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How to Spot an ISTP among Other Personality Types

ISTP Key Difference Featured

The ISTP (also known as The Tinkerer) is one of the most energetic and positive of the 16 personalities. They like to spend time alone and are pragmatic. They have realistic expectations and make decisions based on what their mind thinks rather than what their heart feels. As an Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, and Perceiving type, ISTPs make up around 5% of the total world population. Although they’re not the only Introverted type, there are some key differences between the ISTPs and the other lone wolves. But what are they? What makes the ISTP so mysterious yet spontaneous and positive? How do they compare to the other personality types?

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at The Tinkerer’s world and their characteristics, and we’ll measure their behavior compared with the other types.

Before we move on, make sure you know your personality type. You can easily find out the same by taking our comprehensive personality test!

ISTP Characteristics

ISTPs are probably the most independent of all personality types. However, while they do need to spend time alone in order to function properly, they’re also energetic and fun-loving. But how can you easily spot an ISTP? Well, for starters, here’s a list of characteristics that apply to the The Tinkerers that can help you to get to know them better:

  • ISTPs are action oriented and love new experiences
  • They enjoy hands-on activities and like to be physically challenged
  • They like to think objectively and make judgments based on logic and facts
  • They’re not the best at expressing their feelings and can be perceived as emotionally unavailable
  • They don’t like commitment, hate following schedules and need a little help when it comes to planning

How Do ISTPs Compare to Other Personality Types?

Every personality type is driven by different preferences. These preferences are:

  • Extroversion (E) vs. Introversion (I)
  • Sensing (S) vs. Intuition (N)
  • Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F)
  • Judging (J) vs. Perceiving (P)

Furthermore, the cognitive functions of a type also play an important role in their behavior. By combining functions and preferences, key aspects of a personality type can be defined. Every personality type is different, and probably the best way to explain how to spot an ISTP is to compare them to the other 15 types. So let’s get into it.

ISTPs vs SJ Temperament Types

The SJ temperament is driven by their Sensing and Judging preferences. The personality types that fall into this category are highly idealistic and exceptionally intuitive. Some of their best qualities include patience and adaptability, as their goal in life is to achieve absolute harmony. They avoid confrontation at all costs and will do everything they can to make sure their loved ones get along with each other. The four types that have an SJ temperament are: ESTJ, ESFJ, ISTJ, and ISFJ. They all have two things in common – they like stability and value traditions. Along with that, the SJ temperament types like planning and are driven by feelings of duty and honor. They frequently struggle with worry and this doesn’t go well with the free-spirited, disorganized, and positive ISTP. So let’s see how The Tinkerer compares to each phlegmatic.


ESTJs (also known as The Administrator) are often described as logical, take-charge kinds of people. They find high value in rules and security. They feel their best when they can take charge, and they’re likely to end up in leadership positions. They’re both confident and determined, but can also be perceived as stubborn and even arrogant. If people fail to live up to their high standards they can get easily frustrated. Their primary and secondary functions are Extroverted Thinking and Introverted Sensing, which means that they rely on logic and are able to set their vulnerabilities aside when they have to. They also rely on their five senses, which causes them to lose interest in things they can’t touch or see.

ISTPs and ESTJs have many similarities, but at the same time possess enough differences to be able to learn from one another. Both are logical and practical and like to think about the realistic side of things. They’re not good at expressing feelings and emotions and appreciate directness. At the same time, where ISTPs are flexible and adaptable, ESTJs rely on traditions and hardly ever change their ways. ISTPs like their freedom and have no interest in being the center of attention, while the Extroverted ESTJs can be bossy and possess strong leadership skills. Those personality types are somewhat compatible but, if they want to be in each other’s lives, they must resolve their differences.


ESFJs (or The Consul) obtain their value system from external sources, and they’re driven by the need to belong. They want to be liked by others and feel hurt by unkindness or indifference. At the same time, they also like to make others feel welcomed and comfortable. They’re nurturing and supportive, and their mission is to help others. This considerate demeanor comes from their dominant cognitive function: Extroverted Feeling. ESFJs are often generous and kind people with a supportive vibe. They’re social butterflies and are energized by interaction. They often have many friends and are great hosts. Some might say that they’re also people-pleasers, but the truth is that people feel naturally drawn to them.

ESFJs are very different from ISTPs. ISTPs are introverted, don’t have many friends, and like to be alone. They hate crowded places and they aren’t easily offended. They care little for social acceptance and aren’t necessarily considerate of others. However, as a sensing type, The Consuls are aware of their surroundings and like to live in the moment. And this is something they have in common with the ISTPs. Although the two types don’t have much in common, they sure know how to enjoy their lives. This is why they might work well in a friendship.


