Merrill-Reid social personality styles are a Jungian based set of personality assessments dating back to the 1960s. There are four personality types based on two dichotomies: Are you introverted or extroverted, and are you better with people or data.

Summary by The World of Work Project

Merrill-Reid Personality Styles

The Merrill-Reid / Wilson model is a very simple model of personality. Like all personality models, it states that people can be categorized into groups, and that each of these groups has specific needs, wants, styles and behaviors.

By understanding which group we are in, we can build our understanding of our own personality and thus our self awareness. Similarly, by understanding the personalities of others, we can build our empathy and become more effective at working with them.

As with most personality tests / assessments, many people have strong views about their validity. Some people think they are great and evidence based. Others think that models like this lack a sufficient evidence base to make them helpful in the world of work.

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The Merrill-Reid Personality Types

Merrill-Reid social personality styles shown as a matrix

Merrill-Reid social personality styles approach categorizes people on two axes. This makes it quite easy to visualize as a 2×2 matrix.

The dimensions used by Merrill and Reid are basically: are you introverted or extroverted and do you prefer people or data.

Based on these categories, the Merrill-Reid model produces four different personality types: Analytical, Driving, Expressive and Amiable. These are presented as colors and are quite similar to personality types produced by other personality models. We look at them each briefly below.

Analytical

Analytical individuals are constantly analyzing, looking for pros and cons and asking questions. They may be brilliant at generating ideas or solving problems, but they may also over-analyze and get stuck in “analysis paralysis”.

Driving

Drivers are often strong personalities who are motivated and sometimes forceful in their efforts to reach their goals. They often take the lead and are quick to action. They may come across as dominant and brash.

Drivers are one category of Merrill-Reid social personality styles
Oh yes… I’m in control of my fancy car. And I’ve got a fancy watch too.

Expressive

Expressive people are sociable, talkative and comfortable with others. They are great at communicating and enthusing others, but are not always great at actual delivery of tasks.

How about we all just get along?

Amiable

Amiable people are calm, relaxed, hard to excite and will generally go out of their way not to upset others. They tend to want harmony, but at times this desire and some of their other traits can lead others to think they are indifferent.

Learning More

We’re very conscious that we are not experts in this area at all. We have, though, briefly covered a range of personalty tests in our website. These include Myers Briggs and the Big Five, as well as some other things like Type A and Type B personalities. Please consider our posts on these topics just a starting point from which to further your reading and understanding.

Personality tests can help people improve their self awareness. This is one of the reasons people do them. You can listen to our podcast on self-awareness via the player below, if you wish.

Personality tests also give people the sense that they are truly understood by others. Feeling understood is a powerful emotion that makes people feel validated and seen by the world. This is rewarding and people really value it. The tests can also be fun.

As a starting point to explore models like this, we recommend looking at The Open Source Psychometrics Project.

The World of Work Project View

The Merrill-Reid Social Personality Styles approach is a pretty simple model which was created in the 1960’s and is quite similar to several other personality type models.

This tool may be useful for building self awareness and getting to know other people, which helps with team building. People very much like to feel understood and often relate to the outputs of personality models of this type, and feel valued and perhaps vindicated in being who they are when they read their personal reports.

As with all such models, different people have different views about its value and validity. Given this, have fun with models like this, but take them with a pinch of salt.

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Merrill, D. W., & Reid, R. H. (1981). Personal styles & effective performance. CRC Press.

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