ENTP Personality: Traits, Relationships, Career Matches
ENTPs are confident, bold, intense, and love a good debate.
What makes ENTPs’ so enthusiastic to discuss, debate, and argue? Using research that connects personality types to underlying traits, I’ll walk you through the pattern of Big Five personality dimensions commonly seen of the ENTP, and describe how each dimension is related to ENTP’s characteristic interpersonal style, relationship patterns, interests, and possible career matches.
If you are interested in personality, there’s a good chance you’re already familiar with popular personality type-based systems like the 16 personalities or Myers-Briggs types, which classify people into types like the ENTP. While types are a much simpler way to describe personality, they are generally far less precise than the trait-based systems used by professional researchers and scientists. Trait-based systems like the Big Five personality framework attempt to measure the unique differences between people on several underlying dimensions, rather than classifying people into simple types.
Research comparing type-based and trait-based approaches have found some important overlaps, such that popular personality types can be seen as very rough approximations to measuring underlying traits. For example, people who are usually classified as ENTP tend to have some basic similarities in their underlying personality traits. By unconvering these underlying traits of the ENTP, we can connect this popular personality type to the vast amount of research about traits and their relationship to several important areas of life.
The ENTP personality type
According to personality type theory, every type has its own four-letter code describing how that type prefers to interact with the world: Introverted vs. Extraverted, Intuitive vs. Sensing, Feeling vs. Thinking, and Judging vs. Perceiving.
According to this theory, the ENTP prefers:
- Extraversion: oriented towards the external world, rather than the internal world
- Intuition: oriented towards learning through internal intuition over sensory experience
- Thinking: oriented towards judging new information through logical analysis, rather than by its emotional qualities and impact
- Perceiving: oriented towards judging new information immediately as it is encountered, rather than after organizing, categorizing, and processing it
Researchers have studied the relationships between these four preferences and the Big Five personality dimensions, which have been the subject of scientific research for decades. By connecting these preferences to the Big Five, we can also connect the ENTP to the existing research on the Big Five dimensions and several life outcomes.
ENTP personality traits
Using the Big Five framework, the ENTP personality type can be reinterpreted through five broad personality dimensions: Openness To Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.
Because personality types are only a rough guide to an individual’s personality, not every ENTP will have exactly the same underlying personality dimensions. In fact, any two individual ENTPs can be quite different on one or two dimensions, but as a group, ENTPs show some common patterns in their Big Five dimensions.
The graph below shows where ENTPs fall along each of the Big Five dimensions. Each blue dot is an individual ENTP, and darker blue areas means more ENTPs crowd up in that area.
One characteristic that most ENTPs have in common is low agreeableness — ENTPs are typically not bothered by disagreements, debates, or arguing. This aligns with the pattern on the Agreeableness dimension in the graph above. Notice that most of the ENTPs are crowded at the bottom of the dimension, on the end of low Agreeableness. While there are a few rare ENTPs at the higher end of Agreeableness, most are well below average on the dimension.
By analyzing the general trends of ENTPs along each dimension, we can build a personality profile of ENTPs based on the combination of dimensions they are most likely to have. This also allows us to connect the ENTP to the wealth of research connecting the Big Five dimensions to important life areas, like interests, career preferences, and relationships.
However, personality types are never as accurate as an individual measurement. If you’d like to see exactly where you fall on each of the Big Five dimensions, try the free personality test here at TraitLab.
ENTPs are higher on Openness to Experience
Most ENTPs fall well above average on Openness to Experience.
Openness to Experience is related to our tendency to seek new experiences or gravitate back to familiar ones. It also describes our preferences for unconventional, novel ways of thinking and doing over more standard, traditional, and conventional ways.
Highly open people, like many ENTPs, often have a deep love of learning, and can easily become engrossed in new ideas and philosophies. They will be more likely to try new things — from tasting new foods, traveling to new places, or exploring new topics — and over time, they tend to develop a wide ranger of interests and tastes. Lastly, they are more likely to become deeply absorbed in new experiences and can often have an intense emotional responses to art, music, or a good book.
ENTPs are average on Conscientiousness
Most ENTPs tend to be near the average on Conscientiousness.
More precisely, ENTPs are normally distributed on Conscientiousness, and they show the classic bell-shaped curve along the whole dimension. This means that most ENTPs fall near the average on Conscientiousness, but a few fall on the higher and lower extremes.
Conscientiousness describes our tendency to make detailed plans, to be systematic and organized, and to be disciplined in sticking to these schedules and plans.
Most ENTPs will not stand out as extremely high or low on Conscientiousness, being neither highly organized nor disorganized compared to most people. More conscientious ENTPs will have a tighter focus on long-term goals (including academic, career, health and fitness goals) and will create and follow routines to accomplish these goals over time.
Less conscientious ENTPs will be more easily distracted by shorter-term goals, and will be more likely to switch back and forth between these rather than maintain focus on long-term goals.
If you are curious about how conscientious you are, try TraitLab’s free personality test to see where you fall on all the Big Five dimensions, including Conscientiousness.
