INTP (TiNe) 8 Cognitive Functions Explained
by Lisa Sparrow
By definition, INTP cognitive functions are introverted thinking, extraverted intuition, introverted sensing, and extraverted feeling.
Let’s face it—if you’re like most INTPs, you’re probably not quite satisfied with this answer.
After all, Architects seek to gain a thorough understanding of any topic. Naturally, knowing the names of these cognitive functions isn’t nearly enough to satisfy your curiosity.
Well, if you’re looking for INTP cognitive functions explained in a comprehensive way, we’ve got you covered!
In this article, we’ll analyze the INTP cognitive function stack through and through, including their primary and shadow functions, Architect personality development phases, and more.
What Are Cognitive Functions?
In personality typology, cognitive functions refer to the eight distinct inner processes that define the preferences and typical behaviors of each personality type.
In other words, cognitive functions explain how people with a specific personality type usually engage with the world, solve problems, make decisions, act under stress, and so on.
Cognitive functions can be split into two categories:
- Perceiving functions, which determine whether you prefer to interact with the world and take in information through your physical senses (sensing) or intuitive insights (intuition)
- Judging functions, which primarily define whether you make decisions based on tangible data, logic, and facts (thinking) or feelings or values (feeling)
Cognitive functions can also be extraverted or introverted. Extraverted functions are easily observable, as they are focused outward. Introverted functions, meanwhile, often can’t be seen with the naked eye because they are focused inward.
Nonetheless, everyone uses both introverted and extraverted cognitive functions regardless of their preference for extroversion or introversion. That said, every personality type has primary and shadow functions. While the primary ones are the strongest and used most often, shadow functions are usually unconscious and underdeveloped.
The 4 Primary INTP Cognitive Functions
Now, let’s take a closer look at the INTP cognitive function stack, which consists of the following primary functions:
- Introverted thinking (Ti)
- Extraverted intuition (Ne)
- Introverted sensing (Si)
- Extraverted feeling (Fe)
Introverted Thinking (Ti)
Introverted thinking is the dominant INTP function that involves internally dissecting, analyzing, and systematizing data.
Simply put, INTPs are analytical individuals who deconstruct and evaluate information to develop a logical understanding of it. This also means that they have a logical approach to decision-making, valuing rationality over feelings.
Thanks to Ti, INTPs possess a thirst for knowledge and truth. However, they aren’t satisfied with simply collecting information—they want to understand it in its entirety. Most INTPs don’t stop researching, analyzing, and pondering about things until they fully make sense to them. As you might have guessed, these truth-seekers aren’t afraid to ask questions!
Besides that, Ti makes INTPs excellent problem-solvers. When facing a problem, they’ll usually take it apart, analyze each aspect of it, and come up with a logical solution. Whether they’re philosophizing or solving problems, deductive reasoning comes easily to them.
Also, since Ti is focused inward, INTPs tend to be independent thinkers. They think critically and thus can be rather skeptical if something doesn’t align with their logic and understanding. Usually, they’re open to people’s ideas and enjoy exploring them, but they aren’t influenced by other opinions unless they resonate with them.
Extraverted Intuition (Ne)
As the auxiliary INTP cognitive function, extraverted intuition works hand in hand with Ti to help Architects develop a thorough, logical, and consistent understanding of the world.
While Ti is focused on taking ideas apart, Ne is all about taking them in. Essentially, this cognitive function feeds their dominant Ti with theoretical possibilities, concepts, and ideas that they can then analyze. Since Ne is highly expansive, it calls INTPs to consider things their Ti might’ve missed and fills in the gaps in their internal framework.
Also, Ne is especially helpful when it comes to solving problems. This INTP cognitive function causes Architects to ask “But what if…?”, “What else am I missing?”, and other similar questions. In turn, it helps them spot logical flaws in their solutions and improve them. Not only that—it encourages creative thinking and brainstorming, which is why INTPs are so innovative!
Introverted Sensing (Si)
In short, introverted sensing is mainly concerned with routine, the past, familiarity, and interoception, or the body’s internal sensations. Since this is the tertiary INTP cognitive function, Architects aren’t too focused on these things—but neither are they oblivious to them.
