ISTP (introverted, sensing, thinking, perceiving) is one of the 16 personality types identified by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). People with ISTP personalities enjoy having time to think alone and are fiercely independent. ISTPs also love action, new experiences, hands-on activities, and the freedom to work at their own pace.
ISTPs enjoy taking things apart just to see how they work. They are logical and rational, but are more interested in practical applications than in abstract ideas. They love doing new things and can become bored with routines rather quickly.
Key ISTP Characteristics
- People with an ISTP personality are results-oriented. When there is a problem, they want to quickly understand the underlying cause and implement some type of solution. ISTPs are often described as quiet, but with an easy-going attitude towards others.
- ISTPs enjoy new experiences and may often engage in thrill-seeking or even risk-taking behaviors. They often engage in risky or fast-paced hobbies such as motorcycling, hang gliding, bungee jumping, surfing or ice hockey. In some cases, they may seek out adventure by choosing careers in areas such as racing, flying, or firefighting.
- They prefer to make judgments based upon objective criteria rather than personal beliefs or values.
- ISTPs are not well attuned to the emotional states of others, and they can sometimes be seen as a bit insensitive. They also distance themselves from their own emotions, ignoring their feelings until they become overwhelming.
- One common myth about ISTPs is that they are the stoic, silent type. While they do tend to be reserved, this does not mean that they do not experience strong emotions. Instead, they are good at keeping a cool head, maintaining their objectivity, and coping with crisis.1
- Learns by experience
- Realistic and practical
- Enjoys new things
- Self-confident and easy-going
- Difficult to get to know
- Grows bored easily
- Does not like commitment
The MBTI suggests that people possess a number of different cognitive functions (thinking, sensing, feeling, and intuition) that can then be directed inwards (introverted) or outwards (extraverted). The hierarchical arrangement of these functions is what makes up each individual’s personality, the MBTI suggests.
The dominant function is the most prominent aspect of personality, although the auxiliary function also plays an important supporting role. The tertiary and inferior functions are less important and may operate on a largely unconscious basis or may become more apparent during times when a person is under stress.1
Dominant: Introverted Thinking
- ISTPs spend a great deal of time thinking and dealing with information in their own heads. This means they do not spend a great deal of time expressing themselves verbally, so they are often known as being quiet.
- It may seem like the ISTPs approach to decision-making is very haphazard, yet their actions are actually based upon careful observation and thought.
- They deal with the world rationally and logically, so they are often focused on things that seem practical and useful.
- Because they are so logical, ISTPs are good at looking at situations in an objective way and avoiding subjective or emotional factors when making decisions. People with this personality type can be difficult to get to know, often because they are focused so much on action and results rather than on emotions.1
Auxiliary: Extraverted Sensing
- ISTPs prefer to focus on the present and take on things one day at a time. They often avoid making long-term commitments and would rather focus on the “here and now” rather than think about future plans and possibilities.
- ISTPs tend to be very logical and enjoy learning and understanding how things operate. They might take apart a mechanical device just to see how it works.
- While they are good at understanding abstract and theoretical information, they are not particularly interested in such things unless they can see some type of practical application.1
Tertiary: Introverted Intuition
- This function often operates largely unconsciously in the ISTP personality. While they are not usually interested in abstract ideas, they may take such concepts and try to turn them into action or practical solutions.
- It is this function that is behind the “gut feelings” that ISTP sometimes experience when making a decision. By synthesizing information brought in by the dominant and auxiliary functions, this aspect of personality may be responsible for sudden “aha” moments of insight.1
Inferior: Extraverted Feeling
- This aspect of personality tends to operate in the background of the ISTP personality, but it can become more apparent during times of stress.
- During highly charged situations, ISTPs can sometimes lash out in sudden outbursts of emotion. They often ignore their own feelings until things reach a boiling over point, which can lead to displaying emotions in ways that can seem inappropriate.1
ISTPs You Might Know
- Clint Eastwood, actor
- Zachary Taylor, U.S. President
- Alan Shepherd, astronaut
- Amelia Earhart, aviator
- Han Solo, Star Wars character
ISTPs are introverts and they tend to be quiet and reserved. They thrive on new experiences and dislike strict routines. In relationships, they are highly independent and do not like to feel controlled. Making commitments is difficult for the ISTP, but will put a lot of effort into relationships that hold their interest.
They do not often share their emotions with other people. While they enjoy hearing what other people think, they frequently keep their own opinions to themselves. For this reasons, people sometimes describe ISTPs as difficult to get to know. They often find friends who enjoy similar hobbies that they do and enjoy spending time with these friends as they pursue these activities.1
Because ISTPs are introverted, they often do well in jobs that require working alone. ISTPs tend to dislike too much structure and do well in careers where they have a lot of freedom and autonomy. Because they are very logical, they often enjoy work that involves reasoning and hands-on experience. In particular, ISTPs like doing things that have practical, real-world applications.1
Popular ISTP Careers
- Forensic science
- Computer programming
- Law enforcement
- Software engineer
- Video game designer
Tips for Interacting With ISTPs
ISTPs tend to be curious and even adventurous, but they also have a strong need to be alone at times. You can be a great friend by asking them to get out and pursue new things, but be ready to respect their need for peace and quiet when they are not feeling up to going out.
If you are a parent to an ISTP child, you are probably well aware of their independent, adventurous nature. You can encourage their confidence by providing safe and healthy opportunities for them to explore things on their own. Provide rules and guidance, but be careful not to hover. Give your child plenty of hands-on learning, outdoor adventures, and opportunities to experiment with how things work.
Because ISTPs live so strongly in the present moment, long-term commitments can be a real challenge. You can strengthen your relationship with your ISTP partner by being willing to take things day to day and by respecting their fierce need for independence.