Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator (PMAI)

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What Story are You Living?
What Story are You Living Cover.jpg
Cover of What Story are You Living? which contains the PMAI
Author Carol S. Pearson and Hugh K. Marr
Country United States
Language English
Publisher Center for Applications of Psychological Type (CAPT)
Publication date
Media type Print
Pages 163 pp
ISBN 0935652787

The Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator (PMAI) is a self-test psychological personality inventory based in psychologist Carl Gustav Jung's notions of personality types[1] and archetypes[2] with heavy influences from the works of mythology scholar Joseph Campbell, such as his description of the archetypal monomyth in his seminal work The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949). Designed by Carol Pearson and Hugh Marr and published by the Center for Applications of Psychological Type (CAPT), the PMAI is derivative of the popular Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (or MBTI, also published by CAPT) with the incorporation of twelve core personality archetypes which may be active in a person's psyche at any given moment in their life.[3] The PMAI differs significantly from the MBTI and other type inventories in that the archetypes a person experiences as "active" in her or his life are dynamic and change over time.[4] Though not currently administered as widely as the MBTI and its variants, the PMAI is increasingly being used for therapeutic, personal-growth, team-building, and educational applications.[3] Described by Pearson and Marr as a "well-person instrument", the PMAI is not intended for diagnosis of mental illness, but rather as a method for developing awareness of archetypes and an appreciation of the gifts of all archetypes in order to assist with personal growth and group psychological health.[4]

PMAI Instrument Design[edit]

The Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator (PMAI) assessment consists of 72 questions in the standard print format which are answered by the subject with Likert Scale numbered responses: 1 Strongly Disagree, 2 Disagree, 3 Neutral, 4 Agree, 5 Strongly Agree. Scores are then totaled for each of the archetypes and scaled on a circular pie chart which resembles a mandala. The PMAI is designed to assess the strength of the traits of the twelve core archetypes in a moment of time. The assessment has proven to be consistent; however, results for the same individual will vary over time.[4]


The PMAI is available in a print format consisting of 72 questions and an interactive online version consisting of 99 questions. Two copies of the instrument are included in the book What Story are You Living?.[5] Antecedents of the current PMAI may be found in Pearson's The Hero Within (titled The Heroic Myth Self-Test) and Awakening the Hero Within (titled The Heroic Myth Index).[5][5]


Though not currently administered as widely as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and its variants, the PMAI is increasingly being used for therapeutic, personal-growth, and team-building applications.[3] Described by Pearson and Marr as a "well-person instrument", the PMAI is not intended for diagnosis of mental illness, but rather as a method for developing awareness of archetypes, appreciation of other archetypes, personal growth, and group (or team) psychological health. The PMAI also has demonstrated applications in education and psychological research.[4]


The PMAI may be used in therapy, along with other methods and instruments, to foster self-awareness, encourage understanding of other personality types and their motivations, and thereby decrease stress resulting from problematic interpersonal relationships. Specific applications include recovery from addiction and trauma, where understanding how one's archetypal perspective defines the world, as well as in family therapy where coming to terms with other archetypes within the family can be beneficial to harmony and growth.[4]

Personal Growth[edit]

According to Pearson and Marr, the PMAI may assist individuals with personal growth as they recognize what archetypes are active in their lives and then track the changes and maturation of archetypes over time. Awareness of the archetypal stories may assist in establishing meaning in one's life and understanding what parts of a chosen path (career, marriage, or etc.) may not be in sync with one's dominant archetypes.[4]


The PMAI and its variants, as well as the accompanying books and workbooks, have shown to have some application in education, particularly in developmental academic advising and career counseling, as well as the study of literature from a mythological or archetypal perspective.[4]

Leadership Development[edit]

Awareness of archetypal stories and roles can help individuals express their leadership potential in a wide variety of situations and can assist in the often difficult process of individuation. Each archetype demonstrates a particular quality of leadership that can be harnessed by the individual or cultivated in others by the leader for group success.[4]

Team Building and Organizational Development[edit]

Like the MBTI and its variants, the PMAI has been used in team building and organizational development activities and seminars. According to Pearson and Marr, group total scores in archetypal categories can be combined to discover the archetypal patterns of the group which then can be compared to individual results to come to a better understanding of the role each team member plays within the larger body.[4]


