Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Personality Typology

Psychology fascinates me. It seems to be a common interest amongst writers. I know quite a few of us who even subject our characters to the Jung/Myers Typology Test to get a better handle on who they are as individuals and to keep their behavior in line with their personality type. I have taken the test quite a few times over the years, and even back-to-back, changing answers to questions I could go either way on. I consistently come up as an INFJ, (Invroverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging) with varying percentages. My main characters almost always end up being INFJ’s or INTJ’s. I wonder if it’s just me or do other writers tend to write their main character’s personality very similar to their own?

As a side note, one of the traits of an INFJ is the need for quiet time after intense social interactions. I think this manifests itself in the way that I tend to burn out easily. I can’t seem to help getting over-stimulated in social situations and then feel the need to withdraw, which is sort of what I’m going through right now. For sure, this trait applies to my ‘real’ life, but I am finding that it applies just as much to blogging. I wonder how many other INFJ’s go through these spells…

45 comments:

  1. Errika, Ha! that does not suprise me at all. Kindred spirits is what we are!

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  2. Yes definitely. Always have been. I scored high on Intuitive and Feeling. Very interesting.

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  3. We're a small percentile and in good company...It won't surprise you that Todd is also INFJ.

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  4. yeah that doesn't surprise me. I wonder what my Dad is. Hmm...He'd probably never take the test so we'll never know.

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  5. ...I'm thinking INFJ or INFP...

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  6. I tried the test again, changing a few answers that I could go either way on and got ENFJ, only 1% Extraverted. Intuitive 62% and Feeling 75%. Its a very interesting test. Hmm.

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  7. Well my score had me rated moderate across the board--guess that means that I'm sorta flat.

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  8. Yes, but moderate in what Type, Ricky? (not that it's any of my business...) Either way, moderate is good, right?

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  9. humm, interesting approach,,,

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  10. Glenn, spoken like a true ESTP!

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  11. Such an interesting quiz, I'm also an INFJ (67/35/12/22). When I read the description it was weirdly accurate (the need for solitude after interaction, mistaken for extrovert, otehrs). Pleased to see that writing is one of teh skills suited to this type!! :)
    Judy (South Africa)

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  12. Judy, I also found the description scary accurate. I actually found it helpful, just knowing that most people will find the INFJ somewhat perplexing. We are a small percentile of the population--I think 2%.
    ...and yes, many of us are writers! :)

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  13. Do you really do this with your characters? That my dear, is thorough! I've never done Myers Briggs...can't figure out how, after 23 years in HR I missed it, but there you go.

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  14. Liza, I do! Kinda nuts, but fun. :)
    You should follow the link and take the test. I bet you're an INFJ, too!

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  15. I don't actually remember what I am on the Myers Briggs, something introverted, though. However, although I found the test interesting when I was in college (studying psychology), I, now, find that particular test too broad in its definitions. I like the Enneagram. It is a much more detailed system.

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  16. Hi Andrew--thanks for chiming in! I've never heard of the Enneagram--I don't get out much, lol--can't wait to Google it! :)

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  17. I take the test periodically, to see if I've changed. I've moved from ENFP to INFP, but I'm always only 1% either way on the introvert/extrovert thing.

    I'd like to think I make my characters different from me. I think part of the reason I write is to look at the world from different perspectives. I have several very extroverted protagonists. But maybe, at their core, they're all idealists like me. That's something to think about. Interesting post.

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  18. Anne, I'm sure that the more you 'work' with characters that are different from you, the more skilled at it you become. My secondary/supportive characters tend to be extroverts, but I don't have to delve as deeply into their psyches. Perhaps someday, like you, I will write from a completely different world perspective...what a challenge!

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  19. I do. I'm a 10 in introversion on the KTS.

    A level 10 introverted INFJ writer.

    No issues there. Nope. None at all.

    People in any degree exhaust me. I love them. But I'm tired...always.

    Here's a true INFJ moment for you. When I first started my blog, I put up a series of videos on Youtube explaining what it was like to be INFJ since there are so few of us and even fewer willing to talk about it.

    About a week later, I felt too 'exposed' and took them down. So there you go. I still have them though, was thinking of putting them back up, actually. People don't get why we do what we do. They should be warned! :~)

    Great post.

