MBTI in Fiction

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hi, I just wanted to compliment you on this really interesting blog and your analyzing abilities. also I had a question, since I also like to sort fictional characters into personality types: how exactly is your thought process when thinking about whether they are S or N? I find that the toughest part, since its harder to know how a character percieves the world than how they act and make decisions. do you have any tips?

Hello!

I agree that it is the toughest part.  I also think it is the toughest part to pin down, because it seems really clear when someone is an introvert or extrovert or more in tune with emotions or facts.

Luckily, the way people see the world does reflect in their behavior.  Si functions tend to have very vivid memories, think about how the moment relates to the past, and have almost encyclopedic knowledge.  These characters are more likely to adhere to traditions, bring up events of the past, or explain the history of things.  Se, although still sensing, manifests very differently.  It is about wanting experiences in the moment, sensation, losing yourself in sensory overload, and wanting an environment or clothes that reflect your personality.  These characters are more likely to make observations in the moment, be first to react to changes, and be most concerned with solving problems immediately in their path.

N, by nature, is a little more abstract.  Ni types draw connections from discrepant ideas into focused ones, and project forward.  They will more often attach strong symbolic meaning to things, have a sense of what is going to happen next, want to pull conversations back around to the original topic or find conclusions, and generate and maintain very long-term goals.  Ne, on the other hand, makes a single idea into many.  They might change topics often in a conversation, start a lot of projects but finish few, get passionate about new ideas but lose interest quickly, and have a hard time settling on a single course of action.

When typing a character, looking at what they say and why they say it is very useful.  Looking at the character as a whole, and how their functions interact is also important.  Not every character is a stereotype of a myers-briggs type, and can be far from textbook examples because in fiction they are often in extraordinary situations.  Look at what is most important to a character and what functions those behaviors might be manifesting.

Cheers!

I'm wondering what your thinking process is like when you're determining a character's personality type. I'm also wondering how you're so cultured that you know so many fandoms so well. Do you ever get requests for a character you know nothing about? Do you still fill those requests?

Basically, I try to look for behavior in each character that I type rather than their role or archetype.  Either habits, things they say to others, or what parts of their lives or minds they attempt to control the most.  I’ll look up clips or read passages to find good evidence - although I don’t usually write it directly into the posts since good character moments are often ripe with spoilers.  I have a handful of litmus questions I usually run through to determine which functions are introverted or extroverted, which is usually the trickiest part.  After that, I figure out what order they’d show up in a way that is congruent with MBTI, and their type evolves from that.  If there is information available about what they were like when they were young, that usually helps clarify what their most dominate functions are, particularly for characters that underwent big changes or long-term development.  I really like finding characters that break the usual stereotypes of their MBTI type, so I really try to examine each with fresh eyes, even if I am fairly certain of what their type is going in.

As for the knowing a lot of fandoms, I work in the entertainment industry, so it is literally by business to know both current and classic film, TV, comics, books, and games.  It also helps that I enjoy a wide breath of content, and I don’t often spend a whole lot of time involved in one fandom or another.

I definitely have requests for characters I have never heard of or know nothing about.  I have filled a good share of those characters, often if I think they shine an interesting light on a personality type, or if they get a lot of people requesting them.  Usually I’ll ask someone I know who is familiar with a topic a lot of questions, and they can usually point me to some crucial points in the source material I can research.  There have been a lot of times that I get a request and then down the line I end up watching/playing/reading what it is from and end up writing up an analysis while it is fresh in my mind.  Honestly, sometimes it is refreshing to write about a character I don’t know, it is like sizing up a stranger.

Nov 9

L

From Death Note

Requested by theunknownfish, golddoesnotglitter, music-is-eternal-life, idle3re8u5, larryinspace, allhailthepancakes & seviespeaks

Personality Type: INTP

Dominate Function: Introverted Thinking

It is evident L is a very rational and introverted individual. He does his deductions and most of the case within his internal framework, which very few people understand. He looks for patterns and worked off logic, and he is always a step ahead of the rest of the team through his ability to keep track of complexities in his head. Sometimes, his solutions juggled multiple variables and possibilities, but L can narrow down truth, from what he had worked out on his own. Most of the time, L is a being based on logic; he would always do what he believed was logical, and his view on the world was heavily calculated. He was often analyzing things, and he uses that skill extensively in the case. This function’s tendency to not explain thought process, coupled with his genius-level intelligence, makes L a somewhat estranged individual.