According to the PMAI Manual: A Guide to Interpreting the Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator Instrument, the PMAI has evidenced applications in research in the areas of "human development, leadership development, marketing, psychology, coaching, career counseling, and diversity training".[4] Longitudinal studies of the type completed with the MBTI are desired.[4]

The PMAI and Other Assessment Tools[edit]

Pearson and Marr recommend the that the PMAI may be used in conjunction with other assessment tools such as the Organizational and Team Culture Indicator (OCTI) instrument to assess the subject's place within a larger organization and the MBTI instrument with the MBTI indicating how the subject prefers to do things and the PMAI tending to indicate preferences for why the subject prefers certain activities, actions, or processes over others.[4]

The Twelve Archetypes[edit]

Pearson originally identified six archetypes in The Hero Within (published in 1986) and then expanded these to twelve archetypes in Awakening the Heroes Within (1991) and subsequent works. The six archetype system is, in the 3rd edition of The Hero Within, contextualized as an entry level set, perhaps for teens or young adults.[6] The six archetype system includes the Innocent, Orphan, Warrior, Wanderer, Caregiver (or Altruist), and Magician[6] while the expanded twelve archetype system introduced in Awakening the Hero Within includes the archetypes Innocent, Orphan, Warrior, Caregiver, Seeker, Lover, Destroyer, Creator, Ruler, Magician, Sage, and Jester (the latter alternately titled "Fool").[5][7]

The basic archetype model demonstrates positive and negative manifestations as well as stages of progression from "Shadow" through the "Call to Adventure" to higher levels of awareness. In Awakening the Heroes Within each archetype is additionally described as having a "goal", a "fear", a typical "Response to Dragon or Problem", a "Task", and a "Gift". The archetypes are further broken down by position in the Monomythic structure of "Separation, Adventure and Return" from Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces and related works.

The archetypes associated with "Separation" or "Preparation" are the Innocent, Orphan, Warrior, and Caregiver. Those associated with the "Adventure" stage of the monomythic structure are the Seeker, Destroyer, Lover, and Creator. The "Return" archetypes include the Ruler, Magician, Sage, and Jester (or Fool).[7] The twelve archetypes are not presented in exactly the same order in all of Pearson and Marr's works, though the Innocent and Orphan are always presented first and the Jester (or Fool) last.

The Innocent[edit]

The Innocent archetype is characterized by a childlike approach to the world. Persons living primarily through this archetype are generally optimistic and believe that if they just try hard enough everything will turn out fine in the end. The dangers for this archetype include indiscriminate trust and the setting of unrealistic or unattainable goals.[4]

  • Goal: Remain in Safety
  • Fear: Abandonment
  • Response to Problem: Deny or seek rescue
  • Task: Fidelity/Discernment
  • Gift: Trust/Optimism/Loyalty

Levels of the Innocent:[7]

  • Shadow: Denial, repression, blaming, irrational optimism, risk taking
  • Call: Desire for unconditional love, acceptance, and protection
  • Level One: Unquestioned acceptance of authorities and environment
  • Level Two: Primary experience of "the Fall" but retention of faith
  • Level Three: Return to Paradise as the Wise Innocent

Archetypal Innocent Story: "Daphne and Apollo" from Greek mythology.[7]

The Orphan[edit]

The Orphan archetype is a transitional figure from innocent acceptance of the world and authority (the Innocent) to active engagement with life's journey (the Warrior). Orphans are independent and self-reliant and are mistrustful of authority. Because of their inherent distrust in the motives of others, Orphans run the risk of becoming loners, eternal victims, or abusers.[4]

  • Goal: Regain safety
  • Fear: Exploitation
  • Response to Problem: Hope for Rescue, Cynical compliance
  • Task: Accept help from others
  • Gift: Interdependence, Empathy, Realism

Levels of the Orphan:[7]

  • Shadow: Cynicism, Callousness, Masochism or Sadism, Victim as manipulator
  • Call: Abandonment, Betrayal, Self-betrayal, Disillusionment, Victimization
  • Level One: Learning to acknowledge the truth of one's plight and feel pain, Loss of faith
  • Level Two: Accepting the need for help
  • Level Three: Replacing dependence with interdependence, Developing realistic expectations

Archetypal Orphan Story: Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Match Girl".

