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turbulent intj t vs assertive intj a
INTJ psychology

Turbulent INTJ (intj-t) vs Assertive INTJ (intj-a)

By on September 9, 2016

In addition to four standard  MBTI letters that state your personality type, 16 Personalities added fifth scale – “Identity.” If you have done MBTI personality test at 16personalities.com, you probably noticed a “-T” or “-A” in your results page. Identity shows how confident you are in your choices, abilities, and decisions and that translates into the “Assertive” or “Turbulent” personality types.

1. (INTJ-T) Turbulent INTJ Traits

Turbulent (-T) INTJs are self-conscious and sensitive to stress. They take note of their own weaknesses and try to improve everything. With this desire to make themselves exponentially better than they are, INTJ-Ts get stuck in a never-ending self-improvement loop, which is exhausting and may lead to depression.

On the other hand, always trying to improve often leads to superior results. No matter how good Turbulent INTJ becomes, he will always seek to improve his performance in work assignments and more commonplace situations. Even if no one notices his little mistakes, he will observe, note, and seek to eliminate them. This drive to become better encourages the INTJ-T to greater heights than his Assertive counterpart and may serve him well in a work environment.

Turbulent INTJs also care more what others think of them. By over-analyzing social situations, they often find themselves trying to plan out how to appear “normal.” This can lead to stressful social situations and social anxiety.

2. (INTJ-A) Assertive INTJ Traits

Assertive (-A) INTJs are more resistant to stress, but they do not push themselves as hard when it comes to achieving goals. INTJ-As might seem more confident in themselves and more relaxed. They are happy with who they are and what they do and don’t seek approval from other people. This is also a double-edged sword, because INTJ-A, while highly capable, is not as motivated to change or improve himself as the INTJ-T.

The Assertive INTJ knows what he’s good at and is content being good at those things. Personal responsibility and the ability to trust in yourself are very important values to the INTJ-A. 

3. Which type is better?

Of course, no type is “better” than another. While one situation might favor one type, another will favor the opposite. If an INTJ ends up in a competitive work field (e.g.: IT), he might be better off as Turbulent. An Assertive INTJ might indulge in overconfidence or procrastination, resulting in criticism and possibly even punishment.

On the other hand, if an INTJ ends up in a stressful, fast-paced field (e.g.: surgery), then he might do better as Assertive. An Assertive INTJ will be cool-headed and have the ability to recover from his mistakes quickly – what’s done is done, and requires less attention than what still needs doing.

4. My Humble Opinion

Trying to divide any of the MBTI personality types into smaller and more specific categories may not be correct. People will always get a mixture of both Turbulent and Assertive, as this section of the 16 Personality scale is more dependent on psychological state and personal development than some of the others.

INTJs are born perfectionists and love to improve others and themselves, but that doesn’t mean they do so only to impress others. It may also be helpful to an INTJ to develop the skill of choosing when to allow perfectionism to affect their decisions. I believe the trick to this lies in finding a balance between Assertiveness and Turbulence.

In my opinion, most INTJs are turbulent by nature. Turbulence can be reduced by addressing the trend of private thoughts and self-observations, changing them where necessary. By taking things slowly, one can begin to see the big picture and decide whether or not a particular situation or person is worth stressing about. Also, some people may find that putting themselves into stressful (social) situations regularly improves their tolerance for situational stress.

Grammar and punctuation errors eviscerated by Elle Taylor

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  • Massa

    I am an intj. I made few mistakes.i an suffering from depression and i feel like an intj anymore. Can someone help me

    • INTJ vision

      We could try, but we need to know details what happened. You could post here or use more private approach: http://www.intjvision.com/contacts/
      Also, we are not psychiatrists and cannot provide medical help. But we can try to give you good advice.

    • Deadfrog

      Yo massa. Thoroughly myers briggs tested on the federal level..was picked out and stuck into a test group for a month. SO yes I am a true INTJ almost extreme in a sense on the scale they had.

      As an INTJ… Depression is worse , due to our nature of being self critical already. You must get medical assistance if you feel that this depression hasn’t passed on its own. Depression happens to all, but extreme depression is a sign somethings a little broken.

