Portrait of an ISTP - Introverted
Sensing Thinking Perceiving
(Introverted Thinking with Extraverted Sensing)
As an ISTP, your primary mode of living is focused internally, where you deal
with things rationally and logically. Your secondary mode is external, where you
take things in via your five senses in a literal, concrete fashion.
ISTPs have a compelling drive to understand the way things work. They're good
at logical analysis, and like to use it on practical concerns. They typically
have strong powers of reasoning, although they're not interested in theories or
concepts unless they can see a practical application. They like to take things
apart and see the way they work.
ISTPs have an adventuresome spirit. They are attracted to motorcycles,
airplanes, sky diving, surfing, etc. They thrive on action, and are usually
fearless. ISTPs are fiercely independent, needing to have the space to make
their own decisions about their next step. They do not believe in or follow
rules and regulations, as this would prohibit their ability to "do their
own thing". Their sense of adventure and desire for constant action makes
ISTPs prone to becoming bored rather quickly.
ISTPs are loyal to their causes and beliefs, and are firm believers that
people should be treated with equity and fairness. Although they do not respect
the rules of the "System", they follow their own rules and guidelines
for behavior faithfully. They will not take part in something which violates
their personal laws. ISTPs are extremely loyal and faithful to their
ISTPs like and need to spend time alone, because this is when they can sort
things out in their minds most clearly. They absorb large quantities of
impersonal facts from the external world, and sort through those facts, making
judgements, when they are alone.
ISTPs are action-oriented people. They like to be up and about, doing things.
They are not people to sit behind a desk all day and do long-range planning.
Adaptable and spontaneous, they respond to what is immediately before them. They
usually have strong technical skills, and can be effective technical leaders.
They focus on details and practical things. They have an excellent sense of
expediency and grasp of the details which enables them to make quick, effective
ISTPs avoid making judgements based on personal values - they feel that
judgements and decisions should be made impartially, based on the fact. They are
not naturally tuned in to how they are affecting others. They do not pay
attention to their own feelings, and even distrust them and try to ignore them,
because they have difficulty distinguishing between emotional reactions and
value judgements. This may be a problem area for many ISTPs.
An ISTP who is over-stressed may exhibit rash emotional outbursts of anger,
or on the other extreme may be overwhelmed by emotions and feelings which they
feel compelled to share with people (often inappropriately). An ISTP who is down
on themself will foray into the world of value judgements - a place which is not
natural for the ISTP - and judge themself by their inability to perform some
task. They will then approach the task in a grim emotional state, expecting the
ISTPs are excellent in a crisis situations. They're usually good athletes,
and have very good hand-eye coordination. They are good at following through
with a project, and tying up loose ends. They usually don't have much trouble
with school, because they are introverts who can think logically. They are
usually patient individuals, although they may be prone to occasional emotional
outbursts due to their inattention to their own feelings.
ISTPs have a lot of natural ability which makes them good at many different
kinds of things. However, they are happiest when they are centered in
action-oriented tasks which require detailed logical analysis and technical
skill. They take pride in their ability to take the next correct step.
ISTPs are optimistic, full of good cheer, loyal to their equals,
uncomplicated in their desires, generous, trusting and receptive people who want
no part in confining commitments.
ISTPs are generally extremely capable individuals who are good at most things
which interest them. They are usually bright, interesting, and exciting
individuals with a lot to offer. They live almost entirely in the present
moment, and usually do not make commitments beyond the immediate foreseeable
future. An ISTP probably coined the phrase "nothing is unconditional".
They strongly prefer to take things one day at a time, rather than make
long-term commitments. If a relationship interests them and satisfies their
needs, the ISTP will do their part on a daily basis to keep the relationship
strong and healthy. If they lose interest in a relationship, their natural
tendency will be to move on.
