Thanet Writers Research Personality Types
You don’t need to be told that every one of us human beings is different, because it’s evident in every choice we make. We have different tastes in food, clothing styles, hobbies and interests, and, luckily, in the characteristics we find attractive in other people. We have varying—sometimes wildly or mildly—preferences and character traits that clearly set us apart from one another. When finding ourselves with a few days of free time some of us enjoy nothing more than to sit back and relax with a cup of tea and a good TV series to binge watch. Others of us use this free time in a way that feels efficient and constructive, maybe choosing to get ahead on work for the coming week or brushing up on a hobby or exercising our brains with a crossword or puzzle. Some of us would use the time to plan our next holiday abroad. Some of us would buy a last minute ticket online, drive straight to the airport and have a few nights away.
Personalities are complex. There are some people so enriched by routine that we could set our watches to their morning coffee fix, and others that leave us out of breath with their ability to roll with the punches and transform their moods to fit their current social setting. Some appear to be oozing in self-esteem, their dynamic conversations pulling the attention of everyone around them, with every person in their ‘audience’ wishing they had been blessed with such confidence. But this seemingly confident person might also wish they could become the extroverted individual that they’re so gifted at pretending to be.
That being said, there is a theory that each one of our intricate and complicated personalities can fit very neatly into sixteen separate personality boxes.
In the early 20th century, Carl Gustav Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, put forward a theory behind the different personality types of human beings. His theory stated that people could be characterised by their preferences of how they liked to appear and come across to other people, of how they took in external information, and of how they chose to process this information.
So, Jung’s character type preferences are:
1. Extroverted (E) vs Introverted (I)
This is the direction in which a person chooses, whether willingly or subconsciously, to direct their energy expression and interact with their environment. An extrovert’s energy expression is mainly directed into the external world, while an introvert has a source of energy mainly in their own internal world. Extroverts are typically more socially active than introverts, choosing to enjoy the company of others over the company of themselves. Extroverted people are not always loud and attention grabbing, since it is possible for people to be mellow and fairly quiet, and still display extroverted qualities. A person labelled as an introvert doesn’t automatically mean they have less social skills than those labelled an extrovert, but that they take energy from inside themselves rather than from others.
2. Sensing (S) vs Intuition (N)
This is the method that people use to perceive information. Sensing means that a person mainly believes information they receive directly from the external world, making them observant and efficient. Intuition means that a person believes mainly information they receive from the internal or imaginative world. Therefore, people who use sensing are, in theory, more academic and business minded than a person who prefers to use intuition, who is somewhat more likely to have artistic or creative tendencies.
3. Thinking (T) vs Feeling (F)
This is the way that a person processes information and emotions. A person who uses logic to make decisions uses thinking. Feeling means that, as a rule, a person makes a decision based on emotions and on what they feel they should do. Put simply, this is whether a person mainly uses their head or their heart when processing information.
Many people can display both personality features, being that they might be more extroverted or introverted depending on the situation, use both their senses and their intuition when taking in information, and be influenced by both their head and their heart when working through this information. However, there will almost always be a characteristic that is more dominant than the other in each person, and it is this dominant characteristic that is used to determine which of the personality boxes a person fits into.
You may have noticed that with Jung’s theory there cannot yet be a possible sixteen outcomes of personality types. This is because Jung’s theory, although the starting point for dividing people into personality types, was not easily usable for the everyday person, since some people showed a tendency to take in more information than others, and some also chose to process this information more than others. This meant that quite an intricate formula needed to be used to determine which of the Jung personality types people fitted into.
In the 1940s, Isabel Briggs Myers, a researcher and practitioner of Jung’s theory as well as an author and avid people-watcher, proposed that there be a fourth category added to Jung’s theory in order to make it more accessible and easy to use:
4. Judging (J) vs Perceiving (P)
This is about decision making, preparation and planning. A person who uses more judging means that they take the time to judge how to use information in their everyday lives. This person is organised, preferring to stick to a routine or structure as closely as possible. Perceiving means that a person takes less time to ponder on what they have discovered, making them more inclined to improvise or to explore alternative options. Overall, a perceiving person can be spontaneous and is welcoming to change.
Thanks to both Jung and Myers we now have the full sixteen boxes to put people into, depending on their more dominant characteristics:
ESTJ: The Supervisor
This type is mostly extroverted and uses sense when taking in information. They process this information logically and will take the time to plan how to put it into action.
ISTJ: The Inspector
This type is mostly introverted and uses external sense when taking in information. They think through this information in a logical way and use planning and consideration to put it into motion.
ENTJ: The Commander
Mostly extroverted, this type mainly uses intuition when taking in information. They logically go over information and think thoroughly about how they can use it before acting.
INTJ: The Mastermind
This type is mostly reserved and chooses to listen to their own intuition while taking in information. They think logically through what they have learned and use it in a timely and planned way.
ESTP: The Doer
Mostly extroverted, they use logic and sense to take in and process information, but do not take long in pondering how to act upon it. This creates an efficient, intellectual type who is active and somewhat impulsive.
ISTP: The Craftsperson
Introverted and observant, this person logically takes in and processes information, and can be quite spontaneous in the way they act upon it.
ENTP: The Visionary
Expressive, motivated and logical, this type enjoys talking to people, especially those with similar interests.
INTP: The Thinker
This person is intuitive and independent, and great at absorbing and working through information.
ESFJ: The Provider
Mainly extroverted, they enjoy the company of others and use sense and logic to take in information. They are thoughtful and like to plan ahead.
ISFJ: The Nurturer
A person who falls into this type is logical and somewhat reserved. They are in tune with their own feelings, highly organised and like to plan ahead.
ENFJ: The Giver
Extroverted, trusting their own intuition and using inner senses to process information, this type is social, charismatic, confident and organised.
INFJ: The Councillor
Quiet, polite and intuitive, they are in touch with their own feelings and of the feelings of others.
ESFP: The Performer
Mainly extroverted, logical and spontaneous, this type makes the most of every moment.
ISFP: The Composer
Somewhat quiet, this person is observant, logical, spontaneous and emotional.
ENFP: The Champion
This type is spontaneous and extroverted, using emotions, feelings and their own intuition to learn and process the world.
INFP: The Idealist
This person is happy in their own company, can be impulsive, and is very much in touch with their own feelings, values and ideals.
This personality type indicator has been used, highly debatably, as an interviewing tool world-wide. This is because employers would like to understand the type of person they are employing rather than hear a rehearsed set of answers to expected questions. In recruitment, the sixteen personality type test is called the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator).
There are plenty of personality type indicator tests online to allow you to determine which of the sixteen boxes you most comfortably fit into. I myself am ISFJ, the nurturer, which I believe is fairly spot on, though my test showed I was almost 50.50 on the Thinking vs Feeling section, but an overwhelming 98% for Judging (planning) over Perceiving (spontaneity). This means that in each box there will be quite varying differences between individuals who are much more dominant to a certain characteristic than those who are almost at the border.
The MBTI can be a helpful tool for fiction writers, who might have a clear idea of the personality traits of their lead characters, but secondary characters can be much trickier to flesh out and get right. This sixteen personality type system can be used by writers as a solid starting point for creating secondary characters with strong and believable personality traits, and could also be helpful for enhancing the richness of the main characters.
© 2018 Rebecca Delphine
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
Rebecca Delphine is a Young Adult author from Thanet.