This is Part 2 of my analysis (Part 1) of a small favourite characters survey I did to see if I could find correlations between the characters and them.
Age of Favourite Characters
- 29% of characters identified did not have participants who knew their age! Answers were NOT corrected, even when an age was known, because it was not how the participants identified with their favourite characters. This was the largest age “correlation” by far! It became bigger when characters whose age was over 100 as these were most not “old human” types. Yoda would have been, acting like a bit of an old sage, but some others were not. They were just in their youth (or robots) where they functioned as adult or youthful human beings. That would make about 40% for characters whose age did not seem to relate to age of respondents.
- 58% of characters identified did have an age more common to human characters, Variance was analyzed as age in a category to get some trends. The vast majority of these characters were 11-40 year olds, optimal functional human age I could call it before middle age sets in and one starts noticeably losing a lot of capacity.
- Here is what was interesting about people who liked characters with functional human age.
- Those 11-20 tended to have favourite characters their age, but only at 50%. Most of the rest didn’t care about age of their favourite characters. Surprising? Not to me.
- Those 21-30 were mostly split between favourite characters their age (just under 1/3), and favourite characters 11-20 (just over 1/3)! Most of the favourite characters 11-20 were also under 18. Let’s just hope they’re innocent series and fondness, is all I’m saying! The teenage years were definitely an impressionable period in our lives and this is probably just one result of nostalgia among young adults of those more carefree days when they first had independence without all the problems of adulthood like jobs, student loans, possibly children, etc. At least I hope so!
- 31-40 year olds had favourite characters all over the age group spectrum, from 11-20 to much older. 41-50 year olds were almost the same, but without any 11-20 year old favourite characters. Perhaps the teenage years of their own children had turned them off teenagers for favourite characters by then. 🙂
- The 31-50 year olds also had the largest share who had favourite characters of 100+ years or unknown age, with about 50% of each respondent age group liking such characters. The younger age group, age mattered more, though they were still showing about 1/3 not caring for age. Age really does not matter much when it comes to favourite characters is what I would take away from this, even though it does matter for the majority. It’s just so scattered among the latter that it can’t compare with the former.
- As for those to whom age of favourite character did matter (58% respondents), respondents liked characters as much as 22 years younger than them, and 34 years older than them. Age groups did show trends, but no trends existed across age groups, like younger age groups having some preference to older ones.
- The 11-20 year age group mostly liked characters 1 year younger to 4 years older (78%). The 11-20 year age group had favourite characters that tended to be a bit older than them. Desire to be older?
- The 21-30 year age group had 58% like characters younger than them. Most of this subgroup liked characters 1-4 years younger. The rest liked characters 8-13 years younger. The other 42% liked characters older than them, mostly 2-6 years older (66%). The 21-30 age group had favourite characters that tended to be slightly younger than them. Innocence of youth showing through?
- The 31-40 year age group tended to have favourite characters slightly younger than they. Nostalgia of younger times, but not that much younger? 66% fell into this category, from same age to 10 years younger. No favourite characters in teenage years. Add another 17% for characters just 2 years older than them.
- The 41-50 year age group generally did not have favourite characters in their own age group (89%)! Doesn’t seem to be a happy decade if one’s favourite characters are pretty much anything but one’s own age, roughly. The younger ones were 11-22 years younger (oi! for the really younger ones!). The older ones were mostly 20 years or more older, but only a couple of people chose such characters.
- The 51-60 year age group were like the 41-50 age group to like favourite characters not in their age group (80%). The difference on the younger end was much less, though, ranging from 8-13 years. Nostalgia here seems to be for early middle age. Only one person liked an older character, older by 20 years and probably wishes he could be like his characters when that much older. 🙂
- Mixing in gender with age groups, as well as gender of favourite characters, showed men and women equally shared favourite characters their age exactly or younger. Further, most men and women had favourite characters younger than them had characters of their own gender. This held on the extreme end involving teenage characters. That is, women who had teenage favourite characters liked teenage girls, and men teenage boys. It seems to be nostalgia, having favourite characters who are younger than you rather than fantasy. Don’t you love the power of data mining?
- As for favourite characters who were old and gender, women definitely had favourite characters who were male (75%) than female. Men were even more skewed (88%), but considering 90% of them had favourite characters who were male, this was expected. If ladies had favourite characters who seemed they could fall in love with rather than be like (seemed to be preference for men), then you draw your own conclusions.
Probably the funnest question I asked in the survey was whether the respondent thought of their favourite character as being mostly good, mostly evil, generally both or rather neutral/indifferent. It might have been even funner to ask the person whether s/he considered him/herself to be one of those, but I think I have an idea how that would turn out. Here’s what I got for responses and some correlations that I think you might find rather interesting!
