By Sigurd Arild, Eva Gregersen, and Ryan Smith
This series of articles analyzes the characters from ‘Star Wars’ (original trilogy only) on the basis of the Big Five system of personality which is the most widely used personality test in social science and which has sometimes been referred to as “the only truly scientific personality test.” Compared to Jungian typology, the Big Five is more empirical and ‘external,’ positing a straightforward relationship between personality and observed behavior, which makes it easier to achieve consensus.
“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.” While individuals who are high in Openness are prone to hold unusual or bizarre beliefs, low-Openness individuals are more likely to have a keen eye for reality and both of their feet more on the ground. Whereas Luke Skywalker was a romantic dreamer, and Leia a political revolutionary, Han Solo was a man of no illusions who preferred to place his trust in real-world tangibles such as cold cash, a good blaster, and a few “special modifications” that he had made to the Millennium Falcon himself. Furthermore, while open individuals may often lose touch with real-world practicality on account of getting lost in “big ideas,” Solo did not place much stock in Ben Kenobi’s ancient teachings (“It’s all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.”), and nor was he keen to let himself get dragged into the political conflict between Republic and Empire, preferring to focus on more clear-cut considerations instead (“I expect to be well paid. I’m in it for the money.”).
“Yeah, but this time I got the money.” Whereas high-Conscientiousness individuals are likely to follow the tried-and-true way to the top (doing one’s homework in school, working hard and obeying authority, etc.), individuals who are lower in Conscientiousness are more likely to procrastinate, to go their own way, and to rely on thinking outside the box when it comes to achieving results in life. From smuggling himself in the Millenium Falcon‘s hidden compartments in Hope, to hiding said Falcon in an asteroid field (and slipping away in the garbage stream of an imperial Star Destroyer) in Empire, Solo repeatedly demonstrated an aptitude for solving problems through improvisation rather than through by-the-book thinking. Additionally, where high-Conscientiousness individuals are less likely to get in trouble with the law (since they tend to obey authority and aim to be responsible citizens), people who are lower in Conscientiousness are statistically more likely to view rules and regulations as guidelines rather than as absolute laws. In Solo’s case, he makes a living smuggling contraband, fraternizes with criminals (such as Jabba the Hutt), and openly admits to having had to “outrun imperial starships” – and not just the local “bulk cruisers” either.
“I’ve flown from one side of this galaxy to the other.” While extroverted individuals are outgoing, adventuresome, and socially assertive, introverts tend to be more reserved and solitary and to have less of a need for adventure. Not only has Solo flown “from one side of the galaxy to the other,” he also has many acquaintances and “old buddies” (such as Greedo and Lando Calrissian) scattered throughout its various systems. Furthermore, while introverted individuals are likely to be homebodies, extroverts are more prone to seek out opportunities for excitement and thrills (such as volunteering to lead dangerous missions, or making romantic passes at attractive people in their vicinity, even when they stand a chance of rejection), indicating that Solo is again an extrovert on these parameters. Finally, while introverted individuals tend to be less socially self-confident, Solo was clearly assertive in social situations, haggling with Jabba at gunpoint (“Fifteen, Jabba. Don’t push it.”), and hastening to neg and ascribe nicknames to anyone who came within reach (Luke is a “kid,” Leia is a “sweetheart,” and Obi-Wan is a “fossil”). This was done as an act of social one-upmanship, and as Princess Leia also admits, Solo’s high levels of Extroversion and social assertiveness make him a natural leader of men.
Luke: “I knew you’d come back! I just knew it!” / Han: “Well, I wasn’t going to let you get all the credit and take all the reward.” Whereas Agreeable individuals tend to be kind, cooperative, and concerned with the welfare of others, disagreeable individuals are often more cynical and more exclusively focused on their own affairs. On the face of things, Han appears as a low-Agreeableness individual who is selfishly unwilling to help the Rebellion and who doesn’t mind being the one to shoot first in a confrontation over unpaid debts. Upon closer inspection, however, Han comes back to help the Rebellion in Hope, ventures out to rescue Luke from the Wampa in Empire, and volunteers to lead the strike team in Jedi. The harsh life of a smuggler and rogue has taught him not to trust others, but as his actions make clear, he is possessed of a deeper-lying altruism that goes against the rough facade. In this way, much of Solo’s personality can be seen as a conflict between his low Conscientiousness (which prompts him to resist commitment and to put his own needs ahead of those of others) and his average Agreeableness, which provides him with a compassionate and generous (if also well-hidden) heart of gold.
Below Average Neuroticism
“Don’t get jittery, Luke.” While neurotic individuals often have a hard time absorbing setbacks and tend to be prone to excessive worry and guilt, individuals who are lower in Neuroticism tend to remain composed and unflappable in the face of frustration. Neurotic individuals also tend to be interpersonally insecure and vulnerable to feeling overlooked or rejected, whereas non-Neurotic individuals tend to be less concerned with how others perceive them. With Solo, we have already mentioned how he managed to keep his cool and haggle with Jabba at gunpoint, and throughout the trilogy we see many examples of him taking setbacks in stride (such as Leia’s rejections, or the Falcon’s failures to go to lightspeed). On the other hand, a closer look reveals that Han does have some interpersonal vulnerabilities, such as a reluctance to be the first to express his feelings to Leia (“Come on! You want me to stay because of the way you feel about me!”) or his concern that he is being left out in Jedi (“Did you tell Luke? Is that who you could tell?”). However, while Solo does have a mildly neurotic disposition, he has in the main learned to cover it up and to hide his vulnerabilities behind his unflappable alpha persona.
The idea of intermixing Star Wars and the Big Five was first conceived by the website Outofservice.com, to which this series of articles pays homage.