The Spider – INTJ

If life is, as Voltaire wrote, “a game—play it,” then the Spider seems to be playing chess while the rest of us are playing checkers. Not only do they always have a plan, but they usually have multiple contingencies if something in that plan were to go awry. And as opposed to Killer Whales, Smith siblings who willfully show their motivations like a poker player slamming their winning hand onto the table, the serious and reserved Spiders very rarely reveal the personal agenda that drives their farsighted machinations.

The Empiricist

Ayn Rand

All the reasons which made the initiation of physical force evil, make the retaliatory use of physical force a moral imperative.

– Ayn Rand

If research is a god, consider the Spider a true believer. More studious than Killer Whales and more grounded than Chimpanzees and Owls, Spiders rely primarily on empirical evidence to power their reasoning. Thus, they’re commonly perceived to be the most “reasonable” of their Smith brethren. Spiders place a greater emphasis on the application of theory than the creation of it, a trait they share with the Killer Whales, though Spiders are far more detail oriented. They have the uncanny ability to not only follow all the various twists and turns a complex theory can take, but to also develop a system in which these ideas can flourish in the real world. Spiders view knowledge as a means of reaching an objective, one that can hopefully change the world for the better.

Much of this work is performed behind-the-scenes, as a Spider, on the outside, can seem similar to the introverted Owl and—their Shaman cousin—the Giant Panda. However, unlike those types, who tend to be pacifists, a Spider is not opposed to war in and of itself. Like all things in their sphere of understanding, war is just an abstract concept, the virtue of which is dictated solely by practicality and context. After all, to a Spider, ideas are primarily vehicles for tangible impact, and to automatically judge something as being positive or negative, without understanding its context in the real world, is prejudicial. In this manner, Spiders are quite objective, expressing an enormous amount of skepticism when it comes to value judgments such as “good” and evil.” Though to accuse them of not believing in such things would be an overreach; they’re merely agnostic, trusting the data they’ve been compiling—a lifelong enterprise for most Spiders—to lead the way.

The Reserved Contradiction

Kristin Kreuk1

It’s not that easy to find someone I can relate to. I’m tough to crack because I’m shy.

– Kristin Kreuk

Spiders are a living oxymoron. On one hand, they’re industrious, career-minded individuals. On the other hand, they create systems with the expressed goal of avoiding doing more work than they deem necessary, and career ambition as a means to material success is an anathema to them. They can be terse in general conversation, but if asked about their current project they will ramble on and on about every detail. Their thoughts are methodically collated. Their workspace is a cluttered disaster. A Spider will utilize an online system to schedule a meeting that perfectly fits every attendee’s schedule, a meeting in which they will be presenting the intricate details of a plan they have meticulously crafted, and just prior to said presentation, they will proceed to accidentally run into a pole on the way to the office.

The most tragic contradiction: Spiders are frequently viewed as cold and indifferent despite the wellspring of intense emotions bottled up inside of them. Perhaps it’s their desire to always be in control of a situation—only the Killer Whale is a bigger control freak—that causes Spider to repress their feelings, for fear that expressing them might leave them vulnerable. A Spider might choose to just shut most people out entirely, which invariably decreases their interpersonal skills, as their insight into people will be limited to what books they can research on the subject. Thankfully, mature Spiders are able to relinquish the need for absolute control, opening up to a small selection of trusted individuals.

The Contingency Planner

Michael Corleone

Let’s set the meeting. Get our informers to find out where it’s gonna be held. Now, we insist it’s a public place, a bar, a restaurant, some place where there’s people, so I feel safe. They’re gonna search me when I first meet them, right? So I can’t have a weapon on me then. But if Clemenza can figure a way to have a weapon planted there for me, then I’ll kill ’em both.

– Michael Corleone, The Godfather

The master of the algorithm, it’s not unusual to hear a Spider using conditional statements like “if this, then that…” when devising a strategy. Spiders pride themselves on always being three steps ahead of everyone else; don’t be surprised if you find out that a Spider has already prepared a plan B and C for the fifth likeliest outcome of a given scenario.

Long term planning is common for the objective-minded Spider. Days, weeks, years, even decades could pass before a Spider gets what they want—every Spider would’ve passed the marshmallow test. This is not evidence of fear or dispassion, but merely the patience to wait until certain conditions have been met and the Spider’s goal is ripe for the taking. Unfortunately, there can be negative consequences to such narrow-minded dedication, as Spiders are not the most self-aware individuals, and the vigilance they devote to their plans doesn’t always extend itself to their emotional well-being. A Spider might find themselves in a situation where they’ve spent years of planning to achieve an outcome that they’re just beginning to realize they don’t want.

