Here’s an incredible tool for writers.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a personality tool that savvy writers use to create deeply complex and startlingly realistic characters.
Yes, it’s as complicated as the name implies. But worry not. There’s a simple explanation. And it’s worth your time if you want to take your fiction to the next level.
MBTI is a personality tool, yes. But this isn’t astrology. It’s a psychology-backed explanation of how humans process and use information.
Fortune 500 companies use MBTI to find the perfect match for high-level career positions. People use it to make sense of their lives, to find spouses, and to understand their children.
Writers use it too. But not every writer uses it wisely.
Loving this article? Check out the MBTI for Writers series for how to write characters as complex and realistic as you are.
The Most Abused Personality Type in Fiction
Since INTJs are among the rarest personality types (among women, INTJ is the rarest type), you might be surprised it’s the most often used yet least understood type in fiction.
You’ll find INTJs cast in villain roles everywhere. From Professor Moriarty and Lex Luther to Emperor Palpatine and Khan, INTJs are the personality type that people love to hate.
Of course, these examples are just from fiction. In real life, do-gooders like Nikola Tesla and Isaac Newton were INTJs. Jane Austin and CS Lewis were also INTJs.
So why is the divide so vast between these real life INTJ heroes and the villains they become in fiction?
INTJs: The Writer’s Greatest Challenge?
If you want to write a great story, you need to know the pitfalls when it comes to INTJ character design. Don’t feel bad. If writing an INTJ were easy, every writer would do it. Here are a few reasons why INTJ characters are a challenge for writers.
Getting to Know an INTJ is Tough
INTJs hate small talk. To the INTJ, talking about inanities like the weather and how many siblings you have is like slamming your head against a stone wall—painful, with no discernible payoff.
An INTJ who is genuinely interested in you is more likely to ask how you deal with despair when confronted with mortality or how your concept of god has evolved through the years. This startles people. And the INTJ has become aware that others find this line of discussion uncomfortable. Since small talk is still too painful, though, most INTJs withdraw instead.
INTJs are also terrible at explaining their thoughts sometimes. This makes it even tougher to understand them. The INTJ doesn’t think linearly. Instead, the INTJ’s thoughts are a complex cloud of relationships and patterns. And many of the ideas and relationships aren’t thought out in words. That makes translating their thoughts into language extremely difficult.
In fact, explaining things to others is often so exhausting that if your INTJ struggles to explain something to you, you can bank that he has both a high opinion of you and your intelligence.
INTJs Appear Unemotional
Most INTJs have been called unfeeling machines. This is because INTJs hide their emotions. To the INTJ, it’s just polite and appropriate. And communication is often detached from emotional content. To many other types, it makes the INTJ seem robotic and unfeeling. This makes them easy scapegoats for villain designers.
INTJs Seem Unpredictable
- INTJs are extremely unconventional by most other type’s standards.
- The INTJ doesn’t care about social rules or the standard way of doing things. He cares only if something works. (See the comments below for some insightful clarifications on the INTJ’s relationship with social rules from reader, Darinka.)
- INTJs abhor going along with inefficient or ineffective tasks just because they’ve always been done that way. And the social conventions that keep the outdated in place have zero effect on the INTJ.
- The INTJ will work tirelessly to change flawed methods, moving quickly and without “permission.”
- Since INTJs aren’t always great at explaining their methods, nor do they understand that other people can’t see the patterns and problems that seem obvious to them, their actions can sometimes appear unpredictable and lacking good cause to outsiders.
INTJs Seem Arrogant
INTJs are very confident about their conclusions, ideas, and projects. This often comes across to others—even other INTJs—as arrogance.
Really, the INTJ just knows he’s analyzed far more data than those around him. He also has the experience of being proved right more often than not. This is because the INTJ is a far more long-range and analytical thinker than any other type.
The INTJ’s predictions aren’t tied to personal experience or limited to what has “always happened before.” Instead, the INTJ takes into account new data, changes, and shifts in trends to predict future outcomes.
All of this analysis, coupled with an inability to explain these processes to others, plus their ultimate need to create systems that work means that the INTJ takes confident action while ignoring complainers, naysayers, and doubters. So what you have is a man who knows what he is doing and doesn’t care what other people think about it.
The disdainful smirk he’s wearing may come from his resentment at doing the right thing for others while they criticize him for it. But it also adds to the “arrogant” perception.
The other problem?
INTJs are so used to systems thinking that what seems glaringly obvious to them isn’t always obvious to others. This is genuinely confusing to the INTJ.
Some INTJs are openly disdainful in these situations, assuming that the other person is not just different but stupid. This is because INTJs have just as much trouble understanding others as others have understanding the INTJ. This is a character flaw worth exploring in your story. But be sure to include the INTJ’s motivation and lack of social skills here. This is especially important if you write from the INTJ’s point of view.
As the writer, your character’s blindspot should never become your blindspot.
INTJs Are Wicked Smart
- “Smart” doesn’t really explain the INTJ’s thinking, though. Because they don’t just memorize data. They break it down to its principles to understand how it all works together and what it implies about every other fact. This makes them incredibly insightful by other people’s standards.
- Objectively, INTJs have the highest collective IQ of any other type.
- Their Se function constantly and unconsciously gathers data from their environment providing the INTJ with accurate “impressions.” These “impressions” sometimes appear uncanny or bordering on the prescient to others. It isn’t magic, of course. It’s just data gathering and analysis. But because the INTJ discards the data once he’s formed an impression and shares only the outcome of his thoughts, it seems to others that the INTJ picked up knowledge that he could not have because nobody shared it with him.
- You can probably guess that teachers love the INTJ, but people with secrets don’t.
- To some, this intuitive quality can be very intimidating. And it’s prime villain material because a foe who “knows everything” seems unbeatable. (This doesn’t mean the INTJ actually knows anything at all, but it’s how some perceive them.)
What Does All This Mean?
This magic elixir: perceived arrogance + perceived lack of emotion + perceived unpredictability + intelligence = prime fictional villain.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t cast your INTJ in the villain role. Let’s be honest, INTJs make great villains.
The problem comes when the writer uses the above as given qualities without exploring cause and motivation. This mistake results in the dreaded cardboard character, kills the story, and reveals an embarrassing lack of insight into character.
Here’s what to do instead.
Loving this article? Check out the MBTI for Writers series for how to write characters as complex and realistic as you are.
Writers: Get to Know Your INTJ
Ask Your INTJ Direct Questions
If you’re lucky enough to find an INTJ in the wild (only 2% of the population is INTJ), ask direct questions. But, fair warning, you’re going to get an exceedingly honest answer. So ask at your peril.
INTJs are exceedingly direct and often appreciate this quality in others. You might even find that the more “inappropriate” questions garner the most interest from your INTJ. So ask away.
Master the INTJ the Objective Way
- An overview of the INTJ.
- See what INTJs think of themselves through their INTJ Pinterest boards.
- Is your INTJ character middle-aged or a child? Find out how INTJs change through different life stages.
- Check out the Ultimate List of Famous INTJs (from real life and fiction).
- One of the best insights into the INTJ mind comes from YouTuber, Cztanu. He’s an INTJ who creates video advice for INTJs and the people who want to date or understand them. He covers topics like: how to know if an INTJ is interested in you, warnings to the INTJ’s lover, how to keep an INTJ interested, and what’s up with INTJ communication delays. He’s so good at explaining himself, it’s almost hard to believe he’s an INTJ. But watch his videos, and you’ll doubt no more. Pay particular attention to the way his minimal expressions break out on his face as though from prison, how he breaks up his dialogue with long thoughtful pauses, and how he interrupts himself with seemingly random thoughts. These are classic INTJ qualities.
INTJ characters are tough to nail, but they’re worth the effort. And now you know how to write one!
Whitney McGruder says
This is so true. Sometimes this type of character is just put into a stereotypical box because writers don’t explore every facet the character/person can have. That’s why we love “evil geniuses”—the more we don’t understand them, the more intriguing they become. I look forward to hearing more of your insights.
I am not an INTJ–I’m an INFJ–however, my book’s protagonist is. I honestly thought she wasn’t until I took the test for her, but then I was glad I kept this open. I agree with the statement they villains often have that personality type. It might be a challenge to create a protagonist like this. However, she is the most fleshed-out character I have ever created–so much so that I had to rewrite my entire plot to keep her alive–and I feel it important to focus not on her “type”, but how her personality allows her to react to everything that happens to her.
I get it right every time because I am an INTJ. If you have questions, just ask me. I will help.
I really liked this! As a female INTJ, I often get frustrated with how people write characters because it doesn’t always seem to be accurate –which then can frustrate me as a writer because I want to make sure my characters are perfect! I do have a little bit of “S” in some areas, but I would be willing to volunteer if you need another person to interview!
Mandy Wallace says
I’m the same way, Jessica. I want my characters to be absolutely true to life. You’re right too that so many writers get this wrong (Don’t even get me started on the inaccuracies of Sheldon Cooper as an INTJ, though I love him!). And that just increases the pressure for writers who want to get it right.
Thanks for volunteering! I’ll add you to my INTJ writers list.
I am a female INTJ as well. And yes, I too have spent a disproportionate amount of time and energy on characterization…it’s fascinating (and I’m OCD, but that’s for another conversation). This is probably the best post I’ve read on the type — and scarily accurate. Thank you for taking the pains to understand and articulate this. I’m printing it to reference.
Not for myself, mind you. The protagonist in my novel-in-progress is an INTJ. I actually didn’t do this on purpose, but when I took the test for myself I found it was the same as his (although less extreme). This, as you mentioned, is in stark contrast with INTJ’s gross overuse use in antagonist characters. I find the depth of his POV and the dynamic it creates with other characters very interesting. Particularly because of its rarity in a leading role. I wish more authors would use it.
I am wondering though…which type would be the best antagonist complement to the INTJ? Any thoughts? A good villain is one of the hardest things to tackle, at least for me. Maybe I should find a type commonly pitted against an INTJ villain, and then make him the antagonist. That could be interesting…
Anyway, thank you for the post and feel free to contact me if you wish. I will explain myself as well as I can XD.
Well you could go with any type and make a great antagonist for an INTJ, since an antagonist really just needs to have contrary goals. Like an INTJ from a different background who came to a different conclusion about a situation that both feel extremely passionate about would be a great starting point. Because fighting galore.
But if you’re looking for easy tension in those everyday we-have-a-tough-time-getting-along ways, as an INTJ I find ISFJs difficult to understand. ENTPs are oddly compelling but often leave me feeling suspicious of their motives. And ESFPs think so different from me that I often just don’t know WHAT to do with them 🙂
Hope this helps!
I am a conversational INTJ and would like be one of your interviewees. It would be nice to answer questions as I am, and not have to alter them to format acceptable to society.
Kim McGarghan says
Mandy, I’m a middle aged female writer INTJ who also has what used to be called Aspergers. I loved this article. I often wonder whether INTJ is more common for those of us on the spectrum. Any ideas?
M Wallace says
That’s a good question, Kim. I’ve seen others say they’ve noticed a similar parallel. But it’s so tough to say for sure given MBTI is based on observations of neurotypicals.
Ann Kellett says
Could you find/do one for INFJs? That would be super awesome. Or maybe the character type most heroes/heroines.
Mandy Wallace says
Excellent idea. I’m planning an entire series on MBTI character design in fiction, Alexis. Stay tuned. Or, better yet, add your email address to the free updates list above. That way I can let you know when MBTI articles post.
Thanks so much for commenting and sharing your ideas.
Can’t wait to see the rest of the series! I’m an ENFP if you get to that and have questions.
Mandy Wallace says
I’ll know who to ask. Thanks, Tara! By the way, my husband is an ENFP. They say INTJs and ENFPs are the perfect match, and I can vouch for that. Is your partner INTJ?
Yay ENFPs! My husband is actually an ISTJ I believe. Might have to check again haha. But we are usually exact opposites on everything. That’s how I try to remember. Lol.
I’m also an INFJ, and my boyfriend is an ENFJ. I’d love to read the rest of this series. I realized while reading this that I have no idea what personality type any of my characters have. I’ll have to research a bit…
INFJs are less than 1 percent of the population which would make THEM the rarest. This is directly from the test results themselves. I too am INFJ.
Mandy Wallace says
Thanks for that detail, Peggy. When people talk about INTJ women being rare, it’s usually because few INTJs are women.
nANCY GARCIA says
I’m an INTJ female. For anyone out there who understands us – here’s a
TRADEMARK: — “I’m really sorry you have to die.”
Personally, I don’t find the typecasting of INTJs into a villain all the time is a fair representation of the character type. I have always thought that, without a motivation otherwise, they tend toward neutrality, especially in terms of conventional definitions of morality.
It seems to me that they go by their own code based on their analysis of the world at large, which on one hand makes them ripe for villain fodder, but could also make them a formidable hero/anti-hero (especially in, say, a setting of fundamental belief and its promotion by rhetoric based in nothing more than stirring emotions) with a very obvious character flaw in his or her relations with allies and the villains.
