Myers-Briggs and Typing Fictional Characters
By Amber Topping
A recurring feature—typing fictional characters using the Myers-Briggs Assessment
The Tenth Doctor (David Tennant), Mickey Smith (Noel Clarke), Jackie Tyler (Camille Coduri) and Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) from Doctor Who.
UPDATE: This has now become a recurring column here on the site! Make sure to check out my first official post of the feature "Typing Fictional Characters" for the characters from Chuck here after you read this blog post. And remember to subscribe to follow future posts. (If you want to see the characters from a particular movie, show or book typed send me a message and I'll put it into consideration).
You know you’ve done it, or at least thought about it. You’re up late, can’t sleep, so what do you do? You read, you watch Netflix or take silly personality tests online to try and figure out more about yourself (or see how accurate said test is or not). No? Just me?
Well personality typing has become popular over the years especially now with easy access to test taking online. Without a doubt, one of the most popular systems belongs to the MBTI, better known as the Myers-Briggs personality test. Not only is it used for personal reasons, but many professional companies use it as well. The assessment is based on the research and ideas of Carl Jung, Katherine Briggs and Isabel Myers so it’s not without merit (though of course its validity will always be in question).
So what then is the test all about? The theory argues that each individual has a preference for Extraverted or Introverted, Sensing or Intuitive, Thinking or Feeling and Judging or Perceiving. When you break it all down that creates a possibility of 16 different Personality Types. There are various tests you can take (professional is always best) to try and figure out your type. A good place to begin is with the Myers-Briggs/Jung Typology Test from humanetrics.com. That said, this will probably only work as a narrowing tool because it’s harder to figure out true type without the help of a professional.
After you take the test you’ll be told which personality type you "might" be. The sixteen types are as follows, with descriptions as described by personalitypage.com. You can read more detailed descriptions on their site.
ISTJ - The Duty Fulfiller
Serious and quiet, interested in security and peaceful living. Extremely thorough, responsible, and dependable. Well-developed powers of concentration. Usually interested in supporting and promoting traditions and establishments. Well-organized and hard working, they work steadily towards identified goals. They can usually accomplish any task once they have set their mind to it.
ISTP - The Mechanic
Quiet and reserved, interested in how and why things work. Excellent skills with mechanical things. Risk-takers who they live for the moment. Usually interested in and talented at extreme sports. Uncomplicated in their desires. Loyal to their peers and to their internal value systems, but not overly concerned with respecting laws and rules if they get in the way of getting something done. Detached and analytical, they excel at finding solutions to practical problems.
ISFJ - The Nurturer
Quiet, kind, and conscientious. Can be depended on to follow through. Usually puts the needs of others above their own needs. Stable and practical, they value security and traditions. Well-developed sense of space and function. Rich inner world of observations about people. Extremely perceptive of other's feelings. Interested in serving others.
ISFP - The Artist
Quiet, serious, sensitive and kind. Do not like conflict, and not likely to do things which may generate conflict. Loyal and faithful. Extremely well-developed senses, and aesthetic appreciation for beauty. Not interested in leading or controlling others. Flexible and open-minded. Likely to be original and creative. Enjoy the present moment.
INFJ - The Protector
Quietly forceful, original, and sensitive. Tend to stick to things until they are done. Extremely intuitive about people, and concerned for their feelings. Well-developed value systems which they strictly adhere to. Well-respected for their [perseverance] in doing the right thing. Likely to be individualistic, rather than leading or following.
INFP - The Idealist
Quiet, reflective, and idealistic. Interested in serving humanity. Well-developed value system, which they strive to live in accordance with. Extremely loyal. Adaptable and laid-back unless a strongly-held value is threatened. Usually talented writers. Mentally quick, and able to see possibilities. Interested in understanding and helping people.
INTJ - The Scientist
Independent, original, analytical, and determined. Have an exceptional ability to turn theories into solid plans of action. Highly value knowledge, competence, and structure. Driven to derive meaning from their visions. Long-range thinkers. Have very high standards for their performance, and the performance of others. Natural leaders, but will follow if they trust existing leaders.
INTP - The Thinker
Logical, original, creative thinkers. Can become very excited about theories and ideas. Exceptionally capable and driven to turn theories into clear understandings. Highly value knowledge, competence and logic. Quiet and reserved, hard to get to know well. Individualistic, having no interest in leading or following others.
ESTP - The Doer
Friendly, adaptable, action-oriented. "Doers" who are focused on immediate results. Living in the here-and-now, they're risk-takers who live fast-paced lifestyles. Impatient with long explanations. Extremely loyal to their peers, but not usually respectful of laws and rules if they get in the way of getting things done. Great people skills.
ESTJ - The Guardian
Practical, traditional, and organized. Likely to be athletic. Not interested in theory or abstraction unless they see the practical application. Have clear visions of the way things should be. Loyal and hard-working. Like to be in charge. Exceptionally capable in organizing and running activities. "Good citizens" who value security and peaceful living.
ESFP - The Performer
People-oriented and fun-loving, they make things more fun for others by their enjoyment. Living for the moment, they love new experiences. They dislike theory and impersonal analysis. Interested in serving others. Likely to be the center of attention in social situations. Well-developed common sense and practical ability.
ESFJ - The Caregiver
Warm-hearted, popular, and conscientious. Tend to put the needs of others over their own needs. Feel strong sense of responsibility and duty. Value traditions and security. Interested in serving others. Need positive reinforcement to feel good about themselves. Well-developed sense of space and function.
ENFP - The Inspirer
Enthusiastic, idealistic, and creative. Able to do almost anything that interests them. Great people skills. Need to live life in accordance with their inner values. Excited by new ideas, but bored with details. Open-minded and flexible, with a broad range of interests and abilities.
