A Dip in the OCEAN II: Double Dipping Dauntless: Can the neurotic be brave?

In Part One , I argued that four Factions of the Divergent series (Erudite, Abnegation, Candor and Amity) line up with four of the “Big Five” personality dimensions: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion and Agreeableness, respectively. That leaves Dauntless to be paired with Neuroticism, which seems a mismatch at first glance. But, by delving a bit deeper into both the place of Neuroticism within personality theory and to the reality of the past and present Dauntless Faction, we find that they really do line up as well as the other four.

Individuals with high Neuroticism scores are considered sensitive/nervous versus secure/confident. They are prone to irritation, rage, sadness, and anxiety, which puts them at risk for depression, phobias and panic. They often overreact to difficult circumstances and perceive adversity as harder than it actually is. For this reason, this domain is sometimes called by an alternate name, “Mental Instability.

*If the following phrases accurately describe you, a personality psychologist would likely rate you high on Neuroticism.

  • I get stressed out easily
  • I have frequent mood swings.
  • I get irritated easily.
  • I often get blue.
  • I get angry easily.
  • I feel threatened easily.

As before, plot points will be revealed. Spoiler warning. [Read more…]

A Dip in the OCEAN: Divergent Factions and the Big Five Personality Factors.

On her Harper Collins website, Divergent and Insurgent author Veronica Roth declares, “I’m interested in psychology, especially as it relates to personality, brain chemistry, and group dynamics.” Each of the five Factions of Roth’s  dystopian society corresponds to one of the personality dimensions described in the Five Factor Model of human personality. This model has its roots in 1960’s research by Ernest Tupes and Raymond Christal, through which they identified five measurable dimensions that could be used to describe most variations in human personality. Their work remained largely ignored for 20 years, but was rediscovered in the 80’s and 90’s by a variety of independent research teams. Today, the Five Factor Model is one of the main driving forces in personality research. The component domains, often called the “Big Five Factors,” are today known as Openness to experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism. Psychology students often find the mnemonic OCEAN useful for remembering them.

When the characteristics of the Big Five are held up against the traits typical of the five Factions of the Divergent world, a near-perfect correspondence is apparent. Many of the phrases listed in tests used by researchers to measure the different personality domains could just as easily be used by Roth to describe her Factions. Let us visit each Faction, and each Factor in turn. Spoiler note: I will discuss some of the key plot points of both Divergent and Insurgent; do not continue if you do not want them spoiled. [Read more…]

Meeting Veronica Roth: An Ascendio 2012 Highlight

In response to a reader’s question about Veronica Roth at HPEF’s finale last month in Orlando, “Yes, I did meet and speak with the Divergent trilogy author.”

Meeting my second big-name author, Lev Grossman being the first, I was delighted to find that Ms. Roth, like Grossman, is a very pleasant and thoughtful person, nothing like a self-important Gilderoy Lizard. I met her at a cocktail party of sorts for the “names” at this convention. The ‘Merlin’s Circle Reception’ with open bar cost $750 for non-names like me to get in and meet the stars of page and screen — I was only allowed in because my ‘Circle’ registration was paid for by Rosetta Stone in exchange for a talk I gave on magical language.

Anyway, I was enjoying a catch-up conversation with the delicately ribald (and nearly bald) Lev Grossman when Ms. Roth joined us with her agent, Joanna Volpe, and another YA author. The other author actually had heard of me and seemed very excited about our meeting; as I had almost done a prostration before Ms. Roth as they approached, her excitement brought things back into some kind of silly balance.

[Read more…]

The Divergent Trilogy: Twilight, MarySue, and Tris Prior

We are in the third day of ‘Beatrice Prior Week’ here at HogwartsProfessor and it’s the last day of comparisons with the three other popular series we’ve discussed at length here. Yesterday, it was Hunger Games, Sunday it was Harry Potter, and today we come to the neglected corner, Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight books. What could Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy have to do with the Paranormal Romance in Forks?

Quite a bit! Even some interviewers are talking about it with Ms. Roth, albeit only in terms of her movie deal with Summit, the makers of the Twilight films. From NextMovie.com’s interview with Ms. Roth (December 2011):

People inevitably will make comparisons to Stephenie Meyer, since you’re both YA novelists signed to Summit. She’s producing her first film now — are you planning to be Meyer-level involved in the making of “Divergent?”

Not really. At least, I haven’t really been involved with it for very long, so it’s hard to say. But I really just love books and I never really watch movies. I’m more into the slow, sort of meditative process and movies are like bam-bam! Bam-bam-bam! So I don’t know if it’s really the place for me. I don’t know, it’s been really fun to see “Twilight” from the inside, but I’m really just observing, I’m not really involved.

Ah. Ms. Roth… You have won my heart! Time is short, though, so let’s skip right to the five points of congruence with Twilight that I noted on my first trip through Divergent and Insurgent.

[Read more…]

The Divergent Trilogy: Katniss Everdeen, Meet Tris Prior!

Yesterday we discussed the many similarities between Joanne Rowling’s Harry Potter novels and the first two books in Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy. As remarkable as those parallels are, largely,I think, because Ms. Roth has been a serious reader of the Hogwarts Saga for the great majority of her life (remember, she’s only 23 — do the math!), these echoes are not what reviewers are noting in their write-ups of Insurgent this month. It’s the kinship between The Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen and Divergent‘s heroine, Tris Prior, that I’m seeing everywhere.

What does the author think? In a USA Today interview she was asked about the comparisons being made:

Do the Hunger Games comparisons bother you?

The Hunger Games is pretty fantastic, so I always get a little scared when people make those comparisons because I think, “Well, I never tried to do that…” And it’s so good that it’s a little daunting to see those comparisons out there. But at the same time, it’s been pretty incredible what it’s done for the genre and for my book’s visibility. Also, if you’re going to be compared to something, it might as well be The Hunger Games because it’s really awesome. At least it’s not something I didn’t like.

Well, all right, then. The author says she’s on board with the comparisons, so let’s make a few of our own… I’ll go first, then you jump in! [Read more…]