Some of my previous questions (see What should I do when other players refuse to engage with my character's flaw? and Excessively clever characters vs. narrativist RP?) have alluded to my severe trouble with classical roleplaying and story structure -- for as much as I try to RP, I find myself stepping all over the underlying constructs of narrativism, much to the chagrin of many players I meet. This has been a thorn in my side for years now, to the point where I know players who refuse to RP with me because they cannot trust me to not stomp on their narratives!
If you skipped the background links, it should also emphasise that I mostly do GM-less/cooperative freeform roleplaying online -- this is in a proto-MMO environment that is used largely as an augmented play-by-chat.
The problem at hand
With some help from the awesome BESW and Doppelgreener (and others, too!) in chat, I was finally able to pin down where my roleplaying edification went awry: I see characters as systems instead of people, and stories as about the interactions between systems, instead of as about interactions between people. This renders emotions and individual character mistakes nearly irrelevant, and shifts the focus from authorship-for-drama to design-for-robustness, which severely undermines the foundations of Narrativist play -- many of the issues explored by stories under this formulation are quite inherently inhuman, and direct paths to solutions are favored much more strongly than the "winding road" adventures encouraged by classical narrativism. It also denies the role of emotions in conflict, treating conflicts instead as rational problem-solving exercises where the character strips away the entire emotional framework of the conflict so that she can solve the underlying problem, instead of engaging with the emotions of either party.
So, as the title asks, how do I reframe my roleplay so that I start seeing characters as people, with the properly fleshed-out set of emotions, capacity for illogical behavior (not just errors based on say incomplete information), and human desires that people have, versus as systems which have logically deductable behavior and rational goals?
For those who are psychologically confused: While seeing people as full-fledged people IRL isn't the most natural thing in the world (by far!) for me to do, I find it far easier to do so when I have a flesh-and-blood person in front of me! So, if you are after how to distinguish this from a straight-up "how do I not see people as systems" psychology question, the factor here is "how do I apply 'people-as-people' thinking when my brain does not naturally apply it in an abstracted environment, such as online, yet has an easier time of it when the person's there in front of me?"