Senior Political Analyst
Data Journalist

This provides the methodology for the YouGov project, "Who is America's Cutest Character?"

Building A List of Characters

YouGov started by asking panelists:

Who would you say are the cutest characters across all media (movies, television, video games, etc.)? By cute, we mean behaviors or traits that are cuddly, affectionate, playful, and so on.

YouGov received suggestions from 448 panelists and used these to create a list of characters to present in head-to-head match-ups. YouGov rounded out this list by adding characters that were not mentioned, but closely related to the mentioned characters. Only fictional characters were included, and we removed characters that were human. If a collective was mentioned (e.g., 101 Dalmatians, Ewoks), we chose a few representative characters for the list. YouGov ended up with a list of 114 characters.

Coding Year of First Appearance

YouGov recorded the year of a character’s first appearance. For some characters, this was easy: When were the characters first introduced in a widely released movie, show, or video game? But for others, this was more difficult. Many Disney characters, in particular, are based on older works. For these, YouGov treated the “first appearance” as when the character first made a named appearance in a cartoon, series, or movie. For example, The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling was published in 1894. But the Disney movie was first released in 1967. YouGov used 1967 as the “first appearance.” Similarly, while Groot appeared in comic books earlier, YouGov chose Groot’s “first appearance” as his first appearance in the popular Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Ranking the Characters

YouGov ran another survey consisting of 2,485 panelists. Every person was randomly assigned to see 20 different characters, which appeared in ten head-to-head matchups. For each, respondents were asked to indicate the “cuter” character of the two. In the instructions, we told respondents:

When we say "cute", we mean behaviors or traits that are cuddly, affectionate, playful, and so on. Each page will have the name of the character, what property they are from, and a picture of what they look like. You do not need to make your decision based solely on the picture—those are merely there to jog your memory if you can't quite remember who the character is. You can take into consideration their personality, voice, actions, movements, etc., that you know about the character from the movie, show, game, book, or comic that they come from.

YouGov scored characters by looking at their “win percentage”: how often were they selected as cuter in a head-to-head matchup? YouGov also looked at different ways to score these ratings, but they gave virtually the same results as the win percentage, so the simpler metric is employed for the article.

Images

All images were sourced from publicly available materials. YouGov makes no claim to their ownership. Our survey aims to discern the level of cuteness of these images through a transformative process. Intellectual property owners have been notified in good faith about their fair use and have granted permission in most cases.

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