The Gander

Pat Kelly | 25 Oct 2018 | 0 Comment(s)

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The Medical Independent blog takes a look at the more unconventional niches in science and research

Reverting to type 

Psychological researchers have challenged the existing personality paradigms to claim that there are only four distinct clusters of personality types — ‘role model’, ‘self-centered’, ‘reserved’ and ‘average’.

The team used responses from more than 1.5 million online questionnaires that have been developed by researchers over a number of years.

The questions were based on the premise that there are five universal personality traits: ‘Conscientiousness’; ‘agreeableness’; ‘openness’; ‘extraversion’; and ‘neuroticism’.

In the four new personality algorithms, the researchers broke down the personality types as follows. ‘Reserved’ – Somewhat agreeable and conscientious, not particularly extroverted and emotionally stable. ‘Role Models’ – Low in neuroticism, but high in all other traits. The ‘Role Model’ type becomes more prevalent with greater age, are more open to ideas and are good in leadership positions. ‘Self-centered’ – Highly extrovert, but below-average levels of conscientiousness, agreeableness and openness. There is also an increase in the prevalence of self-centered personalities with greater age, say the authors, who describe this group as “people you don’t want to hang out with”. And finally, ‘Average’ – The authors say that while this group is low in openness, they probably represent the typical person and these people are high in extraversion and neuroticism.

Prof Luis Amaral, author and Erastus Otis Haven Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Northwestern University, US, commented: “Personality types only existed in self-help literature and did not have a place in scientific journals.

“Now, we think this will change because of this study... The thing that is really, really cool is that a study with a dataset this large would not have been possible before the Web. Previously, maybe researchers would recruit undergrads on campus and maybe get a few hundred people. Now, we have all these online resources available and now data is being shared.”

Co-author Prof William Revelle, Professor of Psychology at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, also in the US, added: “People have tried to classify personality types since Hippocrates’s time, but previous scientific literature has found that to be nonsense.

“Now, these data show there are higher densities of certain personality types... The data came back and they kept coming up with the same four clusters of higher density and at higher densities than you’d expect by chance and you can show by replication that this is statistically unlikely.

“I like data and I believe these results. The methodology is the main part of the paper’s contribution to science.”

In their work, which was published recently in Nature Human Behaviour, the researchers cited the need for more studies to further clarify their findings and said the results could help human resources professionals and mental healthcare providers to select suitable candidates and guide treatment pathways.

Potential marijuana treatment breakthrough

For the first time, a new compound derived from the marijuana plant has been approved to treat certain types of epilepsy and the decision may have promise for future autism research.

The approval of Epidiolex means that the US Drug Enforcement Agency needs to reclassify marijuana from its current category as a Schedule 1 drug with no potential medical use and a high potential for abuse.

The move means Epidiolex is approved for Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Previously-approved compounds were derived from synthetic forms of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Early-stage trials are underway to examine the efficacy of cannabidivarin (CBD-V), the primary ingredient of Epidiolex, in children with autism. The trials are designed to examine its efficacy in alleviating anxiety and aggression in children with autism, as well as their levels of compulsion and aspects of social behaviour.

Even after funding was privately obtained for the trials, the clinicians were hampered by the US Drug Enforcement Agency’s previous classification of marijuana use.

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