BuzzFeed Sorting Hat Quizzes: A Not-Entirely-Guilty Pleasure
Most Harry Potter fans have at one point or another taken at least a few Sorting Hat quizzes. We long for those that avoid the obvious and make us delve into our psyches. Such quizzes usually assess aspects of our personalities such as goals, values, work ethic, disposition, and relationships. The introduction of Pottermore caused such excitement partially because it boasted an official quiz. Other popular quizzes claim to rely on science, such as this one from TIME’s work with Cambridge University social scientists or this one developed by research psychologists. TIME notes that its test uses, among other factors, the “Big Five” test, which measures “Openness to experience,” “Conscientiousness,” “Extraversion,” “Agreeableness,” and “Neuroticism.”
Alongside these extensive tests, which tend to have anywhere from 20 to 100 questions offering numerous options, BuzzFeed’s quiz section can send you down quite a click hole of shorter, simpler Hogwarts House quizzes. Although not as scientific or thorough, some of these appear to evaluate the same traits as the more comprehensive tests, such as one’s moral valuation of character.
Others, however, appear to be far more random, instructing the taker to discover their House by eating a bunch of food, going shopping at H&M, picking their TV preferences, designing a bedroom from Target, or choosing their favorite trends. Many of these quizzes give no explanation or description for the result.
Logically, I know that any connection is superficial. In what universe does taste in clothing or food or interior design say something about one’s overall personality or values? If you pick the blue option or an image that features books, you’ll get Ravenclaw. The coziest choice or the comfort food or the plants will be Hufflepuff. Gryffindor goes with spicy flavors and bold patterns, and Slytherins prefer the most expensive, sleek, and refined options. It’s a matter of aesthetics rather than character.
Despite the fact that I know how utterly absurd and meaningless these quizzes are, I take every single one I find. They are my guilty pleasure. I have a group chat with a few friends from college in which we regularly share our results. This group happens to consist of four people who respectively self-identify as each of the four Houses, so we evaluate quizzes based on whether we each end up where we belong. One friend will take any quiz we share again and again until she has achieved each result in an attempt to dissect the logic behind it and appraise its design.
While these conversations start as mindless entertainment and procrastination, they often turn into more serious discussions about who we are as people, how our tastes might reflect our personalities, our perception of the world around us, and how similar to or different from each other we are. Quizzes focused on spending a day in high school or would-you-rather scenarios have led us to talk about our perfectionism, competitiveness, ideal environment, and crisis response. These conversations have happened at key points in our lives – as we were graduating from college and trying to navigate the outside world, applying to graduate programs and jobs, moving, meeting new people, and losing touch with others – when we really are looking to carve out identities for ourselves. These quizzes have also been one way to maintain our friendship across time zones, states, and oceans.
Yes, the House craze can get a little over-the-top. But of all the aspects of a work of fantasy that fans can obsess over, self-discovery is hardly the worst. I’ve seen the occasional meme poking fun at adults whose entire personality is their Hogwarts House. And it can certainly be reductive to treat your House like your zodiac sign, attributing your every action to, or excusing your every action with, “I’m just such a Slytherin/Libra.” But Hogwarts Houses have given us a vocabulary to articulate how we see ourselves.
So BuzzFeed, bring on the ridiculous quizzes. Tell me my Hogwarts House based on my taste in socks or my dream vacation or my handwriting. I won’t trust the result to tell me anything, but I know it will be a good conversation starter.