    ~bru

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  20. Oh, Bru, that's so funny! I had a similar INFJ moment when I first set up an online profile. It caused me such angst to have my 'stuff' out there that I awoke in the middle of the night and couldn't get back to sleep until I went back online and deleted it! lol! It took a long time before I would post my picture. And I'm only a 50-70% introvert!

    It can be a 2-edged sword at times, being so misunderstood--it allows us distance, but we crave being understood. Such a paradox.

    I think you should have a limited-time viewing of your video series on INFJ's--you could discretely place a link in the sidebar of your blog and e-mail those who might like to view it...:)...oh yes, I think that's a fine idea!

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  21. I can't recall my letter jumble, but it came out saying I was a 'visionary.' Since I was seeking guidance for a career change, that was not helpful. I don't recall seeing anyone advertise for a 'visionary.' Sounds like a dangerous hire.

    The profession of writer seemed to come up often enough, however. Imagine that! I am at a point where I might actually be able to make that transition. I am retired, a very good 'day job' for a writer. We shall see.

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  22. I think characters tend to mirror, or reflect some aspect of their creators. Writers are generally taught to write what they know, which inevitably leads their character's voices and personalities to reflect those of the writer.

    The true test, and a feat mastered by great authors, is to write through the eyes of characters completely different from themselves, challenging them to think and act differently, and to view the world around them with a different filter, whether it be gender, race, age, or culture. Step out of the box, write through the eyes of an autistic 12 year old boy, a refugee girl from Pakistan, a blind Vietnam veteran, or even a dog. These literary leaps will eventually propel your characterization to new heights.

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  23. Well, sign me up. I just took the test and scored a whopping 78% on the introverted, so I guess I really am a writer. Just call me Hermit.

    I think my characters are mostly all extroverts. The exact opposite of who I am.

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  24. Michael, I suppose that if an employer were looking for someone to restructure their company, a visionary would be great, but most employers tend to like status quo and you might be considered a malcontent, stirring up unrest, lol. On the other hand, it seems that visionary would work very well when writing fiction, especially now that you have the time. YAY!


    Brown, As you get to know my blog, you will find that I am not tremendously adventurous—I can’t even imagine writing from the POV of someone so completely different from myself (perhaps that’s why I will never be one of the ‘Greats’). That said, I have written from the male POV—both adult and adolescent—but they are still similar to me in temperament. I think I should like writing from a cat’s POV, though (I think I’d have trouble relating to a dog! :)



    Anne, You, and Introvert? (okay, yes, I can see that)
    …now, I would have considered Ellis and Violet to be INTJ, and INFJ respectively. They may manifest as extroverts, but are true introverts. Of course, you have written many more characters I’m unaware of. Would love to read about your extroverts

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  25. I haven't taken the Jungian Myers-Briggs test in ages, but if I recall I'm along the lines of a INTJ. Many of my main characters would be categorized as similar types, though I've found I love writing secondary characters as my polar opposite. By which I mean extroverted, unintuitive, unthinking bastards. They make such great antagonists.

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  26. HA! Nate! The extroverted, unintuitive, unthinking antagonists are so fun to write! They do so love to get the INT/FJ's all riled up, don't they?
    (That you are a INTJ does not surprise me)

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  27. One day I'm going to try this for creating my characters. I know a number of writers who swear by it.

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  28. Stina, I like filling out Character 'Questionnaires, but this is even better! And then you get the whole analysis to go with it!

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  29. Early on, I think writers to tend to incorporate their own personalty into characters. I'm pretty sure Stephen King talked about this in his On Writing book.

    I know I certainly have done this... there are good and bad points to it. Obviously, it makes wrting a particular character easier. The danger is, I think investing too much of ourselves in the character.

    In other words, when we get critical feedback, we internalize it more than we might normally. It feels like an attack on us as people.

    Sorry to hear you are at a low point right now. As for the blogging, don't wory about it ... your loyal followers - like me:) - aren't going anywhere. You have my support. Always.

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  30. PJ, I think it's true, that early on we tend to write characters more like ourselves--one of my early characters is discernibly similar to me. I haven't unleashed that on too many people yet, lol--trying to spare myself and others!

