Personality Types Explained: An Overview of 4 Models

Updated May 20, 2022
example of different personality types
    example of different personality types
    mammamaart / E+ / Getty Images
    Used under Getty Images license

What are the types of personality? There are many models of personality types that attempt to explain why we are the way we are. Keep reading to learn more about the four main personality types and how they correspond to the personality types from popular models, including Myers-Briggs, 16Personalities and the Big 5.

Type A, B, C, and D Personalities

In 1976, cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman discovered that their patients wore out the seats and arms of their waiting room chairs more quickly than patients in other departments. This led to their discovery of the two main personality types: the Type A personality, who is more likely to have heart problems due to stress, and Type B personality, who is more laid-back and less likely to have cardiac issues.

Over the years, this model has been expanded to include Type C personality (perfectionist, detail-oriented) and Type D personality (emotional, security-seeking). Take a look at the personality traits of each personality type to see which one fits you the best.


Type A Personality

The Type A personality is known as The Director, The OverAcheiver or The Go-Getter. This person is a natural leader and wants to be in control as much as possible. Type A personalities can range from goal-oriented achievers to obsessive workaholics, depending on how they use their talents.

Common Type A personality traits include:

  • ambitious
  • competitive
  • motivated
  • natural leader
  • passionate
  • stubborn

Type A personalities are motivated by challenges, success, winning, and money. The Type A personality is most satisfied when they have direction over a project and can see their vision come to life. However, Type A personalities are the most likely people to become overstressed, and often choose professions that are highly stressful.


Type B Personality

Type B personalities are the opposite of Type A personalities. This personality is known as The Socializer or The Peacemaker and is known for their outgoing attitudes and strong relationships. They are enjoyable to be around in positive situations, but can verge on being needy due to their desire to be loved and to have others approve of them.

Type B personalities typically have the following traits:

  • accepting
  • casual
  • charismatic
  • easygoing
  • relaxed
  • social

Type B personalities are motivated by compliments and recognition. They are happy to let Type A personalities be the leaders and have their way — but they need to be acknowledged and respected emotionally. A "thank you" goes a long way with a Type B personality. Type B personalities tolerate and welcome change more than any other personality type.


Type C Personality

Type C personalities are similar to Type A personalities in their focus on details, accuracy and control. However, the Type C personality is known as The Thinker, The Analyst or The Scientist, and is much more introverted than a typical Type A personality. Type C personalities use logic and rationality to make sense of the world. They can also become easily overwhelmed and prefer to focus on what they can control.

Some common Type C personality traits include:

  • critical thinker
  • dependable
  • detail-oriented
  • focused
  • objective
  • logical

Type C personalities prefer not to work on team projects at all; they'd rather do their work independently. They are motivated by intriguing challenges and getting their work exactly right and don't necessarily need the credit for doing a good job. They make decisions based on objective facts and gather lots of evidence, so if you're questioning a Type C personality, they're ready to prove you wrong!


Type D Personality

Like Type B personalities, Type D personalities are in touch with their emotions. However, the "D" in Type D is often labeled "distressed," since Type D personalities can have a hard time feeling optimistic. The Type D personality, known as The Supporter or The Philosopher, is sensitive and enigmatic. They experience joy and happiness more intensely than others, but can become more easily anxious and depressed as well.

Type D personalities can have the following personality traits:

  • compassionate
  • existential
  • insightful
  • observant
  • sensitive
  • supportive

Type D personalities like their world to be stable. Unlike a Type B personality, those with Type D personalities don't enjoy change. They would rather work at the same job throughout their career and avoid challenges then start a new, unknown profession. Type D personalities fear rejection and can overthink situations easily. However, Type D personalities can be supportive and sincere friends to their loved ones.


Other Personality Type Models

You may find yourself relating to Type A, B, C, or D personality types. Or, you may relate to some parts of one type and other parts of another type. There are several personality type models that attempt to form more nuanced descriptions of personalities. Check out a brief overview of these popular personality type models.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

In the 1920s, Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers developed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) based on Swiss psychologist Carl Jung's work regarding introversion, extroversion and other personality traits. This methodology further describes Jung's tendencies and allows individuals to identify with 16 different personality types, based on the following traits:

  • directing energy - introversion (I) or extroversion (E)
  • perceiving information - intuition (N) or sensing (S)
  • making decisions - thinking (T) or feeling (F)
  • preferred structure - judging (J) or perceiving (P)

Using these traits, users come up with four-letter personality types that more accurately describe their personalities. For example, an INTJ (introverted, intuitive, thinking, judging person) is much more like a Type C than an ESFP (extroverted, sensing, feeling, perceiving), who would be more like a Type D.


The 16Personality model takes the personality types from the Myers-Briggs indicator and describes them in more detail. It groups these personalities into four groups:

  • The Analysts - the Architect (INTJ), the Logician (INTP), the Commander (ENTJ), the Debater (ENTP)
  • The Diplomats - the Advocate (INFJ), the Mediator (INFP), the Protagonist (ENFJ), the Campaigner (ENFP)
  • The Sentinels - the Logistician (ISTJ), the Defender (ISFJ), the Executive (ESTJ), the Consul (ESFJ)
  • The Explorers - the Virtuoso (ISTP), the Adventurer (ISFP), the Entrepreneur (ESTP), the Entertainer (ESFP)

Depending on your combination of personality traits, these 16 personality types may describe you more accurately than more broad personality models. You can also align these groups to the A, B, C, and D models, with the Diplomats being like Type A, Analysts falling into Type B, the Sentinels aligning to Type C, and the Explorers being most common to Type D.

The Big 5

The Big 5, also known as the Five-Factor model, is a widely accepted personality model. It uses five main personality traits as separate spectrums for individuals to assess their personalities. The Big 5 personality traits, which spell out the word CANOE, fall on these ranges:

  • Conscientiousness (spontaneous to conscientious)
  • Agreeableness (hostile to agreeable)
  • Neuroticism (stable to neurotic)
  • Openness (closed to open)
  • Extroversion (introverted to extroverted)

An individual's personality type is determined where they score on each spectrum. For example, someone who falls closer to Agreeable and Open might clash with a person who identifies as Hostile and Closed. Like all personality type models, the Big 5 requires reflection and introspection for accurate results.

Getting to Know Yourself

So, do you think you fall into any of these categories? Are you just one type? It's quite possible that you fall somewhere on the spectrum for each of the four character trait dichotomies. If you're interested in using psychology to get to know yourself better, check out these examples of cognitive psychology in everyday life. You can also check out these examples of personality traits that may describe you better than you think.