- Four Temperaments
History and development
Temperament theory has its roots in one of the ancient four humors theory. It may have origins in ancient Egypt or Mesopotamia, but it was the Greek physician Hippocrates (460-370 BC) who developed it into a medical theory. He believed certain human moods, emotions and behaviors were caused by body fluids (called "humors"): blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm. Next, Galen (AD 131-200) developed the first typology of temperament in his dissertation De temperamentis, and searched for physiological reasons for different behaviors in humans. He mapped them to a matrix of hot/cold and dry/wet taken from the Four Elements. There could also be "balance" between the qualities, yielding a total of nine temperaments. The word "temperament" itself comes from Latin "temperare", "to mix". In the ideal personality, the complementary characteristics or warm-cool and dry-moist were exquisitely balanced. In four less ideal types, one of the four qualities was dominant over all the others. In the remaining four types, one pair of qualities dominated the complementary pair; for example; warm and moist dominated cool and dry. These latter four were the temperamental categories Galen named "sanguine", "melancholic", "choleric" and "phlegmatic" after the bodily humors. Each was the result of an excess of one of the humors that produced, in turn, the imbalance in paired qualities.
In The Canon of Medicine, Avicenna (980-1037 AD) then extended the theory of temperaments to encompass "emotional aspects, mental capacity, moral attitudes, self-awareness, movements and dreams."
Nicholas Culpeper (1616–1654) disregarded the idea of fluids as defining human behavior, and Immanuel Kant (1724–1804), Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925), Alfred Adler (1879–1937), Erich Adickes (1866–1925), Eduard Spranger (1914), Ernst Kretschmer (1920), and Erich Fromm (1947) all theorized on the four temperaments (with different names) 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. The factors he proposed in his book Dimensions of Personality were Neuroticism (N) which was the tendency to experience negative emotions, and the second was Extraversion (E) which was the tendency to enjoy positive events, especially social ones. By pairing the two dimensions, Eysenck noted how the results were similar to the four ancient temperaments.
Other researchers developed similar systems, many of which did not use the ancient temperament names, and several paired extroversion with a different factor, which would determine relationship/task-orientation. Examples are DiSC assessment, Social Styles, and a theory that adds a fifth temperament. One of the most popular today is the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, whose four temperaments were based largely on the Greek gods Apollo, Dionysus, Epimetheus and Prometheus, and were mapped to the 16 types of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). They were renamed as Artisan (SP), Guardian (SJ), Idealist (NF), and Rational) (NT). Rather than using extroversion and introversion (E/I) and task/people focus, like other theories, KTS mapped the temperaments to "Sensing" and "Intuition" (S/N, renamed "concrete" and "abstract") with a new pair category, "cooperative" and "pragmatic" . When "Role-Informative" and "Role-Directive" (corresponding to orientation to people or to task), and finally E/I are factored in, you attain the 16 types. Finally, the Interaction Styles of Linda V. Berens combines Directing and Informing with E/I to form another group of "styles" which greatly resemble the ancient temperaments, and these are mapped together with the Keirsey Temperaments onto the 16 types.
The four temperament types
Each of the four types of humours corresponded in ancient times to a different personality type.
The sanguine temperament is fundamentally impulsive and pleasure-seeking; sanguine people are sociable and emotional. They tend to enjoy social gatherings, making new friends and tend to be boisterous. They are usually quite creative and often daydream. However, some alone time is crucial for those of this temperament. Sanguine can also mean sensitive, compassionate and thoughtful. Sanguine personalities generally struggle with following tasks all the way through, are chronically late, and tend to be forgetful and sometimes a little sarcastic. Often, when they pursue a new hobby, they lose interest as soon as it ceases to be engaging or fun. They are very much people persons. They are talkative and not shy.
The choleric temperament is fundamentally ambitious and leader-like. They have a lot of aggression, energy, and/or passion, and try to instill it in others. They can dominate people of other temperaments, especially phlegmatic types. Many great charismatic military and political figures were choleric. They like to be in charge of everything.
