Quibbler Talk: Discerning Between INTPs and INTJs

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People mistype themselves all the time. INTJs sometimes think they’re INTPs, and vice versa. Want to know how you tell the difference? Ask a question that can be solved with provable facts and propose a crazy possibility. The INTJ will quickly work through the problem internally and conclude that theory as illogical; the INTP will discuss it out loud, coming up with arguments for and against it almost at the same time. They will state a theory that supports it, then turn around and say, “On the other hand, you could argue this to support the opposing side…” They will pick holes not only in other people’s logic, but their own, sometimes undermining their previous argument in the second half of the sentence. INTJs don’t have to deal with that — they just rationalize it out in their heads and reach a conclusion.

The INTP is reluctant to reach a “final” conclusion, because their Ti rationalizes that there must be information out there they haven’t considered yet, and goes searching for it using Ne. The function of extroverted intuition (or Ne) is like handing someone a sheet of paper with the barest outline of a tulip on it. The Ne user takes that tulip and fills in all the colors, then adds more, until it’s an endless garden not just of tulips but sunflowers, roses, and stinkweed. They tape the image to the wall and keep drawing — it becomes a field with a castle on one end and a dragon on the other. Ne is an outgoing force – it continues getting bigger and bigger, evolving into new ideas and building outward into new possibilities. It sees no end to the information, therefore it can reach no “definite” conclusion except through social rules (Si) and faith-or-socially-based morality (Fe). Ne won’t ever stop until it either knows everything there is to know about a subject, or is reigned in through force of will.

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If you sat an INTP down and asked them a bunch of various zany questions, they’d have a lot of “maybes” and very few “certainties.” Do ghosts exist? No? Maybe? Do aliens exist? Maybe. God? Possibly? Or Not? INTPs may or may not believe in something, but they won’t tell you that their decision is final, because how can it be final, when there is an endless stream of possibilities, information, arguments, counter-arguments, etc., to filter through before reaching any firm conclusion? Their Ti-Ne requires constant re-evaluation of previous information when and if new possibilities are introduced.

An INTJ, on the other hand, will state with certainty what they do and don’t believe in, and give logical reasons why based in real-world evidence. INTJ’s Ni works differently from an INTP’s Ne — it sees the tulip, constructs the field, flowers, dragon, and castle, and then uses their Te-logic to discard the outrageous things and find the ruby hidden underneath the petals of the original tulip. That’s a focus point, a conclusion, the logic kicking in and filtering through the ideas to concentrate on the most useful part of the field. Ni has just as much imagination, but it all takes place inside their own mind (as opposed to the INTP arguing it out externally), so all you see is the conclusion. The INTJ thinks about it (silently) and gives an answer. The INTP argues it aloud (or in writing) in real-time, as it happens. Ne needs to go outward; Ni focuses inward.

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The easiest way to understand how Ti and Te impact the process is to compare it to the conflict in the Harry Potter books between Hermione (an ISTJ, Te-user) and Luna (an INTP, Ti-user). Hermione finds her logic in the external world – in the books she reads, in the information she has learned, in things you can actually prove, which is why she scoffs so much at Divination. She is very much a doer who launches into an action — even though she isn’t an INTJ, INTJs are also “doers.” It’s not enough to think about it, one should act on it! INTJs process the information, then act on it — write that book, go on that trip, whatever. Te is all about action in the real world, about doing things or implementing change (like Hermione seeing a need among the house elves, and starting up a group to help them).

Hermione’s realm of logic is completely different from Luna’s, who finds her logic internally and doesn’t like relying on external facts to form her conclusions; even if you can prove something is wrong to Luna, she’ll still believe it’s possible. She believes Harry is telling the truth not because he can prove it, but because it’s within the realm of possibility and it seems logical to her. Luna isn’t all that “active,” because she’s less of a “doer.” She’s more interested in internalizing information than doing anything with it — she spends time getting to know the Hogwarts ghosts not for any real reason, just because she’s interested. Ti is more about learning than doing; it’s not as interested in implementing change or taking action. It will take action, but only if it must or it is excited through Ne (like writing a book — it’s an adventure, possibilities waiting to unfold).

Both of them are incredibly smart, but Hermione’s conclusions are final and she gets things done – Luna’s are more dreamy and she’s less driven.

