A study based on Harry Potter fans’ Hogwarts House preferences shows that yes, fandom really can you tell a lot about a person.
When science and fandom overlaps, we’re all ears, because we feel all smart and stuff.
So obviously we’re all about this new scientific study from Stetson University, the University of Washington, Tacoma, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and University of Florida (via The Huffington Post), which claims you can actually use Hogwarts House preferences to determine someone’s personality.
The relatively small-scope study queried 132 Pottermore users, who’d used the website’s Sorting Hat quiz to determine which House they belonged in.
Additional questionnaires were used to determine the participants’ personalities, specifically the Big Five personality traits (openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism).
As the Huffington Post explains, the scientists measured the participants’ need for cognition (intellectual engagement), need to belong (social acceptance motivation), and the Dark Triad traits (narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism), “to see if there was an association or link between the two results.”
Ravenclaws, Slytherins and to some degree Hufflepuffs all scored as expected: people who identify as Ravenclaws do indeed have a need for cognition, Hufflepuffs were very agreeable and had a strong need to belong, while Slytherins were more likely to score high on the Dark Triad personality constructs.
What’s interesting, of course, is that (much like in the Harry Potter series, although the kids aren’t necessarily aware it) for the most part, we all pretty much sort ourselves.
Harry Potter fans are pretty familiar with J.K. Rowling’s world, after all, so most of us take Sorting Hat quizzes with a pretty good idea of which answers will lead to which results. And consciously or subconsciously, we’re probably all aiming for the House we already imagine ourselves to be in. (‘Fess up: we know some of you would re-take the quiz if it put you in Hufflepuff.)
So when the answers correlate so well, it probably says a lot about Harry Potter fans’ high levels of self-awareness: we embrace our Houses based on both the good and the bad traits, because we’re honest about our own strengths and weaknesses.
The Gryffindors queried, however, were less predictable. The study predicted that they’d be more extroverted than their peers, but it turned out that there was no such correlation.
Although we’re not scientists, it’s easy to speculate why: for many fans (especially more casual readers/viewers), Gryffindor is often seen as the “best” House, and as such, the House we aspire to be in, as opposed to the House we actually belong in.
Gryffindor also easily becomes the “default” House for a lot of fans, just because it’s Harry’s House and it’s the one we’re most familiar with. And, because it’s the central House in Rowling’s story, it’s also possible that we have more nuanced and contentious understandings of what it means to be a Gryffindor, and this means results will be more varied.
But despite the (expected, perhaps?) Gryffindor discrepancy, the strong correlation for the other Houses proves, in the authors’ words, “that fiction can reflect real underlying personality dimensions.” Take that, everyone who ever looked down on us for reading these “children’s books.”
But enough of this science stuff. Time for some House pride!