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Auxiliary Function: Extroverted Intuition

L is often a highly intuitive individual. He would make remarks that would seem like they’d come from nowhere (i.e. suspecting Kira was a member of the investigation team) and trusts abstract patterns, even without solid evidence to support his claims. While he doesn’t appear to understand social interaction or people’s feelings very well, he certainly knows how they function. He is perceptive of others, and he can easily interpret evidence and the like from the investigation. L was very much an ‘ideas’ person, and he generates his ideas through exposure to new data and experiences. He often sees a multitude of possibilities, and he would quickly set to work on narrowing them down, yet only when logic demanded it.  L is not afraid to look outside of the box, and is quick to accept the unexpected when it is the logical thing to do.

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Tertiary Function: Introverted Sensing

L uses Introverted Sensing to help him solve crimes. He relies on past experiences, and what worked before to help him solve the case. He compares and contrasts evidence and leads in the case, using this function to help him make connections. L can arrange any learnt information into a system that works for him, and he applies any required information to the issue at hand.

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Inferior Function: Extroverted Feeling

With his top three functions so highly developed, Extroverted Feeling ended up being severely underdeveloped.  L isn’t a very emotional person. While he cares about justice in the world, his concern doesn’t seem to be for the sake of people within society. L doesn’t care much for connecting with people; he has no friends, and has only one person that he trusts. He doesn’t care much for taking other peoples feelings into account or not offending them, and has no qualms with being brutally honest. He rarely expresses his feelings, and he never lets his feelings cloud his judgement.  With most of his interest in solving puzzles, L absorbed the values of society at large (criminals should be punished, regardless of their vigilantism) largely without question.

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Hogwarts House: Ravenclaw

While he cares about bringing ‘Kira’ to justice, L’s primary reason for becoming involved in the case was for the intellectual thrill.  He was more interested in truth being found, than he was about justice, glory, or security that would come with Kira’s capture. As a being who thrives on intelligence, L holds both wits and a sharp mind, which both attributed to his brilliant deductive skills. L was also a very original person, with his quirks and even his appearance, another trait valued in Ravenclaw.

Elizabeth

From Bioshock Infinite

Requested by evenstrangerthandanger, iliketemplars & zachara123

Personality Type: ENTP

Dominate Function: Extroverted Intuition

Elizabeth, literally, thinks outside of the box.  She can see and has access to all kinds of possibilities, using her ability to create tears.  She quickly grasps this concept, where it takes Dewitt much longer to get an idea of what is going on.  She is an avid reader, but everything she reads she applies into a multitude of ideas int he practical world.  She comes up with alternate strategies and new ways of looking at problems while Dewitt pushes forward.  Elizabeth is excited by the outside world and by encountering new ideas and ways to combine ideas, which is why she found captivity so suffocating.  Outside she thrives from the plethora of new experiences.

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Auxiliary Function: Introverted Thinking

Elizabeth has a tendency to quietly figure out problems on her own.  She finds logical patterns and creates structured systems to fit those patterns into.  She is friendly, but she can also be cold when it comes to making her choices.  She wants to get a full understanding of the strange events that surround her, and she keeps these discoveries to herself.  Elizabeth craves things that make logical sense, and delights in figuring out puzzles, such as her hobby of lockpicking.

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Tertiary Function: Extroverted Feeling

Elizabeth does not like conflict, she has strong opinions, but she tries to approach them with a touch of delicacy.  She is always tends to try and understand the emotions and the meanings of others, giving Booker the benefit of the doubt and trying to learn more about him.  She absorbs her values from her environment, which is unraveled throughout the game.  She hates being deceived because she puts her faith in others.  Extroverted Feeling is nor her most developed function, and she relies on cool logic for most of her decision making.

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Inferior Function: Introverted Sensing

This is Elizabeth’s least developed function, but it is still very apparent.  She has a great memory for detail, always pulling something she learned out of a book into practical use.  She is quick to compare things that exist to how things used to exist, and has a good sense of the past and imagined futures.  She tends not to rely on this aside from a scrape, and tries to distance herself from the traditions that she was taught.  She understands how things used to be, but also understands that things can always change, and often should.

