Frank Oz Muppets and the Big Five Personality Traits
May 11, 2022 8:15 AM   Subscribe

An OCEAN of Muppets (that is, Openness to experience, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism): "In case you are searching for a unified account of Frank Oz Muppets in terms of the Big Five Personality Traits—and, to be clear, someone on the internet was earlier today—I’m providing it here for posterity. This version includes the 'Henson Area', which is optional but both clarifying for the strictly psychological aspects and a bridge to a fully social theory of Frank Oz Muppets." By Kieran Healy (previously).
posted by brainwane (31 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Whither Beaker?
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 8:50 AM on May 11

I'm fairly certain Fozzy is more neurotic than agreeable.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:01 AM on May 11 [3 favorites]

Five Big and then there's .... Gonzo!
posted by sammyo at 9:14 AM on May 11 [3 favorites]

This feels true to me on a personal level, at least. I score high in conscientiousness and extroversion, so if I'm reading this right, I think I'm living in the Henson Area.
posted by merriment at 9:31 AM on May 11

I'm reviewing the data and my preliminary conclusion is me Cookie Monster. Cookie.
posted by bleep at 9:51 AM on May 11 [2 favorites]

half these characters aren't even muppets, this is why sociologists shouldn't do psychology
posted by Gerald Bostock at 10:01 AM on May 11 [4 favorites]

(I'm kidding of course, this is great. "Henson Area" is perfect.)
posted by Gerald Bostock at 10:05 AM on May 11

I don't think I understand this chart, to be honest, but I still want to know where the Carroll Spinney muppets fall.

I assume Big Bird would fall in the triangle between Cookie Monster, Fozzie and Yoda, if I'm even a little right at understanding the measures.

But where does that leave Oscar? I don't associate the grouch with any of these five traits.
posted by the primroses were over at 10:07 AM on May 11 [1 favorite]

I’m apparently a Piggy Monster.
posted by sixswitch at 10:14 AM on May 11

But where does that leave Oscar?

The chart doesn't work because you can't show low scores in addition to or instead of high ones. Oscar is defined by low conscientiousness and low agreeableness, rather than any high scoring trait.

Grover is just as agreeable as he is neurotic.
I agree Fozzy is more neurotic than agreeable.
Miss Piggy - disagreeable.

Does this make me a killjoy? Apologies for being a killjoy.
posted by Glinn at 10:31 AM on May 11 [7 favorites]

in moar healy muppetry - academia explained (with muppets)
posted by lalochezia at 10:35 AM on May 11 [4 favorites]

If you don't see yourself on the chart, that's okay. You might be a Henson Muppet or a Goelz Muppet or a Brill Muppet or a Spinney Muppet or even (god help you) Elmo.

Personally, I find Dahlia Lithwick's Chaos Muppet vs. Order Muppets taxonomy more useful.

Then again, since 2020 sometimes I think we may all be Beaker, screaming into the mee.
posted by Mchelly at 11:11 AM on May 11 [10 favorites]

One of these things like the others is not.
posted by emdeesee at 11:33 AM on May 11 [9 favorites]

An ocean of muppets in bloom?

Animal strikes curious poses?
posted by corey flood at 11:41 AM on May 11 [11 favorites]

Personally, I find Dahlia Lithwick's Chaos Muppet vs. Order Muppets taxonomy more useful.

That was at least as insightful as an MBTI. I feel called out as a Faux Chaos Muppet.
posted by Foosnark at 11:48 AM on May 11

Animal strikes curious poses?

With Doctor Teeth, Floyd Pepper, Zoot, and Janice too.

How could you have Grover waiting? He can't serve the soup, it's too cold. Maybe I'm just to demanding. Maybe I'm just like Statler: too old. Maybe I'm just like that Waldorf; he's never satisfied. Why does the pig need a lover? This is what it sounds like when you give gloves eyes.
posted by fleacircus at 12:21 PM on May 11 [27 favorites]

Um, we all know that the OCEAN model is really a five-dimensional space and that depicting it as a two-dimensional pentagon is a massive oversimplification, right? Right?
posted by a car full of lions at 12:31 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]

I assume so... if you tried to rate me numerically against these categories the numbers would change on a dime depending on what was going on around me. We all contain multitudes of muppets.
posted by bleep at 1:16 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]

The best way to start a round of No -- You are! with a four year old is to tell them You're Bert! -- I'm Ernie!
posted by y2karl at 1:23 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]

I'd always assumed they'd borrowed some from M*A*S*H characters (Kermit = Hawkeye, Miss Piggy = Hotlips, American Bald Eagle, Fozzy, Gonzo, Radar)
posted by Dub at 2:04 PM on May 11

I was two. I was Ernie. My mom was Bert. I told the babysitter that Bert had gone to the hospital to have a baby, which was true, but the babysitter was expecting a different name.

Just for the record.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 2:51 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]

Does this make me a killjoy? Apologies for being a killjoy.

if you are I also am, saw the chart in question & immediately went "this is not how a Big Five graph works; the promise of a Muppet Big Five remains undelivered"

could make our own maybe?
posted by taquito sunrise at 2:53 PM on May 11 [5 favorites]

Came here to stan Order Muppets vs. Chaos Muppets, was not disappointed.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:59 PM on May 11

Yes, here is how to map a five-dimensional vector to something easily viewable in the plane, it's called a radar chart (sometimes spider web or star chart etc). You can even visualize a few at once with colors, overlay and/or transparency, but for something like this it would be best to plot each character as their own filled irregular pentagon, showing normalized scores for each trait axis. Then each complex character personality is a represented by a complex shape that is easy to understand, not a point (which doesn't allow many possible personalities to be expressed, as noted).

The author's previous blog post seems to be about a data vis tool? I hope he knows about this stuff, and frankly I'm wishing it were done more seriously because the idea is very compelling: there's a very good spread of personality traits in the Muppets, and since they are so well known and loved they can provide an accessible introduction to an interesting model/description of personalities.
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:13 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]

The thing about a star chart is that you can't fill it out and call yourself a square or a purple or whatever.
posted by rhizome at 9:20 PM on May 11

True, but if we had a sixth axis we could all be special snowflakes.
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:39 AM on May 12 [3 favorites]

This is cute but OCEAN just looks like a retread of Meyers-Briggs and seems subject to the same critiques. I had to get MBTI certified for work back when that was hot and OCEAN similarly seems “interesting, but not scientific”.
posted by freecellwizard at 8:54 AM on May 12

The OCEAN Big 5 is literally one of the best-validated inventories in personality psychology, no?
posted by en forme de poire at 11:36 AM on May 12

True, but if we had a sixth axis we could all be special snowflakes.
AFAIK some models do have a sixth axis! I think the one with the most support is “honesty/humility” which is basically the inverse of the dark triad traits (like narcissism and sociopathy).
posted by en forme de poire at 11:38 AM on May 12

SaltySalticid, that does sound like a cool technique for this. From Healy's post it seems like he just whipped up the graphic in response to a very silly query appearing in his referrer log, so I don't imagine he put much thought into it.

Healy has actually had a "practical introduction to data visualization" come out with Princeton University Press. A draft is available online (Andrew Gelman approves!). It doesn't mention radar charts as far as I can tell, but I would imagine he's aware of them.
posted by col_pogo at 12:30 PM on May 12

Found on FARK, thought it'd make someone smile
posted by Dub at 11:32 AM on May 17

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