A couple months ago, I posted a series on my blog where I wrote about the personality types of my five main characters: ISTJ, ESFP, ESTP, and INFP. My fifth character’s personality type is INTJ. At that time, I thought that I had already covered that in my post last year on writing INTJ females. I was mistaken. Last week, I read that post again and realized the post was absolutely useless for helping with INTJ characters (male or female) if the writer was not already familiar with the personality type.
So here is an overview of the INTJ personality type to help writers with these characters.
Disclaimer: I am an INTJ. So I am speaking partially from personal experience and partially from my research in this post. I am most familiar with this personality type, not only because of my personal experience, but also because I have researched INTJs for the longest. However, as an INTJ, I have an inherent bias. I tried to be objective in this post and not include aspects of myself that are not sue to my type, but of course, it will not be perfect. So please feel free to correct me in the comments. Moreover, this post is not meant to help INTJs understand themselves better but is an amateur analysis meant to help writers create characters.
The Functions of the INTJ
- Introverted Intuition (Ni): INTJs are very focused people, constantly thinking about the future and how to achieve a desired outcome, and they typically have a narrow list of interests. Almost all INTJs have a grand life goal, even from a young age. Ni focuses on the most likely outcomes rather than a multitude of less likely possibilities–what will happen rather than what might happen. INTJs like to see circumstances with the biggest possible view, thinking about all possible ramifications and philosophical implications of actions and ideas. Though INTJs by no means take into account all factors (INTJs often get into trouble when they don’t take something into account), INTJs comes as close as is humanly and naturally possible. Also, INTJs are creative individuals, but their creativity tends to be vision oriented, and their sense of humor is often focused on implications of actions or extenuating circumstances, such as dark or morbid humor, irony, and sarcasm. When combined with Te and Fi, Ni often gives INTJs a clear idea of what matters in their plans and goals and what does not. This tends to make INTJs very efficient and effective and not care about the opinions of most people. However, INTJs can be manipulative and frequently disregard the feelings and emotions of others (Te) when thinking only of an overall goal. INTJs also have little to no regard for tradition or conventional techniques (NiFi). At best, INTJs are conscientious individuals who are not swayed by popular opinion; at worst, INTJs are manipulative and execute their own plans regardless of the feelings or well being of the people around them.
- Extroverted Thinking (Te): INTJs process everything through logic and do not hesitate to take action once they are sure of the outcome. INTJs are known for processing their feelings through their heads first. They analyze what makes sense and is most tactically beneficial and then begin working on it. When combined with Ni, Te causes INTJs’ plans to tend to be very well thought out, and INTJs quickly see ramifications and implications of ideas. Tending to be blunt, INTJs typically care more about the truth and find it through debate than people they might hurt emotionally. INTJs are critical of everything, especially their own work, and are often perfectionists. They are most critical of themselves and are very aware of their own nature (Fi) and how their interactions affect the world. In addition, INTJs tend to value systems, organization, and efficiency.
- Introverted Feeling (Fi): INTJs struggle with social interactions and understanding other people’s motivations and emotions. However, many INTJs look at patterns (Ni) of human behavior and use that information to help their personal interactions and analysis of others. Since many INTJs subconsciously expect everyone else to be logical and perfectionists (Te), they can struggle when people don’t see the way they do and make the same decisions. However, unlike the stereotypes, INTJs experience intense emotions; they hide them from other people and are very uncomfortable with outward displays of emotions. INTJs tend to process their emotions logically (Te) and seek to define their emotions and understand them, and INTJs often need to be alone or write out their thoughts to think through their emotions. In general, INTJs have a very realistic and honest understanding of themselves. As an introverted feeler, INTJs tend to have very strong morals based on personal convictions, and they focus on what something means to them personally and not what it means to other people. They do not shy away from uncomfortable truths and have no problem standing up for what they believe in. INTJs don’t love broadly but intensely and specifically. Though INTJs tend to ignore or be annoyed by compliments and take criticism very well, if one of the few people an INTJ truly trusts compliments or criticizes them, they will take it to heart. INTJs hate being controlled or feeling stifled, and they value solitude.