ISTJs (or The Archivist) are natural planners, and like their lives to be carefully organized. They’re responsible, dependable, and loyal. They like to keep things realistic, often find logical solutions to problems, and easily disregard distractions. ISTJs pay attention to detail and they’re good at analyzing and examining. Their dominant function is Introverted Sensing meaning that they’re good at differentiating right from wrong. They’re rational thinkers and they’ll always prioritize work over play. They have a tendency for being workaholics and they sometimes get obsessed with finishing a task. The Archivists put great emphasis on traditions and law and prefer to follow established rules and norms.

ISTPs and ISTJs share nearly identical world views, values, interests, and life philosophies. They’re both logical thinkers and they make rational decisions. They’re both focused on the present and they’re observant. However, ISTPs are exceptionally disorganized, which is the exact opposite of the ISTJs. ISTJs can be subjective, while one of ISTP’s best qualities is objectivity. Nevertheless, in most cases, those types can relate well to each other.


ISFJs (or The Defender) are known for being reserved, warm-hearted, and responsible. This personality type is one of the most common, and its dominant function is Introverted Sensing. This means that they like to focus on details and concrete information. However, unlike some Introverted Sensing types, ISFJs have the Feeling preference, which makes them sensitive, empathetic, and emotionally expressive. They’re well-tuned to the emotions of others but, although they’re good at understanding their own emotions, they often struggle to express them. They’re reliable and they avoid confrontation at all costs. ISFJs enjoy structure and strive to maintain order in all areas of life.

As Si (Introverted Sensing) types, ISTPs and ISFJs have a lot in common. They pull their energy from within and concentrate on information rather than abstract theories. Both types are reliable, but there’s one key difference that plays a big role here – organization. ISFJs, similar to the other SJ temperaments, like to have everything planned out, while the ISTP prefers to improvise. With minimal effort, these two types can complement each other well, and are likely to feel a connection and find common ground easily.

ISTP vs SP Temperament Types

SP temperament types (ESTP, ESFP, ISTP, and ISFP) are driven by the Sensing and Perceiving preferences. They are known to be extremely fun loving and have a low tolerance for boredom. They’re energetic, love adventure, and will never miss an opportunity for a thrill. SP people are laid-back, open-minded, and know how to enjoy life. They’re outgoing and likable but when it comes to the serious side of life, often struggle with keeping up with their obligations. As thrill seekers they are usually hyperactive, which prevents them from completing tasks and managing responsibilities. While ISTPs fall within the SP temperament, there are some differences between them and the other three types. So let’s explore and compare their characteristics and traits.


ESTPs (or The Daredevil) are impulsive and action-oriented people. Their dominant function is Extroverted Sensing, which makes them focused on reality. It also means they’re highly energetic and prefer exploring new opportunities to have fun, rather than doing something useful. ESTPs are influential and persuasive and people feel naturally drawn to them. They’re talkative and have strong social skills. Other people sometimes describe them as fast talkers and, when they’re put in social settings, they’re usually a few steps ahead of the conversation. Sometimes ESTPs act impulsively and can engage in risky behavior.

ESTPs and ISTPs have nearly identical temperaments. They both live for exploring new opportunities and they’re not the best at keeping up with a plan. Both types are practical and pragmatic and focus on the logical side of things. However, as introverts, ISTPs avoid being around many people, while ESTPs seek out exactly these kinds of settings. Nevertheless, both types are energetic and adventure-loving, which could lead to a fun and dynamic relationship.


ESFPs (or The Entertainer) are outgoing and feel their best in social situations. Their dominant function is Extroverted Sensing meaning that, similar to other SP temperaments, they don’t spend a lot of time organizing. They also like to focus on the here and now and love being the center of attention. However, what differentiates them from the other SP types is their degree of empathy and awareness of their own emotions. They’re considerate of other people and hate judgment, even if it’s not directed towards them. ESFPs also put great emphasis on personal feelings, especially when it comes to making decisions.

ESFPs and ISTPs share some things in common. For instance, they love new experiences and feed off the thrill of adventure. Both types aren’t the best at organizing but sure know how to enjoy the moment. Yet, ISTPs hate it when people aren’t being rational, especially when it comes to resolving conflict. ESFPs count on emotional expression, while ISTPs like to communicate through facts and logic. That being said, although they do have different approaches on how to handle life, ISTPs and ESFPs can work well together with a little compromise.


The ISFP (or The Adventurer) is frequently described as quiet, peaceful, and easy going. Their dominant function is Introverted Feeling, which means that they can sometimes not see the bigger picture objectively. Rather, they focus on their personal concerns and deal with information based on how they feel about the situation. ISFPs are set in their beliefs, and their judgment is based on how things fit within their own idea of values. ISFPs are kind, friendly, and sensitive people who prefer to interact with their small group of friends and family members. They don’t hate social settings but they do need to spend most of their time alone. ISFPs are easy going and accept people for who they are.

