Muggles May Not Need a Hat: Sorting Based on the Big Five Personality Test
All over the Internet, there are quizzes claiming to Sort you into your Hogwarts House based on everything from your favorite pizza flavor to how you would decorate your dream apartment. There is only one measure of personality, however, that has been found to provide an explanation of people’s behaviors and life outcomes and that is consistent over time. This personality measure is called the Big Five, and it sorts people based on how high they score on five key personality traits: Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, Neuroticism, Openness, and Extraversion.
What do these words mean? Conscientiousness is the extent to which people are hardworking, organized, self-disciplined, and make a concerted effort to do their job effectively. Agreeableness is marked by people who are kind, trusting, and compromising, those who put others’ needs and desires ahead of their own. It is split into two subcategories: compassion and politeness. Neuroticism refers to a person’s emotional stability: how many negative emotions like anger, anxiety, and sadness they tend to experience. Openness is about how receptive a person is to new experiences, ideas, and viewpoints and also involves a sensitivity to art and beauty. Extraversion is the personality trait people are most familiar with, and it is characterized by people who are highly sociable, assertive, and sensation seeking.
So how do these traits map onto the Hogwarts Houses? What combination of traits would place you in which House? Here’s my theory:
Gryffindors are reckless and bold, a trait most associated with Extraversion. Gryffindors are people who willingly seek out adventure and whose strong social connections tend to influence their choices. Gryffindors also tend to score high on the compassion element of Agreeableness – this is what leads them to have a strong moral compass and sacrifice themselves to help others. Gryffindors, however, score fairly low on the politeness aspect of Agreeableness. You don’t find many Gryffindors who would back down on their own commitments and beliefs just because they were unpopular or because a person of authority disagreed with them.
Ravenclaws score high in Conscientiousness. They’re perfectionists who would spend many hours in the library trying to make sure their Transfiguration essay is the exact number of inches Professor McGonagall required. However, Ravenclaws can also come in the mold of Luna Lovegood: incredibly high on Openness. New ideas and opinions are what stimulate and excite them, and they are creative, imaginative, and prone to fantasy. Ravenclaws think outside the box and love a challenge.
Hufflepuffs tend to score very high in all aspects of Agreeableness. They are compassionate and accepting of lots of different groups of people and would rather cooperate than compete. However, this means that Hufflepuffs are easy for other people to walk over because they are less likely to stand up for themselves. Hufflepuffs also score high in Conscientiousness, especially the hardworking aspect. You can rely on a Hufflepuff to get a job done. However, since Hufflepuff is an inclusive House, its members probably have a wide variety of traits.
Somewhat surprisingly due to their longstanding rivalry, Slytherin and Gryffindor are simply opposite sides of the same coin. Slytherins also score high in some aspects of Extraversion, specifically those connected to assertiveness and seeking positions of power. Unlike Gryffindors, who score high in the compassion element of Agreeableness and low in politeness, Slytherins tend to score higher in politeness and lower in compassion. Slytherins like Lucius Malfoy and Tom Riddle know how to schmooze people in positions of power, when to talk, and when to keep their opinions and emotions to themselves. They can appear to be incredibly agreeable while actually working for their own aims. Slytherins also tend to score slightly lower on Openness, which research shows is connected to more prejudice toward people who are different. At its most benign end, low Openness can cause people to be attached to traditions and the culture and world they grew up in. At its extreme, however, it can lead to violence and hatred toward people who don’t belong.
As far as I can tell, Neuroticism is not associated with just one House, and I’d imagine it is distributed equally throughout the four. Having a House specifically for people high in Neuroticism would probably make everyone miserable.
Psychologists have found the Big Five to be the most reliable measure of personality, so I would not be surprised if, at some level, the Sorting Hat was measuring these underlying traits. However, the Big Five do not become stable until age 30, so 11 is far too early to put people into these categorizations. Sorting may, in fact, become a self-fulfilling prophecy that encourages people to only cultivate the traits of the House they are placed in.