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Hogwarts House: Gryffindor

Elizabeth has high moral standards and always questions Booker’s actions.  She has a strong dislike for powerful leaders, and respects groups like the Vox Populi.  Although she is in a position where she could have a lot of power, Elizabeth is only ambitious so far as she needs to be in order to help people.  She is idealistic and she has no attachment to people for sentimental reasons if their ideals clash with her own.

Oct 5

Out of curiosity, why did you pick INFJ over INTJ for Loki? INTJ appears to be a popular choice in most other forums, so I'm curious as to your reasoning.

I have seen Loki typed as an INTJ a lot of different places as well, but I think that falls into the strange trap of “nice people must be Fs and mean people must be Ts” which is wrong.  Any type can develop unhealthy traits and go ‘evil’ so to say.  Loki was one of the first posts I wrote, so I will try to explain myself better here.

The key difference between INFJs and INTJs is that INFJs have Extroverted Feeling/Introverted Thinking functions, and INTJs have Extroverted Thinking/Introverted Feeling functions.  Loki is hypersenstive to other people’s feelings.  This is why he feels the subtle slights against him for his entire life, then he turns inward to rationalize- building up a reality in his mind in which everyone hates him.  He is a troubled INFJ, so he has a hard time connecting with others, which is crucial to their emotional well-being.  Instead of connecting personally to others, he attempts to rule- taking their love and admiration by force.

Additionally, Extroverted Feelers seek to harmonize and control the emotions of people around them.  Loki is litterally known for his skill as an exceptional manipulator.  He makes Thor feel outcast, he makes a crowd feel oppressed, he distracts the Avengers against each other.  The people that don’t fall for his emotional manipulation, he destroys to get out of his way.

So in short, not every evil mastermind is an INTJ, and not every INTJ is an evil mastermind.

Oct 1

Joel

From Last of Us

Requested by suntbone & zachara123

Personality Type: ISFJ

Dominate Function: Introverted Sensing

Even after twenty years, Joel is extremely tied to his past.  He consistently compares what things are like now, versus how it used to be.  He has a strong memory, and remembers favors he has done for people, old relationships and details about resources he is connected to.  He tends to see how things are done by other people and repeat them.  He has a chip on his shoulder from his rough experiences, and he uses that experience as information to make his choices.

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Auxiliary Function: Extroverted Feeling

Joel cares very deeply about the people around him, but his experience has also made him jaded and cynical about connecting strongly.  Despite his gruff demeanor, however, he wants the best for people around him.  Throughout his life, he felt responsible for taking care of people close to him, and he is not afraid get his hands dirty to make sure that they are protected.  The most important thing to him is the people he connects to, and after his heart was broken he struggles with connecting again in order to protect himself from going through that kind of pain again.

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Tertiary Function: Introverted Thinking

Joel does not let on what kind of rational he is using to think through situations, he does not think things through out loud.  He prefers to have an answer first before acting, and does not particularly like to give orders or orchestrate things.  He leaves building communities and operations to people like Tess and Tommy.  Joel prefers to understand something completely, and takes time to think through the dispassionate facts of the world.  He usually takes some time by himself or takes some quiet time, before he comes around a makes a deliberate choice.  By default, he tends to behave passionately, trying to protect the people around him.

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Inferior Function: Extroverted Intuition

It is not Joel’s strong suit to think outside of the box or to look for other options.  He starts finding alternatives when he is under extreme pressure, mostly out of a stubborn you-can’t-tell-me-what-to-do attitude. Although most of the time his rational is ‘we don’t have much of a choice’, by the end of the game, he creates his own options and avenues.  He doesn’t let himself get cornered by ultimatums.

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Hogwarts House: Hufflepuff

Joel is not an idealist.  He is not looking for truth.  He doesn’t even want to survive, necessarily for himself.  He always searches for something, or rather someone, to give his survival meaning.  Whether that is Sarah, Tommy, Tess or Ellie, Joel is always looking out for the people closest to him, whether they want his help or not.  He places personal loyalty and friendship above everything else.  He is a fearsome Hufflepuff that will stop at nothing to protect the ones he loves.

Hi there, you seem like the most knowledgeable person I'm aware of when it comes to function and preference theory so I figured you'd be the best person to ask. What's your stance on the two largest compatibility theories, reverse (eg isfp & entj) and shadow (eg isfp & esfj) functions?