As dominant Ti users, INTPs are prone to getting lost in thought and can spend hours researching different topics without taking a break. As a result, they might skip meals, miss out on sleep, and so on, whether intentionally or not.
However, healthy and well-developed Si will not only help them become more aware of their physical needs but also prevent them from pursuing their Ti interests at the expense of their health. In other words, at its best, Si can help INTPs take better care of their physical well-being.
Besides that, tertiary Si also works like mental storage. It’s filled with memories, past experiences, and other useful information they can easily recall whenever needed. Because of this, INTPs aren’t likely to make the same mistake twice.
Not to mention, despite their forward-thinking nature, tertiary Si enables them to find comfort in things—music, meals, you name it—that remind them of positive past experiences, much like INFPs.
Extraverted Feeling (Fe)
Extraverted feeling is the inferior INTP cognitive function, which means that it’s relatively weak. It is focused on universal values, social harmony, and other people’s feelings.
Contrary to popular belief—and countless INTP memes—Architects aren’t emotionless. They simply prefer to focus on logic above emotions. In fact, they are more than capable of experiencing deep, intense feelings, but they usually keep them to themselves. Nonetheless, they may feel uncomfortable in situations that require too much emotional input.
For example, most INTPs will notice when someone needs emotional support but struggle to provide it. No matter how much they want to help, they might feel awkward. Since they aren’t emotionally expressive, they may get trapped in their heads or resort to what they know best—trying to rationally fix the situation—even if all the other person needs is a hug.
On top of that, some INTPs also struggle to handle their own emotions and, in turn, repress them or blow up, while others might not realize how their words and actions affect others until it’s too late. In any case, developing Fe is a sure-fire way for INTPs to improve their relationships and emotional health!
The 4 Shadow INTP Cognitive Functions
Now that we’ve covered the primary INTP personality type cognitive functions, let’s briefly discuss their shadow functions. These include:
- Extraverted thinking (Te)
- Introverted intuition (Ni)
- Extraverted sensing (Se)
- Introverted feeling (Fi)
Extraverted Thinking (Te)
Generally speaking, extraverted thinking is focused on execution and efficiency. Unlike Ti users, Te users typically aren’t interested in how things work as long as they work. For INTPs, such an attitude may seem overly simplistic. Consequently, they might struggle to get along with strong Te users, especially if these individuals try to limit or rush their analytical process.
Sometimes—especially when others try to impose their will on them—INTPs can become stubborn and insist on doing things a certain way. More often than not, this “my way or the highway” mentality is a manifestation of their Opposing Role function. That said, Te can also push INTPs to test their theories out in real-life situations, so it isn’t always negative.
Introverted Intuition (Ni)
Unlike Ne, introverted intuition has a clear vision and sticks with one option instead of brainstorming multiple possibilities. In the critical parent position, however, Ni can manifest in rather negative ways. Usually, this happens when INTPs feel ashamed for being scatter-brained, directionless, or distractable.
It isn’t uncommon for INTPs to take such negative feedback to heart and turn it against themselves, as their critical parent function is focused inward. They might criticize themselves for being overly disorganized, easily distracted, or unable to follow through. Alternatively, INTPs may find dominant Ni users— INTJs and INFJs—stubborn and narrow-minded.
Extraverted Sensing (Se)
Extraverted sensing is one of the least developed INTP cognitive functions. As such, Architects are typically detached from their surroundings, sometimes to the point where they might not notice that their room is messy until someone points it out. They may also have little interest in their physical appearance, opting for comfort and functionality (Si) instead of style (Se).
Since Se is their blind spot, most INTPs aren’t interested in sports. It doesn’t help that they often feel awkward or clumsy while engaging in physical activities, too. On top of that, INTPs might find SP personality types shallow or immature. However, hanging out with them can help INTPs get in touch with their Se, learn to enjoy the moment, and let go of overanalyzing.
Introverted Feeling (Fi)
Since introverted feeling is the weakest INTP cognitive function that lies deep in their unconscious mind, it rarely, if ever, rises to the surface. However, when INTPs are under immense stress or feel deeply ashamed of themselves, their demon Fi might become activated.
