The INTP Personality: Key Traits, Strengths, Weaknesses + More
If you've never taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), it's a self-reported personality questionnaire that groups people (or "types") into one of 16 personalities. And there's one type that stands out as the intellectual of the bunch: the INTP personality type.
The INTP personality type.
INTP stands for introverted, intuitive, thinking, and perceiving. This MBTI type makes up roughly 3% of the population—and more specifically, just 5% of men and 2% of women.
According to licensed therapist De-Andrea Blaylock-Solar, MSW, LCSW-S, CST, INTPs are quiet, intellectual types that like to spend time alone. "They're constantly thinking and trying to figure things out, and they may value intellect over emotion—they're really logical," she explains.
Take Albert Einstein, for example. He was an INTP, and his ability to intuitively, creatively, and intelligently make breakthroughs in theoretical physics is what gave him his legacy. "INTPs are really good at thinking outside of the box and thinking about the big picture of the situation," Blaylock-Solar explains.
5 key traits:
If there's one thing to understand about this personality type, it's that they're constantly approaching things from a logical and often solution-oriented perspective. As Blaylock-Solar explains, they love to problem-solve, assess the big picture, and spend time in their own heads.
INTP heads tend to be filled with abstract thoughts, relating to their logical but intuitive nature. The "N" in INTP stands for intuition. As psychologist Kristina Hallett, Ph.D., ABPP, previously wrote for mbg, "Intuition is information gathering from a broader, more 'big picture' perspective that may not be as easily seen from the specific in-the-moment view." And then we have the Thinking aspect (the "T" in INTP), which she notes offers more logical, fact-based decision-making. Put those two traits together, and you have a very interesting mind.
According to Blaylock-Solar, INTPs are known for being independent, having no issue spending time alone, and even coming off a bit aloof sometimes. "They're very independent, though they are pretty loyal and affectionate with people that they're close to," she explains, adding, "On the flip side of that, they can have some trouble sharing their feelings."
"Creative" in this sense doesn't necessarily mean this personality type would make something like a painting, but rather, their creativity lies in their thought process, going back to their aforementioned abstract way of thinking. And again, this type is always inspired by the big picture and solving problems, and their creativity lends itself to this proclivity.
Lastly, don't expect this type to be super chatty and open upon first meeting them. They will eventually open up if you become close, but INTPs can certainly be shy. As Blaylock-Solar notes, they can have a lot of self-doubt and question their ability to do things. She also adds their aloofness can come off as insensitive, so INTPs do get a reputation for seeming detached.
- Abstract thinking
- Problem solving
- Loyal to their circle
- Insensitivity or coldness
- Aloofness (or seeming aloof)
- Issues with communicating feelings
- Can be dogmatic
INTPs in relationships.
The INTP type may be slow to open up, but once they do, they can be incredibly loyal and affectionate, Blaylock-Solar explains. However, they do have a strong independent streak, which can contribute to some difficulty with building trust and being vulnerable, she adds.
And because this personality type loves to ponder, think abstractly, and problem-solve, they appreciate a partner who can keep up with their mind, and intellectually stimulate them. For that reason, when it comes to MBTI compatibility, they would likely do well with another INTP, as well as an INFP, ENTP, or an INTJ.
On the other hand, personality expert and author of Neuroscience of Personality Dario Nardi, Ph.D., previously told mbg that type combos where the first three letters are different and the last letter the same are the least compatible. So in this case, an INTP would be least compatible with an ESFP. Other Sensing-Feeling types (ESFP, ESFJ, ISFJ) also may not mesh with the INTP's personality.
If you're dating an INTP, Blaylock-Solar says it's a good idea to be straightforward with your communication, and create a safe and open environment for them, as this personality type can have a hard time expressing their emotions.
INTPs in the workplace.
As you might imagine, INTPs like a career where they can put their mind to work, solving problems and turning concepts on their heads. They also like careers where they can be creative in some capacity, Blaylock-Solar says, such as careers in tech, the sciences, business, and more. Their creativity can also lend itself to careers like architecture or environmental engineering, she adds.
And because this type has a lot of independence, it comes out in their work. Blaylock-Solar says they like a job where they can be autonomous and work alone, so large teams or heavily client-facing roles (like sales or the service industry) likely won't be a good fit for them.
Common INTP careers:
- Computers and tech
How to thrive as an INTP.
One of the INTP type's main weaknesses is feeling their feelings rather than rationalizing them and further expressing those emotions. As psychotherapist Annette Nuñez, Ph.D., LMFT, tells mbg, for this reason, it's important INTPs practice being present and identifying what's really going on with them emotionally.
"Because these people are so highly intuitive but struggle to articulate that intuitiveness, what we want is the cognitive development and the social/emotional development to match—because then that gives you confidence in a way to start interacting with people," she explains.
Nuñez also adds that these folks need to be wary of situations that drain their energy because they can be very affected by their environments. And the first step to knowing when an environment is rubbing you wrong, she adds, is to practice being present and identifying your feelings.
In addition to that, Blaylock-Solar says INTPs would benefit from setting up different systems to keep them on track, whether that's through calendars or different task lists.
Whether you're an INTP or someone in your life is, this personality type is sure to keep your mind abuzz with abstract ideas and insights. And while they may come off shy at first and struggle to express their feelings, once they learn to trust you and open up, you've got a friend for the long haul.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.