Introduction to Personality Types in Characters

Good evening. As you know I am Gigi and I am a parti poodle. Tonight, my novelist begins a series of posts on personality types for characters. I myself am an ENTJ. This is because I think big picture and like to oversee everything. Right now, I am overseeing a new chew stick. My novelist has been using this approach for many years now and enjoys how it helps her compare characters. We hope you’ll enjoy this series as I gnaw on my chew stick and consider my next move towards becoming CEO of a major pet supply company.

While I was studying screenwriting, my day job was doing computer phone support. We had a group of guys who did desk side support as well and one of them talked about going to a party where everyone took the Keirsey Temperament Sorter. Curious, I asked him about the test, and he directed me to a website where I could take it online. My experience with personality types was love at first site. I was so enthralled with them I sent a link to the people in my screenwriting class to see what their results were. One of the writers thought the test was supposed to be for her characters and tested her protagonist instead. That’s when I realized what a great idea she had by happenstance. And from that point forwards I give my characters personality tests.

Now, I know the Big 5 may be a more accurate assessment of human beings. However, as a writer I’m dealing with fictional characters and not real people. Comparing fictional personalities using the Big 5 it’s a lot more difficult than using the Keirsey Temperament Sorter unless you are quite knowledgeable about psychology. I’m not saying you can’t do it, but I think you’ll be pulling your hair out. I find Keirsey’s test to be straight forward, easy to understand and seamless when it comes to comparing temperaments.

My all-time favorite site for describing each of the sixteen personality types is Not Your Typical Personality Types. This site makes it easy to know which character is which and why. It’s also well written and hilarious. When I am asked what an ENFJ is I can simply say they are a cult leader and people understand what I’m talking about. I always have this web site in my toolbox.

Also, in my toolbox are both of Dr. David Keirsey’s books Please Understand Me: Character & Temperament Types and Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence. I think every writer should have these in their library. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve referred to them not just for writing but for other odd things life throws my way. Doesn’t matter if you get them new or used or downloaded to your device. They go far more into depth than what your going to find out on the internet unless your paying for it so you might as well get the books. The books also have the test in them so you can test and grade your characters as needed.  A couple of good sites to take the test online are 16personalities , Truity  and humanmetrics.

Essentially there are four temperaments and each temperament break down into four groups.  These groups are the Artisans, the Guardians, the Rationals and the Idealists. Each of these groups breaks down into four groups making sixteen personalities in all.   A few quick things you need to know for characters. Worldwide there are far more Artisans and Guardians than Rationals and Idealists. The Artisans take up 38-40% of the world and the Guardians take up about 38-40% of the world. That makes about 76-80% of the world’s population. Rationals take up about 10-12% of the world and Idealists take up about 10-12% of the world making a combined total of about 20-24% of the world population. The Rationals and the Idealists are thus outnumbered. But don’t be fooled. They have ways of making up for this.

What separates the Artisans and Guardians from the Rationals, and Idealist is Sensory vs. Intuition. More people are sensory than intuitive. If you were to hand an Artisan or a Guardian a pencil and ask them what it is, they would tell you it is a pencil. But if you handed a pencil to a Rational or an Idealist, they might tell you it is an unwritten theorem or novel. In other words, the Artisans and Guardians focus on what is. The Rationals and Idealist focus on what could be.

One thing you might not think about is that personality types coagulate. Which is to say birds of a feather flock together. A group of athletes is likely to be mostly made up of artisans. A group of nurses is likely to be made up of Guardians. A group of scientists is likely to be mostly Rationals. A group of writers is likely to be Idealists. There are exceptions to these rules but essentially if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, well guess what? Sometimes you will get a mixture of two opposing groups. Teachers, for instance are mostly made up of Guardians (over 50%) and Idealists (over 30%). These people barely get along but for some reason gravitate towards the same occupation. This makes for excellent conflict if you were to write a story involving schoolteachers.

Next week I will talk about romantic attraction between personality types and which personality types are mortal enemies.  I post every Thursday. That’s the schedule. While you’re waiting for my next post check out my novel Chicane currently available on Amazon.

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