Most type guides only present the nice, vague, boring facts...
But they won't tell you that ENTPs are the type that can most accurately detect lies.
Or that a study found that ENTPs have the second lowest GPA of all types.
Or that ENTPs are one of the types least likely to smoke.
I love those warm fuzzy affirmations as much as the next guy, but if we don't know our true strengths and weaknesses, how can we chart our lives? I'd kind of like to know if my type was the most likely to have a low GPA, wouldn't you? Forewarned is forearmed. I'd also feel a lot more confident in my decision-making if I had actual numbers and statistics rather than just vague generalizations, i.e., "ENTPs like inventing things..."
Which is why I've compiled some of the fascinating research that other webpages either don't know about, don't care about, or just choose not to mention. Some of it will be great news, some of it will be disheartening news, and some of it will be just plain old weird. :) I hope this website will be useful to you.
A Few Small But Significant Caveats
As you read on, please bear in mind that none of this has to be a stereotype that rules your life. You're a unique individual with a unique background, and this description is simply a generalization based on statistics and averages. Don't take what you read here as limitations, but as an invitation to grow outside your core strengths. And especially don't be the annoying guy who uses this description as an excuse. You're better than that! :) Besides, why box yourself in? Type is a starting point, not an ending place. Enjoy it and then grow from it.
ENTPs are estimated at:
- 4.89% of the American population (sample size 9,320; Myers & McCaulley, 1985)
- 2.8% of the UK population* (sample size 1,634; Kendall & McHenry, 1998)
- 6.73% of the Australian population (sample size 3,373; Macdaid, McCaulley, & Kainz, 1986)
- 2.7% of the New Zealand population (sample size 993; Bathurst, 1995)
- 5.3% of the Singapore population (sample size 1,733; Lim, 1994)
ENTPs are a playful yet brainy type. Unconventional and perhaps even a bit zany, these Rationals have a flair for the dramatic and a sense of fun that makes them unique among the NTs.
A caveat. Isabel Myers (INFP) married a man named Chief, an ISTJ and a good man. They were happy together, but according to Isabel's own type theory they weren't predicted to be perfect for each other. Later on, Myers said that if she had known about type theory, she probably wouldn't have married Chief. Hm! There is a lesson to be learned here: type is not everything, nor should it be the decisive factor in choosing your lifemate. Take it from the founder of type herself.
Then too, the connections between type, attraction, love and marriage haven't been well studied yet. (The question is more complicated than you'd think.) You can read about this question and the various attempts to answer it here.
The Rational Temperament and Love
Do opposites attract? Tieger and Barron-Tieger (2000) found that Rational-Rational pairings have an average satisfaction rate of 59%. But in fact, Rational-Idealist pairings have an even higher satisfaction rate, namely 65%. (Note that this was the Rational rating for the pairing; Idealists rated the pairing at 64%).
What about the other temperaments? Guardians with a Rational spouse tended to have a 62% satisfaction rate, whereas Rationals with a Guardian spouse reported a 52% satisfaction rate.
As for the SPs, Artisans with Rational spouses tended to have a 73% satisfaction rate, while Rationals with Artisan spouses tended to have only a 54% satisfaction rate.
So are you confused yet? Let’s summarize.
- Rationals were 65% satisfied with Idealists.
- Rationals were 59% satisfied with Rationals.
- Rationals were 54% satisfied with Artisans.
- Rationals were 52% satisfied with Guardians.
But satisfaction between the temperaments was not equal. In fact, all the other temperaments rated the Rationals higher than the Rationals rated them (see below). Tieger and Barron-Tieger suggested that NTs may rate their partners lower than average since they tend to be the most critical temperament and set particularly high standards. This would tend to depress Rational scores more than would be reflected in reality.
Seen from a reverse perspective, here is how Rationals are viewed by the other temperaments:
- Artisans are most satisfied with Rationals (73%)
- Idealists are second most satisfied with Rationals (64%)
- Guardians are third most satisfied with Rationals (62%)
- Rationals are fourth most satisfied with Rationals (59%)
Isn’t this a fascinating mess of information? Let’s put it into context. Green = Guardian, Blue = Idealist, Purple = Artisan, and Teal = Rational.
