Nicole J Simms/ June 21, 2020/ Blog/ 0 comments

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How I Use the MBTI Method to Create Realistic Characters

If you’ve read the title and said, ‘What’s MBTI?’ I wouldn’t be surprised because this time last year I would have asked the same question. But, I’m glad I found out about this because it has helped me to create realistic characters.

I first heard about the MBTI when I was watching Abbie Emmons’ ‘How to Write Characters’ video. During the video, Abbie mentions how she uses it to help create her characters — she also shares her character profile templates, which are free to download. Ever since hearing about the MBTI, I have used it to help me develop my characters.

What is the MBTI?

MBTI stands for Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. It is a questionnaire that is designed to identify a person’s personality type, preferences and strengths.

Katherine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Myers developed the questionnaire, which was influenced by the Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist Carl Jung’s theory on personality types.

After you complete the questionnaire, you are identified as having one of the 16 personality types. The goal of this questionnaire is to help you to learn more about you.

The questionnaire is made up of four different scales

  • Extraversion (E) – Introversion (I)
  • Sensing (S) – Intuition (N)
  • Thinking (T) – Feeling (F)
  • Judging (J) – Perceiving (P)

Your answers for each category are then put together to form your personality type, which is shown as a four-letter code:

  • INTJ (The Architect)
  • INTP (The Logician / The Thinker)
  • ENTJ (The Commander)
  • ENTP (The Debater)
  • INFJ (The Advocate)
  • INFP (The Mediator)
  • ENFJ (The Protagonist / The Giver)
  • ENFP (The Campaigner / The Champion)
  • ISTJ (The Logistician / The Inspector)
  • ISFJ (The Defender / The Protector)
  • ESTJ (The Executive / The Director)
  • ESFJ (The Caregiver)
  • ISTP (The Crafter)
  • ISFP (The Adventurer / The Artist)
  • ESTP (The Entrepreneur / The Persuader)
  • ESFP (The Entertainer / The Performer)

And once you know your personality type, you can find out what are your strengths and weaknesses, how you behave in certain relationships, your career paths and celebrities who are in the same category as you.

Now, this is unlikely to be 100% accurate, for example, your mood might affect your choices, but it is fun to fill out and to see how accurate the information is.

I did the questionnaire, and my result was INFJ, which is the Advocate. Many of the strengths, weaknesses and personality traits were correct, but there was one strength that wasn’t correct: INFJs are supposed to be decisive. I’m not decisive; I’m indecisive. There have been times where I have done ‘Ip Dip’ to make a decision. So, yeah, that’s wrong, but most of it is accurate.

If you want more information about the MBTI inventory, you can find it on this ‘An Overview of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator’ article. Also, if you want to know what your MBTI personality type is, you can do this free personality test.

How I Use the MBTI to Create Characters

Okay, that’s enough waffle — let’s get down to business. Here is how I use the MBTI to create my characters:

  • An idea for a character pops into my head. I then spend some time writing down all the information that comes into my mind. How long I spend on this varies from project to project.
  • I then look through the basic list of personality traits of each MBTI personality type and see which one my character fits into.
  • Once I’ve found an MBTI personality type, I look into each one further, so I can see what strengths and weaknesses they are supposed to have, and how they react in different situations.

There is a YouTuber called Frank James, who creates videos that show how the 16 MBTI personality types react to different situations. For example, he has a video titled ’16 Personalities Getting Offended’.

Now, I may look into the MBTI personality types to figure out my character, but I don’t just give my characters the traits listed. I like to make sure that the traits I find suit the idea I have for the character.

So, that’s how I use the MBTI to create characters. Have you heard of the MBTI? If not, will you now use it to help you create your characters? Let me know in the comment box below.

Stay safe and keep writing, folks!

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