A Typology of Persona as Suggested by Jungian Theory and the Evolving Persona Studies Literature
What is persona? Is there a single definition that all Persona scholars agree on? Are Persona scholars all using it in the same way? These are questions that I set out to answer in this paper, exploring both the contemporary persona studies literature and the Jungian concept of persona that is frequently cited as the intellectual root of the discipline. I begin by looking at the definition of persona in core persona studies texts, move on to Jung’s writings on the topic, and then examining the definition and construction of persona in the early volumes of the Persona Studies journal. On the basis of this literature I draw together a typology of persona that reflects the interests and perspectives of authors who have contributed to the development of this discipline. It comprises four categories: 1) persona in the Jungian tradition, a continuous performance pertaining to an individual; 2) generic persona that relates to a particular group of individuals, such as professional personas; 3) fictitious persona that is created in order to serve a specific purpose as art or entertainment, or to inform product design and marketing; and 4) attributed persona, where the characteristics of human persona are applied to a nonhuman entity such as a product or institution. I conclude with a number of suggested directions for research that builds on the Jungian foundations of persona but that draws on other relevant theory from psychology.
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