How to Tell if You’re an INTP vs. ISTJ

INTP vs ISTJ blog cover

If you’re reading this post, there’s a high chance that you’re trying to work out if you’re an INTP vs. ISTJ personality type. These two types are often confused because they share several of the same characteristics. Both types are logical, reserved, and measured. They also love to learn.  

But there are also some core differences between how these types think and experience the world. In this post, we explore these key differences. If you’re unclear about your type, we hope this helps you.

So here are five differences between the ISTJ vs. INTP personality types:

1. Motivation for learning.

Analytical man

There are few, if any, personality types who enjoy learning as much as ISTJs and INTPs. Both types innately have a thirst for knowledge, and they are some of the most knowledgeable people out there. However, their motivation for learning comes from different places.

ISTJs tend to learn with a specific goal in mind. They care about efficiency and get a huge amount of satisfaction from achieving what they set out to do.

For example, an ISTJ may read a book about pensions and take a course on money management because they want to maximize their retirement income.

ISTJs make calculated decisions, and they carefully consider the opportunity cost of their time. This is what drives them to learn about topics that can help them further their life in one way or another.

If there’s one thing that ISTJs love, it’s learning about abstract topics which have real-world applications. They love to solve problems and make systems more efficient because of the impact the results have on the external world.

Plus, ISTJs think of the long-term impacts of everything they do, which means that their actions have clear reasons behind them, including learning.

INTPs tend to learn because they are deeply curious about how things work. They get a huge amount of enjoyment from learning for the sake of it.

Additionally, they tend to go through phases where they are deeply interested in a specific topic for a while, and then, once they feel that they fully understand it, they move on to the next subject of their fascination.

For example, an INTP might read a book about pensions and take a course on money management because they are intrigued by all the potential ways you can invest money.

They may or may not use the learnings in a practical sense. While INTPs also love to solve problems, they are less concerned about using the learnings in the outer world.

2. Observing the world.

Despite being similar in a lot of ways, the way INTPs and ISTJs view the world differently. INTPs tend to think about the big picture, while ISTJs are more comfortable when dealing with details.

INTPs have a holistic focus, sometimes at the expense of details. This allows them to use their imagination to see the potential in everything, from people to concepts.

As a result, INTPs are very future-focused and are often described as “visionary.” They often have a clear, long-term goal that they work toward tirelessly.

ISTJs have a knack for paying attention to what’s around them. They are more likely to see the forest for the trees, so to speak.

This is evident in the way they notice small things about people and their environment. They tend to take a methodical and detail-oriented approach. ISTJs place high importance on verifiable facts and information that is proven.

3. Making decisions.

INTPs and ISTJs both use logic to make decisions, but in slightly different ways. ISTJs use logic based on objective facts, while INTPs use logic based on what makes sense to them.

INTPs use inductive logic to make decisions. This means they start at the theory, then go to the facts, and then return to the theory.

Essentially, INTPs tend to use facts to prove their theories. Over their lifetimes, they build up an internal web of knowledge about how the world works. In fact, they can find it hard to accept information that conflicts with their framework of knowledge.

Introvert bookcase

When making decisions, INTPs ask: “Does this make sense to me?” INTPs can take longer to make decisions because each choice they make must be in alignment with their internal model. Sometimes, it takes them time to work out where a new concept fits into their internal framework.

ISTJs use deductive logic to make decisions. This means they start with the facts, then go to the theory, and then return to the facts.

Essentially, ISTJs use logic that is based on what is verifiable in the outside world. They tend to focus on the end result they are looking to achieve and work backward from there in order to decide on the best decision to get to that point.

When making decisions, ISTJs ask: “Does this make sense based on facts?” ISTJs tend to be quicker at making decisions because they don’t filter each choice through a complex internal framework in the same way that INTPs do.

4. Organization.

The way that INTPs and ISTJs organize their day-to-day lives can look quite different. INTPs prefer to keep their options open, while ISTJs feel more comfortable when they have a clear plan.

INTPs often appear relaxed and adaptable. In fact, they are in a lot of ways. They don’t like to plan too far in advance and are open to new experiences.

This is because they love entertaining possibilities and can feel uncomfortable when they give up options. Despite being flexible on the surface, they are less adaptable in terms of their inner world.

INTPs feel very strongly when they think that someone is “wrong” or when someone is spreading inaccurate information. They will feel a deep need to correct this person, and they can do this in quite a blunt manner. As discussed, INTPs have very clear views on what makes sense.

ISTJs are organized and tend to feel at ease when they have a plan. They like to know what they’re doing and when they’re doing it. This is because they have a lot going on in their heads and feel more comfortable when they have some structure in their outer lives.