Fi is arguably the most subjective function, whereas INTPs value objectivity to the point where they aren’t usually aware of their personal values and beliefs. So, when they operate using their demon Fi, they aren’t just uncomfortable—they’re beyond baffled. Desperate to figure out what truly matters to them, INTPs may get stuck in a thought loop without arriving at any conclusions.
How Do INTP Cognitive Functions Affect Personality Development?
By now, you should have a better understanding of the INTP cognitive functions.
However, one thing you might not know is that they aren’t set in stone—like our personalities, cognitive functions gradually develop throughout our lives.
With that in mind, let’s analyze the three main personality development phases!
First Personality Development Phase
The first personality development phase starts in childhood and involves the development of the dominant INTP function—Ti.
Although INTP children seem detached, they’re very interested in learning about the world. It’s hard to ignore their curiosity and their emerging tendency to think critically—these kids question everything! And yes, that means that they won’t listen to their parents unless they thoroughly explain why they should.
Second Personality Development Phase
This personality phase begins roughly during adolescence and usually lasts until INTPs enter their 30s or fully develop their auxiliary function, Ne.
As their Ne becomes stronger and more influential, INTPs usually become more fascinated by and open to various ideas. While some may take advantage of them and even appear more extroverted than usual, others will take this time to learn new things and develop strong research skills.
They may also do exceptionally well in school, but only if they like their teachers’ teaching methods and are encouraged to ask questions.
Third Personality Development Phase
Since integrating tertiary and inferior cognitive functions is a rather long and complicated process, not all INTPs complete the third personality development phase. However, those who do will reap the fruits of their efforts for years to come!
Simply put, integrating Si enables INTPs to confidently count on their past experiences when making decisions, which can make this process more efficient. They may also improve their health and become more observant and attentive to their environment.
Meanwhile, developing and integrating Fe can help INTPs improve their relationships and find balance between rationality and emotions, which ultimately leads to a happier, more harmonious life.
How Do INTPs Interact in Different Relationships?
Since INTP cognitive functions shape Architects’ personality traits and behavior, it shouldn’t be surprising that they also impact their relationships.
So, let’s briefly discuss what kind of parents, friends, and partners INTPs make.
INTPs as Parents
As parents, INTPs are usually fairly laid-back. While they’re involved in their children’s lives, they aren’t strict or controlling, preferring to give them plenty of freedom. More than anything, they want their children to grow up into independent adults who have a mind of their own. As such, they’re happy to guide them through life without imposing their views or will upon them.
While INTP parents are excellent at helping their children solve problems, they might struggle to attend to their children’s emotional needs due to their inferior Fe. Luckily, they don’t usually mind a challenge, so it isn’t uncommon for Architects to get in touch with their sensitive side and emotionally mature alongside their children.
INTPs as Friends
As introverts, INTPs usually have a small circle of friends, often consisting of just a few like-minded people. Although they seem shy and aloof due to their Ti, their friends might tell a different story—after all, INTPs show their quirks only to those they fully trust!
To tell the truth, INTPs don’t find many people interesting. So, if they choose you as a friend, you can rest assured they’ll spare no effort to make the friendship work. Also, they’ll likely want to learn everything about you, so be prepared for a flood of questions!
As Ti-Ne users, INTPs get along best with people who don’t take themselves too seriously, enjoy intellectual conversations, and keep up with their witty banter without taking it personally.
INTPs as Romantic Partners
Since INTPs generally enjoy solitude, they don’t usually enter romantic relationships unless they’re completely smitten by someone.
Oftentimes, they choose partners that can stimulate them intellectually, make them laugh, and aren’t overly emotional. As Ti users, they appreciate people who can discuss their opinions, feelings, and expectations clearly and logically.
On top of that, INTPs need plenty of time and space to pursue their interests. For this reason, they usually build romantic relationships with independent people who don’t limit their freedom.
And that’s all you need to know about the INTP cognitive functions!
This was a lot to take in, so, before you leave, let’s summarize what we’ve learned:
- Cognitive functions are psychological processes that primarily define how different personality types take in information and make decisions.
- The primary INTP cognitive functions are dominant Ti, auxiliary Ne, tertiary Si, and inferior Fe.
- The INTP cognitive function stack develops gradually and reaches completion once all four primary functions become fully integrated.