P’s have a reputation for being indecisive because of their endless stream of possibilities. They spend hours researching both sides of an argument, only to reach the end and realize they haven’t made up our mind, because both sides make good points. That means they’re back where we started! True, now and again they do decide something and stand on that with firm conviction, but only if they’ve exhausted every possible alternate theory and concluded that there is no additional evidence to add to the information stack… like, say, conclusions based on historical events or individuals.

29 Replies to “Quibbler Talk: Discerning Between INTPs and INTJs”

  1. Hello! So . . . after researching MBTI, the different functions, how they interact with each other, etc., I believe that I am an INTP (a female INTP, if that makes any difference). I’m fairly certain of my dominant Ti, and I definitely notice the TiFe struggle in my thought processes and behaviors. However, I’ve noticed that many websites and books about MBTI portray INTPs as massive lovers of science and mathematics, and are naturally talented at them to boot.

    While I do enjoy learning about these areas, I’m not particularly talented at them; I often get frustrated if I can’t get the right answer, even if it makes sense in my head (oftentimes, I’ll logic something out, but it doesn’t fit the rules, even if it appears as a possible answer to my mind). I can see multiple paths for a problem to take, and end up not knowing which one is the right one (or if any of them are right). I become physically and emotionally drained if I’m exposed only to them for too long; physically because I don’t want to stop until I’ve figured out the correct answer and understand the concept, and emotionally because I feel that if I’m not intrinsically good or interested at maths and sciences, I’m not a true INTP; or at the very least, I’m not a properly functioning one, and I’m failing to live up to my potential. In the end, I just feel really stupid because all these books and sites say that a strong defining trait of an INTP is that they love math and science because of the logical framework of these pursuits.

    I find that I’m much more adept and take a greater interest in humanities subjects, especially English, history, psychology, philosophy, and religion. I think I’m more attracted to them because: in the case of psychology and philosophy, there’s a lot more room for speculation, logical possibilities, and pure mental creation because they can transcend what we “see” every day. English (especially literature) and history are more built up of facts, but also experiences and ideas of the people involved in them. In general, I love figuring out connections between all the concepts involved, and what variable could’ve affected a certain outcome. Researching the times and people that have come before us, and figuring out how they crafted what the world is today, has always fascinated me.

    In summation, I personally find the humanities more broad-picture and thought-provoking than sciences and maths, because I feel that they’re less restricted by facts and figures. Science and math are the blueprint of the physical world, and the humanities are the blueprint of the metaphysical world. I understand that logic is the basis for math/science, but I find that I prefer figuring out my own logic to following the logic of someone else, simply because I’m told they’re right and this is how the world works.

    That’s why I’m wondering if I’m an INTP after all, and not some sort of feeler type, such as an INFP. I’ve read somewhere before that, although F-types may not particularly like being around people (and this is definitely true in my case:) ), they are categorized by being more interested in pursuits that are involved with human aspects taking priority, as opposed to a more detached concern and connection with people (like T-types). I don’t really see any Te or Fi in myself; I don’t share my emotions with others all that much, but I’ve chalked that up to inferior Fe, seeing as how on the rare occasions when my emotions do surface, I often have a hard time controlling them. And while I do enjoy analyzing people (from the past, present, or future) and figuring out what makes them tick, it’s often to get a sense of humanity’s behavior as a whole, what factors and variables are involve, why and how they got to be this way, and what it expresses about the human mind and condition (I think I might also have decently strong Si, from growing up around several Si-dom family members).

    I suppose, in the end, what I’m asking is if it’s possible for an INTP to have a preference, and be better at, areas of study that aren’t built up of “logic.” I’ve debated both sides of the argument in my head, but subjective impression can only go so far. I was hoping for a second opinion from a reliable source, and as how you seem to be fairly well-versed in the workings of MBTI, I was hoping you could possibly give me your take on my situation. If you would need further information, I understand, and I’d be happy to supply more if needed. Thanks!

    P.S.- Apologies for the ridiculous length of this message. I’m sure you’re a busy woman, and I understand if you don’t respond to this. I’m just trying to figure out if I’m the type I think I am; I looked on some MBTI forums, but those don’t always supply the most dependable information or objective opinions.

    1. I suspect INTPs are often linked to maths and scientific fields simply because that’s the stereotypical easy answer; by no means are all INTPs scientific or math minded (one I know is going to FILM SCHOOL to become a director!), nor talented in those areas. INTPs make very proficient writers (such as Terry Pratchett — he’s logically precise and specific, in how he builds the comedic worlds he creates, but it’s all Ne-impressionism, often challenging pre-established ideals and pointing out their flaws in a very Ti/Ne+Fe way).

