Scientists Determine Four Personality Types Based on New Data


Source: Northwestern University

Summary: 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.


People have tried to classify personality types since Hippocrates’ time, but previous scientific literature has found that to be nonsense. 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 potentially could be of interest to hiring managers and mental health care providers. Now, these data show there are higher densities of certain personality types. The concept of personality types remains controversial in psychology, with hard scientific proof difficult to find. Previous attempts based on small research groups created results that often were not replicable. The study findings were published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour.

Character traits

The four newly determined personality types are based on five widely-recognized character traits. Credit: Northwestern University

After developing new algorithms, four clusters emerged:

Average – Average people are high in neuroticism and extraversion, while low in openness.

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.

Self-Centered – Self-Centered people score very high in extraversion and below average in openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness.

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.

Prof. William Revelle said, “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.”


More Information: Martin Gerlach, “A robust data-driven approach identifies four personality types across four large data sets”, Nature Human Behaviour (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41562-018-0419-z 


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