In psychology, personality research is based on The Big Five theory. Created by Costa and McCrae in the years between 1987 and 1992, it is still used today as base for lots of researchers. According to this theory, human personality is made up of five main traits. However a recent study has shown there are only four.
Modern world makes the study possible
The study carried out by researchers from the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering in Northwestern University (USA) used a simple method to gather information from participants. They collect information from the internet.
You have probably already done a personality test on the internet or have taken a test for a job application. Most of these tests are based on scientific studies, which have been checked by researchers around the world. Regardless, questionnaires found on the internet are not completely reliable and only the advice from a specialist would be really beneficial.
Although researchers carried out their study, which was published in Nature Human Behaviour, by using information collected from the internet, there information was taken from lots of different research projects. This included John Johnson’s IPIP-NEO, myPersonality and BBC’s Big Personality Test. These big projects gathered together a large amount of information on how human personalities work and develop. By using this information, researchers studied more than 1.5 million tests.
“What is really great is that a study using a mixture of such significant information wouldn’t have been possible before the internet,” said one of the researchers.
Going from an old personality model to a new one
It is commonly accepted that human personality is structured around five aspects. Each aspect covers a personality type.
- Neuroticism : which is linked with the likelihood of someone feeling morose, anxious, lonely, depressed or angry.
- Extroversion : which refers to the way in which someone is sociable and confident
- Agreeability : is when someone is nice, thoughtful and friendly towards others;
- Openness : A person’s curiosity and their desire to have new experiences
- Conscientiousness : The likelihood that someone is organised and reliable .
By analysing all the information collected, researchers have managed to establish a new personality map no longer structured on these five aspects, but by four. As one of the researchers explained, the four new personality aspects were very pronounced during the analysis. Statistically, their research is very positive as a study of this magnitude can change things.
Four types of human personality
The four identified groups each had their different characteristics :
- “Average” personalities are quite extroverted and neurotic (in the sense of neuroticism cited above), but they are not very open. According to Martin Gerlach, the co-author of this study, typical people often find themselves in this category.
- “Reserved” personalities are not particularly open or extroverted and neither are they neurotic. However they are the most conscientious and agreeable of all personality types. People who fall into this category are often very good employees.
- “Model” personalities are slightly neurotic but they are very extroverted, open, agreeable and conscientious. Scientists noted that there are more women than men that fall into this category. According to researchers people who show these personality traits are the most reliable of all. They do a good job for any task that is given to them.
- “Egocentric” personalities are very extroverted but they are less than average in terms of openness, friendliness and professional conscientiousness. According to researchers “these are the people you don’t want to go out with.” Nevertheless, it is suggested that with maturity, these people are more likely to reshape their personality towards another type. Often teenagers – boys in particular – can fit into this category.
Final words about personality
This new research highlights a different way to understand human personality. Humans have been searching to crack the human code for thousands of years. Since the time of Hippocrates, we have been trying to classify different types of personality. Today, thanks to the vast amount of information on the internet and the scientists’ intelligence, we can get a little closer to this goal.
The essential thing to draw from these theories is the importance of change. We shouldn’t think that if we fall into one of these categories it will determine our life. Our personality can fluctuate and change and so we an go from one personality type to another over our lifetime.