Friday, May 11, 2012

Myers-Briggs Personality Temperaments


By Jill Williamson

Writing about fictional archetypes on Tuesday made me think of real ones.

In 1920, a Swiss physician Carl Jung wrote in his book Psychological Types that people have an archetype that drives them from within, that defines how they see the world and make decisions. There are several archetypes, and no one is more important than another. People are different. And that is a good thing.

Isabel Myers and her mother, Kathryn Briggs created a questionnaire inspired by Jung’s psychology and published the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator in 1962. This testing is still used today. I find it fascinating and choose a personality type for each of my main characters in every book I write these days. Like the Five Love Languages, understanding personality types can be a valuable tool in real life relationships and in your fiction.

I’d like to highly recommend the book Please Understand Me II by David Keirsey. This book goes into detail on each personality type. But you don’t need a book to get the Myers-Briggs information these days. It’s all online. Be careful, you could get so caught up in learning about these personalities that you don’t write for months!

There are sixteen combinations that fall into one of four categories. Here is the breakdown:

Artesians (SPs)       Guardians (SJs)          Idealists (NFs)          Rationals (NTs)
ESTP (Promoter)    ESTJ (Supervisor)     ENFJ (Teacher)        ENTJ (Field Marshal)
ISTP (Crafter)         ISTJ (Inspector)        INFJ (Counselor)      INTJ (Mastermind)
ESFP (Performer)   ESFJ (Provider)         ENFP (Champion)    ENTP (Inventor)
ISFP (Composer)    ISFJ (Protector)         INFP (Healer)          INTP (Architect)

Click on each type above to read a full description from another website. Keep in mind, the author on this website doesn’t always title each personality the way that Davis Keirsey does. But the letter combinations are the same and I love her definitions. I’ve printed them all out and put them in a binder to use when I’m thinking up new characters.

Very quickly, the four types tend to be:
Artesians (SPs)- Adventurous, action-oriented, spontaneous.
Guardians (SJs)- Dependable, traditional, loyal.
Idealists (NFs)- Romantic, empathetic, authentic, creative, impassioned.
Rationals (NTs)- Technical, competent, ingenious, skeptical, innovative, non-conformist.

What the letters mean:
E=Extroverted ---or--- I=Introvert
S=Sensory  ---or---  N=Intuitive
T=Thinking  ---or---  F=Feeling
J=Judging  ---or---  P=Perceiving

Take the test yourself and see what you discover. It’s pretty fun. You can test here: http://www.personalitypage.com/html/indicate.html
or try here: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp

I’m an INFP Healer to the point that reading the description out loud makes my family laugh. But the test didn’t get me there. Reading the descriptions pegged me. Some people just can’t take tests, I guess.

Which one are you?

How might understanding your character at such a depth be helpful?

60 comments:

  1. Awesome, Jill! I'm an ISFJ. :)

    "has an extraordinary memory for things related to their value system."
    "... The IDFJ will faithfully and tirelessly carry out a task to completion."
    "They do not usually express their feelings, keeping things inside."
    "In the face of critism the ISFJ gets discouraged." (doesn't happen as much as it did, writing is giving me thick skin.)

    All of that is so... Me. :) I'll have to run some of my characters through the test. :)

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    1. Oh and I forgot "tends to be overly critical of their self." also me!

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    2. LOL
      It's fun, huh, Allison.
      :-)
      Jill

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    3. It is! I liked getting results for my characters! :)

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    4. Hehe! I'm an ISFJ too! It fits me dead on!

      I've taken these quizzes for characters before, and it always gets it! My one character is an INFP as well. :D

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  2. Cool! Ithis
    Would be amazing help!
    Is there a book that has the quiz in it?
    The online test is 5$ and I'd rather get a book.

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    1. Yes, the book Please Understand Me II has the Myers-Briggs test in it.

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    2. Hmmm. Sorry about that. I didn't realize it was $5.
      Try this one: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp

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  3. xD I'm an ISTJ THE INSPECTOORRR lol ...wow after reading the details I sound a bit morbid O_O I don't think I'm quite an ISTJ but I'm pretty close to it. I know my personality type definitely has the "I" in it though :D ...to the surprise of many people xD

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    2. INFJ!!! :O
      I've found me! Okay so everything on this is pretty much me... Also, it goes hand in hand with my love language ^_^

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    3. LOL
      I'm glad you found yourself, Random.
      ;-)

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    4. ohhh darnnit I might be an INTJ... -_- It's hard pinpointing this!! xD

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  4. I must admit, I love learing about personality types an such. I just find it so...interesting, fascinating, exciting. I love reading The Birth Order Book b Kevin Leman and How Am I Smart? by Dr. Kathy Koch because they are the same type of people defining books. I have thougt about personalities and temperaments in my stories and found them very helpful. Thank you! I will have a lot of fun with this one!

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    1. You're welcome! And I have fun with these too.
      :-)

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  5. I didn't want to pay $5 to take the quiz, but after reading the descriptions, INFJ Protector is definitely my description! Weird - it says only 1% of the population are INFJs, but it matches me perfectly. My grandmother once said i have way too much intuition and I should tune out of it, but I prefer to put some faith into it because intuition is very helpful!

