Many ISTJs test as INTJ, whereas the opposite phenomenon seems to be less common. So a rule of thumb is that if someone tests as INTJ but is in doubt about whether they might be an ISTJ, then it is probably (but by no means always) the case that they are an ISTJ.
What follows is an illustrative exchange between two I-TJs about their type self-discovery processes.
I have tested both INTJ and ISTJ in the past and I feel like parts of both descriptions fit me. I am an extremely strong I, a strong T, a fairly strong J, and a huge question mark on the N/S.
I noticed in the introductions post that a few people have tested as both INTJ and ISTJ but they felt the ISTJ description suited them better. So, what was it about the ISTJ description that you felt fit you better?
It was a while ago that I explored the two types in comparison to myself, so let me quote from the wikipedia page on the N/S difference:
Sensing and intuition are the information-gathering (perceiving) functions. They describe how new information is understood and interpreted. Individuals who prefer sensing are more likely to trust information that is in the present, tangible, and concrete: that is, information that can be understood by the five senses. They tend to distrust hunches, which seem to come “out of nowhere”.:2 They prefer to look for details and facts. For them, the meaning is in the data. On the other hand, those who prefer intuition tend to trust information that is more abstract or theoretical, that can be associated with other information (either remembered or discovered by seeking a wider context or pattern). They may be more interested in future possibilities. For them, the meaning is in the underlying theory and principles which are manifested in the data.
Obviously we all use both sensing and intuition, but for me the sensing mode is much more dominant. I’m all about details and concrete reality. I had to study a lot of philosophy in college, and it was some of the most difficult and painful courses I’ve ever had. Chemistry equations and statistical analysis? No problem. Discussing the transcendental properties of being? Problem.
I still have hunches, and unlike the quote I will trust them… I’ll just look to verify the hunch as I go. For example, gaining some insight into my life during prayer is not uncommon, and I’ll take it for what it is, but the rest of the week I’ll keep thinking over the insight from every angle I can.
When I first took the Myers-Briggs, I had never thought about how I take in information. I think that was why I tested so indifferent, I didn’t have the knowledge and self-reflection to answer consistently with my real preference.
…I do remember when exploring the types a difference being that memories for an ISTJ is more about sense information (visuals, sights, sounds) and for an INTJ it is more the conceptual (what, who, why). At first I felt like I was both, but after observing my memories for a few months, I think the ISTJ is more “me”. I’ll remember the sense detail first, and then in a split-second use that to remember the conceptual things.
Other than all that, the dedication and responsibility of the ISTJ is definitely me.
Hey, great reply. I’m still confused about my S/N tendencies, though. I really think I am just an IxTJ but I lean towards S, probably.
What do you think would be college courses that an N would enjoy/excel at compared to an S? My favorite classes were English literature, history, government & economics – courses that involved not only acquiring facts, but also being able to compare/contrast different theories, imagine different interpretations of events, etc.
I’m a pharmacist and I truly enjoy my job and I feel that it suits my personality very well. It is a very black & white evidence-based field and I have to keep tons of factoids in my working memory. (I do particularly like psychopharmacology which is rather less black & white than say, cardiovascular pharmacology.)
I do feel that I am a fairly intuitive person and I always felt that I would just “get” concepts while I was in pharmacy school and I could often effortlessly see how concepts fit together. This meant that I could get away with not studying as much as my classmates sometimes. :) However, I find topics that are purely abstract or theoretical boring and not really worth my time or effort. I would rather that things have a practical application.
Interesting about the memories. I would say that my memories tend to be very visual, like a snapshot (like from a 3rd person viewpoint, even). Often I have lost a lot of the details surrounding the snapshot – like, I can’t remember why was I there? Who was I with other than the people in the image? That is probably more of a S sort of memory experience, right?
It could be that you are really IxTJ… keep reading about both types and give it some time. The trap of Myers-Briggs is to force ourselves into a category, when really the types just give a general framework to as many personalities as there are people. If you ask me, it’s a very helpful framework, but it is no subsitute to knowing someone, ourselves first and foremost.
What do you think would be college courses that an N would enjoy/excel at compared to an S?
Probably anything that favors theory over application, but I also think it largely depends on the professor and how they approach the subject. A course might be highly focused on theory instead of application, but if the professor starts with examples and then unfolds the theory, I think an N would have a harder go at it. On the other hand, a course focused on application but that introduces everything with theory first might be natural to the N.
That is probably more of a S sort of memory experience, right?
Sounds like it, according to my understanding. Obviously all memory is sensate to some degree, but I think the persistent preference to sense data over other data is indicative of S… for the S conclusions are drawn from sense data and then applied to a larger theory, for the N it seems that conclusions are drawn in theory and then applied to sense data.