The melancholic temperament is fundamentally introverted and thoughtful. Melancholic people often were perceived as very (or overly) pondering and considerate, getting rather worried when they could not be on time for events. Melancholics can be highly creative in activities such as poetry and art - and can become preoccupied with the tragedy and cruelty in the world. Often they are perfectionists. They are self-reliant and independent; one negative part of being a melancholic is that they can get so involved in what they are doing they forget to think of others.
The phlegmatic temperament is fundamentally relaxed and quiet, ranging from warmly attentive to lazily sluggish. Phlegmatics tend to be content with themselves and are kind. They are accepting and affectionate. They may be receptive and shy and often prefer stability to uncertainty and change. They are consistent, relaxed, calm, rational, curious, and observant, qualities that make them good administrators. They can also be passive-aggressive.
Decline in popularity
When the concept of the temperaments was on the wane, many critics dropped the phlegmatic, or defined it purely negatively, such as the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, as the absence of temperament. In the Five Temperaments theory, the classical Phlegmatic temperament is in fact deemed to be a neutral temperament, whereas the "relationship-oriented introvert" position traditionally held by the Phlegmatic is declared to be a new "fifth temperament."
Christian writer Tim LaHaye has attempted to repopularize the ancient temperaments through his books. In Waldorf education and anthroposophy, the temperaments are used to help understand personality. They are seen as avenues into teaching, with many different types of blends, which can be utilized to help with both discipline and defining the methods used with individual children and class balance.
Psychologist and writer Florence Littauer also describes the four personality types in her book Personality Plus.
LaHaye believes there are twelve mixtures of the four temperaments, representing people who have the traits of two temperaments, called Mel-Chlor, Chlor-San, San-Phleg, Phleg-Mel, Mel-San, Chlor-Phleg; and the reverse of these: Chlor-Mel, San-Chlor, Phleg-San, Mel-Phleg, San-Mel, and Phleg-Chlor. The order of temperaments in these pairs was based on which temperament was the "dominant" one (this is usually expressed by percentages). A person can also be a blend of three temperaments. Other four-type models, such as Social Styles, also have similar blends edit] See also
- Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation
- Enneagram of Personality
- Table of similar systems of comparison of temperaments
- Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
- Big Five personality traits
- ^ van Sertima, Ivan (1992). The Golden Age of the Moor. Transaction Publishers. p. 17. ISBN 1560005815.
- ^ Sudhoff, Karl (1926). Essays in the History of Medicine. Medical Life Press, New York. pp. 67, 87, 104.
- ^ http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/neurophysio.html
- ^ Kagan, Jerome (1998). Galen's Prophecy: Temperament In Human Nature. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 0465084052.
- ^ http://www.greekmedicine.net/b_p/Inherent_Temperament.html
- ^ http://sun2.science.wayne.edu/~tpartrid/Manuscripts/HEETemperament1.25.02.doc
- ^ Lutz, Peter L. (2002). The Rise of Experimental Biology: An Illustrated History. Humana Press. p. 60. ISBN 0896038351.
- ^ LaHaye, Tim (1966). The Spirit Controlled Temperament. Tyndale Publishing.
- ^ LaHaye, Tim (1984). Your Temperament: Discover Its Potential. Tyndale Publishing. ISBN 0842362207.
- ^ LaHaye, Tim. Why You Act the Way You Do. Tyndale Publishing. ISBN 0842382127.
- ^ "Personality Dimensions". http://www.personalitydimensions.com/.
Miller L, Mood Mapping 2009
- Arikha, Noga (2007). Passions and Tempers: A History of the Humours
- Helminen, Päivi (1999). Discovering Our Potential: An Introduction to Character Types
- In Our Time (BBC Radio 4) episode on the four humours in MP3 format, 45 minutes
- Rudolf Steiner "The Four Temperaments" 
- John T. Cocoris, Psy.D. Description of the 4 Primary Temperaments at fourtemperament.com
- Descriptions of The Temperament Blends
- Let's Enhance "The Four Temperaments" 
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