    Thanks for a fantastic post! I found it extremel fascinating and helpful for my characters!

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    1. Intuition rocks!

      Sorry about the $5 thing, guys. I thought I'd taken the quiz at that link before, but maybe I'm confusing that site with another one or maybe she decided to start charging...

      I'm glad you figured it out anyway. If you google "Free Myers-Briggs test" you should find some other testing options out there.

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    2. I did go out and take some free Myers-Briggs test. One of them is called the Jung Personality test, and is extremely similiar and based off of the MB types. I got INFJ every time I take it! I made my friends take the test, too, and they got INTJ, super close to my type! We had a ton of fun with this. Thanks for the awesome blog post! I actually learned about myself through this. I took the test 'as my character' and it got exactly what I was expecting. Super fun!

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  6. Wow! So interesting! I may have to look into getting that book... But yes, I could see how you could get so caught up in reading through this that you never get to writing! :) I didn't take the quiz but couldn't quite fit myself in the descriptions - I think I'm a mix of several. :)

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    1. I LOVE brain types! I've studied on this subject a little and find it fascinating.
      Actually, Gillian, each person is only one of those types listed above. The different variables are different locations in your brain. Everybody uses their whole brain but are more apt to default to/dominate in certain areas than the rest, especially when faced with stressful situations.
      For example, an introvert going to a party where they don't know anybody is more likely to act like an introvert than when they are hanging out with their close friends.
      Another thing that plays a vital role in this is upbringing and birth order.
      You (or your character) may be an extrovert, but everyone else in the family is an introvert. You (or your character) might be more calm and inclined to keep to yourself than if every else in the family was an extrovert as well.
      Or you might be an ISFP (a very laid back, go with the flow person) and be the oldest of eight going on nine children :-) You would be forced out of you comfort zone on a daily basis to use the E, C, T, and J parts of your brain.
      If you're interested in learning more on this I highly recommend Jon Neidnagel's book Brain Types and Parenting. He explains how each part of your brain works and how it applies to your personality, hobbies, interests, and more.

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    2. Gillian,
      Yeah, I don't think that any person really fits 100% into any description. God has designed us all so uniquely. But it's a fun thing to look at.

      Pattie,
      Wow! You've really studied this stuff! That's some cool insight. Thanks!

      Jill

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  7. I've read Please Understand Me II several times, and I always learn so much more about my characters once I determine their personality type.

    Myself, I'm an INTJ (because being a Mastermind is Just So Cool), although I've also taken tests where I've ended up as an INTP and an ISTJ and ISFJ.

    Here's a free Myers-Briggs test: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp

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    1. Ooh, thanks for the free link, Eldra!
      Yeah, sometimes I wish I was a Mastermind just for the title.
      LOL

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    2. Who doesn't want to be able to say "I'm a Mastermind!" :D

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  8. I took this test with my friend this New Years and I'm an INFP Healer as well! It fits me perfectly! I won't go in depth describing how I fit the category, but basically if you read what an INFP is, that's me! I'm so glad you posted about this Stephanie, because it's one of my favourites!

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    1. Whoops! Thanks for posting this *JILL :)

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    2. I've encountered the Myers-Briggs test a lot of times. Yet, it's an interesting concept, considering the type of depth it has. Plus, it's plain old fun.

      In my case, I'm a INTJ, with an INTP. Suitably enough, those are the two most common Myer-Briggs types among writers, according to this post: http://youngbloodblog.wordpress.com/myersbriggs/

      In terms of characters, it isn't really something I've tried lately, but I'm sure my narrator is INTJ too, with the co-protagonist being INFP or ISFP. Or is it INTP or ISTP? I'm not sure.

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    3. Indie,
      You're welcome! And, wow! A fellow INFP! Sigh. I understand, Indie. I really do. LOL!

      Chihuahuao,
      It is fun, huh? You should try and force yourself to write a narrator the opposite of your personality. I bet that would be an interesting experiment!

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  9. Lydia Grace HartMay 11, 2012 at 5:28 PM

    I am a... provider? Hmmm...definitely did not expect ESFJ.

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    1. Lydia Grace HartMay 11, 2012 at 5:34 PM

      I read the description, and in some ways, it had me pegged, but... cooperative, tactful, down-to-earth, practical, thorough, consistent, organized? Heh heh... no.

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    2. The test isn't always correct, Lydia. And some people are really a combination of two. I found mine by reading the descriptions. I remember taking the test and thinking, no way. Then I was reading through each description, trying to think through my characters, and went I got to the Healer I started reading it aloud to my family. Pegged me!

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    3. Lydia Grace HartMay 12, 2012 at 10:27 PM

      Thanks :) Read one, and it was it - ENFP atw

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  10. :D I'm an ENFP!!! :D The "silly switch" is completely me, as is the need for a lot of people, and making people laugh. (I LOVE to make people laugh. ^_^) On that note, my MC, Ryan, is an ISTP. Needs his space, to the point that he gets irritated when people look like they're infringing on his space. :)

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    1. Love it, Becki! And how well you know your character too.