ENFJ - The Giver
Popular and sensitive, with outstanding people skills. Externally focused, with real concern for how others think and feel. Usually dislike being alone. They see everything from the human angle, and dislike impersonal analysis. Very effective at managing people issues, and leading group discussions. Interested in serving others, and probably place the needs of others over their own needs.
ENTP - The Visionary
Creative, resourceful, and intellectually quick. Good at a broad range of things. Enjoy debating issues, and may be into "one-up-manship". They get very excited about new ideas and projects, but may neglect the more routine aspects of life. Generally outspoken and assertive. They enjoy people and are stimulating company. Excellent ability to understand concepts and apply logic to find solutions.
ENTJ - The Executive
Assertive and outspoken - they are driven to lead. Excellent ability to understand difficult organizational problems and create solid solutions. Intelligent and well-informed, they usually excel at public speaking. They value knowledge and competence, and usually have little patience with inefficiency or disorganization.
After a lot of research and test taking I was able to figure out my type. Mostly I was stuck somewhere between an ENFP, INFP and an INFJ, but eventually I figured out my true type (if one accepts the validity of personality typing) to be INFP. Autumn, also a writer and a moderator of this site, is an INFJ. So identical twins: one of us an INFP and the other an INFJ. A little bit like Jane Eyre (INFP) and Helen Burns (INFJ) as children. Watching the 1983 adaptation of Jane Eyre, Helen and Jane were like exaggerated versions of us. Rebecca, the other writer and moderator on this site is also an INFJ in many ways quite a bit like Rory Gilmore (no surprise the three of us came together to make this site).
Which brings me to the point of this whole blog post! After much research over the years, and having attempted to type everyone in my immediate family, I decided to now take it one step further trying to type fictional characters. Why you ask? Because it’s fun! Not only that, it gives you good insight into characterization.
Of course typing fictional characters isn’t an exact science. Personally, I think there are many characters that are frequently mistyped. You’ll notice on my photo slider featured below that I type Hermione Granger of Harry Potter as an INFJ. Most people will type her as an INTP or an INTJ. So why then do I disagree? Well for one, just because someone is an intelligent thinker doesn’t mean they are a “T.” INFJ’s are the rarest of the types (it is pointed out how singular Hermione is). Not only that, J.K. Rowling claims Hermione is a lot like herself (and Rowling is usually typed as an INFP or an INFJ).
This quote comes directly from J.K. Rowling about Hermione:
I have often said that Hermione is a bit like me when I was younger. I think I was seen by other people as a right little know-it-all, but I hope that it is clear that underneath Hermione’s swottiness there is a lot of insecurity and a great fear of failure (as shown by her Boggart in ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’).
It is Hermione’s over the top, even illogical attempt to save House Elves that make me think she’s more of an F. S.P.E.W. has INFP or INFJ written all over it. Hermione chooses this oftentimes ridiculed crusade because it’s right not because it’s logical. Typically a “T” person might see her crusade as pointless because it won’t actually go anywhere. At the end of the day, Hermione is all about her ideals. Though I think she’s difficult to type because she’s somewhere between logic and feeling. Sometimes she even points out how she has a bad feeling about something. Personally, I see her as a character that uses Introverted Intuition (Ni) before she uses her logic (and she does) which happens to be the dominant function of an INFJ. Just because some INFJ’s are stereotyped to be mystical or psychic doesn’t actually mean they all are. What most of them are, however, are the "champions of the oppressed and downtrodden."
There is actually a lot of misunderstanding out there about “how” to type. Real typing comes down to cognitive functions rather than Extroverted vs Introverted or Feelings vs. Thinking and so on and so forth. How to tell a true personality is to look at the functions.
The functions are as follows:
Extraverted Sensing (Se)
Introverted Sensing (Si)
Extraverted Intuiting (Ne)
Introverted Intuiting (Ni)
Extraverted Thinking (Te)
Introverted Thinking (Ti)
Extraverted Feeling (Fe)
Introverted Feeling (Fi)
Everybody has a dominant function, an inferior function, etc...and that is how you truly figure out your personality type. Besides the link for the test above, this cognitive functions test is also a good narrowing tool.
That said, it’s one thing to figure out your own type, it’s quite another to figure out a fictional character's. You might have one interpretation, and then someone else will completely disagree with said assessment. It’s all theory and interpretation.
Another character I believe to be mistyped frequently is Rose Tyler of Doctor Who. There’s a lot of argument for her being ESFP which I just don’t see at all. She’s much more INFP. She’s an idealist, clever and extremely empathetic but she can also be very selfish because she goes so much inside her own head. She appears to be extroverted when she is with the Doctor because she is at ease with him. At the party in episode two for instance when she’s still uncomfortable she leaves the party to sit in a room alone. She needs her time to get away and think. Also, she’s the Belle of Doctor Who whom sees the beauty in the “beast” (No doubt Belle is the ultimate and most obvious INFP out there) if you will. Take a look at the episode, “Dalek” for instance. Not to mention Rose’s narrative is driven mostly from her introverted feeling which is the dominant function of an INFP. INFPs can be witty and talkative and can love talking to people. This love of talk comes from empathy rather than being a social butterfly. Describing an INFP from 16personalities.com, they say:
In INFP eyes, even the most revolting person will have something worthy of respect or, at the very least, sympathy.
Some of the types were harder for me to find, while others were easier to fill. So I’m sure I’ll be adding to these lists in the future. I did attempt to type the majority of the main characters of Doctor Who, so you should see most of the bigger characters included. On top of that I typed many different characters from TV, film and literature. Anyway, based on research as well as my own theoretical interpretations these are how I type the characters (feel free to disagree!):