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The ISTP Personality: ISTP Careers, Relationships, and Life

Updated on August 31, 2014

The ISTP personality is one that outsiders often find baffling. Though rational and logical in nature, the ISTP can have sudden bouts of spontaneity and enthusiasm that can catch many off guard. Their reactions to things are not always predictable, even by those that know them well.

ISTP stands for introverted, sensing, thinking, and perceptive. It is the combination of thinking and perception that make the ISTP personality standout. They are usually quite calm; however, the inner spontaneity is ever present, building and waiting to one day be released. People with the ISTP personality type are quite good at controlling and saving their energy for things that they consider important.

ISTPs are introverts and this is expressed through their relatively private nature. This can make it even more difficult to know exactly what is going on in their minds. To confuse matters even further, many ISTPs exhibit extreme stubbornness when it comes to criticism of their principles and habits.

With their striking sense of humor and naturally unemotional point of views, the ISTP personality can come across as insensitive at times. They sometimes have a difficult time recognizing what is socially expected during emotional situations and because of this they they may unintentional hurt the more sensitive personalities with their unemotional responses.

Another interesting trait that is unlike other introverts, is that the ISTP personality doesn’t care about personal space. They will express their interest in another person’s project and expect the reaction to be nothing but friendly. They also do not mind if others become involved in something they are working on as long as it does not threaten the ISTP’s lifestyle and principles.

As verbal communication is not one of the ISTPs strong suits, misunderstanding between the ISTP and others are inevitable. ISTPs prefer to express their thoughts through non-verbal means. They should be conscious of this tendency and make attempts to rely more on verbal communication so that those closest to them can understand them better.

ISTP Strengths
ISTP Weaknesses
Great listening skills
Difficulty with expressing feelings/emotions
High Self-confidence
Enjoys action and adrenaline
Excellent sense of reality
Tendency to be too reserved
Resistant to conflict and criticism
Need for a lot of personal space
Practical and down-to-earth
Poor sense of other people's feelings
Able to leave a failed relationship relatively easily
Respects the personal space of others

ISTP Careers

One of the most prominent traits of the ISTP personality is that they are highly curious and have a thirst for knowledge. They often enjoy discovering how things work. They prefer a hands on approach to learning and tend to enjoy careers that allow them freedom and opportunities to be creative. ISTPs typically dislike theory and abstract principles. They excel at troubleshooting with a practical approach to problem solving. ISTPs do not mind taking risk and respond very well in crisis situations. With all of these factors in mind, some great ISTP careers include the following:

  • Mechanic
  • Engineer
  • Forensic Scientist
  • Firefighter
  • Detectives
  • Paramedics
  • Pilots
  • Athletes
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Policemen

Famous ISTP Peronalities

Based on an analysis of their life and work, the following celebrities have been identified as ISTP personalities:

  • Ellen Page, Actress
  • Harrison Ford, Actor
  • Kristen Stewart, Actress
  • Scarlett Johnson, Actress
  • Simon Cowell, American Idol Judge
  • Tom Cruise, Actor
  • Bruce Lee, Martial Artist
  • Christian Bale, Actor

Fictional characters include:

  • Hans Solo, Star Wars
  • Butch Coolidge, Pulp Fiction
  • Blondie, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
  • Wolverine, X-Men
  • Jason Bourne, The Bourne Identity
  • Maggie Fitzgerald, Million Dollar Baby

ISTP Relationships

The ISTP preferred partners are the ESTJ (extroverted, sensing, thinking, judging) and ESFJ (extroverted, sensing, feeling, judging) personality types. ISTPs are very independent and require a lot of personal space, particularly in a romantic relationship. Dating an ISTP can be a very complex and highly interesting experience. The prominent T trait (thinking) can often present as a cold detachment, however, the corresponding S (sensing) and P (perceptive) traits can be very attractive to the opposite sex.

The ISTP will often look for new activities and experiences to enjoy. They are very present focused and dislike committing to something without an exit clause. This does not mean the ISTP will not commit, however, any prospective partner should refrain from pushing commitment too early. In addition, The ISTP personality will resist any attempt, either directly or indirectly, to control them.

ISTPs do not see intimacy as an expression of love and affection; instead, it is a physical act or even an art form. They are sensual and practical with the ability to use all five senses. They enjoy spontaneity, creativity, and enthusiasm during these intimate moments.

The ISTP can be difficult to understand at times. They have a tendency to keep their opinions to themselves, yet they enjoy learning about what others think. They tend to dodge questions with questions which often serves to frustrate some partners. ISTPs prefer to make their decisions internally and do not feel the need to consult anyone else. Despite these factors, ISTP relationships can be filled with very strong, very deep feelings. They may at times find it difficult to express these emotions by they are there. It is important for those involved with ISTPs to understand that these personalities live in the present and so do their feelings. Therefore, they may be passionate one day and very much indifferent the next. Don’t take this personally. It is just the way the mind of the ISTP works.


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      Milan 9 months ago

      I agree with steven, but adding to that "they wont mind unless it evades their privacy and the space ISTP minds sharing are the same interests or on a task that others can work together with ISTPs " the other space in their weaknesses is that they need to withdraw if their space seems threatened in some way. Or because they are simplt introverted thatd why.

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      Steven 3 years ago

      "Another interesting trait that is unlike other introverts, is that the ISTP personality doesn’t care about personal space."

      1 paragraph later, in the table under Weaknesses:

      "Need for a lot of personal space"

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      Irene 3 years ago

      Wow, Brandon, you are right! It's funny situation, isn't it? :D

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      brandon 3 years ago

      LOL harrison ford is an actress ;)