Based on responses to questionnaires answered by 1.5 million people, including responses to a survey run by the BBC, the researchers said they were able to categorise humans as having a "reserved", "self-centred", "role model" or "average" type of personality.
"Now, these data show there are higher densities of certain personality types", said Revelle, who specializes in personality measurement, theory and research. Character kinds as a idea are restful controversial in psychology, as it'll be intelligent to gain scientific proof of kinds.
Previous attempts based on small research groups - whereas the new study used an online personality quiz with between 44 and 300 questions.
"Having this much data, in total more than 1.5 million people from these newly available data sets, we could actually show that in fact there is robust evidence for at least four personality types".
However, experts question and criticize even the most widely cited of personality tests - such as the Myers-Briggs assessment - claiming that they are inaccurate. People voluntarily take the online quizzes attracted by the opportunity to receive feedback about their own personality. These data are now being made available to other researchers for independent analyses.
"The thing that is really, really cool is that a study with a dataset this large would not have been possible before the web", says Prof.
"Basically, if you classify people into personality types, you lose most of the information that you can get by considering their scores on a few main personality dimensions", they wrote.
To accurately assess these data, the team also developed a novel algorithm that allowed it to "plot" a map of personality traits.
Most people, Gerlach says, will track closest to the average personality type, which is fairly agreeable and conscientious, quite extraverted and neurotic but not terribly open.
"These are people you don't want to hang out with", Revelle said.
The first personality type is "average".
Reserved The Reserved type is emotionally stable, but not open or neurotic. Role models, finally, have high levels of extraversion, agreeableness and conscientiousness, and comparably low levels of neuroticism. Likelihood of being a role model increases dramatically with age.
The researchers note that some people will display traits relevant to more than one personality type, and also that a personality is not permanent; it can shift and alter over time, depending on age, lifestyle circumstances and other extraneous factors.
Self-Centered Self-Centered people score very high in extraversion and below average in openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness. Those in both the reserve cluster and the average cluster are not very open. "You still need to test your results".
The results found that the vast majority of responses could fit into one of four archetypes consistently and at a "statistically unlikely" rate, Revelle said. "What we're saying is you can group more people in these four clusters than you'd expect by chance". Females are more likely than males to fall into this type.
The researchers said their results could be of potential use to mental health workers trying to diagnose extreme personality traits and also hiring managers looking for a particular character in applicants for a post. The "typical person" would fit into this category, according to Martin Gerlach, the lead author of the research paper.
"When we look at large groups of people, it's clear there are trends, that some people may be changing some of these characteristics over time", Amaral said. "This could be a topic of future research".