While a character who seems to know everything can make a formidable villain, so would a character with a high emotional intelligence and the uncanny ability to read people beyond the surface, who could then use it to manipulate others. That kind of villain would be even more dangerous if he or she had a profound belief that it was the right thing to do. For instance, Adolf Hitler has been regarded as an INFJ in many circles and is considered one of the most, if not the most, nefarious villains of the modern era.
I’m not saying that an INTJ can’t be a compelling villain when done well, otherwise writers wouldn’t attempt it so often. But the same can be true for really just about any type (though admittedly, some lend themselves a little better toward the role of supervillain than others) with a little thought and creativity.
Apologies for the late reply. This is a topic I usually find fascinating and character development is one of my favorite parts of writing.
I am also a female INTJ. (And I actually tested above 75% in every category so I’m decently far in the spectrum.) But the stereotype of INTJ villains doesn’t need to be so much of a thing. I’m a teenager, so obviously my perspective will be different from adult INTJs. But I’ve been described as “the most well intentioned person [someone] has ever met,” and “genuinely good.” Regardless of my many shortcomings, (pride and selfishness being among them,) I don’t really have ulterior motives and I’m not manipulative. I’m like to believe at least, that I would be good protagonist material. Regardless of the stereotype, I am not unemotional at all. The general trend is that while INTJs have high IQs, there EQs (or emotional intelligences) are somewhat lacking. Often I feel very out of touch with my emotions and somewhat confused by them. It seems like I can read people motivations and the reasons behind their emotions fairly easily, but when it comes to myself it’s a lot harder. I think the main thing about emotion is that INTJs are more motivated by thought than emotion. Because we often don’t understand our emotions, we elect to ignore them. I am also very vulnerable when it comes to my emotions. I cry when people yell at me, I blush, I laugh nervously. But because I’m not willingly very emotional expressive, people read into any display of emotion as perhaps more than what it is. I’m not very enthusiastic or dramatic, so when I get upset about something in a normal way, I feel very exposed. Also, I don’t know if this is just a teenage girl thing, but I’m a weird mix of insecure and arrogant. Unconciously I sometimes think I’m better than some people, but I hold myself to such a high standard that I don’t feel good enough. I also sometimes feel less than other people, like when they handle difficult social situations with ease. INTJs love to be the best at something, and if we are perhaps second best, there is a lot of conflicting emotion going on. Admiration for betters, but also jealousy and a need to appear better than them. There is a tough balance of doing things to achieve respect, but not come off as a show-off. Also, I’m pretty sure this is a male/female thing (most INTJs being male,) but I DO sugarcoat things. All the time. I say it but I try not to hurt feelings. Also I apologize unnecessarily a lot. (Like in about to do.) sorry that this went on so long, but I hope I could be of help.
I am an 27 year old, female INTJ, and you are the first INTJ female I have met who seems to operate the same as me. I think it may be a nurture vs. nature thing, I was raised in a very religious environment, when I was young people I looked up to and respected, told me to think of others first, be selfless. I believed that they lived this and it was I should do because it was right. It was not until I was older that I realized, I was the only one thinking of others first, they all talked about selflessness but no one really lived it and of course they did’t think that I was really living it. but it had a very negative effect on how I deal with emotions, I have strong emotions but I have no clue how to deal with them, I do things based on thoughts, I am very aware of the consequences of my every action, of every word I say, many times I will not argue with someone even if I think they are treating me wrong, simply because I am afraid of hurting feelings, feelings that I don’t fully understand.
“I am also very vulnerable when it comes to my emotions. I cry when people yell at me, I blush, I laugh nervously.”
This will pass with time an experience, when I was younger I would do this, I had this horrible habit, because I could not express what I was thinking/feeling I would express things all wrong, When I was mad, I would joke and smile and try not to hurt feelings, but then no one took me serially, which really made me angry so I would shut down and stop talking about it altogether, and when I got to the braking point of rage I would start crying which only made me angrier.
With time, and experience I began to learn how to express using the proper mediums, you know, Cry when I am sad, be serious when I am angry. I am still learning to set boundaries, a life time of putting everyone first has turned me into a doormat who bits, but I am learning. I still find myself thinking I am better than people, and I have to remind myself that it is purely subjective, I may be smarter that the girl sitting across from me in her 6 in stilettos, and hair that looks like she spent 4 hours on it, but if our lives depended on flirting and seducing someone, she would win that competition. Im learning to accept that I will not be the best at everything. *damn it*
So anyway this long wordy response it to say I have been, and am going through the same things, it is all part of growing up.
Wow. I’m a female INTP and your description of your emotional reactions fits me to a “T”. I also have a problem of suppressing emotions until they explode like a volcano over something seemingly insignificant. The problem is that it’s all recorded in my brain and the “insignificant” thing relates to all the other incidents and I don’t know how to deal with the emotions, so they blow up in my face! It doesn’t help when people then accuse me of “over-reacting” or give a, “I-can’t-believe-you’re-crying-over-this” response. Which then makes it worse because apparently no one understands how I operate.
I understand this was written awhile ago, but if you’re looking for an additional case study, I’m willing to be a test subject for a short while. I’m actually interested in your overall results, and am curious of the outcome. Need I mention I am proudly an INTJ? 😉
One interesting fact I have found in my journey is that many popular MBTI types coincidently find similarities in the masses, making it easier to relate on an interpersonal level to the majority of society as a whole, whereas the INTJ, speaking from personal experience, finds it much more dificult to do so, being that we are few and far between. Naturally someone with an inability to relate to the dumb masses, (say that fast ;)) would inevitably learn to disregard the opinions and practices of others, recognizing that without a strong sense of self worth, and an ability to see what others cannot, we would be the loneliest, most pathetic people on the planet. To say it bluntly, a detriment to society.
However, it is our strong passion for knowledge, our methodically planned executions, and our ability to string together every nuance of observation into an inter-web of thought, that makes the INTJ the beautifully crafted “necessary evil.”
Mandy Wallace says
I think the INTJ is more than a necessary evil, Brandt. We contribute what others can’t, the same as any MBTI type. Only there are fewer of us contributing that little mix of magic and annoying quirks, so it stands out more 😀 Love your observation: “ability to string together every nuance of observation into an inter-web of thought.” Thanks for sharing your insights!
Don’t cry or you’ll look like a weakling. You must toughen up and not care about feelings. INTJs are nothing but weak. Be tough all the time.
Rebekah- I am the exact same. People perceive me as unemotional, but that is just because I CAN’T EVER let them know what I am feeling. Actually, one boy recently asked me, completely seriously, if I was a robot. My best friend, when I asked her if I was a good person, said that I was good, but not in a way most people usually consider to be good. (She is an ENFP, though, so I am not sure if she was partially just being nice.) My conclusion about life as of now is teenage girl+INTJ=someone doomed to being misunderstood. For now.
It’s good you know about INTJ and can identify your weaknesses already, Isra. That means you don’t have to wait until you’re older while you suffer being misunderstood. You can “fix” it instead.
Try Lowndes’s How To Talk To Anyone, Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People, and practice in front of a mirror and with friends using techniques from media training books and articles. This will give you powerful social skills that even those who understand social stuff without studying it won’t be able to compete with.
An INTJ who studies social skills is a truly unstoppable force. You were born lucky. What you were born with can’t be taught. And what you lack, you can pick up from a book.
I’m an 17 year old INTJ female as well and I’ve never heard of another teenage INTJ before, and I am flashed how similar our train of thoughts and the struggles with the society seem to be. I could relate to so much you said and it’s so comforting to read that I’m not the only one who has this “weird” arrognace/insecureance or superior/inferior complex and often these unexplainable struggles with emotions nobody can relate to.
As I writer I always thought that, as I’m kind of struggleing with emotional things in the real world, I should’ve also struggle with writing emotions, but in my ficional world, where every character sort of acts along with my sort of logic I never had problems with writing emotional scenes or feeling the emotion the character should be feeling or spinning a web of emotional causes and actions that would absolutly drive me insane in the real world. And I had my story proof read and my beta reader assured me that not all the characters act INTJ, sme even the complete opposite. Is there anybody who has experienced something like that or can explain it?
Mandy Wallace says
Tough to say for sure, Dana. Maybe it’s the INTJ penchant to make something unique. You already know what it’s like to be an INTJ. What is new and different to you is everyone else. Just a theory.
Another INTJ female chiming in here.
Excellent post and most of it is spot on.
I always test out as an evil genius super-villain and I am fine with that. I am arrogant, thought I’ve tried to mitigate that aspect through training myself in social niceties. (But dear gods, if you ask me another stupid “how ’bout them Cardinals” type question, I will simply smile and retreat.)
It also means that as a heroine? If I think you are wrong — I will burn you to the ground, even if it affects me. I will do the right thing, even if it’s not the popular thing. And I don’t care who you are, if you are wrong, I will not follow you. I will also be brutally and bluntly honest, unless it is necessary for me to maintain a status quo for future relationships.
Emotionally? I am almost completely blind to people hitting on me. I don’t show emotions and I feel insulted by the majority of women in fiction. They seem overly emotional and annoy me. It took me a long time (well into my late twenties) to understand that most people don’t analyze/feel the way I do. Everything seems so clear to me, that I can’t understand why people have issues with making decisions.
I am open to answering questions for writers who are struggling with INTJ’s.
Word of warning: INTJ does not mean person with Asperger’s. (Sheldon Cooper is a high-functioning person with Asperger’s Syndrome. He also happens to be an INTJ.)
Also, how *do* you deal with your despair when facing mortality? How do you reconcile your moral life with the society in which you live? What parts of your childhood faith have you rejected? What are fifteen ways to break airport security? Have you considered the implications of big data in relationship to all of the CCTV security cameras that are running in most states? All of these are a lot more interesting than “doing anything interesting this weekend?” (Huh, I think I’ve got a few blog posts to go write now. Cheery bye!)
Mandy Wallace says
Good point about Sheldon Cooper. Although the creators SWEAR he isn’t Autistic and doesn’t have Asperger’s, there’s definitely *something* going on there.
“I will burn you to the ground, even if it affects me.” Yep.
“I don’t care who you are. If you are wrong, I won’t follow you.” Yep.
“I feel insulted by the majority of women in fiction. They seem overly emotional and annoy me.” Yep and yep.
“How *do* you deal with your despair when facing mortality?” God, Kate. Some days I don’t. I lay in bed paralyzed by the certainty that everything I do is a waste of time in the grand scheme of things. And then there are days like this, where responding to a comment from a like-minded person is the slender thread that keeps me connected to it all.
And the CCTV security cameras on direct access? Where the hell are we headed as a society? Am I just freaking out because it’s new and I’m used to the industrial world? The Industrial Revolution triggered fears too that cropped up in literature as the fear of technology. We laugh about those fears now because most of them never actually happened. So maybe the Technological Revolution will end up being just as harmless. And the big brother security cameras will end up being nothing. I hope so.
Non-INTJs are reading our comments right now and thanking heaven they aren’t INTJs 😉 We worry a lot, don’t we? That’s ok. It’s part of what makes us invaluable 😀
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
This particular non-INTJ (an INFJ) is reading your comments right now and wondering if I’ve fallen off the F and into the T part of my personality. I think I border between the two… I am so terrible at social niceties. My sister, a genuinely meaner person than I am (by her own admission), is brilliant at customer service because she can grin and bear it and do small talk. I fail at working with strangers for the same reason. Oh well.
Reading your line about overly emotional female characters, I just realized that’s why I tend to write male leads. You can toss out 90% of the emotions with a male lead. Perhaps I should write a INTJ female lead.
As INTJ female I’ve recently realized that I’ve been over clarifying and simplifying my statements (especially on Facebook). I guess I’m trying to explain my “simple” thoughts to the masses, but of course it looks like I’m being condescending. I’ve also developed the “ya, you don’t get it” smile and subject change.
Mandy Wallace says
I feel you. It’s hard to find that place of trying to connect with people in a way that doesn’t come off as condescending. I keep telling myself I’ll get it someday, but jeepers it’s a lot of work.
Abs of Steel says
Another thing to keep in mind though, and I don’t think anyone else has brought this up, is that not every INTJ character will have strong preferences to any one of their letters. They might border between Judging and Percieving, or they might have some etroverted qualities, etc. INTJs are logical and intelligent, so some of them train themselves to interact properly in social situations, even if they don’t enjoy it. These letters are a guide for the characters, but people are more complex than this system allows.
Mandy Wallace says
All excellent points. It’s tough to group people into categories because each individual will always have something that doesn’t fit. That’s what makes MBTI so fascinating. Types have certain underlying characteristics in common that manifest in different ways depending on social training and other factors. As a writer, it’s important to keep that in mind.
Thanks for the reminder.
This is very true, as a teenager I was really socially awkward, could not act normally to save my life. so I got a job in customer service and made myself learn then ins and outs of human interaction. I was really good when I left, I just hated my life and felt that I had sacrificed my soul on the alter of customer service. So glad I quit…
I learned customer service on the job too and over the years I developed a few tricks and techniques that made it so much easier. Now I feel like I have some sort of mastery over it and am able to find ways to use it to my advantage.
