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ENTP, or Extroverted iNtuitive Thinking Perceiver

is a label borrowed from MBTI nomenclature and now applied to the Jungian Cognitive Function set {Ne, Ti, Fe, Si}.

What Is Personality Type

What Is Personality Type

Dominant: Extroverted iNtuition (Ne)

"I need to be doing something interesting as often as I can possibly find something interesting to do. I need a lot of stimulation and I tend to get bored quickly with things that are repetitive or easy to figure out. I really like making up my own approaches to things, doing things my own way, figuring out how things work by experimenting on my own and putting different pieces together until they turn into something meaningful...or at least something novel. I can find humor in a lot of places other people wouldn't necessarily see it, and I enjoy being able to entertain people with my knowledge and various talents. I think I work best when I'm given an open-ended assignment where I can suggest a lot of different possibilities, or connect different ideas together to come up with something better than what was there before. Sometimes I'm so busy thinking about different ideas for changes that I lose sight of practical concerns--it's easy for me to get caught up in the moment and forget about the needs of others around me, although I do actually care about my friends and family a lot more than more than my behavior sometimes suggests. I can get distracted easily, because the most exciting thing for me is always pursuing some kind of new experience or project. I really dislike it when people insist on following traditions or rules that I can't see any good reason for. Occasionally I even upset people without meaning to--sometimes I have trouble understanding why people seem to get upset so easily. I just can't be content living with things as they are if I can think of a better way to approach them. Why accept mundane repetition when you can find ways to make life more interesting?"

Although their positive qualities are often grossly exaggerated by popular type profiles (you'll see them described as "unique", "clever", and "visionary"), ENTPs are characterized primarily by their desire to create this kind of impression on others. (Whether or not it's actually true will vary greatly from individual to individual, but apparently, it's worked well on most people who have written ENTP profiles.) The other primary aspect of their cognitive approach is one that's common to all four ExxP types: an exploratory attitude that focuses predominantly on taking in the greatest quantity of new external information possible. Learning and expanding takes priority over all else, often at the expense of important practical concerns. On typology forums, ENTPs often earn a well-deserved reputation as trolls, not because they want to hurt anyone (in most cases), but more often because their desire to experiment with their external environments in order to generate novel and interesting results outweighs their (often weak) concern for the feelings of others. Like ESTPs, they rarely take issue with poking and prodding others for reactions, especially when they think people are being too uptight, but Ne tends to focus more on putting people in unfamiliar situations in order to explore the patterns in their responses, as opposed to Se's focus on creating an immediate sensory spectacle. Needless to say, this tendency can result in some rather unfortunate social and interpersonal consequences, leading to the common difficulty xNxP types often face in deciding between introversion and extroversion. The more they experiment on people and receive negative results, the more ENTPs will learn to be more cautious in their early interactions with new people. Because dominant Ne can never really be sure if its peculiar brand of humor will entertain, upset, or simply confuse new people, Ne dominants (and especially ENTPs) often develop less immediate social ability than other extroverted types. In many cases, it can become a difficult chore to differentiate between ENTPs and INTPs in this regard, hence the ENTP reputation for being "the most introverted extrovert."

As with all Pe dominant types, many ENTPs face serious difficulty when it comes to accepting and dealing with anything they find boring or uninteresting. Most are not above cutting corners to avoid repetitive tasks, develop shortcuts to make practical responsibilities easier or less relevant, or simply experiment with methodology to look for new approaches. Whether or not these experiments produce any genuinely useful results is often a secondary concern behind whether they give the ENTP something new or otherwise novel to think about, some new system to toy around with and turn into something else. Dominant Ne operates most comfortably by casting a wide net out into the world and then sifting through whatever happens to come up. Like their ENFP brethren, ENTPs are typically most at home in environments where they can generate large numbers of new possible options, but they tend to falter and tire quickly when required to evaluate those options and select the most effective choice for moving forward. As long as something still exists primarily as an idea or concept, as long as it hasn't yet reached the concrete implementation stage, it's still open to any number of theoretical changes, rewrites, and unexpected positive developments. Often, the process of nailing down a precise course of action threatens dominant Ne's desire for infinite open-endedness and freedom to change its external approach abruptly on a whim. Young ENTPs, especially, may have chronic issues with the classic Ne dilemma: the real material world is rarely as exciting as the possibility of change contained in a theoretical problem that hasn't yet been nailed down. Once an idea takes concrete root in the real world of real things, its sense of infinite possibility for change is replaced by an impending sense of constrained creative freedom: the now-evident realistic limitations can quickly lead dominant Ne to lose interest and wander off to something less set in stone, where the promise of tackling something different still holds the allure of the unknown and unexpected.

