For better or worse, young people have been making the comparison between Harry Potter characters and figures from American politics lately. It’s become more common than ever since President Donald Trump took office, and it’s not likely to slow down. During the campaign, much of Twitter’s commentary involved comparing then-candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger, and after the election, figures like George Takei tweeted, “The Ministry has fallen. Death Eaters are about. But, my wizards, together we can defeat the dark tides of bigotry and intolerance. #WandsUp.”
But whether or not you enjoy these comparisons or roll your eyes at them, a new study has shown that one surprising Harry Potter parallel has actual societal worth. It turns out that when you put Hogwarts house sorting data onto a map of the United States, placing users in their home state and comparing their assigned houses, people belonging to certain houses tend to live near each other IRL. That means that Florida is actually Slytherin as hell, the Midwest is dominated largely by Hufflepuffs, California is definitely Gryffindor, and Northeast states have a high number of Ravenclaws. So, how did this happen?
Time and the Cambridge University Department of Psychology created a special kind of Sorting Hat quiz which divides the United States geographically. The results are drawn from 330,000 participants in order to determine the spread of cleverness, boldness, ambition, and loyalty across the country. You can take the quiz here and add to their data.
Cambridge released a statement about the study that explained the results: “We set out to unpack how certain personality attributes, for example courage, relate to economic performance…on a broader geographical level. This empirical approach will shed new light on the psychological underpinnings of regional cultures and their spatial organization in the United States.”
Since Gyffindor’s primary quality is courage and boldness, it’s noteworthy that the “Gryffindor states” are places that were considered “the frontier” in America’s early years: California, Nevada, Alaska, Colorado. Maine, too, is associated with outdoor adventure, thanks to its rural environment. Washington and Montana are also half-Gryffindor.
Ravenclaws are known for their cleverness. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Ravenclaw states are primarily places where many elite colleges and universities were established. In fact, every single state that hosts an Ivy League schools is primarily “Ravenclaw.” Intriguingly, so are Arizona and Wisconsin.
Hufflepuff is associated with loyalty and valuing fairness. And playing directly into stereotypes about Midwestern friendliness, according to the map, the majority of the Midwest is comprised of Hufflepuffs.
It’s the final category that offers the biggest surprise. Contrary to popular belief, Slytherins are not evil.
The primary quality is ambition, which is why it’s unsurprising that Washington D.C. is firmly Slytherin. It’s more surprising that the South — including Texas and Florida — is filled with Slytherins.
It’s also intriguing that Texas is not Gryffindor like California and Nevada, perhaps suggesting a “wild west” caricature or a “slower-paced friendly people” assumption is not the whole of it.
Classifying people into four types is always a simplistic way to view human emotion. Even the Harry Potter books acknowledged that people have duality and that sorting is imperfect. The Gryffindor Hermione is frequently asked why she isn’t a Ravenclaw; the Hat is torn between sorting Harry into Slytherin or Gryffindor; the Gryffindor Neville mentions that he was nearly a Hufflepuff; and the Ravenclaw Luna Lovegood joins Gryffindors on a dangerous mission.
Still, Florida is Slytherin. At the very least, that validates all the “Florida Man” jokes.
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