For example, some people really love to rant and rave and the best thing you can do as a CS rep is give them an outlet and make them feel heard. Time and again, these same problem personalities would turn around and praise the company to the heavens.
Looking back, it feels like an extra-INTJ trait to enjoy customer service because it trains you to be good at manipulating people 😉
Definitely true…I’m an INTJ bordering on P according to the last test I did (I’ve done WAY too many). One test put me bordering on S as well, and a few times I got a different type entirely. Certainly people are far too complex to describe with four letters, although it is still a helpful tool for understanding the inclinations of people as well as fictional characters.
Shaye W says
I didn’t realise INTJ woman were rare as I’m one. Great article, though, really made me think about some of the most famous INTJ villains.
I enjoyed reading this– I am a female intj and a poet. When I was in high school I wrote fiction and of course all my main characters were mostly intjs . My mother would read it and ask who was the “the good guy” supposed to be, they all seemed evil, haha. If you need more for interviews, I would be interested.
That’s so funny, Renee, because my mom always asks me something similar about things I write. Who are the good guys? And why don’t you write something “happy.” Lol.
It was after she said that to me the last time that I wrote the article here called, “What’s So Intriguing About Girls on Bikes?” It’s a happy article. Sort of happy. Well, it isn’t sad. 🙂
This is the article: http://mandywallace.com/girls-on-bikes/
Your mother wouldn’t happen to be an ESFP, would she? Because she sounds like mine. As the only daughter (INTJ) of an extraordinarily disappointed (and borderline narcissistic) ESFP, I could give you material for days. 37 years of conflict where the “good guy” really isn’t all she shows to the public and the “bad” daughter presents a constant threat to her carefully concealed secret. (insert sinister laughter) 🙂
Zachary A. Ronan says
I’m an intj…I fear for my loved ones now.
Hannah M says
I, too, am an INTJ female. And, also, an author (5.5 novels in 6 years, not to mention all the short stories, poetry, magazine articles, etc). This is ridiculously late, but if you are looking for any more authors to interview, I’d be happy to volunteer.
The stereotyping of INTJs as evil (I’ll run with the mastermind stereotype and love it) annoy the heck out of me, though I’m very proud of the fact that if you look at the original canon Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty, and the BBC version, I share the personality type with both of them. XD Just because we’re INTJ doesn’t mean we’re heartless, just like INFJ doesn’t consistently equal a mystical artist. My mother is a very strong INJF, and I’m the artistic one.
Meyers-Briggs is an absolutely fantastic tool, and it’s been incredibly helpful for me as I’ve always wondered why I’ve been the “odd one out” even as a kid, but it’s definitely a fence and not a box.
Also, reading through the comments I saw mention of Sheldon Cooper as an INTJ. I haven’t tried to type him, but type aside, he is most certainly Aspergers, regardless of what the show’s creators’ say. One of my brothers is an Aspie, and I dated an Aspie. All the signs are there–high intelligence in anything NOT social, extremely high intelligence in areas of personal interest, social awkwardness/anxiety, absolutely no filter, almost impossible to properly debate, et cetera.
Mandy Wallace says
Thanks for volunteering, Hannah. Good points you’ve made on the ways MBTI types can be stereotyped. And I totally get how you feel about being the “odd one out.” Learning about MBTI and INTJ certainly answered a lot of questions for me and helped me make peace with those inherent anxieties that come from being a rarer MBTI type.
On the Sheldon Cooper issue, you’re totally right. He’s definitely in the Aspie category. If nothing else, his inability to detect sarcasm demonstrates that. INTJs tend to be super sarcastic. And everything else about him indicates INTJ. Some have suggested ISTJ, but I don’t see an ISTJ succeeding in the theoretical work he’s in.
Then again, he’s a fictional character by various writers who likely haven’t studied MBTI enough to align a character. So, you know. But it’s fun to speculate.
Carter Elisabeth says
This is so true. I saw the title of this article and my mind immediately guessed INTJ. The character in the book I’m working on now is an INTJ, but isn’t one of the bad guys. I guess being an INTJ is what makes him easy to write. (He’s also one of my favorites to write).
Mandy Wallace says
It’s easier to write characters with our MBTI type, isn’t it? Thanks for commenting, Carter.
CS Lewis is an INFP, not an INTJ…
Mandy Wallace says
There is some disagreement among professionals as to whether CS Lewis was actually an INTJ. I’m leaning toward INTJ. But I’ll admit that I haven’t delved as deeply into MBTI yet as I would like. This coming year I’ll be studying MBTI textbooks to get a solid foundation for the upcoming character design series. Maybe by then I’ll have a more confident opinion on the CS Lewis question.
Thanks for bring it up, Gus.
Great article, but just have to back Gusnup. There is NO WAY that CS Lewis was an INTJ!! He was most definitely INFP!
This was very well written; thanks for sharing this! I’m not sure I’d call myself “real INTJ” as there are situations (such as with my line of work) when the T leans further toward the F… Actually, I didn’t think I was an INTJ at all until I looked more into it and discovered my dating life (and lack thereof) proves that I at least have some major INTJ tendencies. I hate small talk. The “getting to know you” conversation on the first date is about as pleasurable as getting dental work. When I try to talk about the things I’d really like to know, it usually scares people off. But at the same time, I work as a pediatric nurse and am perfectly capable of showing emotion in the right setting. In fact, work can make me emotional. What many people don’t recognize or acknowledge is that there is a spectrum. This article was fantastic!
Mandy Wallace says
It’s likely you’re an INTJ then, Erin. INTJs are perfectly capable of showing emotion when it meets a goal, such as comforting a sick or scared child. And INTJs are still human. We feel all the same emotions. We just tend not to naturally show it (without effort).
Thank you for sharing your perspective.
Interestingly, this is my mother’s personality type… This is a very interesting article.
Susan Godenzi says
Wasn’t actually aware of my INTJ status until last year when I came across the personality testing on-line.
Oh My God! What a relief, I finally feel understood. It’s been a hard slog through fifty-odd years of being misunderstood. I’m at an age where I’m not too fussed by others opinions anymore, but I can totally understand what you younger INTJ’s are experiencing.
I use these strengths in my writing (I think), and the protagonist in my novel is a little bit INTJ.
It is such a relief to learn about this stuff, isn’t it?! It was such an eye-opener for me. That’s one of the reasons I like to share this info in places INTJs will find it. There’s so much stress feeling like no one really gets you.
What a fantastic post. I’ve struggled with writing a good “bad guy” character that felt believable. You make many wonderful points about understanding the personality type and the overall abuse and over-dramatization of INTJ. Thank you for such a helpful and wonderful post…but it does look like I have some reworking of my own writing to do. 🙂
Mandy Wallace says
Good on you for taking what you learn and using it to improve your work, Amie. I love a fearless writer. And thanks for the kudos here.
As a female INTJ, this is awesome! I do hate it when they get the INTJ type wrong. Thank you for this post about it!
Mandy Wallace says
Thanks for taking the time to comment, Shanna. Always great to hear from an INTJ female.
Samniss Arandeen says
This male (yes, I’m a dude, don’t let my name fool you) INTJ agrees with every word in this article.
I honestly don’t know whether to be angry that apparently I’m nothing but a villain to most writers, or flattered that apparently we’re so good at being villains. I may not be a villain, but I think a lot like one. Hopefully more writers will see their errors and begin improving on them, because Introverts, and INTJ in particular keep getting the short end of the stick. I’m even willing to help writers get us right.
Mandy Wallace says
Don’t feel bad, Samniss. We humans tend to project our fears into blank spaces, hence the villainy assumptions others read into the INTJ’s blank expressions 🙂
I understand your dual emotions toward this though. Feeling unsure about how to take it, happy or offended 🙂 It’s okay to feel both.
Thanks for taking the time to share your response to the article.
As an INTJ reading this page, I feel like it makes us seem very set apart from everyone else when in reality we aren’t that different. Just because we typically aren’t social doesn’t mean we can’t be kind and caring. Moriarty may be an INTJ, but so is Sherlock Holmes.
Mandy Wallace says
Good point, Court. INTJs may be a bit rarer in how they process information. But we’re all just human in the end. Being one MBTI type over another doesn’t make you more or less likely to have villainy or heroic intentions.
Tess Prendergast says
Greetings from a high school age-INTJ! I’m just here to offer help/insight to anyone who wants to learn more about this personality/age combination for future characters, or just in general. Feel free to contact me with a reply.
Mandy Wallace says
Thanks for that, Tess. I’m sure non-INTJ writers would appreciate your helpful insights into the INTJ thought processes.
I am a 15 year old female INTJ and you can only imagine how relieved I was when finding this article. I finally felt understood and everything that I couldn’t manage to explain to my peers, romantic partners, and parents was all here in black and white. I’m not going to repeat any of my everyday feelings because it’s all here in this article but I am open to more specific questions if you ever come to a need for INTJ answers.
However, I have a question for you. How can young INTJs have better relationships with their parents? Recently, my mom and I have been having trouble understanding each other. We often argue and I find it hard to explain any of my feelings because she seems to always see it as disrespectful or “hormonal teenager emotions”. As an INTJ I’m not extremely attune to my emotions but after experiencing some things, getting small amounts of counseling here and there, I’d say I have a pretty good grasp on most of my emotions and I know how and when to use them to my advantage, or to let them fall as emotions and not rational aids. I sent this article to my mom, hoping she’d take it quite seriously and see that I’m not trying to be cold-hearted, insensitive and arrogant. I also sent her the online MBTI test. I was really excited when she came into my room just a bit after I’d sent the email. I thought we were about to take a step towards a more in-depth relationship where we respected each other’s personality type but we’re both willing to receive and give constructive criticism where we fall short (because I know that I can be arrogant for the worst at times). Turns out, my mom is an ESFP. The practically complete opposite of me. It was no wonder we were clashing on so many things. However, (because my family and I are religious) she explained that we needed to keep God at the center and not rely on a type to define our actions. I was very dissapointed that she wasn’t seeing my point. I was made this way, as an INTJ, and God intended me to be this way. So now that she knew what I was, I was hoping that we could find a way to stop clashing on everything but it seems she’s just fallen deeper into the ‘Kenzie is being (arrogant, cold, blunt, etc) so she is (disrespectful, a hormonal teenager)’ and I could not be more upset. Could you possibly help me understand her type a bit more and how, as an ESFPmother—INTJdaughter, we can have a better relationship?
Mandy Wallace says
Kenzie, this is really tough for me to answer. I’ve been mulling this over since you left this comment trying to come up with something that is helpful and encouraging for you. Interpersonal issues aren’t really my strong suit though. So I brought in the big guns.
I asked my husband, who is an ENFP (more focused on understanding other people’s needs and encouraging stuff). Here’s what he said. Filtered through how I understood him and peppered with my perspective, as I’m sure you intuited.
The burden of the communication and getting along will rest with you. That’s the sucky but true part.
Since you’re the one who understands MBTI, the bigger picture, the limitations of your relationship with your mother, and are the one whose happiness is most at stake when you don’t get along (because your rights as a minor or sadly limited), you’ll be the one doing most of the work to get along until you don’t have to.
I’m sorry about that. It’s never nice to realize we’re the party burdened with the greater responsibility, especially when it’s in the relationship we have with our parents.
My suggestion? Get independent as quickly as you can. You’ll probably find that your mother is more responsive to her responsibility in the relationship when you don’t depend on her anymore. It also means you’ll have a greater ability to set boundaries with her.
If that means getting a job and earning money so you can move out sooner, great. If it means taking on volunteer opportunities with the church (and building your resume so you can move out sooner), fine.
To me, ignoring the opportunity that MBTI offers you to get along better and using God as an excuse to do so is unkind and lazy.
My husband would say that people just don’t like to labelled. That MBTI scares people who want to feel like they’re unique. I don’t understand that view. So it’s hard for me to understand the people who see things that way. That’s a limitation of mine, though. So don’t rely on it.
I’m sorry that you’re going through this. I find that I limit as much as possible the interactions I have with ESFPs. In fact, they’re the easiest MBTI type for me to identify because we’re often complete opposites in all the wrong ways.
If you remember nothing else from this, remember that you are normal. You are not just an arrogant teenager. You have a great deal to offer the world. And the sooner you can find your own path and are around other people who are like you, the happier you’ll be.
Find a community of INTJs, ENFPs, ENTJs (or at the very least, other Ns) online. It’s the easiest place to find them. And you’ll quickly realize that you’re where you ought to be.
Find me on Facebook too if you like. I have a group for INTJs there. And I’m looking for folks to add to it. At the very least, it will let me know where to find you when I’ve finally got this INTJ community idea I’ve been thinking about up and running.
Best wishes. Stay strong. Build your community. Let me know if I can help.
