The poster is ‘Anna Moss’.
INTJ vs INTP: A Guide
Last Updated: 11/1/2009
on the surface
INTPs and INTJs often share common characteristics in type descriptions: an interest in systematic thinking, forward-thinking, social awkwardness, physical clumsiness etc. This often makes it hard to really tell the difference between the two types, and can be especially confusing for newcomers to the MBTI system. Therefore I’ve decided to write this little guide to see if I could help people make their minds up about which type they really are (as well as convince myself that yes, I know what I’m talking about).
in a nutshell
“I think, therefore I am.” — Rene Decartes
INTPs are thinkers, first and foremost. They impersonally analyse their current situation instinctually, able to dissect what they perceive into its separate variables. This knack for impersonal analysis makes them natural learners and these types often pursue esoteric interests purely for the sake of discovery. INTPs often find themselves joining social groups (online or not) that are geared towards these individual pursuits, where ideas can be freely bounced around in a group discussion in order to attain a greater, mutual understanding. For the INTP, mutual and individual understanding of How Everything Works is an end unto itself.
“I reject your reality and substitute it for my own.” — Adam Savage
INTJs are decisive, creative planners who love to turn bizarre ideas into plans of action. These are the left-brain thinkers who might find the directionless, armchair discussions of an INTP almost insufferable. INTJs have a much more pragmatic view of the world, one that is driven by their internal intuition. Where an INTP’s ideas might come from what reality presents them moment-to-moment, an INTJs intuition is more mysterious and out of their control. This leads some practitioners to playfully stereotype INTJs as having bizaare psychic or premonitionary powers, of which they have no control of and have no recourse but to act as vessels thereof. It was likely an INTJ who first conceived of things like the wheel, or the internal combustion engine. For the INTJ, reality is dictated by premonition.
dominant function: Ni vs Ti
the dominant function is a type’s reason for being, the perspective through which we see the world. We tend to assume that others share this perspective with us, and so might not even be aware of its influence.
Introverted Intuition (Ni) compels a person to see things in a different light; to deconstruct and then rearrange reality as it presents itself, in order to change its meaning. In the dominant position this creates a dreamlike detachment, as if reality doesn’t even enter into a person’s conscious state. These types have a disconcerting ability to shift their perspective on things in order to fix problems. To the Introverted Intuitive, reality is only an assumption, one that is used to serve a specific purpose. It does not reflect what can be, and is not an accurate signpost for navigation or inspiration.
Introverted Thinking (Ti) compels a person to truly understand a situation in terms of its individual variables, and their inter-operating behaviour. The Introverted Thinker wishes to understand how things work, but not in an objective or empirical sense; it is more accurate to describe this process as instinctual rather than systematic. There is an underlying unity to all things; everything is subject to the same causal order as everything else. It was likely an Introverted Thinker that first conceived of Chaos Theory, which describes a universe that is holistically and causally ordered, despite its seemingly random nature.
auxiliary function: Te vs Ne
the auxiliary function gives expression and direction to the dominant function. For introverts it gives them a way of interacting with the world. We tend to be more aware of this function than the dominant since it reqiures a conscious effort to use; we might even identify with it more than our dominant function, since it feels fulfilling and gives us a way of dealing with things we’re not naturally attuned to.
Extraverted Thinking (Te) is the act of planning and creating models of action, in order to achieve specific and measureable goals. Extraverted Thinkers see the world in terms of measurements, ones that are there to be exploited for objective achievement. Te demands that things are done in a linear sequence of steps, and that procedure must be identified and followed as noted. As a result INTJs love to take action, but only in a systematic fashion; they find the scatterbrained approach of an INTP as untrustworthy or doomed to failure, and probably find it hard to operate in a playful or aimless fashion. INTJs need direction, they need a stated, objective goal that everyone can agree on, before even beginning to move forward (which is often provided by their dominant function Ni).
Extraverted Intuition (Ne) is a right-brained, perceiving function that operates seemingly without direction. It is reactive and participative as opposed to controlling, and thus happily accepts reality as it presents itself. Ne prompts the user to be aware of behavioural options, to seek out new opportunities through contextual awareness. Combined with Introverted Thinking, this prompts INTPs to see new opportunities toward exploiting a system’s variables; not to achieve a stated goal, but simply for the fun of exploring and discovering. INTPs also have a natural love for weird or unusual outward behaviour, and can often surprise unsuspecting acquaintances when they decide to shift gears from detached analysis to unpredictable action.
tertiary function: Fi vs Si
the tertiary function provides relief and an option separate from the auxiliary function. In healthy types it is regarded as ego-centric, but fun in small doses. Unhealthy types might rely too much on this function, instead of finding fulfilment in their auxiliary function. Introverts use their tertiary function as a way to rationalise not having to take an extraverted approach in life.