So far, it might seem like The Adventurer doesn’t have much in common with ISTPs. However, that’s not completely accurate; both types tend to be ‘doers’ rather than ‘dreamers,’ and they both dislike abstract theories. They communicate in a straightforward manner and appreciate directness. Both types learn on the go and are loyal to their own values and beliefs. If they’re in a romantic relationship or friendship, their strong need for personal space helps them appreciate the other person’s privacy.

ISTP vs NT Temperament Types

NT temperament types (ENTJ, ENTP, INTJ and INTP) are driven by their Intuition and Perceiving preferences. They are generally perceived as intelligent, ambitious people with leadership tendencies. Driven by a desire to know everything, they’re analytical and tend to question anything. They’re interested in investigation and research and want to master as much knowledge as possible. This temperament is also known to be somewhat aggressive and dominant. They like to have control over their surroundings and it’s not easy to gain their trust. Work absorbs their full attention and they perform best when they’re in charge. Let’s take a closer look at how ISTPs compare to the NT temperament types.


ENTJs (or The General) are often described as confident, outspoken and assertive. Their dominant function is Extroverted Thinking, which means they speak first without listening. This can prevent them from taking in all the information needed to understand a situation. They’re quick to judge but are also rational and objective. They concentrate on creating order and standards within their surroundings, and it’s important for them to set measurable goals. ENTJs are extroverted and enjoy spending time with other people. While interacting with others energizes them, they’re not the most considerate type. They don’t like to take other people’s feelings into account, and others’ emotions don’t factor much into their choices.

ISTPs and ENTJs have some similarities in their characteristics. For instance, both types prefer logic and facts over emotions. However, except for being highly rational, ISTPs and ENTJs don’t have much in common. ISTPs are good listeners compared to ENTJs, and they also prefer to spend time alone due to their introverted nature. Therefore, even though ISTPs and ENTJs have similar communication styles, that doesn’t mean they could get along if they’re put in the same social situation. They would tend to talk past each other, and a little arbitration can go a long way in helping them live in harmony.


The ENTP (or The Debater) is an idea-oriented type who is innovative, clever and expressive. Their dominant function is Extroverted Intuition, meaning they’re open-minded and take on information rapidly. ENTPs are focused on opportunities and are good at spotting details that others might have overlooked. They are idea generators and are one of the most intellectually oriented of all personality types. They’re innovative and creative, which makes them great entrepreneurs. They’re great conversationalists and they enjoy debating (hence the name The Debater). However, although this is one of their best qualities, ENTPs can sometimes be too argumentative and even insensitive.

Compared to the ISTPs, ENTPs are extremely extroverted and feel recharged when they’re surrounded by people. However, these two types are not so different from each other, and share some key similarities. For instance, both dislike routines and schedules, preferring instead to work things out at their own pace. They don’t like to be controlled and tend toward spontaneity. If an ISTP and an ENTP get together, some problems may occur in terms of communication.


INTJs (also known as The Mastermind) are highly analytical, creative, and logical. Their dominant function is Introverted Intuition which means that instead of looking at concrete facts they look at meanings in possibilities. They want to know what those facts mean and they’re great at reading between the lines. They spend a lot of time daydreaming and thinking about the eventual possibilities of the future or remembering events from the past. People with this personality type generally have high expectations and can be overly analytical and judgmental. INTJs are self-confident and hard working, however, they’re not the best at working with a team.

Compared to INTJs, ISTPs are vastly different. They like to concentrate on the current moment rather than what could have been or could be. ISTPs like to focus on the facts rather than abstract explanations. Also, unlike the INTJs, ISTPs are good at limiting their expectations, which leads to more life satisfaction. However, as introverts, both personalities dislike talking about their emotions, which is at least one thing they have in common. Another similarity is the fact that they’re good listeners, and people often describe them as being good friends.


INTPs (also known as The Logician) are often described as quiet and analytical. ISTPs and INTPs share the same judging functions – Introverted Thinking and Extroverted Feeling. This means that they are driven by the need of figuring out how things work. They’re natural troubleshooters and seek practical solutions to problems. Both make decisions based on logical analysis and are primarily concerned with finding answers. ISTPs and INTPs are self-disciplined and prefer to manage their time independently.

However, even though ISTPs and INTPs have many things in common, there are some key differences between those types that must be noted. First, ISTPs prefer to be hands-on and practical, they have a fine taste in life and they know how to enjoy the moment. Conversely, INTPs are focused on storing memory and details from the past. They’re not the best at living in the moment, and more often than not they miss the best ones because they were too busy remembering what was.