Being in an environment where there is outer structure enables ISTJs to think clearly and explore concepts internally. While both ISTJs and INTPs are logical, the fact that ISTJs apply their logic to the outer world plays out in them organizing their life efficiently.

For example, they may have a specific place where they always put their keys, and so on. They are highly aware that small actions like this save them time in the long run.

Even though ISTJs feel most comfortable with some kind of routine, they do like to allow periods of time to recharge in their introverted bubble and pursue their interests.

5. Memory.

Journal and coffee

Not only do INTPs and ISTJs take in information differently, but they also differ in the way they remember things. INTPs tend to remember overall ideas, while ISTJs retain specific details.

INTPs tend to remember general impressions. This is because they are most interested in the overall idea, the meaning behind something, and the end result. They often don’t remember specific attributes.

For example, they might have a memory of a man in a shop who was rude to them, but they won’t remember what color jumper he was wearing.

INTPs store information in their memory in a way that is interconnected and easily accessible. This allows them to make connections between different pieces of information they have gathered. ISTJs tend to have incredible memories of facts and details. They often remember exactly how things felt, smelled, tasted, etc.

For example, when asked about a restaurant, they might remember a specific item on a menu that they enjoyed rather than the reason they were there. ISTJs tend to be exceptional at remembering birthdays and special dates.

In fact, it’s almost as if they have a library of memories in their minds that they can draw upon in order to compare present experiences with those in the past. ISTJs are often very talented students, partly because of their ability to remember detailed information for work or school.

6. Communication style.

INTPs and ISTJs are both extremely thoughtful in the way they communicate, and they always take into account other people’s feelings. However, INTPs have a more abstract communication style, while ISTJs tend to speak in a more literal way.

INTPs often communicate in a roundabout way and often use metaphors or analogies to get their point across. They aim to make sure that whoever they are talking to understands the overall idea behind what they’re trying to say.

INTPs have unique insights into the underlying meanings behind things, and they love to talk about them with those who are on the same wavelength.

ISTJs, on the other hand, are more likely to communicate with tangible, concrete facts. They get their points across in a literal way.

In addition, ISTJs often give exact examples of events that have occurred in the past. This helps the ISTJ feel like they are being clear.

Plus, they tend to communicate very specific details, and they can get frustrated if someone they are speaking to is communicating in a vague manner.

INTP vs. ISTJ frequently asked questions

So now we have explained the key differences between the INTP and ISTJ personality types. Even for those who have explored personality types in depth, it can still be hard to tell the difference between these two types.

Let’s now look at some frequently asked questions about each personality to help make it clearer for you.

Are INTPs vs. ISTJs smarter?

There’s no clear answer when it comes to determining which personality type is more intelligent. After all, intelligence can be measured in a lot of different ways and can mean different things to different people.

That being said, if you consider the most common measure, the Intelligence Quotient (IQ), INTPs and ISTJs both tend to fare quite well. For example, both types are highly adept at problem-solving. They’re also quick learners who enjoy finding solutions to complex challenges.

INTPs are more drawn to abstract problems, while ISTJs naturally prefer to solve practical challenges. So, while there’s no clear winner in the battle of INTPs vs. ISTJs, it’s safe to say that both types are highly intelligent in their own unique ways.

Are INTPs vs. ISTJs more sociable?

INTPs vs. ISTJs value their alone time, and they are two of the least social personality types. However, that’s not to say that they don’t have social skills; it’s just that they prefer not to spend too much time with other people, particularly in large groups.

ISTJs tend to be more willing to share their opinions than INTPs, and they often have goals that require sociability to some degree.

INTPs often prefer to stay in exploring new topics of interest or playing games. As a result, they tend to spend less time with people because they often feel extremely fulfilled by themselves learning more about things they love.

Do INTPs and ISTJs have a similar energy?

INTPs and ISTJs have a similar energy. They’re both introverted, thinking types that are known for being quiet and analytical. However, there are also some key ways in which they differ.

For one thing, ISTJs are much more organized and practical than INTPs. They’re often described as being like ‘a machine’ because they’re so efficient and methodical in everything they do.

INTPs, on the other hand, are more flexible and spontaneous. They’re known for being creative and innovative, always coming up with new ideas and ways of doing things.

So, while these two types may have a similar energy, they definitely have their own unique strengths and preferences that set them apart.

Final thoughts on INTP vs. ISTJ differences

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our individual INTP and ISTJ posts, which delve deeper into each personality type. Last but not least, you might enjoy our post about INTJ vs. INTP differences.

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