Sixteen Months of Type — INTP

This is the eleventh post in our 16 Months of Type series and we focus here on INTP. To remind you, we are using our material on managing life transitions with psychological type (formerly available through CPP as Introduction to Type® and Reintegration and now available on as the jumping off point for each piece and then connecting this material to the self-discovery process that frequently accompanies life-changing events (LCEs). Read on!

INTP, Introversion, Intuition, Thinking and Perceiving
When facing an LCE, INTPs typically want an approach that is theoretically sound and internally consistent. INTPs usually want to examine the foundations of any system to ensure the basic operating assumptions are in alignment with their beliefs. People who prefer INTP appreciate having sufficient time to consider at least one option in depth and collect data on the merits of this option from a wide variety of sources. They feel most confident about a plan when they have had the opportunity to conduct a systematic review of its pros and cons. The idea that they can think their way out of every situation can lead them to invent creative and imaginative solutions to deal with the day-to-day challenges of forging a new life. Furthermore, people who prefer INTP don’t tend to shy away from hard truths and will attempt to use their gift of analysis to see all points of view to help bring people together during difficult transitions.

When INTP preferences are overdone, people who prefer INTP may become so concerned about appearing incompetent that they simply stop taking action for fear of making a mistake. Thus, if the principles on which a plan is based appear to be incongruent or contradictory, they may discard it completely, throwing their hands in the air rather than tweaking the plan so that it is good enough to warrant moving forward. Because they usually require a well-thought out rationale, INTPs can become distressed, even if the stakes are low, in situations where all choices seem equally good (or bad) and a decision must be made immediately. Those with INTP preferences may also neglect to share their elegant reasoning with significant others. Without this shared understanding, the INTPs’ insistence on doing something a certain way can appear arbitrary and their criticism of significant others’ alternative approaches can feel unwarranted.

When facing an LCE, INTPs typically need an objective companion to mentor, guide, and support them on their transition journey. If your preferences are for INTP, you tend to seek companions who can help you weigh up the potential future consequences of any decision you make today. INTPs are typically quite skeptical and need a companion who will honor this as well as match the INTP enthusiasm for analysis and inquiry and not be put off by queries of all kinds. Debating and probing “the truth” with a skilled companion not only helps INTPs to organize the available options into a logical framework but also reminds them that a thorough appraisal, by definition, requires looking at emotional as well as bottom line impacts. Such a companion can also help INTPs strike a balance between critique and showing appreciation for the ideas and contributions of others so that INTPs genuine desire to make things better can be realized.

When such a companion is not present in the life of people who prefer INTP, they may get so caught up in an attempt to understand the reasons for their new situation that they fail to attend to basic aspects of daily life, unable to focus on anything outside of their worrying ruminations, becoming embroiled in a fruitless search for the perfect answer. People who prefer INTP also tend to be concerned about repeating past errors. Without a dispassionate companion who can help them evaluate the actual severity of missteps, they may have difficulty achieving a more balanced view of the past, and in turn doubt their ability to cope with similar situations going forward. Without reminders that nearly all problems combine aspects within and outside of their control, INTPs may exaggerate their responsibility or culpability and be unable to face the reality that sometimes things cannot be explained or improved, no matter how hard they try. Impartial and wise counsel can help INTPs to pick their battles and focus their excellent problem-solving abilities on those issues where progress is possible.

Self-Discovery Tool Number 81
If you prefer INTP (or you have someone in your life with this four-letter type code), the following questions may help as you process a life-changing event.

  1. How can you find ways to enrich your experience by connecting with others and reaching out to share stories, time, and strategies?
  2. How can your past experiences be a guide to what might help you manage things more successfully now?
  3. How can you assess the impact of your actions on those you care about?
  4. How can you create plans, schedules or routines to help you manage your new way of living more easily?