I have a theory that society’s fixation with labels comes from the age-old childhood question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Hear me out for a sec: From the get-go, you and I learn to pigeonhole ourselves and each other, because even though at a young age you’re told you can be anyone you want to be, when someone asks these kinds of questions, they’re really only looking for one answer. The same goes for which personality type you identify most with. Sure, your personality type says a lot about you, but it doesn’t necessarily paint an accurate picture of precisely who you are. Today you could have woken up feeling more reserved and introverted, but tomorrow you might invite a group of co-workers to a round of happy hour margaritas on you. There are so many different aspects to your personality, and the fact that researchers have discovered four completely new major personality types just further proves that.
Up until now, I was under the impression that there were only three personality types: introverts (aka people who tend to enjoy solo time more than others), extroverts (who thrive more in social situations, and ambiverts), a combination of the two who value their alone time, but who also crave a certain level of social interaction. But now, a massive study published in the journal Nature Human Behavior has revealed four new personality types — average, reserved, role models, and self-centered — and each one highlights a set of character traits that are completely unique from the rest.
For the study, researchers from Northwestern University sorted through over 1.5 million responses to four different online questionnaires, in which volunteers took the time to answer anywhere between 44 and 300 questions to learn more about their individual personalities, ScienceDaily reports. The researchers then zeroed in on what are known in psychology as the "Big Five personality traits," which include neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. From there, based on their unique algorithms, the researchers were able to narrow their findings down from 16 to a solid four major personality types.
The first personality type, “average,” describes someone who is generally more neurotic (aka anxious and moody) than other personalities. Someone who is "average," based on this research, is typically outgoing, but isn’t generally very open on a personal level. According to the study’s first author, Martin Gerlach, women are more likely to fall into this category than men (cue eye-roll).
The second personality type is labeled “reserved,” and according to the research, these are the types of people who are "emotionally stable" — neither neurotic or open — and while they may not be super extroverted, they aren’t super introvertedm either. In other words, reserved folks would rather go with the flow.
"Role models," study lead Luís Amaral stated, are older individuals who’ve had a decent amount of life experience. Role models are said to be dependable, knowledgeable, and open to new ideas. According to the research, women are more likely to be role models than men.
"Self-centered" personalities, the last major type identified in the study, are basically the polar opposite of role models. They’re highly extroverted, but rank pretty low in openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. In other words, self-centered personalities do what they want regardless of what anyone else believes is right. Unfortunately, the researchers found that most people who qualify as self-centered are young with less life experience. Go figure, right?
So what do this new research say about your personality? Well, maybe nothing, maybe everything. It all depends on where you're at right now in life. The truth is, as much as you or I would like to categorize ourselves under one distinct personality type, Robert Glatter, M.D., an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital, Northwell Health, says that actually doing so can be quite the challenge. “While the methodology and science behind this study is certainly sound,” Glatter, who was not involved in the study, tells Elite Daily, “we still find that there can be overlap of traits among people with certain personality types. There are certain features of specific personality types that remain relatively constant and reproducible, but there are also aspects that may differ based on life experiences and maturation.”
Think back to 10 years ago, five years ago, maybe even five months ago; can you honestly say you’re the same person? Of course you’re not, and that’s to be expected because, as humans, it’s natural to experience personal growth and for your personality to mature and develop further over time. No one be categorized as just one kind of person, but that’s what gives people depth. As far as clinical psychologist Michael Alcee, Ph.D. sees it, you are made up of multiple selves, all of whom are “worthy to get to know." He tells Elite Daily that it's important to be in-tune with "all of the sides" of your unique personality, and "to figure out how to work creatively and flexibly with them.” In other words, regardless of who you are, the best thing you can do is accept all parts of your personality, and value each and every one of them.
Of course, you might’ve read the descriptions of these four new personality types above and identified with one more than the other. If that’s the case, wonderful. But maybe you're now noticing that while some aspects of an "average" persona may have resonated with you, a few key details of "self-centered" were pretty spot-on, too. The bottom line is, please don't feel like you need to pigeonhole yourself into one personality type or another. Just keep being authentically you, regardless of whether that means who you are changes each and every day.