ISTP Development
The Unique Growth Path of the ISTP

This section ISTP Development is about the unique developmental path of the ISTP personality from birth to midlife. While an individual’s personality development is unique, personality type provides a good general framework for you.

To understand the ISTP’s development, we have to understand the hierarchy of mental functions for the ISTP. The hierarchy of mental functions for the ISTP is about which mental function (Sensing, Intuiting, Thinking or Feeling) the ISTP is most comfortable with using and which they are least comfortable in using.

Without going too much into Type dynamics, let’s look at the ISTP’s hierarchy of mental functions:

The ISTP is most comfortable with using the Dominant Function, Introverted Thinking and least comfortable with using the Inferior Function, Extraverted Feeling.

From Childhood to Puberty:
Development of Introverted Thinking

As a child, ISTPs will develop Introverted Thinking. They will have an enquiring attitude about everything they encounter. “Why is it so?” “How did this happen?” are common questions that they will ask. They will not accept the ‘because I say so’ explanation, wanting to understand the principles rather than take things at face value.

They may also appear detached, cold and aloof to others because of their lack of expression. They may feel as much as a Feeling type on the inside, but they are less likely to show it.

If they have not properly developed this function in their youth, they may be caught up in realities of the moment but never considering their decisions through their internal logical system.  

From Puberty to about Age 30:
Development of Extraverted Sensing

At puberty, the ISTP will be inclined to develop the auxiliary function, Extraverted Sensing. They become extremely observant of their surroundings, noticing small details in colour, shape, smell, taste and so on.

They will also prefer doing activities and playing games as compared to reading and listening in the classroom, which they will most likely be restless sitting in.

If the development of this function has been stifled, they may have no proper way of gathering Sensing data from the external world to base their decisions on.    

Areas for ISTP Development

Assuming an environment is supportive to the development of the Dominant and Auxiliary functions, most ISTPs would have developed Extraverted Sensing and Introverted Thinking by the time they’re above 20 years or so.

Their areas of improvement will most likely come from the underdeveloped sides of Extraverted Feeling and Introverted Intuition. Below are some suggestions for improvement. They can:

  • Be more sensitive toward the feelings of others
  • Consider others in their decision making process
  • Be more patient with policies and procedures of organizations
  • Consider long-term implications of their everyday actions
  • Plan and organize their life better
  • Improve their networking and socializing skills

From Age 30 to Midlife:
Development of Introverted Intuition

If these behaviours are not developed by the age of 30, the ISTP will start to feel the tension to continue growing and start developing the tertiary function Introverted Intuition.

They will become more comfortable with abstract language and the use of big ideas in everyday living. They may also become more goal-oriented in their approach to everyday life. 

Here are some simple exercises to consciously develop the Introverted Intuition function:

  • Take up meditation classes.

  • Read into world affairs across countries and consider global patterns or trends that may link all of these together.

  • Write a poem about something from nature without using physical attributes to describe it. (i.e. don’t talk about its colour or shape or size)

From Midlife onward:
Development of Extraverted Feeling

From midlife onward, the ISTP’s focus turns toward the inferior function, Extraverted Feeling.

Their underdeveloped Extraverted Feeling comes out in a childish and undeveloped way when they are under stress, and they may become overly emotional or experience uncontrollable anger.

But in midlife, there is an unconscious shift and desire to develop that inferior function in order to achieve wholeness and continual growth. It is an uncomfortable but necessary transition.

Here are some simple exercises to consciously develop the Extraverted Feeling function:

  • Think about the people in your workplace that have aided you or have done good work for you, write a note of thanks and encouragement either by email or preferably by a handwritten note.

  •  When you get into a debate with someone, consider the other person’s point of view and what is important to him/her. Learn to adjust your stance in order to find a mutually beneficial outcome.

  • Ask some of your co-workers out for lunch and get to know them personally. Put all work-related discussions aside and seek to know them as individuals.


The developmental paths of individuals are unique depending on the environment, culture and social norms they were brought up in.

Some cultures value certain personality traits more than others and ultimately several factors affect personality development. No two people develop the same way, and hence only some of the above may apply to you.

This page only serves as a general guide for anyone using it as a reference. If you like to learn more about your personal, unique developmental path, please contact me.

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