I was recently challenged by Kerry Jane of Metanoia as part of a movement wherein writers explain their own Myers-Briggs Personality Type as a reference for other writers when developing characters. None of this would have been particularly odd, except that both Kerry and I identified as INTJs, despite such personalities being relatively rare at 1-2% of the total population. So, instead of writing a duplicate post, I decided to retake the Myers-Briggs to see if my personality has changed over the years.
What I remembered from the previous times in which I took test was that each of the traits are on a spectrum, meaning that even if you identify as, let’s say, introverted (I), there is a particular percentage correlated with that score indicating how introverted you are. For me, the trait that’s routinely closest to flipping back and forth is judgment (J), whose counterpart is perceiving (P). So, I decided to read up on the personality traits of the INTP, and I saw a lot of myself in the description. Before you consider the rest of my article to be less than genuine, consider this: just because one’s test results spits out a certain combination of letters, it doesn’t mean that the description is accurate. The Myers-Briggs is only as reliable as the judgment of the person taking it. That being said, let me introduce you the world from a (part-time) INTP.
“INTPs are perhaps the most intellectually profound of all the types.” – Isabel Briggs Myers, Gifts Differing
First, let me tell you what the alphabet soup means. INTP translates to “Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Perceiving.” But that’s not even half of it. You see, each personality type has a list of cognitive functions through which they interpret the world around them. Think of these functions as tools in a toolbox. Some get used more often than others, depending on who’s holding the toolbox. For instance, a plumber might prefer using a wrench than a carpenter may use sparingly. Lets have a look at the INTP’s tools.
- Introverted Thinking – The main tool in our toolbox is a desire to understand specific properties of a system. We like to analyze all situations (not just problems) from a multitude of angles in an attempt to understand the entire system and how things interact with each other. We also tend to do this with speech and writing. If we correct you when you talk, it’s not to show off our skills (usually), it’s to have a better understanding of what you’re communicating.
- Extraverted intuition – Our second best tool is coming up with crazy ideas. We’re super open-minded when it comes to solving problems to the point where we’ll entertain ideas simply because no one has disproven that they’re ineffective. Our love of ideas helps us to come up with plans, scenarios, and contingencies that no one else even bothers to think of. However, our tendency to get lost in thought prevents us from applying a majority of our plans to action.
- Introverted sensing – Our third best tool is reliving memories. As thought-based people, we enjoy activities that help us relive fond memories. Playing a favorite song. Eating a favorite food. Walking through a familiar place. Sometimes even walking through a new place could even help us relive some fantasies that we’ve had. Every once is a great while, one of our memories will carry relevant information with it about a problem we’re trying to solve. A flash of brilliance. Part of the benefit of living inside your mind a lot is the ability to call on information and experiences from your past.
- Extraverted feeling – Our fatal flaw is that our social skills are the least-used tools in the toolbox. INTPs are incredibly warm and friendly people who desire to be close to others… if you get to know us first. If we’re out of our comfort zone (which is anywhere but our own head), we’ll go into “robot mode” and default entirely to processing the world around us logically to avoid offending anyone or embarrassing ourselves. But, once we’ve found a like-minded person or group or persons to mingle with, we socialize just fine. However, being naturally introverted, there are times when it’s simply best to withdraw from others for a little while and recharge on our own.
- Albert Einstein
- Charles Darwin
- Marie Curie
- Tina Fey
- Ben Stein
- Randall Munroe (of xkcd fame)
- Sherlock Holmes (literary version)
- Doctor Manhattan
- Walter Bishop (of Fringe)
- Sheldon Cooper (of The Big Bang Theory)