How to Spot an ISTP
What follows is a small selection of raw observations that can help you more quickly and accurately type ISTPs. Not all descriptions will be noticeable or perfectly capture the impression of all types of observers – often, the nuance of a word changes depending on the person reading it. However, this page will be regularly updated with new descriptions, photographs, and videos to provide examples and evidence supporting the observations provided below. Please enjoy!
- Eyes. Often slightly “squinted” – the muscles around the lower lid are slightly engaged while the upper lid is allowed to relax and droop. Eyebrows often furrowed. When engaged in a task, particularly when explaining something or teaching, eyes may widen and appear more like an ISxJ.
- Gaze. Focus directly and intently on what they’re engaged with. If an ISTP is not looking at you, they’re probably not paying attention to you. The exception would be due to an emotional state such as embarrassment or anger, when they’ll typically look down and to the side (the typically “teenage sulky look”).
- Mouth position. This is a very strong indication of type. ISTPs often relax lower lip and jaw enough that the mouth hangs open, but engage just the muscles in the corner of the mouth. This results in only the top front teeth being visible. Especially common with young women.
- Smile. Often refuse to smile for pictures or when meeting new people. Natural smile is very muted but genuine – slight upturn of mouth, warmth in eyes, teeth may show.
- Laugh. Laugh is generally very muted and contained. May physically stifle laugh with hand. Eyes are squinted almost shut. See John Wolfe’s video to the right for plenty of examples.
- Complexion. ISTPs tend to take very poor care of their health, which can be quite visible in their skin. They’re especially prone to cystic acne. They also tend to age quite hard, with a predisposition to wrinkles and discoloration. Concerned ISTPs can prevent this by wearing some fucking sunscreen, drinking water, eating vegetables, going to the doctor, stop smoking and binge drinking, etc.
- Frame. Most ISTPs are very thin and remain so throughout their lives. Because they’re IxxPs, they are naturally inclined to be ‘noodle’ thin rather than ‘skeleton’ thin, however they are the most likely to attempt to build muscle out of all the IxxPs.
- Fit ISTPs. Fit men often have a “14-year-old boy doing pushups in his bedroom” appearance when young – very low body fat, with small but defined muscles. As they age, those who attempt to stay in shape will stay lean and seem much healthier (in their body) than most people their age. Fit women tend to stay thin but seem more muscular and boyish than the majority of fit women (they seem to focus more on strength and performance than appearance).
- ISTP fat accumulation. ISTPs can easily become chubby, with men often accumulating a beer belly (due to…drinking a lot of beer), and women tend to accumulate softness around the hips, thighs, breast, and arms. They may, rarely, become obese as well. These individuals are the ones who miraculously lose the weight when they stop drinking 4 liters of Mountain Dew a day, for instance. Chances of pudginess or obesity increase with age.
- Posture. ISTPs generally stand and sit like underwear models – or, to be more accurate, underwear models try to pose as though they were ISTPs. You can often find them in asymmetrical, relaxed, and somewhat unusual positions, such as sitting backwards on a chair or leaning over a high balcony. They may often seem socially awkward, but they almost never seem physically awkward or out of place.
- Movement. Very precise and accurate in movements, but generally seem physically relaxed and comfortable when doing them. Make walking, working, fighting, dancing – anything physical – look easy. Don’t express discomfort at hard physical labor. See ‘primitive technology’ video to the right.
- Hands. Incredibly skilled with their hands. Again, make working with their hands look effortless and easy. Movements are relaxed and casual and yet very accurate and precise. Evident in everything from playing the piano to typing on a keyboard. (See both in the videos to the right.)
Attitudes & Behaviors
- Waiting. Often continuously shake head or nod impatiently when they’re waiting for someone to finish talking so they can speak. See Jeff Weaver in the video to the right.
- Self-destructive. As mentioned before, take terrible care of themselves. Drinking, smoking, eating junk food, doing drugs, driving too fast, attempting dangerous stunts, and playing video games for hours without taking a break are some common ISTP pastimes.
- Gestures. In relevant situations (posing for a picture, in a performance, showing off in front of friends), may perform “hard” gestures. Middle fingers, gang signs, pointing. Likely holds true for positive gestures as well (thumbs up, etc.) Prefer to make inner world known through movement rather than speech.
- Comforting and caring. Very gentle and loving toward animals, babies, and people they care about. Extremely protective, sensitive, and considerate toward anything perceived as fragile or precious. Secretly quite romantic and sensitive. This is difficult to find examples of as they consider it a very private thing. However, you can see some glimpses of it in Don Bluth animation, as demonstrated in the Thumbelina video to the right. Pay attention to the aesthetic, mood, and the interaction between the ISTP prince and the ENFJ girl in the scene. It’s representative of how they act toward people they love.
