An impossible task?

Aaron Woolner


Defining – and subsequently predicting – human behaviour has been a focus of social psychologists since before World War II, when Americans Gordon Allport and HS Odbert laboriously compiled a list of 18,000 English words used to describe personalities. This enabled the pair to construct their ‘Lexical Hypothesis’ of human behaviour, which was initially distilled into 16 personality traits by subsequent scientists before a consensus was reached that five was sufficient.

All of which was

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