INTPs are a very rare breed but they undeniably leave their mark in whatever field they choose to excel at. Whether you think of Albert Einstein revolutionizing the world of physics or Dr. David Keirsey reworking the Myers-Briggs theory of personality, they are the discrete operators who love to build systems and use their imagination to solve problems.
The joys of theories and principles
INTPs are usually rather quiet and shy, seeming even impersonal to people who don’t know them. This is because they prefer spending time thinking about the world they live in rather than participating in social activities. A biographer of Abraham Lincoln, another famous INTP, described him as a person who “lived in the mind”.
If you leave them to their own devices, you will usually catch them gazing in the distance, trying to understand one of the universe’s many mysteries or problems and trying formulate their findings in a coherent theoretical model. In a drive to stay competent, they will also spend a lot of time learning and accumulating data on a variety of subjects to perfect their model of their vision of the world.
Power of systems
INTPs interest in building models or systems is pushed to such an extent that Keirsey calls them “Architects”. By systems, one should understand not only physical models of buildings, but also and mostly theoretical ones such as a scientific theory or a computer program.
Architects are indeed always looking for the novel and optimum way of doing something. Once the solution is found, they love nothing better than formulating a system to implement this solution in the most efficient way.
INTPs: architects of solutions
This ability to think creatively about problems or being able to almost effortlessly create systems makes Architects ingenious problem solvers. They have a knack for taking wonky systems or processes and straightening them up. If you have a problem to solve, ask an Architect and there is a good chance that you will end up with an elegant solution and a better process.
The flip side of the coin
What is a strength in a certain situation becomes a weakness in another one. Therefore, our strengths and weaknesses are two sides of the same coin and very much depend on circumstances.
Architects need to be aware that some of their strong points can sometimes disserve them:
- They are far more interested in finding a solution to a problem than implementing it.
- They sometimes reach very elegant solutions, except that they cannot be implemented in the real world…
- They are able to focus so much on what happens in their head that they can completely miss out on what is happening around them. Other people sometimes mistake this for indifference, or even worse, coldness.
- They have a tendency towards disorganisation, probably because they just don’t see the mess around them
It is almost impossible to predict which personality will get on better with which one. However, type psychologists have tried. Therefore, I would always have a look to what they have to say. There are after all, a few good ideas, but you should still be very cautious here, especially for romantic relationships. Be careful about who you entrust your heart to.
David Keirsey says for example in Please Understand Me II that INTP Architects would be “most compatible” with ENFJ Teachers. The idea is that they can both enjoy stimulating conversations about the world of possibilities and complement each other in various ways. The Teacher will, for example, help the Architect be more sensitive around people.
However, bear in mind that the success of a relationship cannot be predicted on type alone.
Studies and career
Choosing a career is a very important decision. For young people interested in making an informed career choice or anyone willing to change theirs, I strongly recommend that you acquire this fantastic book by Paul Tieger and Barbara Baron:
Do What You Are
. This book explores, for each of the 16 types, the kind of profession that should allow you to make the best use of your strengths and suit your personality better. You will find here a very short list of professions that the authors would advise for INTPs:
- Network systems and data communication analyst
- Desktop publishing specialist
- Business analyst
- College teacher of advanced students
- Music arranger
Again, be careful because type alone cannot predict if you will be successful in a career. You also need to take into account your own abilities, dedication to your goal, personal interests, state of the economy, professional environment...
There is no guarantee in life. However, this book is a great place to start your search.
Type is a great tool for learning how to like yourself. In
Portraits of Self Esteem
, Bonnie J. Golden explains that self esteem is a combination of self-worth and competence in the life areas of relationships, intelligence, emotional self, physical self and work. Basically, the more competent you are in all these areas, the more likely you are to feel good about yourself. Also, it is like not having all your eggs in the same basket: if something bad happens in one of these areas of your life, you will still be able to rely on the others to support yourself. About INTPs, she mentions the fact that they feel particularly good about themselves when:
- They go out by themselves and make friends
- They are proven right at work
- They do what they know they are capable of doing
- They follow through on a project they have committed themselves to
Return from INTP to Myers Briggs Personality Types
Return from INTP to Type Central