As a late-20s female INTJ who has had similar struggles with her parents, I can vouch that this advice is spot on. Having Christian parents who viewed my INTJ tendencies as “bad” as they weren’t “feminine” created a lot of issues that I had to work through. Dealing with the natural insecurities of being an “I” and an “INTJ” was worsened by being made to perceive myself as inferior as I did not meet the standard for a “good Christian girl who would get married someday.” It wasn’t until I went off to college that I realised that I was perfectly ok as I was (there is a long list here of how my parents presented me to me and how others viewed me) and that I was never going to have a stable, healthy relationship with my parents- primarily my mom- as long as I lived with them.
As a Christian, your mother’s and my parents’ attitudes are decidedly not Biblical. As you said, God created you as an INTJ type, just as He created me that way. We aren’t broken, unfeminine, rebellious, or any other negative label that gets slapped on us female INTJs in our teen years. So take heart and hold true that God accepts and loves you as you are. Things will get better…just not yet. It will take a few years, and it’s going to be rough. But hold true and you’ll make it. I will say that identifying my MBTI type was probably the most freeing thing for me. So don’t be afraid of your crazy dichotomy thinking that seems to intimidate everyone; God doesn’t make mistakes.
Keep seeking out the truth, fellow INTJs! God has made us exactly the way we are in order to glorify Him in our own way. I can attest to this. It is never wise to judge ourselves by any standard other than Him. The truth is, every person on earth is broken and rebellious, some of us just don’t realize it. But some of us try to put those kinds of labels on other people, which is something we have no business doing. We are no better or worse than anyone else. We are all utterly dependent upon His grace. The sooner we can stop worrying about ourselves and turn our attention wholly to Him, the more we will find satisfaction in who He is and what He has made us to be.
I’m on this journey with you. If you want, visit my blog, thedeepthings.wordpress.com, where I deal with these issues as an INTJ. Hopefully it is some comfort to you…I know finding like-minded people has been a challenge for me. It is a rewarding one, though. “As iron sharpens iron, so one INTJ sharpens another”…or something like that .
Chiming in as another INTJ Christian female (now 30 y.o.) who was raised in a strict fundamentalist (Baptist) culture. I also had major struggles with my mother pretty much my whole life which worsened with the teenage years. I struggled with most authority because of their hypocrisy. Some things that helped me were discovering in my early 20s that my mother most likely has narcissistic personality disorder, finding out my MBTI two years ago, and gradually becoming part of less and less fundamentalist churches over the last decade. I don’t feel like I have anything profound to add here. But I was struck by all the comments by people who sound so similar to me, especially the teenagers. The feeling of belonging is nice. I also definitely feel that whether in fictional characters or real life, INTJs are often incorrectly presumed to be villains, atheists, or have bad intentions. In my case that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
As a fellow female, christian INTJ, I just wanted to chime in, I had a very similar upbring. Fundamentalist baptist, and a mother with borderline personality disorder. It just amazes me how many of us female INTJ’s had not normal childhoods.
Milli Gilbert says
I just want to say, that as an INTJ 34yr old female, I had a very similar relationship with both of my parents, minus the God thing, as my family isn’t that particularly religious. I have a couple of friends that are INTJ as well, so I spent a LOT of time with them. I did everything in my power to make sure I stayed within the law and followed their rules, just so I ruffled as few feathers as possible.
I also turned to writing. I amassed more than 300 poems and stories during high school. A lot of times, I couldn’t articulate my feelings, and writing whatever came to my mind helped me figure that out, because when I started analyzing my writing and what I was saying, I began to understand my feelings. I’m much better at articulating what I want to say now, thanks to all that writing I did.
But I got really good at leaving certain works out and about, in places my parents would see them. It helped to remind them too, that I am a person, and that I do have feelings and opinions and they matter as much as their feelings & opinions do.
I also said that if we wanted to be able to get along and have conversations instead of arguments, I needed them to actually listen to me, not just sit there and wait for me to finish speaking before they ran back with the same rhetoric as the last time.
I can’t change my personality, but I can change how I deal with my personality. And religion has nothing to do with that. But when I felt like I was constantly being attacked, I put my defenses up, and the shouting matches and slamming doors started.
Mandy Wallace says
Thank you for sharing your story and your strategies, Milli. I especially appreciate what you said about not being able to change your personality but that you’re able to change how you respond to it. That’s a positive and constructive attitude that benefits any personality type.
Hey there. I don’t know if I have anything especially enlightening to say, but I thought I’d weigh in because I have a similar situation. I’m a 17 year old INTJ and my mother (who is also Christian) is my opposite, ESFP. Something that has made a difference in my life is that my father is also an INTJ. So my mother was already long used to the traits of that type.
Even though my mother is very understanding, and she knows that our thinking is very different, I still feel like sometimes there’s a wide gulf between us. Sometimes I feel like I’m not articulating myself well enough, which is something I try really hard to do with her. I try to be as clear with her as possible about what INTJ affects. I work it into conversations. Sometimes when I tell her a story, when I’m talking about how I reacted to or felt about a certain situation, I bring up the corresponding letter in Myers Briggs.
I also write. I keep a journal, which I’ve written in consistently for something like 4 or 5 years. I constantly re read it, as well. Whether anyone else understands me or not, I think it’s primarily important that I understand myself, and that I understand how I feel and think. Because if I can articulate it and I am aware of it, I can use it my advantage. I think being aware of the fact that you are an INTJ is half the battle. Making other people understand is sort of an added bonus, to me. Honestly, when I started researching Myers Briggs and INTJ and found out what it means so much started to make sense. And I think that self discovery has been way more important to me than whether or not my mother “gets me.”
BUT! You asked about how to understand ESFP (I totally went on a rant there sorry). Now, I’m basing this entirely on my mom, so, y’know, there will be exceptions and all that. ESFP’s focus outward. They love to talk. They prefer to get other people’s opinion on problems before they make a final decision. They prefer being in groups, and often prefer being the center of attention (anathema to an introvert!). ESFP’s are feelers as well. In my experience, this tends to lead towards empathy. (Your mother doesn’t seem as willing to understand your perspective, the exact opposite of my mom, which I find a little odd because that’s such a huge aspect of ESFP, but I digress). My mother is prone to large shifts in emotion, and feels grief particularly strongly. People who talk to solve problems tend to think everyone solves problems that way, which is why I think it’s good to have your thoughts and emotions in order as well as possible. Again, writing is a good way to do that.
Remember, if you’re frustrated or find you aren’t getting your point across, exit the conversation! It’s important to regroup and re charge and figure out if you need a new angle, and it’s better to leave early rather than try to beat your way through an issue and not make any actual progress.
Basically, make sure you understand yourself, then try to express that to your family in a way they are likely to understand it and KEEP TRYING. Don’t give up on them. If you gently prod them to listen to your side, they may do it. But, if it doesn’t work out, try not to lose sleep over it. Not everyone will understand you, or try to. It sucks, but you may have to learn to be okay with the fact that your family won’t. But there are people who do, and remember that. There are INTJs all over the place who do get you.
Thanks for sharing your insights, Sam. These are encouraging and I hope they help other INTJs struggling with these issues.
I just finished my first draft of a novel. My protagonist is a INTJ. She is not a villain —quite the opposite. She is very rational but had her heart torn out by an ex husband who cheated on her. I love how complex she turned out because I focus on her agonizing over how to deal with such complex emotions when she is so rational. She meets an extrovert trucker and travels cross country with him. He helps her understand her emotions in a kind and patient way. Well, in case your haven’t guessed its a romance. I cringe when I read stories about overly dramatic, neurotic heroines. They bore me to tears. I test as INFJ but the F is just over the line. I think more like an INTJ. Its so weird because I’m super rational but care deeply about people. Also, instead of evil villains as INTJ stereotype I believe they fall into the scientists type much more. I think Temperance Brennan aka Bones. She is definitely INTJ but when prodded struggles with emotions but she feels them but has a hard time dealing with emotions. I love her character.
Mandy Wallace says
This sounds like a romance story I could actually like. Thanks for sharing it, Amie.
Thank you. I’m actually pleased with my novel. I hope to have it ready for self publishing in two weeks. Fingers crossed!
There really do need to be more INTJ protagonists/good guys. Its kinda selfish of me but I find it really tiresome whenever those lists crop up showing characters and their MBTI’s and mine (INTJ) is more or less 100% ‘bad-guys’ or extremely problematic characters. There aren’t any I can relate to or admire. Don’t get me wrong, I love a well-written villain. But it does get rather tiresome when that’s ALL there is. :/
I plan to write my own book in the future and rest assured that at least one of the protagonists will be INTJ. Probably a woman.
Mandy Wallace says
Nice, Vya. I’d love to read a story from a writer who could write an INTJ female well. Let me know how it goes.
Vya, I couldn’t agree more. We INTJ girls are good girls and there should be more protagonist INTJs in stories. In my opinion INTJs can make excellent heroines if done right. Not perfect at all but she should not be and that is what can make the character very interesting, especially as the POV character. Of the ten characteristics that make characters likeable, several of them come naturally in INTJs: taking action, high morality, competence, bravery, determination and wit. Now add a little selflessness and kindness, which many INTJs do possess. Then she just needs a friend or someone to like or love her and a problem your reader can relate to and she can be quite unforgettable. My WIP features one that experiences severe and lots of conflicting emotions due to the drama she goes through.I simply let her feel them, show don’t tell, and then let her deliberately set them aside and makes brave logical decisions inspite of them because that is what INTJs do.
Just stopping by to say thanks for mentioning me.
Somebody sent me a message about this page a few months ago and I finally checked the link… 🙂
Mandy Wallace says
Vasili, so good of you to stop by to say hello 🙂 I’m a fan of your YouTube videos (obviously). Enjoyed your Future of Humanity post today. Come by anytime.
Hey, and thanks for the blog, Mandy, wonderful help for me in realising that INFJs and INFPs aren’t the only ones who struggle so greatly in communication and connection, and for adding that extra layer of depth to my stories.
Reading through all the comments, and as an INFP myself, (the INFJ is my mum) and a person who is incredibly interested in learning how others think and feel, I love to find out about things like this.
I realise I’m only 15, and with a different mindset and a high level of Asperger’s, and my view is quite possibly biased since I can only think as I can think, but I’ve noticed that all ‘IN’ types seem to have the same problem with the whole comuunicating/connecting thing. Granted, I think all can be taught the social protocols that make it appear as if we are socially competant – my Dad’s an INTP who comes across as one of the most socially charming guys I know, though living with him and the guesstimation that he also has Aspergers, and if that isn’t proof that you can be trained, as one stated earlier in the comments about nature vs nurture, I’m not sure what is.
I don’t know how relevant what I’m saying or what I would say is though – I’m no good at judging that – but I hope it wasn’t too off topic.
I guess I just want to say that even those with a different personality can relate to others if they have a few key things in similarity, even if nothing else.
Thanks for sharing your insights, Sarah. I agree with you that we can train ourselves in social competencies even when they don’t come naturally to us.
I just took a course on how to leverage your INTJ-ness from Penelope Trunk (who has Asperger’s by the way), and she recommended helpful books/trainings that can help us increase our social and emotional skills. You may have already heard of them.
Those books are on pragmatics for people with Autism and also DBT, or diagnostic behavioral training for people with PTSD. We can use both of these to increase our emotional and social intelligence, even if we don’t have Autism and PTSD.
Hope that’s helpful. It definitely got me interested.
Thanks for stopping by 🙂
Joe Garcia says
Some assorted thoughts from a male (not many of us on this thread, huh?) INTJ:
1- I don’t find it difficult to explain my thinking, ideas, “myself,” etc. I find it painful to HAVE TO explain myself. “Why do you say that?” or “How can you tell?” drive me up the proverbial wall. After many years I just reply “There’s a method to my madness.”
2- Years ago, on OK Cupid of all places, there was a “Stereotype MBTI Test” (intended as a parody) and where most tests brand the INTJ “the Mastermind” this one called it “the Crackpot.”
3- When I run across a villain INTJ, more often than not, I roll my eyes. I generally (not always) find this to be wildly unimaginative writing.
4- I’m not uncomfortable with feelings, I’m uncomfortable with their protracted expression. One of my secondary characters (an INTJ, written *specifically* as a secondary character) has a comment: “You can be the hotel for feelings, just don’t be a mansion for them.”
5- INTJ writers tend to have (in my experience) the BEST — by orders of magnitude — ear for dialogue. We process conversational input very differently from everyone else; we hear what the other person said, whereas other types only “hear what they meant.”
6- INTJs (in real life or as characters) hate:
a) Being interrupted (especially when processing something in thought),
b) asked to explain themselves or their thinking,
c) being second-guessed
d) observing what we consider gratuitous displays of sentimentality (at my dad’s funeral, it was the innumerable number of people who kept getting up to announce “I just want to say a few words…” that really peeved me
7- There are things that prompt a sentimental reaction from INTJs, and generally these are things non-INTJs would have nevereverever expected.
Terrific piece, thanks for posting it.
Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for stopping by.
