Hogwarts houses may be rooted in fiction, but they can be telling about real-life personalities. Take President Donald Trump, for example. He’s a Gryffindor.
The fictional Harry Potter school of Hogwarts splits its students into four houses, each known for a different trait. Ravenclaws are known for intelligence, Hufflepuffs for loyalty, Gryffindor for bravery, and Slytherin for cunning.
Trump clearly doesn’t fit the personality of either the more demure natures of Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff at all (and you can read more about those two houses here and here), leaving a choice between Gryffindor and Slytherin. In the books, Gryffindor—home of Harry Potter—is generally seen as “good,” while Slytherin—the home of most of the series’ antagonists—is boiled down to “evil.”
With this in mind, some might immediately decry Trump as a Slytherin—and even J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, said the Trump family wouldn’t even make it to Hogwarts—but boiling down both Trump and the Slytherin house to “evil” doesn’t accurately represent the character of either.
This doesn’t mean Trump is a hard-and-fast Gryffindor, either. Like Harry Potter himself, Trump shares many traits with both the Gryffindor and Slytherin houses.
Let’s Meet The Houses
Gryffindors are defined by their ambition, courage, daring, nerve, chivalry, short temper, arrogance, determination, and brashness. Members of the house are goal-oriented and often have lofty ambitions. They are willing to take risks for who or what they believe in, even if the consequences of those risks were only weighed for a brief second. In the books, the Gryffindor house hosts the three main characters: Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, and, of course, Harry Potter.
Slytherins, however, are defined by their ambition, cunning, resourcefulness, shrewdness, determination, and leadership. Like Gryffindors, they aim high, although they take a more thoughtful route. Members of the Slytherin house also often have no problem making sacrifices or taking what some might consider the dishonest route. Simply put, where a Gryffindor might knock down a door, Slytherins will figure out how to steal the key. Members of the Slytherin house include Draco Malfoy, Voldemort, and Severus Snape.
Many of houses’ traits overlap in some way (e.g., leadership and courage both involve taking risks). Others, like ambition and determination, are shared outright. In short, Gryffindor and Slytherin are really just two sides of the same coin. The main difference between the members of each house is their level of self-control. While Slytherins are sneaky and cunning in their ambition, Gryffindors tend to be brash, doing before thinking.
How Trump Fits In
Personality profiles on Trump have generally described him as ambitious and inquisitive, although perhaps a bit of a rebel. His desire to buck the status quo and take risks has been a key part of how he has represented himself. After all, it takes determination and guts to run in, let alone win, a presidential election without previously holding a position in politics.
Research presented at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research in 2016 showed Trump scored high in categories such as ambition, dominance, and outgoingness. Leaders with high scores in both ambition and outgoingness tend to be driven, although impulsive, according to the study.
In addition, Ryne Sherman, who holds a doctorate in personality/social psychology, cited boldness as Trump’s defining characteristic. Although that makes a good first impression, he said, it also means Trump may overestimate his capabilities and ignore criticism. Sherman also writes that Trump is “mischievous,” meaning that while he enjoys pushing limits, he may also take “ill-advised risks.”
Stories from Trump’s youth reveal just as much as a study. A Washington Post article details his childhood, painting the picture of a young aggressive Trump. Although the future president was occasionally described as a “bully” and frequently got into trouble, it was mostly doing for very “Gryffindor” things, like adventuring into the city or having a short temper. It seems to recall James Potter’s childhood bullying of Severus Snape, in fact.
Even as a president known for his off-the-cuff Twitter quips and a tendency to take personal offense at small things (cue hand joke), Trump isn’t afraid to take risks, however ill-advised they may be. So while Trump’s ambition and ability to push limits means he could fit in either Gryffindor or Slytherin, his rampant impulsiveness pushes him firmly into Gryffindor. Trump is many things, but he’s not sly or sneaky.
Welcome to Gryffindor, President Trump.