- SJ x SJ 79%
- NF x NF 73%
- SP x NT 73%
- SJ x SP 71%
- NT x NF 65%
- NF x NT 64%
- SP x SJ 63%
- SJ x NT 62%
- SP x SP 59%
- NT x NT 59%
- SJ x NF 58%
- NT x SP 54%
- SP x NF 54%
- NT x SJ 52%
- NF x SP 51%
- NF x SJ 46%
Now, it is a mistake to generalize by temperament--it’s frequent that types will go counter-temperament, and temperament is not the definitive factor in explaining type-based behavior most of the time (CITE)--but since we don’t have anything better to go on...
Ever since Keirsey, a Rational himself, published Please Understand Me II in 1998, it has generally been accepted that the Idealists are the best partners for the Rationals. This appears to be true--at least from the Rational point of view. The Idealists, however, actually tend to be more satisfied with other Idealists, having a satisfaction rate of 73%.
But Rationals are the second favorite choice for the Idealists. Indeed, NF-NT and NT-NF satisfaction rates fell within 1 percentage point of each other--a very equal evaluation indeed. And if we accept the fact that Rationals tend to be overcritical and depress their perceived satisfaction, it may be that Rationals actually like Idealists even more.
This equality is in stark contrast to the SP-NT and NT-SP pairing. It appears that Artisans are delighted with Rationals, but Rationals are ambivalent about Artisans and Sensors in general. The Guardians for their part are simply not that satisfied with either Rationals or Idealists, but really go for other Sensors.
It would seem that for Rationals, the Idealists generally make the most satisfying temperament pairing. This is a generalization that may or may not apply to all Rational types.
One further thing that should be noted here is that the Rationals reported a narrow range of satisfaction compared to other types.
- Rationals: 52% - 65% (13 percentage points of difference)
- Idealists: 46% - 73% (27 percentage points of difference)
- Artisans: 52% - 73% (21 percentage points of difference)
- Guardians: 58% to 79% (21 percentage points of difference)
Compared to other types, the Rationals don’t seem to have much to lose if they make a random choice.
What is the Best ENTP Pairing?
One study found a slight preferential relationship between ENTPs and ISFJ Protectors. Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, this is one of the two "ideal" types predicted by Keirsey (1984) in the original version of "Please Understand Me." (In the next version of the book, he changed his theory in accordance with his new view that Intuition and Sensing should match up between partners for the best results, hence only the INFJs are listed.) The question is, do ENTPs choose ISFJs because they actually prefer them the most, or do they choose them because ISFJs are common and INFJs are rare? Commonality implies a wider variety of choices and better opportunities for good type development. Rarity implies less choice, and it is often harder for rare types to achieve good type development. Hence the supply of "good" ISFJs is much larger than the supply of "good" INFJs simply because there are more ISFJs than INFJs.
- Blog post on a happy ENTP/ISFJ relationship.
A better question is, how satisfied on average is the ENTP-ISFJ pairing? Frequency does not necessarily imply happiness; for example, the ESTJ-INFP pairing is more common than average, but also has a rather low satisfaction rating.
A study of type and relationship satisfaction found that ENTPs were the second most satisfied Intuitive type with their marriage/intimate relationship (Myers, McCauley, Quenk & Hammer, 1998). (Intuitives as a whole experienced less satisfaction than Sensors.)
ENTPs are life's pioneering entrepreneurs. This was confirmed by a study which found that ENTPs were the type that most liked the work environment characteristic "independence and achievements" and "Opportunities for advancement and high pay but not job security" (Myers et al., 1998). A study of 341 software technical professionals found that ENTPs and INTPs were the types most likely to choose to start their own business (Garden, 1997). The #1 adjective that non-type-saavy observers used to described female ENTPs was "enterprising" (Thorne & Gough, 1991).
Myers et. al's study (1998) found that ENTPs prized the work environment characteristics of "Variety of tasks" and "Independence and achievement" (both were liked by over 80% of the sample). They were also enamored about "International opportunites" more than most other types. Mitchell (1981) found that "Variety and challenge" was the strongest organizational value for ENTPs--they were the only type that significantly favored this. They also indicated liking for the value "Visible automony." A low value was "Happy family"--again, they were the only type that indicated this was a low value. (Note: these are organizational values. In terms of general values (Myers et al., 1998), ENTPs chose "Home/family" as their top value...followed by "Autonomy" and "Achievement." Every type save for the INTs put home/family first.)
