Posted in writing

Using Myers Briggs for Characters

One of the hardest parts about building a character is sometimes getting their personality down. Although you could sit down and hammer out every single trait–loyalty versus selfishness, naivete versus worldly experience, et cetera–there are a lot of different traits that go into a human personality.

The other way way might be to look at their Myers Briggs personality type. As simple as it sounds, the sixteen types of personalities identifed by the Myers Brigs system provides a detailed base to work off for characters who need a little more fleshing out. It’s important to note that no one type of personality is superior to any other, nor does having a particular personality type make a character or person immediately qualified for a particular roles. People with ENTJ and INTJ personalities might have qualities that make them drawn towards leadership roles, but leadership requires development of skills outside of the personality itself.

The Myers Briggs system works based on four categories: Extraversion versus Introversion, Sensing versus Intiution, Thinking versus Feeling and Judging versus Perceiving. Each of these correlates to how you think and where your energies are focused.

Extraversion vs. Introversion: Extroverts are the people who gain energy from being around and interacting with others. Introverts however, gain energy from quiet reflection and quiet activities. These are different ways of expression energy and both discharging it and renewing it. Extroverts lose energy when alone and need socialization to recharge. Introverts lose energy by socializing and need time for reflection and processing. Within the Myers Briggs, this first category is marked by an E for the extrovert, and an I for the introvert.

Sensing vs. Intuition: Collecting information is something we do every day. Sensors however, focus on the details of the information and gather information directly from the external world. Intuitives look for patterns and context, relying on internal judgement to fill in missing information. Neither way is wrong, merely different from the other. Sensors are represented by an S while intuitives use N to prevent confusion with the above introverts.

Thinking vs. Feeling: Everyday situations need choices, regardless of  what the situation is. Thinkers respond to choices based on logic and reasoning. Feelers make those same choices based on their emotions. This can also apply to reactions: does your character spring for the immediately logical and deal with the emotional fall out later, or does your character’s emotional state rule how they react at any given moment? Thinkers are denoted by a T while feelers use F.

Judging vs. Perceiving: Judging and perceiving deal with organizing information. Judges organize things by rules and repeated patterns. Perceivers however, are open to improvisation and flexibility. Judges may be more reliant on experience to help sort their thoughts while perceivers may go on a base-by-case basis. As with the others, judges recieve a J while percievers have a P.

Each of the sixteen types recognized by the Myers Briggs system is denoted by a four letter notation: INTJ, ENFP, ESTP, ISFJ and so on and so fourth. Often these correlate to profiles, which, for building and developing a character, can give you a good sense of what’s happening in their head. If you need to, take a Myers Briggs personality test based on how your character would respond to the questions. Don’t be surprised if there’s some variation either: these categories aren’t polar opposites, but a spectrum.