By Anna Graham
The Myers-Briggs personality test is one of the most common psychological tools meant to classify people according to personality type. A Myers-Briggs classification includes four categories: introversion versus extroversion, intuition versus sensing, thinking versus feeling, and judging versus perceiving. Each category is represented by a letter, resulting in a total of 16 possible combinations. For years this test has remained a cornerstone of psychology, and one of the most widely-used resources for classifying personality.
Recently, however, psychological associations have added a new personality to the Myers-Briggs list: the GNBD, or generally nice, bland, default personality. This personality is not intended to replace any of the previously mentioned classifications, but to serve as a complementary addition.
Ultimately, the GNBD personality is meant to explain the psychological phenomenona wherein people lose their distinct personal characteristics when placed in social situations where they are forced to interact with strangers.
Lindy Hopkins, professor of psychology at Durmhill University, explains that most people possess the GNBD type in some form in addition to their other personality. According to Hopkins, typical characteristics of the GNBD are: a bubbly, cheerful demeanor, an affinity for small talk, and a genuine interest in the mundane details of other people’s lives such as their devotion to a specific brand of cat food.
Other aspects of the GNBD include overuse of the phrases “crazy weather we’re having” and “tell me again about your original ‘scientific’ theory.” People with the GNBD type can generally be identified by clocking their bouts of polite laughter —– anything more frequent than every five minutes is a definite signifier.
Hopkins explains. “Initially, we thought that different personality types would conduct extremely different conversations with strangers. However, after many years of careful analysis, we have found that people in fact conduct exactly the same conversations with strangers, over and over again, regardless of their actual personality. Thus, we had to create a Myers- Briggs category for the GNBD type.”
The GNBD personality appears to be centered around specific social events, such as small talk on the subway, dinner with distant relatives, and any formal event relating to one’s career. Many psychologists theorize that the GNBD is actually quite necessary for one’s social survival in such situations. Hopkins explains it as such: “The GNBD has become the required format for such situations. Therefore, any person operating too far outside that format would be punished with social ostracism.”
However, it must be emphasized that the GNBD is only intended as a complementary personality type. Standing on its own, it can quickly evolve into chronic GNBD, a condition which results in an underdevelopment of unique character traits. People with chronic GNBD report a general sense of bitterness and dissatisfaction, as well as soreness of the facial muscles from smiling too much. Thus, it is important to remember to cultivate other characteristics, because when present alongside another personality, the GNBD remains fairly benign.