Q&A: The Difference Between INTP and ENTP

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.

27 Comments

  1. Just wondering if one could make an argument about divergent philosophies from here.

    E.G. your typing of Parmenides as a super-logician of sort exacting a type of “static” hierarchy reality (forgive my untechnical language, the word untechnical is likely among it :p) would make sense in this picture, whereas the ENTP philosopher trend of emphasis on “curiosity”, making a good argument, etc.

    ENTP would evidently require less of a “bulwark” on which to place themselves, they’d have more comfort in working around all of these divergent ideas. I’m guessing however, that they could quickly glean the connection stemming throughout all the connections they detected reaching a defensible CONCLUSION, but as ENTP they’d be willing to give ground on the conclusion itself for it would be appertaining to whatever is important to them- namely, the knowledge that lead them to this conclusion (or the lack thereof). This is why I thought ENTP’s like Savitri Devi/Giordano Bruno were interesting for the mystical element (and I’m guessing GK Chesterton might fit in here) a la Plato or transcendent whereas the INTP is much more reserved in this regard.

    Which brings us to the INTP… Kant is a good example of what you provided, after being reawakened from his “dogmatic slumbers” by ENTP Hume (I know how sensationalistic this sort of thing may sound but bear with me) spent several years piecing together the raw observation furnished to him by Hume’s arguments (sophistical or not). Though I’m guessing that owing to inferior function activity, this whole Static Idea stuff can inadvertently turn on the head of the INTP where they gradually sift the meaning of this term within the system, pulling the rest of it down with it.

    Pardon me if I’m preaching to the choir or anything, but this use of examples seemed rather interesting (to me at least). Though I think what I was REALLY interested in is the presence of the mystic within the ranks of ENTP. Though perhaps the presence of the mystic under the ENTP header is no more a guarantor of anything than an ENTP who happens to teach. At any rate, thanks for the post.

  2. Good comment.

    Certainly, one could explain the jousting of Heraclitus and Parmenides as the jousting of N vs. T.

    We agree with you that there can more easily be a mystical element in the thinking of N-dominant NTs (INTJ/ENTP) than in the thinking of T-dominant NTs. As you say, Kant is a good example: He writes on transcendence, which cannot adequately be spoken about, but he does so in an almost entirely rational manner. There is little room for mysticism here.

    Your thoughts of a bulwark/ footing are well-founded. That same theme is explored here:

    https://www.idrlabs.com/articles/2012/08/an-in-j-explains-his-preference-for-intuition/

  3. It’s interesting to note another recurring trend with the ENTP philosopher. Namely that they’re constantly referred to as sophistical by Judging philosophers. Anscombe accuses Hume the same as Averroes accuses Al-Ghazali. Could it be interpreted that the ENTP is manifesting a sort of inconsistency in line with it’s type, and much to the chagrin of the ENTJ Te dominance? (that being said, I guess I’m rather openly assuming Ghazali is an Ne). There’s a lot more stuff I’d like to unpack with this pattern but I feel it also may just be coincidence, as in, beyond the Ne being the sophist, these sorts of philosopher-conflicts are just ‘in the nature of philosophy’ so to speak. Just a thought.

  4. Good comment, again.

    ENTPs tend to zap around the topics, exploring this, exploring that. The ENTP is not necessarily inconsistent (they have auxiliary Ti, after all) but left to their own devices they will unearth a wealth of unstructured, unorganized points. The totality of that is bound to be rather inconsistent. Even Socrates, who, we are told, hated sophistries and the sophists, is sometimes sophistic himself, especially in the early dialogues.

    On the other hand, the ENTJ is perhaps not enough of a sophist. The ENTJ is, a priori, the least philosophical NT. The unwillingness to examine matters that do not present practical problems is a fault in the philosopher, although not elsewhere in life.

    Despite thousands of years of arguments, these chasms and disputes in philosophy have always been there. Since arguments only very rarely seem to convince or sway the other party, a natural question then arises: If they are not really schisms over rational arguments, what might then account for these perpetual schisms in philosophy? Jung attempts to answer this question by pointing to differences in the underlying psychological types, and modern research has to some extent confirmed that there was something to it. It is not *all* of the explanation, of course, but it is a valuable perspective which should be used in conjunction with other such perspectives.

    Ne would be the ‘default’ typing for Ghazali. We have not explored his biography and personality yet, though.

  5. To go with the idea that INTPs are more Judgmental than ENTPs, it’s generally harder to convince INTPs of what is, to them, a contrary idea.

    ENTPs tend to look for patterns and then try to have them make sense whereas for INTPs it has to make sense first and then they look for a pattern to confirm or deny it (and I think the Hume-Kant “dogmatic slumber” quote is a bit misused in this regard, Kant was “awakened” by making a rebuttal to it, that is, he stood by his ideas against Hume’s criticism).