The Warrior[edit]

As the name suggests, the Warrior archetype is concerned with defense of boundaries (bother physical and psychical) and the achievement of goals (both personal and collective). Warriors formulate plans and attempt to achieve them through force or guile, though they rarely betray their own code of honor. The Warrior archetype runs the risk of seeing violence, to others or to oneself, as the answer to all problems.[4]

  • Goal: Win/Make a difference
  • Fear: Weakness, Impotence
  • Response to Problem: Slay it, Defeat it, Convert it
  • Task: Fighting for what really matters
  • Gift: Courage, Discipline, Skill

Levels of the Warrior:[7]

  • Shadow: Ruthlesness, Obsessive need to win at all costs, Seeing difference as a threat
  • Call: A great challenge or obstacle
  • Level One: Fight for self or others to win
  • Level Two: Principled (rule abiding) fight for self or others with altruistic intent
  • Level Three: Forthright assertiveness over violence, Fighting for what really matters

Archetypal Warrior Story: The Brothers Grimm "The Valiant Little Tailor".

The Caregiver[edit]

Guiding, teaching, and providing emotional support are the driving impulses of the Caregiver archetype, and with these gifts they foster a sense of community. Caregivers are sometimes tempted into martyrdom or into behaviors that lead them to smother, or ultimately devour, the object(s) of their care and concern.[4]

  • Goal: Help others through sacrifice
  • Fear: Selfishness, Ingratitude
  • Response to Problem: Take care of those it harms
  • Task: Give without maiming
  • Gift: Compassion, Generosity

Levels of the Caregiver:[7]

  • Shadow: Suffering martyr, Devouring mother or father, Guilt-tripping
  • Call: Responsibilities that require caring for another
  • Level One: Conflict between your own needs and those of others
  • Level Two: Learning to care for ones self as well as others, Learning "tough love"
  • Level Three: Community building

Archetypal Caregiver Story: "Demeter and Persephone" from Greek Mythology.

The Seeker[edit]

The Seeker archetype is continually on a quest for something new or better. Emerging from a life of figurative or literal confinement, the Seeker goes forth to discover the world and their own inner self. This constant search can, however, lead to a chronic inability to commit and a pattern of overreaching one's abilities.[4]

  • Goal: Search for a better way (better life)
  • Fear: Conformity, Entrapment
  • Response to Problem: Leave it, Escape it, Take off
  • Task: Be true to a higher Truth
  • Gift: Autonomy, Ambition

Levels of the Seeker:[7]

  • Shadow: Excessive ambition, Perfectionism, Pride, Inability to commit
  • Call: Alienation, Dissatisfaction, Emptiness, Opportunity knocking
  • Level One: Exploring, Wandering, Experimenting, Studying
  • Level Two: Ambition, Working towards success, Being the "best you can be"
  • Level Three: Spiritual searching, Transformation

Archetypal Seeker Story: Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist (novel).

The Lover[edit]

The Lover archetype expresses egalitarian connection with other persons, activities, or objects. The gift of the Lover archetype is passionate engagement with life and an understanding of the delicate balance between love and death. Lovers must beware of the loss of equality in their connections where they may be seduce or become seducers without regard for the consequences.[4]

  • Goal: Bliss, Oneness, Unity
  • Fear: Loss of Love, Disconnection
  • Response to Problem: Embrace it, Love it
  • Task: Follow your bliss (see Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth)
  • Gift: Commitment, Passion, Ecstasy

Levels of the Lover:[7]

  • Shadow: Jealousy, Envy, Obsessiveness, Sex addiction, Puritanism
  • Call: Infatuation, Seduction, Yearning, Falling in love
  • Level One: Following your bliss
  • Level Two: Bonding commitments to whom or what you love
  • Level Three: Giving birth to the Self, connecting to the collective

Archetypal Lover Story: William Shakespeare's tragedy Romeo and Juliet.

