Five temperaments

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Five temperaments is a theory in psychology, that expands upon the four temperaments proposed in ancient medical theory.

A theory is a contemplative and rational type of abstract or generalizing thinking about a phenomenon, or the results of such thinking. The process of contemplative and rational thinking often is associated with such processes like observational study, research. Theories may either be scientific or other than scientific. Depending on the context, the results might, for example, include generalized explanations of how nature works. The word has its roots in ancient Greek, but in modern use it has taken on several related meanings.

Psychology is the science of behavior and mind. Psychology includes the study of conscious and unconscious phenomena, as well as feeling and thought. It is an academic discipline of immense scope. Psychologists seek an understanding of the emergent properties of brains, and all the variety of phenomena linked to those emergent properties, joining this way the broader neuroscientific group of researchers. As a social science it aims to understand individuals and groups by establishing general principles and researching specific cases.

Four temperaments a proto-psychological theory

The four temperament theory is a proto-psychological theory which suggests that there are four fundamental personality types: sanguine, choleric, melancholic, and phlegmatic. Most formulations include the possibility of mixtures among the types where an individual's personality types overlap and they share two or more temperaments. Greek physician Hippocrates described the four temperaments as part of the ancient medical concept of humorism, that four bodily fluids affect human personality traits and behaviors. Modern medical science does not define a fixed relationship between internal secretions and personality, although some psychological personality type systems use categories similar to the Greek temperaments.


The development of a theory of five temperaments begins with the two-factor models of personality and the work of the late William Schutz, and his FIRO-B program. It is a measure of interpersonal relations orientations that calculates a person's behavior patterns based on the scoring of a questionnaire. Although FIRO-B does not speak in terms of "temperament", this system of analysis graded questionnaires on two scales in three dimensions of interpersonal relations. When paired with temperament theory, a measurement of five temperaments resulted. [1]

The two-factor model of personality is a widely used psychological factor analysis measurement of personality, behavior and temperament. It most often consists of a matrix measuring the factor of introversion and extroversion with some form of people versus task orientation.

William Schutz American psychologist

William Schutz was an American psychologist.

Questionnaire Research instrument consisting of a series of questions and other prompts for the purpose of gathering information from respondents

A questionnaire is a research instrument consisting of a series of questions for the purpose of gathering information from respondents. The questionnaire was invented by the Statistical Society of London in 1838.

History and the ancient four temperaments

Five Temperament theory has its roots in the ancient four humors theory of the Greek Historian Hippocrates (460-370 BC), who believed certain human behaviors were caused by body fluids (called "humors"): blood (sanguis), [yellow] bile (cholera or Gk. χολη, kholé) black bile (μελας, melas, "black", + χολη, kholé, "bile"); and phlegm . Next, Galen (131-200 AD) developed the first typology of temperament in his dissertation De Temperamentis, and searched for physiological reasons for different behaviors in humans. In The Canon of Medicine , Avicenna (980-1037) then extended the theory of temperaments to encompass "emotional aspects, mental capacity, moral attitudes, self-awareness, movements and dreams." [2]


Hippocrates of Kos, also known as Hippocrates II, was a Greek physician of the Age of Pericles, who is considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine. He is often referred to as the "Father of Medicine" in recognition of his lasting contributions to the field as the founder of the Hippocratic School of Medicine. This intellectual school revolutionized medicine in ancient Greece, establishing it as a discipline distinct from other fields with which it had traditionally been associated, thus establishing medicine as a profession.

Blood specialized bodily fluid in animals

Blood is a body fluid in humans and other animals that delivers necessary substances such as nutrients and oxygen to the cells and transports metabolic waste products away from those same cells.

Bile fluid produced by the liver of most vertebrates that aids the process of digestion.

Bile or gall is a dark green to yellowish brown fluid, produced by the liver of most vertebrates, that aids the digestion of lipids in the small intestine. In humans, bile is produced continuously by the liver, and stored and concentrated in the gallbladder. After eating, this stored bile is discharged into the duodenum. The composition of hepatic bile is 97% water, 0.7% bile salts, 0.2% bilirubin, 0.51% fats, and 200 meq/l inorganic salts.

