Profile of the ISTP Personality Type
ISTP in a Nutshell
ISTPs are observant artisans with an understanding of mechanics and an interest in troubleshooting. They approach their environments with a flexible logic, looking for practical solutions to the problems at hand. They are independent and adaptable, and typically interact with the world around them in a self-directed, spontaneous manner.
ISTPs are attentive to details and responsive to the demands of the world around them. Because of their astute sense of their environment, they are good at moving quickly and responding to emergencies. ISTPs are reserved, but not withdrawn: the ISTP enjoys taking action, and approaches the world with a keen appreciation for the physical and sensory experiences it has to offer.
What Makes the ISTP Tick
ISTPs are curious about the mechanics of the world around them and typically have a unique ability to manipulate the tools in their environments. They tend to study how things work and often achieve mastery in the use and operation of machines, instruments, and equipment. They seek understanding, but in a practical sense: they like to be able to put their technical knowledge to immediate use and are quickly bored by theory.
ISTPs tend to be detached and prefer the logic of mechanical things to the complexity of human emotions. Independent and reserved, ISTPs treasure their personal space, and want to be free to be spontaneous and follow their own lead. ISTPs are selective about their relationships, and appreciate others who allow them plenty of freedom to do their own thing.
Recognizing an ISTP
ISTPs are typically reserved and even aloof. Tolerant and nonjudgmental, the ISTP calmly takes in the details and facts of their surroundings, noticing sensory data and observing how things work. They often tune into what needs to be done, taking care of the immediate needs of the moment in a modest, inconspicuous way. They tend to prefer action to conversation, and are often private about their personal lives. ISTPs are unlikely to “open up” to new people in a conventional way, but may connect with others by sharing an activity or working together to solve a practical problem.
ISTPs are good with their hands and often mechanical. They are typically attracted to hands-on hobbies like woodworking or crafts, and may be found tinkering with bicycles, computers, cars, or household appliances. They often have an intuitive understanding of machines and a remarkable ability to fix things. ISTPs have an appreciation for risk and action, and often enjoy thrilling leisure activities like extreme sports, motorcycling, or weaponry.
Famous ISTPs include Lance Armstrong, Bruce Lee, Miles Davis, Tiger Woods, Chuck Yaeger, Katherine Hepburn, Clint Eastwood, and Amelia Earhart.
ISTP in the Population
The ISTP personality type is much more common among men than women. Among men, it is the third most common type in the population. Among women, it is the fourth rarest. ISTPs make up:
- 5% of the general population
- 9% of men
- 2% of women
Popular hobbies for an ISTP include magic and comedy, archery, weaponry, hunting, scuba diving, rappelling, aviation, skydiving, motorcycles, and other extreme sports. They are often drawn to risky or thrilling activities and those that allow them to work with something mechanical.
What the Experts Say
"ISTPs have a vested interest in practical and applied science, especially in the field of mechanics."
- Isabel Briggs Myers, Gifts Differing
"If a given tool is operated with a precision that defies belief, that operator is likely an ISTP."
- David Keirsey, Please Understand Me II
"Though very effective at most undertakings, [the ISTP's] unorthodox way of accomplishing something, coupled with low visibility, can often lead to co-workers' wondering, to quote the people the Lone Ranger saved, 'Who was that masked man?'"
- Otto Kroeger, Type Talk at Work
Research on ISTP
Interesting facts about the ISTP:
- On personality trait measures, score as Critical, Detached, Guarded, Independent, and Resourceful
- Commonly found in populations of male college scholarship athletes
- More likely than other types to suffer cardiac problems
- Lowest ranked of all types in using social coping resources
- One of four types least satisfied with their marriage or intimate relationship
- Among types least likely to complete college
- Personal values include Autonomy; at work, value Stability, Security, Independence, and Achievement
- Commonly found in skilled trades, technical fields, agriculture, law enforcement, and military occupations