March 19, 2009

Of personalities and looks, part 1

When designing new characters these days, I always refer to Myers and Briggs' 16 classic human temperaments, which I find to have been remarkably accurate to date. Basically the whole point is to categorise your character's personality based on these four distinct groups:

1. Extraverted (E) or Introverted (I)?
2. Intuitive (N) or Sensoric (S)?
3. Thinker (T) or Feeler (F)?

4. Judger (J) or Perceiver (P)?

As a result you get 16 possible types such as ESFP ("The Performer") or INTJ ("The Scientist"), whereby each type can have sets of wildly different interests, skills and motivations. I myself happen to be an ENFP ("The Inspirer"), or so I think -__-, which I discovered after taking this really simple test.

Now, though information on these 16 types are widely available on the net, variations are abound. Personally, I've always been coming back to the analyses found on, because not only does it describe to you what each of the 16 types is all about, it also offers some kind of type-relationship logic to help you determine how the types interact with one another in a corresponding manner.

For example, the ENFJ and ESTP types are considered to be "Supplemental" to each other. According to typelogic, this means "each can add to the other's strengths". The ISTJ and the ESTJ types, similarly, have a "Pal" relationship, meaning that they "work and play well together with a minimal natural type conflict".

But pair up an ENFP and an INFJ and you'll have a "Contrast", which will have these two types "pointing and counterpointing on each function" -- a great tool for setting your heroes and villains apart!

What's fascinating about this logic is that it seems to work for most of my created characters and even for myself. Let's derive an example from two characters in The Fifth Columnist, Bishop and Snatch.

Image 1: Bishop giving Snatch a friendly kiss

"Hello, Snatch. Long time no see!"

Needless to say, these two look like good friends and seem to have a good chemistry going on between them, though not necessarily a sexual one (for Bishop, at least ^^). After running some personality tests, I found out that Bishop is an ENFJ while Snatch is an ESTP... so "Supplemental" it is!

When you consider that these characters were created years before I started learning about the 16 personality types, no wonder it had me chuffed!

Since I was so excited about the premise of applying this type logic on all my characters and making their interaction more believable, I made the following graph in Excel based on the information found on the typelogic website:

Image 2: 'THE' graph

If this does not look geeky to you, I don't know what does! :P

Now, here is a subsequent question which will be addressed on part 2: Does your character's personality type affect the way he/she looks?

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