I read an article by another creator friend, Ian, and in the article he wrote about the 16 Personality Theory and how it applies to certain characters in film and game. The theory itself as well as a quick test (10 minutes or so) that you can apply to your own personality can be found here. The gist of the theory is that there are 4 traits that can be joined together to create your specific personality:
- Introvert (I) or Extravert (E)
- Intuition (N) or Sensing (S)
- Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)
- Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)
The theory is that each of these 4 traits is a major part of your personality and controls different aspects of your interactions with the world and people around you.
After taking the quick quiz, I discovered that I am an INFJ personality. Often seen as the advocate, strong-willed and decisive but highly set to keep other more rash individuals in check acting as a diplomat with an inborn sense of idealism and morality.
An INFJ tends to see helping others as their purpose in life, but while people with this personality type can be found engaging rescue efforts and doing charity work, their real passion is to get to the heart of the issue so that people need not be rescued at all. [source]
People with the INFJ personality generally have these strengths:
- Creative: vivid imagination and a strong sense of compassion. INFJ's tend to seek out resolution to human issues rather than technical challenges, making them excellent counselors or advisors.
- Insightful: General sense and abilty to see through dishonesty and deceitful motives. An INFJ will step past manipulation and are able to get to the heart of the matter by seeing how people and events are connected.
- Inspiring/Convincing: INFJ's have a fluid, inspirational writing style that appeals to idealists that they communicate with. Able to orate well, speaking with warmth and passion as well as being extremely proud of their words.
- Decisive: Using their creativity, insight and inspiration; INFJ's are able to follow through on their ideas with conviction and the planning needed to see complex projects through completion. INFJ's do not just see how things ought to be, they ack in their insight.
- Determined: When an INFJ believes in somethings importance, they pursue that goal that can catch people close to them off guard. The passion an INFJ has is an inseparable part of who they are.
- Altruistic: Holding strong beliefs and take the necessary actions, not because of porsonal advancement, rather because they are attempting to advance a cause or idea for the improvement of others and the world around them.
As well as having these weaknesses:
- Sensitive: Criticism can bring out a strong retaliatory response from an INFJ, often extremely vulnerable to conflict causing them to criticize their own motives.
- Extremely Private: An INFJ personality tends to present themselves as the culmination of an idea rather than truly opening up their personal lives to people. Trusting new people is very difficult.
- Perfectionist: Defined by the pursuit of ideals, although not always possible in real-life situations. An INFJ will also tend to seek the most optimal relationship, imagining that there is always a better option.
- Burn out quickly: An INFJ tends to lack an outlet for letting off steam and are likely to exhaust themselves without finding a viable way to balance their ideals with the realities of day-to-day living.
So who fits this profile in cinema?
Well, let's take a look at a few memorable characters who display these traits and personality quirks.
Sam, one of the main protagonist brothers in Supernatural, exhibits a strong connection to the INFJ personality. Often turning inward and looking to his own emotions, Sam spends a great deal of time dealing with his own emotions always looking for the best possible outcome. Sam also has a high moral absolute view of the world, even if it isn't realistic in his line of work as a hunter. He is often noted for telling his brother, Dean, that what he is doing is "wrong". He has had several personality shifts throughout the show's 10 seasons but in general, Sam always returns to his standard INFJ habits of being introverted, altruistic and decisive.
John Michael "J.D." Dorian, M.D.
J.D. from the comedy Scrubs exhibits over and over again his tendency for being an INFJ. At the heart of an INFJ is a person who wants to help people to become better. Many film medics and doctors have similar tendencies of compassion (outside of Dr. Gregory House) and J.D. often is seen as a sort of advocate for what truly needs to happen. He is always striving for the ideals that he envisions and attempts to make them happen as quickly as he can, knowing that they are for the embetterment of himself and others. He varies a bit from the standard model in that he isn't entirely as introverted as others on this list, but he still tends to stay in his own little world.
Another notable character that often exhibits several of the key traits of an INFJ. Merlin is more often than not portrayed as incredibly selfless: offering himself in place of others to keep them from harm. This is a key characteristic for an INFJ, as they feel as though their primary purpose in life is to rescue and help those around them. Also, Merlin's knack for ingenuity and his high moral absolutes that guide him in his actions.
Professor Lupin is and always will be one of my favorite characters from Harry Potter, partially because of the kindred INFJ spirit and partly because I just love David Thewlis as an actor. Regardless, Lupin is almost a dead ringer for an INFJ as he is often viewed as shy and drawn-in (partly due to his lycanthropy). He is a tolerant, levelheaded & compassionate individual. His perceptiveness is also a key trait of being an INFJ as he is able to cut through and understand what is truly going on in the world around him. His deep-seated fear of rejection also leads Professor Lupin to question his motives if he gets criticized because it attacks him at the core of who he is.
Big Bang Theory is one of my guilty pleasure shows, because I can relate to several aspects of various characters on it, but one in particular reminds me of the INFJ personality, Leonard, in his introverted quirkiness. Leonard is often reluctant to share his own personal feelings and tries to present himself as 'ordinary' even though the truth isn't quite that simple. Leonard tends to dwell on his emotions and has let his past define his perceptions of the world, although he does grow and learn to strive for the ideals he has in his mind especially when it comes to his relationships with others, mainly his relationship with Penny.