Forget Myers-Briggs and stop reading your horoscopes, because according to new research, there are just four personality types.
A new study, carried out globally on 1.5 million people, revealed human beings fall into four personality types:
- Role Models
At the start of the study, co-author William Revelle, professor of psychology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, was initially sceptical.
“At first, they came to me with 16 personality types, and there’s enough literature that I’m aware of that says that’s ridiculous,” Revelle said. “I believed there were no types at all.”
However, after much refining, it was obvious that the data shifted into four distinct groups.
The study was carried out at Northwestern University in Illinois. Using online questionnaires, participants were tested in The Big Five Personality Traits.
The Big Five Personality Traits
Agreeableness: In general, traits include warmth, friendly, kindness, and sympathetic. These people like to go with the flow, they won’t rock the boat. Another key point is that they are cooperative and compassionate. They are tactful and like get along with others.
Conscientiousness: As you would expect, conscientious types are reliable and trustworthy, they follow the rules and tend to be hard-working. Responsible and goal-orientated, they prefer order rather than chaos.
Extraversion: The first thing to realise with this type is that they are outgoing and enthusiastic. With this in mind, most of the people in this group tend to be sociable and enjoy the company of other people. On a positive side, they are energetic and talkative. On a negative side, they can be quite dominant.
Openness: Open to new experiences and challenges. Naturally curious and inquisitive, these types tend to be creative and imaginative people themselves.
Neuroticism: This is your tendency to experience negative emotions. These kinds of people are likely to suffer from mood swings, depression, and anxiety. They can be sensitive and find it hard to cope with stress.
Participants identified how strongly they agreed with the above five personality traits. The results showed that the majority of people fell into four personality types:
Four Personality Types
The majority of people fall into the ‘average’ group. This means that most people scored averagely in extraversion and neuroticism but low in openness. This means they are not that bothered about going out and being the life and soul of the party.
Equally, they don’t tend to suffer from sad moods. They are also pretty closed off to new experiences. In other words, average people like a routine and don’t want change. The results showed that females tend to fall into this group.
People in the reserved group tended to score highly in agreeableness and conscientiousness. This indicates that they are relatively stable emotionally. However, they are not particularly open or neurotic.
These are the quiet, unobtrusive types of people. They don’t like rocking the boat and you won’t find them dancing on the tables in a bar. However, if you ever need someone dependable and happy to help, the reserved type is your man/woman.
3. Role Models
As you might expect, role models score highly in all the positive factors and low on the negative ones. Roles model achieved high scores on agreeableness, conscientiousness, openness and extraversion.
Furthermore, other people tend to look up to them. This could also have something to do with their low scores in neuroticism. There are more women than men in this category. Moreover, the chance of becoming a role model increases as you get older.
“These are good people to be in charge of things. In fact, life is easier if you have more dealings with role models.” Study co-author, Professor Luís Amaral
Role models are outgoing, friendly, emotionally stable and hard-working.
Those who fell into this group scored highly in extraversion. However, perhaps, unsurprisingly, people in this group had low scores in agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness. The good thing is, people tend to get less self-centred as they get older.
Professor Amaral said that teenage boys were most likely to fall into this group.
“We know teen boys behave in self-centred ways. If the data were correct and sifted for demographics, they would they turn out to be the biggest cluster of people.”
The Benefits of The Four Personality Type Study
But aren’t we all a little fed up by now with categorising our personalities? More to the point, what’s the point?
Actually, Professor Amaral thinks that this study moves us on from self-help and personal knowledge. He believes that this study has real benefits within the scientific community. This is because there is evidence to suggest that all of the four personality types can change.
“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. This could be a subject of future research.” Professor Amaral
This is pretty exciting. Previously, research suggested that personality was fixed and immutable. Thanks to this study, we now know that change is possible. This has far-reaching consequences, not just for mental health, but also the criminal justice system for example.
The results of this study could be helpful across a range of different issues. From human resources to online dating, to employment and even positions of real power. The study also showed a robust trend for change as people mature. It appears that as we get older, we become more conscientious and agreeable and less neurotic.
Just think of the ways we can use this knowledge when it comes to employment. Jobs such as mentoring, foster care or teaching would benefit from this research. In fact, any type of employment really where authority figures need to be well-balanced individuals.
On a personal level, it’s quite nice to think that we might start off as self-centred but end up as a role model. As for the four personality types, which one do you think you are?