- Pleasure-seeking. Strong sense of enjoyment out of pleasant physical sensations. This ties into the ‘bad habits’ point above. Love pampering and being pampered – delicious food, travel, things that get adrenaline going. Women tend to enjoy things like having their nails painted or wearing face masks. Male ISTPs would secretly let their kids paint their nails. ISTPs are often hypersexual and are common in the kink and BDSM communities. Many “fuccbois”, as the Tumblr community refer to them, are ISTPs. For an example of this hypersexuality, check out the Iggy Azalea video to the right (wait for it).
- Reaction to Novelty. Very uncomfortable with new situations or being asked to participating in something that could be seen as embarrassing. Resistant to clicking links or doing proactive research about things they don’t know. Express frequent disbelief and bewilderment at other people’s choices. Ask a lot of questions when they don’t understand something. Can sometimes eventually be coerced into participating in something uncomfortable or new. Often find they enjoy it. See “An Idiot Abroad” to the right.
Emotions & Communication
- Anger. Try to avoid confrontation and don’t seek it out for its own sake. However, have very strong temper and can be very forceful and intense when angry. See ISTP Ben Mankiewicz (far left) in the video to the right losing his temper at ENTP Jimmy Dore, seated next to him.
- Deadpan. Masters of the blank face “Are you serious?” look in response to a stupid question or statement. Often when doing so, tilt their head down and to the side, looking up slightly at the listener.
- Facial Expressions. More dramatic emotions, generally negative, are sometimes evident. Wrinkled foreheads, furrowed brows, tight frowns, eye rolls, and nose scrunches are common. Outside of these moments, the face is generally neutral and unexpressive. If you watch closely, however, you can notice small micro-expressions, such as flashing the eyebrows, scrunching the nose, or grimacing. Check out the video of Tim Pool talking about Sweden to the right.
- Body language. In contrast to their relatively inexpressive faces, they tend to be quite animated physically when speaking, particularly in using their head movements, hands, shoulders, and arms to emphasize their point. That said, these gestures are restrained and not dramatic – the emphasis is on frequent physical movement that is in harmony with what they’re saying. See both the aforementioned Tim Pool video and the video of Uli Kusch (at 2m27s).
- Voice. Voices tend to be fairly monotonous and droning, often mumbling and slurring their words together, making it hard to pick out individual words. Thataylaa’s monotone voice, which you can see in the brush video to the right, is often a subject of discussion in the beauty community, for instance. They struggle less than many introverts to speak and react quickly and decisively, easily expressing their thoughts and reactions, although they often remain quiet in social situations.
- Embarrassment. Very shy and easily get embarrassed when they feel over-exposed. Very prone to posting and then deleting posts, uploaded videos, etc. This is in part due to their lack of hesitation before speaking or posting as mentioned in point 4. Will often take something down or hide it if it gets one piece of negative criticism. Often make excuses, try to rationalize behavior, or run away when they feel ashamed or emotionally naked. Sour grapes not uncommon (“Well whatever I don’t even like her anyway.”)
- Angst. Probably the most “teenage angst”-y type. “Nobody understands me”; “I’m all alone in the world”; etc. I included some Simple Plan and Pretty Reckless to the right for your listening pleasure.
- Clothes. A grungy, alternative aesthetic is very common. Things like camo, studs, ‘edgy’ T-shirts – think muted mall goth or a skater look. Otherwise, they tend to default to trendy and stylish but relaxed, casual clothing. May occasionally dress very nondescript. Often drawn to plaid and button up shirts with the sleeves rolled up. Also, trucker hats. (Why? Because a lot of truckers are ISTPs.)
- Subcultures. Along with the aforementioned ‘mall goth’ subculture, ISTPs are common in urban/street/rap culture, heavy metal and biker groups, as well as subcultures centered around particular sports, such as skateboarding and MMA.
- Body mods. Piercing, tattoos, and other body modifications are common. Usually reasonably tasteful (no ISTP is going to transform herself into a ‘cat lady’, for instance.)
- Sexuality. Some ISTP women dress in very revealing, provocative clothing. Others wouldn’t be caught dead.
- Presentability. Despite generally wearing trendy or popular clothes, ISTPs generally appear more rough or ragged than other types. This is not typically due to accidents or incompetence in personal maintenance like wrinkles, stains, or smudges on their face, however. Rather, it’s typically due to indifference and resistance to long-term maintenance and self-care – things like uncut hair, untrimmed beards, leftover makeup in the morning, etc. Many ISTP teen boys have long, floppy hair.
- “Clean up well”. Able to look very formal and put-together when required, although they’ll usually seem somewhat uncomfortable and out of place, especially when young.
- In their living spaces, tend toward minimalism. Often like industrial, sleek, or rustic surroundings. Metal, wood, marble, etc. Women like scented candles and flowers. Chance for messiness increases with depression and loneliness, but able to keep a very neat and organized house if they choose.