Hello!  I’ve seen both of those theories floating around as well, but I don’t really ascribe to either.

First of all, in the realm of fictional characters, I think conflict is the best, so I love to see mismatched types and broken people clash in heart-wrenching displays of feels.  >:F

As far as constructing a nice relationships in real life or in fiction, I think that compatibility comes from filling in each other’s functional gaps, to help each other grow.  Some functions, even primary ones, can get fulfilled at work or with hobby.  For instance, a INFP who is a school counselor during the day (Fi) and builds computers for fun (Te) would probably want to spend more time developing their Ne and Si functions - and a romantic partner may be able to help them introduce them to new stuff!  But another INFP may be a costume design manager during the day (Ne & Te) and be super into collecting antique watches (Si)- and this INFP probably needs some more Fi time in their life, and want someone to talk through feelings or reflect with.

This could come from shadow functions, because couples often have to work together as a team as well.  For instance, the Ni focused person can look into the future of their relationship, family, ect and the Ne focused one can bring in new aspects to keep things fresh.  This growth could also come from reverse functions, like an ENTJ needing to develop their sensitive side with an ISFP.  Likely, it falls somewhere in between.

Basically, that was a long way to say that I don’t think there is a way to determine compatibility through MBTI types.  It is only one facet of what makes up a person.  The kind of person that someone is compatible with grows and changes with a person, and strong couples grow and change together.  What MBTI is useful for is understanding yourself and your partner better to help communicate in a way that is respectful and caring.

Thanks for the question, and I apologize for the inconclusive answer!

Sam Winchester

From Supernatural

Requested by isodel, conquistagoratheexplora, angelsaresoldiers, cobbled, potatothief, jelliottwrites, madamrandom, writingwanderlust, murrdogg1000, theflash77, impala-policecallbox-221b

Personality Type: INTP

Dominate Function: Introverted Thinking

Sam’s dominate function is introverted thinking.  He likes to know the system behind things, and is very focused on making rational decisions rather than basing his choices on sentiment.  When going through mysteries, he searches for motivation, and is deeply interested in what makes people tick.  Sam is exceptional about developing theories about supernatural events, and modifying the rules to logically make sense.  He is often the brother that offers an explanation for the unique situation they find themselves in, and leans towards the cold, but calculated choices.

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Auxiliary Function: Extroverted Intuition

Sam is often the brother who suggests something operates outside of the normal ‘rules’.  He doesn’t ignore anomalies, but instead he adds to and modifies his understanding of rules and structures to accommodate the new data.  He thinks in abstractions, of how things could be or should be.  Although INTPs are often depicted as batty or eccentric, Sam grew up in an environment that was extremely unusual, and his desire to be ‘normal’ is actually a strong will to live outside of the box.  His primary way of dealing with the world around him is a strong wit, and searching for new ideas or options for the brothers to pursue.  He does not take orders at face value, preferring to seek out all possible routes before deciding on his path.

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Tertiary Function: Introverted Sensing

Although Sam Winchester thinks outside of the box, he still has extremely strong ties to the past.  He remembers details about all kinds of monsters, subtleties of his relationship with his family, and he draws from that to form his experiences.  Even if he is having fun at the moment, his past haunts him and he just wants to complete any unfinished business and leave the life of a hunter behind him.

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Inferior Function: Extroverted Feeling

Extroverted Feeling is Sam’s weakest function, but it is still apparent.  He displays this function more often with strangers he just meets, taking on the responsibility of consoling victims of Supernatural crimes.  He is empathetic and wants to bring their life back into harmony.  However, applying this function to the people closest to him is still developing.  Sam wants the best for his family, but he does not shy away from conflict.  He routinely checks in on how Dean is feeling, but he rarely changes his behavior unless a situation is extremely dire.

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Hogwarts House: Slytherin

Sam begins the series looking out for primarily himself. He leaves the family that he recognized as being poisonous to his ambitions, and is only dragged back in because he is looking for vengeance. He is always looking to how to get a leg up on their foes, preferring to fight smart then to fight hard. He craves power, and knows that power has it’s uses, and fall into a cycle of always craving more.

