“Oh you may not think I’m pretty, but don’t judge on what you see. I’ll eat myself if you can find a smarter hat than me.” The self-confident Sorting Hat is perhaps one of the world’s most famous personality tests: Hogwarts students are identified early as daring Gryffindors, clever Ravenclaws, loyal Hufflepuffs, or ambitious Slytherins.
Can Muggle science now fill the role of the beloved Sorting Hat? Read on for a quick look at Sorting quizzes and an introduction to the brand-new test developed by Cambridge University psychologists in conjunction with TIME magazine!
You’re likely already familiar with the dozens of Sorting quizzes circulating the internet. You can get Sorted on Pottermore, Buzzfeed, or the Guardian, among countless others. Based on a mix of material from the HP series, various hypothetical scenarios, and general personality questions, these quizzes ask things like “What would you see in the Mirror of Erised?” and “What would your family say is your worst trait?”
Each Hogwarts house has a distinct personality, and each has attracted its own subset of fiercely loyal fans. While Gryffindor is the obvious favorite, many Potterheads nurture a surprising soft spot for Hufflepuff, “the most underrated house at Hogwarts.” J.K. Rowling has even said in an interview, “In many, many ways, Hufflepuff is my favourite house.”
Don’t like where you’re Sorted? You can always retake the test or try a completely different one! Hogwarts students are Sorted only once at age eleven—a life-changing decision that prompts Dumbledore’s lament, “I sometimes think we Sort too soon.” Lucky for the rest of us, we can Sort and re-Sort as necessary.
TIME magazine recently partnered with Cambridge University psychologists Friedrich Götz and Joe Scott to bring some order and method to the Sorting ceremony. They’ve created a rigorous new Sorting quiz featuring 21 questions based on scientific personality surveys. Götz and Scott developed their quiz with the help of hundreds of Potterheads who answered questions from the perspective of various Harry Potter characters, such as Luna Lovegood and Severus Snape. After analysing thousands of data points, researchers were able to refine the quiz and its alignment with Hogwarts houses.
The quiz doesn’t just sort you into one house: it shows you percentages of how well you match all of them! Are you 52% Gryffindor, 25% Ravenclaw, 22% Hufflepuff, and just a smidge Slytherin? Or do you bleed Slytherin green 100%? The percentage breakdown provides a nuanced take on Sorting that’s in line with how it’s portrayed in the books. The Sorting Hat, after all, deliberated at length on whether to place Harry in Gryffindor or Slytherin. Similarly, Hermione’s bookishness would seem, at least on the surface, to make her better-suited for Ravenclaw. Ultimately, you can only end up in one house, but both the Sorting Hat and this quiz acknowledge the multitude of personality traits within every individual.
Also similar to the Sorting Hat? This quiz (and pretty much all Sorting quizzes) allows for choice. We already know the major personality types associated with each house. Dead-set on Gryffindor? There’s nothing to stop you from exaggerating your courage as you rate the accuracy of statements like “I will do things even though they seem to be dangerous.” Some might call it cheating, but really it’s not so different from Harry’s vehement “Not Slytherin.”
On which personality tests is this Sorting quiz based? There’s the “Big Five” test, which assesses your “openness to experience,” “conscientiousness,” “extraversion,” “agreeableness,” and “neuroticism.” According to the write-up in TIME, Götz and Scott also drew on “a handful of other well-studied personality inventories that measure other traits that are commonly seen in the Harry Potter novels, like ‘courage’ and ‘humility.’” The quiz is not based on the famous Myers-Briggs personality test, which many scientists have called into question.
Of course, no matter how impressive Muggle science gets, for many Potterheads there’s nothing quite like magic. The old-fashioned Sorting Hat seems to know its wearers better than they know themselves: “there’s nothing hidden in your head the Sorting Hat can’t see.” Not to mention, the Hat has additional abilities, like providing the sword of Gryffindor to those worthy of it and composing catchy songs.
Header image via mazola_jr on Flickr.