ISTP - David Keirsey


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!).


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