This pandemic might have us stuck at home and/or keeping our distance from other people. But that doesn’t mean we have to go without conversation. We humans are social creatures, and even the introverts need other people sometimes. And so we head online to talk with people on social media, or pull out our phones and call a friend, or join one of the Zoom hang-outs that people are organizing to stay in touch. If we’re still leaving our homes, we might have the chance to talk with customers and co-workers in-person as well.
But what do you talk about?
Assuming you want to move beyond the weather and other small-talk, then you’ll need to find a topic that the other person is interested in as well. When trying to draw others into conversation, it can help to know what things different personality types like to talk about.
I like typing fictional characters because they offer good examples for how the different types can show up in “real life.” This project, though, is mostly for fun. I’ve written posts typing Disney princesses and heroines. I’ve got a two part post on this blog typing Disney villains. Seems like it’s about time for the Disney princes and heroes to get their own posts as well.
There are so many Disney princes and heroes who could go on this list that I had to make some tough choices about who to include. My criteria are as follows: the characters appear in an animated Disney film, they’re human (sorry Simba, Tramp, and Pongo), they’re fairly popular/well-known, and I’ve seen the movie they star in. I’ve organized them alphabetically, then put half in this post and half in a second post that will come out on Wednesday.
I don’t like using stereotypes of any Myers-Briggs type as a basis for typing characters, but I’m afraid that’s what I’ve done in some of these descriptions. When the characters development doesn’t go really deep and we have just a few key characteristics to base our typing on, you have to try and match them with defining traits of a personality type. Unfortunately, sometimes that means relying on an overly simplistic view of each type. Just wanted to make that disclaimer before we dive into talking about Aladdin, the Beast, Prince Eric, Flynn Rider, Hercules, John Smith, Kristoff, Kuzco, and Li Shang. Read more →
Every personality type has something incredibly valuable to offer the world. Each comes with a slightly different way of learning new information, seeing the world, making decisions, and interacting with others. And that means that we each have the potential to positively impact the world in different ways.
For this list, I’ve paired the types that use the same primary and co-pilot functions together. For example, both ESFJ and ISFJ use Extroverted Feeling and Introverted Sensing as their preferred functions, just in a different order. If you’re new to Myers-Briggs® theory or want a quick refresher, you can click here for a quick intro to how functions work.
ESFJ and ISFJ
ESFJs and ISFJs change the world by connecting with and supporting other people, as well as preserving and passing on valuable lessons of the past.
Having Extroverted Feeling as either their primary or co-pilot function gives SFJ types a strong desire to help and support other people. They tend to personalize everything they do and care so deeply about others that they may forget their own needs while selflessly serving those around them. They’re also really good at picking up on what other people are feeling.
With Introverted Sensing as either their primary or co-pilot function, SFJs have a strong desire to learn from the past. It’s the function that helps us make sure we remember what was learned in our personal and collective histories so we don’t keep repeating failures as we go forward.
ENFJ and INFJ
ENFJs and INFJs change the world by bridging gaps between people who have different perspectives and offering a vision for what the future could look like on both personal and societal levels.Read more →
If you’ve done much reading about Myers-Briggs® types, you’ve probably come across the claim that Intuitives are smarter than Sensors. Or perhaps you’ve seen people talk about Thinking types being more intelligent than Feeling types.
Both of these ideas are untrue. They’re based on inaccurate stereotypes about the types and/or misunderstandings about the unique sort of intelligence that each type uses. In reality, every personality type is intelligent and no one type is smarter than any other. They do have different kinds of intelligence, though, and there are situations where one type might appear smarter than others just based on what skills the situation calls for.
The Problem of Measuring Intelligence
The idea that Sensing types aren’t smart is actuality based on something Isabel Meyers mentions in her book Gifts Differing. She said that Intuitive types tend to score higher on IQ tests. What people who spread this rumor miss is that she also pointed out that the structure of IQ tests puts Sensors at a disadvantage which has nothing to do with whether or not they’re smart. Read more →
Have you ever witnessed, or been part of, a conversation that starts to turn into a conflict because both parties feel the other just doesn’t “get it”? They’re approaching whatever topic they’re discussing from different perspectives, seeking different outcomes, and/or phrasing things in a way that makes sense to them but for some reason sets the other on edge.