There is a curious anomaly regarding the ENTP's choice of occupations. Hammer and Macdaid (1992) studied the type distributions for 200 occupations, then listed the top 50 occupations favored by each type. Then they compared each type's occupational preferences with those of the type's opposite, i.e. they compared the top 50 occupations chosen by ENTPs with the top 50 occupations chosen by ISFJs. The type/job comparisons had only about 2-6% in common--meaning that opposite types share very few occupational preferences. But the ENTP-ISFJ pairing was different. It yielded no less than 14% overlap--about two to three types as much as would be expected. What causes so much overlap? Are ENTPs a type that finds its way into a large variety occupations, perhaps in an entrepreneurial capacity? Perhaps they are scattered like pepper throughout all industries. Or is it something to do with the ISFJs? ENTPs tend to have their fingers in many pots...
A study of work satisfaction found that ENTPs were dissatisfied not so much with their company or future opportunities, but with the work they did (Myers et al., 1998). They were also the type most dissatisfied with the work aspect "Opportunity to use talents or training." Further dissatisfiers included "Promotions" (this was mentioned by almost every type except the ENTJs), "Salaries," and "Use talents." Again, the ENTPs were the only type that complained about "Use talents." The researchers noted that EPs are not too interested in trying to scale the corporate ladder; their tendency to buck the system and improvise doesn't seem to fit in with long-term career planning required to rise through the ranks. However, another person (who must remain anonymous thanks to my faulty memory) has suggested that ENTPs' long range vision may lead them to a seat on the board of directors, if they can learn to play within the system.
Whether at work or at home, ENTPs tend to work on multiple projects at a time (though they may not finish them!) Multitasking comes easily to this type, and they are happy to work unsupervised, pushing the limits of their job description.
According to Hammer (1993), occupational trends for ENTPs include Science, Management, Technology, and Arts.
And now, the bottom line. Yes, ENTPs are among the highest paid of all types (Myers et al., 1998). And they are still dissatisfied with their salaries. You whiners.
(See "Play.") The leisure activity list that ENTPs were most overrepresented for was "Taking classes" (Myers et al., 1998).
However, Hart (1991) found that ENTPs frequently turned up in a high school remedial at-risk program. And another study found that they were one of the two types which most often violated a college's alcohol policy (Barrineau, 1997). The good news is that ENTP college students are among the least likely to smoke of all types (O'Toole, 1999).
Introverted types tend to do better on (solitary) aptitude tests such as SAT, ACT, and IQ tests than Extraverts. However, ENTPs seem to be the best of the Extraverts in terms of scores on aptitude tests (Myers et al., 1998). ENTPs also had the highest IQ in a sample of 133 8th graders (Mebane in McCaulley & Kainz, 1976) and a sample of 458 9th - 12th graders (McCaulley & Natter, 1974).
Despite this, a study performed over 9 years at a midsized, private undergraduate university found that ENTPs had the second lowest GPA of all types, only the ESTPs being lower (Dirienzo, Das, Synn, Kitts, & McGrath, 2010). The study also found that ENTP GPA varied by major.
Since the university had something like 40 different majors, the researchers grouped them into six groups:
- Communications majors (Communiations, Journalism)
- Business majors (Business Administration, Economics, Accounting)
- Education majors (Social Science Education, Math Education, Physical Education, Leisure Sports Management, Elementary Education, Middle Grades Education, Sports Medicine, Health Education, Music Education, Athletic Training, Science Education)
- Fine Arts majors (Art, Dance, English, French, Music, Music Performance, Music Theatre, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Spanish, Theater Arts, Theater Studies, Theater Design and Production)
- Social Sciences majors (Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, History)
- Hard Sciences majors (Engineering, Math, Chemistry, Biology, Computer Sciences)
ENTPs did not tend to flock to any particular category, nor did they avoid any particular category. But they did get different GPAs depending on the category in which they majored.
- ENTP GPA was 2.91 in Business (lower than average)
- ENTP GPA was 2.98 in Communications (lower than average)
- ENTP GPA was 3.00 in Education (lower than average)
- ENTP GPA was 3.00 in Social Sciences (lower than average)
- ENTP GPA was 3.14 in Fine Arts (average)
- ENTP GPA was 3.18 in Hard Sciences (average)
- Average ENTP GPA: 3.00 (lower than average)
So it seems that the areas of Fine Arts and Hard Sciences were most conducive to a good GPA among this sample of ENTPs.
ADHD Misdiagnosis Risk
It has been suggested by various people that ENTPs are at risk for being misdiagnosed with ADHD. Ms. Frizzle, the teacher who drives the Magic School Bus, embodies the ENTP idea of what school should be like--getting out there and having fun science adventures. This does not fit will with the current system, which emphasizes long periods of time spent silently in a chair watching a teacher talk. Specifically, the normal, expected ENTP behaviors that may to be attributed to a brain disorder include:
- Intuitives are not interested in "minor" details, unlike public school teachers, who are mostly Guardians and value details. "Failing to give close attention to details" is considered a criterion for ADHD; this rule appears to be a direct penalty on those with the Intuitive preference. ENPs in particular are known for being disinterested in details (Myers & McCaulley, 1985).