The Efficient Problem Solver

Bill Gates

I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.

– Bill Gates

The Spider’s gift is their ability to integrate a myriad of disparate, even discordant, ideas into a harmonious web of synchronicity, an elegantly practical, working system that solves an existing problem or fulfills a foreseeable need. For a Spider, the beauty of the design lies in its tangible efficiency, a strong departure from the other Smith designers, the fanciful Chimpanzee and speculative Owl. The Spider’s plan is always to minimize input and maximize output in a way that can be easily incorporated into the general operations of the company or institution they work for.

Because of this, it’s common to find Spiders in fields that possess a strong need for structural precision, such as corporate business, education, software design, and academic research. Whether they’re devising a hostile takeover, a curriculum, an SaaS platform, or an experimental study, Spiders work tirelessly to create a system that, at worst, will increase productivity, and at best, will revolutionize their respective industry.


  • Frank Rugamba says:

    Still I Don’t Understand Who I Am!
    Is There An Expert To Converse To?

  • Nice article. Although after reading this I realize there are easier ways to phrase the words. I mean instead of the numerous big words used you could easily just use simpler terms.

    • Just another Internet as*le says:

      Well, after reading your comment (which uses two sentences to state the same thing -redundancy), I wouldn’t entrust you with the task of making this article more to the point. Maybe you just got INTJ and felt the need to prove your “INTJness”, but at least do it right, mate. Or just don’t be an as*le about it. Cheers.

    • dude, just update your vocabulary

  • Gert-Jan ten Ham says:

    On other tests I always get INFJ, but here I am tied in between INFJ and INTJ. It depends on a few words I choose. When I choose ‘feeling/humanistic’ words for example, I think I miss some other important words that define me. I also asked someone who knows me very well (my wife) which list with my 28 chosen words is correct. She said both. Hmm… Interesting…

  • Gert-Jan ten Ham says:

    Normally I always get INFJ, but on this test I am tied in between INFJ and INTJ. It depends on which of my core values I focus when I am answering the questions. First I got INFJ, but later when reviewing my answers I felt like I had missed some of my key characteristics. Thus, I got INTJ. Interesting… Hmm…

    • Gert-Jan ten Ham says:

      Even more interesting is that someone who knows me very well (my wife) agrees with both ways I have answered your test and (thus) with both results.

      • I guess that’s the beauty of understanding personality. A test is never better than actual human interaction, and hopefully only encourages us all to keep trying to understand ourselves and others better. In reading your previous comments, there is a certain pattern of teetering on both idealist and rational values. You might want to read the profile for the Owl actually. Owls are the idealist of the rationals (pandas are the rational of the idealists). Owls are pacifists by nature and compassionate in a calm, analytical way. They can be highly critical of things that upset their values, but tend to view aggression as harmful, and will look for more indirect ways to affect change. They LOVE information. The significant difference between an Owl and a Spider is that the former likes info for its own sake, where the latter tends to be more time efficient with their learning. Your comments sound thoughtful, which is not the sole providence of Owls, but Spider comments usually have a little more bite.

        • Gert-Jan ten Ham says:

          Thanks a lot for the comment. It is very useful for my self-development. I really like the profile of the Owl. Still, I think I am closest to the Giant Panda. I crave too much for structure and I am too much of a planner to be an Owl or a Humpback Whale. To be honest, I thought I was an Owl first. I am mostly a pacifist like Pandas and Owls (I am strongly antimilitarist), but I am not against a revolution to overthrow a totalitarian government. Sometimes violence is a necessity to destroy the oppressor and thus to create a better society. In such cases violence is a necessary evil. This is where I get my anarchist tendencies from. Furthermore, my dream job would be an ideologist for someone like a president or prime-minister (preferably a socialist). I crave for control behind the scenes, but when really necessary I would not be too reluctant to show myself to pull the strings. Lately I have studied on cognitive functions and I have realized that my main function is introverted intuition. Spiders and Pandas have this one in common. My secondary function is extraverted feeling, which is in line with Pandas. I deducted that my idealism comes first, then rationalism. Also, I have a lot of will power to achieve the things that I aim for. Lastly, I am quite stubborn about my plans for the future as I refuse to give up on them easily. So, my own conclusion is that my primary type is a Panda and my secondary a Spider.

        • Gert-Jan ten Ham says:

          You were right here. I am an Owl. It took me quite some time to understand this, but now I finally do. I guess that this uncertainty about your personality type is very much like an Owl as well. Thanks again for your help.

          • I’m glad that I could help! Yes, I think for Owls, the greatest enemy to truth is certainty.

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