Understanding the INTP function stack (A guide)

In this brief guide, we will look at the INTP function stack.

What is the INTP function stack?

The INTP Functional Stack, or Function stack, as it is known sometimes, consists of a Thinking, Feeling, Sensing, and Intuition function, arranged in the following order according to their strength:

  • Dominant: Introverted Thinking (Ti)
  • Auxiliary: Extraverted Intuition (Ne)
  • Tertiary: Introverted Sensing (Si)
  • Inferior: Extraverted Feeling (Fe)

The INTP function stack is led by the dominant function of introverted thinking, which provides the person with the ability to think and assess things before they act on them, and this ability is assisted by the extraverted intuition which provides them with the necessary information from the environment that they can think about.

The other two functions are more in the subconscious than the active mind and they may make themselves known in subtle ways.

The Introverted world of the INTP

Before we delve into the details of the functions and function stack, it is necessary to understand what Jung meant when he talked about cognitive function and specifically what he meant by the introverted person.

Introverted in this context does not just mean someone who does not want to mingle a lot of hanging out with people, it speaks to a wider variety of behaviors and actions, all of which are focused inward rather than outward.

In the words of Jung himself, as he says in his book Psychological Types, where he first described these phenomena:

“A person of this type might say: “I know I could give my father the greatest pleasure if I did so and so, but I don’t happen to think that way.” Or: “I see that the weather has turned out bad, but in spite of it I shall carry out my plan.” This type does not travel for pleasure but to execute a preconceived idea. . . .At every step, the sanction of the subject must be obtained, and without it nothing can be undertaken or carried out. Such people would have replied to St. Augustine [see above, p. 39]: “I would believe the Gospel if the authority of the catholic church did not compel it.” Always he has to prove that everything he does rests on his own decisions and convictions,and never because he is influenced by anyone, or desires to please conciliate some person or opinion.”

The introvert, according to Jung, may be prone to being focused on themselves, and their locus of control, as some might say, is internal.

This means that when something goes wrong, the introvert is likely to blame themselves, but at the same time, they are also likely to depend on themselves and no one else to take care of their things and to lean on when things get rough.

This may be good and bad; it may isolate the introvert to be on their own so much, but it may also produce incredibly self-reliant people who are okay doing their own thing and don’t feel the need for other people if they are not around.

INTP Cognitive function: Introverted Thinking (Ti)

The dominant function of the INTP functional stack is introverted thinking, which, as discussed above briefly, is the trait or function that makes the INTP capable of thinking about things for a long period of time and enables them to assess and evaluate their situation at length.

The introverted thinking function may be used to make decisions based on logical analysis which may be done at length internally and over time.

The introverted thinking function is the reason that the INTP loves rationality and objectivity so much, and it is also the sole reason behind their insatiable thirst for knowledge and learning, which motivates them more than anything else. 

The functions that lie below the INTP are said to serve it, due to the fact that it is the dominant function, and the introverted thinking way of decision-making reigns supreme in the INTP personality due to this reason.

The introverted thinking is the main function in the INTP function stack, and it decides how the cognition takes place, which neuroscientist Dario Nardi elaborates, and he says that the introverted thinking rules TiNe functions in two many ways:

  • “Deduction – Linearly deriving solutions using verbal/symbolic reasoning. For example, if A=B, and B=C, then A=C. Using this region is like moving along the branches of a tree.
  • Categorizing – Categorizing and defining concepts in a holistic way using a “best-fit” process. For example, it helps us determine whether a dolphin better fits in the mammal or fish category as it sorts many categories simultaneously.”

There is also a third manner of functioning for the TiNe, and they also make use of something called Odds Assessment, but this is a rarer thing compared to the other two processes, and Dario describes this as:

“Odds Assessment – Holistically weighing numerous pros and cons of many uncertain or risky factors or opinions at once to arrive at a single result. For example, how are the odds when you play a particular betting game?”

In addition, when Ti is put together with introverted sensing, which is the INTP’s tertiary function in the functional stack, they can be rather calculating, or even cold at times. 

The library of knowledge that the INTP works on is formed by Ti and Si.

These two functions together may make the INTP see things in a black and white or binary form, with no scope for gray areas, which can be rather problematic at times, and at the same time also reflects classic critical thinking and programming languages. 

INTP Cognitive function: Extraverted Intuition (Ne)

The second cognitive function in the INTP function stack is the extroverted intuition, which provides these individuals with all the instinct and information they need to do their analysis and form the network of knowledge they need for good decision making.

Due to the extroverted intuition, the INTP may prefer to learn as much as they can so that they have adequate information available at all times, but they may not do it in any systematic way, due to the instinctual nature of Ne, rather in a haphazard, take what you can get way.

