image credit: Afif RamdhasumaOn paper, the INTP and INTJ are easy enough to tell apart. Both types are introverted, logic oriented and creative, but one is decidedly more systematic and organized than the other. However, in the real world, INTPs can often appear like INTJs because either due to ambition or circumstance, they may have learned to organize their life because they couldn’t afford not to.
In their career for example, INTPs may find it necessary to schedule their time better and spend less of it doing things that are not purposeful or goal oriented. INTPs who reliably meet deadlines and thrive in a structured environment can instantly appear like a judging type. INTPs, like other perceiver types, have a penchant for daydreaming and burning a lot of their time on random, but mentally stimulating distractions. Certain responsibilities and commitments can often get sidelined or postponed in favor of another opportunity to indulge in any one of their preferred interests.
If you feel you straddle the line between being an INTP or INTJ, or you are trying to type someone else who does, this short list might help. Here are 3 key distinctions to clarify how INTP and INTJ differ.
1. The Philosopher vs. The Ideologue
INTPs generally take a more agnostic position on almost everything. There is very little that they would consider themselves to be absolutely certain about in this world. Even if they hold some kind of religious faith, they are unlikely to be dogmatic practitioners of it. They are more likely to value it for its wisdom and philosophy. Additionally, INTPs would evaluate such teachings on the basis of it’s axiomatic merits rather than the notion of a divine or supernatural authority for which they have no evidence.
Their convictions are only as strong as the objective proof they have to support it. INTPs however utilize a more liberal form of logic that is unfettered by strict facts and stats. Their Ti logic sits in a space between Te (extraverted thinking) and Fi (introverted feeling). It’s about what makes sense to them personally and that often depends on the quantity and quality of knowledge and information they’ve absorbed up to that point. Which is also why their perspectives are subject to change as they experience and learn more and more about how the world works.
INTJs for their part are more likely to form a foundation of logic and reasoning that is less fluid. That is because they base it on external logic which is to say, stats, facts and examples of systems and procedures that are shown to work. Their sense of logic is focused on what works, not what “theoretically” makes sense. INTP by comparison cares more about what makes sense according to their logic principles. These constitute axiomatic truths that for them are as irrefutable as the laws of physics. They are concerned with the constructs of logic itself. INTJs are concerned with the end products of logic and harnessing them to achieve a purpose.
When it comes to spirituality for example, INTJs embrace theology as a source of moral instruction by which society can be shaped and guided. However, for INTJs it is more about the codification of values and the structure it provides than the supernatural claims that come with many belief systems. INTJs are more likely to value religion as a tool for creating community and organizing society around a good set of values that facilitate beneficial order.
2. C3PO vs. the Terminator
INTPs are like the more humane, benign robot to INTJ’s cold, objectivistic task machine. INTPs are independent and introverted but are decidedly more mindful and considerate about other people. Although they prefer to do their own thing, they are more inclined to compromise themselves a little just to avoid conflict with another person or offend them. Moreover, INTPs have an underlying desire to be valued and useful to others on account of their inferior Fe (extraverted feeling). To some extent, they are service oriented, at least when it comes to how they seek to apply their creativity and knowledge.
The INTJ resembles more of a loner who is not at all motivated by a desire for other people’s approval or validation. Of course, when they are not given due credit for their abilities and contributions, it can become a source of resentment. Nevertheless, INTJs tend to form goals and objectives that they pursue despite what others feel or have to say about it. They can be single minded in going about their plans, sometimes failing to even consider any perspective besides their own. When they choose to be, INTJs can be excellent team players, but they have a penchant for going rogue when their agenda clashes with others. INTJs aren’t as amenable to having their judgment subordinated to an entity they disagree with. When possible, they prefer to be the ones making the decisions or at least giving advice for others to act upon.
3. Social Engineer vs. Mystical Analyst
Compared to the INTJ, INTPs tend to harbor a greater interest in using engineering and creativity to solve problems. This applies to both the simple problems affecting people in their local environment or the larger technical problems plaguing society and people around the world. INTPs find it worthwhile and rewarding to explore and experiment with things that can further advance and unite humanity. Using information and technology to make life on Earth better for everyone is typically high on the priority list for aspirational INTPs.
INTJs by contrast tend to focus on future problems they perceive based on statistical trends and news reports. INTJs are often more plugged into sociological and political issues particularly where they intersect with their personal Fi values. In their mind, they would help the world by calling attention to whatever doom they foresee coming around the corner and then advise on how to avert disaster. Moreover, INTJs focus on more systemic problems stemming from how things are governed and implemented. and rely on logistical and policy based solutions. They are more interested in the politics and logistics of how resources are allocated and making the smartest decisions within the structures and systems that exist. Otherwise they would be focused on devising a better system that solves the bugs and flaws of the old.
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