ENTPs are higher on Extraversion
ENTPs are usually more extraverted, but there are some ENTPs below the average on Extraversion.
Most ENTPs score highly on Big Five Extraversion, which describes our general activity and energy level, assertiveness, social enthusiasm, and positive emotionality.
Highly extraverted people, like many ENTPs, are usually more energetic and outgoing, seeking excitement and more stimulating environments. They will enthusiastically jump into louder and more crowded environments, and may occasionally get some thrill out of certain types of risk-taking.
Most ENTPs tend to be highly engaged when in social situations, as well. They are comfortable in the spotlight and generally do not mind being the center of attention, and they are more likely to actively assert their own thoughts, opinions, and goals rather than sit back and passively observe the situation.
ENTPs are lower on Agreeableness
ENTPs are consistently less agreeable.
As a group, ENTPs tend to be less agreeable, with many ENTPs falling at the far low end of Agreeableness. Agreeableness describes our tendencies to put our own goals over the needs of others, and our general sense of trust, empathy, and compassion for other people.
Highly disagreeable people, like many ENTPs, tend to be more demanding. They will be more comfortable arguing and create conflict in order to accomplish their goals. Most ENTPs can tolerate plenty of interpersonal tension without being overly worried about keeping things nice and polite.
ENTPs are often lower on Neuroticism
While individual ENTPs vary widely in their level of Neuroticism, more tend to fall on the lower, more emotionally stable end of the spectrum.
Neuroticism describes our reactivity to stress and our negative emotionality. As most ENTPs are less neurotic, many of them will tend to have more stable moods with relatively few dramatic mood swings. They will tend to worry less than others and be less likely to second guess themselves.
Compared to most people, ENTPs will generally experience fewer and less intense negative emotions, like anger, frustration, and anxiety. They may be unusually calm and composed in stressful situations that might leave others frazzled.
Rarity of ENTPs
Roughly 6% of people are classified as ENTP.
ENTPs are particularly rare in their blend of extraversion, neuroticism, and agreeableness, underlying their bold and confident interpersonal style.
Engaged and emotionally resilient
ENTPs are usually higher in extraversion and lower in neuroticism. Because these two dimensions are closely related to our emotional tendencies, this combination may explain ENTPs’ tendency to be highly active, alert, and engaged (high extraversion) while staying calm and collected (low neuroticism).
This combination can also be protective against several types of negative thinking, like rumination, doubt, self-consciousness, which can lead to more pronounced anxiety and depression. ENTPs’ blend of extraversion and neuroticism may shield them from the more debilitating effects of these negative emotions, and ENTPs will generally have an easier time shaking off negative moods and returning to baseline.
Opinionated and assertive
Most ENTPs are extraverted and somewhat disagreeable, a blend that creates a dominating, forceful, and often combative interpersonal style. ENTPs will generally have an easy time engaging in a social situation, and they will be fairly comfortable being the center of attention.
While ENTPs’ higher extraversion leads them to be highly expressive, talkative, and enthusiastic in social situations, their lower agreeableness can surface when they dominate a conversation or make comments that may seem insensitive or aggressive to some.
ENTP Relationships and interpersonal challenges
Despite their combative tendencies, ENTPs’ stability and self-confidence often support a secure and optimistic approach to relationships.
Thick skin and an open mind
While ENTPs can seem argumentative and highly disagreeable, these qualities can have a surprisingly positive effect on the ENTP’s approach to relationships. ENTPs are typically less concerned with how others see them, which also prevents them from being overly preoccupied with relationships. Whereas most people will be hesitant to break off relationships, even unhealthy and negative ones, ENTPs have an easier time disengaging and moving on.
ENTPs tend to have a healthy, positive view of themselves, stable self-esteem, and a calm and collected emotional style. They are much less likely to base their own self-worth based on others’ perceptions or on their relationships with other people. As a result, they can be courageous and fearless in their relationships, uninhibited and unafraid of being hurt. This self-confidence, combined with their openness to experience, enables ENTPs to happily take risks when seeking out and creating new relationships.
Common interpersonal problems with the ENTP
ENTPs’ assertive and assured style in social situations is often a strength, but in some cases, it can lead to a few characteristic interpersonal problems. What ENTPs see as a friendly and lively debate might feel more heated to others, and ENTPs can be seen as arguing, criticizing, or even fighting with others too much.
ENTPs often stand out by boldly challenging others and finding flaws in existing approaches. This natural tendency is often a powerful asset, but it has the potential to be disruptive to some team or organizational dynamics. ENTPs may have a harder time sitting back and simply taking direction from others or with dealing with authority in general.
Lastly, ENTPs are highly gregarious and very comfortable talking and sharing with others. Sometimes, ENTPs may get carried away and find themselves oversharing, or disclosing a bit too much about themselves.
Adjectives that describe the ENTP personality
How do other people see and describe ENTPs?
The wordcloud below shows the top 100 words used to describe ENTPs. Bigger words describe the more prominent aspects of ENTPs.
