Thursday, January 3, 2019

A Sherlock Holmes personality test? Could be!

How many Sherlock Holmeses does it take to build a personality test?

There is said to be a "five-factor model" in psychology for building personality tests, and it occurred to me this morning that we now probably have enough current Sherlock Holmeses that one could score people's personalities based on the amount they like or dislike a particular Sherlock Holmes. Look at this list:

Robert Downey Junior
Benedict Cumberbatch
Jonny Lee Miller
Ian McKellen
Will Ferrell

That's five big Sherlock Holmeses within a ten year span. All you had to do was live within a single decade of modern culture to experience all five. How these correspond to traits like openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism,  I am not about to state. (But I can think of a Sherlockian or two who might be good at such a thing.) But if there were enough Sherlockians in the world to make building such a model worthwhile, one could actually use those Sherlocks to study personality.

Oh, wait, I can see one solid statement I can make in looking at that list: Anyone who loves all five of those scores high in "agreeableness." Because those are five very different Sherlocks, and most folks who are willing to be honest are going to have one clunker in that batch. And ranking them on a scale of one through five, even if you have no clunkers, should not be that hard. They're very different, which gives you an interesting perspective on our friend Sherlock Holmes.

Working in corporate America, I've been blessed wtith HR department personality tests a few times. One of those, the "True Colors" sort of test, is always given with the stated goal of showing us how our co-workers have different personalities and that we might want to take that into account in dealing with them. (Seriously.  HR departments like to spell things out to folks as simply as possible, but you know how it is -- the one bad kid in the class always spoiled something for the rest of us.) The basic principle is one that is applicable to our hobby, though, as it has grown of late: All Sherlockians do not have the same personality, a point worth considering on occasion.

Whether it's preparing a talk or admitting someone into your exclusive club, there are a lot of variations of the species Sherlockian that it helps to bear in mind. ("Yay, verily, blogger, attend to thine own words!" Don't know why my conscience speaks like Thor this morning.) And having such a cultural abundance of Holmeses gives us one opportunity for charting those variations.

And we have spares, as well, like Ben Syder and Johnny Depp (Gnomes counts!) to tweak such a scale even further.  Even if no one ever develops a personality scale based on Sherlocks, the sheer ability to do so right now should tell us one thing:

This is truly a golden age for screen Sherlocks. We may not have something for absolutely everyone, but we sure are getting there!

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