ISTP vs. INTP: 6 Differences Between These Personality Types

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The ISTP and INTP personality types have a lot in common and share many of the same characteristics that make them stand out in a crowd. However, they have critical differences in how they work with information that can drive highly different behaviors. Let's examine these essential differences between the ISTP vs. INTP personality types.

What Is the ISTP Personality Type?

The ISTP personality is known as the Craftsman, driven by their desire to take things apart and understand how they work. Here are the key characteristics of the ISTP personality.

Introverted

The first preference indicates where people tend to direct and receive their energy. Introverts prefer to channel their energy inwards toward ideas, information, and beliefs.

Introverts prefer doing things alone or with just one or two people they know and trust. Introverts usually think and plan before they act or speak and sometimes like the idea of something better than the thing itself.

Sensing

The second psychological preference indicates the way a person prefers to receive information. A sensing person pays attention to the information they receive through their five sense: taste, touch, smell, sight, and hearing.

They focus best on what is present, current, and real, noticing actual facts and remembering concrete details. They understand the practical use of things and learn through hands-on experience.

Thinking

The third preference indicates the way a person prefers to make decisions. A thinking person makes decisions based on facts and data, striving for objectivity. They try to reach conclusions that are universally applicable and useful all the time in every similar situation. They look for fundamental truths, underlying principles, and consistent practices without personal influence.

Perceiving

The final preference indicator refers to how a person deals with the outside world. A perceiving person prefers to remain flexible and spontaneous, allowing events to unfold around them. They want to understand, adapt, and interact with the world rather than structure and control it. Therefore, they are casual about their activities, keep planning to a minimum, and keep their options open.

The ISTP has a highly logical and rational mind that analyzes and understands real-world processes and experiences. Moreover, they are independent, action-oriented, and practical, which makes them fantastic at making, building, and repairing almost anything.

Their high level of skill, independence, and individualism allow them to pursue a goal or interest even in the face of opposition and setbacks. However, this persistence (occasionally stubbornness) is offset by their natural curiosity, interest in new things, and tendency to get bored.

What Is the INTP Personality Type?

The INTP personality type is known as the Logician. Their key characteristics are:

Introverted

The first preference indicates where people tend to direct and receive their energy. Introverts prefer to channel their energy inward toward ideas, information, and beliefs.

Introverts prefer doing things alone or with just one or two people they know and trust. Introverts usually think and plan before they act or speak and sometimes like the idea of something better than the thing itself.

INtuiting

The second psychological preference indicates the way a person prefers to receive information. An intuiting person pays more attention to information patterns, impressions, and underlying meaning.

They learn by thinking things through and exploring the implications of new information. They mentally explore symbols, theories, and abstractions and remember ideas and concepts better than factual details.

Thinking

The third preference indicates the way a person prefers to make decisions. A thinking person makes decisions based on facts and data, striving for objectivity. They try to reach conclusions that are universally applicable and useful all the time in every similar situation.

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ISTP's quickly accumulates real-world skills and abilities that provide affirmation and confirm their self-confidence.

They look for fundamental truths, underlying principles, and consistent practices without personal influence.

Perceiving

The final preference indicator refers to how a person deals with the outside world. A perceiving person prefers to remain flexible and spontaneous, allowing events to unfold around them.

They want to understand, adapt, and interact with the world rather than structure and control it. Therefore, they are casual about their activities, keep planning to a minimum, and keep their options open.

Collectively, these characteristics make the Logician quiet, reserved, and analytical. The INTP is a great abstract thinker with a logical and objective mind. They concern themselves with the big picture rather than the little details.

They have open, flexible thinking, which often leads to highly creative problem-solving, and dislike excessive structure and planning. An INTP is quiet, reserved, and difficult to get to know. They are highly independent but loyal and affectionate with the few people who are close to them.

What Do ISTP and INTP Personalities Have in Common?

ISTP and INTP personalities are common, although you will likely encounter them in extremely different settings. While you might find an ISTP in a workshop and an INTP in a library, here are the characteristics these personalities have in common:

1. Independence

ISTP and INTP personalities are highly independent and willing to pursue their own interests, goals, and values alone if necessary. They do not rely on feedback, collaboration, or approval from others.

2. Original Analytic Thought

Both personality types are thoughtful and analytical and think deeply about the world around them. Their habit of thought and analysis, along with their independence, allows them to often have highly creative, original ideas and opinions. In addition, they are innovative problem-solvers and unconventional thinkers.

3. Difficulty Expressing Feelings

ISTP and INTP personality types tend to be quiet, reserved, and often withdrawn. While they can form deep relationships with small numbers of people, they tend to struggle to express their feelings. Their discomfort with their own emotions can cause them to feel disconnected or isolated.