      This isn’t going to repair over night either. Take the meds, do the coping skill tricks that a therapist gives you to try out, and most of all…

      You remember this part. You are fucking awesome Massa. Fuck everyone else and what they may do say act etc…. what matters is the truth and the truth is you are good bro.

      Do not dwell on negativity…. Do not punish yourself anymore… You are not a bad person..

      Just seek the medical help.

      Home help with Depression is: Work out..I mean work out hard. It’s a natural saratonin booster , anxiety reliever, and fills you with a better emotion after a hard work out. It helps a lot.

      Go get your help that you need man. See that Dr. Keep your head up and don’t beat yourself up no more. You do not deserve it.

  • Jade Baguhin

    I just recently discovered that I’m an INTJ, it’s kinda flattering to know that I’m like a unicorn but it’s lonely, overwhelming and Idk anymore. It’s like I’m a box of paradoxes, I always aim for perfection, I envy people who do things with ease the things that’s taking too long than I expected and it’s really depressing me, I can’t relate to girls around my age who likes chick flicks, romance, gossips…. they always think I’m serious all the time but I’m not.

    But nevertheless, I’m happy and proud to be rare. Thank you for this blog, little by little I’m gaining knowledge on how to deal and understand myself and the people around me.

    • casey sav

      I also recently found out that I am INTJ, I know your feeling, I even remember on my 20’s watching romantic movie and can’t stop laughing with the idea of romantic, and being so sarcastic about it, I watch it with bunch of my friends, and they think that I am strange, now I understand why.

    • Thank you too for being with us!

  • topcommenter

    I was a turbulent INTJ early in my career, but the pressure caused intense anxiety, and I just didn’t like the feeling , the anxiety was getting worse to the point that I would actually avoid going into work, and so I started to become less competitive in order to reserve myself that unpleasant feeling and did end up leaving the job market at least as an employee.
    I”m now self employed and while the anxiety is there again, I feel more comfortable in being competitive and aiming for self improvement and perfection once again due to the fact that I am working for myself and do not need to consider the effects on team members or my appearance to others in the office due to the elevated anxiety (I work from home and do not need to interact with people much) I found that the biggest challenge for me was how I appeared in social situations and what others thought of me, which is usually not the case but for some reason really took a big toll on me during that time in my career.

    • Couldn’t agree more – I think that INTJs are born to be self-employed. Then they can truly use full planning potential. Its fine if you work with team which you could choose by yourself, but its nothing worse than working with incompetent people. It’s awesome you found a problem solution!

  • myflowercloth

    I agree that INTJs can be both turbulent and assertive. I display the turbulent traits by always seeking self-improvement and perfecting my performance. In fact, I love to read more self-help books than any other types of books because I’m always looking for ways to improve. My husband can attest that I can find the tiniest flaw to complain about. And many times, this prevents me from making a leap because I feel everything has to be perfect before I jump. He reminds me, “Bloom where you are planted. The soil isn’t perfect, but it’s still good soil.” Although I am bothered by imperfections, it doesn’t cause me to fall into depression because I go back to my belief that everything in life is a work-in-progress, and that some things simply can’t be changed. When I find that I am overly consumed by a flaw/weakness, I have to remind myself to take a few steps back from my tunnel-vision focus so that I can see the big picture. I do have disappointing moments where I am troubled by flaws, but I don’t recall getting to the point of depression or anxiety. But who knows; I’m only nearing the 4th decade of my life and still have more to experience. For issues I face, my mind eventually sorts them into two categories: what I can fix vs. what is out of my control. Once I create those two piles, I don’t waste my time mourning over what I can’t control and instead focus my energy on what I can work on. And it’s quite exciting to work towards achieving new goals, so I’m not necessarily too assertive to the point where I no longer seek to push boundaries. I actually enjoy pushing boundaries! When it comes to dealing with weaknesses, I’ve learned through the book, “Now, Discover Your Strengths” that it’s okay to have weaknesses. In order to build a strength-based team (at home or at work), don’t focus so much on beating up someone (or yourself) over his/her/your weaknesses but instead, make the most use of everyone’s strengths by allowing them to shine and contribute what they naturally do best. Overall, it’s beneficial to know we can be a mixture of both turbulent and assertive. Understanding this helps us find a healthy balance so that we can be mindful about becoming too stagnant due to our confidence, or too depressed due to our focus towards imperfections. 🙂