- First the number of Good characters was by far the majority at 62% or about 5 out of every 8 person had a favourite character s/he deemed to be mostly good. Perhaps not surprising, but evil favourite characters might be at just 7%. More complex characters that had about the same amount of good and evil came in at 18%, while the indifferent ones came in at 13%. Is that share of those who liked purely good characters as favourites higher than lower than you might have thought? What about how this split compared with cosplays people wear to cons? If I did this at a con, I could even correlate, with some “randomness”, to moral bent of the character they were cosplaying that day. I know many switch day to day, but hey, they still like something about the character they’d be cosplaying that day! I’d at least be able to get a “con picture” for cosplays’ moral bents!
- A bigger share of males liked good characters compared to females, 70% to 58%. I wouldn’t say that’s a significant difference for this same size. Males also liked evil characters a bit more than females, though again not significantly (8% to 6%). However, more females liked the more complex both good and evil characters (20% to 12%). The stereotype in our society is that women have more complex personalities, and are more concerned about people’s personalities than men. This would be worth exploring to see if it were true. Hard to say if “neutral” moral bent is more complex than just good or evil. It’d depend on the situation. But women also had a bigger share there with 16% of women favouring such characters, compared to just 10% of men. Those who self-identify as “other” had a split between both good and evil, and good, as moral bents of their favourite characters. There were too few to conclude anything, but I suspect if you didn’t consider yourself to be clearly male or female, personalities are hardly a trivial thing in your life so the half split to “both” is not surprising to me. It was speculated before (on gender preference of favourite characters) that women tended to like characters they could fall in love with, whereas men liked characters they could be like. If that were true, then what do these results on favourite character moral bent say about these tendencies? Men wanting to be mostly good or evil, rather than complicated, surprising to you?
- You may be interested to know that 75% of the favourite characters identified as both good and evil were male characters, mostly picked by women. I’d love to be able to prove this more definitively, if it were true, with a bigger sample. But based on what I saw here, are women falling in love with more complex characters, criminals and defendants in court surprising to you? There was no age trend among these characters who were both good and evil other than half had age listed as unknown, meaning either truly unknown or not important enough to care to the respondent. The rest was between 21-40, evenly split by the decades. You draw your own conclusions. 🙂
- Now, there is an actual theory that as we get older and live more of life to realize it is not so black and white, we like more complex characters that are more realistic, whether that’s partly good and evil, or evil, cause nobody can be as good as the iconic good guys existing. Chuck Klosterman explains his theory in this beautiful CBC podcast of their show Q. He is the author of I Wear the Black Hat and writes on similar topics with respect to humans for the New York Times. When I do the 10 year age group among correspondents, to moral bent of their favourite characters, I don’t see that trend of increasing age and preference for evil or complex characters in my very small sample. Every 10 year age group had between 15-20% preference for characters who were both good and evil, except the oldest 51-60 year group, but there were barely a handful of them. Further, they only came in at 28% for the “both” group, with 57% on the good side. Evil characters were few and far in between, but the 21-30 age group showed the most affinity towards them, at 10% of the group. That’s hardly “old” in life to favour the personality complexity hinted at by Chuck. I’d love to have a much bigger sample to see if any of this held.
- You can analyze the numbers below to see where you stood compared to others with respect to age and moral bent of your favourite character. I didn’t see anything spectacular to report more on.
AGE Both Evil Good Neutral TOTAL 11-20 14.3% 7.1% 64.3% 14.3% 100.0% 21-30 19.4% 9.7% 64.5% 6.5% 100.0% 31-40 16.7% 4.2% 58.3% 20.8% 100.0% 41-50 17.6% 5.9% 64.7% 11.8% 100.0% 51-60 28.6% 0.0% 57.1% 14.3% 100.0%
- There was also no age correlation of favourite characters and their age. That is, young favourite characters did not seem any more good or evil compared to their older counterparts. This isn’t surprising given we saw no age correlations between people’s age and the age of their favourite characters, so that if the people’s tendencies for moral bent of their favourite characters did change with age, it’d show up here.
- There were no real correlation of moral bent of favourite characters and their genre. That is, sci-fi fans were not more likely to like good guys more than anime fans, for example. The distribution, for as small a sample as this (<100) for as many categories as we’re talking about here (40), was almost striking! Does this surprise you and why or why not?
So those are most of the results I got from analyzing the data. There are definitely many questions I would love to be able to get more definitive answers for with a much larger sample. I hope I will get to do this one day.
Taking things further, what I’d love to ultimately be able to do is get people to do Myers-Briggs type personality tests and match that to their favourite character’s to see how much they have in common. That’d be a bit more involved and academic, but I know there’d be some people out there up for it. The real benefit of such an experiment, though, would hardly be for me. The person would discover a lot about themselves from detailed profiles for love, work, relationships, etc. It’d be value in life, work and love for them. What they make of correlation to their favourite characters would likely end up being a small bonus compared to the real gains of results for them.