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  1. #1
    Senior Member Entropic's Avatar
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    Default INTJ versus INTP writing styles

    In response to this thread (this is an article I originally wrote on Personality Café but felt like sharing), I decided to comment upon the INTP and the INTJ writing styles. This is something I have been thinking about for some time and what differentiates the two. INTP and INTJ writing can sometimes be confused for each other when the INTP for example does the tl;dr comment as mentioned below, which may resemble the NiTe structure of INTJ wr iting. Similarly, when the INTJ is utilizing Te with Se well, the INTJ will look for much more external data that fits their model and come off as wordy. This is probably because the INTJ desires to be like Ti but the INTP desires to be like Ni. At least I know I do. I desire to structure everything inwards into one large, complex model. It's the ideal external form. Similarly, when the INTJ actually relies more on Te and Se, the INTJ will actually start seeking out more and more information and become wordy like an INTP.

    However, let's begin with the cognitive differences and why INTJ and INTP writing can appear as similar
    because both are INTxs, but are fundamentally different (and I apologize to the INTJs reading this as I am sure you will find my Ne frustrating):









    INTJ
    --------------------
    Ni - Te - Fi - Se


    General Description of Functions and Writing Style
    While INTPs and INTJs are both introverted thinkers, they way they structure the world is fundamentally different. The INTJ being Ni dominant creates complex intuitive models in their minds. However, because these intuitive models are introverted they must always look for external data to verify their models. This affects INTJ writing in two ways: (a) compression and (b) structure.

    The INTJ approaches writing with a reductio ad absurdum approach. This is because of the complexity of the Ni model, wanting to synthesize as much data as possible in one form. Then the INTJ looks for external data supporting the model using Te. The end result is that the INTJ wants to reduce data inwards. They want to say as much as possible with as little as possible. They will refer to known frameworks and look for symbols that can express this abstract data the best. If the INTJ could succinctly summarize the INTJ system with one abstract symbol the INTJ would do it.

    The INTJ writing may as such come across as incredibly rigid and well-structured. They put a lot of thought into the exact words they use and systematizes how every piece of data fits into their Ni model in order to provide Ni with structure. When the INTJ is young and is mostly relying on Ni and Te in his or her writing, INTJ writing feels very much like engaging with a brick wall, especially to Ne users. The INTJ writing is an unmovable object that cannot, should not and will not break in time.

    How the INTJ Uses Language
    Because of the INTJ's need to reduce lexical elements into what the INTJ considers to be the purest form, the INTJ is less likely to use conjunction elements. Words such as "and", "but", "maybe" and others are to be avoided. The INTJ wants to establish certainty because that is how they support their Ni models due to Ni's naturally uncertain nature.

    The INTJ is also likely to structure their writing in a very clear-to-follow manner that again is meant to provide with certainty. The INTJ wants to categorize and systematize in the external world. They like lists and will utilize them when they can. This will result writing that often looks like this:



    • Category A
    • Category B
    • Category C



    Especially in young INTJs, or Te users who either got Te as tertiary, inferior or as shadow, might add numbers or other symbols and make use of various word formatting methods such as indents and paragraph breaks to separate each category in their actual writing, for instance:

    a) Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Fusce convallis ipsum dictum arcu elementum suscipit. Nam lacinia, nisl a scelerisque egestas, nunc tellus lobortis elit, vitae viverra purus velit sit amet leo. Nullam tristique commodo magna vel feugiat. Nulla facilisi. Nullam venenatis felis vel nibh bibendum fermentum. Suspendisse vehicula sollicitudin suscipit. Morbi dolor elit, interdum vel convallis vitae, tincidunt sit amet sem. Proin convallis consectetur tellus commodo malesuada. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nunc lacus eros, tristique sit amet malesuada in, laoreet eget ipsum. Etiam semper nisl at quam consectetur tristique. Nulla at commodo lorem.

    b) Nunc eleifend interdum adipiscing. Curabitur mollis condimentum erat, ut faucibus nisl congue in. Curabitur quis felis lectus, sed eleifend nisl. Sed semper urna id velit faucibus eleifend. Pellentesque diam lectus, iaculis quis placerat et, scelerisque sodales sem. Aliquam erat volutpat. Etiam libero urna, congue eget tincidunt vel, feugiat vel tellus. Nullam interdum, quam eu mattis tincidunt, augue massa suscipit enim, et sodales enim ipsum at lacus. Nam a venenatis orci. Vivamus vulputate nulla id lacus dignissim tincidunt. Pellentesque eros neque, faucibus vitae posuere non, feugiat non dui. Nulla sagittis sem ac libero imperdiet vel ultrices tellus tincidunt.