This is also related to the classical elements of air, water, earth, and fire; as sanguine, phlegmatic, melancholic, and choleric, respectively. They made up a matrix of hot/cold and dry/wet taken from the Four Elements. [3] [ unreliable source? ] There were also intermediate scales for balance between each pole, yielding a total of nine temperaments. Four were the original humors, and five were balanced in one or both scales. [4] [5] [ unreliable source? ]

Nicholas Culpeper (1616–1654) disregarded the idea of fluids as defining human behavior, and Maimonides (1135–1204), Immanuel Kant (1724–1804), Alfred Adler (1879–1937), and Ivan Pavlov (1849–1936) all theorized on the four temperaments and greatly shaped our modern theories of temperament. Hans Eysenck (1916–1997) was one of the first psychologists to analyze personality differences using a psycho-statistical method (factor analysis), and his research led him to believe that temperament is biologically based.

Nicholas Culpeper English botanist, herbalist, physician, and astrologer

Nicholas Culpeper was an English botanist, herbalist, physician, and astrologer. His books include The English Physitian (1652), later known as the Complete Herbal, which contains a store of pharmaceutical and herbal knowledge, and Astrological Judgement of Diseases from the Decumbiture of the Sick (1655), one of the most detailed documents on medical astrology in Early Modern Europe. He spent much of his life in outdoor cataloguing of hundreds of medicinal herbs. He criticized the methods of some contemporaries: "This not being pleasing, and less profitable to me, I consulted with my two brothers, Dr. Reason and Dr. Experience, and took a voyage to visit my mother Nature, by whose advice, together with the help of Dr. Diligence, I at last obtained my desire; and, being warned by Mr. Honesty, a stranger in our days, to publish it to the world, I have done it." Culpeper came of a long line of notabilities, including Thomas Culpeper, lover of Catherine Howard, who was sentenced to death by Catherine's husband, King Henry VIII.

Maimonides 12th-century Spanish born Rabbi and philosopher

Moses ben Maimon, commonly known as Maimonides and also referred to by the acronym Rambam, was a medieval Sephardic Jewish philosopher who became one of the most prolific and influential Torah scholars of the Middle Ages. In his time, he was also a preeminent astronomer and physician. Born in Córdoba, Almoravid Empire on Passover Eve, 1135 or 1138, he worked as a rabbi, physician, and philosopher in Morocco and Egypt. He died in Egypt on December 12, 1204, whence his body was taken to the lower Galilee and buried in Tiberias.

Immanuel Kant Prussian philosopher

Immanuel Kant was an influential German philosopher in the Age of Enlightenment. In his doctrine of transcendental idealism, he argued that space, time, and causation are mere sensibilities; "things-in-themselves" exist, but their nature is unknowable. In his view, the mind shapes and structures experience, with all human experience sharing certain structural features. He drew a parallel to the Copernican revolution in his proposition that worldly objects can be intuited a priori ('beforehand'), and that intuition is therefore independent from objective reality. Kant believed that reason is the source of morality, and that aesthetics arise from a faculty of disinterested judgment. Kant's views continue to have a major influence on contemporary philosophy, especially the fields of epistemology, ethics, political theory, and post-modern aesthetics.

Simple emoticons of the five temperaments: sanguine (top right), choleric (bottom right), melancholy (bottom left), and phlegmatic (centre), with the new temperament supine (top left) and phlegmatic blends in between. Five temperaments.png
Simple emoticons of the five temperaments: sanguine (top right), choleric (bottom right), melancholy (bottom left), and phlegmatic (centre), with the new temperament supine (top left) and phlegmatic blends in between.

From the beginning, with Galen's ancient temperaments, it was observed that pairs of temperaments shared certain traits in common.

Therefore, it was evident that the sanguine and choleric shared a common trait: quickness of response, while the melancholy and phlegmatic shared the opposite, a delayed response. The melancholy and choleric, however, shared a sustained response, and the sanguine and phlegmatic shared a short-lived response. That meant that the choleric and melancholy both would tend to hang on to emotions like anger, and thus appear more serious and critical than the fun-loving sanguine, and the peaceful phlegmatic. However, the choleric would be characterized by quick expressions of anger, while the melancholy would build up anger slowly, silently, before exploding. Also, the melancholy and sanguine would be sort of "opposites", as the choleric and phlegmatic, since they have opposite traits.

As the twentieth century progressed, numerous other instruments were devised measuring not only temperament, but also various individual aspects of personality and behavior, and several began using factors that would correspond to the delay and sustain behaviors; usually, forms of extroversion and a developing category of people versus task focus [ citation needed ] (eventually embodied as agreeableness ).

