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Are You An INTP or an INTJ? 7 Ways to Tell Them Apart

Have you ever felt torn between the INTJ or INTP personality types? Many people get stuck between these two types, and it’s easy to see why!

At first glance, it would appear that there are very few differences between INTJs and INTPs. After all, they have three letters in common! They are both introverts, intuitives, and thinking types. However, if you look at their cognitive function stacks, you can see that there are big differences between them!

The INTJ Function Stack:
Dominant Function: Introverted Intuition (Ni)
Auxiliary Function: Extraverted Thinking (Te)
Tertiary Function: Introverted Feeling (Fi)
Inferior Function: Extraverted Sensing (Se)

The INTP Function Stack:
Dominant Function: Introverted Thinking (Ti)
Auxiliary Function: Extraverted Intuition (Ne)
Tertiary Function: Introverted Sensing (Si)
Inferior Function: Extraverted Feeling (Fe)

If you look at the two function stacks above, you can see that INTJs and INTPs share ZERO cognitive functions. This means that there is a lot of contrast between these types. The J/P preference isn’t the only thing that doesn’t match up!

Let’s take a look at the major differences between these two personality types.

Not sure what your personality type is? Take our new personality questionnaire here. Or you can take the official MBTI® here.

7 Differences Between INTPs and INTJs

#1 – INTJs are Intuitives First, INTPs are Thinkers First

INTJs have a dominant mental process called Introverted Intuition, or “Ni” for short. They are much more concerned with seeing underlying meanings, patterns, and long-range visions than they are with internally analyzing and categorizing data. They experience a state of flow when they can envision the future and analyze what is most likely to happen.

INTPs have a dominant mental process called Introverted Thinking, or “Ti” for short. They are more at home in the world of logical analysis and complex problem-solving. They thrive on solving puzzles, categorizing data, and refining information to find the most accurate truth. While they enjoy envisioning future possibilities, logical analysis will be their most-preferred activity.

#2 – INTJs Get Hunches Out of “Nowhere”, INTPs Get Hunches Stemming from Objective Data

An INTJ takes a shower in the morning and suddenly gets an “aha!” moment of realization. He (or she) jumps out of the shower, gets to their computer, writes down their idea, analyzes it, and then tries to figure out how they came to their conclusion.

An INTP sits down to analyze a bunch of data and information. She (or he) sees numerous potentialities and ideas, and analyzes them all trying to find which ones are the most plausible.

The premonitions and insights that INTJs get seem to appear “out of the blue” whereas the ideas and insights that INTPs get can usually be traced back to an object, idea, or theory. Hence, extraverted intuition is called “objective” (triggered by the object), and introverted intuition is called “subjective” (triggered by the subject).

#3 – INTJs Want an Organized External World. INTPs Want an Organized Internal World

INTJs use a process called Extraverted Thinking. This means that they like to logically organize and structure their external world. They like everything to have a place, they want everything to be sorted into the proper categories and systems, and they want everything streamlined and running efficiently. They usually have no problem directing and delegating (although sometimes they might think they can do things better on their own).

INTPs use a process called Introverted Thinking. They usually don’t care as much about the state of their external environment. They want their inner world organized. They want to sort out thoughts, ideas, theories, and facts and put them into the most precise mental categories. When they get a new piece of data they just want to know where to put it in their brain. The outer world is far less interesting to them, and they usually don’t like directing others or delegating.

#4 – INTJs Appear Very Direct. INTPs Appear Very Flexible.

INTJs direct thinking and sensing outwardly. INTPs direct intuition and feeling outwardly. As a result, INTJs appear very direct, logical, and blunt in their speech. They are usually self-assured of their vision and stance and don’t mind a good challenge or debate.

INTPs extravert intuition and feeling. They are more comfortable discussing ideas, theories, alternatives and new angles than directly saying they are right. In fact, it is much easier for an INTP to point out what is untrue than what is true. The truth can seem hazy to them because they see so many ways of looking at everything. INTPs have no problem being skeptical and questioning, but they take more time to form conclusions because they mull over the data longer.

#5 – INTJs Indulge When Stressed. INTPs Emote When Stressed.

During normal cases of stress, INTJs and INTPs will just seem more true-to-type than usual. They will both become more detached and focused on analyzing the problem, either through intuition or thinking.

INTJs may enter a Ni-Fi “loop” and take things personally and become reclusive and focused on abstract scenarios when stressed. INTPs may enter a Ti-Si loop and become focused on analyzing data and past experiences.

However, in cases of extreme or chronic stress, INTJs and INTPs experience “grip” reactions that are very different.

When INTJs are experiencing grip stress, they get wrapped up in sensory indulgences or activities. This can mean eating too much, drinking too much, over-exercising, or becoming obsessed with details in their environment.

When INTPs are experiencing grip stress, they become uncharacteristically emotional and insecure. They tend to lose sight of their normal detached, logical perspective. They tend to take things personally and worry that people dislike or hate them.

You can find out more about both type’s stress reactions here.

#6 – INTJs Want to Apply Knowledge Externally. INTPs Want to Apply Knowledge Internally.

INTJs believe that whatever they learn should be for the purpose of impacting the world (through their auxiliary function, Te). They apply their insight and knowledge strategically to make the outer world more efficient, to solve problems, to improve the environment.

INTPs believe in learning “for the sake of learning”. They will learn just to broaden their own personal understanding of the world and how it works. They feel less of a compulsion to apply their knowledge outwardly.

#7 – INTJs Don’t Really Care What Other People Think. INTPs Get Annoyed When Their Thinking is Challenged.

