Research has shown that we like people similar to ourselves. But does this rule of attraction apply to our liking for fictional characters? Analysis of Star Wars character fans suggests so.
Personality scores of Facebook users who had ‘liked’ Star Wars character pages were aggregated. To be included in the analysis, characters must have had at least 20 Facebook fans who completed a personality survey. Personality scores of fans were scaled within each trait, and medians were used to construct fan profiles in the following charts (click image below to access, opens in new tab/window):
Personality was measured with 5 traits:
- Openness – appreciation for ideas and experiences
- Conscientiousness – self-discipline and achievement-striving
- Extraversion – engagement with the external world
- Agreeableness – concern for social harmony
- Neuroticism – susceptibility to negative emotions such as anger or anxiety
Median personality scores for female fans are represented in red, while that for males are in blue.
Fans seem to like characters who are similar to themselves. Boba Fett, who rarely talked, had fans who were introverted. Anakin Skywalker, considered a useful example to explain borderline personality disorder to medical students, had fans who were neurotic. The effect for Anakin Skywalker is especially striking, because it was as pronounced in males as in females, despite males being known to be less neurotic than females (which stands true for the rest of the character fan profiles).
However, there appears to be an interaction with sex. Male and female fan profiles for Anakin Skywalker are near opposites. Male fans seem to be disagreeable like the character himself. On the other hand, his (lovestruck?) female fans seem to be highly agreeable. To overlook his disagreeable nature and fall for Anakin Skywalker in a romantic way would probably require a congenial disposition.
As much as a controversial personality might beget a polarized male-female fan base, a celebrated character appears to attract a balanced fan base. Han Solo was ranked 14th by the American Film Institute in its list of greatest screen characters, making him the highest-ranked Star Wars character. The personality profile of his fans is characterized by moderate scores on all traits for both males and females, save for the established sex difference of males scoring lower than females on neuroticism.
Contrary to expectations though, Yoda attracted a male fan base scoring low on conscientiousness, despite his indefatigable work ethic of “do or do not, there is no try”. Were fans relieved that Yoda did after all give them an option to “do not“? Furthermore, despite being portrayed as a sage, Yoda attracted fans who scored low on openness, which is a proxy of intelligence. However, this might just be due to his bad grammar.
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