Are some people just ‘jerks’? New study identifies four major personality types

Image credit: Jrcasas/iStock

Personality type tests are hugely popular, though if you ask working psychologists, they’ll tell you the results are little better than astrological signs.

[However] in a report published [September 17] in the journal Nature Human Behavior, researchers at Northwestern University in Illinois identify four personality types: reserved, role models, average and self-centered. The new approach was nothing like the basis for widely used personality tests such as the Myers-Briggs.


Social psychologists dispute whether personality types exist. Traits are another matter. Personality traits “can be measured consistently across ages, across cultures,” said [Luís A. Nunes] Amaral, co-director of the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems. The five best-established traits, or Big Five, are openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.

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So the scientists used a sophisticated machine learning algorithm to identify clusters of traits, or what [psychologist William] Revelle called “lumps in the batter,” in this 5-D population.


“What is unique about the current study is their choice of the Big Five trait domains as a starting point,” [psychologist John] Johnson said, “rather than some theoretical types that sprang from the imagination of the theorist.”

People who scored very high in extroversion but were below average in agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness were “self-centered.” Amaral put it in a “nontechnical way”: Some people are “jerks.”

Read full, original post: Scientists identify four personality types

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