My name is Christian Rivera and I'm a freelance Creative Director who helps coaches and creators to develop promo and premium content their clients love. I work with various personality and developmental systems...and since I'm an INTP, I focus on INTPs and helping them transcend their ego, connect with themselves, and find their unique sense of joy to create a more fulfilling career and life.
In this article, I want to help you understand whether or not you're actually an INTP. If you’ve been uncertain, hopefully you’ll gain some more clarity by the end of this post.
Mistypes & Modes
INTPs are commonly mistyped. They most often will get confused with INTJs, INFJs, or other Introverted Thinking (Ti) types such as an ENTP.
For example, a lot of people think I am an ENTP because I have a little bit of charisma on camera and am pretty comfortable with my Extraverted Intuition (Ne). I can come across as joyful and fun. I’ve got training in media, extraversion through sales events, and improv experience. So, I’ve worked on that extraverted side of me quite a bit (Yes, a skill that can be developed).
One of the trickiest things about trying to figure out if you're an INTP is that we get kind of overly attached to the introvert side. There are some INTPs like me that identify with their Extraverted Intuition and perhaps do'nt relate to other INTPs who may be a bit more reserved.
So when trying to figure out if you're an INTP or not, it starts with looking for the “low hanging fruit” of who you are, and trying to figure out two main things:
1. How you behave when you're Extraverted, and
2. How you behave when you're Introverted.
So when I'm out in public, I'm most likely going to be bringing my Extraverted Intuition (Ne) to the table because that is how I tend to experience life or prefer to experience life when I'm out in the world. If I try to bring my introverted attitude—where I'm quiet and meek, and I don't want to talk to anyone, and I'm angry with everyone—I'm more likely to be upset and not enjoy being in an extraverted space.
So I've experienced over time that it's just a lot easier, better, and more enjoyable for me to be in an extraverted mode when I'm in an extraverted space and lean in. This may make me appear like an extravert for those who don't otherwise know me.
So that's one of the ways that you can identify whether or not you're an INTP is to look for that Extraverted Intuition and notice how easy or difficult it is to tap into that extraverted side.
Introvert or Extravert?
Let's start with learning the dichotomies. A lot of people try to go too heavily into the cognitive functions too fast and kind of make it convoluted. The fact that you're making it convoluted could be an indicator that you are an INTP. INTPs that do a lot of profiling tend to overcomplicate the process by ignoring the obvious data in favor of something more complicated, for example. I'm doing that a bit here already as I explain but don't worry, there will be more resources available to learn the specific terms at the end of this article.
So, if you're trying to figure yourself or someone else out—you want to look for whether someone is an Extravert or an Introvert, an Intuitive or a Sensor, a Thinker or a Feeler, and a Judger or Perceiver. Don't worry about the cognitive functions; start simply with the 4 letters. I do this when I conduct profiling sessions and it works well for diagnosing yourself.
So Introvert or Extravert?
Well, first ask yourself a few questions...how do you get your energy? And what is your sense of reality? Would you prefer to spend all day outside with people and/or experiencing things? Is it really hard to spend time by yourself? Do you prefer to spend a lot of time by yourself? Start there.
If you're an Introvert, you're going to feel that natural pull to spend time by yourself more often. And I think that's what trips people up: they think introvert and extravert means you have to be just one or just the other. Right? And that's not even remotely the case.
We are all introverted, and we're all extraverted. But we have an unconscious preference.
So for me, after about a day or two of being by myself, I will feel the need to get out into the world and do something different. I need to experience something. That’s my Extraverted function (which is 2nd for me as an INTP) coming out to play. But I do that for maybe an hour, maybe two hours, and then I'm charged; I'm good. I can go home and spend time by myself for a while processing what I've experienced and connecting that experience to other experiences I've had. The opposite would be true for, say, an ENTP who is an Extravert first. They would prefer to spend a lot more of their time with someone or out in the world trying to experience and explore new things, often being very distracted, and excited to collect as much as possible.
So think about those two obvious things. Again, look for the low hanging fruit of introvert or extrovert.
Intuitive or Sensor?
Now this dichotomy may be more difficult to figure out.
Intuition is more about pattern recognition and how easily you can bounce around in conversation between contexts, which tend to be a bit more playful and speculative with ideas. Speculation is probably the marker of the difference between Intuition and Sensing.
So, if you think you might be an ISTP instead of an INTP, think about whether or not you are comfortable with speculation in the moment. If you are outside and experiencing things and someone's trying to speculate whether or not something's about to happen, are you more likely to track with and enjoy that conversation or be kind of confused as to why they’re speculating on something that hasn’t happened yet?
If it's hard to follow me talking in my YouTube videos because I tend to bounce around a lot, you may be a Sensor. If you can follow my talking without a problem, then you're probably an Intuitive. I tend to connect with Intuitives a little bit easier because I don't have to think about speaking in a linear progression. A lot of Sensors tend to prefer speaking in a linear progression in a way that's just kind of easier to understand. It's simplistic in its beauty and sensors tend to prefer the moment or the past as an interesting topic or set of topics. And that's not to say that Intuitives are better than Sensors; it's just a different mode of experiencing and learning.
So those are just two of the easy ways to differentiate between Intuitive and Sensor but a start for seeing if you're an INTP or perhaps an ISTP, for example.
Thinker or Feeler?
The next is Thinker and Feeler. Now Thinker vs Feeler is, I think, one of the easiest ways to differentiate the two.