The Destroyer[edit]

Tearing down the old to make way for the new is the purview of the Destroyer. The need for dramatic change may be personal (drastically changing one's life) or take the form of rebellion in the name of creating a better world. Destroyers may fall into a pattern of change for changes' sake which can lead to a meaningless existence.[4]

  • Goal: Growth, Metamorphosis
  • Fear: Stagnation, Death
  • Response to Problem: Destroy it, Be destroyed by it
  • Task: Letting go, Acceptance of Mortality
  • Gift: Humility, Acceptance

Levels of the Destroyer:[7]

  • Shadow: Self-destructiveness (including substance abuse), Destruction of others
  • Call: Experience of pain, Suffering, Tragedy, Loss
  • Level One: Confusion, Grappling with the meaning of death, loss, pain
  • Level Two: Acceptance of mortality and loss
  • Level Three: Learning to let go

Archetypal Destroyer Story: John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost. Song: Pink's "Funhouse".

The Creator[edit]

As the name suggests, the Creator archetype expresses creativity, growth, and synthesis. Creators remake even mundane activities into "authentic expressions of the self" but need to beware of living in the dream at the cost of everyday life.[4]

  • Goal: Creation of new life
  • Fear: Abomination, Failure
  • Response to Problem: Embrace it as part of the Self
  • Task: Self-creation, Self-acceptance
  • Gift: Creativity, Vocation

Levels of the Creator:[7]

  • Shadow: Creation of negatives, Workahilism
  • Call: Daydreams, Fantasies, Flashes of inspiration
  • Level One: Being open to intuition, inspiration, and visions
  • Level Two: Knowing what one really wants to have, do, or create
  • Level Three: Experimentation with creation, Dream manifestation

Archetypal Creator Story: Jorge Luis Borges's short story "The Circular Ruins" or Mary Shelly's novel Frankenstein.

The Ruler[edit]

Rulers enjoy harmony and order and work to ensure that their domain (whether it be personal or public) is in good working order. Rulers are the ultimate organizers of processes and groups and work best when in charge of a creative team. The Ruler may fall into a pattern of abuse by eliminating weak or dissenting voices and thereby become a tyrant.[4]

  • Goal: A harmonious and prosperous life (or kingdom)
  • Fear: Chaos, Loss of control
  • Response to Problem: Find its constructive use
  • Task: Be responsible
  • Gift: Responsibility, Competence

Levels of the Ruler:[7]

  • Shadow: Behaviors that are controlling, rigid, and manipulative
  • Call: Lack of resources, harmony, support, or order
  • Level One: Taking responsibility for one's own life and family, Healing wounds
  • Level Two: Developing skills and creating structures to manifest dreams
  • Level Three: Full utilization of all resources for the good of a community

Archetypal Ruler Story: Epic of Gilgamesh.

The Magician[edit]

Transformation is the driving force behind the Magician archetype. Magicians see perceive the interconnections of web of life and understand that change can ripple outward from the self. The dangers of this archetype are abuses of personal power through naivete or arrogance.[4]

  • Goal: Transformation into greater realities
  • Fear: Negative transformation
  • Response to Problem: Transform it or heal it
  • Task: Alignment with the Cosmos
  • Gift: Personal power

Levels of the Magician:[7]

  • Shadow: Evil sorcerer or wicked witch, Calling negativity to oneself, Turning positives into negatives
  • Call: Physical or emotional illness, extrasensory or synchronistic experiences
  • Level One: Experiencing healing, Choosing to notice extrasensory or synchronistic experiences
  • Level Two: Making your dreams come true
  • Level Three: Acknowledging that everything in the universe is connected, Changing reality by changing the self

Archetypal Magician Story: Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon (novel).

The Sage[edit]

The Sage sees through appearances and illusions to find the truth. The Sage values knowledge for its own sake and uses knowledge and wisdom to help others and not as a means of control. Disillusionment, detachment, and cynicism are dangers for this archetype if they fall into a relativistic mindset.[4]

  • Goal: Truth, Understanding
  • Fear: Deception, Illusion
  • Response to Problem: Study it, Understand it, Transcend it
  • Task: Attain Wisdom
  • Gift: Skepticism, Non-attachment

Levels of the Sage:[7]

  • Shadow: Feeling cut off or "above it all", Critical, judging or pompous behaviors
  • Call: Confusion, Doubt, Deep desire to find the Truth
  • Level One: Search for "the Truth" and for objectivity
  • Level Two: Skepticism, Awareness of the complexities of truth, Relativism, Acceptance of subjectivity
  • Level Three: Experience of ultimate Truth, Wisdom

Archetypal Sage Story: Socrates-Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" from The Republic (Plato). Archetypal television show: The X-files.