INTJs care about meeting objective goals (Te) and adhering to their own value system (Fi). If people disagree with them they can usually shrug it off because the proof is in the outcome to them. They’ll prove they are right by actions, by showing their plan works. They don’t really care too much about social approval because extraverted feeling (Fe) is not one of their primary functions, and that’s the function most concerned with social feedback.

INTPs create and refine inner systems for the purpose of understanding the world and shaping their own “mental blueprint” for how everything fits together. They want to use their knowledge to generate ideas (Ne) and improve things for others (Fe). However, when people disagree with them, they tend to get frustrated, because deep down they DO want positive social feedback (because Fe is one of their primary four functions). They also have a harder time than INTJs expressing their thoughts and solutions because their knowledge is so very internalized and complex.

As Isabel Briggs-Myers states in Gifts, Differing, Ti-users “use their thinking to analyze the world, not to run it….They may have difficulty in conveying their conclusions to the rest of the world and getting these accepted or even understood.” In fact, Carl Jung himself said that the Ti-user “will hardly ever go out of his way to win anyone’s appreciation of his ideas…He merely exposes them, and is often extremely annoyed when they fail to thrive on their own account.”

You Could Also Be Another Type!

A lot of people get bogged down worrying about whether they are an INTP or an INTJ when really they could be an ISTJ, ESTJ, or ISTP. So you might also want to check into those options!

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Let me know in the comments!

Find out more about your personality type in our eBook, Discovering You: Unlocking the Power of Personality Type.

Find out if you are an #INTJ or an #INTP personality type! #MBTI #personality #personalitytype #myersbriggs

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  1. I am in borderline of being an INTP and INTJ. I am still baffled. I studied cognitive stack and I merely found nothing to type myself. I always get 100% Ni, Ti, Te and Fi. And balanced Ne, Se, Si but I am pretty sure I am not an INFJ. Your description of telling these personalities apart are not helping me because I do those all. Could it be possible to have divergence or Ni, Ti to Te domain which can be mix up of 17th personality?

      1. Ce n’est pas vrai ce que vous dîtes… Je suis une INTJ est ma chambre est sans dessus dessous car cela me prend trop de temps de chercher les objets rangés. C’est plus simple quand ils sont sous ma main !

      2. I think the state of your room question only applies if you aren’t an addict, or an empath, and aren’t easily effected by the stress of either or combination of both. But I think I just figured out I’m an INTJ because I couldn’t resist sharing my opinion.
        But then again if you disagree, I’ll probably care fml.

    1. When I took the test on 16personalities, the result was Turbulent INTP and today on another site, the result was INTJ. I am the same, I feel like I resemble both INTP and INTJ (on emotional level, maybe INTP more). I can come up with 5 backup plans to deal with events, or just go as they come, depends mostly on how important the thing is, or how I feel at the moment. While I am not messy and aspire for organized external world, I am flexible and could question the conclusion, and can get detached and insecure on stress. Since age, maturity and experience does affect ones personality, I think you can never absolutely resemble one of the established 16 personality types, and will always have varying traits.

  2. Thank you for this article. Your analysis is based on more than the 4 letters. The coping when stressed is a big giveaway for these two types. Also what the types manifest their primary function in outside world is different. My impression of INTJ is to the point (TE). They don’t like to wax poetically about something that they have already deduced a strategy (NI isn’t a conversational personality trait). INTPs are more sociable because of NE. They love hearing and bouncing off ideas from all sorts of theories and books they know. INTPs watch for others’ emotion while INTJs follow their internal belief (for whatever it is). I don’t know how people get confused about being INTJ or INTP. From an outsider’s POV, I can tell them apart once I get them talking.

    1. We get them confused because at least in my case I exibit traits of both depending on the day. Some days I’m more interested in stating my opinion and other days in more intune with how my opinion with be interpreted or effect the person I’m talking to.

      1. I am in the same boat. I have been giving this mix serious thought for years now. Recently I began to posit whether undiagnosed mental illness could factor in. Possibly an identity disorder? No answers yet but I wanted to at least let you know that you’re not alone in the way that you can “flip” day to day or possibly even moment to moment.

  3. Trying to find if n/s are more borderline vs e/I. One source tells if one ditchomie borderline leads to intj the other intp

  4. Today I took the test again and I got INTJ when before it was INTP. While there are differences between the two, there are also similarities. Sometimes I go with my intuition and sometimes I want to make sure I have everything thought out first. It depends on the situation. I guess I can relate to both in different ways. I am just not very organized though.

  5. When I saw the headline of the article I thought it might break the tie for me. It didn’t. I’m still equally J and P. Oh well. Much thanks to the Invisible Girl/Woman for the article.

  6. I don’t know. I still think I’m in between. Like my table is not organized but I know where to find stuff at most times but it doesn’t mean that sometimes it gets out of hand.

  7. It makes total sense to me that the dominance hierarchy of cognitive functions is somewhat fluid. I imagine that this is the case for persons with borderline scores on certain functions. Think about it this way; people with a strongly coherent personality probably have clearly defined scores on all or most functions (for example 80% Intuition and 20% sensing). Their cognitive functions are much more fixed. Following this train of thought; People with a more fluid personality would have borderline scores on 2 or more functions, and are more likely to experience shiftings in de hierarchy of cognitive functions. That’s how I experience the INTP / INTJ dilemma myself.

  8. As an industrial electrician who is an INTP I also utilize the J for troubleshooting, sometimes I can go to an unfamiliar piece of equipment and tell where problem is, a strong sense of intuition.

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