      In other words, if you feel confident (and you seem to) that TiFe fits you, I see no reason to doubt your type simply because you are more interested in humanity (but from an analytical way) than science.

      Fi-doms tend to be aware that they’re feelers, much in the same way Ti-doms realize they’re thinkers, once they understand what Ti does.

      If your gut tells you one thing, and the world tells you another — go with your gut. It’s usually right.

      1. Good points, thanks for the insight! And wish the INTP aspiring-director best of luck; I’m not sure how many INTP directors there are out there, but it never hurts to have more in the world 🙂

        Just a random aside, but do you know any examples of well-written, healthy, realistic INTP female characters in fiction? It sometimes feels like they’re a rare breed indeed. You noted Terry Pratchett (R.I.P.) as an INTP author; are any of his characters perhaps share his MBTI type?

        Thanks!

        1. I think Tiffany Aching is an INTP (there’s several books for her, they’re aimed at the younger audience, but Pratchett is never not thought provoking). All his heroines are fantastic – most of them tend to be thinkers, with deeper emotions cooking underneath.

          My personal favorite female INTP is Samantha Carter from the Stargate franchise, but she is a scientist! No others spring immediately to mind (maybe Violet Baudelier from “Lemony Snicket”?) though you could always crawl through this tag for inspiration: http://funkymbtifiction.tumblr.com/tagged/c:%20intp

  2. Lost me at “Hermione’s an ISTJ”.I don’t get it how she could be a Fi user when she was actively using Fe function throughout the whole book.Could you explain why you consider her to be it?To be honest,I feel like Fe was one of her dominant functions – at least it seems to me that she was using it as a decision making function.To be honest,I find it hard to type her because it seems to me that although her decisions were always made with her taking other people’s feelings into account she also heavily relied on logic and argumentation to back her actions up.Whether she was more of a sensor or an intuitive I also can’t decide cause although she would apply her knowledge and understanding practically,she was able to think deeply,to understand complex and abstract theories and in fact was fascinated by some of them.
    I honestly find MBTI system useless and ineffective at times.Sometimes,when typing,it seems like some of the information contradicts itself and I find it hard to decide which function does an individual use.I cannot grasp why some of them are mutually exclusive and I also find it to be quite subjective,as I feel like what one could read about almost any type could be adjusted to fit the image he has for himself so one could easily think of themselves as any other type.
    I apologize for my English,I try not to sound confusing but I notice I still do.

    1. I’ve learned more since making this post — I’ve concluded that Hermione is an ESTJ.

      She uses Extroverted Thinking to interact foremost with reality — logic, aimed toward organizing information and the external environment (remember her schedules, meticulous schoolwork, trying to get Harry and Ron to stick to the schedules she made them, etc?). She is the first person to step up and take charge in any situation; she doesn’t hesitate to put the Weasley twins in their place, or establish rules, when the school promotes her into a position of authority. Hermione isn’t afraid to make the tough choice, even if her friends get angry at it for her (such as her getting Harry’s broom confiscated, because she thinks Sirius Black may have sent it as a trap).

      SiNe is… fairly evident, I think. Hermione is INCREDIBLY detailed. She remembers the smallest things she read, and applies them to life. She’s highly uncomfortable approaching anything she doesn’t have experience with; she’s actually annoyed at Harry for having success using Snape’s potions book, because he’s going off Snape’s notes, rather than following the directions in each book. (This is Te also — “but this is what it says to do, and if you do it exactly right, it will be PERFECT!”)

      Ne — she reads a book about werewolves, notices that Lupin’s symptoms line up exactly with the text (again, Te/Si at work) and concludes (accurately) that he’s a werewolf. She’s fairly intuitive, but it’s in a lower position beneath her sensing functions, which makes her very, very cautious about heading recklessly into danger (unlike all the Se types in the book — Harry, Ron, Draco, etc). Her intuition is strong, but doesn’t drive her life. Organization does.

      Finally, inferior Fi. This is where the moralizing do-gooder comes in, which invented SPEW. She wants to free house elves, who are perfectly happy in their enslavement, and expects everyone else to do it with her. Classic inferior feeling. Fi often latches onto a cause it feels is important, and in a lower position, usually wants other people to join in, since their opinion of moral right and wrong overrides group beliefs. Harry, being a higher feeler, doesn’t fall prey to this kind of flawed thinking — for him, as a Fi-dom, individuality (they seem happy, leave them alone, Hermione!) overrules “the common good.”

