INTP vs INTJ: 7 Ways to Tell Them Apart

INTJ vs INTP – Do you feel stuck and unsure which onen fits you best? Many people feel torn 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!

INTP vs INTJ - What's the difference? Find out how to tell which personality type really fits you best. #INTJ #INTP #MBTI

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 none of the same 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.

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Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

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 anticipating a long range prediction 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

When you’re trying to figure out whether you’re an INTJ or INTP, you need to look at the way you think.

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. This type of thinking cares little about the state of the external world and cares very much about the inner world of the mind. For INTPs, it is crucial to have 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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  1. INTP – I can’t speak for other intps but I disagree that intps only work for internal gratification. Yes it is true in many cases they play the role of watcher but once a system or hypothesis is formed they would like to change the world. The problem is they are very unlikely to find willing participants or the resources necessary to do so.

    In fact anger and resistance are usually the typical reaction by others. First of all when an INTP makes things more efficient it can very well put many people out of work assuming the suggestion were used because they are great users of resources and find ways to get things done with much less, including much fewer people.

    However, over a span of time the way that INTP’s think and the structures they come up with are eventually implemented somewhere along the line, it just takes forever to get to them.

    INTP’s try to be in line with natural law and natural evolution which in time has to win out.

    They can tell which man made laws are not going to work in the future and which ones are likely to be enacted due to limited resources and the impracticality of the way things currently work.

    I think a lot of intps do take action, the idea that they just sit back and let things occur is just not true.

    But realistically what are the odds that I think are in systems designer will also be in charge of things to the point where they can just enact what they do right then and there. And if they are in charge of things what are the odds that they’re going to have the time to work on the system? It’s just not practical.

    Because their minds vastly exceed what their bodies can do they can’t stay up 24 hours a day 7 days a week but they can certainly think of projects and useful ones that would keep everyone busy 24 hours a day 7 days a week. It is just not practical to enact every single thing.

    There is also the possibility that the ideas and systems they create are very effective but could be used for very negative things.

    INTPs increase efficiency but also volatility and volume because anyone can grab the system and use it as a weapon assuming the system was structured efficiently.

    There’s always a risk which is why they often hesitate to spill out too much information. It is not that they don’t want to act, it is that they also understand that human nature and human intelligence is not always up to the task.

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