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Thread: typing fictional characters

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    Joy's Avatar
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    Default typing fictional characters

    Fictional characters do not have Socionics types as they do not metabolize information.

    However, when a fictional character is based on a real person (who does metabolize information), the character may posses traits similar to that person. The character's mannerisms and reactions may correlate so well with the real person that they could be said to be a portrayal of that type.

    The primary problem is that most fictional characters are designed to be entertaining, so their behavior is rarely identical to that of actual people. The more entertaining and less realistic a character is, the less that character's behavior is going to correspond with actual people and therefore actual types.

    Also, when the fictional character is being portrayed by an actor or actress, that person's type will influence the overall impression we have of the character.
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    I agree 100%, and this seems really obvious to me, but I've heard people argue otherwise.
    It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.
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    It's pretty easy to get caught up in trying to figure out a fictional character's type, especially since some fictional characters so closely resemble actual people (with actual types).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joy View Post
    It's pretty easy to get caught up in trying to figure out a fictional character's type, especially since some fictional characters so closely resemble actual people (with actual types).
    Yeah and I don't think discussions about it are pointless, but really arguing to the death over the type of a character is silly. They might show characteristics of three or four types. And I agree that throwing an actor into the mix makes it even more problematic. But some characters are more like one specific type than other characters.
    It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.
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    House, for example, is one of those characters that definitely does not behave like a typical example of any one specific type. He's written to entertaining, not realistic.
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    I don't know anything about that show.

    I was thinking about Harry Potter. I thought he was EII and argued for that, but then I think that was partly from watching the movies and Daniel Radcliffe is IEE and taints the character. Or brings a bit of himself to the character I guess - i don't think it's considered a bad thing in the realm of movie making. Anyway, my daughter and I were reading the first book and he seem much more ESI in the book than in the movie.
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    Isn't the author supposed to be LIE?
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    wants to be a writer. silverchris9's Avatar
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    Fictional characters do not have Socionics types as they do not metabolize information.

    However, when a fictional character is based on a real person (who does metabolize information), the character may posses traits similar to that person. The character's mannerisms and reactions may correlate so well with the real person that they could be said to be a portrayal of that type.
    Truth.

    If socionics is true (or at least the idea of information aspects and types), and there the writer is good enough + interested in accurately representing reality, the character should become a better and better portrayal (that's exactly the right word I think) of a type depending on the quality of the writing. But it's almost impossible to present an accurate portrait of a person, so most portrayals on TV are inconsistent in their reliance on particular IMs in a way that real human beings (presumably) are not, and as such do not have "types," or accurately portray them. Entertaining, not realistic. Very true.
    Not a rule, just a trend.

    IEI. Probably Fe subtype. Pretty sure I'm E4, sexual instinctual type, fairly confident that I'm a 3 wing now, so: IEI-Fe E4w3 sx/so. Considering 3w4 now, but pretty sure that 4 fits the best.

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    I think it's possible to make evaluation of fictional characters, but we must take the authorial perspective carefully. A real person's behavior can be forced, constrained by situation and influence by coercion. A writer can write a character outside these environmental influences, perhaps protected by status or talent. The main influences are the writers own information metabolism, knowledge, imagination and personal consistency.

    Fictional characters exist as a simulation of a hypothetical or even real person within the mind of the author. It can be described as a virtual information metabolism that is hosted on the information metabolism of the writer. It is a process running within the mind of the author, the input and output variables contained within that mind.

    When multiple writers collaborate on a project, there can be some inconsistency within the character especially if the writers are of different information metabolisms. The simulation that is running which process information can be different. However, if there is tight creative control on a character, sometimes the consistency is more reflective of a chemical information metabolism running on biological hardware.

    To say that fictional characters do not metabolize information is not necessarily true, as the process that represents the character within the writers mind does process information albet in emulation.

    For actors, this virtual information metabolism is running in emulation thru the actor.

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    This is an amalgam of thoughts on the subject matter that have been floating in my mind for some time, and now I will attempt to verbalize:

    A person has a personality that conforms to one of the 16 types. However, a person is also capable of operating on different "wavelengths", engaging in IM elements they tend not to use in their real life. The most common roles I have observed that an actor is able to play, besides their own personality, using the intertype relations' naming, are: 1.Extinguishment. 2.Dual 3.Super-ego. Incidentally, the types most commonly reported being expressed in "unhealth".

    However, when said actor is playing said role that differs from their real personality, there are times when their real personality comes up -- briefly "flashes". This causes -- even when the actor is pulling off a perfect performance -- that the person who is trying to type them gets "mixed messages".

    This is mainly why I prefer to type characters from books or animation, rather than from real action movies or series, because the actors' real personalities very often "taint" the personalities of the characters they are intending to play. To learn to type correctly, I strongly suggest that you use fictional characters from books or animation. Then you can move on to real actors.

    Let's set the example of House, and the actor Hugh Laurie. The actor is most likely an ILI, but amazingly, he plays an ENTp on the series (if you were to narrow it down to a type, which is kind of hard because he is inconsistent, as it has been stated before, probably to make the series/character more interesting. More like ENxp).

    Personalities are almost always going to be consistent (except in cases of bad pieces of media/bad writing), as the creators often have real persons in mind when they craft their characters. Usually acquaintances, or hidden sides of their own personalities.

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    wants to be a writer. silverchris9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xkj220 View Post
    This is an amalgam of thoughts on the subject matter that have been floating in my mind for some time, and now I will attempt to verbalize:

    A person has a personality that conforms to one of the 16 types. However, a person is also capable of operating on different "wavelengths", engaging in IM elements they tend not to use in their real life. The most common roles I have observed that an actor is able to play, besides their own personality, using the intertype relations' naming, are: 1.Extinguishment. 2.Dual 3.Super-ego. Incidentally, the types most commonly reported being expressed in "unhealth".

