Personality Tests + Characters



  • Soooo I was on YouTube because a

    about MBTI being meaningless came up, and I was like, "let's see it!"

    It wasn't necessarily anything I didn't already know, but I, being the horrible person to myself that I am, decided to scroll through the comments. Some guy was like, "I used the MBTI for my characters" and thus was born a 40 comment thread.

    Which I definitely read all of.

    Some of the comments were positive, usually along the lines of "That's a great idea!" or "I do that too!", but then there were people saying that it using it would make one's characters flat and 2D at best.

    Personally, I disagree. I love using things like the MBTI and D&D alignment tests just to see what my characters get. And for those people who use it this way, I don't think that using it to help with developing character in general terms is a bad thing, either. I was just wondering about your two cents, though. :)



  • I take all the tests with my characters. Not the MBTI test because it's just too insanely long and I have a thousand characters, but yeah. I even had my characters sorted into Hogwarts because why not.

    I also love Mary Sue tests. I even wrote a bit about my experiences with some of them on my blog.

    That said, I personally don't like to take personality tests with characters I don't feel are fully developed. I like to see what their results are, for funsies and all, but I don't like to let things like this influence how I build my characters even indirectly. It's a choice of mine, though, I don't think someone using a test like that for reference for character personality is a bad thing. You may come out of it with a cardboard cutout, but all characters need to start somewhere.



  • @Blackbird said in Personality Tests + Characters:

    That said, I personally don't like to take personality tests with characters I don't feel are fully developed.

    Same. Even when I do know the character, I'll look at a question like, "Hmm. Would you or would you not actually do this...?"

    I also loveee the Mary Sue Test, and after reading your blog post, it would appear you have already summarized everything I think about it already, as well as found my two favorite tests! XD



  • @typical_demigod The Litmus test is pretty awesome.

    And I think it's one thing to sit and wonder what your character would do or how they would answer to something based on what you know of their personality; that's fine, but if you're instead sitting there and trying to decide on the personality trait needed to answer the question, then you're letting the test shape the character. Which, you know, may not be a bad thing if that's how you work, but to me... I like to have this stuff figured out for myself before I go into personality tests and things like that that are shaped around pre-determined traits or personality types. :)

    I do a lot of character interviews and questionnaires... I find a lot of them on deviant art and such places. I'll sometimes do them and post them on my blog. They're fun to do and sometimes they force you to think of things you normally wouldn't.



  • @Blackbird That site in general is pretty fantastic. Not sure if you've ever looked at it past Springhole, but it's worth glancing at, if only for something like the worldbuilding/character building/country building (there's a couple of 'em) questionnaires, which are pretty detailed.

    I wouldn't even know how to answer anything if I hadn't written the character at least once before, personally. What I have in my head is an inkling, and then I start writing and that's when all the elements come together to start forming a well-rounded character

    Yet another person encouraging interviewing characters. I need to do it sometime, but I've never actually sat down to interview my characters about anything. Probably the closest I ever get to it is the Respond Answer Ask :P



  • The MBTI is my favorite test for character development, it helps me to know where I am "missing a spot", that way I know better how to work with it and even how this new character will get along with other. Is an interesting process I enjoy a lot.
    When I create a story I have lots of characters, most of them have supporting roles, eventually they end up playing a great part of the plot line, and using MBTI helps me to get to know it better. That way I make sure they have original opinions and unique personalities.



  • @typical_demigod It's a bit easier to do it, I think, if you have somewhere to post them or if you have someone else to laugh at them with you. That's kind of why I post them on the blog, my co-writers read it and we end up chatting about it. And the RAA is practically the same thing, really... only it's one question at a time. :)



  • @MaryMalone It is definitely great for seeing if you have a lot of similar personalities. Back in October I did a D&D alignment test for all of my characters. I was disappointed to find that (of the four...? I tested) were mostly neutral. Two were lawful neutral, one was lawful good, and then one was true neutral. (I thought I did Nelly, but apparently I didn't write hers down? I think she'd probably be lawful good though.)

