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9 INTP Functions Summarized: Cognitive, Shadow, & Sarcastic Functions

The INTP personality type, which is someone that encompasses the introverted, intuitive, thinking, and perceiving qualities, is known as the type to constantly question and experiment with their environment. We delve into 9 INTP Functions including Cognitive, Shadow, and Sarcastic in this post.

Their drive to always question and think critically typically makes them a rather reserved type of personality. In order to fully understand this type, which can be a rare one, is to delve deeper into their cognitive and shadow functions. Once the core of this personality is explored, the manner in which they approach life and their environment is much easier to comprehend.

Let us take a look into the nine INTP personality functions, from cognitive to shadow and to sarcastic functions.

The Cognitive Functions

When looking at any personality type defined under the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, each type has four core cognitive functions. These functions can be understood as the way individual processes the world around them, that is including their relationships with themselves, other people, and their passions in life.

Carl Jung, who first presented this model of cognitive functions, mentions eight possible functions that an individual can possess. Most importantly he presented the idea of these cognitive functions having an order in which someone will utilize their given functions.

Essentially Jung proposed that each person has a primary, auxiliary, tertiary, and inferior function, ranging from the one they are the most comfortable with and the most developed to the one that is most underdeveloped, respectively.

This order of the functions was implemented into the theory of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. Let us explore in detail which functions belong to the INTP personality and how that plays out in day-to-day life.

#1 Introverted Thinking (Ti) – Primary Function 

The INTP also referred to as TiNe, a combination of the first two dominant functions, possesses introverted thinking, or Ti, as its primary and most dominant cognitive function. They use Ti to analyze and apply logic when they approach different situations, they want to verify that they have any information needed before making any decisions.

Introverted thinking tends to make the individual seek logic, and this is why the INTP loves to think critically and makes them curious. This quality also makes the INTP personality skilled at identifying what might not be true, rather than actually identifying what is true.

#2 Extraverted Intuition (Ne) – Auxiliary Function

As the auxiliary function, extraverted intuition (Ne) is the second dominant function, and typically this is the function that supports the first function. External intuition is the way in which the INTP will process their information. This is typically when the individual will reflect on their own past experiences and attempt to find patterns. These patterns are utilized to then form educated decisions or assumptions.

Extraverted intuition also allows the INTP type to remain open-minded. They like to see all sides to an argument or topic which allows them to remain open-minded especially in tricky situations. Most of the time, this is a great quality to have, although there are times where being open-minded and wanting to see all perspectives can be difficult. This can sometimes make it difficult for the INTP to reach a final decision, causing frustration.

#3 Introverted Sensing (Si) – Tertiary Function

Introverted sensing or Si is the tertiary cognitive function that allows this personality type to keep hold of details and past experiences. This is what allows them to process new situations, they compare it to the past and attempt to predict the outcome.

#4 External Feeling (Fe) – Inferior Function

The last cognition function, the inferior one, is external feeling or Fe. This function is the least developed one and often presents itself when this personality type encounters stressful and difficult situations. One way to think of Fe is to think of it as the humane side of the INTP.

However, just because this is their inferior function does not mean that this personality type does not show emotion but rather they sometimes struggle to become attuned to their emotions or the correct emotional response to certain situations.

The Shadow Functions

A way to think of shadow functions is to think of them as qualities that lie on the unconscious or at the very edge of consciousness. Although shadow functions are sometimes deemed as negative because they can often occur as so, they can also be positive. It is important to note that these shadow functions tend to present themselves when someone is under pressure or experiencing more stress than usual.

Similar to how there are four cognitive functions, there are four shadow functions, as a matter of fact, these shadow functions are the opposite, or shadow, of that personality type’s cognitive functions. Let us discuss the INTPs shadow functions so that their relation to cognitive functions can be better understood.

#5 Extraverted Thinking or Te

The first shadow function for the INTP personality is extraverted thinking, the mirroring quality of the primary dominant cognitive function of introverted thinking. Now when the INTP implements their dominant function, Ti, they tend to have an open mind and think critically about any given situation. When this personality type experiences their shadow function, that completely shifts and now the INTP can become less understanding and even more irritable.

One redeeming quality about Te as a shadow function is that it allows this personality type to be more rash and make decisions quicker.

#6 Introverted Intuition or Ni

The second shadow function, introverted intuition, tends to have a more negative effect. When INTPs use Ni they may begin to adapt to a pessimistic point of view about themselves, those around them, and their environment. They may doubt their connection to their partner or their friends about their motives. As for themselves, they begin to be overly critical when it is not necessary.

#7 Extraverted Sensing or Se

The third shadow function, extraverted sensing is less developed than the other functions previously discussed. When this personality type implements Se into their lives it can make them do reckless things. Their need to overcompensate for not being completely attuned to their emotions can lead them to decisions they might regret.

#8 Introverted Feeling or Fi

The fourth and last shadow function for the INTP is introverted feeling or Fi. The last shadow function is the most destructive out of all the shadow functions and that is partly due to how underdeveloped this quality is. The less developed the function the less the personality type knows how to use it to benefit them.

When the INTP personality type utilizes Fi it can cause them to self-sabotage that many might not expect. INTPs are known to be very critical and enjoy finding certainty in their decisions. However, with this function, this personality type begins to question and go against their established values. It becomes destructive when they not only begin to blame themselves but begin to take out their negativity on others.

If an INTP is successful in becoming more familiar with this function then it becomes possible for this to have a positive outcome. Although rare, they can use Fi to find a purpose for their life.

The Sarcastic Functions

An effective strategy that furthers the understanding of how the cognitive functions might present themselves is to think of them sarcastically. So let’s apply the four cognitive INTP functions sarcastically and with plausible examples.

#9 Variety of Sarcastic Features

Introverted Thinking: Think of this function as someone who just became intensely interested in space and now spends all their free time researching everything they can find in anything about space.

Extraverted Intuition: This is the person who basically blurts out every and any idea or opinion they have, no matter how absurd or weird it may be.

Introverted Sensing: Think of this as someone who rediscovers a movie that makes them feel nostalgic and so they have it on repeat until you simply no longer want to see any movie ever.

Extraverted Feeling: For this function think of an individual who is slightly awkward and keeps to themselves but still wants to be liked by other people.


As explored, the INTP personality can be quite complex, their very nature is to question and to seek knowledge, and yet they struggle to fully understand their own emotions. Like any other personality type, their functions can manifest a little differently, but when under extreme pressure their shadow functions can truly be destructive.

Hopefully delving into the eight functions that dictate how the INTP personality walks through life and various situations help establish a better understanding. If you are INTP yourself, the best you can do is truly understand the behaviors of your personality so that you can prevent self-sabotage as much as possible.