    I can’t think of any historical examples, but there are a lot of times when ENTPs might notice a very strong pattern and INTPs will disagree that it is only a correlation because the total pattern doesn’t rationally make sense.

    As to Static, I think its true in the sense of ideas overlapping once they’ve been well thought out but that process can take a very long time (Darwin for instance, thought out the theory of evolution for about 20 years) so the name can sound a bit misleading.

  6. To invoke the spirit of what you’re saying about INTP… Is it more possible that they’ll entrench themselves in a “closed system of thought” (that ENTPs on this site tend to be critical of) owing to the “static” phenomenon?

    My rationale is this: that this elongated processing time that you mentioned (heartily appreciated) may be the period that the INTP needs to eradicate, beyond a shadow of the doubt, that their position is an ‘indissoluble starting point’ that forms a basis; impossible to budge. Contradictory “evidence” to their idea would need to be a concept that is equally essential and yet different. In other words, the INTP prioritizes on a hierarchy of Ti is what I’m getting at.

    Also, thanks for the clarification regarding the dogmatic-slumber thinkpiece.

    I guess this is also why INTP is this sort of universally lauded type for having ‘reduced’ all to a core maxim/equation thus making intelligible previously under-understood minutia. In this way, one may call them ‘genius’ more likely than any other type for while they deal in abstraction, their ultimate goal is that RELATIVELY (to make an obvious pun on our Einstein here) simpler end point.

    If I have made any (or many) unwarranted assumptions, please correct me if you have the time.

  7. Oh no that’s very much what I was getting at, by preferring Ti it takes a while to think ideas over but when they are well thought out, they are mostly “static” (although prior there could be a lot of overlap).

    A lot of it is just that when you logically reduce something it’s a lot harder for different concepts to overlap because they become their own self-contained “systems” that are based on smaller ideas. Another way of thinking about it is having two very different machines (concepts) and trying to swap parts (smaller ideas) or just completely combining the two. They might well have some identical parts but the two machines work very differently and thus likely incompatible.

    I think it’s easy to praise famous INTP thinkers (and not to get too far off topic) but a lot of times they work on the assumptions that are given and it’s usually Ni that comes up with new/unconventional assumptions whereas Ne has a tendency of being more conventional (since it generates concepts that exist). A good comparison is Keynes turning economics “on its head” vs. Einstein synthesizing a lot of pre-existing theories to make special relativity. And even Darwin’s theory was based on similar assumptions from others at the time that he took to the next level.

    But it’s true, like you said, INTP thinkers can be very good at simplifying and explaining complicated ideas.

  8. You know, you would garner a vast amount of attention if you did an article explaining why Louis CK is an INFP and not an ENTP (or an INTP). People all over the internet argue that he is xNTP and if there was a comprehensive analysis of his type it might help to settle a lot of the doubts.

  9. I agree with most of this stuff.

    To break down ENTP and INTP in simple everyday terms, look for personality characteristics of their dominant function. Ne lends ENTPs energetic and child-like personalities, while Ti gives INTPs a very characteristic logical robotic-ness. This is, of course, from the perspective of an introverted ENTP.

  10. A somewhat relevant question based on one of the comments above: are function tests valid? By function tests I don’t mean online MBTI but tests that give you your function preference based on a questionnaire.

    I took one a while ago, and it gave me some out-of-order functions that I actually quite liked, but I’d like to know if it was even remotely valid before I get my hopes up.

  11. Are function tests valid? This is a highly complicated question. As a purely technical question, such tests have often been found to have poor validity compared to the standard type tests that you see around the net. So you should be very critical of the results you get.

    On the other hand, if you mean to ask whether the functions don’t have to fall in the standard order, the answer is a little more complicated. In a strict Jungian parlance, a function always implies its antithesis. So there can be no Ti without Fe; no Si without Ne and so on. People who don’t understand this are typically “making it up as they go along” rather than actually having studied and improved upon Jung’s typology.

    But there is also another dimension to your question: Do the functions have to fall in the order dictated by the standard model? I.e. if you are INTP will you always have Ti-Ne-Si-Fe in exactly that order? On this question, our answer is “yes, but the interplay of the functions can wax and wane over time.” But on this matter there are other schools of thought (now long forgotten by the internet) that would say that other function orders were possible. Some present day Jungians, for example, believe themselves to have Ti-Ni-Se-Fe and this would be quite impossible under the “standard model” (which we subscribe to here on the site but which we acknowledge is not the *only* possible interpretation of Jungian typology).

