Health

You Have One of Four Possible Personalities

Published On 09/19/2016 Published On 09/19/2016
friends taking shot cheers
Anthony Humphreys/Thrillist

Each person is a unique, special snowflake with defining characteristics that can't be duplicated. At least, that's probably what you think if you grew up in the '90s and were awarded a trophy just for showing up. But a new study claims that people are actually so simple, they can be categorized into just one of four personalities.

Researchers in Spain asked volunteers to fill out a survey with questions whose answers led to either collaboration or conflict with other people. The results found four distinct personality types: optimistic, pessimistic, envious, and trusting, plus a fifth one that couldn't be clearly identified but is probably just as accurate. The data was then used to create a computer algorithm that ended up categorizing people into the five groups. And if Facebook's "People You May Know" tool is any indication, algorithms are always accurate. 

So the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator -- beloved by amateur psychologists who'd like to think their introversion and perceptiveness make them them -- is excessive and outdated. Thought you were an ISTJ? ENFP? You're probably just optimistic about your uniqueness. 

The envious group was the most common, accounting for 30% of participants, although it's possible these volunteers were just jealous of everyone else who didn't have to fill out dozens of test-like questions. The other groups had 20%, and a fifth group made up 10% -- scientists leading the study admit that this smaller group defies a one-word description, goshdarnit, and they can't seem to figure it out. So there's 10% of the population running around being unpredictable and uncategorized, and frankly they're probably to blame for all of society's ills.  

The pessimistic group was described as making decisions based on what the lesser of two evils is, while optimists want to make the best decision for everyone. Sometimes those are the same thing! Trusting people put faith in a partner's willingness to act on their behalf, while envious people don't really care about the outcome, as long as it's better than other people's.

Basically, the upshot is that human beings aren't nearly as complicated as we're made out to be; some people are just born collaborators, while others would prefer to do things by themselves, no matter how destructive. So, rather than wasting time dissecting someone's personality traits, just toss everyone into one of these buckets and go about your business. 

Is it possible that humans are complex, nuanced creatures with a variety of emotions and motivations that make sweeping generalizations appear comically simplistic? Nah. Let's just call the remaining 10% "spicy" and move on. 

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Christina Stiehl is a Health and fitness staff writer for Thrillist. She's probably envious. Unless you're an optimist, then she's more optimistic than you are. Follow her on Twitter @ChristinaStiehl.

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