Scientists determine four personality types based on new data.
Northwestern University researchers have sifted through data from more than 1.5 million questionnaire respondents and found at least four distinct clusters of personality types exist: average, reserved, self-centered and role model. The findings challenge existing paradigms in psychology.
The new study, led by Luís Amaral of the McCormick School of Engineering, will be published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour.
“People have tried to classify personality types since Hippocrates’ time, but previous scientific literature has found that to be nonsense,” says co-author William Revelle, professor of psychology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.
The findings potentially could be of interest to hiring managers and mental health care providers. “Personality types only existed in self-help literature and did not have a place in scientific journals,” says Amaral, the Erastus Otis Haven Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Northwestern Engineering. “Now, we think this will change because of this study.”
After developing new algorithms for interpreting the responses to the over 1 million questionnaires answered, four personality clusters emerged:
- Average: Average people are high in neuroticism and extraversion, while low in openness. “I would expect that the typical person would be in this cluster,” says Martin Gerlach, a postdoctoral fellow in Amaral’s lab and the paper’s first author. Females are more likely than males to fall into the Average type.
- Reserved: The Reserved type is emotionally stable, but not open or neurotic. They are not particularly extraverted but are somewhat agreeable and conscientious.
- Role Models: Role Models score low in neuroticism and high in all the other traits. The likelihood that someone is a role model increases dramatically with age. “These are people who are dependable and open to new ideas,” Amaral says. “These are good people to be in charge of things. In fact, life is easier if you have more dealings with role models.” More women than men are likely to be role models.
- Self-Centered: Self-Centered people score very high in extraversion and below average in openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness. “These are people you don’t want to hang out with.” There is a very dramatic decrease in the number of self-centered types as people age, both with women and men. Teenage boys are more likely to fall into this personality type.