How does the ISTP personality fit into the Big Five personality traits?
Reading time: 5 minutes
In personality studies, scientific researchers often use a trait-based approach to describing the differences between people instead of using personality types. The most well-established method is the Big Five, which describes differences along five broad dimensions:
Personality types are far less precise than getting exact Big Five measurements, but knowing your personality type can give you a rough idea of where you fall on each dimension.
In the graph below, each dot is an ISTP, placed by where they fall on each of the Big Five dimensions. You can see that ISTPs can vary quite a bit on any single dimension.
For example, on the Agreeableness dimension, ISTPs tend to score lower than average, so the Low and Very Low areas are very dark blue. But, you might notice that there are a few blue dots in the High area of Agreeableness.
So, while most ISTPs tend to score lower than average on Agreeableness, there are a few exceptions.
Below, you can see more detail on how ISTPs score on each Big Five dimension.
ISTPs tend to score lower on Openness to Experience, meaning they are often more conventional or traditional. About 85% of ISTPs score below average on Openness to Experience.
Openness to Experience describes your need for new information, feelings, and experiences.
Less open people prefer the familiar ways of doing things. They are less interested in trying new things or seeking out new experiences. They also tend to be less eccentric and have more conventional tastes in hobbies, music, and reading material.
Highly open people have diverse interests, and they may feel a constant need to learn and try new things.
Almost all ISTPs fall below the average on Conscientiousness.
Conscientiousness describes your tendency to plan, organize, and persistently focus on long-term goals.
Highly conscientious people are more likely to set goals far in the future, then come up with detailed plans on how to achieve these goals. They are also more likely to stick to the goals they set and more persistent in working through difficulty to reach them.
Less conscientious people tend to be more spontaneous or impulsive. They are more interested in the present or short-term future, and more likely to change their mind, or change direction when obstacles arise.
ISTPs usually score lower on Extraversion, with about 80% of ISTPs scoring below average or on the more introverted side of the scale.
Extraversion describes your assertiveness, enthusiasm, and experiences of positive emotions.
Highly introverted people, like many ISTPs, are more socially reserved and quiet. They have a lower tolerance for highly stimulating environments and often retreat to calm and quiet situations in solitude. They also experience positive emotions less intensely and less frequently. For example, others may notice that introverts tend to smile and laugh less often than most.
Highly extraverted people tend to be more socially outgoing and talkative, and they often seek out more stimulating environments (think loud, crowded, or risky and exciting situations). High extraverts also feel and express positive emotions (e.g., joy, laughter, excitement) more intensely and more frequently.
Almost all ISTPs fall below the average on Agreeableness.
Agreeableness describes your interpersonal warmth, politeness, and empathy.
Less agreeable (or more demanding) people, like most ISTPs, are often less concerned with others when pursuing their own goals. They are more willing to create conflict or express disagreement across most situations and feel less discomfort during interpersonal disputes.
Highly agreeable people feel a more substantial need to keep warmer, friendlier relationships with others and are naturally more hesitant to impose their will on others. They will be more considerate of how their actions impact others and try to reduce or resolve interpersonal conflicts when they arise.
ISTPs vary widely in Neuroticism, with no apparent trends between ISTPs and this dimension. You can find ISTPs across the entire range of Neuroticism.
Neuroticism describes how frequently and how intensely you experience negative emotions, like anxiety, anger, and sadness.
Highly neurotic people tend to worry more, have more frequent mood swings, withdraw when feeling distressed, and feel more self-conscious.
Less neurotic people are more easy-going, have more predictable moods, and are more resilient under stress. They also experience less of the harmful types of self-consciousness, like rumination and self-doubt, reported by more neurotic people.