    However, when said actor is playing said role that differs from their real personality, there are times when their real personality comes up -- briefly "flashes". This causes -- even when the actor is pulling off a perfect performance -- that the person who is trying to type them gets "mixed messages".
    I agree. Random anecdotal evidence: My senior year, my high school did 42nd Street. I didn't know socionics at the time, but looking back I definitely played Julian Marsh as an SLE. I like to think that I did a good job, but looking at the pictures, my individual facial expressions often differed from the character, even if the overall impression was right.
    Not a rule, just a trend.

    IEI. Probably Fe subtype. Pretty sure I'm E4, sexual instinctual type, fairly confident that I'm a 3 wing now, so: IEI-Fe E4w3 sx/so. Considering 3w4 now, but pretty sure that 4 fits the best.

    Yes 'a ma'am that's pretty music...

    I am grateful for the mystery of the soul, because without it, there could be no contemplation, except of the mysteries of divinity, which are far more dangerous to get wrong.

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    I agree with hkkmr's perspective.
    A singular author can write a rather consistent type for a character, especially if they're basing them on observations of people they've known or even themselves, which is very often the case.
    But when they're multiple writers involved they're obviously going to have different perspectives, values, etc, that will generally lead to inconsistencies in the character(s)

    And as Slacker Mom said, there's also the case of adaptations where the actors type will influence the characters type, with their own mannerisms showing through.

    So I do think characters written by a single author, such as a novelist, can be typed; but when they're adapted for the screen that's not always the case, except in the occurrence where the actor has the same type or shared and valued functions, such as an actor playing their identical or even mirror
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    So I'm glad we agree Jung was an ILI.

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    It partly depends on how good the writer is. I read those Twilight books, and those characters aren't particularly well written. For one example. And the young woman who plays the female lead in the movie is a terrible actress IMO. I think she might be SLI but I don't think the character is SLI and the character, even in the book, might have no clear type at all.

    Some writers might write some characters in a way where they seem to have a pretty clear type. But not all.
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    book characters can give examples of information elements and the way they are expressed. the frequency of expressed IM's might point to a type, but usually not decisively so.
    Last edited by Blaze; 10-11-2009 at 03:03 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slacker Mom View Post
    Some writers might write some characters in a way where they seem to have a pretty clear type. But not all.
    I agree
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    I like typing fictional characters... except that's probably not quite what I'm really doing. My attention span is rather short and I watch more things than I read, so most of the characters I take interest in are in films or shows. One of the reasons I like watching movies/shows is because I like psychologically analyzing all the characters. In doing so I basically build a concept of the character in my mind where that character ends up embodying more than s/he did originally (that's what I'm psychologically analyzing: what sort of person would do this? if this were a person, who would they be?). I like this because I actually learn more about myself doing it because shades of all of these characters are already in my head (the many faces of human nature). After I've built a concept of the person that I think rather matches them, I might type that concept for fun. I'm not truly typing the character but rather a concept of them... if that character were an actual full human being, not simply a simplistic representation of one... With some characters there is obviously more to go off of than others. The last book I "read" (it was an audio book) was Lolita and the characters in that book are rather complex (they might be rather typable... however, I sort of drifted off for large portions of that book so I think that I lack a whole shitload of information about those characters). Anyway, sometimes when I'm typing the characters from stories who I've made real in my mind (because I have no life), sometimes they end up not having a type because they have too many components of more than one type and I deem them as rather untypable or as some sort of hybrid of a couple of types. Even characters who I might think are one type may end up having more qualities of another type than a real person would/might so it's more saying that they have far more qualities of the one type than the other to the extent that I'll round them off to the nearest type. But really it doesn't matter... I basically use the characters as toys to play with ideas about types. It probably is a rather useless activity but I get bored and I like psychological analysis of people and characters.

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    The thing about fiction is that it has to resonate with reality. People won't read a book or watch a movie with characters they can't relate to. Good fiction has good characters, that is, believable, realistic, consistent, 3-dimensional characters. A realistic character will have a sociotype; if it doesn't have a sociotype, then it won't be a realistic character.

    While most people don't know socionics, people do know people. A good writer especially is a student of human behaviour, studying what makes people tick in order to be able to write more realistic characters. Good writers have at least an intuitive understanding of how different types of people think and act, even if they can't quantify it in a systematic theory like socionics. Furthermore, audiences and readers may not understand why, but they always react better to well-rounded, socionically accurate characters than to characters of the poorly-written, inconsistent, 1-dimensional sort.

    Therefore, successful, well-written character-based fiction will almost always have socionically accurate characters and relationships to one degree or another. The more realistic and well-written it is, the more accurate it will be.
    Quaero Veritas.

  19. #19
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    Oh, I agree very much with Krig.

    However, for myself, I rarely get involved with typing fictitional characters, or even celebrities, when there are so many actual real people out there for me to meet and type.

    And regards to typing some fictitional characters on the forum, just because people can't agree on their type doesn't mean they don't have one, the forum rarely agrees on any typing fictional or otherwise!

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    I feel like fictional characters will sometimes resemble actual types better than "real" people. Although on the same token, I also feel as though "actual types" resemble fictional characters more than real people, too.
    "To become is just like falling asleep. You never know exactly when it happens, the transition, the magic, and you think, if you could only recall that exact moment of crossing the line then you would understand everything; you would see it all"

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