Very interesting article. I think you’ve hit the high points as far as mistakes in characterization go. I’m an INTJ, and I usually smile and roll my eyes when I see the MBTI charts that describe fictional characters. Almost invariably, the villain is the INTJ. We do make great antagonists, I must admit. I’ve always loved villains due to their complexity and ambition, but before I discovered my MBTI type, I never fully understood why I gravitated toward them. Now it makes perfect sense: they’re “my people.”
In regard to writing, my stories always have an INTJ in a prominent role, but 9 out of 10 times they won’t be the villain. They’re usually an antihero of some sort, not a straight-up baddie. Since I am one of these mysterious types, I don’t have a bit of difficulty writing them. I actually have more trouble writing types other than INTJs, especially extroverts and the S and F crowd.
As a side note, I take the MBTI test for all my main characters before I write a story. It’s eerily accurate. The descriptions of the types help me write convincing characters.
– Lena C
I hear on the difficulty writing the S and F crowd. They’re completely incomprehensible! Love me some INTJ antihero. Definitely my preferred character. Glad you found MBTI for writing characters too. It’s my crutch for writing a wider variety of character types.
The only thing that I did not like about this article is that the writer referred to an INTJ as a male rather than a person(s) consistently, I think it puts the idea even subconsciously into a persons head that an INTJ in generally a man, and yes statistically this will hold true, but you rarely see INTJ women in literature and subconsciously or not I would not want writers to limit a personality type to gender.
Other than that I think this article holds a lot of truth about us, but I would be scared for anyone who didn’t personally know an INTJ personality type to write about them..everyone I have ever knwon has said I was the hardest person to figure out if they even did, and I cant say many have ever truly understood me. The part about us having difficulties explaining what occurs in our minds, spot on. Thank you for the article.
Mandy Wallace says
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
I get the whole gender limitation thing using “he.” English needs a gender-neutral pronoun to make our lives easier, doesn’t it? Since we don’t have one, I thought I’d be nice and use “he” since I’m not one. An attempt to be inclusive. It isn’t perfect, but it’s the choice I made. Actually, I’m surprised it took so long for someone to complain about it.
And you can rest assured that this article was written by a gen-u-wine INTJ female with the INTJ perspective. I know, because I wrote it. That doesn’t mean I could have written it without the help of MBTI and INTJ guides out there that non-INTJs wrote. I couldn’t explain myself this well to anyone without the vocabulary and comparisons that MBTI provides. So, you know…
Hope to see more of you around.
Saw your link on Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/pin/226446687490582054/
Great article to add to my INTJ library of insights. It was truly a pleasure to read. Your humor shines.
Although I can understand how writing fictional INTJs could be challenging, try being an INTJ writing a memoir. Then try to write it without sounding like a far too philosophic arrogant INTJ. At the same time opening up the hardened protective shell trying to connect with a reader by showing the soft underbelly of most INTJs, vulnerability. Now that’s tough!
From my introduction:
This book began as a daily journal, charting my attempt to challenge an internal monster, my life long fear of heights. Once the journey began, I noticed my personal notes becoming an unfolding mystery: how would a lifetime of success and failure affect how I moved forward as a man? I’m curious who I’ll become after a full year devoted to challenging my most dreaded fear. Could I overcome it once and for all, another satisfying checkmark of achievement on a long to-do list or privately slip into the dangerous shadows of weakness and embarrassment? My daily journal, turned into a day-by-day living mystery, eventually became a memoir peering into my intimate relationship with fear.
This is that story.
My INTJ board https://www.pinterest.com/shibumi57/intj/
Mandy Wallace says
Thanks for sharing your Pinterest boards and book, Dan. I appreciate the kudos too. It’s nice when someone gets my brand of humor 🙂
It’s interesting that you deal head on with fear in your book, because INTJs often seem fearless to outsiders. Yet an INTJ, who doesn’t care as much about social conventions like hiding fear, are most likely to admit when they’re afraid. (Which is admirable and brave if you ask me, but I’m biased as an INTJ.)
I’m interested to see how your relationship to fear and overcoming it is filtered through your INTJ/Male/US American-stamped mindset. So many elements go into who we are as people, and the commonality between us—the INTJness and US Americanness—could help me figure out what I might be like if I were male 🙂
That’s on my mind a lot lately because I’m so tired of the domestic stuff that comes with the female role. I just want to work all the time :/
Anyway, best wishes to you, your book’s success, and your continued journey.
Varina Suellen Plonski says
Holy cow! I think my antagonist just may be an INTJ. I can’t chase it down right now, I haven’t been to bed yet, but once I get some sleep I’m going to check it out. It hadn’t occurred to me to consider the MBTI lists for any of my characters; in general, I know who they are, how they think, and how they’ll react. But there are things that bother me about *this* character, as though there is something that I’ve been missing. This may just be the key. Thanks for posting this!
And I’ll be looking forward to your insights on *my* MBTI type, INFP. Or was it ISFP? … wanders off muttering …
MBTI is super helpful for me as a writing tool, Varina. But since you have an F in your MBTI setting, it’s no surprise you don’t need it as much as I do to write great, well-rounded characters. You naturally get people and their emotional tides because you watch them much closer than an INTJ does.
That’s one of your gifts 🙂
Hey, great article! I’m an ENTP MBTI lover-writer-wannabe and I agree with most of what has been said. I write a lot of INTJs, although I don’t pre-determine types of my characters. But I’ve been surrounded with INTJs my whole life, I don’t know how. They’re supposedly rare. My childhood best friend is an INTJ (female), my lifetime rival, also a great friend is also a female INTJ. I’ve been in a relationship for 2 years with an INTJ and I’m friends with handful more of them. I know them inside out, I know what excites them and sparks social behavior in them, I know how they act when they’re hiding their feelings, I can sometimes get them to open up. So, as someone with all that experience with them, I cringe at a lot of their depiction in fiction.
Whichever the case, I don’t think they’re only 2% of the population. Even the chart says 2-4%, and that’s only accounting for USA and only for subjects of this research. Out of a classroom of 30 people I’ve always had at least 2 INTJs during my schooling, so it seems a bit unlikely to me that they’re that rare.
Also, this sentence struck me as a bit poorly phrased: “The INTJ doesn’t care about social rules or the standard way of doing things. He cares only if something works.” Applies more to xNTPs, xNTJs have Te. They don’t care about social rules, but they abide by them when in a position where that’s the most practical way of doing things (which is in most cases). Often, people attacking you for disregarding etiquette are a bigger distraction than doing things the harder way, and unlike us, INTJs often acknowledge this and choose the convention, just so they wouldn’t have to deal with people. Of course, this applies only when other people have some kind of power over them, they won’t mind social pressure, but, for example, in a work-place, where it would destroy team-spirit and slow down everyone’s work they normally won’t risk moves that’d divide opinions to that extent. But it really depends on the situation, how important the project is to them, how passionate they are about the idea, how much they care about the people, how confident they are etc.
Oh, another thing, speaking of INTJ confidence, they always seem so confident in their own thought process, without exception, but many aren’t confident about other’s perception of it. I always found that odd. When people are convinced they’re thinking the right way, they’re usually confident to express it, but INTJs can go the other way around. Depends on environment in which they grow. A lot of those I know come from broken homes and hooligan neibghorhoods, so their confidence is quite low. So unfortunate.
Well, enough babbling for today.
Interesting that you’ve uncovered so many INTJs, Darinka! This renews my curiosity about where MBTI settings come from. Can we control for type? Is there something in the water where you’re from 😉 Or are you just particularly good at noticing that someone is an INTJ when others aren’t so skilled?
Maybe you’re right about the phrasing on that social skills statement. Still, it’s important to note that INTJs care more about creating systems that work than they do about fitting into the social dynamics. And when they do care about the social stuff, it’s only in service to getting their ideas off the ground or some other goal. But, I for one, often resent the limitations that social stuff puts on efficiency and competent systems. That doesn’t mean I won’t dress in a way that will trigger the social assumptions I need to achieve my goals though, for example.
I’m also curious about your experience with INTJs from broken homes and how this affected their development. I feel like the only other INTJs I meet are healthy ones. And as an INTJ who already feels isolated from the mores around me, this can feel even more isolating when all I find among “my people” is that I’m still outside of the norm.
Anyway, thanks for giving me so many great things to think about. Hope to see more of you.
I’m from Serbia, but I never thought we have particularly more INTJs. But INTJs and ENTPs have interesting and very responsive dynamic by nature, because we use the same functions (N-T-F-S), just with diverted extroversion/introversion, so we literally fill in each others gaps in thinking, but still think much in the same way. We’ll arrive at the same conclusion through different reasoning very often. I think this makes us responsive to each other. Maybe we kind of fish out each other from the crowds because of that, we spark out of the box thoughts in each other. Or maybe it’s just me.
As for the phrasing, that’s pretty much what I mean. I knew you meant that as well, but a lot of people not familiar with that way of reasoning might get the wrong idea. xNTJs are mostly against conventional acting for the sake of it, but reasonably so, xNTPs tend to be more unreasonable, but learn not to act on that impulse.
Uh, I know a lot of unhealthy ones. One has gotten too much romantic attention while being abused at home and has grown to look down on others and judge them, pretty much projecting her own insecurities around. But I suppose that’s not type-exclusive, most people in that situation do that. She was the shiest person I knew growing up, but now she’s more babbly than me and extremely shallow. Which is basically a mask to cover up that she’s thinking very deeply, because she doesn’t want to expose her emotions. I wonder if she’s aware of that. It wouldn’t surprise me for an INTJ to do it on purpose, and the switch from the person she was was very rapid in the period we grew apart. Next time I saw her she was entirely different.
The other one was growing up with a lot of bullying and learned to deal with it by trying to grow better, which might be pretty healthy, but he did it so much that at this point every failure is like every insecurity coming back. I suppose he buried his feelings by thinking he’s better than his bullies, so if they’re more successful in any way even now, years later, he feels as if they were justified in bullying him. Also, he developed some sort of self-sustaining logic system that supports that line of thinking, but gets in the way of his rational thinking way too often. It’s basically a lot of repressed anger and all the defense mechanisms sustaining it are clouding his judgement.
I also know one who lived in USA and is now awkward when he speaks our native language. I don’t know him very well, but I think it’s about expressing emotions. It’s proven that you bond way easier and feel a lot closer to people speaking your native language, so it’s probably some sort of a barrier.
Another one has diagnosed depression, although he’s otherwise in every way functional, productive, even cheerful and it’s very difficult to get to the bottom of it because he’s always in a good mood when in company. I don’t know how’s that a thing for an introvert. He games a lot when he’s alone, but he also works towards his dreams and is trying not to be a burden on his family (working in summer, part-times, things like that), although they’re not poor. And he isn’t the being-funny-is-a-barrier type of guy, either. If he hadn’t told me, I would never have guessed.
Speaking of which, an interesting article: http://www.cracked.com/quick-fixes/robin-williams-why-funny-people-kill-themselves/
Might spark an idea for a blog or something, if you haven’t written something like that already. Or for an actual story. I just love that article, so I thought I’d share it. Maybe it’s a bit random and off-topic, but yeah.
Suzannah Rowntree says
Awesome post! I’m an INFP myself but both my Dad and one of my brothers are INTJs. As a result I think I tend to use them a fair bit, both as heroes and villains, including as the protagonist of a recent novella.
So I can tell you this post is absolutely correct. Hug an INTJ today, people!
So many INs in your family, Suzzanah. That must make for some interesting dinner conversation or maybe the complete lack of it 🙂
Russell Conner says
I think the fundamental issue is that what they are really trying to write is an ISTJ.
But, to give the “villain” a mechanism to be able to know things that are unknowable and be one step ahead of the good guys for dramatic tension, they try to harness the intuitive “N” in their “S” character.
It comes off as unbelievable in the end, as the motivation is grafted onto the wrong personality.
Russell Conner says
At some point, the Villain suddenly misses a critical hole in his plan. Something a plodding ISTJ would do.
That is despite outwitting and outthinking the Hero at every step until the climax.
And at that point, the Villains’ personality rings untrue.
Could be, Russell. It’s something to consider while writing villains.
Just letting you know that this personality test is not backed by science AT ALL. Researchers consider this personality test a joke. It saddens me to see people take this test so seriously when there are actual scientifically backed personality tests, of course any personality test worth anything is administered by a certified professional but still. It is true that companies use this test, but they don’t take the results into serious consideration when they hire.
I find it sadder that this test, which clearly so many can relate to, is not backed by scientists, despite how clearly many find it works, while the tests that are backed by science really fail to actually give any closure, or at least scale down the things they’re judging.
16 answers rather than 3-8 seems far more likely to grasp at something accurate.
The ‘personalities’ are specifically designed to make people relate to them, like how a psychic would say generalized statements to which the other person would immediately relate to and expand on. Once again no personality test worth anything would have only 16 questions asked over the internet. It would have hundreds of questions done by a professional. Science doesn’t back this because RESEARCH doesn’t back this scientist are not just being meanies and saying that since they don’t like the test it isn’t a good one. They did the extensive research and looked at the evidence and saw that this test is not a valid way of determining a persons personality. The fact that you would think scientist wouldn’t be objective to empirical evidence clearly shows you have no clue how research is done and makes me question how old you are since you should have been taught this in high school.
