Dwarves, Hobbits, Elves: A Personality Profile
The Distinct Personalities of Tolkien's Cultures
In personality psychology, we use a model called the Big Five for analyzing personality. Unlike other models in popular use like the Myers-Briggs and the Enneagram, the Big Five Personality Traits, or OCEAN, are based on empirical scientific studies. Instead of placing individuals in boxes, it is actually a spectrum, and allows for almost infinite variation. The model is ever-changing, and psychologists always welcome new evidence and findings. However, the OCEAN model is currently the most common in use, and has high replicability, even across cultures. Today, I'm using the Big Five OCEAN model to examine three cultures we meet in JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.
I greatly enjoyed compiling this analysis, and I hope you will find yourself in the realm of one of these cultures. I personally identify strongly with the hobbits, and I have enjoyed seeing other people read this and find their place in Middle-Earth. Take care to note that there is wide variation within the cultures. My brother identifies as a Took hobbit, similar to Pippin Took, and others may find they are a non-conforming elf like Legolas. I neglected to include men in this list, because there is too much diversity to include in a brief summary. The few human characters we see are too different for me to draw a single conclusion, but I may do a deeper analysis in future.
Note: the Big Five Personality Traits are as follows; Ocean, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.
Dwarves are very low on Openness; they are not imaginative and resist new things. However, they might be challenge-driven if it pertains to a long-held value. They are low on Conscientiousness. They are messy, dislike structure, and procrastinate important things. They don't prepare for things ahead of time, and refuse to pay attention to detail, focusing on big-picture ideas instead. Dwarves are low on Extraversion, and dislike being the center of attention. They dislike small talk, and never find it easy to start a conversation. Low on Agreeableness, dwarves take little interest in other people and their problems, and as a result they can appear insulting. They aren't keen on helping outsiders, preferring to stick to their kind. Dwarves are high on Neuroticism, and have a tendency toward depression and moodiness. In conclusion, dwarves are deeply committed to each other and their causes, but may appear hostile to outsiders.
Low on Openness, hobbits dislike change. They are averse to abstract, theoretical concepts. Hobbits may be a mix of high and low Conscientiousness, with some of them enjoying a comforting routine and set schedule, and others preferring to 'go with the flow' and take life easy. While hobbits enjoy a large social network and occasional parties, in their day-to-day life they are Introverts, preferring to stay at home, stick to a routine, predictable, rhythm, indulge themselves in books, and keep a strong circle of close friends. Hobbits are very Agreeable, assisting others in need, having a lot of interest in other people, and being generally likeable. Although hobbits may show some anxiety in extraordinary circumstances, they are overall low in Neuroticism. They seldom worry, rarely feel depressed, and are generally a relaxed folk.
High on Openness, elves are very intellectual and open to abstract concepts. They welcome other cultures and ideas into their fold, and are always ready to tackle new challenges. Elves are high on Conscientiousness; they have good impulse control and engage in goal-directed behaviors. They are slow and steady, and pay close attention to detail. They are high on Extraversion; they enjoy being the center of attention and engaging in group activities, and find new friends easily. Elves are low on Agreeableness, and have little empathy, focusing on the issues of the whole community and long-held values rather than individual people. They can appear aloof, but their decisions always merit results. Elves are low on Neuroticism, and maintain a steady temperament. They do not get upset easily, and stay calm and collected.