I stumbled upon the Myers-Briggs type indicator a long time ago, obtaining the result INTP. At the time I thought it was just another personality test on the Internet, but last week I heard one of my apartment-mates using his INTJ result to explain his views on a particular topic. After researching it for a bit, I learned that the Myers-Briggs type is actually widely used.
Of course, there are many caveats to the result, and there is much variation. In fact, just to confirm it, I tried different unofficial websites and ended up with INTP on all of them except one, which gave ENTP.
The way the type indicator works is that each letter represents a particular preference. The preferences, given as dichotomies, are given below:
- (E) Extraversion – (I) Introversion
- (S) Sensing – (N) Intuition
- (T) Thinking – (F) Feeling
- (J) Judgment – (P) Perception
After reading through some articles on INTP, I found that the predictions fit almost perfectly. Just to make sure, I checked some of the other types to make sure I would not fit those, and indeed it was the case.
(Credits to a friend at Cornell for finding this behavior on Wolfram.)
Here are some interesting or funny quotes on INTPs from various websites, some of which particularly applied.
- “INTPs live in the world of theoretical possibilities. They see everything in terms of how it could be improved, or what it could be turned into.”
- “They are the ‘absent-minded professors’, who highly value intelligence and the ability to apply logic to theories to find solutions.”
- “Sometimes, their well thought-out understanding of an idea is not easily understandable by others, but the INTP is not naturally likely to tailor the truth so as to explain it in an understandable way to others.”
- “They may venture so deeply into thought as to seem detached, and often actually are oblivious to the world around them.”
- “They spend considerable time second-guessing themselves.”
- “One of the tipoffs that a person is an INTP is her obsession with logical correctness.”
- “It is a bad idea to lie to an INTP.”
- “INTPs cannot stand routine work – they would much rather tackle a difficult theoretical problem.”
- “They absolutely love new ideas and theories and would never miss an opportunity to discuss them with other people – however, this never-ending thinking process also makes them look somewhat pensive and detached, as INTPs are perfectly able to conduct full-fledged debates in their own heads.”
This last point is interestingly worded and strikingly true. I debate myself all the time. I even play myself at chess. And the best part—at least once, I have played an entire chess game in a dream. Just a couple weeks ago, I also logically corrected some statement, while in a dream. (Well, technically I was talking to a person who corrected me, but given that this was in my dream, this meant I basically corrected myself in a dream.) I wonder what Freud would say about that.
The first site that introduced me to Myers-Briggs was actually this one, which lists celebrities by type, celebrities including academics, scientists, philosophers, writers, politicians, social activists, etc. In addition, the INTP page has a link to a comparison between Richard Dawkins (INTP) and Christopher Hitchens (INTJ). The comparison is pretty interesting (click to expand). [Edit: The site has a free MBTI test. With a sample size of 1, it seems pretty accurate as I did get INTP.]
Finally, I want to talk about the one ENTP result. Perhaps INTP and ENTP are close enough? On one of the tests where I scored INTP, a test that gave percentage breakdowns, the NTP were each 70-90%, while the I vs E was only 60%. I suppose this makes sense as for some situations, especially during time pressure, I forgo logic and use intuition instead (apparently one of the differences is dominance on thinking for INTP versus on intuition for ENTP). In speed chess, I basically play solely using intuition, unless my intuition tells me I actually need to calculate. Of course there are many other differences between the two. Overall it seems I may be both INTP and ENTP, but with INTP more active.