Introverted Feeling (Fi) prompts us to consider inner, emotional values that defy social expectations. In healthy INTJs it gives them an ethical ruleset with which to conduct themselves, to help steer the impersonal behaviours of Extraverted Thinking without abandoning a rational outlook. In unhealthy INTJs it may be relied upon too much, and suddenly INTJs are no longer willing to commit to the standards of the wider system. They feel compelled to go their own way above all else, and will use Extraverted Thinking as a way of justifying this and keeping others at bay. This can result in antisocial behaviour, but of the calculated rather than unpredictable kind. Super villains in Superhero or James Bond films are often unhealthy INTJs; stoic, quiet characters who pursue their own selfish agendas above all else.
Introverted Sensing (Si) prompts us to consider what we’ve experienced or already know as a way of navigating through the world. it stands in opposition to Ne, which promotes an unpredictable and forward-thinking approach to life. Healthy INTPs use Si to inform Ne of what has already been experienced, so that they know what works or doesn’t work or to better help them find avenues that have been previously unexplored. Unhealthy INTPs will rely too much on this behaviour, and refuse to do anything that steps outside of what they’ve already experienced. They might obsess over past mistakes, especially social ones, and feel unequipped to deal with the unknown. They might snipe at small, insignificant details to convince themselves and others that something is worth dismissing. It is this sort of A Priori reasoning that can keep an INTP from truly participating in life.
inferior function: Se vs Fe
the inferior function acts as a perspective opposite to our dominant function; unless we are willing to accept its effect on our decisions and personality, we tend to project the negative aspects of this function onto other people. We tend to become extremely aware of its effect on us by mid-life, if we haven’t already.
Extraverted Sensation (Se) prompts us to see things as they really are in the moment, devoid of interpretation. It is similar to Ne in that it creates a reactionary and participative view on life, allowing us to react to things as they happen and to be happy not to be in control of things. INTJs tend to see the worse aspects of this function, to view people who act with needless hedonism or brutal confrontation with contempt without recognising their own need to participate in the moment. Without the guidance of Te, unhealthy INTJs might find themselves needing to prove how physically dominant they are, and could participate in the very acts of desperate, brutal hedonism that they so despise. Healthy INTJs are able to overcome these limitations by using Extraverted Thinking as a way of dealing with the outer world; creating models and plans of action allow them to participate and create a marked, positive effect on the world.
Extraverted Feeling (Fe) prompts us to consider the feelings of other people in the community, and the shared vocabulary we use to express those feelings. It is similar to Te in that it creates an objective, controlling outlook on life. But instead of dealing with impersonal measurement, it deals with matters of emotional value and concerns itself with social roles and taboos. In the inferior position, INTPs might find it hard to truly connect with people emotionally, and often prefer the company of people who share the same impersonal interests that they do. They might find it hard to trust their emotional side, and might find it easier to treat other people with the same impersonal analysis as everything else. They might dismiss social behaviour as mindless group-think or sheep-like, thus preventing themselves from participation. Without the guidance of Extraverted Intuition, INTPs might become desperate in their need for social acceptance and may stoop to doing anything just to fit in, or may come across as creepy and unlikeable. Healthy INTPs are able to overcome these limitations with the irrational, perceiving and creative behaviour of Ne, which helps them to open up and find new ways to express themselves emotionally.
I’ve been thinking about attachment style, as in the way I personally interact with other people, not the psychological theory (though that’s kind of interesting too).
In general, I don’t really interact with strangers. I’m not rude; I’m perfectly capable of talking to them if I need to for some reason (like if I’m in a lab and we have to work in groups, for example), but unless I have to I don’t. I’m just not interested. (Every time I speak to my family they ask if I’ve made any new friends in my classes, and every time I tell them “No. Why would I be talking to someone in class?”) This applies to about 90% of the people around me. And it’s not because they’re all dull and boring; I’m sure they’re perfectly nice people. We could probably be decent friends, or at least casual acquaintances. I just don’t want to put forth the minimal effort that would require.
