I like personality analysis and book meta. I’ve also taken to hanging around on Tumblr and been following a particular personality sorting system.

Sorting Hat Chats is a system that developed out of Hogwarts houses from Harry Potter, but has become quite its own thing. There’s all kinds of popular things sorted if you want to go looking. I’m going to start sorting some of my favourite books, so I figured I better explain how it works first

The core of it is that there’s two tiers of sorting: Why you do things(how you decide) and how you act. They’ve been labelled the primary and the secondary. It might actually makes more sense to call them the Why and the How, but the system is already there and changing it would just lead to confusion.

Before I go on to the explanation and definitions, I’ve got one more note to add. Many people using the system have changed from using the house names to the simplified terms, Lion, Bird, Badger, and Snake. I’m going to use those because it distances the system from house stereotypes. Snakes really, really aren’t all evil. Also, I’m not actually talking about Harry Potter here, so these terms do nicely.

People who know the system much better than I do have written long blogs about the system, so I have a quick yeah nope it’s long and dirty explanation here and the other blogs linked below. If you want the best explanation without to much reading, skip down to one of those.

The Primaries (Why)

Lion Primary

These are the people who go with their gut on what’s right and wrong. They just know without a lot of conscious thought. They’re probably going to have a cause and moral issues that they can’t just let go of.

They’re idealists and their cause, their ideas, their morals, whatever it is that everything hinges in matters more than the people they love.

They don’t have to have a traditional good and evil axis for judging. This is about how the system works, not what they actually place as right and wrong. And without a cause, they can go off chasing fame or power. Lions to me are like knights.

Bird primary

Birds are also idealists, but they build their system. They know why they think what they think. It’s a logical system and they consciously conclude what is good and what matters. They like to discuss their beliefs.

Birds tend to change and edit their system as they get new information. If it makes sense, they change their mind, their system, their cause.

Snake primary

Now these are the loyalists, loyal to their people and themselves. They are helping the people in their circle as being the right thing to do. Other people, well they might choose to help them, but they don’t have to.

When their people are fine, snakes will adopt another system to use for figuring out what to do and how to act. They’ll often borrow it from one of their important people. Because if the person matters to them, they’ll likely be happy to trust their judgement.

Interesting, snakes can kick themselves out of their circle of important people so that they don’t care about their own well-being, just the people they love.

Badger Primary

The Badgers are community oriented. They’re loyal to their communities, be that their ethnic group, their religion, their organisation, their nation, or all of humanity.

They don’t rank people. People are part of the group, so if they need, you help them. If people are outside of the group, they don’t matter and they don’t really count as people. (You could absolutely have one badger who sees enemy soldiers as not mattering and another who sees everything as a person who needs care.)

Badgers can burn themselves out serving their community. They can become the enforcer of the communities standards. They can be the person who goes against the community for the good of the community.

The Secondaries (How)

This is how you solve problems and achieve goals and your secondary will be the most natural and comfortable way of doing things.

Lion Secondary

The battering ram approach. You don’t plan, you just go in, try something and keep trying it until it works.

Lions are honest and blunt and really aren’t good at being fake.

Snake Secondary

Snakes also improvise, but they read the situation and they change themselves to fit. They sneak in, come at problems sideways. They wear masks to manipulate or persuade people to help them or just to make people happy

If they’re happy and comfortable, snakes can take all their masks off and slip into their neutral state where they’ll be a bit blunt and in your face like lions. But changing faces and adapting is just who they are and they don’t always let down their shields easily.

Badger Secondary

These people work in communities, connecting people and doing whatever needs to be done. They make themselves useful and get the community on their side.

Now because there are actually more than four ways of doing things, these two sides to the badger.

The Bookkeeper Badger is slow and steady and gets the work done. They like to do things right and don’t cut corners.

The Courtier Badger is good socially. They’ll meet the emotional needs of a community or the people who need them. They’ll make people comfortable and find the commonalities that bring people together. They’re everyone’s friend.

When things go bad though, the badger has a whole lot of people on their side and they have stored to secrets people have told them and they know just how to destroy someone. They can be a bit scary.

Bird Secondary

Birds collect. They get tools and information and skills. If they don’t know something, they probably know someone who does or know how to find out. They’re prepared.

They can be actors, with a few personas ready made for different situation (the snakes just naturally have them on the spot). They practice and do research before doing things

Birds can also be rapid fire. They aren’t good at totally improvising, but they can pull together what they know really fast and apply it to a situation.

Nuances to the System

You’re probably thinking that this system is much too simple and that must people wouldn’t fit into it nearly and that’s true. But the system is based on observing motivation and actions, not on abstract psychology, so it’s got room for that.

People can have models. That’s where you have another secondary (or primary) that you’ve taken to using. It might be fun, or just plain useful. It could be how the people you expect you to act. Or it could because your other primary or secondary got burnt.

Burning for primaries is when you don’t trust that system to tell you right and wrong and more. Your gut instinct has led you wrong so many times that you don’t trust it. You’re told you aren’t allowed to think and question. You think having a big community isn’t safe. Prioritising a few people just seems bad. Burning is when you don’t know what to do anymore, so you’ll find a person to follow or adopt another system.

Burning your secondary is when you think that way of doing things is bad or doesn’t work. That you shouldn’t use it. It’s the way you find easiest though so someone with a burnt secondary is going to get tired.

There’s a couple of other things that can happen with primaries. They can explode. That’s basically when you over do it. Lion won’t listen to any other point of view, Bird can’t filter the information they take in and is paralyzed or irrational attached to one view, Badger has lost themself to serve the group, Snake had become blindly devoted to one person.

There’s also being simply immature and not having the use of your primary figured out entirely.


For more of an overview, see these posts on Tumblr: Wistera’s Great Big Sorting Hat Chats Explanation (Which I must list for citation reasons because I borrowed from it extensively) and The Sorting Hat Chats (this is from the original creators of the system and includes a lot of examples).

Also check out the Official Sorting Hat Chats Quiz. This is more of a guided tour that won’t pigeon hole you into the wedding place even if you would find that convenient.

I haven’t absolutely figured out where I fit in this system. Currently I think I’m a slightly burnt lion primary who has been told thinking everything out rationally (Bird) is the best way to do things. that’s also supplemented with a Badger primary model because I like to get along with people and think the same as my family. I’ve definitely got a Bird secondary (all the learning!) and a badger model for work because getting stuff done is useful.

Have you heard of the Sorting Hat Chats before?
Do you have a system you like sorting personalities with?
If you went through the quiz, what do you think your sorting is?
Let me know.