Science journal Personality and Individual Differences published a study about personality and… Harry Potter? The Atlantic recently profiled the study, which revealed that individuals “houses” reveal a lot about their personalities.
But let’s back up for a second. What’s a “house” and what does it have to do with business?
Houses, like “Mortgage Houses”?
Most of you are likely familiar with “Harry Potter”, the series of fantasy novels about the eponymous boy wizard. If you have any kids, or bookish friends, then you know its cultural influence. But if you’re unfamiliar with the houses, here’s a quick primer:
Imagine the school the magical children go to as a college or boarding school. Like many of their real-world counterparts, the students are sorted into one of four dormitories called “houses”. The houses each have characteristics their students reflect. The houses are as follows:
The house of Harry Potter, the protagonist. Gryffindors are characterized as loyal friends and leaders. They are also depicted as brave, and sometimes brash.
Has a reputation as a cunning and ruthless house. Many of the antagonists from the series are in this house. It is usually associated with evil magic.
Sharp and witty. Not exactly what you would call nerds, but rather the über intelligent type. You’d see these students trading obscure literary reference before taping up their glasses.
They guys that are taping their glasses. I kid, but this house has a reputation for those of the “hard-working” ilk. Also, super nice. For some reason, many fans of the books view it as the “weak” house.
The study asked super fans who had been sorted into a house on the fan site Pottermore to take a personality test. The results were (somewhat) surprising– the personality results reflected the stereotypical behavior of their houses. It also showed a correlation between each subjects’ desired house and the traits exhibited– regardless of their placement.
So, you would like to be Slytherin? You just may have the personality traits as an efficient bureaucrat. Or at the least, you see yourself that way.
What it Means
For many years, companies have been using the MBTI as a measure of how their employees interact with others. Whether it is an accurate test or not is one question, but this is for certain: it’s interesting. If you choose to have your employees take it, you should take it with a grain of salt. Use it as a guideline when sorting the introverts from the extroverts, or when assigning group projects. Who are your idealists? Who are your more analytical thinkers?
But if there’s one thing you should take away from the study, it’s this: perception is important. In a weird way, it cycles back to the adage “believe in yourself”. He wants to be Hufflepuff? He sees himself as hard working. She thinks herself a Gryffindor? She thinks herself a leader. One sees themselves as who they want to be. It should be your job to give them the resources to get to that point.