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Which motivational archetype do you most identify with:

  • Philosopher — better understand the universe, live the life of the mind
  • Hedonist — go on adventures, have wild romances
  • Caregiver — have meaningful relationships, raise children
  • Creator — make beautiful things, make enduring things
  • Politician — lead and influence people, improve the world

I would call myself a Philosopher, then Creator/Politician, followed by Hedonist/Caregiver, but I aspire to exhibit all five.

I came up with these archetypes from conversations with Andy Brett who identifies as a Creator but is a sufficiently Philosophical one to have pointed me to The Nicomachean Ethics in which Aristotle identifies three types of people: Hedonists, Politicians, and Philosophers. Much later, while talking to Bee about what we wanted to do for the next few decades, I tried to reconstruct the archetypes from memory and ended up adding Caregivers and Creators.

It then occurred to me that my archetypes are a bit similar to the Hogwarts Houses in Harry Potter:

  • Ravenclaws are Philosopher Creators
  • Gryffindors are Hedonist Politicians
  • Hufflepuffs are Caregiver Creators
  • Slytherins are straight-up Politicians

I posed this on Facebook and to fellow worker bees, Cosmo Quiz style, and have compiled the results in a forum post along with a poll for you all:

Play our reindeer games!

What’s the point of all this? Well, Beeminder is all about setting goals and striving toward your ideal self. Mostly Beeminder tends to be used to keep your Hedonist side from crowding out other specific goals, though there are plenty of pro-Hedonist goals too. But my hope is that we can use these archetypes for more principled goal setting. Like by making sure you have at least one goal in each category or focusing on the archetypes you tend to neglect.


PS: Thanks to Ricardo Baeza-Yates for a warning about the dangers of categorical thinking.