The INTP personality type is someone with Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, and Perceiving personality traits. These people are logical and analytical. They enjoy making sense of the world through conceptual models.
As well as sense-making, they may also use models to uncover novel approaches to problems. INTP personality types are also adaptable. They respond positively to change and take advantage of new opportunities.
INTP personality types are one of the least common of the 16 Myers-Briggs (MBTI) types. Only 4.6% of the global population are INTPs.
INTPs are independent thinkers who don’t like to be contained by conventional wisdom. In the workplace, INTPs are happy to challenge the status quo. They do this in a thoughtful and insightful way rather than a bullish one.
INTP personality types can get caught up in their own thoughts as they grapple with complex business problems. Others may perceive them as detached or aloof. Once their thinking is complete, their solutions are often surprisingly innovative.
While INTPs are logical and analytical, they don’t shy away from abstract ideas or intangible concepts. They often enjoy trying to ‘solve’ these problems. But they aren’t interested in ethereal or fanciful notions.
Though they are extremely logical, they can be highly theoretical. Sometimes, their innovative solutions are not practical from an implementation perspective.
Where solutions can be implemented, INTPs prefer that others work through the detail of translating their conceptual thinking into tangible outcomes.
They don’t like to be bound by orthodox or rigid thinking. INTPs are more likely to excel in environments where they have to solve unique problems, optimize underperforming processes, or provide innovative solutions to business challenges.
Like all of us, INTP personality types have intrinsic traits that influence their motivation for working in a certain way and within specific work environments.
At F4S, we’ve identified 48 traits that influence motivation and energy levels. Understanding these traits can help you choose job roles, cultures, and workplace environments that will enable you to thrive.
While these preferences are intrinsic, we don’t always have the luxury of finding a workplace or way of working that exactly matches our needs. Coaching can help you build skills and resilience when you need to perform in a work environment less suited to your preferences.
INTPs often prefer to work independently and may find working within a team dynamic more challenging. INTPs value logic and are likely to try to influence others via data, analysis, and facts.
They can lack patience with those who can’t quickly follow their train of thought. They may seem dismissive of others’ ideas. It’s tricky for INTPs to understand that human nature can’t be packaged into a neat conceptual model. They can struggle with the irrationality of human emotions and feelings.
INTPs love to innovate and co-create with others who can match their mental flexibility. They are happy to swap ideas and engage in rigorous debate about concepts and theories.
INTPs love the stimulus of complicated, theoretical discourse. But, they can become exhausted by a lot of meetings, socializing, and noise or interruptions.
People with the Introverted trait can find a lot of interaction tiring. To get the most from INTP colleagues, make sure they get time and space to be alone during the working day.
INTPs can also be skeptical, so if you need them to make a change, you’ll need to convince them of the benefit of doing so. Providing supporting information, facts, and analysis is the best way to influence an INTP.
INTPs admire their intellectual capacity. They can be flattered by the notion that only they possess the expertise required to solve complex challenges. If you’re managing an INTP person, give them the space and time to solutionize. They may surprise you with their innovative ideas.
Offering them ‘freedom within a framework’ can be wise. Sometimes, INTPs get so caught up in their own research and exploration that they lose track of how they are meant to be contributing. So, be clear about the expected outcome and let them manage the approach to getting there.
INTP personality types are happiest in careers where they can use their strong analytical skills to solve complex problems. Like all the personality types, INTPs can be found in a range of careers and industries.
However, they are likely to be most satisfied in jobs where they can work independently to analyze data, research problems, and issues, and create innovative solutions to difficult challenges.
Their unconventional thinking can lead to breakthroughs in business, science, and the creative arts. INTPs aren’t afraid to break the mold. They are happy to challenge norms, assumptions, or ‘the way we’ve always done it.’
Top careers for INTPs include:
Like some other MBTI personality types, INTPs can be sub-categorized into assertive or turbulent identities. These identities affect all of the four elements that make up an INTP personality type.
Within the constraints of their overall type, assertive identities tend to be more self-assured, calm, and confident in their decisions. Turbulent identities tend to have more self-doubt. They counteract this by pushing hard to perform well and achieve success.
These two sub-categories bring a little more nuance to elements of the INTP personality type. For example, all INTPs are adaptable and open to change. However, INTP-A types are more likely to be a little more discerning. Once they’ve made a change, they are less likely to be distracted by the myriad of other choices.
On the other hand, INTP-T types are continually looking for novel and exciting ways to improve things. This can make them easily distracted. INTP-A types are also more likely to be comfortable with changes suggested by others. INTP-T types prefer to lead change fuelled by their own ideas.
When it comes to working with people, INTP-A types are rarely affected by the feelings or opinions of others. They are quite happy to pursue their own agenda. This can lead to others perceiving them as arrogant or standoffish.
INTP-A types don’t mean to be condescending toward others. They just feel so confident in their own ideas and abilities that it leaves little room for other contributions. This can be problematic in a collaborative environment or within a team.
INTP-T types, however, are more influenced by the thoughts and opinions of others. This can make them more accessible to co-workers but can mean that sometimes a great idea is lost if they lack confidence in sharing it.
Given these nuances, let’s look at how some of the careers we mentioned above might suit the two identity sub-categories:
INTPs thrive on working independently and challenging the norms. This makes it more difficult to assess a typical career path for an INTP than for other personality types.