The Jester (or Fool)[edit]

An enlightened return to innocence characterizes the Jester (or Fool). Jesters are curious, wise, and playful, and may "play the clown" for the amusement of others while embedding life lessons in their antics. The Jester is able to play the roles of other archetypes without facing the dangers of those archetypes. The Jester's inherent irreverence may lead them to indifference or to unnecessarily create chaos in the lives of others.[4]

  • Goal: Enjoyment, Pleasure, Aliveness
  • Fear: Oppression, Non-aliveness
  • Response to Problem: Play with it, Play Tricks on it
  • Task: Enjoyment of the journey
  • Gift: Joy, Freedom, Liberation

Levels of the Jester:[7]

  • Shadow: Self-indulgence, Sloth, Gluttony, Irresponsibility
  • Call: Boredom, Ennui, Desire for more enjoyment in life
  • Level One: Life is a game to be played for the fun of it (Fool)
  • Level Two: Cleverness used to get out o trouble, bypass obstacles, or tell the truth with impunity (Trickster)
  • Level Three: Living in the moment, Celebration of life one day at a time (Wise Fool or Jester)

Archetypal Jester Story: Harlan Ellison's short story "'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jung, C.G. (1971). Psychological Types (Collected works of C.G. Jung, volume 6). (3rd ed.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. First appeared in German in 1921. ISBN 0-691-09770-4
  2. ^ Jung, C.G. (1981)The Archetypes and The Collective Unconscious. Collected Works: Volume 9. Bollingen ISBN 0-691-01833-2
  3. ^ a b c McPeek, R. W. (2008). "The Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator and psychological type". Journal of Psychological Type (July 2008). 52-67.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Pearson C.; and Marr, H. (2003). PMAI Manual: A Guide to Interpreting the Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator Instrument Center for Applications of Psychological Type, ISBN 0-935652-74-4, page 6
  5. ^ a b c d Pearson, C.; and Marr, H. (2007). What Story are You Living? A Workbook and Guide for to Interpreting Results from the Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator. Center for Applications of Psychological Type, ISBN 978-0-935652-78-9
  6. ^ a b Pearson, C. (1998). The Hero Within: Six Archetypes We Live By 3rd edition. HarperOne, ISBN 978-0-06-251555-1
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Pearson, C. (1991). Awakening the Heroes Within: Twelve Archetypes to Help Us Find Ourselves and Transform the World. HarperOne, ISBN 978-0-06-250678-8

References and Further Reading[edit]

  • Campbell, J. (1949). The Hero with a Thousand Faces.
  • Campbell, J. (1988). The Power of Myth.
  • Jung, C. G. (1971). Psychological Types (Collected works of C. G. Jung, volume 6). (3rd ed.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. First appeared in German in 1921. ISBN 0-691-09770-4
  • Jung, C. G. (1981). Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (Collected works of C. G. Jung, volume 9). (3rd ed.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.) ISBN 0-691-01833-2
  • McPeek, R. W. (2008). "The Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator and psychological type". Journal of Psychological Type (July 2008). 52-67.
  • Pearson, C. (1991). Awakening the Heroes Within: Twelve Archetypes to Help Us Find Ourselves and Transform the World. HarperOne, ISBN 978-0-06-250678-8
  • Pearson, C. (1998). The Hero Within: Six Archetypes We Live By (3rd edition). HarperOne, ISBN 978-0-06-251555-1
  • Pearson, C.; and Marr, H. (2003). PMAI Manual: A Guide to Interpreting the Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator Instrument. Center for Applications of Psychological Type, ISBN 0-935652-74-4
  • Pearson, C.; and Marr, H. (2007). What Story are You Living? A Workbook and Guide for to Interpreting Results from the Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator Instrument. This work has various sub-titles that appear on the cover, Title Page, and Copyright Page: the Copyright Page sub-title is used here. Center for Applications of Psychological Type, ISBN 978-0-935652-78-9

External links[edit]