Why do nerds believe in fiction so much?

Nerds: outsiders and icons

What motivates geeks to devote a lot of time and energy to their passions? A series of studies with more than 2,300 test subjects, some more and some less geeky, was devoted to this question. The team around psychologist Jessica McCain tested various hypotheses: Do geeks take refuge in a fantasy world because they cannot cope in the real world? Does the geectum have a therapeutic function? Or is it about belonging to a group of like-minded people?

First, the researchers examined what differentiated the geeks from the non-geeks. The more the respondents devoted themselves to geectypical interests, the more extroverted and open they were, the more they tended to fantasize about size and hoped to achieve a lot in art or science. "Geek culture is particularly attractive to narcissists," write McCain and her colleagues.

Geeks are also more prone to depression, and the more committed they are to their passions, the better they feel. Nevertheless, there could be no question of an »escape into the fantasy world«: Geeks also have a life outside of their geek culture; For example, they were more often involved in neighborhood groups. The cliché of the eccentric loner does not apply either. Geeks were more likely to have peculiar views, such as a belief in telepathy. However, the authors interpret this as a sign of imagination and creative thinking. Her image of geeks: "different, but not dysfunctional".

8. There are specialists and generalists among geeks

Jessica McCain's team attended so-called conventions such as "Comic Con", a meeting of thousands of like-minded people. The goal: to develop an inventory of their passions and to categorize them. In fact, the researchers found special interests that often appeared together, for example the enthusiasm for heroic costumes, history games and weapons, for Japanese cartoons and comics (anime and manga) and for the genres of science fiction and fantasy as well as for British series.

According to McCain's studies, "generalists" who have many interests differ in many ways from "specialists" who have only one passion. The generalists described themselves as more extroverted, sociable and depressed, which means that they have a personality that is typical of the geyser than people with just one passion. The latter also felt less like geeks.

9. A bookworm is not a nerd

The beautiful English word "bookish" is translated as "learned" or "remote from life" and thus does not fit badly into the image of nerds. But bookworm and nerd can be completely different. Both are regarded as couch potatoes, and those who read a lot of non-fiction books also tend to have below-average social skills, as Canadian psychologists have found. But this does not apply to novel readers - on the contrary. Delving into the lives of fictional characters even promotes social skills. A weakness for fantasy novels, for example, suggests a combination of bookworm and geek.

10. It's cool to be a little nerdy these days

According to nerd researcher Lori Kendall, the first nerdy characters appeared on television in the 1970s, including in the sitcom "Happy Days". In the 1980s, computer and technology enthusiasts in particular were considered nerds. This has not changed to this day, but since the late 1990s the image has been changing from a once clumsy outsider to a techbrain with a successful start-up, writes Kendall. Nerds are among the male role models, even if the classic male stereotype may still lack the necessary athleticism.

The hipsters, who give themselves a touch of (well-groomed) nerdiness with thick glasses, don't seem to mind. Some people have always been the same as these labels, and at some point most of the others will also reach the necessary level of maturity. With this, "Big Bang Theory" sweetheart Penny was a long way ahead of her time: when, contrary to the laws of social physics, she decided in favor of Leonard.