ran a survey looking at whether personality was connected to genre preference in YA (yes, I admit it, I'm a psychology geek). Respondents were asked to give their top 2 favourite genres as well as answer some questions about their personality. I took a look at the overall trends earlier, and now I'm going to get down to the specifics. (Sorry it's been forever since the last post on this but the craziness of A Cornucopia of Dystopia took over!)
Of course, this survey was just for fun and none of these results are in any way representative of formal personality assessment!
In my personality-predicting quiz (give me your favourite YA genres, and I'll try to predict your personality) I gave each of the groups a fun name loosely based on the survey results, so that's how I'm going to go through the combinations of genres. You'll see that in some cases there are clear personality patterns depending on which genre was chosen first and which second, and others are much more muddied. In some of the groups, several genres have been combined as the 2nd choice, because I had too few people to warrant separating each into its own group.
And so, in no particular order...
1.) Paranormal People Person: Paranormal as #1 choice, Realistic as #2 (P+R)
There aren't any really strong trends in the P+R individuals, but they are more likely to be extroverted "thinkers" (individuals who solve decisions through logic, as opposed to "feelers" who go by their emotions) who stress easily and are "people people."
2.) Paranormal Party Animal: Paranormal as #1 and Science Fiction as #2 (P+SF)
P+SF people definitely tend towards being extroverted. They're also more likely to stress easily over small things and be animal people (this last one does not surprise me at all, because, well, it's paranormal. Hello, werewolves and other shapeshifters.)
3.) Paranormal Hermit: Paranormal as #1, Urban Fantasy as #2 (P + UF)
We've seen a lot of people who choose Paranormal or Urban Fantasy as #1 be extroverts (see Paranormal Party Animals, Urban Fantasy Control Freaks and Urban Fantasy Chicken Littles) which is why this result here is such a counter-intuitive surprise. Unlike these other groups, readers who like Paranormal first and Urban Fantasy second are almost all introverts (thus the "hermit" name). They are also far more likely to prefer theories and concepts ("intuiters") to concrete knowledge ("sensers"), be both open-minded and spontaneous, stress out over even small things, and be animal people (once again, not a surprise given how often animals pop up in paranormal books).
4.) Paranormal Spock: Paranormal as #1, Traditional Fantasy or Historical as #2 (P + F or H)
5.) Urban Fantasy "Chicken Littles": Urban Fantasy as #1 choice, Sci-Fi/Dystopian as #2 (UF + SF)
Another group with some obvious patterns going on. Much more likely to be extroverted, and almost every single one of these people identified as stressing easily, even over little things (which is why I called them "Chicken Littles.") Interestingly, they are more likely to prefer the familiar, but they are also tend to be spontaneous rather than planners. Also, this is one of only two groups that have equal numbers of thinkers and feelers (all the others have greater numbers of thinkers).
6.) Urban Fantasy Control Freaks: Urban Fantasy as #1, Traditional Fantasy, Historical or Paranormal as #2 (UF + F, H or P)
Seeing some similarities with all the Urban Fantasy people? Yep, this group tends to be extroverted too. Here, though, the "planners" beat out the spontaneous individuals by a long shot (which is why I titled them "control freaks.")
7.) Historical Paradoxes: Historical as #1, and Traditional Fantasy, Sci-Fi/Dystopian, Paranormal or Realistic as #2 (H + F, SF, P, or R)
Given that there weren't that many people who chose Historical as #1 (which is why I grouped them all together), and they had several different choices for #2, I was quite surprised to note the similarities in personality. They tend to be extroverted, prefer abstract knowledge and theories to facts, prefer the familiar but be spontaneous (hence the "paradox" name), and oddly enough more of them identify as "animal people." Also, along with the Fantasy Spock crowd this group seems to be more relaxed, rolling with the curveballs life throws them.