  12. Do you have any simple guidelines for the difference between INFP and ENFP?
    The difference between ESFP and ISFP?

  13. This definitely makes me INTP then. I’m much more narrow-minded and stubborn in my beliefs than the typical ENTP. But that’s because I’m usually right. :)

    This article even touches on some things that annoy me about ENTPs I know – messy, disorganised thinking (they seem less worried about contradicting themselves than I am, or simply unaware of it) and an unwillingness to commit to a position (they say “X believes Y, but B believes C and E *could* be true also”. But I didn’t ask what a bunch of random people – often dead – thought, I want to know what the people I’m talking to think the REAL answer is). They can drive me nuts at times. XD

    Also, the comment about ENTPs being more “mystic” in their philosophy makes sense to me. I enjoy learning about religions and esoteric beliefs, but a mystic I am most assuredly not! There’s little room for mysticism in my worldview, but I enjoy exploring those things in creative writing.

    That said, ENTPs are awesome, and make up a large proportion of my friends. :)

  14. Could you make a test for this? I constantly test as either ENTP or INTP, depending on the day. I did test as an ENTP on the official MBTI I took at university. I still find the difference confusing.

  15. I believe I could be an ENTP, because, although I am an atheist, the idea that we are all connected via the same particles that were present at the big bang, and that we are the same as the rest of the objects in the universe does make me feel gooey inside.

  16. Call me a nitpicky INTP, but the use of ‘him’ to refer to a persons of an unknown gender kept throwing me off – who is this individual man you speak of?

    You may not be aware of it due to your own bias, but there is really no need for using him an in this day and age; use of their in the singular is perfectly legitimate.

    Other than that, great post. ENTPs always intrigue me, they are the poster child ‘Ps’ in the sense they keep all their options open.

    Whereas INTPs do, as you say, create ‘absolute truths’ from observations they’ve made which rarely shift unless new data is input, with ENTPs everything is subject to change ‘just in case’ there’s something better out there – which strikes me as a very extroverted trait compared to the INTPs more prudent attitude.

  17. The real difference…

    Say hello to an ENTP and he’ll say hello back.

    Say hello to an INTP and he’ll say “What?”

    Easy. :D

  18. I would like to see an article about the differences between Enfp and Infp. I often get infp in test results but it never felt quite right, even though it seemed an amazing type to be. I think I have a lot of social anxiety which might cause me to act in more stereo-typically introverted ways but am actually extroverted. I’m trying to learn what social anxiety would look like in extroverts, specifically enfps. I have discovered that the more I feed my anxiety, the worse it gets. I have gotten a lot better, but I’m still far from where I want to be.

  19. Rose,

    Social interaction really has very little to do with Jungian typology, so your anxiety shouldn’t affect your type. :)

    You should think in terms of function order, I think. Do you have two objective externally-oriented functions in your top 3 (Ne+Te in this case) or two subjective internally-oriented functions in your top 3 (Fi+Si)?

    Michael Pierce’s type descriptions might be helpful to you…

    https://www.idrlabs.com/articles/2014/11/pierce-presents-infp/

    https://www.idrlabs.com/articles/2014/10/pierce-presents-enfp/

  20. @hum-diddle-dum

    Oh, shut up. Call me a nitpicky INTP, but the fact that you’d try to correct someone using *proper grammar* is pugnacious beyond belief. The author can use whatever pronoun he wants in regards to someone of unspecified or unknown gender.

    As my old AP English teacher used to put it, “if you write he/she in your paper, I will automatically give it an F…”

    “And no, don’t use they either. It sounds stupid.”

    I remember his wisdom to this day.

  21. I’m wondering if you could take a lot of the insights in this article about ENTP and INTP, and apply it to ENFP vs. INFP. How Ne is interacting with Fi rather than Ti. ENFPs I think tend to be pretty introverted extroverts too, because the nature of Ne is not necessarily a very stereo-typically extroverted function. (You can exercise it alone or with others, though it’s often more fun with others.) I thought I was INFP at first and I find many ENFPs had similar experiences. I look at this statement “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.” and think it can be rewritten for Fi with Ne, thus: “As such, INFPs are far less scattered, and also less colorful, than ENFPs, but on the inside they have a deeply felt value system that they believe in wholeheartedly and completely, and of which they are far more convinced than the ENFP, who holds all their Fi judgments as tentative in some sense.” I think the part about coming up for air and going in for air also applies. Anyway, I would love if the site made an INFP/ENFP test. There’s lots of people on the internet confused about these types.

  22. are entps more eloquent speakers? Does intps have a toruble with speaking? I forget what i’m going to say sometimes and then rush to find something else to say. Is that lack of Si? But I have an amazing memory!

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