How “Average” Has Become A Personality Type

How “Average” Has Become a Personality Type According to a New Study

It is popularly said that every person is different. We are all unique in our similarities. Biologically speaking, the statement is right. No two human DNA are the same as every one of us is born with slightly given changes in our code. Changes enough to distinguish ourselves from any other resemblance individual, yet, at the same time, we can’t fight that feeling of recognizing in each other, to feel that we are all somehow linked by invisible strings that tie us and define our personal growth. Those strings are cultural forces that directly impact our personal behaviours, and, as a result, our personality. In fact, our uniqueness is suddenly stopped in our biological inner-self, as a new study states, there are only 4 personality groups, and all humans respond to any of them.

This finding, which shocked the study’s authors, emerged from four large data sets comprising more than 1.5 million participants. Co-author and psychology professor William Revelle, Ph.D., says that before this study he was convinced there were no personality types at all. Now he’s convinced that personalities fall into four distinct clusters that still aren’t completely separable: types the team refers to as average, “role model,” reserved, and self-centered,” compiled Sarah Sloat, from Inverse.

This study promotes another tendency in the time we live in, the need of “datification”. We are driven by a cultural wave that measures everything that surround us, even those inputs that might be more subjective. In this particular case, and as explained by their authors, they used a standard clustering algorithm.

That is to say that the team searched these massive data sets and, on a quadrant graph, plotted out how the individuals in the four data sets manifested five widely accepted basic personality traits: neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. While previous studies raised questions about the validity of personality types, researchers generally agree that these traits, known as the Big Five, are reliable and replicable domains of human personality.

All these traits can be plot in 4 major personality types depending on how much of these traits prevail in a person’s behaviour. According to Sarah Sloat, these are the personality types:


The “average” type is called average for a reason. Study co-author and professor of chemical and biological engineering Luís Amaral, Ph.D., says that “there is very little to say about average,” and so it’s not surprising that most people fit into this cluster. While still scoring a bit higher in terms of neuroticism and extroversion than in agreeableness and conscientiousness, average people, fittingly, are characterized by an average score in all traits. There are slightly more women who are “average” than there are men.

“Looking across all datasets, the average type is characterized by very neutral scores — close to zero — on all five traits,” explains Gerlach. “Most individuals’ traits are centered around this region in space. Therefore, a typical respondent would fall close to this type.”

Role Model

In this study, people with the “role model” personality are described as nice, agreeable, and open-minded people. They score low in neuroticism and high in all other traits. As the name suggests, a “role model” is someone you’d like as a role model: dependable and interested in new ideas. Women are more likely to be role models than men, and respondents older than 40 were “strongly overrepresented” in this group. The good news for young folks is that personality types are not fixed. As people age, the authors write, they tend to become less neurotic and more conscientious, effectively shifting their personality type.


Teen boys, the study authors write, “are very over-represented in the self-centered groups, whereas women under the age of 15 are “vastly underrepresented.” Women over the age of 60 also didn’t really register as self-centered, with this group “showing a more than five-fold decrease in appearing in the vicinity of this cluster.” The folks that are self-centered are described as not hard-working, disagreeable, not open-minded, and extraverts.”

“These are the people you don’t want to hang out with,” says Revelle.


Those who are “reserved” are not very neurotic but aren’t very open, either. They are, at least, emotionally stable, so kudos for that. While the other traits appeared to cluster somewhat around certain ages or genders, reserved is a neutral trait that can apply to any demographic. Agreeable and conscientious, a reserved individual is probably a good person to have around.

Humans tend to grow in communities highlighting sharing values, so it is little a surprise that humans will also end up sharing behaviour patterns. Ancient Greek philosophers already sorted out a list of personality types. The likes of Hippocrates argued that four bodily “humors” shaped human behaviour, which, resulted in four fundamental personality types. As it turns out, he was right about the numbers of personalities although now it can be proved scientifically.