How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
Blevins' Family Roles
Blevins (1993) describes a number of roles that people take in families, that can appear in the workplace and elsewhere and often crop up in stories. Note that different people may take different roles at different times and individuals may take on several roles at one. Individuals also tend more towards some roles than others.
When things go wrong, the blamer points a finger. Things are never accidental -- somebody is to blame. In doing so, of course, the blamer points a finger away from themself.
The cheerleader stands on the sidelines and encourages others with great enthusiasm. Whilst they do not gain the highest prizes, they are safe and may well be popular.
The distracter draws attention away from problems and towards things that are easier to accept and handle. Others may be grateful for this release from responsibility.
This person has a special place in the hearts of parental figures. They get given the best and are more easily forgiven. This can make them arrogant.
The hero always saves the day when things go wrong or people are threatened. They help both individuals and the wider team.
The invalid is sick, injured or otherwise limited in capability, sometimes through choice. They are often a burden on others who feel obliged to carry them.
This person makes light of most situations, creating laughter and levity. Like the distracter, this helps people avoid emotionally difficult situations.
The martyr endures suffering, often with little complaint. They may carry the hurt on behalf of others. For this sacrifice, they get sympathetic attention.
The mascot is a good luck symbol. They are harmless and loved. They give little but good feelings.
The placator calms down conflict between others and helps people resolve issues. They personally avoid conflict and may concede much in order to do so.
Rebels are autonomous individuals who do not fit in. They push away and are pushed away. They look and think differently. They may also be annoyingly successful.
The saint is unremittingly good. They never think ill of others and work for the good of all people. They may feel superior and may be the subject of envy.
When things go wrong, the scapegoat is given and accepts the blame. For this, they may feel like a martyr, though they are not treated as one.
The skeptic is the doubter who questions everything and believes nothing to be absolutely true. They can be useful truthseekers or annoying disrupters.
The star is afforded special status. They are put on a plinth and adored. Limitations are ignored and strengths are over-played. They are assumed to have a bright future.