Is There Scientific Evidence that the Factions of Divergent are Meaningful?

There’s a little bit of Gilderoy Lockhart in all academics. Every once in a while, I am vain enough to do a Google search to see if anyone is talking about my research. Imagine my delight when, last January, I ran across two conference papers, from 2014 and 2015, by Brazilian psychologist Dr. Bruno Campello de Souza. Souza, and colleague Dr. Antonio Roazzi, apparently tried to match people’s Divergent Factions (as determined by the relatively simple 7-question Faction quiz published in the e-book) with the Five Factors and numerous other traits such as IQ, values, and professions. They also, to my delight and surprise, cited my Hogwarts Professor post as a reference, which, I believe, is a first.

While my understanding of the 2014 paper was limited–it’s in Portuguese–the 2015 paper had apparently partially confirmed my idea, linking Candor with Extroversion, and Erudite with Openness to Experience. Abnegation, interestingly, linked not only with Conscientiousness, but also with Agreeableness and Stability. The latter fits nicely with my characterization of the old Dauntless at the Stable end of the Neurotic domain, and the new Dauntless at the Instability end. Remember Tobias’s theory that bravery and unselfishness are the same thing and his remark that he could have just as easily been in Abnegation? Dauntless did not link with Neuroticism, but that did not surprise me, given that split nature of that faction, and its tendency to attract both the highly stable (Tobias) and unstable (Eric, Al, Peter). Amity did also not line up with Agreeableness, but you can’t have everything.  [Read more…]

Coming up September 22-24: Queen City Mischief and Magic

Staunton, VA is throwing its second annual Harry Potter festival next weekend, and it is going to be amazing!  Festivities start Friday night and continue all weekend, and most of the businesses in historic downtown Staunton are transforming themselves and offering all sorts of free and low-cost activities for the community.

I myself have spent most of the summer rounding up speakers for Mary Baldwin University‘s contribution to the weekend.  Fittingly for the home of Mary Baldwin College for Women, on Friday night there will be a series called “Hermione’s Army” focusing on everyone’s favorite Hogwarts bibliophile and the female YA heroines she inspired: particularly Hogwarts Professor favorites like Katniss Everdeen and Tris Prior.  The keynote address will be given by none other than Dr. Lana Whited, noted expert in both Harry Potter and The Hunger Games.  And I get to talk about psychology in both The Hunger Games and Divergent on the same night!

Then, on Saturday, Francis Auditorium will become Beauxbatons Academy, and host a day-long series of talks on a variety of Potter- and Potter- related topics. We’ll cover topics from Mary Julia Baldwin herself (and how she was like Dumbledore!) to the real Nicholas Flamel (courtesy of Dr. Whited, yet again!) to the wonders of owls to the language of runes. I am going to be offering a preview of my Chestnut Hill talk on scientific names inspired by the wizarding world and speaking about my own work Harry Potter and empathy.

In addition, we will have live owls and snakes, courtesy of the Virginia Wildlife Center.  Local Potterphiles should definitely drop by for some learning. laughter, and Sorting Hat cookies.

Professor Grubbly-Plank visits Staunton, VA for annual Harry Potter Book Night

Harry Potter book night

Owl tableLast fall, the Staunton Public Library contacted me about doing a presentation for this year’s Harry Potter Book Night on Feb. 2nd. The theme was “The Professors of Hogwarts.”  I couldn’t really think of a fun activity for kids that stemmed directly from my work on Harry Potter and psychology; I had an feeling inducing Dementor-like depression or Moody-esque PTSD in the youngsters would be frowned upon.  So with my (reasonably) close-cropped and (increasingly) grey hair, I decided to don my academic gown and matching witch hat and appear as Professor Grubbly-Plank, healer of Hedwig and expert on owls. [Read more…]

Two Pieces of ‘Carve the Mark’ News

Carve the MarkThe first and most exciting for me personally is… drum roll please…. my copy arrived today! I’ll probably start reading tomorrow.

The second bit of interesting news came from this interview Ms Roth did with NPR.  Two tidbits I found of particular note: 1) Cyra did not start out as a major character in the book and 2) the character and her “currentgift” were inspired by some acquaintances of Ms Roth who are chronic pain patients. Chronic pain is a problem often addressed by psychologists along with physicians, so I am hopeful we will see some more of Ms. Roth’s fascination with psychology shine through in the series. In the NPR interview, she states that a person’s “personality is like a mold that shapes how it comes out”–  “it” being the gift-giving “current” that seems to the the “force” of Ms. Roth’s new world.  Could there be more personality psychology showing up in the new series?  We’ll know soon enough.  I hope there are plenty of Hogpro regulars reading along.

You can also view this CBS clip to hear Ms. Roth talk about reading Harry Potter in the shower.

A look at the Carve the Mark sneak peaks: prose, photos and artwork

preprderVeronica Roth engages with her readers through a variety of social media outlets, notably Twitter, Instagram and Tumblir. With a scant two weeks remaining until the release of her new book, Carve the Mark, she is clearly doing what she can to generate and maintain interest, including offering an bonus epilogue to the Divergent series for those who pre-order. And yes, that particular bit of marketing strategy worked very nicely on me–not that I wouldn’t have ordered the book anyway.

In addition to releasing a preview chapter, Ms. Roth has been sharing regular “teasers:” sentences from Carve the Mark she has been releasing weekly, along with a photograph or painting, at least some of which her mother assisted in preparing. I thought it would be fun to look through the ten teasers released so far, speculate about what they could mean for the new series and look for any possible echoes to the Divergent trilogy.  So, here are the ten teaser quotes, in the order they were released, and including the art.

ctm-opening1. The first was the opening line of Carve the Mark.

Hushflowers always bloomed when the night was longest. The whole city celebrated the day the bundle of petals peeled apart into rich red– partly because hushflowers were their nation’s lifeblood and partly, Akos thought, to keep them all from going crazy in the cold.

As other previews have mentioned, plants apparently play a big role in this book. The red flower pictured above–presumably the hushflower–bears a strong resemblance to the red flowers featured in the book trailer.  A second plant, the “iceflower” is also mentioned as providing “lifeblood”–and given the opening trailer images of snowscapes interspersed with the fiery red flowers, and the red, black and white theme of the accompanying artwork, it is a possibility we could be looking at an alchemical organization, as Christine Wesley brilliantly deduced for Divergent. That would certainly be a nice Yuletide gift for John.

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