INTP vs INTJ: Understanding Those Differences Between INTJs & INTPs

Much confusion surrounds internet forums regarding the similarities between INTJs and INTPs despite the fact they have no cognitive functions in common. In saying that, they do seem to view the world in very similar ways.

Both INTJs and INTPs strive for self-knowledge and the ability to understand the world; therefore, finding shared viewpoints on various issues. They both possess the necessary skills to handle vast amounts of data without it prejudicing their intellect.

Regardless of their many similarities, INTPs and INTJs are different in crucial ways. The purpose of this article is to highlight these sometimes, subtle differences by providing a comprehensive comparison of their similarities and differences.

How to Recognize an INTJ versus an INTP

From the outside, it’s not that hard to distinguish INTPs from INTJs. You’ll soon be able to spot an INTJ from their logical disposition, which is down to their Extraverted Thinking.

INTJs are ‘straight-talkers’ and very articulate in their communication. You can rely on them to speak the truth and claim authority on any number of topics. They welcome challenges and are always looking for the next one.

Due to the INTP’s, Extraverted Intuition and Extraverted Feeling, it’s not difficult for them to go unnoticed in a social environment; for that reason, it may take you some to identify one.

INTP’s tend to be considerably less confident than the INTJ when it comes to challenging other people’s claims – which is due to their Inferior Cognitive Function; Extraverted Feeling.

They feel a lot more comfortable asking questions or pointing out possibilities than making strong definitive claims.

Different Dominant Cognitive Function

The dominant cognitive function is the brain’s strongest preference for filtering information. For the INTJ, this is called Introverted Intuition which is how they perceive data and works by the ability to observe patterns forming in their minds.

As the INTJ develops and matures the pattern formations become more complicated and detailed. It’s that point they realize their cognitive observations occur in other people also.

In the case of the INTP, their dominant cognitive function is Introverted Thinking. This is a decision-making role that functions by establishing a framework and then filtering through all the information – looking for absurdities and contradictions.

The primary function is to find information that makes sense – once that has become clear, INTPs can make their decision.

Both INTJs and INTPs make decisions based on objective, logical principles; therefore, it is crucial they are honest in their intellect. While they both share the same end goal, there is a vital difference between the connection each personality type has with information.

With INTJs there is more weight given to the internal creative thought process – given they are leading with Introverted Intuition. Unlike INTPs who are scanning for data that may be incorrect, they are sifting through patterns that may be correct.

This is where they need to enlist their ‘second in command’ (Auxiliary Function), Extraverted Thinking. By doing this, they can determine if those patterns of thought, have any value outside of their minds. If it doesn’t sense in the outer world, they just go back to trying again.

INTPs do not examine their thoughts outside of their own minds. They draw on their Auxiliary Function; Extraverted Intuition to lead with Introverted Thinking to make observations of innovative patterns in the world and then rely on their intuition to try and make sense of them.

To them, proof supporting their conjecture results in a logical argument. For this reason, INTPs have to be merciless with their information. They can’t always rely on an outsider’s observations to prove their criteria – falling back on a consistent internal form of reason to give authority to their assumptions.

It’s incredibly critical to the INTP that their information is pure. There is no room for personal prejudices or social affections – hence why INTPs are attached to formal logic or mathematics at some level.

Any discipline where there is no room for doubt is attractive to INTPs. To an INTP, clean data doesn’t exist – only vigilance, as they will unconsciously scrutinize others for moments whether they can be trusted with information.

From an INTJ’s perspective, information is always associated with the person connected to it. What this means, is our opinions will still influence any data we carry with us – therefore, it’s never going to be pure. Hence the reason INTJs will often respond to a question asked of them with a ‘What’s your reason for asking?’

Understanding the reason behind the question is the only way an INTJ can produce the information. To an INTJ, what the information produces is the most significant aspect – hence why they instinctively evaluate people for how useful they are as opposed to the information they carry.

It’s only by comprehending the diversity between these two principal cognitive functions can we truly understand the variations between INTJs and INTPs.

Uncertainties and Defensiveness

Any difficulties we’ve experienced in our lives leave their mark. INTJs and INTPs are often accused of being egotistical or somewhat condescending.

INTPs are always searching for the purest form of data due to the fact they can’t provide any proof for their assumptions. Introverted Thinking is defined as the personal conditions of what makes sense to the individual.

Therefore, if the other person/persons can’t comprehend the information, an INTP can’t understand why they’re ‘getting it’ – the end result usually being cynicism.

Validation is essential to them and the insecurities felt by not being validated, results in defensive behavior.

This is achieved by attacking the other party’s intelligence. INTPs are not ‘wired’ to feel the hurt – it’s easier to assume people are just stupid.

Holding onto our insecurities is an alternative way of showing levels of immaturity, and this is represented by INTPs as being a ‘know-it-all.’ As the INTP develops into maturity, they become more accepting of the opportunity to be proven wrong.

INTPs welcome debate and never view it as personal – the older the INTP gets, the less contemptuous they become of other people’s opinions.

INTJs, in general, are happy to be proven wrong – they just don’t experience it very often. The INTJ’s most significant anxiety lies in their well-masked sensitivity – which is generally their worst kept secret to anyone that eventually gets to know them.

