Psychology to Develop Characters
I’ve noticed many of the authors at Prairie Rose have talked recently about their research—and believe me, I’ve been there, too. But the research I’ve been doing in the last few weeks has taken me to a whole other kind of rabbit hole. While I started out with the intention of developing characters by using the Myers-Briggs Personality Types, I not only discovered a whole new way to create villains, heroes, and whatever lies between, I accidently found enlightenment and validation.
Many of you may remember taking the Myers-Briggs Personality Test in high school for the purpose of helping you choose careers based on your character traits. Mine was INFJ (I’ll explain the personality types further down.) Already, I feel like I might be exposing who I am down deep just by telling you what my result was. But I can be fearless. Now that I’m more mature (hopefully), I can see where people make not only career choices based on their personality types, but they also choose friends and life mates the same way—except it’s all in the subconscious. I consider subconscious goings on as scary business. I don’t like the idea of doing things I have no control over.
It may seem like a waste of time to hang out on Pinterest, but I have found so much information there, I could spend the day doing nothing but Pinterest. Besides, for my personality type, Pinterest research is my energy recharge.
Here is the basic test and what the results mean. You may be astounded by your results. I certainly was.
MYERS-BRIGGS PERSONALITY CHART
Extravert (energy) Introvert
initiating E vs I receiving
Sensing (information) Intuition
concrete S vs I or N abstract
Thinking (decisions) Feeling
logical T vs F casual
Judging (lifestyle) Perceiving
systematic J vs P casual
early starting pressure-prompted
When I took the test, I learned I was an INFJ (same thing as an IIFJ). I’m a daydreamer and a night thinker, an idealist, and get my energy from being alone. It’s hard for me to be around extroverts and large crowds for an extended period of time because I feel drained of my energy. Introverts tend to give energy to others and have to be alone to recharge. Extroverts, on the other hand, are rejuvenated and inspired by the energy of others. I always thought introverts were withdrawn, but it turns out that is not the case. They just have a limited source of energy they can only regenerate by themselves so they keep to their own space. Their silence isn’t an insult, but is often taken as such. They just don’t speak unless they have something to say. They feel like it’s their duty to cheer up those who seem to need it. So much of what weighs them down is not their burden to carry. They don’t realize they’re drowning because they are everyone else’s anchor. The most important desire an INFJ wants is for someone to understand them. I think perhaps many writers fit into this personality type. Just sayin’…
Just using this example, I can see where an INFJ or INFP hero or heroine might chose a friend or life partner who was their complete opposite like an ESTJ (direct, confident, aggressive, and unfeeling) to create story tension. I have used the Zodiac signs to create characters in the past, but I see where Myers Briggs is far better in building characters because it’s more detailed about the inner workings of each personality type.
Okay, so here is the Myers Briggs personality types and their basic characteristics:
ISTJ put together, reserved, serious, judgmental
ISFJ level-headed, sweet, submissive, overly cautious
INFJ kind, reflective, withdrawn, overly sensitive
INTJ intelligent, serious, impersonal, aloof
ISTP independent, down-to-earth, undiplomatic, disconnected from others
ISFP unique, carefree, overly sensitive, close-minded
INFP dreamy, caring, spacey, overly sensitive
INTP rational, pensive, critical, isolated
ESTP fun, confident, superficial, aggressive
ESFP entertaining, spontaneous, vapid, superficial
ENFP charming, enthusiastic, thoughtless, unreliable
ENTP innovative, energetic, insensitive, scatterbrained
ESTJ direct, confident, aggressive, unfeeling
ESFJ friendly, helpful, bossy, controlling
ENFJ energetic, diplomatic, unrealistic, overly sensitive
ENTJ put together, ambitious, intimidating, aggressive
I already figured out my family and friends. I can’t help it. I just had to see where they fit in these personality types, bearing in mind, it’s only my perception of them. I have a family of mostly extroverts, and my few friends are introverts. They do fall into different categories after that. Isn’t this fun?
Characters and their Myers Briggs personality type.
So, you can plot out your characters by using Myers Briggs. Here is a list of MB personalities and their vocations.
ENTJ the Executive
INTJ the Mastermind
ENTP the Originator
INTP the Scientist
ESTJ the Overseer
ISTJ the Examiner
ESTP the Persuader
ISTP the Craftsman
ENFJ the Mentor
INFJ the Perfectionist
ENFP the Advocate
INFP the Dreamer
ESFJ the Supporter
ISFJ the Defender
ESFP the Entertainer
ISFP the Artist
When a writer is developing a criminal, it would be wise to incorporate the kind of MB personality that would commit such a crime. I wish I had known this a couple stories ago. So here is a list of MB personality types and the kind of crimes each would potentially commit.
I found quite a few jokes about the Myers Briggs personality types, especially between Spock from Star Trek and Sherlock Holmes, including the responses of their sidekicks, Watson and Bones.
I’m ashamed to say I didn’t get this when I saw the Star Trek film. But it sure is funny now that it has been pointed out to me—probably by an observant, intelligent INTJ type.
I wrote the personality types, their typical vocations and potential crimes in my journal to use in my story development. To quote Spock, “I found it fascinating.”