In the MBTI system, there are several personality types that get mixed up. This is usually because of biases about the good and bad qualities of each type. In the MBTI system, the types are each of equal value and have their individual strengths and weaknesses. It’s not better to be one type or another, and this kind of thinking only makes it harder for you to self-identify and improve yourself. The INTJ and INTP personality types are frequently mixed up. These types can look quite similar from the outside, but a deeper look will reveal that they’re actually quite different.
INTJ vs INTP Function Stack
If you’re just looking at the letters, then INTJs and INTPs may look very similar. After all, they only differ by a single letter. But this letter indicates a world of difference. The real value of the MBTI system isn’t in the letters themselves or the qualities they indicate. It’s in the function stack, the combination of cognitive functions that each personality type uses.
When you look at this level, the INTJ and the INTP look quite different. If you really want to understand the difference between these types, then you need to understand these functions and how they influence behavior, thought, and individual preferences. These functions don’t act on their own of course. The cognitive functions you use will interact with each other and they’re also influenced by individual differences. But getting a clearer understanding of these functions will help you understand how each type sees the world.
Contrasting Dominant Functions
INTPs use introverted thinking as their dominant function. This is what allows them to manage and organize truly enormous amounts of information. Introverted thinking is a decision-making function, so INTPs are constantly comparing new information with the models of the world in their head to make sure that it fits. If it fits, it’s integrated, and if it doesn’t then more thought or data gathering might be necessary. This function makes INTPs relatively fast decision makers who don’t need their conclusions tested in the outside world. This information compare and integration is never ending for this personality type. They’re constantly adjusting their viewpoint depending on what the data tells them. This is what makes them incredibly flexible and the personality type most likely to know the answer to random questions!
INTJs use introverted intuition as their dominant. This is a learning process that simply gathers information for its own sake. The whole world and the people in it are patterns to INTJs, and they love nothing more than sitting down quietly and tracking the patterns. Using this information comes later for INTJs, and the satisfaction from using the information comes secondary to the happiness of simply thinking in this way.
Organizing and Exploring
The difference between the auxiliary functions of these two types makes INTJs and INTPs look very different. INTJs use extraverted thinking as their auxiliary. This function focuses on the outside world and creates and organizes systems. It wants to create systems that work as effectively as possible. This is what makes this personality type such effective planners at work, at home, and in life itself and it can also make INTJs seem quite rigid to outsiders.
In contrast to the results focused INTJ, INTPs use extraverted intuition as their auxiliary function and this is how they learn. They explore the world, pressing buttons and seeing what happens. Coupled with introverted thinking, this function examines theories, possibilities and connections to do with relationships, people, and events in the external world. It can also make them spontaneous, reluctant to submit to restrictions, deadlines, or rules, and incredibly adaptable.
Reacting to Threats
The third function in the cognitive function stack is often known as the defensive position. It’s how each personality type reacts when they’re under attack or threatened. INTJs use introverted feeling as their defensive position. When they’re upset, they’ll often retreat and dig down into their own emotions. Because this function isn’t well developed, this can be a very damaging experience. Introverted feeling can leave INTJs stuck in a loop of bad feelings and poor self-image that this type just isn’t designed to cope with. When not used defensively, this function is what allows INTJs to be incredibly playful, almost childlike in their enjoyment of the things they love.
INTPs use introverted sensing as their tertiary. This function focuses on using the past to determine what the present should look like. So, an INTP may find themselves reminiscing, remembering past times, and judging the present on that basis. They can use this function either destructively or constructively. It can color their impressions of the present and the future, making them long for the past and neglect the present. Or it can show them how to create experiences that are more meaningful in the present and the future.
Weaknesses and Blind Spots
The final function in the stack is the blind spot. This is usually a weakness for each type, particularly when they’re younger. As people grow, they can sometimes learn to tap into this inferior function and use it more effectively, but the skills inherent to this function will never be a strong part of their skillset.
For INTJs, it’s extraverted sensing that’s their weak spot. This function creates an awareness of the external world and their body in it. As a result, many INTJs wander through the world oblivious to what’s happening a lot of the time. A lot of INTJs find the worlds in their head fascinating, and can be oblivious to the external world to the point where it can get dangerous.
INTPs have extraverted feeling as their inferior function. This blind spot can make it difficult for this type to understand their own emotions and especially the emotions of the people around them. Extraverted feeling senses the emotions of others and seeks to fulfil their needs. INTPs, who are often lacking in this ability, must work hard on this aspect of their lives if they want to have mutually fulfilling relationships with the people around them.
No one personality type in the MBTI system is better than any other. There are just differences in how each type sees the world and appears to other people. This tendency to comparison is very dangerous. It not only devalues qualities and tendencies that are necessary to the good functioning of the world, it also devalues anyone who has those tendencies. So, instead of judging, focus on understanding yourself and others. It’s a much more effective and kinder way to live.
- Key Differences between INTP and INTJ.
- Storm, Susan. “An Introduction to the Cognitive Functions in Myers-Briggs® Theory“. (Retrieved on Jun 2019).
- Storm, Susan. “10 Signs The You Might Be an Introverted Thinker“. (Retrieved on Jun 2019).
- Dr. Drenth, A. J. “Introverted Feeling (Fi) in INTJs & ISTJs“. (Retrieved on Jun 2019).
- Storm, Susan. “Understanding INFJ “Grip” Stress“. (Retrieved on Jun 2019).