INTJs feel very defenseless when it comes to be emotional hurt by others and learn to build an unbreakable barrier around their hearts from an early age. They learn to repel against dealing with hurt emotions by displaying a ‘hard-nosed’ indifference.

Very few people are ever truly invited in into the heart of an INTJ – although they do ‘soften’ as they mature and become more self-assured.

To recap: INTJs don’t like to feel vulnerable, and INTP don’t want to be proven wrong.

Generalization & Organization

Just looking at the theory behind the Myers-Briggs psychology can cause the generalization of personality types: the INTJ is always on time – the Judge that he is. Or, the INTP is disorganized with no sense of timekeeping. In reality, though, humans don’t live their lives following stereotypical viewpoints.

INTJs are in their ‘zone’ when they are learning and thinking creative thoughts. If their external factors are not organized, it interferes with their creative flow.

However, just because an organized external world is preferable to INTJs, doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel like an inconvenience to make it happen. A lot of the time it’s easier to have someone else take care of those details – leaving them to get on with more important tasks.


When it comes to public perception – or more importantly, how each type wishes to be seen, INTPs give very little importance to what people think about their personal appearance – or how their personality is perceived in general.

They are very much the ‘take me as I am’ type and whether intentional or not, that’s the message they generally project. As the INTP grows up, most begin to see the benefits in making more of an effort in the way they present themselves to the world – that it’s not a matter of conforming but to bond with other people.

On the flipside, INTJs see appearances and public opinion as a means to an end. Always in full use of Extraverted Thinking, they are acutely aware that having the right image and social status can help you progress in life and achieve your goals.

How Emotions Present Themselves

Just because INTJs and INTPs are ‘Thinkers,’ they still have emotions – they just are prioritized in the same fashion and present themselves as different to other types.

To compare how both types express their emotions it’s essential to look at their individual cognitive functional stacks:

Function stack for INTP:

  • Dominant Function: Introverted Thinking
  • Auxiliary Function: Extraverted Intuition
  • Tertiary Function: Introverted Sensing
  • Inferior Function: Extraverted Feeling

Functional stack for INTJ:

  • Dominant Function: Introverted Intuition
  • Auxiliary Function: Extraverted Thinking
  • Tertiary Function: Introverted Feeling
  • Inferior Function: Extraverted Sensing

From above you can see the INTJ is more aware (Introverted Feelings) of their emotions than the INTP (Extraverted Feelings). For the INTJ, their feelings are stacked in third place and are internal; whereas, for the INTP they have Extraverted Feelings in the fourth position.

Introverted Feelings allows the individual to gain a deeper understanding of their own feelings and the value you place on specific issues. This runs the risk of internalizing everything and having difficulty in expressing emotions.

Extraverted Feelings relates to the emotional effect an event or situation has on another people, as in, socially accepted behaviors. It can also be a form of acting out – emotionally.

What this means, is that INTJs are more aware of their own feelings, which helps to explain their sensitivity. However, just because they are in-tune with their emotions, doesn’t necessarily result in them knowing how to deal with those emotions.

INTPs are considerably less aware of their emotional development and are much less sensitive than the INTJ. Once they can no longer ignore their feelings – usually in times of stress – they go to their Inferior Cognitive Function (Extraverted Feelings) as express what looks like, irrational forms of emotion.

When an INTJ isn’t in their healthiest state, they’re accessing their Inferior Cognitive Function; Extraverted Sensing, and overindulge in any form of sensory gratification. This can be food, sex, drugs, gambling or alcohol. INTJs often internalize their anger and prefer to sulk and ‘feed’ their emotions. An INTP prefers to explode with rage.

Getting to understand these two types express their emotions can be helpful not just for following your own personality but also INTPs and INTJs you have a business or personal relationship with.

Solving the Problems of the World

INTJs are brilliant at solving problems – primarily due to Introverted Intuition and Extraverted Thinking being their strongest cognitive functions. Because of this, they often excel in areas of consultancy, analytical positions and any role where trouble-shooting is at the forefront.

INTPs on the other hand, are great at producing ideas or finding many possibilities to solve an issue – just not so good and deciding on a fixed course of action. If you want a direct response, you should ask an INTJ before an INTP.

In the face of INTJs ability to solve problems, many often have difficulties deciding on a career path. INTJs are eternal perfectionists and can’t just fit any niche – solving any old problem – it has to be the perfect fit.

They tend to focus on the significant issues and may better be suited as independent specialists as opposed to a traditional role. In any capacity, the INTJ will usually keep working on something until they have exhausted their options or discovered a better alternative to make improvements.

In contrast, INTPs use their Dominant Cognitive Function (Introverted Thinking), to look internally to find the answers that will impact changes in the world. INTP’s have a reputation for seeking knowledge for nothing more than just knowing it. It’s not that they don’t apply the information they learn – just that their first priority is to use it to gain a deeper understanding of themselves and where they fit – to live their best life.

In Summary

I hope it has become much clearer how INTPs and INTJs function in diverse ways. For the INTJ, the attention is on how the to make the world a better place and in doing so, develop a greater understanding of themselves.

INTPs try and figure out everything for themselves and put it out into the world as kind of guide.

Both INTJs and INTPs are an integral part of society. They are the straight-talking, creative thinkers that question the status quo and dream up innovative systems and new technology.

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