ISTPs are skilled artisans who like debugging and understand mechanics. They approach their environment with a flexible logic, looking for genuine solutions to the problems they face. They are self-sufficient and adaptable, and they interact with their environment in a self-directed, chaotic manner.
I. What Does ISTP Stand For?
ISTP stands for Introversion, Sensing, Thinking, and Perception and is one of 16 personality types studied from the MBTI test (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator). The MBTI personality assessment developed by Isabel Briggs Myers, Katharine Cook Briggs, and David Keirsey from the work of psychiatrist Carl G. Jung, the types of psychology based on theories of cognitive functions. Keirsey named ISTP The Craftsman/ The Virtuoso because they have innate mechanical ability and can easily use tools or equipment. ISTP is one of the four personality types of The Artisan.
II. Personality Traits of The ISTP Group
ISTPs like to act, pay attention to details, and interact with the world around them in a self-directed and spontaneous way. They work quite independently, detached and somewhat self-contained, they want to work freely to reflect the guidance of their own.
Unlike most other introverted personality groups, ISTPs do not care much about personal space. This leads to two things – firstly, ISTPs do not hesitate to express their concerns about something that others are working on and maybe surprised if their reaction is unfriendly. Secondly, ISTPs do not mind if someone wants to participate in one of their projects – as long as it does not threaten ISTP's principles and lifestyle.
ISTPs tend to be very optimistic, generous, and confident in their ability – as long as they are not caught in a framework, burdened with regulations and guidelines, or being asked to commit to something they are not ready for. The unique and mysterious characteristics of this kind of personality may never cease to surprise those who are close to them, but it can also surprise ISTPs themselves for a moment.
ISTPs possess many interesting characteristics that can easily prevent outsiders from polling them. They are often very rational and logical, but can also surprise people by suddenly becoming more spontaneous and enthusiastic. While most other types of personalities are usually easy to identify and identify characteristic traits, this is certainly not the case in ISTPs – even people who know them may not be able to predict their reaction to something.
This comes from an interesting combination of the reason (T) and flexibility (P) in the ISTP personality type. People with this personality tend to learn about machines, have very reasonable plans and ideas, and can stay calm and rational for a long time. However, spontaneity is always within them - it simply temporarily stays behind, accumulates energy, and waits for the right time to burst out. That outbreak often surprised everyone around them, especially those who had never seen ISTPs do anything similar before. They are good at controlling energy and keeping it to do other important things.
III. The Cognitive Functions of The ISTP Group
Dominant: Introverted Thinking
The ISTPs focus most of their time thinking and processing information in their minds, which also means that their time spent on verbal communication will be less, making many people consider them taciturn and withdrawn. It seems that ISTPs' approach to decision making is confusing but nonetheless it is based on their careful observation and reasoning. They value practical and useful things and deal with the outside world in a very rational manner. Because of their logic, they are adept at looking at situations objectively and avoiding subjective or emotional factors when making decisions. People often find ISTPs difficult to approach because they focus too much on actions and outcomes rather than on emotions.
Auxiliary: Extraverted Sensing
ISTPs show the trend of being focused on the present and accepting things directly and instantly. They disfavor long-term commitments and future plans and possibilities, they are not their strengths. ISTPs love to learn and understand how things work, especially for equipment and machines, they can disassemble a mechanical device just to see how it functions. While not interested in theoretical and abstract information, they can become knowledgeable and cope well with demanding and related situations, ISTPs will perform better if this information has practical application.
Tertiary: Introverted Intuition
This function usually works mainly in the unconscious personality of ISTPs. They may try to turn abstract information into action or a real solution, but this probability is less likely because, again, they are not on their priority list. ISTPs can also sometimes rely on subjective intuition when making decisions. By aggregating the information provided by the dominant and auxiliary functions, this aspect can be responsible for the sudden insights in their minds.
Inferior: Extraverted Feeling
In adverse and highly criticized situations, the emotions of ISTPs can suddenly explode strongly. They often ignore their own feelings until things reach a tension point, which can lead to expressing emotions in seemingly inappropriate ways.
IV. ISTP Values and Motivations
1. ISTP values
Fairness and equality are two particularly important points of view for ISTPs. They can bend or break existing principles to make their point. Therefore, you will never see an ISTP in an environment where their principles may be dishonored. ISTPs are also very loyal to their friends, but they may need a lot of personal time to recharge their batteries.
