Mistypings usually result from ignorance in some form or another. To back up this rather harsh statement, I will group mistypers into categories that explain what they’re doing wrong. Much easier to read that way…
The Tumblr Expert
There are a certain group of people in this world –particularly people who use tumblr a lot– who believe, despite evidence to the contrary, that they know everything about whatever they want, and feel the need to broadcast their extensive knowledge to the world.
That said, these people typically experience only brief exposure to MBTI before they consider themselves expert enough to type all characters. Unfortunately, they typically don’t know as much as they suppose they do.
In fact, they typically know very little, which is why I deliberately made this blog a wordpress site rather than putting it on tumblr. I know perfectly well that tumblr is a web full of ignorance and I don’t care to tread there for anything except finding lovely reaction gifs for these posts.
There are some people who magically find a way to mentally warp all of their favorite characters to fit themselves. I know plenty of ISTPs that want to claim Sherlock as their own and INTJs that want to assume the role of the ninth Doctor.
Then there are people who assume that any character that they can remotely identify with should also fall into their MBTI category. The thing is, most of the time, these people can only relate to a character’s circumstance (but not the thought functions).
For instance, my favourite Doctors (from Doctor Who) are currently tied between 10 and 12. Much of the reason that I love both of them is that I relate to them a lot. Now, obviously, it would make little to no sense for me to claim the 10th Doctor as an INTJ, because he’s so blinking extraverted, but that’s what a lot of people are doing.
They assume that because they relate to someone, that they must be the same type…but what they don’t take into account is that they’re relating to thoughts that the character has as a result of circumstance or experience, and not cognitive functions.
Other times, the person will relate to one or two of the functions, and find a way to rationalize the other two to fit their desired outcome.
Some people type based solely on personality stereotypes, or, more accurately, based on the four letters I/E, N/S, F/T, P/J. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work, because the typing system isn’t based on those letters –it’s based on the functions. Plenty of people who claim to be expert types don’t even know the functions exist.
Remember that the functions show up slightly differently in all types. Just because someone is extremely intelligent doesn’t mean that they’re a T-type, and just because someone cries in public doesn’t make them an F-type.
They say, oh, all INTJs are cold, heartless and have no emotions, all ENFPs smile 24/7, all ESFJs are sluts, all ISTJs obsess over rules and whine about everything etc.
Can I just say, that’s like claiming that all people with depression wear black, or that all people with cancer are nice, or that all dentists are sadists.
The Above-Ground-Only Expert
I have massively larger amounts of forgiveness for this kind of mistypers, the reason being that they have actually educated themselves in the realm of MBTI. Their mistypings are generally based off of a fundamental misunderstanding of a character, rather than misunderstanding of MBTI.
They simply haven’t looked deeply enough into the character. Perhaps they can’t see something that’s beneath the surface, obvious once you look deeper.
I happen to be a professional fiction writer (and no, I am not giving my name out so you can read my crap), so I have an advantage in the area of character interpretation if you will. I notice things about characters non-writers tend to miss, and as a result, my typings tend to be accurate.
However, occasionally, I will stumble upon a new character insight that will lead me to retrace my steps and re-type a character completely based on my new understanding.
If you’re trying to type characters, here are my recommendations for accuracy:
- Firstly, and obviously, be objective.
- Look outside yourself and get second opinions. No matter how rational you are, you still carry impressions from your past with you that may skew your perception of a character. You also have a personality. The way your brain functions may influence how you type a character.
- Look deep. Don’t just look at the stereotypes. Really dig deep to figure out a character’s motivations. Don’t just dwell on the surface.
- Understand the functions, obviously, and don’t claim your typing as legitimate until you can accurately back up your claims. Know more than just the stereotyped difference between the functions. Know them inside and out.
- Lastly, don’t be a blinking narcissist when you’re typing
In conclusions, I will state that I am by no means claiming that I am always right. I have mistyped characters in the past, but in the case that this is brought to my attention, I don’t simply try to back my original argument up further. I actually set out on a new journey to find the truth.