      There is a stereotype out there that thinkers have no emotions, that they cannot be emotional or kind, that they do not show their feelings, and cannot make emotional decisions — this is not the case, and Hermione is actually a pretty perfect representation of a female ESTJ. She’s unsure enough of her feelings at times, to be a little childish in them, which is very lower-feeling.

      An ESFJ would be… someone like Cho Chang, whose emotions are free, easy, and obvious; who confides them in Harry openly and easily, and who conflicts mightily with Hermione because they’re so different in their thinking/feeling processes.

  3. I hope this helps:

    If you are an INTP, the cognitive functions in order of preference and use for you are:

    1) Dominant function (how you make decisions): Ti (introverted Thinking) – “Accuracy”
    This is what drives you daily since you were a child. You do it in automatic, seeking internal consistency and logic of ideas, and trusting your internal framework, which may be difficult to explain to others. In order to make any decision in your life, you always ask yourself these questions: “Does this data make logical, analytical sense? Is there congruity in this idea or thought? Is it a rational thing to do?”

    2) Auxiliary function (how you learn and gather new information): Ne (extraverted iNtuition) – “Exploration”
    Exploring is an extraverted function that balances the introverted nature of accuracy by testing the validity of the conclusions, and it does so by moving you to action in the outer world. When you look at the world outside you ask the question: “But what if…?” This is an extraverted function, which means that you ask those questions aloud, confronting your ideas with other people to get any piece of information that you could have missed (you are really discussing with people as an exercise of dialogue with yourself). This is why you daydream and think of every hypothetical option possible all day and night long, and this is also why people think that you bring random topics out of the blue. You have a natural need to look at all the possible options and try out as many as you can, because you hate that feeling of having let some important information out.
    To exercise this auxiliary cognitive function and grow as a person, you must push your boundaries and get out of your comfort zone. Physically explore new activities, sensations and places. Put yourself in the heart of totally new experiences as often as you can. Push yourself to improv with people. Consciously ask “what if” questions. Focus on things that can expand the view of your world. Taking risks is in your nature, embrace it.

    3) Tertiary function: Si (introverted Sensing) – “Memory”
    Your introverted Sensing helps you compare present facts and experiences to past experience, which you completely trust. It also stores sensory data for future use. Memory is a process that pulls you back into your safety zone of proven reliability by asking you: “Has this worked for me in the past?”
    If you don’t exercise your exploration function properly and you rely too much on procedures and known activites, your introverted sensing function can drag you to a dangerous place where you won’t be able to take risks at all, making you become stagnant.

    4) Fourth function: Fe (extraverted Feeling) – “Harmony”
    This is your least preferred and used function. Thanks to it, you seek harmony with and between people in the outside world. Interpersonal and cultural values are important to you and you may ask yourself: “What can I do so everyone’s needs are covered?”. When this function presents with no intention (taking the form of “inferior function”) it can turn into an obsession with pleasing others.

    If you are an INTJ, the cognitive functions in order of preference and use for you are:

    1) Dominant function (how you see the world and learn): Ni (introverted iNtuition) – “Perspectives”
    This is your primary function, the one you’re most familiar with and the one that dominates your life most of the time. It makes you interested in discovering with deep insight the parts of the world that capture your attention, looking at consistency of ideas and thoughts with your internal framework and inviting you to ask yourself: “What is the exact meaning of this? How does it really work? What are the biggest implications of this action?”

    2) Auxiliary function (how you make decisions): Te (extraverted Thinking) – “Effectiveness”
    The extraverted quality of your thinking function (effectiveness) gives balance to the introverted nature of how you see the world. It seeks logic and consistency in the outside world and concerns for external laws and rules, allowing you to apply your ideas and concepts in the real world. As an extraverted funcion, it also allows you to receive feedback on the quality of your ideas. It directs your attention into asking questions like “What works?” or “What gets the job done?” The effectiveness function moves you to action by applying your ideas into the world.
    To exercise your extraverted thinking function, get your ideas into the world in the form of a functional project even before you are ready. Take the role of leader instead of engaging in the labor to make things happen. Build momentum by getting into the first step of a project as quickly as possible and do what it takes to get into implementation. Remember that no idea is perfect and that it’s ok if a plan fails because it is through mistakes that we learn and grow. Well done is better than perfectly unfinished.