In ISTPs' relationship, it is important to respect their sphere of privacy. Communicating with them is quite challenging because they often express themselves through sign language. When communicating verbally, ISTPs are usually brief and show humor in stressful situations, so they are sometimes seen as inert or uninspired. However, they also have a need to get along with others, both physically and psychologically, especially when that person is involved in their work. At the same time, they want to have a level of freedom that they define, so they become very disciplined when they feel their way of life is threatened and maybe as principled as those of the group (J).
ISTPs value their time alone. Because that's when they can organize things in their mind in the clearest way. They take in a large number of objective facts they collect from the outside world, rearrange and ponder on those problems.
2. ISTP Motivations
Like most other SP groups, ISTPs like to perform, but because they are influenced by the trait (T), they usually pay attention to technique rather than art. They also rarely give the impression of jauntiness. With a lethargic appearance, ISTPs dedicate their energies to waiting for a job or adventure worth their attention – they will be awakened, energized, and worked to their full potential.
ISTPs are independent individuals, they always want to decide for themselves what the next step should be. They do not believe and dislike obeying laws or principles, because those rules will interfere with their ability to do things their way. The adventuresome characteristic coupled with the desire to act immediately thrive ISTPs when engaging in short-term projects, measurable targeted tasks, and thrilling physical activities.
V. Strengths and Weaknesses of ISTPs
1. ISTP Strengths
ISTPs are very skilled at mechanical matters, repairs, troubleshooting and tend to study how things work. They are independent, logical, flexible, and adaptable, so they are excellent at responding and finding practical solutions to problems at hand as well as emergencies.
ISTPs shine in areas that combine creativity, freedom, and reality. ISTPs tend to be great engineers and troubleshooters (detective, fireman, rescuer, etc) but these strengths stem from their practical experience and vision rather than a scientific theory. They are quickly depressed while researching, especially if they don't see it can be applied in practice.
Most ISTPs are quite imaginative when it comes to practical, mechanical, and manual things. They can easily make theories a reality and want to make them work with their own hands.
Despite being spontaneous, ISTPs are logical enough to turn spontaneity into rationality. They use flexible thinking properly for situations to solve problems quickly and effectively without much effort.
ISTPs are quite unpredictable but their flexible personalities can help them release energy when needed to fulfill their life goals and are immune to crises.
ISTPs live in the real world and don't worry too much about the future. They are comfortable with life and that is why they make those around them feel at ease.
2. ISTP Weaknesses
ISTPs are very private individuals, making it even more difficult for others to understand them. Sometimes, ISTPs suddenly become stubborn and loud-mouthed, especially when their principles and habits are criticized. They should try to pay attention to the awareness of this particular trait, as they do not seem to realize anything wrong with such behavior, however, this can cause major problems both at work and in personal relationships. Most people are quite protective of their personal space and act very defensive when being violated.
ISTPs are also quite humorous, which helps to alleviate stressful circumstances or to solve some awkward situations. But they are not sensitive people, they have difficulty recognizing the boundaries of what is allowed and expected in emotional situations – so they may inadvertently hurt sensitive individuals.
ISTPs are easy to accept and harmonize with everything, sometimes they choose to skip in conflict situations without any apology or sympathy. If someone tries to change the habits, lifestyle, or ideas of the ISTPs through criticism, they get back to their rudeness and irritability.
ISTPs love novelty, which makes them people who like to explore new ways, but will be less focused and difficult to pursue anything in the long run. If they learn about a problem well enough, they tend to move on to something new and interesting.
ISTPs disfavor long-term commitments. They feel claustrophobic when attached to something every day. This can be a particular challenge for ISTPs who are just beginning their romantic relationship.
ISTPs are quite stubborn and spontaneous. When feeling extremely bored, they may engage in unannounced risky behaviors, lose control, and cause unpredictable consequences.
VI. Personal Relationships of ISTPs
1. Romantic relationship
ISTPs can work independently and accomplish well the things that interest them. They are open-minded, engaging, and charming partners. They live in the present and often do not worry about the future. ISTPs usually perceive that nothing is absolute, so they prefer to develop a romantic relationship step by step rather than making commitments in the long term. If the connection pleases them and satisfies their needs, ISTPs will not stop fulfilling their obligations to maintain a sustainable relationship. If they feel unconcerned, they will tend to give up and look for a new partner that is more compatible.
