March 3, 2011

Personality & Genre Survey: The Results, Part 1 (aka. The Pie Charts)

So a while ago I wanted to try and find out if personality was connected to genre preference in YA (what can I say, that's my psychology background talking) so I came up with this survey. 115 of you were kind enough to fill it out and give me some data!

In this first part I thought I'd explain the questions, how I came up with them, and show some of the general results. Just want to throw out a disclaimer to start with that this survey was just for fun and is not representative of any kind of personality assessment!

The first few questions were just to get an idea of the demographic (age, gender) and the genres you like to read. That in itself was interesting, because the response was not at all even across genres. For the favourite genre, the response looked like this:

The top favourite genre was realistic/contemporary (about 27%), followed closely by paranormal and then traditional fantasy. The "miscellaneous", by the way, just refers to when the person selected "other" and wrote in a different genre. But the second favourite genre pie chart looked totally different:

The genre of sci-fi/dystopian was extremely popular (31%) as a second favourite genre, the only other ones coming close being urban fantasy and paranormal. Totally would not have predicted that!

Then I asked,

I thought this might relate to personality in some way, but a massively high amount of the sample, regardless of genre preference, responded with "well-drawn, realistic characters." I was really surprised at this too...I know characters are important to some readers (they are to me) but I definitely underestimated how many!

Next question was:

With this one I was trying to get at social comparison a bit (if you want to know all about the theory, here is the Social Comparison Theory article on Wikipedia). However, a huge amount of people (80%) responded with, "You empathize with and feel close to." I wasn't expecting many people to choose the last option but I was surprised that there weren't more who preferred characters they "admire and attempt to emulate."

Then came the questions I based on the Myers-Briggs personality theory. (For an explanation of the official Myers-Briggs personality type questionnaire, go to this Wikipedia article).

I was getting at the introverted/extroverted axis with this one. As Wikipedia states (yes, I love to use Wikipedia), "extraverts recharge and get their energy from spending time with people, while introverts recharge and get their energy from spending time alone." This is rather different from the popular misconception that introversion/extroversion has to do with whether or not you are "shy" or "socially awkward" or other misused terms.

I'm not too surprised I got more extroverts than introverts responding, since of course the sample will be biased in terms of what types of people are likely to answer online surveys.

This one was looking at decision-making, specifically thinking vs. feeling. I was a little surprised that the "thinkers" had such a lead over the "feelers."

This question was tapping the sensing vs. intuition aspect (how we gather information), and the sample was basically split 50/50.

I loosely based the next 3 questions on part of the OCEAN personality theory, also known as the "Big Five." OCEAN is an acronym which stands for "openness to experience," "conscientiousness," "extroversion," "agreeableness" and "neuroticism."

This one was representing the "openness to experience" part, and once again it was split quite evenly between the two responses.

This one was getting at "conscientiousness" and tendency towards planned vs. spontaneous action. There are slightly more who chose "planning" but not a large difference.

  • You get stressed easily, even by little things?
I was trying to get at the "neuroticism" aspect of the Big Five with this one...seems like quite a few of you get stressed out easily! (I certainly do.)

And finally, as a kind of fun question, I threw in:

  • More of a people person?
  • More of an animal person?

Wasn't too surprised that this one was just about dead even!

Anyway, so those are the overall results for the survey responses. I'll be doing another post later looking specifically at genre combinations and their relationship to certain personality traits (but if I had tried to put it all in one blog post, it would have gone on forever and I'm sure I've made you hungry for pie now as it is.)

So, any results here you might not have expected? Did you learn something about personality psychology? :P

If you'd like, you can still add your data to the Is Personality Related to Genre? survey. Oh, and if you haven't yet taken my Can I Predict Your Personality from Your Genre Preference? quiz yet (based on my preliminary survey results), go ahead and see how accurate it is!


  1. Wow, what an awesome survey. I never would have expected the results you got, especially That jump the dystopia genre made in the "second favorite" category.

    I'm on my way to take the test for myself! :)

  2. Awesome, thanks for sharing the results! I find stuff like this absolutely fascinating.

  3. Thanks for sharing the results. It's fun to see where I fit in with the consensus. I'm in majority for most of the questions. I guess I'm not as unique as I thought I was. ;)

  4. These results are really interesing- thanks for sharing! I bet that dystopian wouldn't have come top out of the second favourites question a couple of years ago. I'm looking forward to the next results post :)

  5. Oh, this was awesome. Nothing what I had expected. Do more! These are fun!

  6. Wow! A lot of those results surprised me! I was really surprised at the different genres people liked, and that readers like the characters the best out of many different aspects of a novel. Thanks so much for sharing and for making all of those colorful pie charts!

  7. Thanks for replying to my comment on my blog :)

    It's great to hear you're a Downton Abbey fan now too! It is so totally addictive, I bought the box set so I can watch the series again and again. Season 2 seems like so far away be we can look forward to it together. I've also been meaning to say that I tried Lark Rise to Candleford and I absolutely love it! Thanks so much for reccommending it to me- it's like discovering another Road To Avonlea. I watched the first and second series when I was ill for a week and I'm in the middle of the third series now. It's really sad that the last series is being aired now because it seems like there's so muh more they could do with it :( At least we'll have Downton Abbey though.

  8. Very cool! I'm a little surprised at people's favourite genres.

  9. Ah, I love charts and graphs :) Thank you for putting in all the time and effort to do this. The results are very interesting. I'm looking forward to the next part.

    Dystopian really has grown as a genre lately. It's incredible how many books now fall into that group.

  10. Very interesting survey!! Anyway, I'm just blog hopping and I'm now a follower :)


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