Yes, it really is hard to remove assumptions, which is why I decided to write this essay to encourage folks to make the effort. I have seen a few poorly described personas lately which inspired me to clarify things.
The behavioral audience segment narrative is less character-y than a persona. I moved away from the character-persona because teams were getting hung up on “average” and “correlation” and all the things I write about in the essay. The teams I’ve worked with have had powerful empathy with behavioral audience segments. They’re built on a foundation of cognitive empathy, which is a solid start. They represent a range of participants, though, so that means the segment doesn’t narrow focus down to one “average” person, but emphasizes the range and the edge cases. The result effect is that teams go, “Ah, this style of thinking is more important than the demographic, so we can let go of those because this other stuff is more powerful for our purposes.” The purpose is to create something in support of that style of thinking, not in support of a particular “average” human.