    3) Tertiary function: Fi – (introverted Feeling) “Authenticity”
    This is the opposite function from effectiveness and it serves as a counterweight to it. It helps you deal with a skill that you are not comfortable with, your inner emotion, making you seek harmony of action and thoughts with personal values. Attuned to subtle distinctions that come from introspection and from consulting of your own feelings, you can innately sense what is true and what is false in a situation. Introverted feeling arrives to your life in the form of the question “Does this feel right to me?” The answers to this question are reflective, subjective and emotional, letting you create moments of playfulness and great intimacy.
    If your auxiliary function (effectiveness) isn’t well developed, your authenticity can take the reins and dangerously transform you into an idealistic perfectionist or into someone who overprotects him/herself emotionally, not doing what needs to get done but what merely feels good.

    4) Inferior function: Se – (extraverted Sensing) “Sensation”
    This is the function that you are least comfortable and used to. It takes control of your physical senses manifesting as attention to present details and making you ask: “What’s going on right here right now?” If it comes to the surface of your personality with no intention (taking the form of “inferior function”), it can become an obsession with details.

    Information condensed from The Myers & Briggs Foundation website (http://www.myersbriggs.org) and the Personality Hacker’s YouTube channel:
    INTP wiring of the mind: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e22u6ThSQvc
    INTJ wiring of the mind: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhqWwypu7ms

  4. This is interesting. There is so much conflicting data out there concerning the cognitive functions that it’s hard for me to figure out what my type is. I’ve been typed as ISTJ/ISTP/INTP/INTP until I stopped using online tests because I could see through them and manipulate the tests.

    Your article on imagination, independence, and foresight resonates with me (I love Tony Stark and his suit); I never resonated with Luna much because it annoys me how wish-washy she is; your description of Ariel sounded very N, and it sounds sort of like me. It is true that ideas hold far more appeal to me than the objects themselves…

    Sometimes I just wish there was a definitive guide for categorizing. Something non-disputable…otherwise I feel like I can’t trust the MBTI at all.

  5. It’s easy to tell the difference in Ne and Ni. Ne is a mode of speaking which is raw, unfiltered and in the moment, responding at multiple levels of the conversation. So if you make a Freudian slip, or something you say is even slightly funny, Ne is there to point it out and play off the multi-level resonances. Ni is a mode of listening which looks basically like scowling.

    As for INTJ versus INTP working things out verbally, in my experience, Ti-dom in general has a hard time working out ideas verbally (or, for that matter, anyone with Ti) and will prefer to internally reach logical conclusions. INTJs are Te-users so we prefer to explain things (even “mansplain” or somewhat condescendingly, painstakingly go through the conclusions) externally. I know that when doing programming challenges, the typical INTJ way is to ask a lot of questions and give/receive a lot of feedback at the thinking level, whereas Ti-users like INTPs will just sit there for 3 minutes in silence and then come up with a solution. So it’s kind of the reverse of the situation you described.

    1. What you’re saying about INTPs doesn’t fit me at all, though what Charity was saying does. So, not every INTP is the same.

    2. What I think you’re missing here is the fact that the INTJ still arrive at a conclusion with clear steps. An INTP is very likely to come to a conclusion, yes, and if not asked what is going through their mind, they will be silent; but the procedure that leads up to this is still very different in the two. I often find, both in myself and in those friends of mine who share TiNe, that there is never a true conclusion: rather, we jump in guns blazing with whatever seems more practical as-is, correcting for mistakes later. INTJs are usually very certain of wether or not their method is going to work or not.

      Although I do agree, the author’s description of an INTP doesn’t resonate with me; it seems more like an ENTP. But, you know, what ever…

  6. Good points! I too get a little confused in relation to all the different points the letters stand for, so it’s been fun reading your posts! I’m enjoying it so thoroughly! (I feel very “intelligentsia” now, like we should all be wearing thick glasses and have stacks of thick books by our side! 🙂 ) (Actually, I am wearing thick glasses, but… never mind.)

    I loved the commentor’s clarification on the Ni-Ne differences, and you’re response floored me! THAT is exactly how I write my books, and it Drives Me Nuts. Seriously, sometimes I get a headache form keeping up with all the plot jumping my silly creative muscle does… and then I have to get way back and try to piece everything together. It makes of brilliantly complex and nuanced stories, but the knitting part is so exhausting!
    (But I love it, you know, it’s addicting and I couldn’t possibly stop…)

    I’m having so much fun on your blog here… I feel like I’ve stumbled into a nest of thinkers just like me!
    So many “writing advice” blogs are awfully pedantic and boring and the advice totally doesn’t work for me. It has gotten discouraging in the past, but I’ve always ended up tossing it into the junk-pile and soldiering on in my own way.
    But NOW I know why that is! The advise givers weren’t my type! (Literally. 😉 )

    1. I find that if I plan too far in advance, I lose my passion for telling the story. I’ve figured out too much of it, as an NP, and I need to take it in a new direction or risk getting “bored”! The problem is, I miss a lot of the details in the meantime, so my books usually require some MASSIVE editing.

