ISTP - The Realist
Profile by Sandra Krebs Hirsch and Jean Kummerow
ISTPs are realists who apply expediency and reasoning as they manage and adapt to situations. They are aware of what is going on in the environment and are able to respond quickly to the actual facts, making sure the odds of success are in their favor. They do not like to be tied down and will feel hamstrung when they must operate within tight structures and schedules. They are able to anticipate immediate, practical needs in situations and to present a logical, straightforward plan for meeting those needs. They are at their best in situations that require immediate attention.
ISTP children want life to be logical, flexible and action oriented. While they like hands-on activities, they also may want to stand aside and observe what is taking place. They are especially observant of what makes things tick and may take apart a toy to see its inner workings. They are curious and are great gatherers of data and detail. They rarely forget what they have noticed about places and things. They are aware of flaws and try to correct them. ISTP children become very absorbed in their hobbies.
ISTP teenager may have several close friends but generally are not social butterflies. They relate to others by sharing detailed information about one of their interests or sharing in physical activities that involve a measure of risk. They like sports in which they can challenge themselves and master specific techniques and strategies.
As young adults, ISTPs tend to follow a path of least resistance when thinking about their careers. They usually don't like planning ahead because they think that things don't turn out like the plan. They relax their brain while everyone else is busy using theirs to plan.
ISTPs are pragmatists and gamblers who play each hand as it is dealt. As a result, they are able to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. In adult life, ISTPs are fairly laid back and mellow. They do not impose much structure on themselves or others. Because they retain and use detail for logical ends, they are often recognized by their employers as people who do well with the careful and precise understanding of factual data.
Most ISTPs, when questioned about their careers, reveal that they would love to have more time and income to pursue their interests full-time. Because retirement may allow ISTPs to further pursue their work as well as leisure interests unhampered by time demands, it is a very desirable state for them. If their work is interesting, they may resist retirement because their work is a key element in their lives. When their work does not provide them with enough enjoyment and challenge, they may try to arrange things so that they can retire early and thus obtain more time to enjoy their leisure pursuits.
ISTPs learn best when they can observe first-hand in a one-to-one situation. They are particularly fond of subjects that have a logical basis; mastering certain rules or principles allows them to efficiently work with the subject matter. They like individual projects that require them to solve problems systematically.
ISTPs prefer to learn alone, at their own rate and in their own time frame. Because they are able to assimilate a great amount of detail in areas that interest them, they usually do well in those areas. ISTPs earn their best grades when it is necessary to accurately report facts and data. They are impatient with theorectical subjects and like their learning to be directed toward concrete and practical outcomes.
Teachers are not particularly important to ISTPs in the overall scheme, unless they can show ISTPs how to do things more easily. When the teacher obstructs or gets in the way of something ISTPs want to learn, they may ignore or go around the teacher. The formal or traditional school setting is not as important to ISTPs as is the opportunity to increase their own practical knowledge. Nontraditional programs or approaches often attract ISTPs, especially when they can learn about things that they see as vital and central to their interests.
At work, ISTPs contribute their realistic and logical way of meeting situational requirements. They can see the easiest and most expedient route to completing a task, and they do not waste their effort on unnecessary things. They often act as trouble shooters, rising to meet the needs of the occasion. Since many ISTPs have a natural bent in technical areas, they may often function as 'walking encyclopedias' of technical information.
ISTPs prefer a work setting that is project oriented and unconstrained by rules. They want a chance to be active, independent problem solvers. They do not like routing but want the opportunity to be somewhat inventive in meeting current needs.
The ISTP organizing style is based on expediency and quick application of information. They often organize their hobbies or collections and make a game of finding the best way to arrange things.
ISTPs prefer flexibility and impersonal dealings with others. Because they often have a technical orientation, they prefer to work in an environment that produces a practical product. They pay attention to the organization's hierarchy only to the point of learning how to bypass or go around it if it stands in their way. ISTPs may have mastered the details of the organization but may rebel if it is too rigid.
Carpenter, construction worker, dental hygienist, electrical engineer, farmer, mechanic, military personnel, probation officer, steel worker, transportation operative, and other occupations that allow them to use their ability to act expediently are generally attractive to an ISTP.
The ISTP leadership style is one of leading through action, by setting an example. They respond quickly when trouble is at hand. They operate logically from their internal ruling principles. They give their staff the necessary information to do their jobs, allowing them to complete their work in their own fashion. They prefer to be managed loosely and with minimal supervision, and they manage others in a similar fashion.
