The Complete Guide to INTP Cognitive Functions

INTP Cognitive Functions blog cover

Are you looking to understand more about the INTP personality type? If so, learning about their cognitive functions is a great next step. INTPs are known for their analytical, unconventional approach to life—but there’s much more to INTPs than just that. In this guide, we’ll dive into INTP cognitive functions, which can give you valuable insight into how people of this personality type think.

But first, what are cognitive functions? Cognitive functions are modes of processing information and making decisions based on your personality type. They form the basis of how we think and draw conclusions.

Each personality type primarily uses four cognitive functions, and the position of each one impacts how each person uses it. This order is sometimes referred to as a “function stack.”

The INTP cognitive function stack is as follows:

1. Dominant cognitive function = Introverted Thinking (Ti). INTPs use this function to analyze data and draw logical conclusions.

2. Auxiliary cognitive function = Extraverted Intution (Ne). INTPs use this function to make connections between ideas and explore possibilities.

3. Tertiary cognitive function = Introverted Sensing (Si). INTPs use this function to draw on past experiences.

4. Inferior cognitive function = Extraverted Feeling (Fe). INTPs use this function to understand other people and navigate relationships.

1. Dominant cognitive function: Introverted Thinking (Ti)

Introverted Thinking is an INTP’s dominant cognitive function, which means that it’s the most influential in their function stack. It’s the cognitive function INTPs use most often and with the greatest ease.

Introverted Thinking is one of the processes that help us make decisions based on our inner world. It’s about considering your inner framework of logic and web of knowledge. If Introverted Thinking was a question, it would be: does this make sense to me?

This cognitive function is all about understanding how the world works. It’s associated with ensuring that data and information is accurate. As a result, INTPs tend to be logical and analytical. They usually have a talent for problem-solving and like to know the reasoning behind things. This is also why they come across as laidback—they don’t like to make big decisions without knowing all the facts, so they’ll often just put it off.

When an INTP takes in new information, they compare it to their existing internal framework of how the world works. If it fits, they have new information to add to their internal database. However, if it doesn’t fit their current understanding, they will reconsider the new and old information to determine where the inaccuracies lie. If necessary, they will seek out additional facts to help them understand.

Introverted Thinking cognitive function

INTPs tend to need more time to analyze a situation, particularly when it comes to complex problems and concepts. Introverted Thinking isn’t always instant and can take a few ‘aha’ moments before achieving clarity. People of this personality type often need a lot of alone time to process and contemplate. This gives them the space needed for their Introverted Thinking to work its magic.

INTPs use Introverted Thinking to analyze and evaluate situations, looking for flaws in arguments or potential solutions. It enables them to pick up on inconsistencies or changes in arguments. If INTPs notice something amiss, they use Introverted Thinking to find the reason behind it. Essentially, it enables INTPs to think critically about a situation, motivating them to verify information and check its accuracy instead of taking it at face value.

Introverted Thinking plays a role in why INTPs have a deep curiosity for understanding the ins and outs of a topic. They don’t need an “end goal” to learn—they just have an innate desire to know how certain things work. This combination of creativity and logic also helps them develop ingenious solutions. Essentially, INTPs don’t just think about the “what” but also the “why” and the “how.” This can extend to people as well. If they find you interesting, they’ll want to know everything about you and figure out how your mind works.

This combination of functions also means INTPs often enjoy debating because it enables them to truly get to the root of an argument and understand it on a deeper level. Hearing other people’s perspectives and receiving feedback on their thought processes allows INTPs to refine their internal framework of knowledge. INTPs often look for ways to reframe arguments, sharpen their thinking skills, and challenge their beliefs.

2. Auxiliary cognitive function: Extraverted Intuition (Ne)

Extraverted Intuition is an INTP’s auxiliary cognitive function, which means it’s the second most influential in their function stack. It’s another area where their strengths lie, although not to the same extent as Introverted Thinking.

Extraverted Intuition is one of the processes that help us understand the world around us. It’s about experiencing and perceiving the external world through a lens of possibilities. If Extraverted Intuition was a question, it would be: what could be?

This cognitive function is all about what could happen and seeing connections between topics. It is concerned with what is possible rather than the current reality. As a result, INTPs are often seen as imaginative, innovative thinkers who always bring a unique perspective to the table.

Extraverted Intuition is associated with thinking outside the box. It is original, unconstrained, and open-minded. INTPs use this cognitive function to generate new ideas and think of ways of doing things differently. They tend to have a short attention span and get bored quickly. As a result, they need intellectual stimulation to stay engaged and feel alive. This is a result of the combination of Extraverted Intuition and Introverted Thinking.

Extraverted Intuition cognitive function

Extraverted Intuition INTPs to make connections between seemingly unrelated topics. For example, they might connect a scientific breakthrough with its potential application in the business world. This unique style of thinking means that they are exceptionally resourceful and entrepreneurial. The patterns they notice to make these connections give them valuable insight into the complexities of the world.

It can be difficult for some people to follow and understand an INTP’s thought process because it can appear scattered from an outsider’s perspective. They are abstract thinkers who often skip steps in their thought process because in their mind, it’s already clear where their ideas are going. They don’t tend to talk through or explain their thought process in detail. As a result, their ideas can seem far-fetched and unconnected, even though they make complete sense to the INTP.

Extraverted Intuition is a forward-thinking cognitive function, and it’s focused on possibilities rather than reality or the here and now. It’s also very much focused on the big picture, which is why INTPs don’t get too caught up in the details. They also don’t feel constrained by tried and tested ways of doing things and aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo. This is what enables them to be creative—they don’t get stuck thinking about what’s been done before.

