Have you ever met someone who just has a grand vision for the world? They don’t look at the small details - they see the big picture. Maybe they’re not the life of the party. Instead, they are likely to read books like Atlas Shrugged or a memoir of Bill Gates. I can bet that this person is an INTJ.
INTJ is one of the 16 Meyers-Briggs Personality Types. I will be breaking down each of these personality types. What do these letters stand for? What does it mean to be an INTJ or an ESFP? What careers make sense for each type?
I’ll answer all of those questions as they relate to the INTJ. Not sure if you're an INTJ? Learn more about the Myers Briggs Test to find out!
What Does INTJ Stand For?
Let’s break down each letter within the INTJ personality type: I, N, T, and J. These letters stand for introvert, intuition, thinking, and judgement. Put all of these together and you get an INTJ, a unique personality focused on big-picture thinking.
I is for introvert (as opposed to extrovert.) An introvert is more likely to be focused on their internal thoughts and feelings, rather than outside stimulation. Introverts are not necessarily shy, but they do gain more energy from reflecting on their own feelings than by surrounding themselves with other people and external stimulants.
N is for intuition (as opposed to sensing.) This indicates that a person makes judgments based on their intuition instead of the sensory information that is presented in front of them. They are more likely to rely on the impression they get from something than more “literal” data. Think of it as preferring the abstract to the concrete.
T is for thinking (as opposed to feeling.) People who lean toward thinking over feeling draw conclusions from the head rather than the heart. They are more likely to make a judgement based on thoughts, perceptions, and analysis instead of where their emotions are leading them.
Finally, J is for judgement (as opposed to perception.) Judgment and perception are often identified as the “least obvious” of the four letters in your personality type. Think of this as how a person works within structure. People with a J in their personality type prefer structure. They take control of the structure of their day. They make judgements about how tasks are approached and when a job gets done.
Experts call INTJs “The Architect.” As we go through the strengths, weaknesses, and functions of an INTJ, you’ll see why. They are the most likely to see a building where there is presently an open field. They have big ideas where none currently exist. Not all INTJs are architects, but their roles in society are often equated to that of an architect.
INTJs play a special role in our society. Like all personality types, they gravitate toward certain functions that solve problems, understand the world around them, and process their own emotions. Let’s get into it.
The dominant function of INTJ types is Introverted Intuition (Ni.) A person with introverted intuition notices patterns everywhere. They perceive everything to be interconnected. They take individual subjects and don’t stop analyzing them until they see them from all angles. This helps someone with an INTJ personality type to comprehend everyone and everything and how they relate to the world around them.
Each personality type gravitates toward four different functions. The auxiliary function of INTJ types, or their “second” function, is Extraverted Thinking (Te.) Extraverted thinking is based on logic, with a strong awareness of the “big picture” in life. The left brain handles this function, promoting analytical & systemic thinking. Everything can be explained and understood by looking outward at the bigger picture. Someone who is an INTJ is very likely to be a “big picture” kind of thinker.
Now we get to the tertiary function of INTJ types: Introverted Feeling (Fi.) Introverted feeling is not as prominent as the other functions, but INTJ types will show some signs of an introverted personality. They can navigate this feeling when needed but are likely to focus on close relationships with people they understand and relate to. You’re not going to see INTJs partying all night and hopping from group to group to make big jokes. They are so busy looking at the larger picture that social functions with big groups can be exhausting!
Last but not least is the inferior function of INTJ types: Extraverted Sensing (Se.)This is the least developed function of INTJ personalities, typically acting as an unconscious function in their life. Extraverted sensing can make an INTJ feel disconnected from the details in their surroundings as they view the world from one larger perspective.
Examples of Real-Life INTJs
What kind of person do you picture as an INTJ? An entrepreneur? An avid reader? Someone who can look at a chess board and see where their opponent is going in the next five steps? A...bodybuilder? In fact, all of these people could be an INTJ! Some of the most famous INTJs include:
- Russell Crowe
- Julia Stiles
- James Cameron
- Jodie Foster
- Mark Zuckerberg
- Elon Musk
- Stephen Hawking
- Bobby Fischer
- Arnold Schwarzenegger
- Lewis Carroll
These are people who may not be the most social at parties, but they’ve got a serious talent for seeing the world from a big-picture lens. They are the first to brainstorm big, overarching solutions for global problems. They make great financial advisors, accountants, economists, and engineers.
INTJ Strengths and Weaknesses
By now, you have a sense of an INTJ’s biggest strength: big-picture thinking. But there are plenty of strengths that an INTJ may claim. If you are an INTJ, people might identify the following as your best strengths and skills:
- Informed thinking
- Independent, self-motivated personalities
- Ambitious and determined
- Curiosity, open-mindedness
- A versatile personality that can succeed in a range of endeavors
Not everyone is perfect. INTJs also have a list of weaknesses that may inhibit them from being the social butterfly or empath that other personality types may claim as their strength:
- An arrogance that stems from their self-assurance
- Dismissive of emotions
- Overly critical
- Combative towards things they don’t understand
- Oblivious to romantic cues
These strengths and weaknesses really paint a picture of who the typical INTJ is. You wouldn’t describe Elon Musk as a ladies’ man or “the Arnold” as the most humble man in Hollywood. But that’s the important thing to remember about all of these personality types. The right combination of personality types at work, home, or in society is what makes us function (or fight!) We all have to understand where our colleagues thrive and where we might fall short.
Working With an INTJ
As I said before, INTJs are not the life of the party. They’re probably not the host of the party. In fact, you’re probably not going to see them at the party. INTJs are not drawn to work relationships, as they prefer to work alone.
As for personal relationships, they typically have a close group of friends and family they interact with and focus on making these relationships succeed. But they may have trouble making new friends, as many people see them as more reserved. If you find that your coworker or new roommate is an INTJ, be patient with them. If they shrug off certain things, don’t write them off as someone who doesn’t care. They are probably just looking at a situation from a big-picture perspective. Small disagreements or mistakes aren’t a big deal to them.
INTJs are most compatible with ENTJs and ENFPs. When it comes to romantic relationships, INTJs will have trouble if there is a lack of understanding and loyalty. They prefer communication instead of pressure from their romantic partners. If you are dating an INTJ, you can’t just expect them to know what you want for Valentine’s Day or to “get the hint” when it’s time to take your relationship to the next level. Be upfront. Tell them what is on your mind. They won’t notice the small “signs.”
Basic Stats about INTJs
INTJ is one of the most rare personality types across the globe. Only 2% of people fit the INTJ personality type! There aren’t many Elon Musks or Bobby Fischers in the world.
You may have been surprised to see that all the examples I used of famous INTJs were men. Well, there is a reason for that. INTJs are three times as likely to be men than women! Hillary Clinton and Ayn Rand are two of the most famous female INTJs.
INTJ-A vs. INTJ-T
I just told you a lot about INTJs, but before we wrap things up, did you know that INTJs can be in one of two groups? In recent years, another letter was added to each of the 16 personality types, further defining the types of people we work with, live with, and love. Let’s break down how assertive and turbulent types contribute to INTJs.
Assertive INTJs, or INTJ-A, have a strong sense of confidence in themselves that motivates them when approaching situations, even in the face of conflicts/failures. Assertive types like stability, but when unexpected changes present themselves, they remain confident in their abilities to navigate the situation.
Turbulent INTJs, or INTJ-T, have a different motivation than Assertive types, who get their motivation from their confidence. Turbulent types instead are motivated by their concerns, including their ability to recognize problems ahead of time. However, INTJ-T personalities are more open to change than INTJ-A personalities.