As psychologists, The Great British Bake Off has given us contestants with a diverse range of personality characteristics to sink our teeth into. Stressful, high-stake situations bring our most deeply-rooted personality characteristics to the fore; and what could be more stressful than a soggy-bottomed showstopper or a burnt biscuit?

With this in mind, we’ll be considering each finalist through the lenses of the Risk Type Compass and the Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI), and presenting a hypothetical view of each finalist’s profile.

Ruby Bhogal

Calm under pressure, Project Manager Ruby has frequently shrugged off failure and bounced back after a disappointing challenge. This has been apparent in the latter stages of the Bake Off, with Ruby winning Star Baker in both the Quarter- and Semi- Finals.

Resilient and optimistic, Ruby displays various hallmarks of the Composed Risk Type. The Composed Type is cool-headed and calm, but at the extreme they may seem unaware of risk and oblivious to its effects on others. They take everything in their stride, seem quite imperturbable and manage stress well. If they do come unstuck, they pick themselves up and get on with life, just like Ruby has done.

Quite self-assured, upbeat and free from unnecessary worry, Ruby would score highly on the HPI Adjustment scale. The potential downside of her confident approach, however, is that she might not pay much attention to constructive feedback and may lack a sense of urgency – finishing her pastry in the very last minute (causing us nail-biting moments!) or confidently dismissing the negative comments from the judges.

We hope Ruby takes on the judges’ feedback to improve her performance even more for the Final.

Rahul Mandal

Research Scientist Rahul quickly became the bookies’ favourite after being named Star Baker in the second and third weeks. However, in marked contrast to Ruby, proximity to the Final has coincided with a drop in performance.

Anxious and self-doubting, Rahul’s behaviours align with those of an Intense Risk Type. This Risk Type tends to be highly strung and self-critical. In extreme cases, personal relationships and decision-making can become infused with passion. Pessimistic by nature, their anxieties about the vulnerability of projects and relationships run the risk of becoming self-fulfilling prophecies. Rahul needs to pull out of his nose-dive in performance as we approach the Final.

His sensitive and stress-prone approach suggests a lower score on the HPI Adjustment scale for Rahul – he comes across as an introspective and self-aware individual, who is candid and honest about personal shortcomings and is receptive to feedback. On the downside, people with similar profiles tend to be their own worst enemy when feeling stressed, dwelling on negative feedback and past failures, over-interpreting comments and wearing their emotions on their sleeves.

Rahul needs to take a step back and stop over-analysing his performance ahead of the Final; relaxed-Rahul is winner material, but stressed-Rahul could be his own worst enemy.

Kim-Joy

Frustrated by the instruction-laden technical challenges, Mental Health Specialist Kim-Joy really soars when given the opportunity to display her creative artistic flair.

Passionate and individualistic, Kim-Joy displays some notable characteristics of the Excitable Risk Type. The Excitable Type is anxious, yet excitement-seeking. Their passion and readiness to challenge the status quo can make them exciting, but unpredictable. Attracted to spontaneity and novelty like moths to a flame, they may override their reservations yet become distraught when things go wrong.

Considering the HPI, Kim-Joy displays the combination of low Prudence and high Inquisitive scores: the “dreamer” who enjoys generating ideas but becomes easily bored with repetitive tasks and is intolerant of routine. While she shines in creative challenges, she’s been struggling with following detailed instructions and on occasion fails to consider how ideas that sound good in theory could work in practice.

For success in the Final, Kim-Joy needs to find the right balance between her impulsive creativity and the technical demands of the challenge: too much focus on either could spell disaster.

PCL will be presenting research into creativity at the upcoming Division of Occupational Psychology (DOP) 2019 Annual Conference in January – one key finding is the abundance of Excitable Risk Types in our artistic ‘creative’ sample, and Kim-Joy is no exception.

Conclusion

The path to the Final shows there is no template for a ‘successful’ personality. The bakers possess comparable talent, having each earned the Star Baker accolade twice, yet have all encountered obstacles generated by their own personalities.

Our personalities can dictate the challenges we face and our priorities for personal development. Using valid psychometrics to understand these deeply-rooted dispositions represents an important skill in the practitioner’s toolbox. It can help individuals in any situation and, whether it’s at work or in the Bake Off tent, they can manage their dispositions more effectively.

The bakers’ successes tonight will reflect their ability to control their own personalities, as well as their baking talents.

Whoever you’re rooting for, we wish Ruby, Rahul and Kim-Joy the best of luck in tonight’s Final – and keep your eyes peeled for evidence of their personality characteristics!

Written by Simon Toms & Bianka Varga

Want to know more about the Risk Type Compass or HPI tool?