Light Yagami

From Deathnote

Requested by righthand-ofdoom & vabarb

Personality Type: INTJ

Dominate Function: Introverted Intuition

Light’s dominate function is introverted intuition.  He is focused and extremely future-oriented, pulling all of his experience into informing his intuition.  He is always looking to the next step, and the next step, in order to outwit the authorities that are after him.  Light is so far leaps and bounds ahead of the people tracking him, that they need to call in a world expert to catch him.  Light is capable of simulating an entire scenario and all possible outcomes in his head, such as during his faceoff with L playing tennis.  His deductions from every detail also result in him behaving in a paranoid manner, just to make sure all possible contingencies are accounted for and covered.  He is interested in consequences and judgement, and finds deep meaning in symbolism and coincidence, believing that everything points to him being superior and responsible for the judgement of his fellow man.  He has a penchant for theatrics, because he enjoys adding additional layers of meaning behind his actions, and forming an overblown self-narrative about his power and how he uses it.

Auxiliary Function: Extroverted Thinking

Rather than being satisfied with creating logical systems and personal effectiveness in his head, Light is concerned with applying his logic to control the world around him.  He makes huge judgement calls about life and death because he thinks it is rational to execute hardened criminals.  He covers his tracks, orchestrates elaborate plans, and is coldly decisive.  He desires to have a firm grip on the world around him, and when events start spiraling out of his control, he races to catch up with them.  Light considers himself to be the ultimate judge of people, and he reflects those ideas into manipulating the outside world.

Tertiary Function: Introverted Feeling

Light has a very personal sense of right and wrong.  It is more important to him that there is justice in the world, and that people get what they deserve, rather than seeing others live in harmony.  His morality is individualized, based on a specific person’s worth and internal traits.  He notices how other’s actions affect the world, but he sees that as a reflection of their nature, and not a moral end.

Inferior Function: Extroverted Sensing

As Light’s least developed function, he rarely craves sensory bombardment unless he is severely under stress.  In fact, his sensory needs can actually be repressed to ensure that his goals are met.  He rarely looks back to see how things were done before, and when projecting what will happen next is not sufficient, he looks to the details of a situation at hand.  He is observant, noticing the noose of conspiracy wrapping around him, but it is only a basis for a web of deductions.

Hogwarts House: Gryffindor

Light honestly believes he was making the world a better place by executing criminals.  He was frustrated by the inefficiencies of the law and is motivated by justice.  Killing a few people, even innocent people that were in his way, was all for the greater good.  Of course, he ends up getting out of hand and being extremely destructive and manipulative, but his original intentions make him a true Gryffindor.

Jul 1

Bane

From Batman (Nolan)

Requested by demcomics, deminspirations, shaketotheside, murrdogg1000

Personality Type: ISTP

Dominate Function: Introverted Thinking

Bane generally keeps to himself.  He constructs logical systems inside his mind, exploring solid plans of action or behavior.  He is disciplined, because he knows that getting carried away with the moment is dangerous.  He is smart, and quick, with a number of contingency plans and the ability to execute complex actions, such as destroying the plane and defeating Batman.  He does what is logical to meet the ends of his employers, and is known for being ruthless because of it.

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Auxiliary Function: Extroverted Sensing

Bane is extremely aware of his surroundings and is tuned into activity.  He is quick and reactive, giving him an edge in his fight with Batman.  He also adapts quickly, including to be a leader or public figure when he needs to be, and in the shadows and working alone when he needs to be.  He had a rough past, which informs his actions, but he does not dwell on it.  He is active and physical with is body, preferring to master his environment and body.

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Tertiary Function: Introverted Intuition

When he needs to, Bane is excellent at coming up with a plan, and anticipating his opponent’s next move.  He was extremely confident and capable when fighting Batman, partially because he could anticipate Batman’s techniques.  He executes large plans, which mostly go the way he expects.  This is not his dominate function, and he relies on direction from his allies, but it is a dangerous aspect to his personality.

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Inferior Function: Extroverted Feeling

This is certainly Bane’s least developed function, but it still informs his choices.  He has an extreme sense of loyalty, and to disappoint the people he loves would be beyond his imagination.  However, he hardens himself to the suffering he causes strangers, making this a warped, and not fully utilized function.

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Hogwarts House: Hufflepuff

Bane is extremely loyal, and does everything for the friendship he foraged as a child.  He is hard working and determined, but not ambitious for himself.  He is a showman, but only when the people he respects needs him to be.  He made his alliances with dangerous people, which makes him a very dangerous man.