How I Met Your Mother, Personalitywise
Who is the most awesome?
Posted Feb 04, 2013
In my body, where the shame gland should be, there is a second awesome gland. True story.
~ Barney Stinson (source)
After having shown that TV characters are not unidimensional (see an assessment of “Friends”), we turn our Big Five guns on How I Met Your Mother. The senior blogger (JK) can’t say that he is intimately familiar with Barney, Marshall, Lily, Robin, and Ted. In fact, he finds the whole bar booth routine tedious. The junior blogger (LC) takes a more sanguine view. The senior blogger’s younger daughter (13) is a big fan. We all agree that Barney is awesome. To get a fix on the characters before collecting data, we consulted Wikipedia and found an enlightening introduction to the cast.
Personality psychologists known as Big Fivers believe – wait for it – that the Big Five personality traits are the route d’or to knowing people. For those who have missed the memo, here’s an update: The Big Five (naturally capitalized) are personality traits so broad that they are believed to cover the spectrum of individual differences. Once you have a person’s profile of scores over the Big Five, you know the person, at least in broad strokes. After they emerged from factor-analytic work at an Air Force base (Tupes & Christal, 1961), the Big Five have gained widespread acceptance (Goldberg, 1992). Though periodically challenged and reviled, they have persisted. Here they are: [O] Openness to new experience, [C] Conscientiousness, [E] Extraversion, [A] Agreeableness, and [N] Neuroticism. Strung together, the letters spell OCEAN. As we did when taking the pulse of “Friends,” we used trait pairs recommended by Gosling et al. (2003). Namely, “open to new experiences and complex,” “dependable and self-disciplined,” “extraverted and enthusiastic,” “critical and quarrelsome” [reverse keyed], and “anxious and easily upset.”
We took a closer look at the resemblance issue by
Our modest attempt at capturing the Mother characters’ characters is not the only effort in this area. A certain “Bridgette” has apparently figured them out and has developed a test for you to see which character is most similar to you. JK took the test and found he is most like Lily. Hm. Treadless according Los Cinco Grandes. LC got stuck with Marshall. Equally treadless. Perhaps that’s why we work well together.
Goldberg, L. R. (1992). The development of markers for the Big-Five factor structure. Psychological Assessment, 4, 1992, 26-42.
Gosling, S. D., Rentfrow, P. J., & Swann, W. B., Jr. (2003). A very brief measure of the Big Five personality domains. Journal of Research in Personality, 37, 504-528.
Quetelet, A. (1835/1968). A treatise on man and the development of his faculties. New York, NY: B. Franklin.
Tupes, E. C., & Christal, R. E. (1961). Recurrent personality factors based on trait ratings. Technical Report ASD-TR-61-97. Lackland Air Force Base, TX: U.S. Air Force.