Examples include DiSC assessment system and Social styles. In both of these, the four behaviors or styles resembled the key characteristics of the ancient four temperaments: the choleric's extroversion and seriousness; the melancholy's introversion and seriousness; the sanguine's extroversion and sociability, and the phlegmatic's peacefulness.

As personality typing increased, Christian writer and speaker Tim LaHaye helped repopularize the ancient temperaments beginning in his books. [7] [8] [9]

Another addition to the two factor models was the creation of a 10 by 10 square grid developed by Robert R. Blake and Jane Mouton in their Managerial Grid Model introduced in 1964. This matrix graded from 0 to 9, the factors of concern for people and concern for production, allowing a moderate range of scores, which yielded five "leadership styles". The Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) used a version of this with assertiveness and cooperativeness as the two factors, and an intermediate score in both scales likewise resulting in a fifth mode directly in the center of the grid.

The FIRO-B connection

FIRO-B was another such two-factor system, originally created by Dr. Schutz in 1958, using the same scales corresponding to extroversion/introversion and people/task focus. The difference now was that there were three such matrices. These three areas of interaction are Inclusion, Control, and Affection. Note that these areas include the two familiar scales: how you want to relate to others (called "expressed behavior"), and how you want them to relate to you (called "wanted behavior"). Scores in these scales range from 0 to 9. In 1977, "locator charts" were produced for each area by Leo Ryan, providing a map of the various scores, following the Managerial Grid model; with unofficial names assigned to different score ranges.

Schutz was emphatic that all FIRO scores in themselves "Are not terminal — they can and do change", and that they "Do not encourage typology" [10] (and thus contradicted the notion of inborn temperament). However, the four ancient temperaments were eventually mapped to the FIRO-B scales, including the three separate temperament grids for individuals' scores in each area.

A Melancholy tends to be an introverted loner, and in the area of "control" such a person would exhibit a low need to control others, and also have a low tolerance of control by others (i.e. "dependency"). In the areas of inclusion and affection, such people would display a low need to include or be close to others, and a low need to be included by others.

A Choleric, however, is an extroverted "leader"-type who, in the area of control, has a high need to control others, but a low tolerance of others controlling him. He also has a high need to include or be close to others, but a low level of "responsiveness" (used as another term for "wanted" behavior) to them. He tends to be a "user", and only relates to people according to his own terms, which are usually goal-oriented.

A Sanguine is an extrovert who has a high need to include and be close to others, but unlike the Choleric, the Sanguine genuinely likes being around people just for the sake of socialization. The Sanguine also "swings" between both control and dependency.

From four to five

The low scores in both "wanted" and "expressed" would correspond to the Melancholy. A high score in "expressed" with a low score in "wanted" corresponds to Choleric. A high score on both scales corresponds to the Sanguine.

So the temperaments were divided between introverts, extroverts, and in the other dimension, "relationship-oriented", and "task-oriented". In the older model, the fourth temperament, Phlegmatic, had generally been regarded as "introverted" like the Melancholy, yet more "agreeable", like the Sanguine. For example, the "slow response/short-lived sustain" of the original conception, where it shares one factor with the Sanguine, and the other with the Melancholy. In the other instruments using people/task-orientation, the type that holds the corresponding place in respect to the other types (such as Social Styles' "Amiable" or Adler's "Leaning") is also generally correlated with the Phlegmatic in comparisons.

However, while the Phlegmatic is not as extroverted as the Sanguine and Choleric, nor as serious as the Melancholy and Choleric; he is neither as introverted as the Melancholy, nor as relationship-oriented as the Sanguine. This created a problem whereby a "middle-of-the-road" temperament was needed to complete the list of temperaments. A new temperament was created as a neutral, balanced temperament. However, the new temperament's lack of expression and personality was similar to the Phlegmatic, so the traits the Phlegmatic and the fifth temperament shared were removed from the Phlegmatic, and the remaining traits were renamed to Supine while the fifth temperament became known as the Phlegmatic.

Comparison of fifth temperament to the phlegmatic

The Phlegmatic also is peaceful at heart, and is one reason the Phlegmatic had held the place in the older four temperament model the Supine holds in the five temperament model. The difference is that the Supine is more "needy" for acceptance (or control) from people, yet less able to initiate and express this need to them than the Phlegmatic. Supines are often frustrated because they expect people to know they want interaction, while the Phlegmatic expresses a moderate need, and wants only the same moderate amount in return.