A great example of a famous ISTP personality is Leonardo da Vinci, who was both creative and artistic while also being logical and rational, making him a master in a vast range of arts and crafts.

Contrast that with famous INTP Nikola Tesla, who innovated in physics and engineering, despite lacking a formal education. These men pioneered ideas and technologies that shaped world history and had much in common despite their differences.

6 Key Differences Between the ISTP and INTP Personalities

Despite these strong similarities, ISTPs and INTPs are also highly different. Here are the critical differences between ISTP and INTP personality types.

1. Personality Type Frequency

ISTP: 4-6% overall. INTP: 3-5% overall

Both ISTP and INTP personality types are pretty uncommon in the United States. They are also both much more rare among women: just 2-3% of American women are ISTPs, and 1-3% are INTPs. In contrast, 6-9% of men are ISTPs, and 4-7% are INTPs. In other words, while they are uncommon types, we are much more likely to find both of these personalities among men than among women.

2. Practical vs. Impractical

Practical: ISTP. An ISTP personality is concerned with real, tangible activities and events in the real world. They are concerned with practical, concrete problems and solutions and don't want to waste time with abstract theories that can't be proven in the real world. Their own personal experience is meaningful to them, and they want to understand the world around them with their eyes, ears, and hands.

Impractical: INTP. The INTP personality is interested in abstract ideas, symbols, theories, and concepts. They enjoy ideas for their own sake and don't require ideas to be practical in the real world. They allow their imagination to roam and come up with big visions rather than small details.

3. Self-Confidence vs. Self-Doubt

Self-confidence: ISTP. The practical, hand's-on ISTP quickly accumulates real-world skills and abilities that provide affirmation and confirm their self-confidence. Because they don't require affirmation from others and have a lot of faith in their skills and abilities, these types are considered very self-confident, quickly recovering from moments of self-doubt.

Self-doubt: INTP. Everyone struggles with a lack of confidence sometimes, but the INTP is especially prone to a lack of confidence. Their habit of deep analysis often turns to criticism, and they are highly aware of their failures and how they don't live up to their own ideals.

Ironically, the INTP's lack of communication skills and trouble expressing themselves can often come across as arrogance when they don't actually feel that way.

4. Lack of Commitment vs. Lack of Organization

Lack of commitment: ISTP. An ISTP is interested in learning and having new experiences in the present moment. Therefore, they prefer to keep things open and flexible, allowing them much freedom for spontaneity and novel experiences. However, they are also easily bored and can be sensation-seeking, so they struggle with making commitments.

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INTP's habit of deep analysis often turns to criticism, and they are highly aware of their failures and how they don't live up to their own ideals.

Lack of organization: INTP. On the other hand, the INTP can be easily distracted by new thoughts and ideas and struggle to follow through on their own plans and goals. Their desire for flexibility and spontaneity takes the form of disorganization and a lack of follow-through.

5. Stubborn vs. Flexible

Stubborn: ISTP. While the ISTP is not a perfectionist, they are exacting in their own way. They often insist on maintaining their preferred system or process and strongly resist change.

Ultimately, like their commitment issues, their stubbornness is often a question of control: the ISTP wants control over their time, their process, their belongings, and their experiences.

Flexible: INTP. The INTP is more flexible and open-minded. Their curiosity drives them to seek new information, perspectives, and experiences, and they are adaptable to changing situations. They will argue strongly for their opinion when correct but not resist change when wrong. 

6. Doer vs. Thinker

Doer: ISTP. The ISTP is a doer. They want to solve problems by trying different solutions in the real world and understanding the results. They learn best through their experiences and attention to their present moment.

This focus on learning by doing shapes their skills as makers, fixers, and craftspeople who work with concrete objects.

Thinker: INTP. The INTP is a thinker who is interested in the world of ideas. They solve problems by posing a wide range of original and creative ideas, whether or not they might work in the real world. They understand theories and concepts and look for the principles that underlie real-world phenomena.

Final Thoughts on the ISTP and INTP Personalities

Despite these dramatic differences, ISTP and INTP personalities are highly compatible and make excellent friends, partners, and lovers. Because they have similar core values and communication styles, they get along easily with few conflicts.

Their differences tend to complement each other, compensating for the other's weaknesses and making them stronger together than apart. They make one of the most balanced personality pairings if they can overcome their initial reserve and make a connection.

Understanding your Myers-Briggs personality type and the types of people close to you can help you communicate, understand, and deepen your relationships. It can also ease tough work relationships and help challenging personalities get along better. If you are new to the MBTI and the 16 personalities, check out our beginner's guide to help you get started.

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