The ISTP is probably the most mechanically-inclined of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types. Although they aren’t necessarily fixing cars or building robots (though many of them could), ISTPs are natural “makers” and have been nicknamed “the virtuoso” personality. Making up 4-6 percent of the U.S. population, they enjoy pulling things apart and putting them back together — leaving them a little better than they were before.
ISTP traits include a penchant for problem-solving, cool pragmatism, and eager curiosity. Some famous ISTPs are Michael Jordan, Amelia Earhart, and Tiger Woods (in fiction, Arya Stark from Game of Thrones and James Bond are believed to be ISTPs). The world has the ISTP personality to thank for creating and optimizing the tools that keep it running.
Do you possess the ISTP personality, the most mechanically-inclined type? If you relate to most of these signs, you might be one.
Signs That You’re an ISTP
1. You’re a born problem-solver
You’ve always had an intuitive understanding of systems and machines. Given enough time and resources, there’s probably nothing you can’t fix.
2. You’ve got two feet on the ground
Unlike some other introverts who are described as “always daydreaming” or “living inside their heads,” you’re more rooted in the here and now. You have little patience for vague, theoretical explorations of ideas. Rather, you jump in and do, using your five senses and working with your hands to tackle problems.
3. You’re not afraid of getting your hands dirty
There’s probably no other personality type better suited to working with their hands than the ISTP. You enjoy rolling up your sleeves to create, troubleshoot, or experiment through trial and error. It’s no wonder ISTPs have been nicknamed “the craftsman” and “the virtuoso personality.”
4. You crave novelty…
Easily bored, you’re always looking for something new and exciting to do. Sometimes this means you’re drawn to high-risk situations, like extreme sports, gambling, or other things that give you a thrill. Because you react quickly and are tuned into your surroundings, you likely have a better chance than some others of beating the odds. But at the end of the day, you’re only human, so you’ve had to learn to control your impulses.
5. …and you’re relentlessly curious
Curiosity is one of the core ISTP traits. Your insatiable curiosity is what gets you started learning new skills or devouring information about new topics. It’s also the reason you start so many projects and often lose interest once you understand how something works — even if it’s only half-done. As a child, your curiosity (and tendency to explore things with your hands) probably got you in trouble, but as an adult, it’s what leads you to so many interesting pursuits.
6. You’re friendly but private
Others would describe you as relaxed, flexible, friendly, and confident, although perhaps a bit on the private side (that’s part of being an introvert, after all).
7. You like it when people take an interest in your projects
An introvert, you enjoy spending time alone, and certain social situations drain you. However, when you’re in your element (such as your garage or workshop), you may not mind other people getting in your space. In fact, you enjoy when someone takes an interest in your projects, because it creates a shared experience. Similarly, you feel good when you can lend a hand and help someone out in a practical way.
8. You tend to act first and think later
Your biggest challenge in life is acting too hastily. There have been times when you became overly involved in someone else’s project, told an offensive joke, roughhoused, or abandoned your plans when something more exciting came up. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but later, you suffered the consequences. ISTPs can grow by learning to pause to think before reacting, asking themselves if what they’re about to do fits with their larger goals.
9. You’re somewhat unpredictable
At times, you’re steady and consistent, plodding along the path you’ve laid out for yourself. But other times, you’re completely spontaneous, making you a bit unpredictable. It’s like an energy builds up within you, and when it hits its tipping point, it explodes without warning — often launching you fearlessly in new directions.
10. You’ll never grow stale…
An adventurous romantic partner, you’ll never “grow stale” — you’re always surprising your beloved with new experiences, especially sensual ones that invite fun and pleasure.
11. …but sometimes you pull away
When it comes to relationships, you may be a bit hard to nail down, alternating between detachment and passion. You need plenty of space to be yourself, and you’ll run from any attempts to control your life, or anything that feels forced. You may even struggle against a fear of commitment. It’s not that you’re disloyal, it’s just that’s there’s nothing more terrifying to you than knowing there’s no way out.
12. Giving emotional support doesn’t come naturally
You’re probably not the person your friends and loved ones turn to for cheerleading. You’d much rather resolve the problem with a practical fix than offer sympathy.
13. But you’re not a robot
You have feelings, too. However, you tend to hide your emotions because you’re often unsure of how to express them. In general, you’re a person of few words, and your relationships are often built around partaking in shared activities rather than deep conversation.
14. Your top priorities?
Freedom and autonomy. Anything that makes you feel stuck feels stifling to you — such as inflexible schedules, unnecessary bureaucracy, red tape, or rules. Because of this, you may have always struggled to fit in at school or in corporate settings.
15. You defy stereotypes
The ISTP personality is more common among men (9 percent of the population) than women (2 percent). If you’re a woman who is an ISTP, you may have been called a “tomboy” growing up, and even as an adult, you likely defy female gender stereotypes.
16. The most rewarding ISTP careers…
ISTPs enjoy working with their hands and having a day that’s full of variety and action. Many ISTPs are engineers, mechanics, forensic scientists, construction workers, systems analysts, athletes, firefighters, paramedics, surgeons, pilots, and police officers — or anything that lets them put their practical intelligence to work. There’s also a fair number of ISTPs who move from career to career in search of variety, or prefer to tinker and pursue whatever projects catch their fancy, as freelancers or contractors. (And more than a few ISTPs have been successful inventors.)
17. You’re always wondering what’s next
To you, every day is a new day. You live in the present and crave the freedom to change your mind from day to day, without judgement or prying from others. You review your obligations by the moment. When you get bored, you may feel tempted to “stir the pot” just to create some excitement.
18. The typical classroom doesn’t mesh with your learning style
Due to your need for movement and your impatience with abstraction, you may have struggled in school, perhaps even being diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. ISTPs learn best when they can see the practical application of a given concept, and when they get hands-on experience.
19. You have high kinesthetic intelligence
ISTPs tend be comfortable with their bodies and how they move, and are aware of their surroundings. Generally, they have strong hand-eye coordination, dexterity, and athletic skills.
20. You value artistry and craftsmanship
Although you’re drawn to functionality, there’s a part of you that loves stylish clothes, high-quality goods, and indulgent meals (some ISTPs even become foodies). It wouldn’t be unusual to find a vintage sports car, motorcycle, or top-of-the-line power tools in an ISTP’s garage.
21. You combine your physical gifts with a sharp mind
Just because someone works with their hands doesn’t mean they’re not also highly intelligent — and you’re living proof. People of the ISTP personality soak up facts, quickly comprehend new ways of doing things, and rarely forget details. Many ISTPs identify as nerds or geeks, and others become experts in obscure but handy topics.
Are You an ISTP?
Some of these signs are things a lot of people will identify with, and every ISTP is going to be a little different. If you can relate to most of them, however, chances are good that you’re an ISTP. Want to be one hundred percent sure? There’s an easy way to find out: Take this free personality assessment from Personality Hacker and see your personality type in minutes.
More ISTP Resources
- 7 Unmistakable Signs of an ISTP Personality Type
- No, I’m Not Cold and Emotionless. I Have a ‘Thinking’ Personality.
- 5 Things I Learned About ISTPs From Working for One
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