As I briefly touched upon in my This I believe post, while we like to say it takes all types, we actually prefer some over others. Outside of the awesomely nice or the fearfully PC we know that some types are better than others. This may not be true in some cosmic, spiritual, “all men are created equal” way, but it assuredly is in a Darwinian way. That is to say: some types are better adapted, some types are more useful. While the basic premise of needing all types may be true, the fact is we do not need equal numbers of all types.
How cool is that . . .not?
I previously surmised about the most alpha type. It is time to head to the opposite end of the Myersian spectrum. So, what is this mythical most useless type? Before opening the sealed envelope, let’s read some descriptions (from various sources):
pensive, analytical folks. . .
oblivious to the world around them. . .
values abstract thinking above all else. . .
sometimes reclusive. . .
etc., etc., etc.
Reading that description, don’t you really want to invite them to the party or have them manage important things? Aside from making an excellent target for ESTP style practical jokes what use would they be? They most useless type (for you list making SJs) is . . .cue unrhythmic drum roll. . . I N T P.
Hey, it’s just a theory.
One of the few advantages to being part of this useless tribe is that you can announce the above and feel no great hurt. After all it is just a fact, a theoretical categorization. Valuing abstract thought over other things means the fact that we (did I mention I am an INTP?) are useless is just one of those things.
Some of you (hello INTJs) will want to see some proof, or at least an explanation of such theory. Just to annoy you, I will backtrack a bit. INTPs may not be the most useless type but instead be the most bifurcated (what a very NT word). Put to good use their abstract theoretical minds can bring us amazing insights and discoveries. Some of the greatest names in science (e.g., Newton, Darwin, Einstein) may well have been of this type.
There are some problems with this though. The first is that it is often some other person or an element of luck that brings forth their insights. It may have been Newton (I cannot find the reference), who left an important paper unpublished for twenty years until someone asked a question related to it. That is their real problem; their pensive and self-doubting nature means their insights may never reach the outer world. Even when issued, their insights may be blown over by more forceful personalities. The World has unearthed and acknowledged some great breakthroughs long after their proponent died. I suspect that many of those posthumous geniuses were INTP, their insights ignored until a chance finding by later investigation uncovers scribbled notes.
A second problem, of which I am painfully aware, is that such analytical thinking best matches with a high IQ. Complex theoretical forms need a certain level of intelligence to make them useful. It may be okay to be an absent-minded professor, if you are actually a professor. It is usually not okay to be an absent-minded professor if you are an average Joe.
I have no reason to believe that personality type and intelligence correlate. We associate high intelligence with highly abstract constructs but that is only because the two go well together. We tend not to notice when average intelligence and abstract constructs mix because we dismiss those as eccentric nerds.
Therefore, for the person with average intellect, talent, and luck, INTP may be the most useless type. However, with some luck, a lot of intelligence, and some talent they may be the most useful. Of course, on average, we are all average. Indeed, half of us are below average. For those average and below, INTP probably counts as useless.
Of Suitemates, and Cellmates.
[Or what about close-by types?]
ISTPs share many traits with the INTP, but their sensing preference means they can manage practical and physical things better. INTP scientists may well give us the EMP bomb, but after the electricity goes out it is the ISTPs who will survive. The post apocalyptic survival over/under for INTPs is about two days.
INTJs also share some traits with the INTP. Both are theoretical and big picture oriented. The Thinking/Judging preference of the INTJ means that they might actually get something done. Indeed the insights of an INTJ may lack the expansive imaginative leaps of the INTP but they succeed in one regard: they are more likely to leap out of the imagination and, you know, actually happen.
To Newton, Darwin, Einstein. . . and the rest
So to all you high IQ Einsteinian INTPs I apologize for calling you useless. For the other 99.999 percent, live with it. It is just a theory after all. It is not like it will ever affect public policy, or indeed anything.