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The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) groups people into one of 16 categories based on personality, and there’s one type that holds the spot as the debaters of the bunch: the ENTP. Here’s what to know about this contrarian personality type, from strengths and weaknesses to relationship compatibility and more, according to experts.
The ENTP personality type.
ENTP stands for extroverted, intuitive, thinking, and perceiving. According to Dario Nardi, Ph.D., a personality expert and author of Neuroscience of Personality, this type makes up roughly 3% of the population, with twice as many men compared to women.
This type is also known as “the debater,” according to licensed therapist De-Andrea Blaylock-Solar, MSW, LCSW-S, CST, characterized by their telltale love of deconstructing ideas and playing devil’s advocate. They’re even willing to scrutinize their own deeply held beliefs for the sake of analysis, she says.
If you’re looking for someone to pick apart a concept with, find an ENTP—just don’t take it personally if they say something blunt. As Nardi explains, they can come off as arrogant, but they’re typically not coming from a malicious place. Rather, they’re simply in it for the sake of information and understanding.
“They can be seen as being insensitive because they’re leaning so much into reason, and not as much as feeling,” Blaylock-Solar adds. But don’t let that scare you off—ENTPs are also open-minded, curious, and invested in their own personal growth, and they can make great friends or partners (if you can handle their brashness).
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ENTPs’ personalities make them “adaptable, strategic problem-solvers,” Nardi tells mbg. They have no problem turning ideas on their head and looking at things from all angles. Interestingly, he adds, this analytical nature doesn’t always translate to interpersonal communication, noting that ENTPs (particularly ENTP men) “tend to miss nonverbal social feedback.”
An ENTP is the kind of person who will excel in a lot of different areas. “They are often multitalented with numerous diverse interests,” Nardi explains. “They are good at marketing, exploring different cultures, developing business ideas, and negotiating their way through uncertain situations.”
Blaylock-Solar does add, however, that their propensity for so many different subjects can make it challenging for them to focus on one thing, and especially practical matters, “because they’re always looking at the big picture.” Nardi, too, notes that this type can be a bit disorganized and, in his words, “all hat, no cattle” (aka, a lot of talk with no action).
Nardi says ENTPs often have a humorous side, with Blaylock-Solar adding that “nothing is sacred” for this type. As such, you can expect them to crack jokes—and potentially those that aren’t exactly sensitive to everyone in the room. To that end, Nardi adds ENTPs “can be emotionally childish” and even blame their emotional state on other people. “They can easily fall into a lifestyle that is physically bad for them,” he adds—but at least they’ll have a sense of humor about it.
Pairing well with their analytical nature, ENTPs are insatiably curious, on a never-ending quest of questioning. “Someone who does have this kind of analytical mind can be really energetic when it comes to things that they’re passionate about, and they’re not so tied to tradition, so that it doesn’t keep them bound. They’re open to the possibilities of what things can be,” Blaylock-Solar explains.
Finally, call them contrarians or call them nonconformists, but an ENTP type isn’t afraid to go against the grain—whatsoever. In fact, it’s what sets them apart. “They’re always up for debate,” Blaylock-Solar says, adding, “Even though it can be helpful to deconstruct ideas and be really knowledgeable, the weakness is that they can tend to be constantly argumentative—which can be a challenge in relationships.”
- Problem solvers
- Can miss nonverbal social cues
- Can come off as arrogant
- Can be insensitive
- Can be emotionally immature
- Can have self-destructive tendencies
In relationships, ENTPs are ultimately “die-hard pragmatists,” according to Nardi. “They love sharing ideas and talking about new ideas and want a partner they can share a life of the mind with,” he says. But while they may be quick to say hello or go on a date, they often hesitate to go beyond that, he adds.
According to both him and Blaylock-Solar, the ENTP’s tendency toward being argumentative is also something to watch out for in the relationship context. “They tend to debate as opposed to considering the feelings of their partner, so that’s definitely an area for growth,” Blaylock-Solar says. “But because they’re willing to push the boundaries on traditions and be open-minded and spontaneous, that can be a really good asset within relationships.”
Given that both personal growth and intellectual stimulation are important to this type, Blaylock-Solar also says these things will be a priority within relationships, too. “These are folks who are looking for novelty and adventure, so if you’re partnered with one, you want to think about how you can keep that novelty present in the long term,” she says.
That said, Nardi notes that some ENTPs may actually feel a need to “one-up” their partners intellectually. “They can be a disorganized, exciting, untrustworthy mess,” he says, adding, “They tend to have issues around emotional safety, and if they don’t take responsibility for their emotions, then they will see their partner and other people as causing their emotions.”
And as far as compatibility with other MBTI types, Nardi says ENTPs are most compatible with INFJs first and foremost, as well as ENFJs, and the other NT and NP types, like INTJs, INTPs, and ENFPs. “However, relationships with other NTs can get competitive and don’t leave so much room for growth. ESFJ and ESTJ are worthwhile stretches, if even to date for the experience of it,” he notes, adding the least compatible type is “probably ISFP.”
Just as ENTPs want relationships with novelty and growth, they appreciate those qualities in the workplace as well. “They will thrive wherever there is novelty and a push to explore and advance, and where they can use their mind,” says Nardi. They’re suited for careers that involve complex problem-solving, as well as traveling and talking to new people, he adds.
“Any time there’s a specific problem that needs to be fixed—and maybe even requires a level of creativity to come up with solutions—those types of careers would be really suited to them,” Blaylock-Solar says.
Thanks to their analytical nature, they’ll always incorporate it into their career in some way, Nardi explains, adding this quality definitely predisposes them to the sciences. “A big thing [for them] is entrepreneurship—going out and sharing their ideas and seeing what emerges from that. If they get the right training—that is, effective mental models—they can be excellent with people,” he adds.
Blaylock-Solar adds that ENTPs also aren’t huge on authority, as they can be pretty independent. “So having a position where they have autonomy will be really helpful, especially if they tend to be a bit argumentative,” she adds.
Common ENTP careers:
How to thrive as an ENTP:
Both Blaylock-Solar and Nardi say that ENTPs would benefit from getting organized and having certain mechanisms in place that help them stay on track. “Set goals and find ways to organize your days to make progress toward those. Raise standards of what’s worth spending energy on—that will filter out a lot of distractions,” Nardi explains.
2. Take care of yourself physically and emotionally.
“Of all the types, ENTPs are perhaps the type that is their own worst enemy,” Nardi says. But that doesn’t mean they have to be! “Take responsibility for your emotions and for your physical well-being,” he suggests, adding to practice asking for help and being more modest and respectful of others’ needs “while also being aware of your own needs and asking for help and space there too.”
3. Lean into your strengths.
This really applies to every MBTI type, but Blaylock-Solar and Nardi both note that ENTPs will thrive when they lean into the things they do really well. “You have the ability to be inquisitive and break down problems or ideas, so find different ways you can highlight those skills,” Blaylock-Solar says, with Nardi adding to “keep up lifelong learning, especially in your main career.”
The truth is, some people will love and be entertained by the ENTP’s wisecracking and devil’s-advocate way of thinking—but some won’t. Blaylock-Solar says it’s important to know your audience, and when the moment calls for it, to try not to be “as blunt or direct when it’s not necessary, to help your words to land a little softer.” She also adds that this type can have some difficulty expressing emotions in a way that isn’t curt, so it can be beneficial to strengthen those skills.