    c) Aenean blandit lacus consectetur erat rhoncus in sollicitudin est pharetra. Integer id elit neque, et sollicitudin risus. Fusce purus nunc, porta et congue pulvinar, porta a ante. Phasellus porta fermentum lorem eu pellentesque. Phasellus venenatis auctor viverra. Suspendisse porttitor condimentum condimentum. Fusce vel nulla sed sapien malesuada condimentum a sed nunc. Morbi volutpat aliquam nulla eu imperdiet. Curabitur non diam magna, eu facilisis dolor. Vivamus sagittis metus vel nibh rutrum id pretium augue congue. Cras est nisl, pretium a auctor volutpat, commodo eu sem. Morbi suscipit, mi quis dignissim vestibulum, ligula quam malesuada eros, non molestie ante ipsum nec ligula. Suspendisse vitae est eget massa lobortis placerat non hendrerit tellus.

    Due to the uncertainty of Ni, INTJs will also want to reach out and support the INTJ model by relying on existing frameworks such as those written by various authority figures. As an INTP, I never quite understood the need for references. To the INTJ however, citations, quotations and others means to refer to existing sources of information often play a large role in their writing.

    Other things to consider is that the INTJ applies a directive communication style rather than informative. They are more likely to say things such as "do it" than "perhaps we should do something". This along with their chart-the-course interaction style that makes them feel the need to strive for control so they can direct, which often makes them very blunt and to the point. INTJs may therefore be quick to point out what they perceive to be the flaws of others without sugar-coating it. Here we notice a big difference to INTPs because whereas the INTJ will simply say "you don't understand and you're stupid", the INTP will say "I really doubt your intellectual capacity [right now]".





    INTP
    --------------------
    Ti - Ne - Si - Fe


    General Description of Functions and Writing Style
    The INTP, in contrast to the INTJ, is Ti dominant. This means that the INTP will judge data inwards. While the INTP similarly creates complex models in their minds, the way they do so fundamentally differs to that of the INTJ. Because INTPs use extraverted intuition instead of introverted intuition, the INTP will therefore first study data before judging. Whereas the INTJ seeks out data externally to support their models by applying inductive logic, the INTP first observes existing data and reaches to conclusions, applying deductive logic. This affects the INTP writing in two ways: (a) expression and (b) deconstruction.

    The INTP approaches writing with a generalist approach. This is because of the complexity of the Ti model and how Ti wants to connect many seemingly small unrelated dots together to form a structure that they deconstruct in their writing. Because of Ni the INTJ wanting to look inwards into things, whereas the INTP due to Ne wants to look outwards at many things. This is why Ne is thought of as a function that is focused on generating many different possibilities. The typical Ne approach to life is the "what if" scenario. Because of Ne supporting Ti, the INTP often finds oneself having problems expressing the abstract thoughts succinctly enough as there is no existing framework that is capable of fully encapsulating the generalizability of the INTP model. The end result is that the INTP therefore constantly strives for clarity, probably part because the INTP is as confused by his or her own thoughts as the reader might become reading INTP writing. It is therefore not about reducing an element into its inner-most essential part that encapsules "the meaning of everything" as it is for the INTJ, but about making all the connections that makes sense. The INTJ model wants to have everything in as little as possible; the INTP wants to have as much as possible on the largest surface possible. Ne makes it feel as if there are no walls, no rules and no boundaries.

    How the INP Uses Language
    Just like it is for INTJs, the development of the auxiliary function greatly affects how INTPs use language. The stronger the Ne is, the more likely the INTP is to appear as confused as the INTP discovers more and more possibilities created by Ne. This may make the INTP language appear as superfluous, especially to non-Ne users, as the INTP feels the need to inform about every little detail that made them arrive at their conclusion. Typical NP writing will in general flow something like this:



    • We must first consider X, Y and Z in order to consider A, B and C to finally arrive at G.



