Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Star Trek Characters as Archetypes +

Originally Posted by LtPowers:
I'm curious how you came up with that set of archetypes, and how you assigned characters to them.
Years and years of amateur study of psychological types and temperament, and even more years of watching Star Trek.


That may sound a little silly, but it's actually a pretty accurate description of the process by which I arrived at the characteristic types I came up with and their assignment to specific Star Trek characters. I just thought about what I recalled seeing the various characters do. And then I thought about whether there were any behaviors that seemed common across shows and roles.

That led me to the Doer/Leader/Thinker/Healer model. Not only did those describe what seemed to motivate characters, it fit pretty neatly into the Tactical/Command/Science/Medical branch divisions.

The rest was just applying those types to individual characters.

(Note: I'm actually pretty big on Myers-Briggs "types" model in general and David Keirsey's "temperament" model in particular. I'm also a user of Richard Bartle's original model of four player types because I see those types as game-specific subsets of Keirsey's four temperaments. So seeing four Star Trek styles wasn't much of a stretch after years of working with Keirsey's Artisan/Guardian/Rational/Idealist temperaments and Bartle's Killer/Achiever/Explorer/Socializer player types.)

(Also, it wasn't a conscious borrowing since as I said I've been into this stuff for years, but I remembered last night my copy of Boldly Live As You've Never Lived Before. This book by Richard Raben and Hiyaguha Cohen sees -- surprise! -- four styles of Star Trek characters: Warriors, Leaders, Analyzers, and Relaters, and suggests how people can tap into the strengths of each of these styles. I don't think the close correspondence with the model I described is a coincidence, but I don't think it's a result of anyone copying anyone else's ideas -- I believe it stems from a fundamental understanding of human nature as expressing four basic kinds of personality styles. But that's another thread.)

Originally Posted by LtPowers:
(I don't see Chekov as a "Thinker" at all, for example -- but then, most of the secondary characters from TOS have been very poorly developed.)
Chekov was a little more difficult to classify than most of the other characters. I originally had him pegged as a Thinker/Doer from his time as science officer on Enterprise and Reliant, but like you I just didn't think that seemed right for him. He seemed to spend most of his time getting into various kinds of trouble, and his time at Navigation suggested an active disposition, but I couldn't ignore the science aspect.

So I flipped him to Doer/Thinker. Based on all we've seen -- which, I agree, isn't much -- that seems right to me. But I'm open to other perspectives.

Originally Posted by LtPowers:
Doing a research paper in high school, I came across an author who compared Kirk, Spock, and McCoy to the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Woodsman, and the Scarecrow (respectively).
I like it. But I think I'd rework the assignments just a bit.

First, let's extend the types to include Dorothy. As the person who got everyone working together, I see her as distinct from the other characters.

Accordingly, here's the set of correspondences I come up with:

Tin WoodsmanheartHealerMcCoy
Cowardly LioncourageDoerScotty

I like this alignment considerably better; I think it's a much more accurate fit for both Dorothy and Kirk as the "glue" that holds everyone together toward achieving a common goal.

(Note that this actually has me thinking I goofed in describing Scotty as a Thinker/Doer. Like Jadzia Dax, he's probably closer to being a Doer/Thinker who's certain he knows what needs doing and uses tools to get it done.)

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