- As a type that is statistically more likely than average to be gifted, class may be too slow/repetitious to satisfy an ENTP's need for intellectual stimulation, resulting in boredom and escapist behaviors that may annoy the teacher and the ENTP's classmates.
Myers et al. (1998) found that ENTPs and ESTPs tied for having the lowest stress of all types. ENTPs were among the four most unstressed types for "Children," "Intimate relationship," "Health," "Care for aging parents," "Balancing home and work," and "Other." ENTPs did not even appear among the four types that were most stressed for any topic. Also, ENTPs were the type least likely to have heart disease or hypertension.
Since this type typically is so unworried, the researchers suggested that if an ENTP is stressed, it should be taken more seriously than for other types.
Myers et al. (1998) also described how ENTPs tend to respond to stress. One key finding was that ENTPs are the type most likely to confront their problem and also the type least likely to avoid stressful situations. They were also the third most likely type to use the coping strategies "try to think of options" and "exercise."
ENTPs were the type second least likely to talk to a professional, rely on religious beliefs, or develop physical symptoms. In addition, they were the type third least likely to use sleep as a coping mechanism.
Penley (2006) has noted that ENTP parents demonstrate a high energy style and challenge their children to learn new things and become self-sufficient.
Rules are not a big deal for this nonforming type; but while there may be few rules, all Rational parents tend to be rather stern, and they do not spare their offspring from the consequences of their poor choices (Keirsey, 1998).
Keirsey has also noted that NTP parents are the least likely to attempt to Pygmalion their children into little images of themselves. They may be uncertain of how to handle their children, however. As noted earlier, children were a low source of stress for ENTPs.
ENTPs are not one of the types for whom leadership is an end in itself. Rather, leadership is a position that must be shouldered in order to achieve other goals--such as bringing a creative vision to pass or opening up a new market. Most ENTPs are not too interested in the people aspect of leadership; this is normal for all NTs.
Keirsey (1998) has note that ENTPs (indeed, all NTPs) do not tend to give orders, i.e. "Do this," "Go here," or "Do not do this." Rather, they provide suggestions, information, or advice to those under their command. "It would be a good idea to do this because..." or "We need to get this done..." and "It's not a good idea to..." For this reason, Keirsey called the NTPs the Role Informatives.
ENTPs are favored for leadership when conditions are in flux; where there is a high degree of unpredictability, where creativity is often required; where change/organizational transformation must take place; and when opening a new frontier. Kroeger has pointed out that the current rapidly changing state of world affairs increasingly favors adaptable Perceiver leaders (CITE).
As the second most future-oriented type (see Foresight), ENTP leaders can be visionaries who see the world of tomorrow and their place in it. As for the daily details, they will probably do their best to designate these to others. ENTP bosses don't micromanage; they may, however, have issues following up on things.
In general, ENTPs would rather tell people what to do than how to do it. This may be frustrating for types who like clear, detailed instructions.
Many ENTPs have voiced the sentiment, "I lead because I don't like to follow."
According to a study of favorite leisure activities and type, ENTPs were overrepresented for the pastimes of "Taking classes," "Writing," "Appreciating art," "Playing sports," "Playing with computers or video games," and "Achievement/accomplishment very important" (in that order) (Myers et al., 1998). Only the ENFPs listed as many leisures pastimes; it would appear that ENTPs either devote more time to leisure than other types or else have a more varied range of leisure pastimes than other types. The #1 adjective that non-type-saavy people chose to describe male ENTPs was "pleasure-seeking" (Gough & Thorne, 1991).
The pastime that ENTPs were most strongly overrepresented for was "Taking classes." This is not surprising, since all the Rationals except the ENTJs also tended to like taking classes. (None of the other temperaments even considered "taking classes" to be a leisure activity at all.) ENTPs were also the only Rationals to list "Playing sports" and "Achievement/accomplishment very important" as favorite leisure activities. Otherwise, the items they chose were typical of the NT temperament.
ENTPs were underrepresented for the pastime of "Watching TV 3 hrs or more per day."