On the other hand, in certain settings I go into (what is for me) friendliness overdrive. This is usually when I’m at a club meeting, since those are concentrated gatherings of people with similar interests. I’ve noticed that I almost have a honeymoon period of friendship in which I’m more outgoing and available. It doesn’t last very long, however, and after a while I go back to my normal, more detached self. (Example: Last year I started out being very friendly with my new roommate. We talked quite a bit and went to Hall Council in matching costumes, etc. But as the year wore on that kind of tapered off, and by the second semester we pretty much went our separate ways.)
It’s not because I stop liking my new friends after a while. It’s just that when I get comfortable with people I don’t feel the need to put on the friendly, sociable mask all the time, and I go back to being my normal self.
Any other INTPs feel like this? (Or any other NTs, period.)
Overall, I test more often as an INTP than an INTJ. Though, I’m not convinced I am an INTP. I would like to be an INTJ, as I feel like it suits me a bit better. But that’s just my preferences, not actual fact. In the most recent test that I’ve taken, I scored an INTJ with only a slight (11%) preference for judging over perceiving. Yet other times it has been reversed, with a slight preference for perceiving. Now I’m completely lost in trying to figure this out.
Does anyone have any suggestions or ways to differentiate between judging and perceiving?
Examining cognitive functions would be the best/easiest method of determining your type.
INTP: Ti Ne Si Fe
INTJ: Ni Te Fi Se
A good starting point can be found here: http://intjcentral.com/intj-vs-intp/
If you happen to be more visually oriented:
I believe purtistringo or satinandrust drew these.
oh man that comic is PERFECT
edit: i like how all the intj functions seem to be calm and organized and working together, and then the intp ones are all over the fucking place. i think it’s probably very accurate (but i’m not an intj, so i can’t be sure).
Thought this post from INTJforum seemed a good description of Te vs Ti. It accounts for the J-ness and need for recognition of strong Te types, and the P-ness and lack of need for external validation of strong Ti types.
The difference between a Ni-Te dominated personality as opposed to Ti-Ne is basically; “will it work” vrs “how and why does it work”.
Te wants to make the world fit your ideas. It wants to rationalize reality. If you ask me, this ultimately hopeless endeavor is the epic tragedy of the INTJ. Te wants to shape reality to fit Ni’s incredibly creative and innovative ideas, but reality is not rational, no matter how much Te may wish it were. INTJs want to change the world in some fundamentally revolutionary fashion, to be and do something extraordinary.
So I had this sudden revelation—
All this time I’ve been going around thinking I have lots of Fi because I’m pretty opinionated and it’s important to me that I know myself and my values. Even when I take cognitive functions tests it shows that I have plenty of Fi and hardly any Fe.
But maybe it’s not Fi after all—maybe I’m just applying my Ti categorizing, pattern-seeking instincts to myself. “Know Thyself” for me has basically been like a long and ongoing process wherein I test out various labels (boxes) and decide which ones fit and which ones don’t. And sometimes I throw the box out altogether and decide I’d rather have a bag.
Does anyone else feel the same way?
Now, guys purtistringo has it spot on. You can either be INTJ or INTP but not both and here is why:
“Alright, so let’s start off by saying. This is not your fault. Any number of things could be happening here, but it’s likely one of two problems.
The first problem, also the most likely culprit, is the craptastic barrage of incomplete and incorrect information that you can get from a surface research of the internet (even a kind of deep research of the internet). Hell, even from books (I’m looking at you Keirsey *glare*).
The second problem, less likely but still very possible, is that you are a very unhealthy/undeveloped version of one or the other. In that, for whatever reason, you’re displaying a lot of shadow function in your behaviors for your type.
Now, let’s break this down!
INTJ ( Ni Te Fi Se)
INTP (Ti Ne Si Fe)
Let’s start with iNtuitive type differences.
INTJs utilize Introverted iNtuition, Ni. This is what makes the INTJ have it’s J-ness. Likewise, Ne gives the INTP it’s P-ness (herp a derp, I said P-ness).
iNtuition is idea processing. Ne is an idea generator, it’s a creative exploratory type of idea processing. While both types of iNtuition can lead to tangentials, Ne is far more prone to the quick generation of multiple possibilities and often times seemingly random possibilities. Ni is likely to come up with one or two very likely possibilities.