Many personality tests are done in a way to make anyone feel relatable to them, yes. I have read all the various ones for myself and the other four in my family, as well as several others for writing purposes. I have acknowledged similarities but did not relate to any of those others. I did not intend to imply in any way that I believe scientists are ‘meanies’, as you put it. I am merely stating that several of theirs are backed by far less RESEARCH then the myers-briggs teams. And I also did not state that there was only 16 questions. I agree that any test with 16 questions cannot be taken with much seriousness. There were roughly 60 questions in the test I used, all with five answers, and nearly 5000 words afterwards with which I connected.
Even then, it is made clear that it is a skeleton of our personality. There is so much diversity in human psychology that it is impossible to fully comprehend or analyse.
I can assure I have an extraordinarily scientifically bent mind, and come from a family of similarly, if not more so, like-minded people. I have close relations consisting of farmers, engineers, physics teachers, medical experts and, yes researchers.
I assure you I realise how research is done.
Unfortunately, even the most objective of research cannot be done without some form of bias behind it. All empirical research, all empirical evidence, is somehow twisted through opinion. Of course, I am not discounting science. It has proven many things and helped improve quality of life for many of us. I am simply inferring that it is nonsensical to discount something emotive as illogical, and something logical as lacking in emotion. Research has been made into many things, and more often than not, it conflicts with other research into the same subject. If looked into far enough, most things will contradict each other completely.
In essence, I don’t particularly want to argue with you, but I do ask that you don’t discredit something like this so quickly. It does mean a lot to many people, and is, if nothing else, an extremely useful tool for creating characters within stories, which is one point of conversation in regards to the MBTI on this page.
Mandy Wallace says
Shelby, it’s not okay to demean others here regardless of whether their opinions are different from yours. It’s fine to state your opinion and provide reasoning. But insulting language will not be tolerated.
Sabrina Wolfheart says
I LOVE THIS BECAUSE IT’S SO ACCURATE. I’m a female INTJ and I struggle to find other INTJs, female or not, in real life. In the blog universe, I seem to find so many of them, but maybe that says something about an INTJ’s character traits? Personally I don’t find it quite that offensive when the villain is an INTJ (actually it’s a kind of compliment, in an odd sort of way), but I do get quite annoyed when the INTJ villain has “no feelings or emotions blah blah.” That’s just not true! I have emotions, but GAH don’t talk to me about them. NO TOUCHY-FEELY IS HAPPENING HERE.
Are you also a female INTJ?
Mandy Wallace says
Sabrina, you’re right. It’s so much easier to find other INTJs online than it real life. Thank god for the internet! Yes, I’m a female INTJ. And I feel you on the emotional front. Lots of emotion here, but I don’t want to talk about them. (Cringe!)
Jee Ann says
SO difficult to be an INTJ in a very extroverted country, where being by yourself means being lonely. We’re not trying to be cool or guilt-trip people into trying to make friends with us, draw us out of our shells. We just find our own company very nice.
This is a great post about characterization – one really worth mulling over. I’m writing a bunch of WIP and one protag is INTJ (or maybe 2 of them?), and this post just emphasizes how great it would be for INTJ characters to clear some stuff up about being an INTJ.
Elaine Jackson says
Great article! MBTI sounds like a very useful tool – I’ll definitely check it out for my next book.
I have often noticed in my writing classes that the other students revert to the INTJ personality type as villains.
My friend who is an INFP always sends me pictures of tv show characters and the personality types they’re believed to have and almost always INTJ’s are the villains of the show.
As a female INTJ I on occassion find it difficult to write emotional scenes as my reaction for any emotional moment is usually “find a way to get yourself out of this situation before someone starts crying and you may find yourself forced to console them”. In short growing up with an ISFJ for a dad and an INFJ for a mum was a bit of an uphill battle.
Thanks for posting this, it was an interesting read!
My daughter is an INTJ and she is exactly as you’ve described here. Knowing this about her and studying this personality type has really been helpful to her (to understand why others are not like her) and is helped us better understand why she does or doesn’t do certain things. Well done in explaining this complex and convert personality.
Covert, not convert, sorry.
Mandy Wallace says
Glad to hear your daughter knows she’s an INTJ, Ann. And what a relief it must be for you too as someone who loves her. Finding out about MBTI and INTJ was a game changer for me. I don’t feel so lost and alone. And I’m much more productive and comfortable with the cons that come with the pros of being an INTJ. Best wishes to both of you!
I totally agree with this. I’m a female INTJ and we’re always misunderstood. It can get annoying.
Personally (as an INTJ) I find being known as villains somewhat useful. If what springs to mind when someone finds out your personality type is INTJ is Hannibal Lecter/Moriarty it garners a certain degree of respect. This is not always bad for us so don’t be too quick to try to mend the stereotype.
Elvis Pine says
This blew my mind because I am an aspiring writer and through this article I learned that I am an INTJ woman!
You described my personality and all my frustrations so perfectly that, I have to admit, it frightened me a bit.
Thank you. It was amazing.
Mandy Wallace says
Good for you, Elvis! I don’t know what I would have done if I had to go the rest of my life not understanding my INTJness and MBTI. It’s been a game changer for me and helped me get comfortable with who I am and the value I bring into this world and the people around me. So I’m glad to have connected another INTJ to it. That means so much to me. All the best to you! <3
Loved reading this article (especially the box blurbs, which make me laugh aloud).
I’m an INTJ female (49), although admittedly my I vs. E gap was not huge, which probably explains why I don’t completely fit the mold for my personality index. I do not find it difficult to understand my emotions or explain them. But I do not let them guide my decisions. That’s how I detach, so to speak.
I can isolate my emotions and the emotions of others in order to make an optimal decision in any given situation, which means I can definitely be viewed as unemotional or cold. To me, however, it is simply coming from a sense of “justice”…of doing what I think is right vs. what might be popular or least likely to hurt someone else. I don’t WISH to hurt anyone, but if I must in order to get to the correct result, I will, and I will expect them to understand why that had to happen and not “blame” me for it.
This is not to say, though, that I never ever consider other people’s feelings. It’s just that their feelings are lower on the food chain than the actual needs of everyone involved in a particular decision. So the higher the stakes, the less likely anyone’s “feelings” matter.
Now, as a writer, if you think an INTJ villain is hard to get right, try writing an INTJ heroine in a romance novel. I did in my most recently published book (Accidentally Hers). I think she’s quite lovely (caring, hardworking, loyal) but she has not been well-received and understood by readers because, for the better part of the story (romance), she’s using her head and not her heart, and many readers get angry and feel she doesn’t “deserve” the hero. In essence, some view her as the villain…LOL. Lesson learned, this “type” is really hard to write as a “likable” heroine (at least in the context of a romance novel…perhaps it would be easier in a mystery or other type of story).
I’m just trying to imagine what an INTJ heroine in a romance novel would look like! I’ll be honest and say that it sounds pretty amusing and not at all romantic Bravo to you for tackling that one! We INTJ women never take the easier jobs do we? Because that would be boring. So get on with your bad INTJ self, JBeck. Get on
As a female INTJ myself, I can definitely see myself in a lot of this article. Maybe it reflects the INTJ in me, but I was very happy to stumble upon this article, seeing as villains are usually my favorite characters. My villain in the current novel I’m writing is an INTJ, though he has some borderline qualities that make him a little bit redeemable, and definitely strikes a chord with a few of my beta readers. Thanks for this article!
Well no one can write an INTJ better than the INTJ, Caz. I’d be interested to find out how it goes. Best wishes ❤️
Dennis Young says
The best characters are gray. Good, bad, or in between, write your characters with some ambiguity and they’ll be more relateable. There is no such thing (IMO) as a person who has no spark of good or no dark thoughts and desires. Show some degree of decency in a villain, or a bit of compassion in your anti-hero, and readers will keep turning the pages to find out what they’re up to next and who will fall victim to their machinations.
That’s true, Dennis. Characters need to be fully human on the page, and writers do well to show the negative and positive outcomes of their traits. Good tip.
I’m an INTJ and so is my husband, and we’re both in Mensa, which makes sense. We met late in life, after long and successful careers in corporate America, where we were, in our respective fields, sometime managers but mostly “thought leaders” — an oxymoronic phrase devised by corporate America meaning “those maddening people who are too smart to get rid of lest the competition trump our ace.” I, slightly more than my husband, moved myself into a more ENTP mode for effective social and workplace human interactions. But in those situations I see myself as a Jules Feiffer cartoon, with my INTJ innards thinking its own thoughts behind the ENTP facade.
Not that I’m a sociopath, though. I was a theatre major with full Method training, so I can immerse myself in that ENTP character for the necessary scenes to get the job done rather than to fool anybody. On the other hand, I found acting boring and ended up directing, a rather ENTJ occupation, til economics required that I find better paying work.
Now retired, I’m re-developing my inner Creative and getting my writing mojo back and being my true INTJ self about 90% of the time. The other 10% I do volunteer work that requires sociable interaction with non-professional but lovely and well-meaning others. They think I’m a nice, helpful old lady. That’s exactly what I want them to think.
Thank you for sharing the insights and resources you do, Mandy! I appreciate what I’ve read of yours so far and look forward to the rest of Mandy-land.
I find myself still playing a part in social settings more often than I would like too. It bothers me so much that people feel hurt by my natural INTJness but in the moment it’s happening I don’t always understand why it’s happening and when I do understand why, I get frustrated with the other person like “why can’t they just see what I really mean and what really matters?”
But I also really don’t like having to put on the facade. It feels ugly and disingenuous and disrespectful to the other person, even if they say they like it better. Still that 90% of the time being your true INTJ self sounds like a pretty comfortable percentage to me. And maybe I’m not too far from it 😀
Thanks for sharing, Trude. Hope to see you around.
1. It sometimes really stinks being able to predict the plot to everything, all the time, with no off switch. It gets annoying quick.
2. Just because I can see the truth doesn’t mean that anyone will listen. No one likes to be bluntly told it by a child and a girl. Apparently, the combination means that I am incapable of thinking. ( Would you like to discuss molecular biology or the implications of the Know nothing party on modern politics?)
3. My favorite insults are “idiot” and “boring.” Unfortunately, I use them a lot.
#2 was a HUGE frustration for me growing up (even now, really). Thankfully we don’t need anyone’s permission or for them to see what we’re capable of for us to build something amazing. Focus on building your empire, Anna 😉 Their inability to see what you’re made of proves they’re probably not capable of helping you out anyway.
I’m an INTJ and have been collecting info on INTJ for years. Your take on this is . . . odd. To say the least. Interesting, I guess, and maybe I just have to read it again. There’s a lot here I don’t agree with though.
Interesting. Better if you shared some specifics though.
Kaitlyn Deann says
I’m am an INTJ, and I approve of this post. 😉 thank you for this, Mandy! ~Kaitlyn Deann, author
Sweet! Thanks for stopping by, Kaitlyn 🙂
Thanks for this awesome post! But I feel a bit dumb because I have no idea what INTJ means. Can you shed light on that for my slow-witted brain? Thanks!
You’re sweet, Donn. There’s a clickable link the first or second time the article mentions INTJ. Click that, and it’ll take you right to the wiki article on INTJs. You can also google it if you want to know more about MBTI or INTJs in general. Best <3
I had a hunch, so I just took the personality test and (not surprised) I have an INTJ personality, which is probably why I have so much empathy for my middle grade story’s villain.
I had a hunch, so I took the test and discovered I have an I INTJ personality, which is why I have so much empathy for the villain in my middle grade novel!
Hi Mandy, I realize it has been some time since this post was put up, but I wanted to weigh in nevertheless! I am a INTJ woman, and (sigh!) so easily misunderstood…I have spent my entire life telling people “When I say something, don’t read between the lines. No interpretation necessary- I say what I mean and mean what I say.” Very frustrating. I sometimes have difficulty writing characters as they come off sounding a little mechanical I suppose.Any hints for warming them up? Thank you for your post, it was most enlightening 🙂
One of the downsides of being an INTJ, Stephanie! I feel you.
On your question. You may not like this answer because you’ve likely heard it before, but I’d say: simple practice + base them on a combination of people you know. It can be especially helpful to ground each character in an MBTI type too. I’m working on a series for this now. So be sure to sign up for email updates if you want more of that and good luck! Keep me updated!
Jessica Honard says
A bit late, but I just stumbled across this post and wanted to thank you for writing it. I’m throwing my hat in as yet another female INTJ who is a bit exasperated with being constantly misunderstood (and considered villainous).
I love applying MBTI types to my characters as a framework for their perception on the world. I used to be an English teacher, and I liked to have my students think about where they fell on the spectrum as well, and how it influenced their interactions (in fact, these days I run workshops & write books for teachers about the introversion/extroversion spectrum and how to adapt for it in the classroom).
