have two types of functions: to perceive and to decide. 

According to Jung, people tend to be either introverted or extraverted, gather information through intuition or sensing, and base decisions on logic or feelings. Myers and Briggs added a fourth category: judging or perceiving. 

Different combinations of these four sets of traits can form the 16 personality types outlined by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

  • Analysts: Architect (INTJ), logician (INTP), commander (ENTJ), debater (ENTP)
  • Diplomats: Advocate (INFJ), mediator (INFP), protagonist (ENFJ), campaigner (ENFP)
  • Sentinels: Logistician (ISTJ), defender (ISFJ), executive (ESTJ), consul (ESFJ)
  • Explorers: Virtuoso (ISTP), adventurer (ISFP), entrepreneur (ESTP), entertainer (ESFP)

You can learn how to take a free Myers-Briggs personality test here.

The INTP personality type: Introverted, intuitive, thinking, perceiving

INTP generally stands for introversion, intuition, thinking, and perception. Many people with INTP personalities tend to be analytical and enjoy spending time alone, considering potential solutions to problems, and examining how things work.

People with this personality style often show the following traits:

  • Introversion: Your demeanor may be quiet and reserved. Your social circle is likely small and consists of a few close friends instead of numerous acquaintances. You may feel that social gatherings drain your energy. 
  • Intuition: You may tend to focus on the big picture, preferring to see a situation for its possibilities and paying less attention to details about the present. Your thought patterns may tend to be abstract rather than concrete.  
  • Thinking: You generally base your decisions on facts and logic rather than taking social considerations and personal preferences into account. As a decision-maker, you tend to be objective.  
  • Perception: You may prefer to keep your options open, delaying decision-making to be spontaneous and flexible.  

INTP subtypes

  • INTP-A: Often called the “assertive logician,” this INTP subtype is generally comfortable with themselves and is usually more confident than the other subtype. INTP-As tend to have greater satisfaction with their place in life. 
  • INTP-T: Known as the “turbulent logician,” this subtype often feels less confidence and comfort personally and regarding where they are in life.

How common is the INTP personality type?

According to researchers at the University of Northern Iowa, INTP is one of the rare personality types, making up approximately 3.3% of the United States population. 

INTP personality characteristics

Many people with INTP personality styles display some of the following characteristics:

  • Reserved and stoic
  • Low-key and relaxed to the point of appearing aloof or detached
  • Creative and enthusiastic about new ideas
  • Prefers to work alone
  • Low tolerance for social niceties; social events often seem draining
  • Impatient with bureaucracy
  • Non-conformist and may view authority figures as obstructionist
  • Disorganized and may have trouble sticking to deadlines and rigid procedures
  • Neither leaders nor followers, INTPs tend to prefer an independent path
  • Prefer to socialize with a small group of close friends
  • Values intellect over emotion and bases decisions on logic 
  • Skilled with “out of the box” thinking
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INTP personality strengths

People with INTP personalities are usually loyal and affectionate with those they care about deeply. They are often comfortable being independent and usually thrive in environments that encourage abstract thinking. INTPs are generally logical and objective. 

INTP personality weaknesses

Those with the INTP personality style may be difficult to get to know, and because they may have little patience for social niceties, they can be insensitive at times. INTPs can be prone to self-doubt and may find following rules challenging due to possibly seeing authority figures as standing in their way. They may also have difficulties expressing their emotions. 

INTP cognitive function levels

Dominant: Introverted thinking 

Decisions are typically based on logical analysis done over time. Rationality and objectivity tend to be prized and can drive an insatiable thirst for knowledge. 

Auxiliary: Extraverted intuition 

This can be thought of as your primary way of taking in information. You may use intuition to identify patterns, principles, and ideas, taking the knowledge to construct frameworks and theories about your understanding of the world. You may jump from one topic to another as your mind forms connections. 

Tertiary: Introverted sensing

This may be how you take in information, store interesting facts and knowledge, and organize it for future reference. You may require precise language, and your thought processes may become faster as you age. 

Inferior: Extraverted feeling  

This function generally isn’t as strong as the others, which usually descend in strength. You might view this as your humanitarian side, which can drive you to use your creative problem-solving and intelligence to help others. You may start out less aware of others’ feelings than other personality types, but you can learn to recognize and appropriately react to them over time. 

How the INTP personality type can affect relationships

People with the INTP personality type often prefer their own company and don’t mind spending time alone. Social situations often require a lot of energy from them, unlike extraverts, who usually gain energy from social interaction. It can be tricky getting to know INTPs. They are often shy around people they don’t know, but tend to be warm and friendly with those they know well. 

INTPs are often faithful and loyal, and they usually take their vows and commitments seriously. They tend to be undemanding partners and are often easy to be around. However, they may find it challenging to emotionally support a partner or understand their feelings. Dealing with conflicts may be a challenge for INTPs, and they may ignore issues until they reach a point of crisis. 

As parents, INTPs are normally laid back and flexible. They may rely on their partners to provide structure and discipline for children. They often encourage individualism in children and listen to their opinions, frequently allowing them to offer input into family decisions. While they are usually devoted parents and partners, INTPs may struggle to understand and acknowledge the emotional needs of their loved ones at times. 

Famous people believed to have the INTP personality type

  • Albert Einstein
  • Socrates
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Carl Jung
  • Charles Darwin
  • Meryl Streep
  • Brent Spiner
  • Gerald Ford

Popular INTP career paths

With their usual enjoyment of theoretical and abstract concepts, people with INTP personality types tend to do well in science-related careers due to often being logical thinkers with strong reasoning skills. They tend to thrive in careers as chemists, physicists, computer programmers, forensic scientists, engineers, mathematicians, pharmacists, and other scientific pursuits. 

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Discover how your personality type may affect your life

Advice for communicating with INTP personalities

  • Understand that they may have trouble understanding emotions and may not react as you want or expect. 
  • They tend to spend a lot of time in their own heads, and they can be hard to get to know. They may hold themselves back until they feel someone has earned the right to their thoughts and feelings.  
  • Try to be direct about your needs and expectations.

How therapy can help INTPs

INTPs sometimes struggle to communicate effectively, and they may benefit from the support and guidance of a mental health professional. 

Benefits of online therapy

Online therapy platforms like BetterHelp can make it easier than ever to fit treatment into your busy schedule with flexible appointments via phone, video call, or online chat. Working with a mental health professional online can also make it simple for your therapist to send you various resources that may provide you with insight regarding your personality and helpful strategies for overcoming any challenges you may be experiencing.

Effectiveness of online therapy 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be a standard treatment for people who wish to make meaningful changes to their thought patterns, emotions, and behaviors, which can also affect personality. Studies show that online CBT treatments can be a practical, effective alternative to therapy in the traditional in-person setting. Many patients say the convenience of receiving treatment at home can make it possible to attend more appointments, potentially increasing the effectiveness and duration of outcomes. 

Takeaway

Understanding your personality type can help you determine why you act the way you do and address any challenges that you may be living with. Those with the INTP personality type may be introverted and intuitive, and they may place value on thinking and perceiving rather than feeling and judging. Some of the strengths of this personality type can include a sense of logic and objectivity. However, INTPs may not always communicate effectively. If you’d like further insight into your personality or wish to address challenges related to your personality type, online or in-person therapy can be highly beneficial.
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