- Good listeners
- Usually self-confident
- Generally optimistic and fun to be with
- Practical and realistic, they handle daily concerns
- Are not threatened by conflict or criticism
- Able to leave a relationship with relative ease once it is over
- Able to administer punishment, although they're not interested in doing so
- Likely to respect other's needs for space and privacy
- Living entirely in the present, they have difficulty with long-term
- Not naturally good at expressing feelings and emotions
- Not tuned in to what others are feeling, they may be insensitive at times
- Tendency to be overly private and hold back part of themselves
- Need a lot of personal space, which they don't like to have invaded
- They thrive on action and excitement, and may stir things up to create it
ISTPs as Lovers
"To love means to open ourselves to the negative as well as the
positive - to grief, sorrow, and disappointment as well as to joy, fulfillment,
and an intensity of consciousness we did not know was possible before." --
ISTPs can be very intense and exciting individuals. Their strong Thinking
preference makes them seem rather aloof and "hard to get". Their
Sensing and Perceiving preferences make them sensual, earthy individuals. These
attributes frequently make them attractive to the opposite sex. ISTPs live
entirely in the current moment, which makes them especially interested in new
sensations and experiences. They strongly dislike routine and strict schedules,
and resist being controlled by others. They are fiercely independent and need
their own space within a relationship. When involved in relationships which
provide for their basic needs and which present them with new experiences, the
ISTP will be happy to do what's necessary to keep the relationship alive and
well. If a relationship becomes boring or oppressive to the ISTP, they will try
to fix it, or move on. ISTPs take their commitments on a day-by-day basis. Even
if they say "I do", it usually means "I do for now". They do
not like to make lifelong commitments, although they may very well be involved
in lifelong relationships which they have taken one day at a time.
Sexually, the ISTP approaches intimacy as a physical act rather than an
expression of love and affection. They are earthy and sensual beings who
enthusiastically experience sex with all five senses. They bring spontaneity,
creativity, and enthusiasm into the bedroom, and enjoy new experiences. Since
aesthetic beauty has such strong appeal to them, they appreciate the
"setting", i.e. bedding, lingerie, cologne, etc.
ISTPs love to fix things, and may create problems in their personal
relationships, just so that they can have the fun of fixing them.
They have a tendency to hold back their own views on things. They like to
listen to other people's views, but are generally non-commital about expressing
their own opinions. ISTPs have a habit of evading answering questions by asking
more questions. This can be frustrating at times to their mates, if they are
after a direct answer. The ISTP's decision making process is entirely internal,
so they don't feel much need to share their opinions with others. When they are
interacting with others, they are in "information gathering" mode, so
they tend to ask questions rather than share views. The ISTP just doesn't feel
the need to expose themselves fully to others. When it comes to intimate
relationships, the ISTP has the further motivation of protecting themselves.
Most ISTPs are afraid of having to deal with their deeper feelings. Since their
Thinking preference dominates their personality, their Feeling side is their
least developed (inferior) function. Consequently, ISTPs are usually quite
vulnerable and perhaps weak when dealing with their feelings. Their habit of
keeping part of themselves hidden may also serve the purpose of keeping a
protective wall around their hearts.
Although the ISTP does not usually have a well-developed Feeling side, they
frequently do have intense feelings for people. They can feel overpowering love
for their mates, although they are likely not to express their emotions, or to
express them inadequately or inappropriately if they do venture towards
expression. However, unlike many of the other personality types, ISTPs feel
strong affections one day at a time. One day, they may feel completely,
intensely in love with their mate, and the next day they may be totally
disinterested, or perhaps even ready to move on. This "live for the
moment" type of approach is different from how most other types experience
their feelings, and is difficult for many to understand. Consequently, the ISTP
may be called "fickle" or "cold". In fact, they are not
really fickle, and certainly not cold. They simply experience their lives on a
moment by moment basis, and go along with it's natural flow. However, since most
people need more commitment than can be offered when taking things day-by-day,
the ISTP who wants to remain in a relationship will have to resolve themself
towards being involved in a more traditional commitment. For most ISTPs, making
a commitment to an intimate relationship will require an effort to stretch
themselves outside of their comfort zones. However, those who do so will realize
that they can enjoy the benefits of a strong, committed relationship and still
live their lives in the present tense.
Although two well-developed individuals of any type can enjoy a healthy
relationship, the ISTP's natural partner is the ESTJ,
or the ENTJ. ISTP's dominant
function of Introverted Thinking is best matched with a partner whose
personality is dominated by Extraverted Thinking. The ISTP/ESTJ combination is
ideal, because both types share the Sensing preference for perceiving the world,
but ISTP/ENTJ is also a good combination. How
did we arrive at this?