Four temperament theories such as LaHaye's often depict the Phlegmatic as being very fearful (according to LaHaye, "he is a worrier by nature", which is what "keeps him from venturing out on his own to make full use of his potential)." [11]

Driving needs

Each of the four corner temperaments has a driving need that energizes its behavior.

For the Melancholic, the motivation is fear of rejection and/or the unknown. They have a low self-esteem and, figuring that others do not do like how they would do the work like them (melancholic people are perfectionists) and would say that they had done it 'good enough',it wouldn't be good for them and strive for perfection. [12]

The Supine also has low self-esteem, but is driven to try to gain acceptance by liking and serving others. [13]

The Sanguine is driven by the need for attention, and tries to sell themselves through their charm, and accepts others before those others can reject them. Their self-esteem crashes if they are nevertheless rejected. Yet, they will regain the confidence to keep trying to impress others.

The Choleric is motivated by their goals, in which other people are tools to be used. [14]

The Phlegmatic's lack of a motivation becomes their driving need: to protect their low energy reserve. [15]

See also

Related Research Articles

In psychology, temperament broadly refers to consistent individual differences in behavior that are biologically based and are relatively independent of learning, system of values and attitudes. Some researchers point to association of temperament with formal dynamical features of behavior, such as energetic aspects, plasticity, sensitivity to specific reinforcers and emotionality. Temperament traits remain its distinct patterns in behavior throughout adulthood but they are most noticeable and most studied in children. Babies are typically described by temperament, but longitudinal research in the 1920s began to establish temperament as something which is stable across the lifespan.

Personality is defined as the characteristic set of behaviors, cognitions, and emotional patterns that evolve from biological and environmental factors. While there is no generally agreed upon definition of personality, most theories focus on motivation and psychological interactions with one's environment. Trait-based personality theories, such as those defined by Raymond Cattell define personality as the traits that predict a person's behavior. On the other hand, more behaviorally based approaches define personality through learning and habits. Nevertheless, most theories view personality as relatively stable.

Humorism, or humoralism, was a system of medicine detailing the makeup and workings of the human body, adopted by Ancient Greek and Roman physicians and philosophers.

Arousal is the physiological and psychological state of being awoken or of sense organs stimulated to a point of perception. It involves activation of the ascending reticular activating system (ARAS) in the brain, which mediates wakefulness, the autonomic nervous system, and the endocrine system, leading to increased heart rate and blood pressure and a condition of sensory alertness, mobility, and readiness to respond.

Personality test psychological or character questionnaire

A personality test is a method of assessing human personality constructs. Most personality assessment instruments are in fact introspective self-report questionnaire measures or reports from life records (L-data) such as rating scales. Attempts to construct actual performance tests of personality have been very limited even though Raymond Cattell with his colleague Frank Warburton compiled a list of over 2000 separate objective tests that could be used in constructing objective personality tests. One exception however, was the Objective-Analytic Test Battery, a performance test designed to quantitatively measure 10 factor-analytically discerned personality trait dimensions. A major problem with both L-data and Q-data methods is that because of item transparency, rating scales and self-report questionnaires are highly susceptible to motivational and response distortion ranging all the way from lack of adequate self-insight to downright dissimulation depending on the reason/motivation for the assessment being undertaken.

Beverly LaHaye is an American Christian conservative activist and author who founded Concerned Women for America (CWA) in San Diego, California in 1979. She was the wife of Tim LaHaye, the late evangelical Christian minister and prolific author of the Left Behind series.

Big Five personality traits five broad domains or dimensions of personality

The Big Five personality traits, also known as the five-factor model (FFM) and the OCEAN model, is a taxonomy for personality traits. When factor analysis is applied to personality survey data, some words used to describe aspects of personality are often applied to the same person. For example, someone described as conscientious is more likely to be described as "always prepared" rather than "messy". This theory is based therefore on the association between words but not on neuropsychological experiments. This theory uses descriptors of common language and therefore suggests five broad dimensions commonly used to describe the human personality and psyche.

<i>Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime</i> book by Immanuel Kant

Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime is a 1764 book by Immanuel Kant.

Tar (string instrument) Iranian long-necked, waisted string instrument

Tar is an Iranian long-necked, waisted instrument, shared by many cultures and countries including Iran, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, and others near the Caucasus region. The older and more complete name of the tār is čāhārtār or čārtār, meaning in Persian "four string",. This is in accordance with a practice common in Persian-speaking areas of distinguishing lutes on the basis of the number of strings originally employed. Beside the čārtār, these include the dotār, setār, pančtār, and šaštār or šeštār.