They may place a high value on experiences so that they make fewer mistakes and so they do not waste time reinventing the decisions and ideas.

The extroverted intuition is focused outward, naturally, and so the INTP may feel like they want to do something new, and this function may allow them to keep a close watch on what’s already been done so they can keep looking for newer things. 

This INTP function is abstract and may be seen as being oriented towards theories, patterns, frameworks, and principles, which drives this function and as a result, the INTP to fit the data it gathers into theories and principles which then enables their dominant function to assess and analyze the things available to it.

There may be numerous theories and ideas swirling around in the head of the INTP personality any given time, and therefore it is necessary that they have time to themselves where they may get some peace of mind to develop these ideas, which may be found in the form of meditation or mindfulness.

These practices can bring the INTP a great deal of comfort and they may find that they are energized and ready to go to their next adventure.

The INTP may also find that extroverted intuition helps them to learn interesting things rather easily and they may benefit from having an intellectual conversation with someone so that they may be able to think more clearly.

Due to the extroverted intuition function, the INTP may also find that sources of output like writing, speaking, teaching, building, or designing, and generally being creative and honing their imagination, may work well in their favor.

INTP Cognitive function: Introverted Sensing (Si)

The third function of the INTP function stack, the introverted sensing function, is responsible for the storage and organization of the interesting facts and knowledge that they gather through the extroverted intuition function.

The introverted sensing function works behind the scenes to assist the other two functions in their analysis and information gathering, and takes care of things in the mind, making sure data is always available in the right manner for future reference. 

The introverted sensing function also makes the INTP’s internal world organized and structured and allows the INTP to be detailed in the analysis of the data they have saved, which can provide them with a very strong sense of internal stability.

Sometimes this feeling of stability the INTP feels on the inside may feel like arrogance to others, but really, it is just them being the mysterious and analytical creatures they are, who are just trying to focus on their internal processes.

The highly intelligent creatures that they are, the INTP can jump from one topic to another in any conversation, and surprisingly their internal thought patterns are completely linear, which shows the level of organization they have and the extraverted intuition function as well.

Due to the introverted sensing function being so concerned with precision, the INTP may also show a high need for precise language, and people may notice that they can articulate themselves very well when they want to. 

This combined with the fact that creative outlets can make their thought processes cleaner and more effective, the INTPs can make great writers.

In addition, the more time they have to hone this function, the more organization of data the INTP has, and as a result, one may find that as they get older, their thought processes get faster. 

The older INTP may not even need to consciously think through every step unless they are dabbling in something that is totally new and the likes of which they have just never seen before at all.

INTP Cognitive function: Extraverted Feeling (Fe)

The last cognitive function in the INTP function stack is the extraverted feeling, which is usually responsible for the understanding of the thoughts, feelings, and values of those around, and keeping that in mind when one decides to act in a certain way.

This function serves as the INTPs relatively more humanitarian side, which is not to say that they are mean or inhuman in any way, it may be seen as their softer side and a side that is perhaps more concerned with their relationships with the people in their environment.

The extroverted feeling function enables the INTP to use their high intelligence and creative problem-solving abilities to help others do something for the benefit of the world in some way. 

This function develops later in life, which means that the INTP may be slightly less aware of, as well as equipped to deal with, the feelings of other people when they are younger. 

A healthy INTP will usually develop this function over time, however.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we looked at the INTP function stack as well as the INTP shadow functions. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or comments you may have.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): INTP function stack

Can you be both Infp and INTP?

No, you cannot be both INFP and INTP, because the dominant functions from INTP and INFP are not the same.

The INFP’s dominant function is Introverted Feeling while INTP’s are Introverted thinking, which means that the INFP’s decision making is mainly based on their values and INTP’s decision making is mainly based on logic and analytical thinking.

Are INTPs dangerous?

No, INTPs are not dangerous, they may just appear to be somewhat intimidating because they are always looking for information in their environment and they make their decisions with cold and calculated logic most times.

Why are INTPs so weird?

INTPs may seem weird because sometimes, due to their introverted tendencies and their tendency to think and analyze everything, they may appear interested in others, since a lot of their thoughts and emotions remain inside.
 
INTPs can actually be very articulate and precise with language, and talking to them about things they find interesting can be very revealing of their true nature.

Citations

Psychological types by Carl Jung

https://personalityjunkie.com/the-intp/

Divya is currently a Clinical Psychology Trainee in a Master of Philosophy program and holds a Master’s in clinical psychology. She has a special interest in Personality studies and disorders, having researched the subject before, and Neuropsychology; with an additional interest being Mood disorders. She likes to write about Psychiatric issues, having worked in multiple specialty setups during her time as a clinical psychology student, and in her free time she likes to cook and read.

Leave a Comment