Thursday, September 6, 2012

Character + Depth: How Psychographics Can Help You Craft Better Characters

So. I've been doing a lot of reading for my upcoming comprehensive exams. The research part of it hasn't kicked in as hard yet, but a few days ago, I did some light investigative work on Le Topics. I discovered something by accident--psychographics.

What are psychographics, you ask?

Here's the definition from The Free Dictionary:

1. (used with a sing. verb) The use of demographics to study and measure attitudes, values, lifestyles, and opinions, as for marketing purposes.

And here's a bit more description from an article called "Audience Targeting 101: Psychographics," published in the Run Of Network site:

At their core, demographics describe who people are, and psychographics describe what they care about.  From a marketing perspective however, psychographics are usually used to explain why people buy a product, and the attitudes, opinions, and personality traits that drive them toward a product.  Psychographics are inherently more abstract than demographics because they are multi-dimensional by nature, and cover subtle elements of what makes a person tick.

As a fan of characters first and foremost, my brain went into overdrive on how I could possibly relate psychographics to crafting better characters. I removed the words 'buy' and 'product', for starters. Then I changed the description to include words like 'goal' and 'motivation'. I think that last line, specifically the 'what makes a person tick' bit, could also allude to fears, which play an important role in setting a character apart from the rest. That's pretty much how I came up with my own version of psychographics for fake people :)

So I've decided to start a weekly series on the subject. During the next four weeks, I'll be discussing each of the factors taken into consideration by psychographics:

  • Attitudes
  • Values
  • Lifestyles
  • Opinions

Hopefully, this will help y'all as much as it's helping me.

Now tell me: have you heard of psychographics before? Are there any other non-writing related strategies that help you craft better characters?