The literature is mixed as regards the personal appearance of ENTPs. Keirsey (1998) has suggested that the NTPs as a group care little for what people think of their personal appearance and will wear things that decidedly don't fit in with what society expects them to wear; he also notes that Rationals as a whole are rather disinterested in clothes. Tieger and Barron-Tieger (1998), however, argue that ENTPs are the Rational type most likely to wear the hottest clothes, drive the latest cars and generally lead a lavish, high-rolling lifestyle with matching physical possessions.
Looking through our list of fictional characters, Keirsey's description seems to fit better, though of course a list of fictional characters is a poor substitute for decades of clinical experience. Ms. Frizzle's bizarre themed outfits, the Doctor's peculiar, messy get up, Spider-man's lack of designer clothing (granted, he was poor)--this matches "Don't care what people think. I'll dress how I like" better than "I want to impress people." One thing that does stand out when we look at our fictional ENTPs is that they seem to choose flashy/noticeable--if not expensive or popular--clothing. For example, Starscream (a robot jet) had a paint job that was garish and bright, distinctive amidst a cast of characters that favored cool colors and shades of grey. Other characters chose giant scarves, outfits covered with starfish, conspicuous costumes and other eye-catching accontrements.
One fact that seems relevant here is that a study found that Extraverted Sensors comprised the top four types that most valued "prestige" (Myers et al., 1998). So where are the highly paid ENTPs and ENTJs? Shouldn't those who dress to impress value prestige?
I won't be covering type dynamics or cognitive functions here. Type junkies may be wondering why not, since Ne, Ti, Fe, and Si are widely considered to be characteristic of ENTPs. But there is doubt over whether the cognitive functions exist. You can read about it here.
Although many of the observations that have been explained by cognitive function theory are valid, many simply are not. I believe that cognitive function theory causes more confusion than it clears up--particularly in the all-important area of figuring out one's type. I just don't see much point in pouring more time and effort into a bucket so full of holes, and have opted to leave out this part of type theory.
ENTPs are one of the most future oriented types, at least in terms of real world goals. Harrison and Lawrence (1985) examined personal essays written by students about their future. It turned out that ENTPs projected their lives forward a significant number of years. In fact, they were second highest in terms of number of years projected, falling just behind the INTJ Masterminds. If you want to know what's coming around the bend, just ask an ENTP.
One study found that the more like an ENTP a person is, the better they are at detecting lies (Sanchez, 2011). As Extraverts, ENTPs focus their attention on other people. As Intuitives, they notice patterns, which researchers have noted is correlated with a higher abillity to pick up on falsehoods. As Thinkers, ENTPs test how self consistent information is rather than relying on the emotional content of a message. As Perceivers, ENTPs will keep their hypotheses about truth-falsehood open longer than a Judger, allowing them to take in the maximum amount of information before settling on a decision. All of these factors, suggests Sanchez, explain why ENTPs are so good at human true or false questions.
Read 'em here!
More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About ENTPs
At some point I'm planning to write a book devoted to ENTPs. (It will be entitled The Secret Lives of ENTPs.) If you'd like to be notified when the book comes out, just type your e-mail address in the box below and I'll drop you a line. You won't get any advertisements or "special offers" or anything--I hate it when that stuff ends up in my inbox, and I figure you do too.
- The Doctor - A wandering alien time traveller who meddles incessantly in the affairs of evil-doers. (From the show Doctor Who)
- Spider-Man - Superhero and science geek with arachnid powers. (From the original comics. Note: many type Spider-Man as an INTP based on the movies (in which he was an introvert) or based on the very first Spider-man comic, in which Peter Parker was shown to be a social outcast. But if one reads the entire comic series rather than relying on just the first issue, it can be seen that Peter is an extravert. He was an entrepreneur who liked showing off in front of crowds; the supervillains tried to get him to shut up but never could; and he married a supermodel after dating the two other hottest girls in school, including the bully's old girlfriend.)
- Sherlock Holmes - World famous detective. (From the original classics by Arthur Conan Doyle)
- Starscream - The ambitious, backstabbing Air Commander of the Decepticons. (From the original TV series Transformers)
- Ms. Frizzle - The teacher who drives the Magic School Bus.
- Megamind - The supervillain from the movie of the same name.
- ENTP.org - A forum devoted exclusively to ENTPs.
- Nurture by Nature: Understand Your Child's Personality Type - And Become a Better Parent - Dig up more info on parenthood and type here.
- The Art of SpeedReading People - Learn how to type people you meet within minutes.
- Mother Styles - Type and parenting.
- 16 Ways to Love Your Lover - Type, romance, and making things work after the marriage.
- See the Citations page.