Hogwarts Houses Are About Potential

In a recent article, I argued that maybe we shouldn’t treat Hogwarts houses as ways to define who we are but rather who we could be. After reading it, a friend sent me a link to the April 15, 2019 episode of NPR’s Hidden Brain. The Sorting Hat is about personality tests of all kinds and includes the Hogwarts houses.

Shankar Vedantam makes an eloquent and educated argument, looking at the pros and cons of personality tests and typing people. He is understandably worried about how typing might limit or even hurt people. Type-casting by gender and race is looked down upon, so why should we allow typing of any kind?

His exploration of personality tests is worth the fifty-minute listen. Vedantam starts with Harry Potter fans and the Hogwarts houses, looks at the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and other personality tests used by employers, and digs deep into research done to find out if Chinese children born in the year of the dragon are more successful than their fellows.

He ends the show by discussing the case of Neville Longbottom, who as I pointed out, doesn’t start out a typical Gryffindor, but is one by the end of the Harry Potter series. He concludes that the good thing about personality types is that properly applied, they can help us to develop our potential. Our type can be inspiring rather than limiting.

I found his argument fascinating, and if you have any interest in personality quizzes or which Hogwarts house you belong in, I highly recommend you give it a listen.

How have personality tests affected you? Do you like them? Hate them? Wish you were in a different house?

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