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What is SLOAN and why is it featured on PDB? is a website, which is apparently managed by Tim Flynn. Tim Flynn does not appear to be a notable scientific researcher. He has no Wikipedia page and google searches turn up little or no information. On Similar Minds he shares his interests and hobbies but does not cite any qualifications, career positions or academic affiliations. The site consists of numerous tests for various different systems (Big 5, MBTI, Enneagram, I.Q. etc.) but gives priority to the MOTIVES system, an obscure personality scale designed, developed and promoted by himself.

The reason why you are reading about this non-notable individual and his own personal website is that he is the origin of the five letter codes which represent the big 5 in PDB's voting engine. Back when PDB users were requesting the big 5 be added to PDB the most commonly requested method of representing the system was SLOAN.

PDB is a typology website, which is dedicated to the sorting of individuals into categories of personality type. The big 5 however is not a personality type system. It is a set of 5 independent traits which measure an individual's separate scores across these spectra. Just as a person will have one measurement for their age, another for their height, another for their weight, the big 5 provides five distinct measurements for five distinct traits. The sorting of individuals into a set number of personality types (e.g. 16 MBTI types, 9 Enneatypes, 4 Humours, etc.) is not a component of the vast majority of the big 5 literature. Typology systems typically suggest that most or all human beings can be correctly sorted into categories: Introverts, Intuivites, INFPs, Type 8s, Melancholics and so on. The Big 5 literature in general makes no such claim. It is a theory of measurement, not of categorisation. Just as we would not see the value in splitting humanity into 2 completely separate categories for every metric (Tall vs Short, Young vs Old, Smart vs Stupid) the big 5 does not divide people into categories of introvert and extrovert, agreeable and disagreeable. It is not a typology system.

SLOAN however does exactly this. In a manner that appears to be influenced by the MBTI, it represents high (above 50%) and low (below 50%) scores for each trait with a separate word, each word beginning with a letter that is not shared by the first letter of any of the other 9 words. This is why someone who scores high for openness is called Inquisitive, not "open" because the letter O is used for "organised", the representative word for high conscientiousness. Those with high conscientiousness are not called conscientious because the letter C is used for "Calm" indicating low neuroticism. Neurotics are called "limbic", not neurotic, because the letter N is used by "non-curious" meaning low openness. If there is one worthwhile contribution that Mr Flynn has made to the field of typology it is of solving the conundrum of identifying 10 relevant adjectives with distinct first letters so that the big five can be represented as an MBTI style typological system. SLOAN can thus be summarised as a typological manner of representing a system that was never designed to sort people into personality types.

The obscure SLOAN codes are featured on PDB because the users requested it. We cannot speculate on the reason why users requested this particular system although it is not difficult to fathom the appeal that a typologically oriented interpretation of the big 5 might have held for the users of a typology website. It has also been pointed out by the PDB admin that a more appropriate big 5 voting system would have required extensive design and that a 32 type SLOAN system was much simpler to accommodate into the pre-existing voting engine.

In summary, PDB represents the big 5 personality system via the 5-letter SLOAN codes because it provides a solution to the problem of how to implement a non-typological system into a typology website with a pre-existing voting engine. The 32 SLOAN codes may not be a precise or sympathetic way of featuring the big 5, but it is at least a system that is compatible with the purpose and mechanics of PDB.

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