Author J.K. Rowling recently tweeted that this was “the dawn of the age of Hufflepuff.” Over twelve thousand Hufflepuffs and non-Hufflepuffs alike re-tweeted or commented on this proclamation.
In previous interviews, Rowling has stated that Hufflepuff was her favorite house. These comments could be seen as promotion for the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Fantastic Beasts’ protagonist, Newton Scamander, belonged to Hufflepuff, so this latest installation diverges from the Gryffindor leads of the past. But Rowling’s comments could also be seen as advocacy for the type of personality that she finds admirable. It is interesting to note that instead of advocating for more aggressive personality types, like the active and brave Gryffindors, Rowling chose to promote a passive personality- that of the Hufflepuff house.
With a few notable exceptions, passivity isn’t a common personality trait found within the characters of mainstream films. Hollywood loves big, dynamic personalities. But Rowling is supportive of a more loyal and stable type of character, and the Muggles who have been sorted into the Hufflepuff house are probably pretty excited.
Fans of the Harry Potter series have always flocked to personality quizzes and assessments that sort them into their respective houses. These four house’s traits are remarkably similar to the four personality styles in DISC theory. (See our first blog post on Personalities of the Hogwarts houses) Like DISC and other personality assessments, these house sorting quizzes are immensely popular. However, you need only glance at Rowling’s twitter feed under Hufflepuff to see that, for many fans, being sorted into the Hufflepuff house caused a small crisis of identity.
Harry, Hermione, and Ron all belonged to Gryffindor, home of the brave. The antagonists belonged to the house that sought power and greatness, Slytherin; and every fan knew that the most clever students called Ravenclaw home. Hufflepuff always got a bad rap. True, we didn’t get a lot of information about this house in the books. Hufflepuffs were primarily defined by their loyalty. There was also a persistent myth that Hufflepuffs were the least clever wizards of the bunch.
Passive personalities have often been portrayed as undesirable. Dozens of bestselling books have focused on the idea that introverts can, and should, change themselves into extroverts. Other publications have focused on maximizing the potential of introverts. Ostensibly, they could do this by making adjustments to their personalities to mimic the behaviors of more dominant personalities. All of this is hardly surprising when you consider the idea that the types of personalities that would be drawn to acting/producing/starting publishing companies would be more active personalities. Active personalities like D’s and I’s aren’t above a little self promotion. But to the S’s and C’s, this is a less appealing prospect. D’s and I’s are trying to convince the S’s and C’s to turn into extroverts like them, but it just isn’t in their nature.
So what is it that makes a person initially disappointed to be placed in the Hufflepuff house? And why is it that passive personalities take such a beating in American culture? It really goes back to the idea of the American West and the mystique of the cowboy.
The phenomena of the western cowboy (or at least some very narrow and historically inaccurate media interpretations of this archetype) is a uniquely American creation. Americans were told to go "go west, young man!" and our culture privileges a type of rugged individuality. As a culture, our protagonists tended to be strong, decisive, and avoided talking about their own emotions. In essence, they were oversimplified depictions of the D style personality.
But the Ds in our society only make up 3% of our population. So why was there such a premium placed on the D style character in movies and literature? The answer is simple. D style personalities drive plot. Sure, their prevalence might be indicative of greater cultural forces at work or they may have been compensation for societal fears. But they also serve the prototypical plot structure. They get things moving along.
Who came first? Did the media representations encourage real people to act in certain ways? Or did screenwriters and authors simply write about what they saw? Essentially, though, it doesn’t end up mattering. The net effect was the same. The dominant, active personalities (like D or I) were more frequently represented. And that’s ok, we need D personalities! They are our leaders, our executives, our ER Surgeons. They thrive under the types of pressure that other personalities would find immobilizing. But they are not the only type of personality that does, or should, exist.
The passive S style personality shares so many similarities with the Hufflepuff house, and it makes up the majority of the population at a whopping 69%. Over half of us are walking around viewing depictions of people that look, sound, and act very little like ourselves. Passive personalities are underrepresented. But this does not mean that they are in the minority. And here is the beautiful thing-that’s ok, too. These people don’t frequently appear in our media, but luckily they frequently populate our real lives.
We need these people, too. We need the Hufflepuffs of the world to be stable, reliable, true, and steady. These are people who value hard work and fair play. They play by the rules, and they do what is best for their communities. We need people who we can rely on. We need people who will question whether or not something should change, forcing the active personalities to sit back for a minute and assess the pluses and minuses of their decisions. If the world were run exclusively by Gryffindors and Slytherins, it would be a battle of the big personalities. Individual needs might dominate, and not everyone’s voice would be heard.
This would never happen if Hufflepuffs ruled the world. The peaceful, stability-oriented Hufflepuff strives for consensus. They think that it is important that all peoples’ needs are being met and all opinions are being heard. This is the foundation of a peaceful society. Hufflepuffs and S style personalities can wear their heads high. We need them to form the foundation of our society.
Though the houses have many different defining characteristics, it is interesting to see how they align with the established and validity-tested methodology of the DISC system. Like the different houses, each of the different personality styles has its benefits and detriments. All four can offer significant contributions to a school, workplace, and community. In fact, an excellent School for Witchcraft and Wizardry (or Muggle workplace) can benefit from a mix of all four. And if you are fortunate enough to be in a workplace comprised primarily of Hufflepuffs, you will get to work with some of the kindest and most loyal folks imaginable.
So Hufflepuffs, you do you. And go Badgers!
*In the interest of full disclosure, the author has repeatedly been sorted into Gryffindor and is most definitely an I style personality.