Apparently muggles have a little bit of magical power after all -- at least when it comes to understanding their own personality. According to a recent small study from Stetson University, the University of Washington, Tacoma, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and University of Florida, the fictional Harry Potter house we identify with may offer clues into our own character traits.
In Harry Potter, students who attend the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry are sorted into one of four houses. Gryffindor members are known for their bravery and heroism; those who belong to Hufflepuff are regarded as friendly and fair; Ravenclaw residents are touted as witty and intelligent; and kids sorted into Slytherin are understood to be ambitious and cunning.
After the series ended, author J.K. Rowling launched an interactive website called Pottermore, where fans could take their own personality test of sorts to see which house they would belong in if they attended the wizarding school. The study authors examined these questionnaires and Pottermore users' results to help inform their own research.
Researchers examined the housing placements of 132 Harry Potter fans who already took the sorting quiz on Pottermore. They then compared them with the participants' scores on additional questionnaires, based on the Big Five personality measures (such as agreeableness and extroversion); "need for cognition," which refers to intellectual engagement, "need to belong," meaning 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.
The researchers found that for the most part, people's personality traits aligned with the stereotypes for each Harry Potter house. Those who identified as Hufflepuffs scored high in agreeableness, Ravenclaws had a positive association with a need for cognition, and Slytherins scored highest when it came to the Dark Triad personality constructs.
The only exceptions were those who identified with Gryffindor -- our beloved Harry's own house -- and a few in Hufflepuff. Researchers expected that those sorted into Gryffindor would rank higher in extroversion and openness and Hufflepuffs would score higher on "a need to belong" in the personality test, but the research found no correlation. The results will be published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences this fall.
There are stipulations when it comes to measuring personality types given that they're so qualitative. Human behavior is so complex, it's rare for anyone to fall solely in one camp (as fans of the Harry Potter series will remember, Harry was almost sorted into Slytherin). But our character traits can still offer insight into how we interact with the world. Furthermore, the study researchers believe we can learn something about human nature through fiction.
"Our findings suggest that fiction can reflect real underlying personality dimensions," the authors wrote. In other words, what we read may influence how we view ourselves. Personally, we choose to see ourselves as Gryffindors -- or, really, as Hermione Granger, because she is the best:
We'll be expecting our Hogwarts acceptance letters any day now.