What Your Favorite Fictional Characters Say About You, According To Science
Everyone has their own favorite fictional character. Whether they are an unassuming hero or a psychopathic antagonist, each character has their own individual personalities that are attractive to certain people. It is the innate differences between the psychological profiles of these characters that allow psychologists to correlate them with the personality traits of fans.
This type of research is not new. The field of psychology has already shown that particular people are much more likely to enjoy certain movies, or how the way they behave can be attributed to their personality traits. Research psychologists can make some staggering observations about you, just from studying the types of things you enjoy.
Your favorite fictional character is no different. A study carried out at Marshall University was able to correlate personality traits and characteristics with famous fictional figures. The data then allowed them to identify what type of people like some characters and dislike others. Are you an open, imaginative darling, or do your psychological tendencies point to something darker?
- Photo: Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones / 20th Century Fox
Perhaps the most bizarre finding from the study was the psychological profile of those who were big fans of Jar Jar Binks from the Star Wars prequels. According to the researchers, those who liked the much maligned character showed a strong correlation with being both narcissistic and Machiavellian. This means that they are likely to be egotistical, manipulative, and exploitative of others. Perhaps this explains the crazy fan theory that Jar Jar is actually a secret Sith Lord.
- Photo: Breaking Bad / AMC
Even as Walter White progressed to become a more evil character throughout the run of Breaking Bad, fans continued to stick with him. This is because the shows creators used psychological research to ensure certain types of people would be attracted to him, and therefore likely to root for him right until the end.
People who count Walter White as one of their favorite television personalities are usually agreeable, but slightly narcissistic. This is essential, as they sympathize with all the obstacles that have been put in his way, or the horrible things that have happened to him. These same people also show pride in the way he takes control, and tries to provide for his family.
- Photo: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets / Warner Bros. Pictures
Studies have shown fans of the characters from the Harry Potter series tended to be open and accepting. Throughout Rowling's source material, readers are introduced to many marginalized and ostracized groups that are treated poorly compared to the traditionally noble wizarding classes.
Fans of the series were able to empathize with these groups, and could rationally identify the terrible treatment they receive throughout the books. This clearly translated into the real world as well, because these fans of the books saw improved empathy towards, "'out-groups,' those the reader doesn't identify with."
- Photo: Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back / 20th Century Fox
Although Lando Calrissian was more of a supporting character throughout the Star Wars franchise, he has managed to accumulate a strong following and has plenty of fans. It was a common theme in the study from Marshall University that people who scored high in openness liked characters with an uncertain morality, something that definitely describes the former smuggler.
The natural curiosity and imagination of those who have the open personality trait leaves them wanting to experience new things or be creative, which people could easily associate with Lando, given his eccentric and lavish lifestyle.
- Photo: Superman Returns / Warner Bros. Pictures
It might seem odd those who score highly for narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy - three of the worst personality traits - are fans of Superman. After all, out of all of the superheroes, he he's supposed to represent truth, justice, and honor. Looking at these traits more carefully, however, reveals exactly why they might rate Superman highly among their favorite fictional characters.
Those with these dark triad traits are more likely to be prideful, willing to exploit others, and act in a selfish manner. With his near god-like powers and the love of everyone on Earth, Superman is exactly the type of character they want to be, so they wouldn’t have to worry about what other people could do to them.
Spider-Man has two distinctive personalities. In his non-superhero persona, Peter Parker is a shy and introverted teenager, while as Spider-Man, he is an energetic and enthusiastic fighter (and joke machine).
It's no wonder then, that extroverts, people who are active and like being around other people, relate to the funny superhero. There are only a few fictional characters as talkative or eager as Spider-Man, who has been berated by his fellow superheroes for chatting too much during fights.