I'm the sort of person who... no, wait, there's no one like me.

Or is there?

For many years, scientists have spent enormous time trying to classify people into types.

During this time, scientists have spent almost as much time arguing about whether there are types at all. 

Humans, of course, appear to resist classification by constantly behaving against any type they're classified under.

However, Professor Luis Amaral of Northwestern University got together with some colleagues in order to see whether the world could really be grouped into a relatively few boxes.

I know that certain presidential tweeters classify humans into boxes like loser, faker, vicious, unqualified, dishonest and crazy.

Amaral and his colleagues, however, thought they'd look at things that 1.5 million said in four different pieces of research across the world to perhaps find something a touch more constructive.

It's odd that scientists have generally agreed that there are five personality traits -- neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness -- but not that there are personality types.

Please, therefore, worry greatly as I tell you that these researchers declared that their work -- in which they used a clustering algorithm -- found four: Self-Centered, Role Models, Reserved and, oh, Average.

I'll try and make this exciting before I deliver the bad news.

Let's start with the Reserved type. 

These, say the researchers are "emotionally stable but not open or neurotic. They are not particularly extraverted, but are somewhat agreeable and conscientious."

In essence, I hear you mutter, these are the people who currently run the world from Silicon Valley. 

Or are they?

You might think of them as self-centered. It's hard not to. But in this research, Self-Centered people "score very high in extraversion and below average in openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness."

More generally, perhaps, corporate CEO's? The researchers pointed out that the Self-Centered category included a disproportionately high number of young males and disproportionately few females over the age of 15.

Stunning.

Then there are the utterly perfect types, which this research defines as Role Models.

These exalted folk "score low in neuroticism and high in all the other traits. They are good leaders, dependable and open to new ideas."

Do people like this exist? How is this possible?

It's time for the reckoning. The fourth category is known as Average.

How might they have defined this group?

Well, "average people are high in neuroticism and extraversion, while low in openness. This is the most common personality type."

Why would these researchers choose such a painfully demeaning name, especially for the biggest group?

Are we all condemned to be deemed ordinary? There we are, reading every self-help book we can find in order to make ourselves special and nothing will do us any good? 

Perhaps, though, it's reassuring. Perhaps we can tell ourselves that there really is nothing terribly wrong with us, that we generally endure the same problems as our fellow humans.

Some might wonder how they might upgrade themselves from Average to, say, Role Models. Or even Self-Centered.

I suspect the only answer is: practice.

Published on: Dec 12, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.