It's important to remember that, despite relatively common social difficulties, ENTPs are still extroverts, and they still identify chiefly with the external object, thus leading them to require continual feedback and reassurace from others. While many ENTPs (especially the young ones) may fervently deny their dependence on using others as a springboard for their ideas, in truth they suffer the same problem that plagues many ENFPs: they often have no idea whether their ideas have any real merit until they receive feedback from others. On the plus side, this means ENTPs will rarely dismiss a problem until all possible avenues have been explored. ENTPs are often appreciated by others for their unusual approaches and refusal to do things the conventional way--this can have some incredible benefits in situations where creative freedom is rewarded, and it's important for most ENTPs to place themselves in situations where they can utilize this attitude for positive gain. They'll rarely dismiss potential approaches without at least trying them, and they often have a gift for helping others to explore the possibilities of their own new frontiers, which can often endear them to others and help to provide the continual positive feedback they thrive on. On the downside, the desire to explore every possibility for exploration's sake alone can often eclipse the more important goal of setting a concrete objective and determining the most effective methodology for completing it. It's no secret that many ENTPs have difficulty finishing things--the excitement of jumping into and intuitively exploring a new project often gets the better of them.

Auxiliary: Introverted Thinking (Ti)

"It's easy for ENTPs to get caught up in the thrill of change and experimentation with no real clear objective besides binging on new information and imagining ways to create relationships between unrelated external information. When an experiment ceases to provide new or interesting results, it's all too often discarded in the ongoing search for the potential of something better. In this way, dominant Ne seems to epitomize the saying, "The grass is always greener on the other side." While dominant Ne may bestow many ENTPs with a number of creative gifts responsible for their reputation as exuberant innovators (not the least of which is the oft-vaunted ability to simplify complex ideas into much clearer terms by relating them to similar concepts), it's important to recognize the limitations on a mindset that depends essentially on throwing darts in random directions until something interesting happens. Without a clear structure, principle, or direction by which to derive meaning, the ENTP may lose himself in mindless wandering and neglect to complete the aspects of projects that don't excite his sense of possibility.

Here we enter the vital role of auxiliary Ti: a subjective, grounding sense of ordered meaning that grants form and conceptual purpose to Ne's insatiable taste for the unknown. On a basic level, Ti allows the ENTP to define and rationalize his own sense of causal reasoning, to decide upon the rules by which he will judge the presence of meaningful consistency in everything he attempts to grasp. As Ti develops its methodology and approach to systematizing and categorizing the constant inflow of information, Ne will begin to explore for a genuine purpose, to internalize the causality and implied meaning of its forays. Development of Ti is crucial to the ENTP's true self-actualization: though they may appear wildly confident (even overconfident) to outsiders, ENTPs develop most of their true self-confidence through Ti. It adds a sense of appreciation for grasping and fully categorizing the nature of self, creating an overarching sense of the reasoning and integrity of ideas and structural concepts. While it can suffer stubbornness when of its principles is violated, Ti serves the important purpose of reminding the ENTP that she can't always find every answer with another experiment. Continual analysis and correction of the "internal model" will occur as the ENTP gains more experience with an ever-growing number of new ideas and conceptual associations. Ti functions as an internal litmus test for the validity (and by extension, virtue) of any idea, person, design, or concept. Without it, the ENTP is utterly at the mercy of the opinions and perceptions of everyone on whom he depends for validation. He may cycle endlessly through different changes of environment only to find that the real change needed to come from within. With the development of Ti, the ENTP will develop a set of personal principles that, for once, do not depend on generating a reaction or response from the external environment. She will learn to do things for her own reasons instead of continually shifting with the tides of the approval and adulation of others.

