Another writer notes the Divergent-Personality test link.

See? It’s not just me….

Laura Moss of Mother Nature Network has written a fascinating article linking the Factions of Divergent, the Houses of Hogwarts, the Breakfast Club and Buzzfeed quizzes to personality theory and people’s need to define themselves.   Please discuss! Does the quick-and-easy “sorting” of the protagonists into “the simplest terms, the most convenient definitions” explain the popularity of Tris (and Katniss and Harry), especially for adolescents who are seeking their own identity?  Is this why Facebook abounds with quizzes that claim to tell us which Broadway Musical or Starship Enterprise captain we really are, with a few clicks of the mouse?

What Muppet are you?

FYI:  This is the most fitting Buzzfeed result I ever got:  You are….  Scooter!  Your life is all about coffee.  You are real, really good at your job and deserve more recognition. In addition, I am Atticus Finch, Jadzia Dax, The Circle of Life and Fraulein Maria.


  1. Chris Calderon says

    I have to admit I’m dubious about such easy made tests. I think it’s quite possible to get at least some idea of another’s personality through, say, a more thorough psych screening. However, to get a more definite idea of someone’s character requires more in-depth questions, and after a certain point those general questions would have to give over to very specific questions framed in terms a given personality. This process would have to be repeated across the board, starting from general characteristics going into the specific habits of individual personalities.

    The problem with such pop-character tests is how they fail to take in the individual, idiosyncratic nature of personality, something which Laura Moss, to her credit, acknowledges in the article.

    There are a few things in the article that I criticize. One criticism has to do with the line that goes:

    “During high school, our prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain that regulates impulse control and self-reflection, undergoes a lot of changes. On top of that, our brains are buzzing with dopamine.

    “These dopamine-addled brains make experiences more intense and the stakes of self-identification even higher. Just like in “Divergent” and other young adult books, decisions about who we are seem like they could seal our fates.”
    For, the big beef I have with that statement is how it reduces a non-material cause to a materialist explanation. It’s my belief that a lot of the pressure some (not all) teens experience during high school years has more to do with how they were raised by their parents, and what kind of moral choices they make in life, and it has nothing to do with brain chemistry. My basic thoughts (informed by Berkeley and Lewis) on this matter are: Gray matter and electro-chemical impulses “do not a Mind make”.

    My other criticism is a bit more complex. To simplify a little, a have to wonder what such quizzes say about the way people read books. Are they reading with open minds (souls), and attentive to the deeper meanings in a lot of the best stories? Or are do they have very closed minds, ones that can only extend as far as themselves, their own personal wants an so-called needs or desires and no farther, especially not to anyone else, let alone books? I mean I’ve gotten into discussions on other blogs where I’ve tried to talk about the importance of symbolism in various books, only to be greeted with the written equivalent of blank stares. Only one blogger that I know of has had any idea of the function of symbolism in stories. Just one, so far. Most others that I’ve written to seem to have no idea that it exists in stories, or that symbols are what fiction is ultimately made of, or that it is important.

    My basic worry here is that people will start to use books not for edification, or to learn things about real life through the symbolism in the text (which I regard as the proper function of fiction), but that they’ll instead use various books for assorted power fantasies. In other words, I worry that people are losing the ability to read, and thus the ability to properly appreciate books, seeing them as nothing more than drugs to feed a bloated ego.

    That kind of practice I think is antithetical to the act of reading, or even viewing a movie like the Breakfast Club, for that matter. I find it interesting that that particular John Hughes film was mentioned, as in a way it does sort of lay out the problem I’m talking about. What you get in Breakfast Club is a group of young adults who have fundamentally not been prepared for life in any meaningful or productive way. It’s to the kids’ credit that they sort of intuit this, however I never got the impression that they knew what to do about their problem, as they know so little about who they are or about life in general, because no one has ever told or shown them anything that might be in the least bit valuable.

    The real problem is that such issues can’t be confined to the movie screen. They are very real problems, I think, that are effecting the ability of people to function properly in society.

    So in that regard, I wonder if these a lot of these character quizzes aren’t playing into a cultural escapism. If some then that’s troubling, as it’s very hard to reason or learn a mind (or soul) locked up in itself, and not even the presence of alchemical or Traditional Symbolism in a work of fiction may be able to effect a change to a mind that doesn’t want to change. At least these are concerns that articles such as the one cited above gives me.

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