Whatever has to do with a given long-term commitment, the first instinct of the ISTPs will be to run away. This is the reason why most of them do not want to end a single life and have never been able to stay in a relationship for too long. One of the most difficult things for ISTPs is being too carefree, always living to the present, and not having a serious thought about the future. They try to carry on the dating and flirting phrases because they think they are the most exciting and engaging phases in a romantic relationship. However, they need to know that every relationship will come when there will be a serious discussion about the future if they do not want to end up alone and hollow.
ISTPs are very comprehensive and interesting friends, living in the present and enjoying whatever life gives them. Their motto is everything can change. The friendship with ISTPs is like getting on a roller coaster – it is delightful and satisfying during the day, and the mood completely changes at night. They disfavor commitments and view their relationship as something that is changeable.
ISTPs rarely have trouble making friends – they like to pursue many different hobbies, so they can come up with a lot of fun things to do. Collective activities that form the ISTPs' friendship base – people with this kind of personality have great control over all five senses and enjoy competing with others, the easiest way to become a friend with ISTPs is finding a common interest (preferably physically).
ISTPs tend to be attracted to people with the strong (S) trait because they are likely to be the first to discover new experiences. On the contrary, with the (N) trait, ISTPs can be a bit uncomfortable because they often have difficulty understanding their abstract ideas. However, if their friendship mostly revolves around a common interest, ISTPs will still accept someone despite many different views. In general, they are quite open and relaxed in relationships, and it is no surprise that they tend to be popular.
ISTP parents give their children more freedom and opportunity to do whatever they want within reasonable limits than any other personality type. With an active and experimental nature, they also encourage their children to be just as relaxed, open, and flexible. As their children grow up and develop more complex abilities, ISTP parents find joy in showing them how to use real tools to build practical things. They are willing to accompany them in any activity, be it sports, hiking or technique of interest, of course voluntarily.
However, ISTP parents may encounter challenges in expressing feelings and intimacy with their children. They should avoid that their indifferent and emotionless style influences their children's emotional and cognitive development, especially during adolescence. ISTPs may just need to rely on a more capable partner. On the other hand, they need a lot of conscious effort to be able to provide the kind of emotional understanding and support their children's needs.
The parents of ISTPs are probably aware of their children's adventurous, self-challenging, and independent nature. They can boost their confidence by providing safe and healthy opportunities for them to discover things for themselves, set rules and guidelines so they are always right on track. Besides, parents of ISTP children should join them to gain practical knowledge, outdoor adventures, and experience the opportunity to test how things work. Be a companion with them in the path of cognitive and personality development.
4. Relationship with other personality groups
ISTPs are people who communicate specially, often use gestures in a conversation. They want to quickly do what they have to do and be impatient if not act immediately. However, they are also very flexible, good at observing, and grasping details about the current situation, and assessing information appropriately.
For ISTJ, ESTP, ISFP groups: they have similar characteristics and many things in common so it is easy for ISTPs to share values, interests, and approaches with these groups
For INTP, ISFJ, ESFP, ESTJ groups: they have some differences but these differences are attractive to ISTPs. They still have something in common to create a balance in their relationship with each other
For INTJ, ENTJ, ESFJ, ENTP groups: at first, ISTPs may have some difficulty accessing and connecting with these personality groups. However, after interacting for a while, they will discover commonalities as well as other points of view that can complement each other
For INFP, INFJ, ENFP, ENFJ groups: these personality groups are opposite and conflicting with ISTPs, but if it is possible to develop a relationship, this is an opportunity for ISTPs to learn and grow themselves, the challenges always come along with great opportunity.
VII. ISTP Career Paths and Development Areas
Firstly, one of the most prominent characteristics of ISTPs is their curiosity combined with a yearning for details of fact and knowledge. They love to learn how everything works and how to apply them to solve a difficult problem. People with this personality type are very practical and prefer a hands-on/specific approach – and their careers should best revolve around this trait.
Secondly, ISTPs need a lot of freedom in their profession. If their working environment is too structured, ISTPs will soon get very tired and depressed – people with this personality type need variety and movement. ISTPs are excellent at troubleshooting, they don't mind the risks because they are born to deal with crisis situations. They are often found in relatively adventurous and brave occupations (pilots, firefighters, detectives).
Thirdly, ISTPs highly value results due to their confidence and loyalty. Long-term thinking is not their strength and therefore people with this personality type prefer to see immediate results. ISTPs like to live freely and avoid inflexible commitments. These traits are quite unusual, but they may take advantage of them in certain professions such as police officer, systems analyst, athlete, or businessman/businesswoman.
