I had no idea what I was going to write about today until I read Alex’s blog yesterday.
Then it came to me. On-line personality tests. Why not just dump out my strengths and weaknesses for the world to see?
There’s so many of these things out there, I don’t know where to begin. They are hardly scientific—at least, most of them seem fairly simplistic. For example, I’m right brained. Woo woo, big surprise there. (But you may be surprised that I’m not extreme right-brain–only 62%.)
There’s the “big five” test.
And one of the many ennegram tests. (I’m #3: The Achiever.)
About ten years ago, I worked for a guy who was a big proponent of the Keirsey Temperament Sorter. Greg had married into a large, close-knit family that had a family run business in the agricultural area. They hired a management consultant to help solve some problems inherent in running a family business. You can just imagine, right? Growing up with the same people, working with the same people, living in the same town with the same people, bringing in spouses to help with the business, and kids were being born—arguments are inevitable, but when you’re family there is no firing or quitting.
The consultant suggested they each take the Keirsey test (based on the Myers-Brigges personality types) so that they could understand the other people in the business/family. Apparently, the results were accurate and helped the family members see how the other people thought, resulting in more patience and ultimately fostered a better working and living environment.
So Greg was big on the test and suggested that all of us on staff take it.
I was surprised at my results, but when I read the book cover to cover (Greg gave it to me), I realized I definitely fit about 80%+ into my “temperament.”
According to the Keirsey website:
Each temperament has its own unique qualities and shortcomings, strengths and challenges. What accounts for these differences? To use the idea of Temperament most effectively, it is important to understand that the four temperaments are not simply arbitrary collections of characteristics, but spring from an interaction of the two basic dimensions of human behavior: our communication and our action, our words and our deeds, or, simply, what we say and what we do.
As a writer, and someone interested in human nature in general, I’m very interested in why people do what they do. As someone who likes to get along with others, understanding they whys and the hows of people’s thought processes and where they are coming from, helps to keep a modicum of peace, especially in a work environment.
I know many writers who use the Temperament Sorter to help them with their characters. I’m not one of them. But hey, if you like to ask your characters questions, go for it! As a personality test, I think this is one of the most accurate I’ve seen based on people I’ve worked with.
So for fun–because I’m on deadline (again, surprise) I’m going to run another contest. Guess which of the 16 temperaments I am and you get a copy of any book in my backlist. I’ll give up to five books away, randomly, to those who guess right.
More about the Myers-Briggs/Keirsey Temperament Sorter:
There are four basic temperaments, and each temperament has four parts. Click on the temperament for more information. First, a run down of what the Myers-Briggs letters stand for. (pg 12 in the book PLEASE UNDERSTAND ME II.) Everyone is one or the other:
E= Extraverted or I=Introverted
S= Sensory or N=Intuitive
T=Thinking or F=Feeling
J=Judging or P=Perceiving
From the website (and you can click through for more detailed information)
All Artisans (SPs) share the following core characteristics:
Artisans tend to be fun-loving, optimistic, realistic, and focused on the here and now
Artisans pride themselves on being unconventional, bold, and spontaneous.
Artisans make playful mates, creative parents, and troubleshooting leaders.
Artisans are excitable, trust their impulses, want to make a splash, seek stimulation, prize freedom, and dream of mastering action skills.
Artisans are the temperament with a natural ability to excel in any of the arts, not only the fine arts such as painting and sculpting, or the performing arts such as music, theater, and dance, but also the athletic, military, political, mechanical, and industrial arts, as well as the “art of the deal” in business.
The four SPs:
All Guardians (SJs) share the following core characteristics:
Guardians pride themselves on being dependable, helpful, and hard-working.
Guardians make loyal mates, responsible parents, and stabilizing leaders.
Guardians tend to be dutiful, cautious, humble, and focused on credentials and traditions.
Guardians are concerned citizens who trust authority, join groups, seek security, prize gratitude, and dream of meting out justice.
Guardians are the cornerstone of society, for they are the temperament given to serving and preserving our most important social institutions. Guardians have natural talent in managing goods and services–from supervision to maintenance and supply — and they use all their skills to keep things running smoothly in their families, communities, schools, churches, hospitals, and businesses.
The four SJs:
All Idealists (NFs) share the following core characteristics:
Idealists are enthusiastic, they trust their intuition, yearn for romance, seek their true self, prize meaningful relationships, and dream of attaining wisdom.
Idealists pride themselves on being loving, kindhearted, and authentic.
Idealists tend to be giving, trusting, spiritual, and they are focused on personal journeys and human potentials.
Idealists make intense mates, nurturing parents, and inspirational leaders.
Idealists, as a temperament, are passionately concerned with personal growth and development. Idealists strive to discover who they are and how they can become their best possible self — always this quest for self-knowledge and self-improvement drives their imagination. And they want to help others make the journey. Idealists are naturally drawn to working with people, and whether in education or counseling, in social services or personnel work, in journalism or the ministry, they are gifted at helping others find their way in life, often inspiring them to grow as individuals and to fulfill their potentials.
The four NFs:
All Rationals (NTs) share the following core characteristics:
Rationals tend to be pragmatic, skeptical, self-contained, and focused on problem-solving and systems analysis.
Rationals pride themselves on being ingenious, independent, and strong willed.
Rationals make reasonable mates, individualizing parents, and strategic leaders.
Rationals are even-tempered, they trust logic, yearn for achievement, seek knowledge, prize technology, and dream of understanding how the world works.
Rationals are the problem solving temperament, particularly if the problem has to do with the many complex systems that make up the world around us. Rationals might tackle problems in organic systems such as plants and animals, or in mechanical systems such as railroads and computers, or in social systems such as families and companies and governments. But whatever systems fire their curiosity, Rationals will analyze them to understand how they work, so they can figure out how to make them work better.
The four NTs
It benefits writers to understand basic human temperament, at least from a character point of view. Reading the book (versus the less detailed website) provides insights into character traits you might not even be aware of, simply because they’re not in us. This is particularly helpful when you find your secondary characters all alike or stereotypical. And when all else fails and you need some conflict, try putting an Artisan with a Rational and watch them explode.
I was going to try to guess what all my Murderati partners in crime were, but it was much harder than I thought. I’m pretty sure that Alex is an Artisan Performer, that Alafair is a Guardian, Toni is a Idealist, and Tess is a Rational; I’m certain that Rob and Pari and Stephen are introverts and that Dusty and Brett and JT are extraverts. But when I tried to break it all down, I realized maybe I don’t read people as well as I thought, and rather than embarrass myself, I would just quit here. But if any of my compatriots want to participate and take the online test and share . . . I’m sure everyone here would enjoy it! You have to register to take the online test, but it’s free.
And again, if you can figure out what I am (and yes, it does fit surprising well and I’ll tell you why at the end of the day) you get a book from my backlist. Enjoy!