8.) Realistic Factualists: Realistic as #1 choice, Sci-Fi/Dystopian as #2 (R+SF)
This group likes the cold hard truth. They don't care about abstract ideas and theories – it's the data they're after. They're logical, tend to prefer the familiar, and they LOVE to plan everything out. Spontaneity does not enter into their daily schedule. This is one of the combinations that appears to have some very clear trends.
9.) Realistic Randoms: Realistic as #1, Mystery as #2 (R+M)
These guys are all over the map...very random! The one thing they all have in common is that they see themselves as a people person.
10.) Realistic Creatures of Habit: Realistic as #1, Traditional Fantasy, Historical, or Urban Fantasy as #2 (R + F, H, or UF)
More likely to be extroverted, prefer cold hard facts, be cautious (preferring the familiar, hence the 'creatures of habit'), "thinkers" who stress easily and tend to be "people people." As you can see, though, the differences in this group are pretty minimal, no strong trends apart from there being no "feelers" here.
11.) Realistic Control Freaks: Realistic as #1, Paranormal as #2 (R+P)
This group is also pretty mixed, although like the Realistic Factualists almost every single one likes to plan their days out. I'd thought this group might tend to be "animal people," seeing as their 2nd choice is Paranormal, but it seems like the #1 genre trumps #2, at least in that regard.
12.) Mysterious Outliers: Mystery as #1, anything else as #2 (M + anything)
There were only 3 out of those first 115 respondents that chose Mystery as #1, so I'm not even going to bother showing a graph. Suffice it to say any trends in mystery lovers remain, well...a mystery.
13.) Fantasy Spocks: Traditional Fantasy as #1 choice and Science Fiction as #2 (F+SF)
The Fantasy Spock group, as you can see, is very much a mixed bag; the genre seems to welcome all personality types. Both introverts and extroverts, cautious and open-minded, and no difference in terms of being an "animal person" or "people person." However, they are more likely to be "intuiters" (people who prefer abstract knowledge) rather than "sensers" (people who prefer cold hard facts), be thinkers rather than feelers (Spock...), planners rather than spontaneous, and interestingly enough, they were one of only 2 groups to have a greater number of people who don't stress out easily. Apparently Fantasy + Sci-Fi/Dystopian draws a lot of really relaxed readers.
14.) Fantastical Creatures (of Habit): Traditional Fantasy as #1, Urban Fantasy as #2 (F + UF)
These people are pretty mixed in personality, but a couple things stand out. They tend to be more comfortable with the familiar (creatures of habit), and stress easily.
15.) Fantastic Minglers: Traditional Fantasy as #1, Historical, Paranormal or Realistic as #2 (F + H, P or R)
This crew seems to be extroverted (hence the "minglers"), cautious thinkers.
Now, it's also a good idea to look at the respondent sample as a whole, so we don't get carried away seeing trends where there are none. You can check out all the general results here, but a couple I think are particularly interesting:
- Overall more extroverts than introverts answered the survey
- There were more thinkers than feelers
- The book blogging community appears to stress out rather easily
It's important to take into consideration that with an internet survey there'll be a lot of self selection going on, and it may be that certain types of people are more likely to fill out the survey, leading to biases in the data.
Obviously I'd need a much larger sample (and I'd need to apply some actual statistical tests, like chi-square, to get an idea of statistical significance of any difference) to be able to conclude anything with any confidence. In particular I'd need more people who choose Historical, Sci-Fi/Dystopian or Mystery as their 1st choice, and I'd like to see personality results for every possible genre combination (I didn't get some genre combinations at all – for instance, Paranormal as 1st choice and Mystery as 2nd never came up, which is kind of surprising given the number of paranormal mysteries out there!) It does seem interesting that certain genre combinations popped up much more often than others. But I think the results do suggest a connection between genre preference and personality, at least for certain genres (and certain people!)
What do you think about these results? Do you see a reflection in your own personality and genre choices? (And if you managed to make it through this entire post, congrats!)