As a fun twist, I enjoy writing INFJ/HSP villains. I really like toying with the idea that a highly empathetic nature can not just lead to fatigue and burnout, but a reversal of many traits that INFJs typically exhibit. It’s a fun experiment.
Oddly enough, I do struggle with making INTJs the main character of a story. I find that it turns into a slog of internal dialogue that doesn’t always make coherent sense to anyone but myself (it’s all perfectly logical in my mind, of course, but a bit erratic to the reader). Having them as secondary characters has been really effective for me, because it allows me to show how they are perceived vs. how they actually are as the main character gets to know them. I like that contrast.
Thanks again for the article! It was really insightful and provides some great resources. And, as always, I’m just happy that the female INTJ is being recognized as more than a dysfunctional robot. 🙂
I could see an INTJ being a fun secondary character for that reason, Jessica. And awesome that you write introversion/extraversion classroom tips for teachers. I hated the “participation is part of your grade” requirement as an introvert and mostly ignored it (seemed not to affect my grade ever, thankfully). Thanks for weighing in!
I’m a female INTJ, and I just came across this post today. I love to write, although I am still developing my skills. Anyway, it really annoys me when people write INTJs, particularly villains, and mess them up, as stated in the article. As with most INTJs, I have been accused of being cold, aloof, robotic, and uncompassionate. However, I do have (unintentional) reasons. I am absolutely horrible at expressing emotions, so when emotional, my default face is neutral, and my tone becomes more cold. That’s all. As for the missing compassion, I only give it to those I believe deserve it. I don’t just throw my feelings around randomly. I love exploring these qualities and more by using INTJs as protagonists. More like an anti-hero than anything else. Sure, INTJs make awesome villains. However, the INTJ protagonist makes for a flawed, yet relatable character.
Yes! Love INTJs (females, especially) as the hero. So much fun to explore this rare type of perspective. Nice, Emily!
loved the article so I went to take an MBTI test online. I’ve taken many MBTI and other personality tests in the past and never really remember the results or care. To my surprise (and possibly horror?) I got INTJ as a result. So weird…If you have any use for interviewing an INTJ who would not have thought of herself as an INTJ let me know!
Thanks, V. I’ll add you to my list 😀
I’ve been studying MBTI for a year now, and I’d just like to point out that it /seems/ as though there is an over flux of INTJ villains in fiction, but it’s actually that people mistype villains as INTJ, so it /looks/ like most villains are all just this one type. In actuality, most villains in fiction are not INTJs at all.
I am an INTJ myself and I found this article interesting. The only problem that I had with it is that Emperor Palpatine and Lex Luthor are more often considered ENTJs than INTJs (and I would agree they are the former) and C. S. Lewis is considered by some to be an ENTP. I am of the opinion that ENTJs are cast as villains more than INTJs and I am also of the opinion that they actually make better and more interesting villains (although both are usually cast as either villains or anti-heroes).
Mandy Wallace says
Interesting thoughts, TD. Thanks for weighing in.
Rachel Nuckolls says
I am in fact an INTJ. And I find it so true that a lot of people stereotype them, and it makes me mad.
Mandy Wallace says
Glad you found your way here in that case, Rachel 🙂
THANK YOU!!! This is the first time I have found someone use the exact same language for describing the struggle I have as an INTJ to communicate what is in my head. I tell people all the time I can’t think in linear form and I don’t think in English or any language – it all sort of explodes at once in my head like a brainstorm bubble but far more complex, where several trails of thought are simultaneously happening and where I don’t have to think about the latter half of the ‘sentence’ or idea or thought because I just intuitively know it. I usually refer to the scene in the old Willy Wonka movie where they are in the TV room and all the particles are digitalized overhead before being reassembled in a smaller size in the TV. Because it happens so fast, to relay my thoughts to others means I have to re-wind the explosion that just took place in my mind (which by then I have forgotten as it has become meshed into a 6th sense “knowing”), I additionally have to put it in English, AND create a sentences in a linear format – it ends up feeling like preparing a thesis rather than a normal conversation so I just don’t talk about my thoughts unless I absolutely have to. I’m struggling to write this because there is such a disconnect from what is happening inside my head and what I am able to express in writing. Thank you for eloquently presenting this in a way that I have not found elsewhere!
Mandy Wallace says
Yay! Another INTJ finds out who she is! Whoooohoooooo! But I’m really excited though because finding this out was such a game-changer for me. Hi and welcome Kara <3
Once, before I understood MBTI and INTJ, I was trying to give my mom study tips and I kept trying to explain that she shouldn't use words to categorize the textbook info in her head, to just let it go to that place where you "know it" and she had no idea what I was talking about and I had no words to describe the real-life process that's going on in my head when I say "memorize things without using words." We both left that convo thoroughly confused. So I feel ya!
People actually think in english? my head looks like one of the boards in detective movies with bits thread connecting all the random ideas. this reminds me of when i was younger and i wanted to switch brains with any other person to see if their brains work the same as mine.
I am a young INTJ (i just took the test) and I am very happy i found that i’m actually normal. I’ve always been the wierd one, and though i am capable of small talk and appearing friendly because that is what i am expected to do and it makes life easier. this made me realize that asking people “if you were to be executed, say Marie Antoinette-style, would you try to fight with no hope of escape and try to do some damage or die as regally as possible?” is a perfectly valid question. thank you.
Mandy Wallace says
I’m glad you discovered MBTI early, Ardri. It explains a lot about the world and other people and all the gaps, doesn’t it? And as to your very interesting question: regal. Glad you stopped by 🙂
As an INTJ – and yes, I took the test – I think it’s very accurate to put an INTJ in the role of a villain. We ARE villains to many people – in our own way. For my friends, I am a cold-hearted, unemotional and often cruel and unsympathetic person. So, it seems pretty legit to make your villain be an INTJ.
However, wouldn’t it be interesting to make the hero an INTJ? Not due to equality or something like that (let’s be honest, even today equality is nothing but a word, an illusion we still haven’t manage to turn into reality). I’m just curious. What would happen? Would this INTJ hero would loose his or her faith in humanity and turn bad? Or would he or she find his or her way? Would he or she always think about every possible consequence? Would he or she doubt every action, since he or she wants to be hero? Or is he or she being forced to be the hero of the story?
We don’t know. Yet.
Mandy Wallace says
Interesting thoughts, Jazmin. I think an INTJ hero, one whose ideas and thought processes we get to see from the inside, would make for an interesting hero. Write it!
Thanks for answering!
And that’s actually my plan I’m currently outlining everything and hope I can start writing in a few days or weeks.
Mandy Wallace says
Nice! Keep me updated if you think of it. I’m interested!
I will do so!
Oh, this is so true. I am right on the line between INFP and INTJ and really, those last two letters can change day by day. It took me SO long to figure out how to navigate society because no one would understand me. People would ask “Where do you want to go for dinner?” and I would make a decision. Then they’d act awkward about it because apparently there was really supposed to be a discussion about it. But honestly! People talk about where to eat for an hour and waste so much time! Don’t ask me if you don’t want a decision!
And people are constantly thinking I’m psychic. I’ll text a friend and be able to tell their mood from the way they write ‘hi’ – though it varies from person to person. But, for my best friend:
Good morning! or Hi! = cheerful, fantastic mood.
Good morning or Hi= fair mood or possibly very busy.
good morning or hi= having a bad day.
Including another sentence in the same text message means that she is lonely or misses me quite a lot.
So, on the occasions where I text “Hi!” and she texts “hi” and I immediately text “What’s wrong?” she complains that I’m psychic. Really, I’ve just gotten to know her (and most everyone’s) unconscious texting habits. Gathering data that no one ever seems to notice. It seems so obvious to me and it really helps in making decisions at times!
Mandy Wallace says
Cool that you can pickup those subtle clues into other people’s moods, Nicole. Thanks for sharing your experiences as an introverted intuitive!
Mira Loran says
I, myself, am a female INTJ. I am also a writer and my anti-hero/designated villain is also INTJ making it simple to write one. I personally adore the sterotypical portrayals of my MBTI type, firstly, it’s rather amusing to see that all they can do is a cartoon version (which makes since our rarity is on par with the level of unicorns) and secondly, it’s shall make it all the more simple for my MC to stand out. My antagonist/”chosen one” is an extrovertion type, your classic hero, the ENFJ. And is dubbed on 16 personalities as “The Protagonist.” I’ve been called cold-blooded, my resting face always warrants the response “Are you okay? You look angry.” My thinking face makes people think I’m depressed. The presence of people wear me out. But people love INTJs in stories, as a hero or a villain and I love the classic “evil genius.” I adhere to the Evil Overload List. Point blank, INTJs are awesome.
Mandy Wallace says
Ditto to the common (mis)interpretation of my neutral and thinking faces, Mira!
I’d love to read your ENFJ as a villain lol. I’m a fan of ENFJs because they’re often kind and engaged and draw me out of my introversion, but I’d love to see that natural Fe used against other characters and get inside the perspective since that Fe tends toward hiding their Fi feelings for the sake of getting along (but I want to see how they REALLY feel, you know?). Keep me updated!
I’m a bit late to the party, but I wanted to thank you for posting this. As an INTJ myself, I have been called “cold,” “deliberate,” and “ruthless” and can understand perfectly why this MBTI type is categorized as the villain so often. I have two INTJ characters in my projects, and I have to admit that one is a bit villainous, even though she is the protagonist! On the creation side of things, being an INTJ can make planning stories complicated; the plot wants to be linear, but my thoughts are arranged more like an idea cloud.
Mandy Wallace says
SO TRUE about getting those idea clouds into a linear story. Ugh! 🙂
I am an INFP writer, or so most of my tests tell me (I have had a few other results). I have taken it many times, and on behalf of my characters. I started because my critique peers have all said that my characters are way too similar.
In order to familiarize myself with each type I am going to someday write short story series based off the mbti. I started with the INFP and have done extensive research. After the INFP, the INTJ is the next type I have researched most. You guys fascinate me.
Mandy Wallace says
Hi, Kerri! Good idea to use MBTI to create characters who are different from each other. Thanks for stopping by 🙂
I have an INTJ female, but she’s a side character. My MC is an ENFJ.
Your article is interesting ! As female INTJ, I often get frustrated with how people write characters because it doesn’t always seem to be accurate.It’s very useful for me to understand
Interesting aritle.. I got a clear idea about INTJ. INTJ peoples are more master minded peoples.
I’m happy to fund this post. I will need a lot time to read all the comments.
I am a INTJ woman type. When I discover it, that answered many questions. Because why I always feel like I’m not part of my social/family circle. I remember my childhood, I always was terrible analitic little one. To much mature for my age. And people think I am the kind person which nothing or no one cares me. That’s the most huge understanding thing. People INTJ are affectionate, but we dont reveals our fellings. I’m not the cry for everything person, but I can cry seas if I watch a tender video on YouTube.
I never think which personality are my characters. This post is a good excuse to try to met them. When I wrote about a particular characters I fallow numerology by theirs names. (I think not as astrology thing, but science. Because Bible got many numerical symbols).
My question is, I have to answer as that character the test to discover their personality type? Or there is another “easy” way?
My novel have three principal characters, all they got similar personalities, but they acting complete different in particular situations.
As a typical INTJ person, I must to dig deeply about anything. I can’t ignore something. My thirsty to knowledge always is incress.
In this spaces heard about people says: I am INTJ too!!! But in real life, I dont meet another as me yet. It’s sad.
Sorry for my english is not my natural language. I will subscribe to your blog. I fund english blogs are much complete than my maternal language.
Mandy Wallace says
I’m glad you’re here. You’re right about how tough it can be to meet other INTJs (thank goodness we have the internet to find one another at least!). Yes, I’d say take the MBTI test on behalf of your characters (and based on what you know about them so far), to see what comes up. Who knows if it’ll spark some ideas or paths you may not have seen otherwise. And good luck in your writing!
Alex Miceli says
I’m an INTJ woman and a creative writer. I realized after reading this that most of main characters are also INTJs and not the villain, but flawed protagonists. My antagonists are usually overly emotional or another rational that is at odds with the protagonist. A lot of reading I’ve done on INTJ writers all say that they are science, law, or technical writers. While I read a lot of nonfiction, my medium of choice is Magic Realist fiction, even though I am a pure atheist. It seems to me that these kinds of contradictions are completely normal for an INTJ and the personality profile has really explained some issues I have had in college about the so called “rules” of writing, which to me are all a bunch of challenges to be overcome and prompts are annoyances that get in the way of my ideas. I’ve had one writing teacher who seemed to understand that I didn’t need the same instruction as most others, that I needed something different.
I have a question though. I have heard that Professor Moriarty is an INTJ, but what is Sherlock Holmes? Can anyone name an INTJ protagonist in any medium of narrative? I’m interested.
Alex Miceli says
Sorry. I meant to say that most of my main characters are INTJs.
