Looking for character archetypes?
Here you will find character development resources designed for writers, based around popular personality type theory. The most well-known personality type classifications are:
- Western Zodiac (star signs)
- Eastern Zodiac
For each personality type in each theory, we've created summaries which describe the character in a nutshell, including details of their positive and negative traits.
How can you use personality types for fictional characters?
Established personality type theory can provide a useful foundation for creating characters.
If we’ve mapped a character to a personality type (either by choosing the one that feels the most right, or in some cases even taking a personality test as that character), then the descriptions can help inform how a character behaves in a given situation.
It can help ensure the characters behave in different ways to each other, and also consistently within themselves.
How is this personality type resource tailored to writers?
Many personality type resources are aimed at real people and therefore need to be sensitive to people's feelings about their own category, and so are skewed towards the positive.
However, this character personality type resource has been put together with authors in mind.
So we are under no such restraints, and have tried to get a good balance of positive and negative traits for each persoanlity type. After all, flawed characters are often the most interesting ones.
What's included in this personality type resource?
The resource contains the most popular personality type categories that exist across mythology, business, psychology and spirituality.
We have put together a brief background summary of each of the categories below. To read full lists and descriptions of each of the personality types contained in each category, click the link to the dedicate page.
In most cases we have also created an infographic.
How should I use these personality types to create my characters?
If you already have a rough idea of your character, then you can browse through the descriptions to find the persinality type that seems to most accurately describe what you already know about them.
You can read through the rest of the details to see how that inspires you, and keep the information for reference and cehck it when you're not sure how a character would behave in a given scene. Or if you're looking for ways to increase conflict in a scene you can use the descriptions to find ways in which a character might antagnise the situation.
They are not intended to be used as complete copy and paste characters, as nobody neatly fits into one of twelve or so categories. Feel free to deviate as feel appropriate.
It is up to the writer to use the information given and develop each archetype in their own unique way.
Jungian Character Archetypes
Swiss Psychiatrist Carl Jung introduced the concept of archetypes as models of people, behaviours or personalities.
He suggested archetypes were inborn tendencies that play a role in influencing human behaviour.
The archetypes represent universal patterns that cross eras, borders and cultures, but are expressed in different ways across various stories, art, myths, dreams and religions.
Myers-Briggs Character Archetypes
The Myers-Briggs theory of personality types was developed by the mother-daughter partnership of Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers.
It is an adaptation of the theory of psychological types produced by Jung (see Jungian character archetypes).
The premise of Myers-Briggs begins with four preferences.
The four preferences could be simplified and rephrased as:
Each of us is said to respond to the preferences in one of two ways (again, rephrased for simplification):
- People: introvert / extrovert
- Facts: data / intuition
- Logic: thinking / feeling
- Lifestyle: structured / free flowing.
The 16 Myers-Briggs personality types are constructed from the various options created by combining the choices above.
Introvert, Data, Thinking, Structured would be called ESTJ (the actual terminology being Extraversion, Sensing, Thinking, Judgement).
Enneagram Character Archetypes
The Enneagram is a model of human psychology based on nine interconnected personality types.
Its ideas are said to be found as long ago as the 4th Century, in the work of a Christian Mystic called Evagrius Ponticus.
But the contemporary theories have been developed by various academics since the 1950s.
Western Zodiac / Starsign Personality Types (Character Archetypes)
Western astrology has its roots in Ancient Greece.
Horoscopes are a form of divination based on an exact moment in time, such as a person's birth.
That person's characteristics said to be influenced by the positions of the various cosmic bodies at that moment.
The central principle of astrology is integration with the cosmos.
The individual, earth and the universe are all parts of the same single organism, with all parts correlated and interdependent.
The western zodiac is based on a twelve-monthly cycle, with a person's 'starsign'decided by their adte of birth.
Chinese Zodiac Animals as Character Archetypes
The Chinese zodiac was invented during the Han Dynasty, around 200AD.
It is based on a twelve-year cycle, with each year representing an animal that took part in an ancient race.
The order of the animals is based on where they placed in the race, and their approach to the race reflects each animal's personality.
Each animal is associated with a given year, so your animals depends on what year you were born in.
The traits of the animal are reflected in your personality. So for example, if you were born in the year of the Ox, you might be stubborn, and if you were born in the year of the rat, you might be cunning.