Briggs Myers’ Character Types Applied to Characters

CognitiveFunctions

Hey all! This is a post that’s been hanging around in my drafts since last year. I had initially planned on applying the personality types to my characters, but that seems like a whole lot of…pain. And suffering. So I’ve decided to NOT do that. But I still wanted to discuss the personality types as applied to characters in general. I still have the character types for most of the Opus cast figured out though. They might pop up as examples.

I first became familiar with the MBTI personality types when I was in college. One of the professors I worked for had all of her students take the test and a survey and was using it for a study.

I never saw my initial result.

I’m an INFP. I have tested as INTP as well. I could probably test INFJ as well. It all depends on how I’m feeling when I take the test. While personality tests are relatively easy to manipulate – there are at least some interesting correlations. And it can be quite fun to apply to characters.

So how does this all work?

The MBTI test breaks your personality down into four key traits (introverted or extroverted, sensing or intuition, thinking or feeling, and judging or perceiving). While it doesn’t cover everything and can vary from day to day, this does cover a lot of traits.

In theory, characters have just as many facets are regular people do. In theory, you should be able to figure out a type for them, even if it’s a bit difficult. Sometimes characters appear one way, but are actually a different way. You know, like some people.

Doesn’t that pigeonhole the character?

I don’t think so! I think of this as an exercise in learning about your characters. This is just you figuring out various parts of their personality and possibly reading up on different ways your character might react. Or careers that they could have excelled in.

It’s just insight.

And really…by going through the various MBTI types with my characters, I really feel I learned more about them. Even characters that I thought I knew well. Some of them I knew going into this, some of them I really had to think on. Aria was actually pretty difficult to type. As was Madeline. But then Jinto and Ava were incredibly easy. Those two I knew going in.

It was interesting.

so did you go through and take the MBTI test for each of them?

Oh. No.

Like I said, personality quizzes are really easy to manipulate. So if I wanted someone to turn out as INTP, I could pick out which parts might tick the box toward a different result. Think back on those Harry Potter sorting quizzes where you could easily pick out all the different houses, it’s like that. In a way. It’s slightly less certain, but you can still figure it out some.

So I took those base traits (introverted or extroverted, sensing or intuition, thinking or feeling, and judging or perceiving) and applied one of each to my characters. I also read descriptions for each of the types to make sure I was on the right track and to clarify if I was having difficulty. Sensing and intuition is the one that throws me – I feel they’re similar, but in the test’s terms, they’re very different. For MBTI sensing is focusing on the reality of how things are whereas intuition is focusing on what could be.

I already said that I knew Jinto and Ava’s types going into this. Jinto is INTP and Ava is INFP. Those types just feel right for them. The thing is though, Jinto could easily test as ISTP as well. That also suits him.

Now a demonstration…

Together, I went through and typed Jinto Jameson (INTP), Light Morrison (ISTJ), Keiran Thedas (ESFJ), Ava Braus (INFP), Madeline Brayton (INFJ), Darien Marcellus (ISTP), John Stratton (ENTJ), and Aria Brayton (ENTP). Of them, the most difficult were: Aria, Madeline, and Keiran.

So…

I’ll go through what I did with them with another character. Cheshire. Who is a very unique example.

So introvert or extrovert? Cheshire is unique in the sense that he’s more of a forced extrovert than anything. He’s talkative, can survive in a fast paced setting, and enjoys being the center of attention from time to time. The most important distinction? This wears him out. He needs to recharge after dealing with people. He needs alone time. So we’ll say Extroverted but in reality, he is introverted.

Sensing versus intuition? This one is less complicated. While Cheshire focuses in on the concrete details and facts as well as the reality of how things are, he is more focused on the possibilities of what could be. He enjoys concepts and ideas and sees the big picture. So he is Intuitive.

Thinking versus feeling comes down to decisions, for the most part (not just for Cheshire, just in general). For Cheshire, it’s going to come down to his mood. Is he capable of focusing on being impersonal in his decisions? Yes. Does he do that all the time? No. Does he enjoy finding the flaws in arguments? Yes, because he’s a brat. But he does tend to make decisions based on his personal beliefs and he’s quite empathetic. So Cheshire is Feeling.

Judging versus perceiving? This is usually broken down into how someone likes their outer life. Think of the time you spend with friends, that would be your outer life. This is another interesting one for Cheshire. While he wants to have some things settled, he also wants to keep his options open.There are bits and pieces from both sides that apply to him. Predominantly, he’ll fall into Perceiving, but if the mood swayed him, he could easily be judging.

That puts Cheshire as an E(i)NFP.

because this is getting long…

Time to wrap up. So you can see how carefully I had to think through Cheshire’s personality type there. It really forces you to get to know your characters better. And, in general, these are interesting questions to ask about your characters. At least I think so!

Anyone else applied MBTI to their characters before? Let me know if you give it a try!

Happy writing!
~LL

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