    If the Ne is strong, the INTP will therefore write a lot of text as the INTP considers all the Ne-generated possibilities, whereas the INTJ wants to write less because to the INTJ less is always better. The non-Ne user may therefore feel experience "but get to your point already" when reading INTP texts. In contrast, the INTP feels that the point is that there is no point, because the point is the many points.

    This doesn't mean that INTPs do not put a lot of thought into what they write. The INTP's problem when writing therefore lies in that the INTP feels that there is no way one can succinctly express the complexity of Ti externally. (I have in fact serious issues trying to express INTP writing in this very article because I indeed feel that there is no way any text could fully express what I am trying to say, since I must constantly consider all the INTP details that creates my system.)

    On the other hand, the INTP may also use a completely opposite approach that perhaps is best summarized as a tl;dr feeling which leads to Ti redundancy where the INTP feels the system in their mind is so complex they can't even begin to put it into words. They therefore end up saying something incredibly reductionist and abstract to the point where others cannot even begin to understand what they are trying to say, for instance:



    • The apple is not just an apple.



    Here the INTP simply expects everyone else reading this sentence to understand and see all the connections the INTP is seeing. This is of course not true in most cases, especially with sensors with a poorly developed N, which leads to much frustration for the young INTP.

    I also want to add that the INTP is more likely to use conjunctions than the INTJ. Words such as "and", "but" and "maybe" are common. The INTP has no problem writing run-on paragraph sentences without any full stops. The INTP also constantly uses words that may imply uncertainty. Words such as "perhaps", already mentioned "maybe", "mostly likely" and so forth are often used to provide with what the INTP perceives as clarity (study how many I've used in this paragraph!). Compare to the INTJ that does not use such words because INTJs want to achieve certainty. INTPs on the other hand strive for uncertainty because they constantly see new connections of data they did not previously consider. The INTP may therefore arrive at the paradoxical conclusion that uncertainty is the only thing they can be certain about and this is often reflected in their writing. As I used to jokingly tell my e-friends: I am born confused made to confuse.

    INTPs also often struggle with structuring their texts. While there is an internal logic and coherency to what they write, indeed, the point are the many points, because of their internal judgment they will not refer to external sources to support their models. When added with their informative rather than directive communication style, the INTP may therefore feel the need to inform others about every possible outcome and the likelihood of each outcome in order to achieve clarity. When in conflict, the INTP also uses passive-aggressive language because of the behind-the-scenes interaction style. Instead of saying why they find a person to be stupid they will inform the person about every reason why the person is stupid: "Look, you don't seem to understand what I'm saying. I am not saying X but Y, and X means A and not C, and Y means D and not O, so therefore X and Y can't be the same and if you don't understand this you clearly don't possess the intellectual capacity to do so".



    Conclusions

    Because of the differences in how the INTP and INTJ use their Jungian functions, they view the world completely opposite of each other. This worldview greatly affects how they interact with others, including writing. Since INTJs are Ni dominant, they want to look for clarity inwards. To them clarity is only achieved by reducing a symbol to its most complex but simplest form. To the INTP, clarity is only achieved when considering the meanings around the symbol. Clarity is thus achieved by looking outwards and seeing all the connections and possibilities that define the symbol in question.

    Since INTJs have Te as their auxiliary function, they will desire a strong need to structure the chaotic nature of Ni by looking for external frameworks to provide with structure. This need to create an external framework also affects the way the text is structured, making the INTJ writing appear as a brick wall that will stand all tests of time. The writing is direct, to the point, well-structured and often highly synthetisized. If the INTJ could reduce their writing into one single symbol they would do it.

    In contrast, the INTP writing is often seen as incredibly confusing, especially to non-Ne users. This is because the INTP reaches outwards and sees all the connections around the subject they write about, which added with their informative communication style, makes them feel the need to inform others about every little detail as to why the subject is.

    Because the INTP uses Ne and Ti as their auxiliary and dominant function, the INTP thinks that clarity can only be achieved when considering every detail that constitutes their system. This makes the INTP writing appear as indirect and round-about as the point are the points that make up the point. It is also often poorly structured while logically coherent and while appearing in a very deconstructed manner - a picture is not just a picture but constitutes of many parts. The INTP feels that it's his or her job to inform others about these parts and why that makes the picture a picture.