    @Blackbird I will think about that then. Maybe I'll make my sister do some with me....

    Also, all our talk about tests made me put Rus through the Writer's Mary Sue Test and he got 19. 10 of those points were in the angst department. o_o (Next is the MBTI.)



  • @typical_demigod I'm still too lazy for MBTI... Because if I do a test with one character I'll have to do with all of them. -.-



  • @Blackbird XD Yeah I did Rus (he got ESFP, but that was through answering the questions as he would've been BEFORE the events of the novel, and I think answering them based on AFTER the events would give a different answer), so this evening I'll probably do the others. Because I don't have more important things to be doing.


  • Plotist Team: Community Storyteller

    When it comes to character creation, I find it incredibly difficult to create a nonflawed character. Now, I use a variety of methods to check it, but I love the idea of using a personality test like MB to try and figure it out.

    And holy cow @MaryMalone. You are so bang on right about trying to find that "missing spot" part of a personality. I tend to try and test any character I create against my friends and see if they can find holes in them, or see if they can come up with something to push my limits, but yeah, I can totally see how something like a personality test can actually help find those spots! ;D

    And now I have to put my most recent character into the Mary Sue test... and the answer is: Not a Sue! :D Yay! Then again .. she was designed to be flawed from the start. Her flaws make her who she is! :D



  • @Josey You probably have difficulty creating a non-flawed character because you think of your characters as people right off the bat.

    I legitimately think that when writers create Mary Sue characters they do so focusing only on how they want others to perceive that character instead of focusing on who that character is. Thus you get a character that has just a set of traits instead of a personality, and in many cases a supporting cast whose only purpose is to tells us how to feel about the main characters.

    And that's why, while I love Mary Sue tests, I think that in a way they can be prejudicial seeing as they themselves focus on traits, or sets of traits that are either 'sue-ish' or not to the tests' standards. Which in a way enforces the idea that the problem with your characters is just which traits you picked out for them.


  • Plotist Team: Community Storyteller

    @Blackbird You're probably right. To me every character in my head is a real person that requires me to inform others of their existence. I'm odd.

    Though I think Mary Sue's can exist for a bunch of different reasons. In a way it reminds me a bit how people who do table top role playing develop! It is a three step process:

    Step One: Characters are created that are easy to connect to. The personality, the morality, the appearance, etc, just more glorified in one area. More morale, or more strength, or whatever.
    Step Two: Characters developed tend to be the absolute extreme opposite. Extremely different morality, overly weak, etc.
    Step Three: Characters developed are a mixture of everything, and it's no longer about the player controlling the character, it's more about the character doing things that the player may or not may not expect.

    I have sat at a table once where someone brought a "Mary Stu" to the table, and it was frustrating as they could never let their character just exist, they had to be perfect. I am pretty sure I upset them a few times, as I would start a statement with, "Oh good grief, I so don't know understand why my character feels the need to do this but she says ...." It was a way to the storyteller and others that I didn't agree with the character's choice but I let her be herself. Even if I KNEW it was going to cause issues. Bring on the drama for tabletop! :D



  • @Josey Truth is, character creation is a very difficult thing for me to figure out. They tend to just exist in my head one day. I don't even question anymore, I'm just like "Okay, sure, whatever, and you are?" -.-

    And I've been asked before, mostly in regards to characters like Luckas and Sam (whom I've kept away from Answer Respond Ask thread due to being a manipulative sociopath), "how do you make that type of character?" or "how does this work?" and I don't know. lol

    I don't know how anything works. I don't control these people. They don't do what I want, they don't effing listen and they keep making stupid life-threatening decisions when I just want them to be friggin' happy for once! And yes, I mean you, Luckas! >.<

    Ehem, sorry. :P



  • @Blackbird said in Personality Tests + Characters:

    @Josey Truth is, character creation is a very difficult thing for me to figure out. They tend to just exist in my head one day. I don't even question anymore, I'm just like "Okay, sure, whatever, and you are?" -.-

    Basically XD Creating a character with handpicked traits never works, because they never line up with those traits. Weirdly, though, characters have always been the easiest thing for me to build. Just from a few characters, I've been able to build a whole world. Once I've got those, a plot is easier to find (usually by exploring social threads), but overall, plot is the hardest thing for me to build.

