Comic-ConPanel_July2014Two faculty members from Marshall University’s psychology department, along with two doctoral students, presented a session at the  45th Comic-Con International Convention in San Diego. Comic-Con is an educational corporation that creates awareness of, and appreciation for, comics and related popular art forms.

Dr. April Fugett and Dr. Keith Beard, as well as doctoral students Elijah Wise and Britani Black, presented “From Spider-Man to Darth Vader – How Your Personality Influences Our Favorite Characters.”  The session was attended by nearly 200 people.

The researchers surveyed more than 400 people from across the country on the characters that they liked and with which they identified. Participants took a personality test as well. From there, the researchers looked to see if there was any relationship between personality characteristics found from the test and the characters that participants liked and identified with.

The study results showed that people who like pop culture characters are often imaginative, like variety and have numerous interests. They also tend to be energetic, talkative, optimistic and friendly.

“There were also differences between the characters selected based on gender, income and age,” Fugett said. “Younger individuals tended to like characters from more recent movies such as characters from Batman, The Avengers and X-Men, and Hunger Games, while those older individuals tended to like more classic characters like those in Star Wars and Star Trek.”

For the students, the presentation was an exciting opportunity.

“I hadn’t presented at many conferences or conventions, and this was huge,” Black said. “It was Comic-Con! For someone who loves pop culture and does research in that area, there isn’t really anything bigger than that.”

“Never in my life did I expect that I could discuss the character profile of Batman through a psychological lens, in an academic way, and as part of an international conference,” Wise added.

“Not only is it a great thing when you can talk about the research you have been working on,” Beard said, “but to involve students in it and for the outcome to be as exciting as presenting at Comic-Con, is something that I am very glad I could help facilitate and allow these students to experience.”