Complexion in humans is the natural color, texture, and appearance of the skin, especially on the face.

In psychology, Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ) is a questionnaire to assess the personality traits of a person; this is not the same questionnaire as the Eysenck's personality Inventory or EPI which was an earlier instrument also produced by Hans Eysenck.

Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation (FIRO) is a theory of interpersonal relations, introduced by William Schutz in 1958. This theory mainly explains the interpersonal interactions of a local group of people. The theory is based on the belief that when people get together in a group, there are three main interpersonal needs they are looking to obtain – affection/openness, control and inclusion. Schutz developed a measuring instrument that contains six scales of nine-item questions, and this became version B. This technique was created to measure how group members feel when it comes to inclusion, control, and affection/openness or to be able to get feedback from people in a group.

Agreeableness is a personality trait manifesting itself in individual behavioral characteristics that are perceived as kind, sympathetic, cooperative, warm, and considerate. In contemporary personality psychology, agreeableness is one of the five major dimensions of personality structure, reflecting individual differences in cooperation and social harmony.

Symphony No. 2 De fire Temperamenter, "The Four Temperaments", Op. 16, FS 29 is the second symphony by Danish composer Carl Nielsen, written in 1901–1902 and dedicated to Ferruccio Busoni. It was first performed on 1 December 1902 for the Danish Concert Association, with Nielsen himself conducting. As indicated in the subtitle, each of its four movements is a musical sketch of a humor of the four temperaments: choleric, phlegmatic, melancholic, and sanguine. Despite its apparent concept of program music, the work is a fully integrated symphony in traditional symphonic structure.

The trait of extraversion–introversion is a central dimension of human personality theories. The terms introversion and extraversion were popularized by Carl Jung, although both the popular understanding and psychological usage differ from his original intent. Extraversion tends to be manifested in outgoing, talkative, energetic behavior, whereas introversion is manifested in more reserved and solitary behavior. Virtually all comprehensive models of personality include these concepts in various forms. Examples include the Big Five model, Jung's analytical psychology, Hans Eysenck's three-factor model, Raymond Cattell's 16 personality factors, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, and the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator.

The Psychopathic Personality Inventory (PPI-Revised) is a personality test for traits associated with psychopathy in adults. The PPI was developed by Scott Lilienfeld and Brian Andrews to assess these traits in non-criminal populations, though it is still used in clinical populations as well. In contrast to other psychopathy measures, such as the Hare Psychopathy Checklist (PCL), the PPI is a self-report scale, rather than interview-based, assessment. It is intended to comprehensively index psychopathic personality traits without assuming particular links to anti-social or criminal behaviors. It also includes measures to detect impression management or careless responding.

Iranian traditional medicine

Iranian traditional medicine (ITM), also known as Persian traditional medicine, Iranian-Islamic traditional medicine (IITM), traditional Iranian medicine (TIM), or simply traditional medicine is one of famous and most ancient forms of traditional medicines. Studies and researches reveal that some of the earliest records of history of ancient Iranian medicine can be found in 8,000 to 6,500 B.C. while it is remarkable that Hippocrates, a Greek physician who is considered as one of the outstanding figures in the history of medicine belongs to about 460 BC.

Temperament Isolation Theory, also known as personality bias or personality discrimination, is a recent social science theory that attempts to explain how cultures favor a specific temperament and how they view and interact with those of other or opposite temperaments. The first concepts of the theory were explored by Susan Cain in her book Quiet where she looked at how western cultures, particularly the United States, value extroversion over introversion and how that could possibly make it difficult for introverts to thrive in society. Northern Arizona University professor Jorge Rodriguez III took the idea a step further and viewed how the opposite could be viewed in eastern cultures where introversion is valued over extroversion. These observations and further research led to the concept of "personality bias" which suggests certain personalities are favored over others and that these opposing personalities are "intentionally or unintentionally oppressed or muted." The concept of personality bias was later formally formulated into Temperament Isolation Theory. The theory is currently not widely accepted among social scientists, but it is gaining ground thanks to the research of Rodriguez and others.


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  13. Arno & Arno 2002, p. 140.
  14. Arno & Arno 2002, p. 105.
  15. Arno & Arno 2002, p. 156.