INTPs are naturally curious individuals who have a thirst for knowledge. When excited about a new idea, they often spend hours researching and analyzing it. While they tend to be easily distracted, they can be incredibly focused during these phases of intense interest in a topic. They enjoy learning through trial and error rather than spending too much time planning.

3. Tertiary cognitive function: Introverted Sensing (Si)

Introverted Sensing is an INTP’s tertiary cognitive function, which means that it’s the third most prominent in their function stack. Our tertiary cognitive function tends to be noticeably less developed than our first two.

Introverted Sensing is one of the processes that help us understand our inner world. It’s about experiencing and perceiving our inner world through stored memories of sensory information. If Introverted Sensing was a question, it would be: how does this compare to what I remember?

This cognitive function is all about soaking up sensory information and storing it for future reference. It’s associated with remembering facts and details from the past. Since INTPs use Extraverted Intuition lower down in their function stack, these abilities are less prominent than in other personality types who use it as their dominant function.

Introverted Sensing mainly impacts INTPs by motivating them to reflect on past experiences. It helps INTPs form a mental library of data they can refer to when making decisions. People of this personality type often use Introverted Sensing to support their analysis that results from their Introverted Thinking. This combination of cognitive functions is a powerful tool for coming to sound conclusions, as it allows INTPs to draw on their previous experiences to better understand current situations.

Introverted Sensing cognitive function

INTPs tend to be adaptable and flexible. They don’t like to plan too far into the future and prefer to stay open to new experiences. But when they use their Introverted Sensing, it helps them maintain some kind of routine that keeps them focused. After all, to turn your ideas into reality, you need an element of self-discipline and the ability to deal with everyday tasks. This is where Introverted Sensing comes to the rescue.

Introverted Sensing helps INTPs to make sure they don’t get too carried away with their ideas and theories. For example, they might think of an outlandish idea using their Extraverted Intuition, and their Introverted Sensing will remind them to consider how practical it is in the real world. This cognitive function helps INTPs to stay grounded even when their heads are in the clouds.

Since Introverted Sensing is the tertiary cognitive function in INTPs, it can also have some detrimental effects. People of this personality type may not always be reliable when it comes to dealing with routine tasks. They can become easily bored and lose interest in what they’re doing if it doesn’t stimulate their minds. INTPs need to be able to challenge themselves in order to stay motivated so chores like paying bills can fall by the wayside.

Tertiary introverted Sensing can also help explain why INTPs can be forgetful. After all, it’s associated with remembering facts and details. With such an active mind that is focused on the future, it’s easy to see how they could become distracted and forget small tasks that don’t seem important in the grand scheme of things. INTPs can struggle with deadlines, and they may also forget important dates such as birthdays or anniversaries.

4. Inferior cognitive function: Extraverted Feeling (Fe)

Extraverted Feeling is an INTP’s inferior cognitive function which means they can struggle to access it as easily as their other functions. Using your inferior cognitive function as a strength is possible, but not for a prolonged period.

Extraverted Feeling is one of the processes that help us make decisions based on the outer world. It’s about taking into account the emotions of others and what’s best for the group. If Extraverted Feeling was a question, it would be: how do others feel about this?

This cognitive function is all about understanding people’s feelings, social dynamics, and hierarchies. It’s associated with picking up on social subtleties, and it has the desire to maintain harmony. However, it’s the inferior function of an INTP, so it tends to manifest more as a weakness than a strength.

One of the key ways that inferior Extraverted Feeling manifests in INTPs is that they can struggle to read people. They don’t always pick up on how others are feeling because they just don’t have that natural ability. As such, they might misread social cues or entire situations, leading to awkward conversations and misunderstandings.

Extraverted Feeling cognitive function

INTPs can also have difficulty understanding how their words and actions impact others. In particular, they can struggle to know what to say when someone is sad or angry. While it’s never their intention, this can lead to them coming across as uncaring or even insensitive. Additionally, they can find it hard to feign interest if they aren’t enjoying a conversation.

At times, INTPs can struggle to express their emotions in a healthy way. Since Extraverted Feeling is an inferior function for this personality type, discussing their feelings doesn’t come easily to them. This can lead to them bottling up emotions or entirely avoiding conversations about them. Either way, it can have adversely affect them in the long run.

Emotions are often confusing for INTPs because they focus on facts and logic. At times, INTPs might overthink their feelings and try to intellectualize them. This can lead to them losing sight of the actual emotion. They can also find other people’s emotions confusing and overwhelming, causing them to shut down or become uncomfortable in situations involving intense feelings.

Inferior Extraverted Feeling in INTPs can also manifest as conflict avoidance. Because INTPs are uncomfortable dealing with emotions, they can end up trying to avoid conflict altogether, particularly if they think it will get heated. As a result, they can end up burying their heads in the sand rather than dealing with the problem head-on. This can be detrimental to their relationships as well as their own development if it’s not addressed.

Final thoughts on INTP cognitive functions

So there we have it: an in-depth look at INTP cognitive functions. If you’re an INTP or getting to know one, this guide will help you understand how people of this personality type process information and why they act in certain ways.

INTPs are intellectual, adaptable individuals with a lot to offer, but like everyone, they’re not perfect. Understanding cognitive functions is a great way to gain insight into the strengths and weaknesses of this personality type.

Finally, don’t forget to share this post with your friends and followers – knowledge is power, and learning more about cognitive functions can help us understand ourselves and those around us on a deeper level.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like our blog post about INTP compatibility and relationships.

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