ISTPs are extremely analytical types who are naturally drawn to solving problems. They are realistic and adaptable and usually accomplish any task they tackle with great originality and skill. They often have a droll sense of humour.
ISTPS predominantly use sensing in their external world. This leads them to prefer concrete information to abstract ideas or theories. ISTPs spend quality time observing the world round about them. They love being outdoors and will often engage others in conversation about places they have been or the best routes to take from A to B.
ISTPs’ first preference is for thinking which they use to run their interior thought processes. Their sensing comes up with new information and then their thinking sets about finding new ways to analyse it. Unlike some of the other thinking types, ISTPs do not use their thinking to try to control other people or run their outer life. Indeed ISTPs often have little need to tell people their opinions, let alone tell them what to do.
ISTPs are very sceptical and take nothing at face value. Indeed they tend to have a very scientific attitude to life, seeing nothing as the truth but simply an expedient working hypothesis which will do until further discoveries are made.
They love finding out how things work and fixing things if they are broken. This motivation to fix and solve problems leads ISTPs to be extremely interested in mastering techniques and in using tools. In fact, of all the types, ISTPs could be described as the “tool user”. Since it is very important to have the right tool for the job ISTPs will often acquire an array of tools for anything they are interested in. This could be for DIY or the right set of golf clubs. Female ISTPs may express this love of tools in more conventionally female ways such as kitchen gadgets. At work they may be particularly interested in different software applications to help them accomplish tasks. And, of course, ISTPs often work in jobs like farming or mechanics which are heavily dependent on tools.
ISTPs, unlike ISTJs, like the unexpected and see life as an adventure. Naturally curious, ISTPs usually take the view they will “try anything once.” This viewpoint can be somewhat surprising for others given ISTPS’ naturally sceptical bent.
ISTPs rarely tackle one job at a time and they often won’t finish anything unless they have a deadline. They can work systematically – e.g. you should see how they eat corn on the cob – but when fixing things they would prefer just to dive in and start before studying written instructions.
Room for spontaneity and manoeuvre are vitally important to ISTPs. They cherish their freedom and don’t take kindly to being controlled or overly directed by others. They are great respecters of other people’s freedom and tend not to like telling people what to do. They often make very laid back, non-directional parents and managers.
ISTPs, like ESTPs, are exceptionally good in a crisis. In fact they often end up in troubling shooting roles. It is under pressure that ISTPs excel in solving problems. They do this by bringing together their skill in seeing what is needed in the moment with their great powers of logical analysis.
ISTPs do not like to feel under constant pressure. Of all the types they seem to operate at two speeds. They can act and think quickly if they have to, but the rest of the time they can be very laid back and undertake tasks in a leisurely fashion or not at all. They believe in economy of effort and may procrastinate. They often have an all or nothing approach. If they do something it has to perfect but then again they may not do it till tomorrow.
Their workspaces are often messy though they usually know where things are. Another common ISTP trait is finding it difficult to get rid of things like old magazines or anything which may be handy in the future and so they tend to be hoarders.
ISTPs, like their fellow type INTPs, may be prone to outbursts of anger. Outwardly they may appear laid back people but in their head their thinking is leading them to make continual evaluations and judgments. However, as introverts, ISTPs don’t tend to tell other people these thoughts until they have stepped over an invisible line. The ISTPs’ annoyance then boils over and they get angry. To other people this seems to happen out of the blue and it can be a source of friction in their relationships both at work and at home.
Ultimately it is important for ISTPs to manage their anger better. They can do this by learning to be more assertive and expressing their growing displeasure at an earlier stage. It is also helpful for them to begin to pay more attention to the importance of feelings – their own and others. ISTPs often have to spend quality time considering what is important for them and what they personally want to get out of life.
Words to describe ISTPs
reserved original expedient
realistic logical adaptable
reflective spontaneous curious
practical resourceful private
adventurous independent factual
Careers attractive to ISTPs
Police work, farming, mechanics, engineering, technical jobs, military, economics, statistics.
Needs at work
Anticipated work/team strengths
Potential problem areas
Likely areas for improvement
Common relationship Issues for ISTPs
ISTPs show caring by fixing things for others when they go wrong and by giving them practical help to solve problems.
ISTPs like others to respect their need for privacy and concentration. This often means not interrupting what they are doing.
ISTP Type Dynamics
Dominant – thinking – introverted
Auxiliary - sensing - extraverted
Tertiary - intuition
Inferior - feeling
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© Carol Craig
MBTI, Myers-Briggs, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Trust in the United States and other countries; OPP Ltd. has exclusive rights to these trademarks in the UK.
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Text copyright of Carol Craig, August 2000