INTP Credo: "I don't believe it"

INTP Keywords: Detached, Sceptical, Flexible, Deep, Casual, Critical, Rational, Impulsive, Evaluator, Conceptual, Strong-willed, Autonomous, Bursts of energy

The INTP is very independent, and values independence in others. They can play the team game, but then prefer to go and get on with it, working in sporadic bursts of energy. Although quite deep and private, the INTP can at times seem totally outspoken because of their directness of communication and economy of words. The INTP is blunt, to the point and does not like to be 'fobbed off.'

Other people may assume that the INTP says very little. But this is only when there is nothing to say. The general chit-chat of social life is not for them and they prefer to speak only about areas which interest them.

There is an expedient side to the INTP character, and this means they will focus on the things which interest them most, and can actually become totally absorbed in such activities. The routine, the detail bores them rigid and they will put off completing tasks which they see as unnecessary, preferring to 'blitz' them nearer the deadline. For the INTP follow-through does not come naturally, and completion will be via a huge burst of energy at the last minute.

The INTP is intellectually curious and enjoys the more complex and theoretical problems, often for their own sake. Practical application has little interest for the INTP, who prefers identifying the solutions and then leave someone else to plan the work.

In a group situation, the INTP will be the one who points out the downside, the one who protects the team from self-deception, and the one who can see the follies of ideas quickly and focus the group on a new direction. The INTP is a great critic, and will be blunt in the assessment.

The INTP may have trouble with emotional individuals as this 'does not compute,' they being so logical, analytical and objective with no time for anything they see as 'fanciful.' An INTP would not be motivated by someone saying, 'please,' or by emotional pleading. Rational argument, logic and intellectual theory are the routes to the ‘heart’ of the INTP who will have no problem taking the hard decision, as long as it is the 'right' decision.

The INTP is the cynical, (they prefer to call themselves ‘realists!’), character who is intensely logical, analytical and detached. Independent and sceptical they believe solely in the power of logic, finding it difficult to express or even to ‘do’ emotions. Rarely intimidated the INTP will work through even the most apparently momentous problems with the same logical demeanour and furrowed brow that they would display when filling in their expenses.

A problem is simply a problem and it will have a logical answer. Try and flatter an INTP and they will become very suspicious; ‘I noticed what a good job you’ve done,’ will elicit the response, ‘I didn’t know I was being watched!’

Give an INTP a compliment and they’ll think, ‘what’s s/he after!’ They are very good at evaluating, seeing the flaws in any argument or the downside in any situation and their cup is always half empty, never half full.

The ultimate pragmatists INTPs are not marathon runners but sprinters and so will work in short bursts of energy and during such periods the emphasis will be on getting it done. They get extremely bored by routine preferring to focus on the bigger issues, the conceptual, the problematic and the logical and they will work long and hard at such issues. However their boredom threshold is low and once the activity becomes mundane, maintenance or about follow-through, the INTP will once again disappear into their own world of ideas, possibilities and the complex.

This makes the INTP very difficult to know as they will tend to be very sceptical and wary about close emotional involvement as emotions tends to be slightly outside their own life-space and if someone gets too close too soon they may find that the INTP ‘closes down’ and focuses only on rational issues. This means that the INTP may not pick up on the verbal and non-verbal cues and thus tread on toes or fail to notice another person’s feelings and can therefore be seen as slightly cold or harsh.

The INTP does not like facts or figures preferring the broad brush stroke approach and too much detail can blow a fuse. The simple, the obvious the concrete bores them rigid and anything they see as trivial or unimportant will be pushed away which can make them appear slightly arrogant by those who like the detail. The key is that INTPs are private individuals who rarely let even close friends or family into the inner sanctum which gives them a detached demeanour which some can construe as superior. This trait also means that they are not natural communicators as they inhabit quite a complex world of ideas and possibilities that providing simple rationale or ‘quick and dirty’ explanation is not easy for the INTP.

In input terms the INTP will grasp, synthesise and process information very quickly but may get quickly bored once the activity becomes workaday as their energies are driven by the complex and, once the issue, problem or project is sorted/solved they will withdraw looking for the next ‘big’ issues preferring others to carry the issue forward to workable solutions.

INTPs are thoughtful, analytical characters. They may disappear so deeply into thought as to seem detached, and often actually are oblivious to the world around them, and the people in it. Precise, formal and proper, INTPs will often correct others should any shade of meaning be even slightly ambiguous. They may not want to do ‘it,’ but if it must be done then it should, MUST, be done properly, according to agreed protocol.

INTPs are relatively easy-going, quiet and amenable to most anything until something violates their principles. Then they become outspoken, inflexible and at times downright unreasonable, switching from reserved to actually enjoying the heated debate and drama. The INTP can move from compliance to throwing dolly from the pram very quickly, often shocking those who didn’t realise a principle had been trodden on. Once this is over, the INTP will look to move back to a less confrontational and visible position as they become embarrassed if too long in the spotlight. Typical pessimists a major concern for the INTP is the scary sense of potential failure and so they are excellent at seeing the potential pitfalls in any plan.

The open-endedness (from Perceiving) coupled with the need for competence (NT) is expressed in a sense that his conclusion may well be met by an equally plausible alternative solution, and that he may very well have overlooked some critical piece of information. An INTP arguing a point may very well be trying to convince himself as much as the opposition. In this way INTPs are markedly different from INTJs, who are much more confident in their competence and willing to act on their convictions.

INTPs love logic and one of the indicators that a person is an INTP is his obsession with logical correctness. Errors are not often due to poor logic and any mistakes are usually as a result of overlooking details.

Knowing ‘the Truth’ is enough for the INTP - the knowledge that this truth can (or could) be demonstrated is sufficient to satisfy the knower. ‘Cogito, ergo sum’ expresses this prime directive quite succinctly. In times of low energy, or moments of single-minded concentration, the INTP is aloof and detached in a way that might even offend more relational or extraverted individuals.

Feeling tends to be all or nothing for the INTP. When it is present, the INTP's concern for others can be intense, although often a little naive. In a crisis, the Feeling judgement will usually be over-ruled by Thinking, in an attempt to avoid potentially poor and self-damaging decision making. In the absence of a clear principle, however, INTPs can defer judgement and allow decisions about relationships to be left hanging. Strong emotional impulses, which ‘do not compute, can cause problems for the INTP.

In a team situation the INTP will use their love and store of knowledge to bring a clear explanation of how and why things happen, using empirical data and evidence, hypotheses and rational thinking. The INTP may not be the most vocal, but when the discussions enter the arena which holds their interest, they will become quite outspoken and very clear thinking.

Famous INTPs

  • Charles Darwin
  • J K Rowling
  • Socrates
  • Meryl Streep