  2. #2
    Doesn't Read Your Posts Haight's Avatar
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    Nice. Thank you.
    "The only time I'm wrong is when I'm questioning myself."
    Haight

  3. #3
    nee andante bechimo's Avatar
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    Great write up! Don't forget that the INTJ is driven by conclusiveness so their wall of text or succinct deliveries are self-contained packages.

    So INTPs don't feel alone in the world, you're not as misunderstood as you might believe. Some Ni users do understand, particularly when we engage our perceiving functions of Ni-Se, in a one-two punch without judgment.

  4. #4
    Senior Member copperfish17's Avatar
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    Nice work, it makes a lot of sense. I think I'd like to show this to my XNTJ friends and see what they think.

    Thanks for sharing this!
    Enneagram: 5w4 5-9-2 (5w4 9w1 2w1) sp/so

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  5. #5
    Senor Membrae Eugene Watson VIII's Avatar
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    Nice job
    Myers-Briggs: xsFP

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  7. #7
    Senior Member Entropic's Avatar
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    Great to hear that you appreciate it!

    Yeah, I would like to go more in depth with how the cognitive functions work with the tertiary and inferior but I have yet to create model that makes any sense. I had a discussion about how Se affects writing on Personality Café for INTJs, and the general consensus seems to be that when the INTJ has developed Se or is able to get in touch with Se in writing, the INTJ will focus more on concrete details expressed through Te, e.g. the chair is just a chair. The immediate reaction by any NT reading this statement would be "but is it?" but this is missing the point of how Se works, obviously. Se does not see the point of referring the chair to anything else but a chair, and Te assumes that everyone will understand what this means because of the word "chair" being an already known framework. However, when you toss Ni into the game, you might have a bit of a more wordy expression than NiTe: "there is more to the chair than what we see", as each individual part of the chair must be considered.

    As least based on my own personal writing, the INTP may utilize Si in a similar fashion by reducing Ne into a less blabbermouth-y and more focused form, being overly focused on details to the point it may come off as SiNeFi (Si values are mistakenly similar to Fi values) rather than SiNeTi writing:
    The silence was oppressive, yet none of them spoke. Outside birds were chirping on like today's business which was heavily contrasted with the darkness inside. It was a hot and sunny summer day with not a cloud in sight. Inside the room was damp with a thin layer of dust covering the bookshelves. He changed his sitting position in the chair by shifting weight from one side to another; she similarly switched the positions of her legs. It was apparent they had been doing this for some time already.
    I have yet to figure out exactly how Fe affects my writing, but there is usually a focus on social connection or disconnection in some shape or form (see my INTP and enneagram 5w4 thread).

  8. #8
    Senior Member Kurt.Is.God's Avatar
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    J.R.R. Tolkien and Isaac Asimov remind me of your description of INTP writing. Vladimir Nabokov reminds me of INTJ writing.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Entropic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurt.Is.God View Post
    J.R.R. Tolkien and Isaac Asimov remind me of your description of INTP writing. Vladimir Nabokov reminds me of INTJ writing.
    Yes, I think Asimov is an NeTi user, but I can't say if Ne dom or Ti dom. Too long since I read Tolkien to remember how he wrote his books.

    For more contemporary examples (although non-fiction) I would argue that the German sociologist Ulrich Beck is very much an INTJ, additionally reinforced because the German language is structured in a very NiTe-esque way already. A modern fiction INTP writer is probably Chuck Palahniuk. I went over and through most of his writing (a big fan) and his style is very reminiscient of an INTP sp/sx.

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    Senior Member Kurt.Is.God's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeaT View Post
    Yes, I think Asimov is an NeTi user, but I can't say if Ne dom or Ti dom. Too long since I read Tolkien to remember how he wrote his books.

    For more contemporary examples (although non-fiction) I would argue that the German sociologist Ulrich Beck is very much an INTJ, additionally reinforced because the German language is structured in a very NiTe-esque way already. A modern fiction INTP writer is probably Chuck Palahniuk. I went over and through most of his writing (a big fan) and his style is very reminiscient of an INTP sp/sx.
    I always thought Palahniuk was an ISTP. I think he's definitely Ti, but he comes across as Se (great flow, visceral, "loose"). Tolkien and Asimov both have extremely dense prose and autistically detailed worlds far removed from reality. The way Palahniuk strings together absurd ideas does seem extremely NP, I guess, but just the overall vibe reminds me more of SP writing than NP writing. This might be a bad way to judge it.

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