Scientists Pinpoint 4 Personality Types

Researchers took advantage of the willingness of people to engage in online personality tests

The Self-Centred personality scores high in extraversion, but below average in openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness. Females are more likely than males to fall into this type. Each one is based on the extent to which people display five different major character traits, including neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness.

'Now, these data show there are higher densities of certain personality types'.

The new study appears in Nature Human Behaviour. The findings potentially could be of interest to hiring managers and mental healthcare providers.

The research team says their work should receive a better response from scientists, even though Revelle admits he was skeptical himself that the work would suggest proof of the existence of common personality types.

"It seemed like personality traits were very well-accepted and established in psychometrics, but personality types were not", says study co-author Luis Amaral, a professor of chemical and biological engineering at Northwestern University.

To answer this question, Amaral and postdoctoral fellow Martin Gerlach sifted through 1.5 million responses to four different personality surveys from quiz-takers of all ages from around the world. The questionnaires, developed by the research community over the decades, have between 44 and 300 questions.

Practically speaking, the new clusters suffer from the same problem, said Michael Ashton, a psychologist at Brock University in Ontario who studies personality but was not involved in the current research. "Previously, researchers would recruit undergrads on campus and maybe get a few hundred people. Now, we have all these online resources available, and now data is being shared".

While numerous traits are similar to the "average" category, reserved people are more likely to be introverts. Reserved individuals are fairly stable in all domains except for openness and neuroticism, in which they're relatively low.

Role Models score low in neuroticism and high in all the other traits.

"Consider two people who both belong to the "role model" type of this study", Ashton and Lee wrote in an email to Live Science.

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Traits include dependability, openness and thinking about situations logically. The researchers describe them as "good people to be in charge of things". "What we're saying is you can group more people in these four clusters than you'd expect by chance". More women than men are likely to be role models.

That makes it hard to say how many people fall into one category or another. "But whether those clusters, the four clusters they found, reflect some true underlying reality about people is something that requires other forms of evidence".

The group's first attempt to sort the data used traditional clustering algorithms, but that yielded inaccurate results, Amaral said.

But just as plenty of people in the USA don't live in New York City, Los Angeles or Chicago, some people won't fit neatly into one of the four personality types; Revelle says they're just trait groupings that describe an above-average number of people. "I believed there were no types at all".

Their algorithm first searched for many clusters using traditional clustering methods, but then winnowed them down by imposing additional constraints. This procedure revealed the four groups they reported.

Revelle agrees. "Breaking it down into one of four types would not allow me to understand you very well", he says. "The methodology is the main part of the paper's contribution to science".

To be sure the new clusters of types were accurate, the researchers used a notoriously self-centered group-teenaged boys-to validate their information.

Hippocrates theorised that personality traits are based on the four temperaments associated with four fluids of the body: choleric temperament (yellow bile from the liver), melancholic temperament (black bile from the kidneys), sanguine temperament (red blood from the heart), and phlegmatic temperament (white phlegm from the lungs).

Myers-Briggs and other methods of classifying people by personality type have always been shunned by the scientific community, but a new USA research paper may suggest a breakthrough in that area. Older people tend to be less neurotic and more conscientious and agreeable than those under 20, according to the research.

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