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IBM's Watson analyzed all the 'Harry Potter' books and movies — and the results are fascinating

You may know Watson for its ability to dominate Jeopardy, but did you know it has impressive movie skills too?

IBM has hinted at Watson’s movie-watching capabilities, like in its commercial with film director Ridley Scott, but we’ve never seen it in practice. So we asked Watson to tell us what it thought of the “Harry Potter” original book series and movies — and the results are really interesting.

Watson jeopardyYouTube/IBMWatson’s Jeopardy debut.

By analyzing written text, Watson can identify different tones such as fear, joy, confidence, and openness.

It can also analyze written text to assess personality traits based on the Big Five test, one of the most common, preferred ways psychologists use to measure personality. The test measures where you fit in the spectrum of these five qualities: extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience.

These tone and personality assessment capabilities allowed Watson to analyze the “Harry Potter” characters. Watson was then able to rank the different traits of the “Harry Potter” characters and see how the characters differ in the books and movies.

Here’s what Watson found:

Vinith Misra, a research staff member for IBM Watson, fed the supercomputer text from the “Harry Potter” books and movies to see if it could catch any differences between the two.


Because books naturally have more text than movie scripts, Watson can pick up more from the original series than the movies. Still, there was enough material for Watson to gain an understanding of how the character portrayals in the two differed, Misra told Tech Insider.

Neville and Voldemort are similar in many ways.

Warner Brothers

“I think part of it is that Voldemort and Neville are very extreme characters,” Misra explained. They both ranked low on the “openness to experience” portion of the Big Five personality test.

Additionally, both scored fairly evenly on neuroticism. Neville ranked the highest out of all the characters for neuroticism in both the books and movies, which wasn’t particularly surprising.

But Voldemort also ranked high on neuroticism.

Warner Brothers

“Voldemort is very high on neuroticism — it makes sense this guy is basically coming out in secret and has this master plan he must execute and anyone can screw it up,” Misra said. “The guy has a lot of paranoia around him.”

I guess you can see it as two very different kinds of neuroticism…

Harry exhibits a similar amount of anger as Voldemort.

YouTube/Warner Bros. Pictures

“No one will be surprised to see Voldemort at the top of list, but Harry is also very high on the anger list in the books,” Misra said.

“That’s interesting because, in some ways, he’s a pollyannic character — he’s perfect in lots of ways, but he does have some personality flaws and that would be he is prone to anger,” he continued.

Harry is ranked right behind Voldemort in anger on Watson’s character ranking. That assessment is actually really telling, considering Harry constantly struggles with his shared character traits with Voldemort.

Ron serves as comic relief in the movies more so than in the books.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets screencap

Watson picked up that Ron is the lighter character of the trio that is him, Harry, and Hermoine. But it also saw that “he loses some anxiety and becomes a little less friendly as the books go on and things become darker,” Misra said.

That progression is something seen in the movies, but not as starkly, Misra added.

Hermione “outshines Voldemort in assertiveness.”

Warner Bros.

Hermione ranks high on anger and assertiveness, but true to her character she got the highest score for Watson’s morality assessment. Even a robot can tell Hermione is strong in her convictions of what is right and wrong.

“That’s a quantitative example of Hermione being a strong female character,” Misra said.

Ginny as a character loses her intellect and gregariousness in the movies.

YouTube/Warner Bros Pictures

This is actually an interesting finding, considering many fans (including myself) have taken issue with how Ginny is portrayed in the movies.

When Watson made rankings for “intellect” and “gregariousness,” Ginny ranked much lower in the movies than in the books.

“In the book, she doesn’t wait around for Harry — she’s very can-do, but they simplified and boiled down her character [in the movies],” Misra said.

The book version of Snape is very angry, while the movie version of his character comes off more cold and distant.

Warner Bros.

Watson found that Snape’s excitement-seeking and anger “reduced noticeably” from the books to the movies.

“Snape in the books is an unhinged jerk and is shouting and prone to anger,” Misra said. “In the movies he is more cold and distant, the jerkiness about him is more in attitude and performance.”

Professor McGonagall ranks the highest of all the characters for intellect.

Warner Bros. Pictures

That ranking definitely seems spot-on, but Watson actually didn’t put Hermione in the top four for that character list. Instead, Snape and Ron secured spots two and three on that ranking, which seems off.

Watson found McGonagall’s character remained one of the most intact during the book to movie transition.

Hagrid ranked the highest when it came to liberalism and openness, but Watson picked up on his inner depression too.


Poor Hagrid. A fun-loving character who deeply cares about those closest to him. But even Watson could pick up on some of his torment probably left over from his expulsion from Hogwarts.

But Hagrid doesn’t actually rank the highest for depression — that would be his dear friend, Harry.

As for Dumbledore, he ranked the highest when it came to cooperation, sympathy, and cautiousness.

Warner Brothers

Misra said he was curious to see if Watson thought Dumbledore changed in the movies, since many would argue he comes off less zen than in the books. But that’s not the case.

“This isn’t reflected in the data,” Misra said. “The reason: Most of those changes aren’t in his language — it’s in the actors’ choices.”

This article was originally published by Tech Insider. See the original here.

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