The opportunity to pursue their interests is very important to ISTPs. They will do what it takes to have the time and money to accommodate their leisure-time pursuits. ISTP leisure activities often have a physical and risk-taking aspect to them. ISTPs get deeply involved in their activities, adding new ones when boredom sets in, finding that one interest may lead to another. Often interests begun in childhood, such as stamp collecting, cooking, and chess, are maintained throughout their lifetimes. ISTPs retain detail accurately and often use their spare time to learn more facts.
For the ISTP, love means being responsive yet realistic. ISTPs seek partners who either are willing to allow them to have their necessary freedom or who will participate in these activities with them. They may introduce their partners to their interests if they are ones that they want to share. When this is the case, they will acquaint their loved one with all the facts and details of their interest.
When falling in love, ISTPs are very attentive to small things that might be enjoyed by their partners, surprising them with those particular gifts. They would rather show their feelings through their actions than verbalize them. They are not likely to discuss their feelings about their relationships with their partners because they believe that the experiences that they have had together will speak for their feelings. Feelings are discuss only when necessary.
When scorned, ISTPs are not likely to share hurt feelings with the external world. If the couple still has some interests in common, ISTPs may maintain the relationship with the loved one, but on a different plane. They do not give up easily on their relationships, however, unless the weight of the factual evidence convinces them to do so. When the relationship is actually over, they are usually not vindictive. They see the end of the relationship as a concrete fact about which it does little good to worry. They can therefore move on to new experiences.
Profile by David Keirsey
The action orientation of the ISTPs will not be as apparent as it is in the ESTPs and the ESFPs; nonetheless, it is most assuredly there. ISTPs direct their action toward the factual and the practical. They are a joy to watch as they become involved in an activity. At such a time, they may work 36 hours at a stretch, never letting up until the activity releases them from its hold. Because of this, they can be found among the performing artists and the craft artisans. They are often successful in the building trades and in the technician occupations of scientific laboratories, tending to avoid service and clerical work. They make up about 6 percent of the general population, and the one word which best describes the ISTP is artisan.
The precision and tireless energy which ISTPs exhibit when focusing on a particular activity does not extend to their lifestyle in general. They are not interested in perfectionism in all areas and so may tolerate disorder in the general environment. They can even be somewhat on-again, off-again in their intense interests, which causes them to be seen, at times, as unpredictable and unstable, even impulsive. They are uneasy when not active and find sitting, reading, idle chatting, and the like uncomfortable. Time that stretches out ahead with no option to act raises the ISTP's anxiety. They are more content working on a project which interests them, but the interest is not in the project's outcome; rather, in its processes. Activity is the thing, an end in itself.
For ISTPs knowledge for the sake of knowledge is not as important as the use of knowledge in providing a foundation for activity. They are not particularly interested in acquiring advanced levels of education through formal channels, preferring to gain expertise through experience and action. In recreation, they are involved in sports, either as participant or spectator or both. Probably 50 percent of the surfers are ISTPs, for surfing requires a willingness to perfect a performance and a tolerance for solitude.
ISTPs respond to the challenge of complicated equipment that provides action. For example, large trucks, earth movers, and construction machinery are apt to fascinate an ISTP. They also find their need for excitement and action met in such occupations as surgery, electronics, car racing, bicycle racing, daredevil acts, acrobatics, athletics, and the like. Surely the gunslinger of yesterday and the hit man of today draw their great virtuosos from the ISTP pool. Outstanding craftsmen are also apt to come from this type-for example, the sculptor, the wood carver, the furniture maker, the cabinet maker, the tile maker, the weaver, and the rug maker.
ISTPs enjoy solitude: and their ties with others can be somewhat superficial because they tend to connect with others through activities where body movement is involved rather than through face-to-face dialogue. Others sometimes find ISTPs distant and detached.
At midlife ISTPs may be at the point of developing outstanding expertise in their craft, and a shift away from this may not be productive. They may, however, want to work on expanding the extraverted, gregarious side of their personalities and may need to develop discipline in completing one project before beginning another.
The adventuresome artisan may seek out his opposite in the ENFJ "teacher." As noted previously, in the ENFJ he finds a catalyst to growth, certainly a complementary quality to his artisanship. There is nothing, however, in the nature of the ENFJ that is catalytic to the adventurer side of the ISTP's temperament. If this theme is dominant in the ISTP, then the ENFJ-ISTP mating is headed for trouble.
The ISTP is at least as attracted to the soothing, hosting, giving ESFJ. It takes the ESFJ "master of ceremonies" to get the ISTP off his motorcycle (surfboard, airplane, hang-glider) long enough to relate to others in more productive and facilitative ways. The ISTP needs this anchorage, else he wanders off into the frontier (when Horace Greeley said, "Go west, young man," the ISTP took him seriously and went!).