On the downside, if auxiliary Ti is overapplied, the ENTP may begin to resemble a more outgoing and inflexible INTP, insisting on the correctness of his own reasoning and evaluation, but lacking the level of discernment and introspection that makes Ti a viable dominant function for INTPs. ENTPs who overestimate the objectivity of their own sense of logic may often find themselves alienating potential social contacts with an overwhelming sense of self-righteous insistence on the validity of their own values and reasoning. Their insistence on deriving causal principles from individual experience instead of objectively validated methodology is something of a double-edged sword: while they may avoid errors in framework-oriented reasoning derived from group-think, they sometimes end up spending tremendous amounts of time and resources exploring methods and forms of reasoning that, for good reason, have already been explored and dismissed by the greater community. The desire to form an unorthodox method derives as much from Ne's need to be viewed by others as unique and creative as it does from Ti's need to formulate frameworks of structural reasoning from an individualized perspective. Ironically, the harder he works to create the impression that his style is unique and unexpected (Ne), the more he shuts out established convention (Ti) in an effort to generate a perspective and approach which stands out from the crowd (Ne). Ideally, these two primary functions should inspire each other toward a balanced form of personalized developmental progress: Ne casts a net to find as much new information as possible, Ti arranges and organizes this data into meaningful blocks which follow its principles, and then Ne goes to work building new formations of the most recently created data blocks. Mastering the balance between these two processes is a vital component of the ENTP's fully actualized personality.

Tertiary: Extroverted Feeling (Fe)

When developed in a productive way, tertiary Fe allows ENTPs to begin learning to relate to others in terms of externalized moral judgment instead of simply in terms of creating interesting impressions and experimenting on others for reactions. With the development of Fe, the ENTP's characteristic blunt insensitivity will gradually give way to a more significant sense of familial and cultural responsibility. The people on whom the ENTP has depended for validation and feedback her entire life (often without realizing the extent of their importance) may suddenly strike her as far more meaningful and worthy of respect and admiration. Childish insistence on always being right and constantly seeking novelty will move aside in favor of a more realistic sense of the responsibilities of adult life as the needs, desires, and cultural beliefs of important people in the ENTP's life begin to strike him as genuinely meaningful and worthwhile. With Ti and Fe in place, a balance can be reached between living up to individual principles and fulfilling real-world expectations and obligations. The Fe-savvy ENTP understands how to integrate into the social and moral fabric of the people he values most--though reconciling his personal desires with the needs of others when he finds their beliefs unreasonable may be one of life's more difficult challenges.

Ideally, Fe development should occur once Ti recognizes that there is a valid and inherently consistent reason for collectivized moral judgment to arise and guide the structure of interpersonal relationships. Earlier in life, it's all too common for ENTPs to expect continual validation, encouragement, and attention from the people they find interesting, but without the balancing influence of Fe, they rarely recognize the imbalance between how much they take and how much they give to the people closest to them. When confronted with this disparity, it's not uncommon for tertiary Fe to spring into action and promote feelings of guilt and self-criticism, but the process of learning to correct this disparity is a vital part of developing adult relationships where ENTPs are willing and able to give as much as they often unconsciously take. Giving up the logical high ground may prove difficult for the young ENTP's ego to swallow, but it's a vital step toward personal balance that's responsible for a great deal of the gradual movement from pure hedonistic exploration toward a more well-rounded outlook and a serious understanding of and respect for the needs and sentiments of those close to them. Though they do tend to mature slowly in general, it's not uncommon to see abrupt and unexpected leaps in perspective in this area, especially when the ENTP admires or strives to emulate a close friend or family member with strong Fe. While most ENTPs tend to idolize other NPs in their search for identity, it's often useful for young adult ENTPs to develop close relationships with xxFJ types, as a number of important and growth-inspiring perspectives and interpersonal strategies can be garnered from this sort of interaction.

The emergence of tertiary Fe occurs at a pretty young age for most ENTPs; however, without the balancing influence of Ti (which may come much later for many), it tends to result in mostly negative applications. The NeFe loop ENTP exudes tremendous false confidence, but in reality has very few internal principles by which to check the opinions and perceptions of others against his own value system. He does lip service to a philosophy of integrity of independent thought, but in reality is a slave to the perceptions and expectations of others. He appears confident because he recognizes that confidence tends to favorably color the perceptions of others--or at the very least, provoke some sort of reaction, which will provide some form of feedback. This desire for novel reactions often combines with weak Fe's rudimentary awareness of what sorts of approaches will upset or offend people: the drive to experiment with people's reactions is there, but it lacks the nuance to grasp the real implications of what it's doing. The result is the classic ENTP question: "Why does everyone get upset so easily?" In reality, this is only partially true: often, it is the ENTP's own Fe mistakes that result in her interpersonal difficulties.