      Well, thank you! I’m glad you’re having fun perusing the blog. I do seem to draw a nice blend of NJ and NPs, so we have a lot of fun together! I’ve found that the advice that works for other types totally kills my creativity, so just… write how you want to write, and write what you want to write, and it’ll all work out in the end.

  7. It’s true. I can know about other types and still not understand why they do what they do. I only know what I do and why. I know there is a God because there can be no other explanation for the intricate design of this world. I’ve seen the progression in my own life and the life of my family to show that He is working behind every decision we make. I can’t explain it any differently other than I could walk away from God, but not because I didn’t believe in God but because I could no longer support Him as God. Not that that scenario would ever happen, but that’s the only way it would happen, not through disbelief but through disappointment in Him.

    Can you tell I just watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier? So much confirmation on how the ISFJ thinks and why they do what they do. In fact, I’m happy to be an ISFJ and no longer willing to apologize for the “martyr complex” we tend to embody. There have to be martyrs for things to get done and for people to get saved. I would push someone out of a collision with a bus because I know where I’m going when I die, but have no clue about the rest of humanity.

    Anyway, I’m wandering a little here because I’m fighting off a cold. Yuck. Great post, and one of the things I love about the INTP is how they see all sides of something. I like having the stability of certainty in some things, but the INTP thinks outside the box, and that makes them a lot of fun.

    1. I think it’s good to know your type, and what’s “normal” for your type, because then you’ll understand WHY you act how you act in certain situations. I could never understand why writing a book according to a timeline was so hard for me, or why I hated mind mapping a book before writing it, or even writing up an outline for the book! That’s not how my mind works! If I solve everything ahead of time, I know the ending and… I’m done exploring, so I’m bored and have no desire to finish writing the book. For me, that’s normal. For an NJ writer, it’s not normal!

      I see God at work in many aspects of life, but every now and again my logic ponders whether or not belief in a higher being is entirely logical. That’s fine; it’s how my mind works. It questions EVERYTHING else, so why not God’s existence? I don’t stray from my conclusion (that God does exist) but it doesn’t hurt me to seek out evidence of His existence now and again.

      I haven’t seen the movie yet – tomorrow (had to work this weekend)! I’m sure I’ll enjoy it, because Captain America is one of the few truly “nice” super heroes at the cinemaplex these days. He doesn’t have issues of selfishness (Spiderman) or emo periods (Batman), he’s not a womanizing jerk (Iron Man), or have a bad temper (the Hulk). He’s just… a truly nice guy, and I love that about him. In general, I love ISFJs. 🙂

  8. Another INTJ posting here… First off, thanks for this thoughtful and enlightening post! The P/J difference has always been the hardest thing about Myers-Briggs for me to articulate, and therefore also the hardest to grasp. INTJ and INTP have always been especially confusing, so… yup. Props on a good post.

    I actually didn’t see the original version of this before you edited it in light of Debbie’s comment, but I wanted to confirm and nuance something she said about the inner imagination of the INTJ. Based on what you said about the INTP thought process, it sounds like an amazing imaginative “flowering” — give you guys a tulip, and you will build a medieval castle courtyard out of it, brick by brick and leaf by leaf. You take your time with it, analyzing and re-analyzing matters to perfection as you pore over your evolving blueprint, and the end result is breathtaking.

    INTJs with an artistic bent can create castles like that, too, but there’s a difference: we’re working backward to cover up the fact that we noticed a ruby under a tulip and looked up to gasp, “What the — Where did this ugly-looking castle come from?!” You remember that “super-speed” thing you mentioned? When it comes to the Ni powering the INTJ’s creative juices, our subconscious tends to zoom past the conscious thought process like it isn’t even there, sometimes weeding out choices because they are illogical, sometimes because they are un-interesting, sometimes because they are un-funny. (Depends on what one is trying to write.) This is how we arrive at the “solution” so fast. However, before you congratulate us on our confidence and decisiveness, let me lay bare our dirty little secret: like a heavily preoccupied driver, we often have no earthly idea how we got from Point A to Point B. (And our occasional surliness when asked to explain our thought process more often than not is linked to embarrassment over being unable to do so.)