If you talk with one of them after this conversation, you might hear things like, “I just can’t understand why they’re so irrational!” or “Why can’t they just tell me what they actually think?” Then if you talk with the other person you could hear, “I don’t see why they insist on stirring-up conflict” or “How dare they put me on the spot like that!”
This sort of situation often develops when Thinking and Feeling personality types clash. It’s especially noticeable among the INFJ, ISFJ, ENFJ, and ESFJ types and INTJ, ISTJ, ENTJ, and ESTJ types, since these types direct their decision-making processes outward. In other words, they interact with the outer world using their judging functions of Extroverted Feeling and Extroverted Thinking. If you’re not familiar with function theory, click here to read “The Simplest Guide to Myers-Briggs® Functions Ever.”
One of my favorite applications for personality type theory is using it to better understand people who don’t see the world the same way as us. As I explained in a post a couple weeks ago, both Thinking and Feeling are considered rational functions. These two ways of decision-making use very different foundations for their rationalizations, however. And if you’re not aware of how that all works, then it can lead to quite a bit of frustration when you’re trying to have a conversation with someone who doesn’t share your type’s preferences. Read more →
Discussions about Sherlock Holmes’ Myers-Briggs® type can get pretty heated in the online community. He’s either an INTJ or INTP and whichever side you come down on (if you care about this sort of thing) is worth passionately defending. I’ve weighed-in on this myself in a blog post arguing that Sherlock as portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch in the Sherlock BBC series, Robert Downy Jr. in the Sherlock Holmes movies, and even the Basil of Bakerstreet version from Disney’s The Great Mouse Detective are all INTPs.
I do think that’s the best-fit type for all three of those versions, but they aren’t the only portrayals of Sherlock Holmes. We ought not forget, for example, the original character in the stories penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I’ve been reading and re-reading several of those for my Classics Club book list and Sherlock doesn’t seem very much like an INTP in those stories. In fact, the only thing I can say with absolute certainty is that he’s a Thinking personality type.
Typing People Who Aren’t Real
That brings us to the second part of this post’s title: the trouble with typing fictional characters. Though I love looking at fictional characters’ personality types, there are limits to how accurately you can type them. It gets especially tricky in the case of someone like Sherlock Holmes or Batman because so many writers and actors have been involved in portraying this character over quite a long period of time. There’s bound to be some inconsistencies in how each creative sees the character they’re working with. Plus, I doubt very many of them think about the character’s Myers-Briggs® type and how they can keep it consistent in every portrayal.
Going back to Sherlock Holmes as our example, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle sometimes writes him in a way that looks like ISTJ, sometimes more like one of the NTJ types, and sometimes with traits of a TP type. He also calls Dr. Watson by two different first names (John is used three times, James once), so I think it’s safe to say Doyle wasn’t all that concerned with consistency. In any case, Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories were written about 30 years before Jung published Psychological Types, so we know he wasn’t relying on those theories when writing the character.
So Why Type Fiction?
Since it’s difficult to type fictional characters with a high degree of accuracy, why do it? For one thing, it’s fun. It’s one of the ways to turn an interest in Myers-Briggs® into an entertaining pastime as well as a useful hobby.
Typing fictional characters can also sharpen our skills typing real people. It gives us a chance to study how characters react and puzzle out which psychological functions they’re using based on what they say and how they act. In addition, well-written characters provide familiar examples of the different types to use in every-day conversation. If someone asks me what an ENTP or ISFJ, for example, looks like in real-life then Tony Stark and Samwise Gamgee are there to help clarify things.
Do you enjoy trying to figure out fictional characters’ personality types? Tell us about your favorite characters and what you think their types are in the comments!