Psychologists: There are four types of human personalities

New Research Challenges Myers-Briggs Personality Types With 4 New Personality Groupings

New Research Challenges Myers-Briggs Personality Types With 4 New Personality Groupings

People love a good personality test.

In short, specialists explain that it is hard to come up with inflexible personality types since we will all fall somewhere along a spectrum and tick more than one box. The new study of the traits of more than 1.5 million people suggests that some of these traits tend to cluster together, creating predictable personality types.

These traits are compared with the data of more than 1.5 million people they've researched on and see in which trait each of them fall into. The majority of people, though, landed into the average category, with high neuroticism and extraversion, low openness, and medium agreeableness and conscientiousness.

The researchers note that some people will display traits relevant to more than one personality type, and also that a personality is not permanent; it can shift and alter over time, depending on age, lifestyle circumstances and other extraneous factors.

The researchers, a lot of them engineers, borrowed methods developed to study particle physics to analyze the responses of 1.5 million people from four separate studies measuring the Big Five.

"The thing that is really, really cool is that a study with a dataset this large would not have been possible before the web", Amaral said. "To say that you are a this or a that, that's a mistake", says William Revelle, also at Northwestern and the lone psychologist on the study. Personality isn't fixed, but changes as we grow and evolve.

Personality tests are beloved by high school guidance counselors and self-help book authors - but less so by many scientists. These made no sense to experts in the personality field and represented statistical artifacts, study co-author Martin Gerlach said.

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One of the most widely used attempts to classify people by personality is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which divides respondents into 16 classifications based on their self-reported levels of extraversion, intuition, rationality and perception. "Previously, maybe researchers would recruit undergrads on campus, and maybe get a few hundred people".

The results of those questionnaires were then scored based on agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, neuroticism and openness - the five categories commonly accepted as basic personality traits - and analyzed algorithmically. "I believed there were no types at all", but the data "kept coming up with the same four higher densities than you'd expect by chance", Revelle says in a release. When there are thousands of quizzes available online, we can't wait to go for the shortcut and find out who we are. However, they score higher on conscientiousness and agreeableness. The likelihood that someone is a role model increases dramatically with age.

Revelle agrees. "Breaking it down into one of four types would not allow me to understand you very well", he says.

"Self-centered" people are described as very extroverted and aren't considered very agreeable, conscientious, or open.

Prof Amaral said: "When we look at large groups of people, it's clear there are trends, that some people may be changing some of these characteristics over time".

Self-centred people are high in extraversion - but low in traits including openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness.

Along with serving as a tool that can help mental health service providers assess for personality types with extreme traits, Amaral said the study's results could be helpful for hiring managers looking to insure a potential candidate is a good fit or for people who are dating and looking for an appropriate partner. Older people tend to be less neurotic and more conscientious and agreeable than those under 20, according to the research. "This could be a topic of future research".

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