Knowing ourselves is a lifetime process. When there are thousands of quizzes available online, we can’t wait to go for the shortcut and find out who we are.
All the online tests are not so reliable as there is not much science to back them up. Specialists say that it is also impossible to fit people into a fixed box.
But now, with big data and new processes, researchers from Northwestern University have analysed results of more than 1.5 million people and state they’ve identified four distinct personality types average, reserved, role-model and self-centred.
Co-author Prof. William Revelle explains “People have tried to classify personality types since Hippocrates’ time, but previous scientific literature has found that to be nonsense,”.
“Now, these data show there are higher densities of certain personality types.”
The previous tests failed because the specialists tried to fit people into boxes when people are actually more complex to fit in a single box and hence the tests were not accurate.
For accurate personality tests, psychologists thought to look at character “traits” that are present in us becoming certain “types” of people.
Northwestern University researchers say that there are five main traits commonly accepted by psychologists around the world, known as ‘Ocean’.
- Neuroticism – emotional instability, mood swings, feeling depressed, lonely, angry or sad.
- Openness – natural curiosity, open to new experiences and learning new things.
- Conscientiousness – thoughtfulness, how dependable you are.
- Extraversion – how outgoing, assertive and sociable you are.
- Agreeableness – your concern for other people, how sympathetic and considerate you are.
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.
And what they found is in the video below.
“The data came back, and they kept coming up with the same four clusters of higher density and at higher densities than you’d expect by chance, and you can show by replication that this is statistically unlikely,” explains Prof. Revelle.
The four types of personality are the different combinations of the five main traits. The findings are published in the journal, Nature Human Behaviour.
Average personalities have high extraversion and high neuroticism but are low in openness. “I would expect that the typical person would be in this cluster,” notes study co-author Martin Gerlach.
“There is very little to say about average,” says Prof Amaral.
Reserved personalities are not open, or extroverted, and neither neurotic. However, they score higher on conscientiousness and agreeableness.
Role model cluster has low neuroticism, but all of the other personality traits extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness are high. The scientists stated that more women than men fall into this category.
“These are people who are dependable and open to new ideas. These are good people to be in charge of things. In fact, life is easier if you have more dealings with role models,” notes Prof. Amaral.
Finally, the Self-centred cluster has very high extraversion but fall below average in openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.
Prof. Revelle says that these are people you don’t want to hang out with. However, he also assures that with age, both women and men tend to move from self-centeredness toward other personality clusters.