    In some areas of life, that’s not a problem. Plop me into a crowd of INTPs who can’t decide where to go eat, and I will lead you guys by the hand to the nearest Thai place. 🙂 It doesn’t matter how I got there, so long as it gets done. However, in writing fiction, that whole “Point A to Point B” thing becomes a problem. My fiction-writing process seems to involve coming up with an incomplete set of extremely vivid single scenes that I then have to connect and retrace my steps through. The logical process behind that sounds exactly like how you described an INTP would build a fictional castle in the first place, but in reverse: we’re slowly refining this butt-ugly castle that sprang spontaneously into being by asking and answering a series of questions posed in silence to ourselves. Frankly, it’s exhausting, haha. So, the next time you envy us our speed, keep in mind that we envy your ability to take your time, to not feel *rushed* toward the conclusion in all areas of life. In certain areas, it pays great dividends.

    1. Thanks so much for commenting and explaining a bit more! SOMEDAY, I will know Ne from Ni, and be able to articulate it without a blank stare and saying, “Uh… it’s complicated.”

      Aha! SO THAT is what the NJ writers are like! I’ve known other writers who wrote their books completely out of order, writing a scene in chapter four, then in eight, then the ending, then going back and filling in the in-between. It just boggled my mind! I can’t do that! I have a vague idea of where I’m going (usually, the only thing I set in cement is a plot twist toward the end) but being “tied” to an idea or a specific scene later in the book throws me off and stumps the creative process.

      I suppose there’s pros and cons to both Ne and Ni – Ni is exhausting because it’s working in reverse to figure out what steps to take NOW to make THAT LATER possible; and Ne is tiring because it can be so tedious as a writing process – you can’t just let it run wild, or your work will never be completed! You feel rushed; we have to set goals for ourselves or we never finish things. 😛

      1. Hey, I actually agree a lot with what Jesse said, and I’m thankful they explained it more. It’s like the explosion happens, but the Ni realizes only later that it did (whoa? where did this castle come from?). I’d only (jokingly) add, that the Ni’s A to B process seems more like an A to X process. Where they jumped from A to C to H to X. And everyone stares at them like they’re nuts.

        This quote, is both hilarious and often true.
        “(And our occasional surliness when asked to explain our thought process more often than not is linked to embarrassment over being unable to do so.)”

  9. I had to read this a few times before I answered out of anger. It surprised me that I was angry at all – seeing as your blog is usually *fairly* accurate (according to me, at least) when it comes to the types and their implications. But alas, it is past now, and I’d like to point something out to you.

    I think you misjudged something when it comes to INTJs and INTPs. Yes, more serious. Yes, tendency to go for the final solution. But all that is external. The thing I don’t think you explained properly was that everything that the INTP does, the INTJ does as well. As in, they see the field, castle, dragon. Both of them go the same place when given the barely there tulip. The only thing is, the INTJs will do so internally. The field, castle, dragon, the crazy imagination, it will all exist internally, and what *people* (who are unwelcome in their Ni minds) hear is the Te – the ruby. The final solution. The outside world will hear the answer no. Or yes. Or absolutely. But the inside world – where only the mind is welcome, the inside world will see all the possibilities.

    In the end, I think you angered me because I have vendetta against the mistyping (people who say they are INTJs just so they can act like jerks) and misreading/misinterpreting of INTJs. (Which considering how popular myers-briggs is, I find myself angry often. I’m aware that it’s unreasonable.) I think the way your words came together made them sound as serious, closed minded people who ignore their imagination. Which is what they seem like. But not what they are. The silly, the open world, and the imagination all occurs – it just doesn’t do so *aloud* – like an INTP. The field, castle, dragon, ruby, will forever exist in their minds – but that’s just it. It’s in the INTJs mind. So most people will think it doesn’t exist anymore. Which isn’t true.

    1. You are, tragically, the first person to tell me that the explosion of thought happens the same way inside of Ni. Every single video, description, etc I’ve read about Ni talks about its super-speed (it reaches conclusions faster than Ne, although both can reach the same conclusion given time) and ability to shed external information to find the ruby, but not the “explosion” process that precedes it. It’s talked about as taking in information and filtering through it to reach the conclusion (which when I think about it, is Te siphoning off the illogical possibilities of Ni, rather than Ti feeding the illogical possibilities of Ne). Maybe because it IS such a private process, Ni-users don’t talk about how it works, so non-Ni users have trouble understanding it. I’m glad you told me that. It’ll help me a lot as try and understand Ni.