- Extroverted Sensing (Se): Since this is the inferior function, it is underdeveloped in many INTJs. INTJs tend not to have good memories (generally they take impressions or an overall meaning from an experience [Ni]). They also are not spontaneous, random people and dislike improvising, though developed types can be very adept at it. Yet some INTJs may appear spontaneous to someone who does not realize their overall plan, or an INTJ might study and mimic other people’s “randomness” if the INTJ believes that being “random” would further their interaction with other people. Even if an INTJ neglects this function, they still have a need for physical hobbies such as sports and enjoy being outside. The difference with INTJs is that, while they need this physical activity, they often don’t realize it, being focused on their task at hand (and need friends to help them “get out more”). More mature INTJs often find extremely creative, unusual ways to satisfy their Se (such as fencing or buying a fountain pen to write quotes in a journal.) In addition, INTJs are easily over stimulated and dislike socializing simply for the sake of socializing.
*Personality types are not as simple as picking between two letters four times. The mixture of letters actually represents four cognitive functions as listed above. The dominant function is listed first and drives the type, while the inferior function is listed last and is often unused in immature types.
How to Manifest this Personality Type in Fictional Characters
Goals: The most important thing to realize about INTJs is that they are highly goal oriented. Even the youngest INTJs will have small goals, life-time goals, and legacy goals. Their goals tend to be a mixture of practical, ambitious, and idealistic.
Motivations: One of the most common motivations for INTJs is a desire to find truth and apply it in their life and in the rest of the world. INTJs are often strongly motivated by a sense of justice, individuality, and effectiveness and a desire to implement them. INTJs with a well-developed Fi will also be motivated by their personal morality.
Interaction with Other Characters: Though INTJs are capable leaders and will take leadership roles if no one else does (or the current leader is leading too ineffectively), INTJs tend to work behind the scenes to achieve their plans. They dislike group projects or working with other people and will rebel if something does not fit with their plan, sense of logic or what is effective, or their personal morality. They typically see themselves as outsiders but crave true connection with one or two other people. INTJs tend not to see the need for human connection after their couple true friends. INTJs do not like socializing, and unless they are manipulating a situation, they will state their opinions blatantly and in a confrontational manner, though there is no anger or ill will behind it– just a desire for truth.
Young/Immature Characters: Immature INTJs tend to be very arrogant, manipulative, and selfish. They tend not to have any type of filter on their mouth and be very withdrawn from other people. Some very immature INTJs might even come to the conclusion that they don’t need people in their life at all and scorn any type of emotion or moral system. Immature INTJs may also not be very aware of their surroundings and feel very disconnected from the physical world.
Mature Characters: More developed INTJs tend to appreciate other people more and have a strong sense of personal morality. They learn to show kindness and be friendly (even though INTJs tend not to value harmony) in the community around them without violating their personal principles. Mature INTJs also appreciate physical activity, spending time outdoor, and experience rather than simply theorizing and achieving life (though mature INTJs still do plenty of that.)
Other Characters Development: I found this excellent post on how INTJs tend to react to trauma. This is particularly useful for sadistic writers. Another post which might be useful for writers is Understanding Sympathetic INTJs who have a well-developed Fi and are less stereotypically ignorant of emotions and truly care about others.
Examples of INTJ Characters: Hamlet (Hamlet), Sherlock (BBC’s Sherlock– please note that I believe that Sir Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes is not an INTJ), Ender Wiggins (Ender’s Game), Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice), Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird), the 4th and 12th Doctor (Doctor Who), and Bruce Wayne/Batman (Batman)
If you’d like to look into INTJs more, I would suggest checking out this website. The website is written by an INTJ, and I believe he is very objective and fair in how he analyzes the type. Most of the links including in this post are from this website.
So have you ever written an INTJ character? What do you think about this personality type in fiction? My INTJ character, Arkeh, is the main character of the current novel that I am writing, but I have found female INTJs to be much rare than the males (who tend to be really popular.) What do you think about that or the type in general?