    ...and thanks for your support. We will soon be taking a trip to NH (limited Internet), and I'm really looking forward to the 'quiet' time.

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  31. That sounds like me too. I get overwhelmed in those situations after a while. I'll have to take this test now!

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  32. Lydia, now if I can figure out how to deal with burnout, pharmaceutically free!

    ...and I can't believe you haven't taken this test before; well, you've probably taken one like it or better...

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  33. MyersBriggs is interesting. I used to fight that capital "I" with all my heart and almost made it to the other side until age caught up with me and the pendulum swung back and konked me on the head.

    I suspect a lot of writers are Introverts, and studying Psych has helped me make peace with the "I", which has to do with the place from which we draw energy. (I used to think it meant Introverts were shy = boring.) Extroverts draw energy from others (like vampires, haha) where we recharge our own selves, more like batteries.

    My experience is that sometimes when we expend a lot of energy we need a lot of alone-time to recharge. It's not a flaw. I say take your time.

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  34. Lisa, while growing up, I fought a lot with the "I" label too. At times I behaved so shy, and sometimes I felt so very outgoing. I expended a lot of needless energy on trying to reconcile the two.

    I think you are right about age catching up--now, I just figure I am who I am, and if it perplexes others, well, that's just because I'm 'deep and complex' and only my 'intimates' get a peek at the real me...I've also learned to take the time I need, without apology... :)

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  35. I've done that test at least twice, but I have no clue what type I am. I just don't pay attention to it. Some of my characters are like me, but not all. Most are braver.

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  36. Helen, I don't suppose that knowing what type one is really matters, though sometimes it does lend some insights, especially into personalities that differ from our own. One of the cool parts of being in control of our characters is that we can make them like us, but 100x better and braver! :)

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  37. Ah, I've taken that class several times, and I come up ISFJ. I also burn out easily after intense social situations. I think of myself as a battery which gets easily drained. It's nice to get to know you a little better! I believe INFJs are rare. :)

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  38. Oooo, Michelle, now I need to read up on the ISFJ! Can't help but wonder about your percentages on the Sensory aspect.

    It actually helps me to know that INFJ's are a small group. It explains why I always feel a bit out of sync :)

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  39. I have to agree w/ February Grace on feeling "exposed". I get it now. Sometimes if I have a conversation with someone and let go of what I deem a little "too much" information on myself I keep rehashing the conversation in my head and get a sick feeling that I said too much about myself. Something about people actually knowing me genuinely freaks me out but the other side of that is that it can get a little lonely. That's where my seeming extroverted self comes into play and always makes a conversation about someone else!

    Ah-hah! I just had an ahah moment! Finally. Its been a while.

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  40. Yay, Errika! I have quite a few of those, "Gosh, I wish I hadn't divulged all that" moments, especially when I see the recipients eyes widen. One of my 'extroverted' introvert tactics is to mock and ridicule things about myself that I'm not insecure over. Keeps people amused and at arms length from my real 'issues,' lol.

    You know, you and I really ought to correspond more...(you know, where we can talk/write each other about all the nitty-gritty...) :)

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  41. Sounds like a good plan to me JB. I've loved you ever since Tortellini Primavera on Jewell RD. Maybe we can help keep each other sane-ish? I know you have Todd, but surely this is a job for more than one. I know I can use all of the help I can get : )

    I'm loving getting older. You have all of these self-realizations and Oh-I-get-it-now moments. Its way more fun to be me in my 30's. Maybe only because I'm slightly more accepting of myself and don't have any delusions that I'll turn out some other way anymore. (as long as I don't turn into my mother) haha

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  42. Holy Granola, Errika, wait till you hit your 40's, lol!

    ...now switching to e-mail...:)

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  43. I actually found your blog because you were an INFJ! I'm an INFJ too. As much as I try not to make turn my characters into Fe+Ni, I always seem to end up with INFJs, INTJs, or ISFJs.

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  44. Veg Can, That's so INFJ! What I find facinating is that you also write ISFJ's. We seem drawn to that type--at least I've found that to be the case in my experience. Some of my closest friends are ISFJ's...hmmm...must ponder this some more...

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