      I’ll figure out how to articulate that portion of the post better. There are many things I like about (genuine) INTJs – like their ability to finish things, to have final opinions, and not to self-doubt, three things I struggle with.

      Mistyping seems fairly common among the intuitives – sensors seem to find their place fairly quickly, but the subtle differences between Ni and Ne confuse people. I’ve seen some INTJs who are actually INTPs (our use of “we” gives us away), some INTPs who are actually INTJs, and a LOT of INFPs who think they’re INFJs. The stereotyping of online descriptions doesn’t help that, either – it’s vague enough that people can latch onto a type, but also puts out an illusion that the T types are cold, heartless, immune to criticism, and never get emotional or insulted, so people think there’s something wrong with their emotions and pretend they are something they’re not.

      1. You’re right – that’s entirely disappointing. I had expected there to more data on the idea, at least enough out there that you had encountered the concept before. (I mean this as a compliment.)
        And yes, I agree with you. Mistyping is common, especially considering how much conflicting data there is out there – a lot of which is unfounded. And the stereotyping worsens when people identify with a character and assume they are the same type.

        1. I wish people wouldn’t introduce the typing by letters thing first — that really messes people up later when they have to learn cognitive functions. And yes, you can identify with a character without sharing its type! I love finding INTP characters, and I can even relate to some of them, but I find that my FAVORITE characters are almost always ENTPs. I guess they just have more sass and outgoing-ness than I do, and I love that.

      2. I too admire INTJs for their final opinions, but having known a couple of them personally, I have to add that they are full of self-doubt/loathing. Their strength is in not allowing their internal feelings to influence their Te based decisions. That ability to separate logic from emotion is what makes them seem so cold to other people (especially Fe types that tend to elevate feelings over reason).

        1. I can do that as well (make totally logical decisions leaving out emotion) but I don’t enjoy doing it, particularly if other people or an animal are involved. Anything that doesn’t impact something living and breathing? I’m fine with it. Anything else, I’ll still make a logical decision but feel uncertain about it at the same time. *sigh*

  10. I am totally the rule-maker when it comes to Marie’s and my work…but I try to make the “rules” as ambiguous as possible so that if something comes up later they’re easy to change. Especially because Marie (with her Ne) is always coming up with new ideas… 😀

    1. (No worries about posting it in the wrong place — my initial response to you was to myself too! It’ll take me awhile to remember the “reply” tab is under the user picture!)

      Ambiguous is good. I like ambiguous. NP writers need room to breathe, otherwise we feel stifled. When writing historical fiction, having to keep people to specific places and follow a sequence of events was a nightmare for me. I was always double and triple checking facts, and trying to come up with creative ways to keep the story interesting FOR ME while not straying too much from believability. I’m going to go back to those books, tear them apart, and incorporate elements of them into my speculative fiction series. That way my research won’t have gone to waste, but readers won’t know what’s coming, either!

  11. Me when I read the title of this post: *rubs hands together* “Dis gon be good…” 😀

    Ok, so the scenario in the first paragraph happens to me ALL THE TIME…not just with my INTP boyfriend, but also my INFP sister when it comes to differences in our writing. Both of them will bring up an idea, and I’ll shoot it down after thinking about it for 1.5 seconds (Ni-Te at its best lol) , but then (especially if it’s really important to them) they’ll keep explaining said idea until they get to where they were going with it. At that point, sometimes I still shoot the idea down, but most of the time I am forced to accept their logic; or, in some cases with my sister, correct her logic so that the said idea will fit within the already established rules of our storyworld.

    1. Hehehe.

      My dad appears to be an ENFP so we can go off on loonly little side trails together, while my mother just looks at us like… *oh, here they go again…* He’s built up a lot of logic over the years, but his imagination and delight in fantastical things still carries him into “endless possibilities.” INTJs are just… well, more serious. You are the studious folk. We are the entertainment.

      That, I think, is why I write in a loosely framed fantasy world, with only a few “rules” for me to abide by — because with each book, more of the fantasy world develops, more ideas come out of it, and the more I look at rules in earlier books and say, “I wish I hadn’t set that rule!” I can SEE my Ne process at work in what I write, which is kind of cool. Plus, in fantasy — if I want to introduce ghosts, I’ll think up a valid reason for their non-presence in former books and introduce them. I have a freedom now that I never had writing “serious” historical fiction.

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