Of course, young ENTPs may also overestimate their own ability to avoid emotional influence, as is typical for many T types. Poor Fe may often result in the distortion of reasoning that occurs when someone the ENTP respects and admires comes into conflict with someone she doesn't: suddenly, unconscious interpersonal loyalties may override Ti's better judgment, resulting in a form of conformity the ENTP may not realize is intended to uphold her positive image with people she finds interesting and worthwhile. In many ways, Fe can contribute both positively and negatively to Ne's dependence on the approval of others. When applied in excess, this can undermine any sense of legitimate self-confidence; when applied in the right proportion, it grounds the ENTP with a much-needed awareness of interpersonal, moral, and social norms and standards.

Inferior: Introverted Sensation (Si)

A peculiar relationship seems to occur between ENTPs and their inferior attitude of introverted sensation. Si appears quite often during stressful periods and depressed burnouts, both brief and lengthy. As its attitude appears on the surface to completely contradict the doctrine of Ne, its insistence on preparedness and its dislike for unexpected surprises seem quite at odds with the way most ENTPs prefer to lead their lives. The idea that one should restrain oneself for the purpose of avoiding unexpected negative effects of change and experimentation strikes young ENTPs as bizarre and confusing. The wisdom in the phrase, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" may take years to occur to the ENTP, who makes it his business to "fix" everything just to create more opportunities to discover something different, broken or not. The practical value in generating more certainty and focusing on more complete and specific sensory internalization can feel so repetitive and uninteresting that its actual value can seem nearly incomprehensible.

As with all types, the inferior function is most typically unconscious, poorly developed, and unable to operate on a competent adult level in most situations. One common manifestation involves the dreaded Ne dominant burnout: when too much exploration too fast results in a string of difficult failures, inferior Si may actually develop a painful aversion to dominant Ne's treasured sense of exploratory freedom. By overextending in too many different directions at once, the inferior function can actually step in as a defense mechanism against the negative experiences of trying new things and failing too many times in a row with not enough reassuring successes (note the general dependence on external validation) to balance it out. The effects on the depressed ENTP's worldview can be catastrophic: frozen in place by fear of failure, Si may push his entire lifestyle into a risk-averse and sedentary mindset that shuts off the area of cognition which makes him feel most fulfilled. Blocking out new external information as a result, so-called "blow-ups" of inferior Si may lead the ENTP to retreat into familiar experiences where she can avoid the sting of failure by dumbing down the external challenge until she knows it will fit within her drastically reduced comfort zone. It's not uncommon to see ENTPs engaging in repetitive and simplistic problem-solving of issues they've mastered years before: when the stress of consistent failure overwhelms Ne's desire for more experimentation, Si takes over and temporarily forces a return to the known and established, the consistency of certainty.

In other cases, inferior Si may undermine dominant Ne by gripping the ENTP with an overwhelming fear that his situation will become permanently and irreversibly static. If not enough opportunites for innovation and external stimulation are provided, Ne's predictive ability and eye for forward trends can sabotage themselves: suddenly, the worst case scenario--total absence of change and stimulation--becomes an impending fear. Ne's worst fear, of course, is simply the loss of creative freedom, of forced adherence to a repetitive and predictable set of non-stimulating information. The more the ENTP fails to create new and challenging situations for herself, the more she becomes bound to her own self-fulfilling prophecy of repetitive failure to progress, dooming herself to a life of mundanity and destroying the spontaneous inspiration under which she feels most fulfilled.

On the positive side, however, Si should eventually fall into place as a safe anchor for Ne's limitless explorations. It takes a long time for most ENTPs to accept their own limitations and find their niche in life, but when this occurs, it's almost certainly related to the difficult but important development of the inferior attitude. As cognition gradually centers around a coherent identity, the ENTP should eventually recognize that, somewhat counterintuitively, working to establish more permanance and predictability can actually help appease his desire for constant change and stimulation. Once he recognizes that his desire for constant change can actually be interpreted as a need for a consistent form of experience, he can begin to appreciate Si's role as a practical counterweight to the wild unpredictability of Ne as a constant lifestyle. If one fails to establish any predictable level of permanency in life, practical concerns ultimately circumvent Ne's ability to achieve the level of novel creation it most deeply desires: without at least some rudimentary attention to the world of consistent expectations and comfort in repetition, the ENTP sabotages his own ability to maintain the high-stimulation lifestyle in which he feels most at home. With a little more attention paid to preserving the good things about the experiences they're accustomed to, ENTPs will finally gain the one thing they need most: appreciation for the little things they take for granted, and all the genuine satisfaction and self-confidence that accompanies it.

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