If you're thinking that you're an INTP, you're likely a thinker. I don't think feelers as often confuse themselves as Thinkers. Except perhaps an INFP male might think he’s an INTP because of the stereotype of masculinity being associated with Thinkers. So that could be a little bit confusing. An INFJ will occasionally also mistype as a Thinker. But quite likely, if you're already looking into if you’re an INTP, you're most likely going to be a Thinker who enjoys that self-discovery process.
One of the easiest ways to tell the difference between whether or not you're a Thinker or a Feeler is how you emote when you get excited about something. Feelers will often use more poetic language that fills out with more adjectives and favor connection over information. Their voices are more fluid, and there's usually more passion in it, whether that's excitement or any other expression.
If you’ve watched any of my YouTube videos, you’ll hear that my voice is super flat. Even if I’m excited, I’ll just get flatter and louder. So that’s one way to tell the difference if you pay attention to their word choice and the cadence of their voice when they’re excited.
Many INTPs who go through a growth phase or start to explore their emotional experience start to wonder if they're an INFP because of the assumption that INTPs aren't going to feel much emotion but this stereotype simply isn't true. INTPs have plenty of cares, emotions, loves, desires, and ambitions related to connecting and being loved...we just tend to do it through the means of bonding over information, play, or with a smaller group of people.
Judger or Perceiver?
Judger vs Perceiver is another dichotomy that can be a little bit challenging. Partially because there are some stereotypes around these two ways of showing up. A lot of Perceivers think of Judgers as jerks who are rigid and pushy, and a lot of Judgers may think of Perceivers as super lazy and useless.
But the truth is that Judger and Perceiver is the difference between how you organize your mind and how you show up to the world. It also differentiates if your preferred extraverted function is a judging or perceiving function.
To be clear, "Judging" does not mean judgmental, but rather, again, it’s how you show up to the world. Judging is simply an old-world word for decision-making.
So if you’re a Judger, you extravert your judging by showing up with a plan to execute upon. Even if you're an introvert, such as INFJ or ISTJ, you will extravert your judging function (your Feeler or Thinker function) with the proper preparation. So that means you're going to be relying on external systems and the external world to bring your visions to life. Basically, Judgers will be more organized on the outside so that they can be more freeform and brainstorm on the inside.
And the opposite is true for Perceivers. Perceivers are extraverting their Intuitive or Sensing function—their learning style. So they're going to be intuiting or sensing in an extraverted way out in the world. Perceivers are more organized in their head so that they can be more freeform in the outside world. It's their way of being ready for anything, whereas Judger-typess *tend* to be more prepared for what they've planned for.
Now that could be a red herring. If you are very messy in your internal space, like at home where nobody's going to see it, then that doesn't necessarily mean you're a Perceiver. But if people are going to be coming over, and you're kind of in a panic about whether or not everything is clean, you're more likely to go towards the Judger side of your personality. But, again, that is also kind of a red herring because I'm a perceiver and I care about my house being clean but by my perciever standards.
If people are going to come over, I'm going to care about making sure it's kind of cleaned up. But it's not going to bother me or stress me out if there are some dishes in the sink when someone comes over who is used to seeing it. A Judger might be bothered by that (especially if they’re an Extraverted Feeler) because they're going to be concerned with the opinion of the person that comes into their home and judges their external space or perhaps they have a plan in place and cleanliness may be a part of the plan to not get distracted or present the image they want to present.
So the easiest way is going to be in determining whether or not you prefer to be organized in your mind and freeform in the outside world. OR if you are super organized in the outside world so you can be freeform in your mind.
Now that can be really hard to discern sometimes because we might think we're being relaxed in our mind when we're really being organized.
As an INTP, I can gather and contain a lot of information in my mind. I think of my brain as like a crane system where I pick up information and place it where it should go. I can recall and organize everything in my mind pretty easily. INTPs are going to be really good at using search engines as opposed to file structures. We can do both, but I think a Te user (INTJ, ISTJ, ENTJ, and ESTJ), for example, is going to be more likely to use an external file system when handling lots of data. Whereas we're going to rely pretty heavily on our internal file system to track all of the nodes and be prepared for any given problem or situation.
So in figuring out if you’re using Introverted Thinking (Ti) or Extraverted Thinking (Te), think about if you have an internal file system that’s very organized in terms of data (Ti) or prefer to talk out problems or write out problems to be solved to figure out the best possible solution (Te).
So, that was a quick breakdown of the dichotomies that make the 4 letter code of your INTP Myers-Briggs type, to hopefully help you understand and know how to look for the low hanging fruit when assessing your personality.
At this point you still might have 1, 2, or 3 types that you’re still unclear about. But what we’ve covered should help you narrow down some of the letters for yourself. Don't sweat it if you don't know for sure.
It's all about being honest with yourself. And if you're not being honest with your situation or analyzing your life correctly then, yes, you're going to have some challenges figuring out your type. This stuff takes time. We're organic complicated organisms.
Once you feel good about your type, that’s when you can go into the cognitive functions to start diving into some growth opportunities and better get to know yourself.
Here on our site, we have a free course that can help with those next steps of learning about yourself as an INTP called "Are You Really an INTP?" in which we go into each cognitive function, including the shadow functions, to see how they relate to the INTP. This helps because an INTP's main process of Introverted Thinking is a process of elimination function, so learning about the other types as well will help nail it all down for you.
Jump into that free mini-course that covers each cognitive function, get to know a bit more about yourself, and at the end, I've got a special free gift for you that spills a lot of my personal secrets that I've learned over the years of being an INTP working very hard to improve my relationships https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6HW81nzfF0and career. I believe in the power of the INTP mind and I think the world could the intelligence, careful thinking, and problem-solving talents that you bring to reality.