    On a sort of related note, a while ago I was reading a Wikipedia article on a personality disorder (I don't remember which or how I got there) and there were a lot of traits to it that lined up with some of the traits of one of my characters, and I was wondering if anyone else has had that (or something similar) happen?



  • @typical_demigod You know, Luckas (I know I mention him a lot, but what can I say, he's my trademark weirdo -.-) was a complicated character for me to develop and he was the first of my characters that I actually went into deep psychological research for. I wanted to explain some behaviors of his, such as going into hysterical laughter when inflicted with physical pain, and freaking out when touched without warning. I also wanted to confirm that he was a sadist (mainstream media gives too much of a sexual connotation to that term; thanks 50 Shades of Grey -.-) and rule out socio/psychopathy seeing as he doesn't completely lack empathy.

    And in the process, I learned terms such as Haphephobia (putting it very simply; touch-phobia) and Spectrophobia (Luke has an aversion to mirrors due to recurring nightmares) on top of all the stuff I was already looking into. Bottom line; Luke's crazier than I thought. lol

    One thing that really freaked me out was the fact that, I was watching this video by The Film Theorists on Youtube... It was a theory about how Christian Grey used cult indoctrination techniques on Anastasia Steele (it was quite amusing, look it up). And as they started to list the stuff he does, I realized that my character Sam had done literally all of those things to Luckas at one point or another. And yeah, she is technically a cult leader, but what freaked me out was that I had never done research on cults at all. Those types of manipulative behavior just came naturally while writing her.

    I showed that to my co-writers like "What kind of a psycho am I? Holy crap." lol


  • Plotist Team: Community Storyteller

    @Blackbird said in Personality Tests + Characters:

    @Josey Truth is, character creation is a very difficult thing for me to figure out. They tend to just exist in my head one day. I don't even question anymore, I'm just like "Okay, sure, whatever, and you are?" -.-
    I don't know how anything works. I don't control these people. They don't do what I want, they don't effing listen and they keep making stupid life-threatening decisions when I just want them to be friggin' happy for once!

    Holy cow, that is EXACTLY how character start to form for me. It's like.. "Why do I crave lollipops all of a sudden?" Turns out a new character has been forming in my subconsciousness, wants to come out, and has a deep seated love of grape flavoured lollipops. shrugs I don't live alone in my mind ;)



  • @Josey Ha, funny. I often crave cinnamon cookies when I write Jake. They're his favorite. :P


  • Plotist Team: Keepers of Code

    I've heard of people using the Enneagram of Personality (a bit pseudoscientific) to build characters, but I haven't even tried it on myself. MBTI is fun to try, but in the end it becomes almost a Zodiac sign, a label that is as meaningful or meaningless as you want it to be.

    I think, in general, any psychological theory can help understand your characters (and yourself) better so, why not? I've never tried it myself, I mostly write short stories so character development is not so important, but I find it really exciting when a character in a book I'm reading or movie I'm watching has certain traits I can recognise. That's why I love "In Treatment" (tv show), I like trying to "diagnose" the people or understand their intentions while I'm watching, it's really fun!

    That said, no one can be completely perfect. If you push too hard, we all become incoherent or illogical. 'You are telling me you don't drink because you want to be healthy, but you don't exercise and constantly binge on brioche? Interesting...'



  • @jaycano said in Personality Tests + Characters:

    'You are telling me you don't drink because you want to be healthy, but you don't exercise and constantly binge on brioche? Interesting...'

    Reminds me of a time I was at work and I was getting a drink, and a coworker was asking if I drank soda. I said no, and he said, "Oh, you're all healthy?" I said, "Oh, no, I just drink [sweet] tea." XD


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