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

INTP vs ISTP 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. ISTP personality type. These two types are often confused because they share many of the same characteristics. Both types are logical, adaptable, and reserved. They like their freedom and can’t stand feeling tied down.

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

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

1. Observing the world.

Despite being similar in a lot of ways, INTPs and ISTPs view the world differently. INTPs tend to think about the big picture, while ISTPs are more comfortable 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 simple everyday things to novel business ideas.


As a result, INTPs are very future-focused and could be described as “visionary.” They often have passion projects that they pursue with great enthusiasm.  

ISTPs 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.

ISTPs are a paradoxical mix of being observant yet easily distracted. They place high importance on verifiable facts and information that is proven.

2. Recalling information.

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

INTPs 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.

ISTPs 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.

In fact, ISTPs have exceptionally accurate memories. This is because they tend to recall precise sensory information rather than the overall gist of a situation. Ultimately, they remember how something actually was as opposed to their subjective impression of it.

3. Problem-solving.

When it comes to solving problems, INTPs and ISTPs use different methodologies. INTPs approach problems in an abstract way, while ISTPs have a more grounded thought process.

INTPs are quick to see the potential in a situation, and they’re often able to think up creative solutions. This is because they’re able to step back and see different perspectives.

They’re particularly adept at getting to the very bottom of an issue and understanding it on a deep level. Plus, they naturally use their creativity to think outside the box. This allows them to find innovative solutions to problems.

ISTPs are able to find workable solutions by assessing the realities of the situation and taking action. They have quick minds and tend to be good in a crisis because they are able to think on their feet.

In addition, ISTPs are highly aware of their movements and in touch with what’s going on around them. As a result, they prefer to solve hands-on problems in the real world rather than theoretical questions.

4. Practicality.

ISTPs are one of the most practical personality types, while INTPs are more likely to be seen as visionaries. INTPs are inventive, and they can become overwhelmed by their thoughts.

This can make them seem impractical at times. They might have a vision for something that is so perfect that it’s unattainable. Plus, they have a deep desire for everything to fit perfectly into their internal framework of how the world works.

INTPs can sometimes benefit from having other people around them who keep them grounded in reality because, at times, they can end up getting caught up in their heads.

ISTPs, on the other hand, are usually very practical. They’re often able to see things as they are and they aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.

In addition, ISTPs are exceptionally realistic, which can be both a good and a bad thing. On the one hand, it means that they manage to stay grounded in the realities of a situation. On the other hand, it can mean that they’re not always as open to new ideas and possibilities.

5. Communication style.

INTPs and ISTPs are both direct and reserved in the way they communicate. However, INTPs have a more abstract communication style, while ISTPs tend to speak in a more literal way.

INTPs often communicate in a roundabout manner and 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 people who are on the same wavelength.

Woman hiking

Conversely, ISTPs are more likely to communicate with tangible, concrete facts. They get their point across in a literal way.

In addition, ISTPs often give exact examples of events that have occurred in the past. This helps ISTPs feel like they are being clear. They can become overwhelmed if too many theoretical ideas are thrown their way at once.

Ultimately, ISTPs are one of the most pragmatic personality types when it comes to communication, and they are often seen as people of few words.

INTP vs/ ISTP frequently asked questions

So now we have explained the key differences between the INTP vs. ISTP 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 the two personality types to help make it clearer for you.

Are INTPs vs. ISTPs more creative?

There’s no simple answer to the question of whether INTPs or ISTPs are more creative. Both types tend to apply their creativity to different things.

Seeing as INTPs tend to focus on the big picture more than ISTPs, they’re often quick to see potential problems and possible solutions. This means they have a unique ability to come up with novel ideas. They’re the kind of people to invent the next digital currency.

On the other hand, ISTPs are more likely to use their creativity for real-world applications. If something is broken, they’re usually able to come up with creative ways of fixing it. Even if they don’t have all the exact tools they need, they can often come up with a workaround.

Ultimately, there’s no clear winner when it comes to which type is more creative. It really depends on the individual. Plus, their creativity shines in different situations.

Do INTPs and ISTPs have a similar energy?

INTPs and ISTPs both come across as rational and reserved. In addition, they are both direct and can be seen as detached. In the big scheme of things, they have a similar energy.

After all, both personality types are introverts, thinkers, and perceivers. However, there are also key differences between the two types that can affect how they are viewed by others.

INTPs are often thought of as complex and enigmatic. They don’t give much away, but people can usually tell that they have a lot going on in their heads. In general, INTPs come across as more unconventional and eccentric.

ISTPs are usually seen as more down-to-earth and practical. They are more likely to engage in lighter topics of conversation and tend to be more straightforward. As a result, ISTPs often have a more grounded energy and can come across as more matter-of-fact.

In summary, INTPs and ISTPs share many qualities that can make them seem similar at first glance. But when you talk to them for a while, you will see they have quite different interests.

Are INTPs vs. ISTPs more introverted?

When it comes to personality types, everyone falls somewhere on the spectrum between introverted and extroverted. INTPs tend to be particularly introverted, more so than ISTPs.  

Both types are independent and value freedom. They need plenty of alone time to feel their best and can go for days without much social interaction. In fact, they are very focused on logic and are less people-oriented than most other personality types.

In addition, INTPs and ISTPs often prefer being with a small group of friends. This isn’t to say they don’t enjoy a good party once in a while, it’s just they prefer that kind of thing in small doses.

In terms of differences, INTPs are likely to spend more time in their heads figuring things out, while ISTPs have the ability to stay present. This can make INTPs appear more introverted in some ways.

Final thoughts on INTP vs. ISTP differences

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

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