  • Ryan

    What if you get both? I got INTJ(-A-T). I think INTJ totally matches me too. Funnily, I even decided to major in physics, a normally isolating field, before I even knew what personality type I got. Maybe it’s just my personality speaking but I’m not taking this test as the ultimate truth however, it is interesting to see how similar I am to the descriptions of this personality type. It makes a lot of sense now why I always thought about people the way I do.

    • I believe that -A and -T can change over time. And of course, everyone will have both -A and -T traits, but what is matter the most here is which one of them is stronger.

  • Daniel Le
    • Daniel Le

      I was hesitant to take this test again after not taking it for a year or so–I was an INTJ before; my isolation has been an interesting development in myself and I thought I’d find company here more understanding. When I was very young, I personified the ENFP because my social environment in Los Angeles motivated my self-image. After awhile, things surrounding me became stale; the culture, the language I was using and subjected to, etc. I left the city after living there my whole life and moved to Tokyo–where my ancestors come from–and stayed at a Buddhist monastery for half a year, trying to recognise my true self through contemplation. Everything lost meaning to me, actually, but I embraced that as some kind of breathable truth;–I gained some kind of paradoxical perspective there–like the ENFP and INTJ paradox. I often feel arrogant for thinking the way I do. but it seems like feeling anything less would be an insult to the soul. Well. Anyway. I also have borderlinepersonality disorder, so…maybe that’s something relevant.

  • Czerwony Koteł

    I can’t agree that turbulent INTJ works better in IT or another improving work field. Improving yourself also can be stressful (my own case), so being assertive person helps a lot. You know you’re not worthless but capable to achieve your goals.

  • Holly Hayes

    Just a heads up for those of you who are not familiar with the cognitive functions, but the designations “T (turbulent) and “A (assertive)” don’t actually mean anything according to the underlying theory. 16personalities only added them to differentiate their test from other MBTI tests online. I’ve had this argument with people online so many times: they do a very poor job of accurately representing the theory. I’ll explain why.

    For one, it’s actually NOT possible to be on the ‘borderline’ between one type and another. Tests like 16personalities, SimilarMinds, and HumanMetric tha score based on letter dichotomy (I/E, S/N, T/F, P/J) or percentage (53%/47%) are inaccurate and misleading, and a misrepresentation of the underlying theory. For example, even though there’s only one letter of difference between INTJ and INTP, in reality, they actually share ZERO cognitive functions in common (INTJ = Ni Te Fi Se, INTP = Ti Ne Si Fe). So when people say they’re on the “borderline” between INTJ and INTP, it’s not as simple as “I’m more J sometimes, but at other times I’m more of a P depending on what skills I need for that day”. ALL of their cognitive preferences are completely different, and it simply isn’t possible for a person to use all eight cognitive functions with equal proficiency – that just isn’t how the theory works. That’s why the letters don’t make as big of a difference as people think they do. All the E or I tells you is whether they lead with an extroverted function (Te, Ne, Fe, Se) or an introverted function (Ni, Fi, Ti, Si).

    Likewise, ENTJs are not just the extroverted version of INTJs – they actually have completely different (though similar) cognitive stacks that confer a unique set of behaviors and preferences to the individual:

    INTJ: Ni Te Fi Se

    ENTJ: Te Ni Se Fi

    Your type does not change (although somebody can develop their functions over time), and the “T” and “A” don’t actually mean anything in type theory. You aren’t an INTJ in some situations and an ENTJ in others. You don’t change your type from one day to the next depending on what skillset you need to use on that day. You’re always an INTJ OR an ENTJ, but you can’t be both.

    Here’s a good link that explains the cognitive functions in depth:


    • Lokalna Rospija

      Thank you very much for the link!

    • Joseph A. French

      Not quite. The 16personalities site isn’t MBTI based. It’s based on the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, a related model that leads to similar results, but is functionally very different.