Creating unique characters from a psychological perspective

Posted on behalf of Kristin Raven
January 21, 2019

Ever get the feedback on your script that all your characters seem alike? Did you frantically search online for “ways to make characters unique,” only to come back with hundreds of results because everyone has a different idea or tool that they use?

Randy Webb, online instructor for NY University teaching applied behavioral psychology, led an informative workshop on using one such tool, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

After a brief introduction to the concepts of the psychological analysis tool, attendees chose a character that they knew well from a movie or television show and completed a chart answering as if they were that character. The results were quite accurate!

Attendees were instructed on the different preferences of personality types and why they would react differently under the same situations based on the strengths and weaknesses of the way they perceive the world.

How does this help shape your characters? Do you have a plot and need to know what kind of person to put in the situation? Or have you created an antagonist and a protagonist with opposing personality types that by definition pit them against each other?

While using the MBTI is a fun and interesting tool, Webb cautions against taking the results too far. Remember, just like actors, we can all pretend to be someone else for a while. Perhaps that is what your character is doing!

This was part of the Northwest Screenwriters Guild 2019 workshop series.

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