Q: How do I tell the difference between a shy and brooding ENTP and an INTP?
A: This is a very good question. As the truism goes, the ENTP is the “most introverted extroverted type.” Also, if you look at our ENTP page, and especially the extended content, you’ll see that it’s crawling with ENTPs who identify themselves as introverts. In terms of concrete behavior, ENTPs can often exceed INTPs in being withdrawing and shy. Likewise, since introspection is a facet of Intuition (N) and not Introversion (I), ENTPs can also be more introspective than INTPs. So how do we tell them apart?
Because they have the same cognitive functions in almost the same order, they are basically the same type. But the ENTP is at heart a perception type. With them, the primary focus is simply on making an observation and seeing the possibilities that are pregnant in that observation. As such, they are more flippant in structuring information and in thinking their ideas through. But on the other hand, they are more wild and creative in positing links between one observation and another – when their imagination is stimulated they are so energized that they can see connections between everything in the spur of the moment, and then they may suddenly lose interest in those same things, or never follow the connection that they posited through to find out whether there really was a worthwhile connection at all.
The INTP, on the other hand, is at heart a judgment type. With them, the focus is on taking those same abstract observations and ordering and systematizing them internally so that all these observations make sense in their own heads. When INTPs allow an abstract observation to gain entry to their internal world, they tend to think it through to its logical conclusion. As such, they are far less flippant, and also less colorful, but on the inside they have an ordered system of ideas that makes sense to them, and of which they are far more convinced than the ENTPs who regard almost everything they know as tentative in some sense.
Another way to put it is this: Once an INTP has studied a piece of information and absorbed it into his own understanding, that piece of information has been examined from every side that is relevant to its placement in the internal system; the idea has been made static. They know where to place the idea in their system, and once it has found its proper place, it doesn’t suddenly change places.
To the ENTP, on the other hand, a static idea is a dead idea. A piece of information is valuable in so far as it can create new possibilities, connections and images to stimulate the imagination. Even if you are dealing with a very shy and reticent ENTP, they will often reveal themselves in that they have to “come back out for air” – even though they may be quiet or withdrawing in social situations, they are very quick to seize upon any new input that is presented to them and their imagination is obviously stimulated as well as easy to stimulate in general. (Whereas the INTPs typically have to withdraw to mull over the new input by themselves and only then will they discover the potential that the new ideas hold; the INTPs need to “come back in for air”.)
So, to repeat, the ENTP quickly seizes upon new ideas and their possibilities. The INTP is slower and less aware of all of the new ideas that are presented to them (some are rejected, often without the INTP even knowing it himself). Yet the INTP is better at thinking the pieces of information which they do admit through to the end, systematizing them and ordering them internally.