The INTJ is a deeply theoretical type equipped with penetrating intuition. They make the most brilliant theorists of all types, comprising a large percentage of top-tier scientists, thinkers, and college professors. Like INTPs, they live in their own minds, chewing on whatever theoretical problems or concerns inhabit their mindspace.
Despite the fact that INTJs are perceived to be highly rational types, their dominant function is actually intuition, or more specifically, Introverted Intuition (Ni). This suggests that INTJs are far more receptive than they are often given credit for. Their first goal is not to define or impose order on things (T), but to attune to the insights of their intuition. What intuition offers INTJs is an understanding of the bigger picture, as well as how that bigger picture comes to bear on a particular problem or situation. Their intuition operates like a funnel: It starts with a broad swath of information from which it can then extract a convergent insight or answer appropriate to a specific context or problem. We discuss this process in greater depth in our INTJ personality profile.
The term “INTJ” is by no means a new notion, having first been advanced by Myers and Briggs in the mid-20th century. Of course, Myers and Briggs were reliant on the seminal work of Carl Jung, who first described the introverted intuitive type in his 1913 classic, Psychological Types.
More recently, a website called 16 Personalities began appending the letters T and A to each of the 16 types. According to 16 Personalities, T stands for “turbulent” and A for “assertive.” We will now explore how these two variables may manifest in the “INTJ-T” vs. “INTJ-A.”
INTJ-T Personality Type
For all intents and purposes, Turbulence references traits associated the Big Five domain—”Neuroticism” (a.k.a., low Emotional Stability). Individuals with higher Neuroticism exhibit heightened reactivity to stress, as well as a propensity for worry, anxiety, depression, anger, and self-consciousness. They are prone to negative emotional states as well as emotional instability (hence the notion of Turbulence). Their shifting emotional sands can make it difficult for them to act with confidence and consistency, thus complicating both their work and their relationships.
Considering that Neuroticism is empirically correlated with both Introversion and female gender, INTJ females may be more apt to identify as the INTJ-T type. Those identifying as “highly sensitive persons” (HSPs) may also resonate with the Turbulent descriptor. While not all INTJs see themselves as emotionally sensitive or sentimental, they are often sensitive in other ways. They may be easily overstimulated or overwhelmed by external stimuli, such as crowded or noisy environments. This can engender significant unease or anxiety, perhaps even culminating in migraines or panic attacks (see our post, How INTJs & INFJs Approach their Body & Physical Needs, for more on this).
Unfortunately, people too often overlook the potential benefits of heightened sensitivity, such as its role in perspicacity and perceptiveness. If being highly sensitive reflects an open and receptive nervous system, it shouldn’t surprise us that INTJs can intuitively pick up on nuances and subtleties that are lost on other types.
INTJ-A Personality Type
Their introversion and sensitivity notwithstanding, INTJs are also J types. According to type theory, this means that they extravert their judgments (specifically, their thinking judgments), which is why they are often viewed by others as blunt and opinionated. Because INTJs don’t shy away from firmly and directly expressing their judgments and convictions, we can see why many might test as assertives (e.g., INTJ-A).
Although INTJs may lack some measure of social confidence, especially when it comes to things like making small talk, they are typically quite confident in their intellectual capacities. Thus, whenever a conversation turns to matters of knowledge or theory, the INTJ feels at home and ready to engage. Even INTJ adolescents aren’t afraid to chime in on adult discussions if they feel they have something of value to contribute. Assuming INTJs have acquired knowledge or thought deeply about a given topic, they know they can add something worthwhile to a conversation. For similar reasons, INTJs tend to do well in interviews, drawing on their knowledge and intuition to produce insightful responses.
In light of the above, we can see why INTJs might test as either the INTJ-T or INTJ-A personality type. We can also see why the addition of the T or A variable may do little to further our understanding of INTJs. The A element, in particular, seems to overlap significantly with the J preference (at least with respect to verbal assertiveness) and therefore verges on being redundant or superfluous.
If you want to learn more about INTJs, you’ve come to the right place. We have written extensively about INTJs, including penning one of the most frequently referenced INTJ articles on the internet: our in-depth INTJ profile.