Posted in Psychology

Harry Potter and the Imitation Effect

After initial research, I came across this article about Harry Potter and personality. It looks at the conformity of fandom like Harry Potter and the social impact that it has in people’s lives, and examines the personality of the Hogwarts houses looking at the JK Rowling’s Pottermore Sorting Hat quiz from a psychological perspective.

The power of fandom and pop culture is a huge in our generation. For instance, my sister who you see above is huge Harry Potter fan as you can see. where she spent a large amount of money to see her favorite characters multiple times for only a few minutes each time, this is the power of fandom.

The featured article “Harry Potter and the measures of personality: Extraverted Gryffindors, agreeable Hufflepuffs, clever Ravenclaws, and manipulative Slytherins” applies actual personality characteristics to the Hogwarts houses which stems from the official JK Rowling Pottermore quiz where based on your personality and condemns you to an archetype, where you are sorted into one of the four houses: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin.

The data where they use the big five: conscientiousness, agreeableness, narcissism, extraversion and openness. The results of their study are:

If you are sorted into Gryffindor you are high in extraversion, slightly higher in openness. With Hufflepuff you are higher in agreeableness, a higher need to belong, slightly higher in openness and low in Conscientiousness. In Ravenclaw you have a higher need for cognition or knowledge, are slightly more open to new experiences.  Finally with Slytherin you are higher in the Dark Traid which is psychopathy, narcissism, and machiavellianism, but especially high in narcissism. Based all the results, they all correlated positively to JK Rowling’s description of each house with the exception of Gryffindor showing now results for bravery.

But this article lets to bigger issues which is the main focus of this blog post. in the beginning of the article, the author describes the “Collective-Assimilation Hypothesis”. This hypothesis is described as “experiencing a narrative leads one to psychologically become a part of the collective described within the narrative” which I believe correlated to social imitation and conformity.

If you look at the left photo of my sister, she is wearing a blue belt which is a tie from her Hogwarts house of Ravenclaw. This is a prime example of the power of social imitation and fandom. where people take a piece of fan fiction like someone Hogwarts house that has been assigned an identity like a colour and symbol, to which people conform their ideas and preferences to fit that label, which soon becomes part of their identity, this is conformity. One reason for why I believe that is occurs is a need for a connection where it is based on an emotional, mental, physical or fictional connection.

By having images, symbols, and characters that create its own identity, it is easier to conform and become affiliated to a fictional world with wands, dragons, and spells, than with the real world of work, stress, and life, because the fictional identity is more fulfilling. could this conformity be a relation to the Harlow experiments with the monkeys where we are more drawn to comforting things like that make us feel good like cloth mothers, group inclusion and wands and wizards?

This post is just an introduction to a bigger topic that I plan on delving into more as the semester progresses. Where I look further into why we conform to and socially imitate pop culture like Harry Potter.

I have also posted the link to Pottermore where you can sort yourself into one of the Hogwarts houses:


Crysel, L. C., Cook, C. L., Schember, T. O., & Webster, G. D. (2015). Harry Potter and the measures of personality: Extraverted Gryffindors, agreeable Hufflepuffs, clever Ravenclaws, and manipulative Slytherins. Personality and Individual Differences83, 174–179. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2015.04.016
Gabriel, S., & Young, A. F. (2011). Becoming a vampire without being bitten: The narrative collective-assimilation hypothesis. Psychological Science22(8), 990–994. doi:10.1177/0956797611415541

6 thoughts on “Harry Potter and the Imitation Effect

  1. I like how most people, even those who are not big fans of Harry Potter, still know and are proud of their respective Hogwarts House. I am a proud Gryffindor! Though it does make sense why so many Ravenclaws are here, I mean the University is a perfect place for people with that type of personality focus.

    I found this article that talks about how people are paid in regards to various personality traits, and their genders. It comes to some interesting conclusions on what traits heavily influence pay. I think it’d be interesting to explore this in regards to your blog post.

    How do you think a Hogwarts House might predict the way someone is paid?

    Gelissen, J., & de Graaf, P. M. (2006). Personality, social background, and occupational career success. Social Science Research, 35(3), 702-726. doi:10.1016/j.ssresearch.2005.06.005

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds like a very interesting thesis you’re posing. I love the psychology of pop culture and people. I personally am now a proud Hufflepuff but I’ve had to retake the sorting quiz 3 times due to my inability to remember usernames and passwords. I was initially sorted into Slytherin followed by Gryffindor. Regardless, I’m very interested in where you are going with this and I can’t wait to find out.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. (For Dr. Martin, do not mark this comment)

    Oh dear, as a proud Slytherin, does that just prove the point about narcissism? Very interesting read though, it’s interesting to think about how being placed within a “house” builds a sense of camaraderie for something that doesn’t exist!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting! I identify as a Slytherin as I took her test multiple times and got that result, and my favourite character (Snape) was head of Slytherin. I have a preference towards that house perhaps because of him, as you were saying with the imitation effect and having something to identify with to bring ourselves closer to the fictional world. But I definitely know that, based on characters’ characteristics in the books, the study done on the Big Five and the Hogwarts Houses would yield some mixed reactions from fans as not all Slytherin are manipulative or narcissistic – I’m certainly not, but I’m very goal-orientated which is a Slytherin charscteristic. Just like some Hufflepuffs could be manipulative rather than loyal; there’s lots of speculation on how the students in the series changed over the course of the books and if that would have altered their house or if their house was influenced by their family (all of Ron’s family was Gryffindor, Malfoys were Slytherin), which could stem from the imitation effect possibly in that kids develop personality and learning traits from their parents, through social learning theory! I have an article – if I can find it – about the personalities and the Hogwarts Houses. If I can find it I will let you know what it’s called, it might be really useful for you if you’re focusing specifically on Hogwarts houses and influence they have on people! I enjoyed reading your post Kassie! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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