The Real ENTP

The Fake ENTP

ENTPs are random, ADHD assholes with a god complex. Every ENTP thinks (s)he’s the smartest, coolest, most powerful person on Earth and won’t shut up about it. They have random nonsensical ideas that can never work in the real world and they can’t focus on anything for more than thirty seconds unless someone threatens their pride. ENTPs are sociopaths and narcissists that can’t think about anyone else except themselves. ENTPs do nothing but make inane puns, brag, argue stupid stuff they don’t believe in, and pretend to make science doodads that everyone knows would never work in the first place. They’re annoying, unfriendly, and only entertaining in the drinking game sense of the word.

I may be a little biased here, but ENTP stereotyping is some of the cruelest I’ve ever encountered. ISFJs and ISTJs are underappreciated, and ENTJs are treated rather cruelly, but ENTPs, more than any other type, seem to be the butt of the mbti joke. The above picture is a great representation of the kind of mbti-flavored bullying we get. And, unlike with any of the other types, the ENTP stereotype accuses us of being the opposite of everything we want to be. It accuses us of being stupid, uninspired, inane, and worthless. It paints us as below everyone else. As dilettantes. As fakes.

The Real ENTP

ENTPs are surprisingly rare on television, and the few that exist tend to be grossly one-dimensional. Ferris Bueller is a rare well-rounded ENTP character and does an excellent job representing the type as a whole. Ferris is cogent and deliberate, has theories and insights on a wide array of topics. delights in characterizing others and predicting their behavior, and believes more than anything in pushing boundaries.

The ENTP stereotype that most confuses me is that we’re loquacious. In my experience, ENTPs rarely exhibit the kind of dominating chattiness with which we’re characterized; rather, we like to sit and analyze a conversation, then jump in if and only if we feel we have something to contribute. This may seem contrary to the notion of extraversion, and it is. The only extraverted aspect of our behavior is that when we are involved in a conversation, we like to be in control. Ferris Bueller only finds himself in the center of attention during the film, but note that he speaks slowly and deliberately. There’s no jumpiness, no hyperactivity. His ideas and speaking are refined, even when he makes connections (”I could be the walrus; I’d still have to bum rides off of people”).

ENTPs are also known for having a variety of good ideas on which they rarely follow through. This isn’t inaccurate, and constitutes one of our biggest self-criticisms. However, I would venture that the negative nature of this quality is a product of the society we live in. I believe our society is optimized for Judgers, and values productivity and goal-orientation over thought, perception, and expression. ENTPs serve an important purpose as quick analyzers and idea generators. In fact, these qualities make ENTPs excellent leaders; they can establish a vision for their team, find the right people, and empower them to be self sufficient. The ENTP is then free to generate ideas and delegate the execution of those ideas to choice members of the team, freeing them to anticipate the next frontier for the long-term team vision.

ENTPs are often accused of being impractical, but this is largely unfounded. As an ENTP I can vouch for how uncomfortable it is to have an idea but no idea of how it could be realized. However, ENTPs don’t much care for details, and won’t elaborate on the realization process, relying on more skilled experts to fill in the gaps.

And I feel compelled to mention the ENTP superpower: Systems Thinking. ENTPs are excellent at seeing the big picture, internalizing very complex interdependent systems, and boiling them down to their basic essence. In fact, the creation and optimization of these complex systems is one of the most enjoyable activities for an ENTP, and positions that afford them the opportunity for Systems Thinking will benefit the ENTP as much as the ENTPs aptitude will benefit the position.

Mistypings

Bear with me. There are FIVE mistypings for the ENTP. It’s bad guys. It’s bad.