So as an example, if both types are given two seemingly disparate words and told to make as many sentences with them as they can - like “underwear computer” (this is something that Dario Nardi, a Neuroscientist studying MBTI Best Fit Types/ Cognitive Processes and Brain Function did), someone who has Ne is going to generate a lot more sentences than someone with Ni (or Se or Si).
To a certain degree, I think Ne doesn’t necessarily require connections it makes to be likely or entirely consistent with reality. Ni wants results.
In addition a lot of what Ni does is subconscious, so a person with really well developed Ni is sometimes going to come up with “the right” answers really quickly, without necessarily knowing how it got those answers. The person is also going to more stolidly believe that their answer is indeed “right.” Whereas, someone with Ne, is generally going to be able to give you a little trail of how all those things connected to eventually give a “probable” answer. Ne users rarely deal in absolutes.
Now let’s take a look at Thinking Processes.
INTJs have Te, while INTPs have Ti. Now this is pretty interesting in that, you could describe both Ni and Te as system building processes. Ni finds solid workable results, Te thinks those through out loud to find an efficient system of making that result a reality. Te builds a schematic, a framework. Te engineers. Ti reverse engineers. Ti breaks things down into their most fundamental elements, examines, references, archives.
Ti digs deep and knows a few things thoroughly, because most of the time it’s not aiming to do anything with that knowledge. While Te considers a lot of things and just enough, because it wants to actually get to do something with that knowledge.
Behavioral hallmarks of Ti - someone who pauses a lot while they speak, often looking up or to the side recalling information before speaking again, rinse repeat. Someone with Te is going to just think out loud, they’re not going to make a lot of pauses, they might talk on top of someone they’re having a conversation with.
Let’s talk about Feels
This is where I start thinking that, damn, it must be bad ass feeling to be an INTJ (or ENTJ). Because INTJs have Introverted Feeling. Introverted Feelers have a strong sense of identity. They know what’s good and bad, in their opinions - and indeed they’re usually quite opinionated. They’re aware of how they’re feeling, not always what’s going on with other people. They won’t be very expressive, because their emotional stuff is going on internally just as it’s focused internally. Especially with Fi being tertiary, so lesser developed then their N and T functions, these guys are known for being stoic. Placid facial expressions, limited body language, just not expressive. And pretty often are oblivious in a “honey badger don’t a give a shit” kind of way.
INTPs on the other hand have Fe. And starting from my last point about INTJs there, you’ll see a lot more INTPs going “how do I socially awkward? what are these feels, what am I supposed to do?” … because Fe gives a shit. These guys are going to get very animated when they talk about stuff they like. They’re gonna get noticeably grumpy when there’s stuff they don’t like. They’re going to struggle with fulfilling social obligations, but try to push through them anyway, and be simultaneously annoyed and guilty. Their not sticking to a particular prescription on behaviors and moral issues a la Fe will be enhanced by their Ne. They’re more likely to rely on Ti for this, and it’ll be “best guesses.” Unhealthy and/or severely frustrated/stressed INTPs (which I imagine happens a lot in our E and SJ preferred English speaking cultures), might exhibit a tendency to lash out and appear opinionated, displaying shadow functions.
Another anecdote I have - There are a surprising number of religious (or staunch atheists) within INTJs. I’ve actually known a large number of Catholic or other exacting religious affiliates who are INTJs. (Sometimes this Fi tendency may exhibit itself within a Political affiliation instead). INTPs tend to gravitate toward more open ended spirituality like agnostic atheism, the kind of Buddhism practiced in the Americas, or more inclusive denominations or non-denominational identities among Judeo Christian groups.
And finally, let’s talk about the Sensing preferences.
INTJs use Se, while INTPs use Si. Now, I’ll just get straight to the behavioral aspects. INTPs tend to be kind of sentimental about their stuff, the things they’re used to and have liked. INTJs, less so. Many INTJs I’ve met express their Se through physical activity. Be it getting into a solo sport, going running with their pets, getting into an activity like pottery making or sculpting. They also tend to be fastidious, which is partly also a J feature, but more pronounced by their inferior Se environmental awareness.
Going over some other surface things.
Some good exercises to distinguish between J and P.
- Communication Style (are you directing or informative), as an example taken from Dolphincove. There’s a wine glass on the floor about to be knocked over by someone’s little tyke.
P: “There’s a wineglass in the path of the oncoming child!”
