Personality tests are beloved by high school guidance counselors and self-help book authors — but less so by many scientists. There’s controversy among them over whether clear-cut personality types exist at all.
A large new study published in Nature Human Behavior, however, provides evidence for the existence of at least four personality types: average, reserved, self-centered and role model. Each one is based on the extent to which people display five different major character traits, including neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness.
“It seemed like personality traits were very well-accepted and established in psychometrics, but personality types were not,” says study co-author Luis Amaral, a professor of chemical and biological engineering at Northwestern University. “I just wondered, could it be that the reason why people haven’t been able to establish personality types was there wasn’t enough data?”