Mandy Wallace says
I ❤️ magical realism. Like Water for Chocolate is an unabashed favorite of mine. Glad you’re writing in the way that makes sense to you (teachers often mean well, but you know). I’ve heard ppl name Daria and Walter White as INTJs.
Hi there ! I’m a female INTJ too and I’d say I’m quite pleased with your article because I’ve noticed too that my personality type is well overused for villains. I really think your post interesting for you have a mostly accurate view of how I think (most of the time !). However, there are some points in which I found your article wasn’t exactly sticking to reality. You’re right when saying we INTJs almost always tell the truth, but I. really want all the people who read this blog to realize to what extent it goes : we INTJs don’t just tell the truth, we tell what we think (even more when you ask us to). The problem is, most people just don’t understand our way of thinking – or maybe it’s that we can’t explain it well, just as you said – so they don’t take was we say as truth. Master tip : have your INTJ character say the truth but other characters take it as bluff. Good way to add tension when the reader finally realize the INTJ didn’t bluff…
Sorry, I’m getting carried away! Back on track. Just to make sure things are cristal clear, I’d explain a bit the “arrogance” part : to me, everyone is intelligent BEFORE they say something stupid. Which means I don’t base my understanding of people on how they appear but rather on what they show me. You won’t be labeled stupid if you don’t act stupidly. It work the same way with ideas : have an idea, explain it, give me FACTS, and you’ll have my ear. If you can prove that your idea is better than mine, then we’ll stick with it.
This also works the other way around. I’ll explain my own ideas this way (with facts), but some people are just too emotional to accept those facts. That’s why some people just don’t understand INTJs : we always try to be the objective person (at least on the outside!) when everyone is blinded by their subjectivity. We sometimes do those things “whitout permission” because we know explaining the why would take too much time.
What more can I say? I know it’s hard for most people to understand INTJs – maybe as much as it’s hard for INTJs to understand most people – but all I ask of my fellow writers is to be careful with what they say. If there’s something you don’t quite grasp, ask an INTJ : they’ll be happy to explain. Thank you, Mandy, for this wonderful article!
As an INTJ this post hit (painfully) home haha
“Really, the INTJ just knows he’s analyzed far more data than those around him. He also has the experience of being proved right more often than not. This is because the INTJ is a far more long-range and analytical thinker than any other type.”
This right here is like 99% of my problems….I over think and ‘observe evvverything’ which means I understand what’s going on in most situations…but on the flip side I have no idea how to communicate it effectively and just come across as cold and pompous and irritable lol i’m working really hard on my speaking skills because of this.
If it helps, in terms of villains, I can often tell why someone did something they did, before even they do. It’s one of my horrible traits really, because I spend more time watching, and ‘judging’ actions, than interacting with people. Something like an INTJ villain discovering your emotional weakness just by scouting a situation would be a perfect way to show this.
I’m off to watch those videos and learn some more interpersonal skills, yeouch
Ann Isik says
Strange as it may seem, I have no idea what INTJ means. I have no idea, therefore, what your article is about.
Tarian P.S. says
If an article is going to make such a big to do about something then spell it out. Authors who are older than millennials or dont do text-type but write or apt to not know what INTJ means.
Professionally, it should have been explained in the first sentence, regardless.
Audrey Ty says
So I’m one of those INTJ women mentioned, and a lot of those actually hit the mark right on the bullseye. My parents often try to persuade me to emote more, like smiling, but I just feel like it isn’t really useful or helpful in any way to express emotions outwardly when I can just feel them. Sorta something like that. In addition, I’m more of a science person, if anything. I also over analyze EVERYTHING. Environment? Yep. Stories? Yeah. Relationships (especially with the small number of friends I have)? OF COURSE. It’s sort of a crisis like “why can’t I or anyone think objectively?” then I respond, thinking, “because we’re human.” Personally, I feel lucky I have a cousin who is INTP/J so we can sort of geek out with each other without offending each other in any way. In a way, I may seem manipulative, since I try to use things to my advantage (but not in a bad-bad way of course), even should they be people I am close to, because that’s just how my thought processes work. I do it, then afterwards I feel kind of bad (don’t really show it), but I fake it sometimes, or otherwise, I will never emote at all. That’s how life goes for me anyway, but this article really makes me think this stuff through a lot!
So true! I don’t think of Hillary Clinton as an INTJ… she and I are on the opposite spectrum of say the social security issue. She came up from a privileged background. I was raised in severe proverty with a father on SS disability and a mother that needed it desperately and was denied twice at end of life.
And yet I saw generational dependency and stifling of initiative much like welfare. So I have to remember that life experiences color our belief systems. But she was so corrupt I couldn’t take her seriously
I just love, love this comment: “An INTJ who is genuinely interested in you is more likely to ask how you deal with despair when confronted with mortality or how your concept of god has evolved through the years. This startles people. And the INTJ has become aware that others find this line of discussion uncomfortable. Since small talk is still too painful, though, most INTJs withdraw instead.”
Meant to say, I didn’t see Clinton as an INTJ initially, but that our belief systems are filtered thru life experiences and maybe…. just maybe she is not taking a side for votes but because she never experienced the negative side of government dependency.
The article is very interesting, but please, write properly the name of Jane AustEn…
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Funny when I found this article I thought I was an INFP/INTP, but after reading this article I found a lot I can relate to, except I do care a bit too much about emotions when trying to be logical all the same. Trying to sort out emotion with logic. Eh…crazy bs isn’t it?
I retook one of those tests and came up with INFJ but with a very close, like 12% preference of feeling over logic.
Also thought it was interesting because my INFJ character comes naturally. I quickly pegged him down INFJ with a type 1w2 type personality. The ENFJ one? I’m not as confident but he gets a pass.
M Wallace says
I’m learning that emotions have their own kind of logic. But trying to sort them out does feel a little crazy sometimes 😉
We’ll be exploring how to “experience” the cognitive functions of other MBTI types here over the next few months with the MBTI for Writers series. Maybe that’ll help out with the ENFJ character. Just in case!
Thanks for your comment.
Heather Clawson says
Just as an educational point: the Myers Briggs personality test is actually NOT scientifically based, and has no scientific principles incorporated within it. The test was literally created by a mother and daughter (one who was an author, the other was a journalist.) They created the foundation of the test by grouping a bunch of personality types into generalized category. They did this by “guessing” and by their own belief in what kind of people would display what personality traits. (See any science yet? ‘Cause I don’t!)
The Myers-Briggs is currently being challenged by the psychology departments of many prominent universities because it is thought to be an unrealistic measurement of behavior, most notably because it incorporates no scientific principles, has never been confirmed or substantiated by any scientific method, and because the measuring and estimation of the answers to determine your “type,” is mathematically flawed.
This does not mean that you can’t determine a realistic emotional profile for a character, but it’s important to also understand that the test, at it’s core, is a lot of supposition with no confirmable foundation.
M Wallace says
You make a fair point. I need to update the article if it says MBTI is science-based.
I do take issue when people (like Adam of Adam Ruins Everything) fixate on the fact that Isabel and Katharine were a “mother and daughter” as an argument against MBTI as a valid psychological tool. Is the point here that they’re women and thus too stupid to make psychological observations? Marie Curie was a woman. She was a mother and a daughter. Does this invalidate her work?
Pointing out that they were a mother and daughter or that one was a writer and the other a journalist—we may as well say Leonardo Da Vinci was some dandy lord upstart without a formal degree or education, so his work must be bunk.
And, besides, MBTI is based on Carl Jung’s work. Katharine and Isabel just unpacked it into a tool other people could use. No, Jung wasn’t right about everything, but without him we wouldn’t have much of modern psychology.
MBTI is based on observations. Much of psychology is. Because neuroscience is a young field. Because we don’t know enough about the brain to BE scientific. And because our tools aren’t powerful enough for the types of measurements would have to do to be precisely sure what we’re doing.
Every realm of science and psychology is constantly refined as we learn more. That doesn’t mean we should give up on what we have now.
MBTI practitioners “misdiagnose” type all the time, I’m sure. So do doctors misdiagnose cancer and depression. The MBTI self-assessment tool is definitely bullshit. You’re not wrong there. Most people can’t compare themselves to their peers well enough to answer the questions well. We’re also biased about how we answer because we want to fit the ideals of the social systems we’re a part of. And those aren’t the self-assessment’s only problems.
But I’m convinced MBTI is onto something. It isn’t perfect. The tools, as we’ve said, are so far too unrefined for that. But it’s definitely onto something. It describes people too perfectly and predictably for it not to be. And I’m curious to see where it goes.
And, as you say, we don’t really need the science to be worked out to use it as a character creation tool.
Thanks so much for your comment, Heather! Yours isn’t an uncommon perspective, so I appreciated the chance to share some of the reasoning for my continued appreciation of MBTI as a valid psychological tool.
When people think in INTJ persons, its like if they can open a Pandora box. I am a INTJ myself. But since I started to study my own personality type (and another just to understand why they are like so, and helps me too to introduce it on my write process). I discovered how many people said: I am INTJ!!! Imn´t so sure if is really true, if they just get ONCE the points or what. I usually made the test once per year and always appears as INTJ and once as INFJ. ( I was depressed on that time for my mother death).
For me, its important gave a back up to know which kind of personality we really are. But, sometimes, people just choosen another answer and the result changed too. I guess its important know which type we are, not just in MBTI test, but anothers.
For the writing process, my primary character used to have my own personality type (at begging I didnt know he was like so), but not in all cases, just when they need to be a “bit cold”, but our type is the MOST caring, we really worry about another people, but the problem is we cant show up so freelly. So, my characters are like so, outside: a rock, Inside: worry for another people feelling and care them honestly. Maybe our personality type is the most misunderstood.
But for my characters, I tried to use another personality test, even numerology by name and date birth. And mix all those to create their personality. (not with all characters, just the primary ones). I surprised myself when I done the MBTI test (and another) based on my male character in my actual project. I discovered, he is an INTJ (or Architect), # 1 in numerology and patlife #6, all those are really HIM! And the big surprise was when all matched with his wife, perfectly. She is INFJ, #1 in numerology and patlife#22 (which all this made them “the perfect match”). So, as writers, I think we can use anything to helps us to create our characters and made them “credibles”.
Science or not, I really believe we have a particular way to be, can or not fit into a “idealistic box” named personality test, numerology or wherever. If we really know our characters, we can explore all the good/bad on them, made them live a great story and we learn to love them no matter if they are based in science or “esoteric” world. The most important we can do with our characters, is know them as good as we know anything about ourself, if we take any tools to understand them… go for it!
P.S.: Sorry, english is not my mother tongue.
Mandy Wallace says
You make a great point. Personality typing is great for building fictional characters whether it’s scientifically sound or not. True too about INTJs only appearing to be cold yet caring passionately.
Thanks for sharing your insights.
I have to correct what you said in your article : INTPs have a higher average IQ than INTJs. Intelligence and IQ are two different thing. Please check the facts, you lose credibility.
Dominika Cross says
I am a rare type of woman who is INTJ :’) And it’s a curse and blessing at the same time , because in the society people expect woman to be caring, lovely and full of emotions… And I’m not like that :c I don’t match to the scoiety and it hurts sometimes. On the other hand, I have my own ideology, my own opinion and I am not scared to protect them, I can fight for them even if it means hurting someone – that’s INTJ flaw and advantage at the same time.
And I understand why creating INTJ character is hard for writers – they just don’t understand them, sometimes I don’t understand myself! So c’mon! INTJ is really complex personality with such a deepness. Even I haven’t got to the deepest nooks of myself.
But characters who are INTJ are great – Moriarty, Tywin from GoT, Petyr Baelish from GoT, Gandalf, Yennefer from Witcher, they all are just great! And Gandalf is not a villian 😉 To be honest, Tywin also isn’t a bad guy. Katniss is a INTJ too and she is a good character (it’s a different thing that I don’t like her xd)
Cleo Courington says
I’m not always so sure of what goes on in the male mind, but since my husband was an INTJ, I can sort of get that part. It’s also a little helpful that I am an INTP (though I sure would like to have some of that “J” for myself!).
“Wicked smart” is so right on. We married while in medical school, and he went on to become boarded in three (3) medical specialties and certified as an administrator and interpretator of the MBTI. I did not…
Along with the rest of our class, we were both subjects of an MBTI study (“Does ‘Type’ have an association with the specialty a medical student ultimately chooses”). Answer–“yes.” Big time!
Anyhow, I think it’s no accident that my fictional hero resembles my late husband so closely.
This posting would make a lot more sense if someone would explain what the acronyms mean.
Taelin Moriarty says
As one of those INTJ women myself, and in all seriousness and honesty, explaining some character situations are difficult. Some of my close friends find it hard to understand why I do certain small actions or other things that are seemingly big to them, but small to me. These traits I also instilled in some of my villain characters, and I think that if I could converse like an INTJ with someone who understands the INTJ and isn’t one, it would help a lot.
Sorry about the entire venting part up there 🙂 Just wanting to get my two cents in.