Within the creative arts and sciences, the highest-paid roles are likely to involve recognition or specific academic breakthroughs. For example, INTP actor Christopher Walken is worth an estimated US$50 million, whereas the typical pay for an actor in the US is US$59,086.
The analytical nature of INTPs tends to be valued in typically more lucrative industries, such as technology, law, and finance. The average base salary for a computer scientist in the US is US$109,027, and for a financial analyst, it’s US$71,022.
Other highly-paid options include:
At F4S, we don’t think about strengths and weaknesses the same way as the MBTI test does. We believe that strengths and weaknesses are often situation-dependent. We prefer to look at what motivates you versus what drains your energy. These elements might overlap with what Myers-Briggs describes as strengths and weaknesses, but not always.
For example, perhaps you have a real strength in building professional relationships. Or you are skilled at mediating any conflict that arises within your team. However, doing so drains your energy and leaves you exhausted at the end of every day. You're not able to use your strengths to make a difference. Over time, working within a team construct might make you miserable and be unsustainable as a career in which you’re going to thrive.
Equally, perhaps there is something you love doing, that motivates and energizes you, but you’re not very skilled at it yet. It might not be considered an innate ‘strength’, but you’re way more likely to enjoy your career choice if you can find a job with some elements of that activity.
That said, here are some INTP ‘strengths and weaknesses’ as listed by MBTI:
Our Myers-Briggs personality type offers insight into our likely preferences for how we work and what type of careers we might enjoy. However, it’s important to note that any personality type can be successful across all industries and job roles.
Our preferences may mean certain types of work and work environments are more challenging for us. However, if you’re highly motivated to pursue a particular career, there’s no reason you can’t excel.
Motivation is personal and complicated. There can be both internal and external drivers for motivation. Increased self-awareness helps you identify the internal traits that drive your preferences for how, where, and when you work.
At F4S, we recommend starting with our free self-assessment to unlock insights about where your unique talents lie. This helps you understand how you can best harness your preferences to create a satisfying and successful career.
However, sometimes there are also strong external motivating factors. For example, a lucrative pay packet, comprehensive benefits, or the ability to work from a specific location.
External motivations may result in you working in an environment that jars with your intrinsic motivation. Personal development programs and coaching can help you rachet up the skills needed to excel when working in ways less suited to your preferences.
So, if there is something you’re excited about trying, you should definitely explore it even if your MBTI result suggests you might be better suited to something else.
INTPs are excited by things that are interesting, complex, and uncommon. They like to stretch their intellectual capacity. They enjoy working independently to tackle thorny problems. They are likely to feel uninspired by routine work or by working within a well-understood process.
Given this, there are some roles that typically have work environments or approaches that may be more challenging for INTPs. Remember, this list is just a guideline of job types you might not enjoy or find draining, it does not mean you won’t excel at them.
The following careers may be less suited to INTP personality types:
INTP personality types can be good leaders. Their analytical nature means they are confident in making and communicating decisions to their teams. They are also objective, which makes them fair. They are not interested in office politics or playing games. They value straight-talking and data-driven ways of working.
INTPs will do best leading teams that appreciate their logical approach and are happy to work independently. INTPs may find it more challenging to lead teams who need more support and development or who can’t easily and quickly grasp their ideas.
In short, INTPs may find they are motivated to lead, or otherwise, depending on their team culture and work environment.
As we mentioned above, here at F4S, we’re fascinated by what motivates people. When considering leadership, it’s important to reflect on these three particular traits:
If you enjoy power and control, you will likely thrive in a leadership role. If belonging is important to you, then a leadership position may feel isolating.
INTP personality types tend to be less concerned with belonging. Having the independence and freedom to pursue their interests is much more critical. If they can find a team of innovative and flexible thinkers who are both curious about the world and logical in their approach to making sense of it, they may enjoy the status of being in a leadership position.
To increase your comfort and confidence in a leadership role, try our eight-week leadership development program ‘Personal Power’. This program is personalized to work with your innate preferences helping you to lead with greater impact irrespective of personality type.
We’ve already touched on the fact that INTPs like to work independently. This is important to enable them to find the focus needed to dig deep into the analysis of a complex problem. They are happy to tackle projects that don’t require the input of others. They are also comfortable taking responsibility for what they are working on.
A challenge of this desire to work alone is that sometimes INTPs can be blind to what the rest of the team is working on. This means they can miss out on vital information that would help them unlock some of the business problems they may be grappling with.
If you’re an INTP, improving your collaboration skills through coaching or other personal development opportunities can mean greater visibility and context for your work.
From Albert Einstein, one of the world’s most well-known scientists, to the American comedian, actor, producer, and writer Tina Fey, INTPs are recognized for their deep thinking, innovation, and logical approach to problem-solving.
Here are some INTP famous people:
Editor’s note: Do you recognize yourself in any of these famous people? Are you secretly nodding along, going, “I always thought I was just like Tiger Woods?” Whether you are or you aren’t, don’t worry! This list is meant to be fairly light-hearted. It is based on traits and behaviors observed in our favorite celebs rather than in-depth research. After all, it’s unlikely anyone actually put Albert Einstein through an MBTI test!