ISTPs as Parents
"You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable." -- Kahlil Gibran
ISTPs are flexible, laid-back, uncontrolling parents who like to take things
as they come. Their dislike of being controlled or controlling others extends to
their children as well, and they're consequently likely to give their kids a lot
of breathing room and space for individual growth. However, when discipline is
required, the ISTP will be able to administer it without too much difficulty.
They may have difficulty mustering up the enthusiasm to discipline their kids,
but once they get going they'll be effective.
ISTP parents are likely to maintain a distance between themselves and their
children. They do not feel a tremendous need to pass on their values to their
children, or to influence their decisions in life. They're likely to rely on
their mates for creating a structured environment for their children to live
within. ISTPs do not like to be directed or controlled, and are not likely to
direct and control others - including their children. They're likely to be
relatively uninvolved with the daily happenings of family life, without making a
conscious effort to keep interested.
ISTPs will enjoy spending one-on-one time with their children pursuing
outdoorsy activities, such as fishing, boating, hunting, etc. It is during these
private moments that the ISTP will take the opportunity to get to know their
children's perspectives, and to pass on the ISTP's interests and perspectives.
ISTPs as Friends
ISTPs have an enthusiastic, childlike approach to life that is attractive to
others. As Introverted Thinkers, they also have some real substance to them
which prevents them from being entirely frivolous and hedonic in their pursuits.
They are laid-back and flexible, and generally accepting of a wide range of
behavior. These attributes make them valued friends and confidantes.
ISTPs usually have a selection of friends who share their love of particular
hobbies and pasttimes. They might have a friend who they ski with, and another
who they shoot pool with, etc. They generally have no interest or patience with
individuals who do not share their interests, and will spend little or no time
with them. They have a difficult time understanding people with extremely strong
iNtuitive preferences, and are not likely to spend time with these individuals
unless they share a common interest or hobby. They enjoy spending time with
Extraverts, whose enthusiastic, talkative natures are attractive to the more
reserved ISTP, but they will eventually tire of their "bubbliness".
The ISTP is able to get along well with people of any personality type, but is
likely to value and bond only those with whom they have common interests.
Careers for ISTP Personality Types
Whether you're a young adult trying to find your place in the world, or a
not-so-young adult trying to find out if you're moving along the right path,
it's important to understand yourself and the personality traits which will
impact your likeliness to succeed or fail at various careers. It's equally
important to understand what is really important to you. When armed with an
understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, and an awareness of what you
truly value, you are in an excellent position to pick a career which you will
ISTPs generally have the following traits:
- Interested in how and why things work
- Do not function well in regimented, structured environments; they will
either feel stifled or become intensely bored
- Constantly gather facts about their environment and store them away
- Have an excellent ability to apply logic and reason to their immense store
of facts to solve problems or discover how things work
- Learn best "hands-on"
- Usually able to master theory and abstract thinking, but don't
particularly like dealing with it unless they see a practical application
- Action-oriented "doers"
- Focused on living in the present, rather than the future
- Love variety and new experiences
- Highly practical and realistic
- Excellent "trouble-shooters", able to quickly find solutions to
a wide variety of practical problems
- Results-oriented; they like to see immediate results for their efforts
- Usually laid-back and easy-going with people
- Risk-takers who thrive on action
- Independent and determined - usually dislike committing themselves
- Usually quite self-confident
The ISTP is fortunate because they have the abilities to be good at many
different kinds of tasks. Their introverted and thinking preferences give them
the ability to concentrate and work through problems which leaves many doors
open to them. However, to be happiest, the ISTP needs to lead a lifestyle which
offers a great deal of autonomy and does not include much external enforcement
of structure. ISTPs will do best working for themselves, or working in very
flexible environments. Their natural interests lie towards applying their
excellent reasoning skills against known facts and data to discover underlying
structure, or solutions to practical questions.
The following list of professions is built on our impressions of careers
which would be especially suitable for an ISTP. It is meant to be a starting
place, rather than an exhaustive list. There are no guarantees that any or all
of the careers listed here would be appropriate for you, or that your best
career match is among those listed.
Possible Career Paths for the ISTP:
- Police and Detective Work
- Forensic Pathologists
- Computer Programmers, System Analysts and Computer Specialists
- Pilots, Drivers, Motorcyclists