I don’t know about you but sometimes I find it difficult to get out of my own head and get inside my character’s head. I’ve spent close to four decades knowing myself and how I react to a given situation but I might have only known my character for a few weeks, months or years. When it comes to understanding my character – and what kind of character the story demands – I’ve found personality typing to be incredibly useful.
There are lots of ways to approach personality typing and there are numerous self help books and pop-psychology books that cover this and related subjects. However, I’ve found that it’s best not to dig too deep or overthink it since any psychology based subject is a rabbit hole that can be as procrastinatingly harmful as it can be helpful. Which theory you prefer is entirely down to you, but I like the Myers-Briggs theory and the website 16 Personalities which references it.
Myers-Briggs personality types are based on theories established by Carl Jueng. There is some debate about the validity of Myers-Briggs but this is fiction we’re talking about and we’re going for a believable, well-rounded character, not a psychology doctorate. Myers-Briggs defines personality in terms of four pairs of core preferences, each pair in opposition, giving 16 possible combinations. The preference pairs are as follows: Introversion (I) / Extroversion (E); Intuition (N) / Sensing (S); Thinking (T) / Feeling (F); Judging (J) / Perceiving (P). Each character type is assigned a preference represented by the appropriate letter, so a character INTJ would be the polar opposite of a character ESFP.
The reason why I particularly like the 16 Personalities website is that it helpfully gives a definition and description for each of the personality combinations and also references celebrities and fictional characters as examples of each type. You can also get a description of the strengths and weaknesses of each character type, romantic relationships, friendships, parenting, careers and workplace behaviours.
Start out by taking the personality test yourself to see what type of personality you are and then have a look at some of the other types.
Note that the site does offer a premium service which is geared towards helping you understand your own personality, but I’ve found that this is unnecessary for my purposes.
I hope this has been useful to you. Do you use any similar tools? Do you use Myers-Briggs already?