Others may describe ENTPs’ assertive and direct interpersonal style as intense, boisterous, forceful, and dominant. Combined with ENTPs’ low agreeableness, they can come off as immodest, abrupt, gruff, combative, and insensitive.
At the same time, ENTPs’ general lack of concern with others’ opinions can be a powerful asset, leading others to see them as courageous, uninhibited, opinionated, confident, strong, and daring. Their emotional stability and relative calm under pressure can appear weariless, indefatigable, and unemotional.
These words describe the ENTP personality types as a group, but every individual ENTP is slightly different. To see your own personalized set of words, try the free personality test here at TraitLab.
ENTPs fit well with careers that require a blend of influencing or leading others and investigating and creativity solving complex problems. Many ENTPs will not mind upsetting other people in order to complete their own job properly, enabling them to take on argumentative work that would make most people quite uncomfortable.
ENTP career interests
The chart below shows how the ENTP personality type is related to eight core career interests: Production, Creativity, Erudition, Altruism, Analysis, Organization, Adventure, and Leadership. Your unique blend of these interests has a huge influence on how well a career feels like it “fits” with your personality.
ENTPs strongest career interest by far is in Leadership, and they tend to thrive in positions that require leading other people and taking charge.
People with strong interests in Leadership fit well in careers that enable them to influence, persuade, and motivate other people. Examples include sales and marketing directors, politicians and political organizers, and executives.
ENTPs’ second strongest career interest is in Creativity. Many ENTPs will naturally fit in situations that require them to innovate and solve problems through creativity and intuition.
People with strong interests in Creativity prefer jobs that require innovation through artistic and intuitive skills in less structured tasks and environments. Examples include artists, novelists, actor or actresses, musicians, curators, and designers.
ENTPs also have very strong interests in Erudition, meaning they are well-suited for roles that involve deep study or mastery of information to perform their tasks well.
People with strong interests in Erudition enjoy roles that require mastery of complicated or arcane concepts and information. Examples include translators, editors, research professors, literary scholars, interpreters, and foreign correspondents.
ENTPs have fairly strong interests in Analysis.
People with strong interests in Analysis enjoy roles that require investigating, researching, and explaining concepts and ideas. Examples include medical researchers, chemists, scientific reporters, and statisticians.
ENTPs do not consistently have a preference or dislike for Adventure. Any individual ENTP is likely to be different in their preference for this aspect.
People with strong interests in Adventure prefer careers that involve working outdoors, competition, excitement, risk-taking, and even danger. Examples include police officers, military officers, professional athletes, and bounty hunters.
ENTPs also have weak, inconsistent interests in Altruism, meaning the careers with some altruistic, helping component are not likely to strongly attract or repel ENTPs as a group.
People with strong interests in Altruism fit well in careers that involve helping, comforting, caring for, and teaching other people. Examples include physical therapists, counselors, clergy, social workers, doctors, and nurses.
As a group, ENTPs do not have a consistent pattern of interest or dislike for Production.
People with strong interests in Production enjoy careers that allow them to work with their hands or tools to create, repair, or maintain tangible products and things. Examples include farmers, builders, mechanics, forest rangers, and woodworkers.
ENTPs’ strongest career disinterest is in Organization. Careers with a heavy emphasis on organization, attention to details, or strict ways of doing certain things will likely feel unsatisfying and constraining to many ENTPs.
People with strong interests in Organization prefer careers that involve categorizing, planning, and systematizing information and processes. Examples include financial officers, budget analysts, office managers, database analysts, and systems administrators.
ENTP career matches and ENTP jobs
Examples of careers that fit ENTPs’ blend of interests in social, creative, and analytical strengths:
- Judicial Law Clerk
- Urban and Regional Planner
- Management Analyst / Business Analyst
- Investment Fund Manager
- Chief Executive
- Business Teacher
- Securities and Commodities Trader
- Sales Manager / Engineer / Agent
- Public Relations Specialist
- Property or Real Estate Manager
- Marketing Manager
- General and Operations Manager
- Construction Manager
- Architectural or Engineering Manager
- Police Detective
- Criminal Investigator or Special Agent
Careers to avoid for the ENTP
ENTPs thrive in roles that require interacting with others, and careers without a significant interpersonal component will be less satisfying to most ENTPs. ENTPs also enjoy creatively solving new problems in their own way, rather than following existing rules and conventions.
So, ENTPs might avoid careers that emphasize working primarily with tools or machines (instead of people) and tightly controlled ways of doing things, such as:
- Civil Engineer
- Mathematical or Bioinformatics Technician
- Software Developer
- Computer Scientist
- Network and Computer Systems Administrator
- Mechanical Engineer
- Farm and Ranch Manager
- Environmental Engineer
- Airline Pilot
ENTPs are bold, opinionated, and love a spirited debate. When used carefully, their enthusiasm and confidence when arguing and fighting for their point of view is their most powerful asset.
If you’re curious about where you fall on the Big Five personality dimensions, or if you’d like to see which types are most similar to you, try taking TraitLab’s free personality test.
Header photo by Product School on Unsplash
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