J: “Move your glass!!!”
A second example, you want someone to make some food.
P: “I’m hungry”
J: “Would you make me a sandwich?”
Another exercise is physical expression (might not be valid depending on things like if you’ve been trained physically for dance or theatre or even sport)
Chop Chop - make a chopping motion, starting close to your body then moving outward three times.
Scooping - make smooth fluid scooping motions rotating between arms, like you’re giving someone half hugs, over and over.
What’s easier? Is your chop chop staccato and feels comfortable? Or does the fluid rolling style of motion feel more comfortable? Chop Chop is indicative of J, Rolling of P.
Again you can take a look at Dolphincove for some video and more information about J vs P distinction in physical behavioral display.
I hope this has helped someone, if not the original poster.”
Helpful, but…what if it’s still not clear-cut?
I mean, let’s look at these function descriptions.
Ni vs Ne: Okay, I probably am more of an Ne person…but that doesn’t mean that I don’t use my Ni. I enjoy coming up with lots of possibilities but when something needs to be done my pragmatic side will automatically focus on whatever’s simple and feasible.
Ti vs Te: I’d say that most people use both—break down some ideas and use the components to build new ones. (That’s what I do, at any rate.) I suppose I’m more strictly Ti because I do like to know things that don’t necessarily have practical uses, but when it comes to the behavioral hallmarks I come across as Te because when I have something to say I just blurt it out. I might think a lot before saying something, but I don’t pause while speaking.
Fi vs Fe: Well of course I have the Fe part, but I have lots of Fi too. I have a strong sense of identity and I’m very opinionated (I just believe that there’s always a gray area). I’m not sure how aware I am of my own feelings (because feels are damn complicated) but I’m definitely much more aware of them than I am of other people.
Si vs Se: I don’t even know. I mean, sometimes I get sentimental about stuff but usually things just sort of…collect. And then when it gets annoying I go into cleaning mode and throw it all out. (Definitely not fastidious, though…unless I’m in cleaning mode.)
And even the behavioral stuff isn’t clear cut, because I’d say “Move your glass!” and “I’m hungry” just because those are simpler. (The motions thing made no sense whatsoever.)
Honestly I think that there should be more types to match all the different possible combinations of cognitive functions. Why do they alternate between introverted and extraverted? (I actually did try the cognitive functions test, just to see if it helped me figure stuff out. I got Ti-N?-Fi-S?, so…not really.)
I guess what I’m saying is there’s always a space between. People are going to be more like INTP or INTJ but they could have some crossover tendencies.
I hear INTs complain most about others incompetence making them into leaders. IxxJs wait until they’re driven mad by the lack of decisions.
SO TRUE. I’d much rather work alone than in a group, but when I’m forced into group work and nobody else seems to know or care about what we’re doing (aka lab) I find myself explaining things and delegating tasks (“You two do part IA, I’ll do part IB, then we can meet back up for part II”).
INTP: I messed up at work today and everyone laughed at me!
INTP: *lol* no seriously
INTJ: *chuckles* you think I was kidding? *but really is*
INTJ: beside, why do you care if they laughed at you anyways?
INTP: true *shrugs*
see, this is why i feel like i have a bit of both…because if i ever get upset about something, especially other people’s opinions, then part of me is just like “what the fuck ever you shouldn’t care”…and then i get upset at myself for caring about what other people think.
Sweet Jesus! Okay, you win! I will talk about INTJs and INTPs!
But, once again, I have to start by stressing that any type can have a successful and fulfilling relationship with any other type. This is just a broad generalization of how these two types tend to differ and interact. With that in mind, let’s get on with the post.
So I think I’ve got the whole INTP/INTJ thing straight now…even though they only differ by one letter, they actually are very different in function.
My dilemma now is this: I’m pretty sure I’m an INTP…but I have tested as an INTJ on occasion, and I feel like I do have some INTJ tendencies. So now what?
Answer: take a cognitive function test. So I tried the one on similarminds.com, and got this—
INTP is Ti-Ne-Si-Fe; INTJ is Ni-Te-Fi-Se.
I am, apparently, Ti-N?-Fi-S?
…I think I’ll just keep calling myself an INTP-with-J-tendencies. (On the other hand, this fits very well with the whole INTP subtypes thing that someone came up with—my particular subtype, ITNP, apparently is prone to J/P spirals.)