This section Distinguishing ISTP and ISTJ is to help you verify your type if you're still unsure after doing the test and reading the type descriptions.

ISTJs and ISTPs are different personalities. According to David Keirsey’s Temperament Theory, ISTJs belong to the Guardian (SJs) type personality while ISTPs belong to the Artisan (SPs) type personality. 

There are several distinguishing characteristics of both personalities that will easily help you clarify your type.

  • ISTPs tend to be playful even during work compared to ISTJs

    Both personalities can be playful during social situations, in fact, you’re might even hear some off-color jokes from the usually serious ISTJs – which is what ISTPs enjoy doing. Hence, it’s not easy to distinguish them in more social and casual settings.

    The difference comes when it’s time to work. ISTJs put on their work hat and become serious and focused. ISTPs still retain some of that light-heartedness and prefer to stay casual even in work situations. In serious work meetings, it’s far more likely to hear an ISTP joke than an ISTJ. 

  • ISTPs are usually dressed more casually compared to ISTJs

    ISTJs tend to be very neat. Their hair is usually cut to an appropriate length, their shoes are shined and their clothes are neatly pressed. You rarely see an ISTJ look disheveled or untidy in their dressing, especially at work. Female ISTJs are also more likely to spend more time dressing up and putting make up so that they’ll look appropriate for the occasion.

    ISTPs tend not to be so. Unless it is for important occasions, which anyone would spend time dressing up, ISTPs tend to look casual. This is because they don’t like making decisions as much – they will go to the cupboard to pick out their dress JUST before they need to go out. Hence, they always look a little more casual than their ISTJ counterparts. 

  • ISTJs are more planned than ISTPs

    ISTJs have a schedule they stick to. Their schedules are usually written out clearly in their phone or physical calendars. They dislike changes and are unlikely to make accommodations for last minute crop-ups. Even if their schedule is empty, they have probably scheduled rest time in their heads! Of course, there are times they still allow some spontaneity in their lives.

    Although ISTPs look quiet, they tend to live life with that spontaneity; call them out for supper or a drink at night, they’re likely to be free for you. If they enjoy your company, they might even cancel on another appointment just to be with you. If they have a schedule, it’s likely due to work requirements or societal pressures that cause them to deem it necessary to have it. But if you ask them, they rather live life by the day.  

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These differences should be sufficient for distinguishing ISTP and ISTJ. While there are other more subtle differences, the above mentioned points are the more observable differences in behavior.

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