ENTPs are most commonly mistyped as INTPs. In fact, I would say that ENTPs are more often typed as INTPs than as ENTPs. This is because ENTPs are not especially extraverted in the colloquial sense, as mentioned above. ENTPs need their alone time and can be happy for a long time without social contact. Moreover, we aren’t always talkative in social situations. What makes us extraverts behaviorally is that, when we are involved in a conversation, we like to be in control. The other, more important, mbti reason we are extraverts is that we lead with Ne. Ideas, vision, and elegance are more valuable to us than mere verisimilitude. In math, for example, we’ll scorn an ugly equation, even if it’s accurate, vying for a model or perspective that lends a more elegant solution. INTPs, on the contrary, just want to find the truth, regardless of elegance. Intuition is merely a means to analyze the world rather than a virtue in its own right.

ENTPs have a rarely matched passion for learning, and, under the right conditions, will excel spectacularly in school. These ENTPs, though less common than the ENTPs that do poorly in school, can be seen as studious, organized, diligent people, and these qualities scream J to the ignorant, causing the studious ENTPs to be mistyped as ENTJs. There are many differences between ENTJs and ENTPs, but most notably, ENTPs care about ideas more than anything. We love to explore new perspectives and think abstractly. Think about the ENTP superpower. ENTJs, on the other hand, have a different superpower. Their well-known superpower is their executive talent, their ability to organize large events and logistics with lots of moving parts. ENTJs will think about the whole system too, but don’t delight in the abstract. ENTJs delight in results.

Male/Female stereotypes create a big problem in mbti, because people often fail to attribute female behaviors to environmental factors and social influences, instead assuming those behaviors are the result of a strong feeling function. The same goes for male feelers mistyped as thinkers. The difference between an ENTP and an ENFP is that ENTPs are more excited by logic, analysis, and theory. ENFPs, on the other hand, are more excited by ethics, inspection, and philosophy. Both types will have a variety of disparate passions, both types will be intelligent, analytical, and insightful, and both types will have a passion for learning. However, thinkers believe that conclusions can be reached and that things are fundamentally similar, while feelers believe that there are some problems that cannot be answered and that things are fundamentally unique. Because of this ENTPs will attempt to come up with theories that apply universally, and will insist that universal truths exist. ENFPs, on the other hand, will advocate for analysis on a case-by-case basis and insist that a large number of individual factors must be considered to come to any meaningful conclusion.

One of the most interesting mistypes for the ENTP is the INTJ. INTJs and ENTPs are incredibly similar on a number of levels because they share the same function stack. They have the same values, the same general thinking style, the same tendencies and distinguishing mannerisms, the same world-view… what separates them is the specific method of cogitation. INTJs lead with Ni, a patient function which takes its time to fully digest a problem before venturing any solutions or ideas. This patience also allows Ni to make long distance connections to ideas and events learned long ago. Lead Ne in ENTPs, however, is not patient. ENTPs will dive right into a subject and immediately begin to ideate an theorize. They generally prefer to make internal connections and reference ideas and facts that have been relevant in the past month or so. The long term connections they do make, they make with Ti. These connections are very different from Ni’s shower-thought epiphanies; Ti stores information rigid collections of abstract attributes, while Ni stores information as a lose, spanning network of associations and relationships. INTJs also have executive skills and can enjoy project planning and execution of goals, while ENTPs are usually averse to this type of thinking. This attribute also causes INTJs to exhibit finishing-anxiety, while ENTPs have no trouble dropping a project as soon as it becomes boring.

The single most aggravating mistyping, however, is as INFPs. I don’t fully understand why this mistyping exists, but I’ve seen it many times. I would venture that it happens as a mix of ENFP and INTP, but that would suggest that it happens disproportionately more to females, while, in fact, it seems to be more common among male ENTPs. There are a couple factors that I think connect the ENTP and the INFP personality types: both are creative, both have very independent value systems, and both really enjoy psychology. So I imagine the non-psychopathic ENTP males with an exceptional penchant for psychology would type as INFPs. However, this is also not supported by data. One such ENTP I know who was repeatedly mistyped as INFP has Asperger’s and is known for his callous disregard for the feelings of others. Moreover, he has a distaste for psychology and for the nature of other people’s minds entirely. I have absolutely no idea why this mistyping happens, but it does. So watch out for it, I guess… can’t really help beyond this.