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  11. I used to be obsessed with all this stuff! So forgive me if I'm wrong but doesn't the I stand for introvert?

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    1. YES!
      Thank you, Emii!
      This is what happens when you don't proofread your blog posts.
      O-o

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    2. Oh, I know the feeling. I guess we can all be thankful for the editing icon! I don't suppose it happens the same way with printed books, huh? I'm into the editing of my book and my mum is insisting I find a name for the town. I thought Country Town was perfectly fine and tried to explain to her that in all of those classic books, "____ shire" was what the towns were called but here we are, reading down a list of strange-sounding Australian towns.
      I love you mum. And thanks for helping me. :)

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  12. I'm ISFP! I discovered Myers-Briggs a few months ago, and I've tried using it for my characters. It is pretty helpful to get a general idea of the character's personality.

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    1. Yeah. I usually pick their personality, then move on, then come back in when I'm editing and tweak things that they do or say to fit it, if I'm off in spots.

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    2. Hmm. Well, I read the descriptions, and even though ISFP is very close, I think I might actually be INFP. It seems to fit a little better.

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    3. And I haven't gotten anywhere near to editing yet on my WIP, but I'll try to make sure my characters fit their personality types when I do. Thank you so much for this post! And apparently INFPs make good fiction writers because they can develop real and complex characters :)

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  13. Awesome! I took this test a couple of years ago. I love this psychology stuff. :) I'm still an INTJ -- Mastermind! (And I am honored to share a personality type with Shakespeare's Cassius, in Julius Caesar. This makes me very happy. :) ) I've been doing this sort of test on my characters for a while, and it's really helpful for finding faults that I otherwise wouldn't have noticed or come up with on my own. Thanks for the great post!

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    1. Good point about finding faults in your characters, JessicaJo. It really can bring to mind some new ideas. *goes to find her character sheets to read them again for faults*

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  14. I'm an ENTJ, and when i read the description, it was 100% me! Haha I love using it for characters :)

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    1. It's funny...my MC in my WIP, 13 Months, is a INFP....almost total opposite. But it's fun writing as her.

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    2. I think that's a great challenge, Abigail, to write someone who is totally unlike you.

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  15. I sent in my entry for the contest via the contact area on your blog, Stephanie, and I never got a confirmation email. I just wanted to make sure you got my entry. :)

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    1. Stella, I had at least one confirmation email that came back to me, and it might have been yours. I'm not on the right computer to check, but I'm pretty sure I remember your name. You're our only Stella so far :)

      Would you let me know (either through the contact form or by emailing me Stephanie(at)GoTeenWriters.com) your correct email address?

      Thanks for checking with me!

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  16. Oh, that was really fun. Just from your definitions of the letters I figured my type was INFJ, then I took the test and I was right! :)

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    1. Cool, Rachelle. I'm a bad tester. I over think every questions, second guessing myself, which totally fits my personalty.
      :-)

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    2. I'm an INFJ too! We are the rarest of the rare. ;)

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    3. I've taken the quiz a few times over the last few years and I'm always the INFJ...the rarest of the rare. I love that I have the Idealist trait in common with you both, Jill and Rachelle! ;-)

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  17. I got ISFJ, and have on every single personality test I've taken. On this one, though, it says I lean slightly toward INFJ. I'd say, from reading the descriptions, that I am a cross between the two. Certain characteristics of both apply to me. :)

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  18. I've taken the test several times and always get INTP or ISTP, ALWAYS with a 2% preference or something ridiculously close to a tie between N and S. Both descriptions are mostly accurate. On different days I feel more like one or the other, it's weird.

    I usually try to avoid writing my own personality types into characters, although I do have one ISTP and one fairly similar ESTP. Those two are the most fun-to-write characters I've ever written.

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  19. *Squeak*
    I was so excited to see this here. I formed an obsession a while ago and I'm an INFP. I know almost everything about my personality type, but I'm just now starting to use them in my writing and learning the rest is exhaustive XD

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  20. This blog is so useful!! I tried the personality test then I got ENFJ (the Teacher type)!! It is so true coz' I'm an education graduate and soon to become a full-fledged teacher! :D I'm also a frustrated writer! I've been writing fanfictions and currently working on my original novel. Your blogs are of great help. Thanks!!

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  21. I took the quiz, and I am also an INFP! I will definitely use these descriptions in my writing somewhere.

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  22. I am INFJ ... and that is perfectly me ...

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  23. Wow. I have never had a test described me so perfectly. I'm an INFJ. I always knew I was different from most people. Not in a bad way, of course. Maybe just a little eccentric. Go figure. I'm a part of 1% of the population.

    Also, I want to thank you for all the great information you have here on you website. I'm not a teen, but it's still helping me with my writing.

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  24. I'm an INFJ. And 16personalities.com has this same test for free. :)

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