ISTP and NF Temperament Types

NF temperament types (ENFP, ENFJ, INFP, and INFJ) are driven by Intuition and Feeling preferences. People from those personality types value relationships. Unlike the SP temperament types, they’re not on the lookout for thrills and adventure. They don’t like to take risks and feel their best when they know they can maintain their security. The types that fall within the NF temperament are considerate and are deep thinkers. They’re able to untangle complex problems in detail and they’re organized and strict in their ways. They’re great at synthesizing information and displaying it visually, in the form of graphs or charts for instance. In their personal lives, they’re often reliable, serious, and tend toward perfectionism. But how do these qualities compare to the ISTP personality type? Let’s dive into some concepts and answer that question.


ENFJs (also known as The Guide) are often described as warm, outgoing, and loyal. Their dominant function is Introverted Intuition, which means they think about the future rather than the present. Their focus on the larger goal can sometimes blind them to immediate details. They’re good at spotting patterns, which helps them make sense of complex or abstract data. ENFJs are warm-hearted and empathetic individuals who sincerely enjoy spending time with other people. In their relationships, they’re often supportive and affectionate. They’re masters at encouraging the people around them and they feel personally satisfied when they devote their time to others. Sometimes they try too hard and are too approval-seeking.

ISTPs and ENFJs have almost nothing in common and in every aspect they have contrasting behaviors. Unlike ENFJs, who find it hard to set aside some time to attend to their personal needs, ISTPs are self-reliant. ISTPs hate emotional vulnerability and, when the people around them require emotional expression, they tend to freeze up and feel uncomfortable. In contrast, ENFJs feel their best when they have to show affection. Also, where ISTPs have the worst time management of all personality types, ENFJs rely on their ability to organize their time. It won’t be easy for those two types to find common ground if they’re out in the same social setting.


INFJ (or The Sage) is said to be one of the rarest personality types. They are described as creative, gentle, and caring individuals who have high moral standards and are also overly sensitive. INFJs are often found contemplating the meaning of life and, due to their dominant Introverted Intuition function, they tend to focus on their internal insights. INFJs are empathetic and have a well-developed belief system. If you’d like to know how INFJs compare with the other types, take a look at our article on how to spot an INFJ.

Although they’re introverted they seek connections and, when they find someone they get along with, they want to stick to them. They value deep and meaningful relationships but still need time to themselves in order to recharge. This personality type is characterized by idealism, but that doesn’t mean they’re delusional. They’re aware of what’s happening in the world around them, but they choose to believe that they can change it.

ISTPs and INFJs don’t have much in common except for being introverted. When it comes to making decisions, INFJs put greater emphasis on personal concerns, disregarding objectivity and facts. This is the exact opposite of the logical and pragmatic ISTP. INFJs often have high expectations, which is something that the ISTPs try to avoid. And the typical INFJ sensitivity can make the ISTP uncomfortable if they are put in a social setting together.


INFP (also referred to as The Mediator) is described as introverted and creative. Their dominant function is Introverted Feeling, which means that they process emotions internally. They’re highly affected by the world around them and they have the ability to feel great compassion toward others. However, they find it hard to express the overwhelming emotions they feel about their surroundings. That’s why they’re sometimes perceived as unwelcoming or aloof. They’re actually sensitive individuals who value close relationships. INFPs are highly individualistic and they don’t aim to make people feel comfortable. They want to be perceived as who they are and in exchange, they’ll let people in (which for them is quite the deal). One of their weaknesses is that they tend to take everything personally, which could be frustrating to some.

ISTPs and INFPs are different from each other. INFPs can sometimes overlook details while paying attention to the smallest elements is ISTP’s specialty. ISTPs are great at appreciating life while INFPs are melancholic and tend to lose sight of the little things. ISTPs value logic and, when it comes to making decisions, have the ability to look at things objectively. INFPs are the opposite – they usually base their perception on personal values. ISTPs are energetic and adventurous, while INFPs are reserved and afraid to take risks.

Nevertheless, both types are introverted and like to spend time alone, which makes them considerate of other people’s personal space. Also, they share the Perceiving preference, meaning that both types are adaptable to change and could be quite disorganized.


ENFPs (also known as The Optimist) are often described as enthusiastic, charismatic, and outgoing. Their charming and energetic nature coupled with their Extroverted Intuition dominant function helps them to focus on the world of possibilities. ENFPs are innovative and are focused on the future, sometimes to the point of refusing to see things as they are. Rather, they prefer to concentrate on how things can be, which augments their creativity. ENFPs are empathetic and caring and genuinely care about others. They’re enthusiastic and like to spend time with others.

Unlike the logical and pragmatic ISTP, ENFPs are good at abstract thinking and often overlook tiny details. Another difference between these two types is the fact that ISTPs prefer to spend their time alone while ENFPs are social butterflies. ENFPs need social approval, while ISTPs couldn’t care less if people like them or not. Also, where ENFPs tend to be stressed out easily, ISTPs thrive in stressful situations. There’s really not much in common that those two personality types have. However, sometimes opposites attract and, with a little work, the strengths and weaknesses of these two types can balance each other out.