Besides, ISTPs are the type of person who likes to work in an environment of technical expertise, is passionate about mastering and controlling tools, mechanical equipment or business tools, modern technology. They value efficiency and logic and want flexibility at work. Therefore, they are suitable for the following career fields:
- Financial Analysis, Security, Economy;
- Biology, Geology;
- Health Service and Personal Care (Personal Trainer, Nanny, Nurse);
- Police, Firefighter, Military Officer, Criminal;
- Architect, Carpenter, Tailor, Chef, Goldsmith;
- Pilot, Captain;
- IT (Software Development, Database Management).
VIII. How ISTPs perform in the work and learning environment
At school, ISTP students may have difficulty learning about too abstract or too theoretical concepts, and this is not an accurate measure of their ability and intelligence. They often tend to question the practical validity of theories. The ISTP favors classes such as industrial arts or vocational training programs. ISTPs do their best in difficult situations. They are usually excellent athletes and are able to coordinate well in observing and expressing it through their bodies. They are also good at keeping up with the schedule of plans and handling them and do not have much difficulty with schoolwork because they are introverts with the ability to think reasonably. ISTPs are persistent, although at times they may tend to flare up because they don't care about their own feelings.
As subordinates at work, ISTPs are work-oriented and they are always willing to work. They are not the type to sit around the corners and outline plans. With a flexible nature, they react quickly to what happens ahead. They are highly technical, can lead the profession effectively, and can quickly see practicalities and details that can help them make timely and effective decisions. What's particular, functional, and highly applicable will draw the best performance out of ISTPs. As a result, they do not fit in with leadership styles that supervise and limit their freedom and require them to come up with ideas that contribute to the long-term plan.
ISTPs' decisions often come from a sense of practicality and dedication and fairness at work. The biggest problem ISTPs can face is that they often act too early, accept their easy-going nature, and assume that everyone else is the same. In the course of living and working, ISTPs will gradually learn the differences in others' personalities. They still often have difficulty predicting emotions.
ISTPs may at times take personal space less seriously, as they may not hesitate to express concerns about their colleagues' work or feel uncomfortable if their colleagues want them to join in their projects. This may cause them to experience some conflicts in the work environment.
The ISTP managers treat their subordinates the way they want others to treat them, which is less verbal communication and less imposing. Brown-nosers and adulatory subordinates are not favored by ISTP managers because they do not pay much attention to communicating or expressing their feelings at work. In fact, there is hardly much response from ISTP managers, either good or bad. But when problems do arise, they are the great listeners who offer practical, unbiased, and objective solutions.
IX. 10 Things you might not know about ISTPs
1. This is the third most popular personality group in the world and accounts for about 4-6% of the world's population.
2. By gender, only 2% of ISTPs are women and 9% are men.
3. ISTPs are dominant thinkers, solving things logically and rationally, which explains why they are not good at expressing emotions. However, they have extroverted senses and they know how to perceive the worldview with their senses.
4. Despite being unpredictable, ISTPs are able to conserve energy and use it when needed most.
5. ISTPs have the ability to give up a relationship easily once it has ended.
6. ISTPs may become determined about imposing punishment or discipline even though they do not like doing it.
7. ISTPs are adventurous and dynamic.
8. ISTPs are interested in understanding how and why things work, so they tend to always collect and accumulate information from the outside world.
9. ISTPs love to help and share experiences. However, women with ISTP traits are quite rare because they are not assigned to the typical roles of manual labor.
10. ISTPs do not care about their own feelings, and they do not even trust and accept them because they have difficulty distinguishing between emotional responses and valuable judgments. This can be the main problem many ISTPs face.
X. ISTP Famous people
- Zachary Taylor, the 12th President of the United States;
- Tom Cruise, an American actor and film producer;
- Clint Eastwood, an American actor, filmmaker, musician, and politician;
- Frank Zappa, an American multi-instrumentalist musician, composer, and bandleader;
- Daniel Craig, an English actor – James Bond in Casino Royale (2006);
- Michael Jordan, an American former professional basketball player and the principal owner of the Charlotte Hornets of the NBA;
- Michelle Rodriguez, an American actress;
- Olivia Wilde, an American actress and filmmaker;
- Bruce Lee, a Hong Kong American actor, director, martial artist, martial arts instructor and philosopher.