Five temperaments

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

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]

History and the ancient four temperaments[edit]

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]

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.

Development of related "two factor" models and the regaining popularity of the ancient temperaments[edit]

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.

  • sanguine quick, impulsive, and relatively short-lived reactions. (hot/wet)
  • phlegmatic a longer response-delay, but short-lived response. (cold/wet)
  • choleric short response time-delay, but response sustained for a relatively long time. (hot/dry)
  • melancholic (also called melancholy) long response time-delay, response sustained at length, if not, seemingly, permanently. (cold/dry)[6]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]


  1. ^ History and Development of the Arno Profile System
  2. ^ Lutz, Peter L. (2002). The Rise of Experimental Biology: An Illustrated History. Humana Press. p. 60. ISBN 0-89603-835-1.
  3. ^ C. George Boeree. "Early Medicine and Physiology". Retrieved 2013-04-15.
  4. ^ Kagan, Jerome (1998). Galen's Prophecy: Temperament In Human Nature. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-08405-2.
  5. ^ "Inherent Temperament". Greek Medicine. Retrieved 2013-04-15.
  6. ^ Chiappelli, Francesco; Paolo Prolo; Olivia S Cajulis (December 2005). "Evidence-based research in complementary and alternative medicine I: history". Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2 (4): 453–458. doi:10.1093/ecam/neh106. ISSN 1741-427X. PMC 1297495. PMID 16322801.
  7. ^ The Spirit Controlled Temperament. Illinois: Tyndale Publishing. 1966.
  8. ^ LaHaye, Tim (1984). Your Temperament: Discover Its Potential. Tyndale Publishing. ISBN 0-8423-6220-7.
  9. ^ LaHaye 1984.
  10. ^ Thompson, Henry L.. "FIRO Element B and Psychological Type".
  11. ^ LaHaye 1984, pp. 81–82.
  12. ^ Arno & Arno 2002, p. 83.
  13. ^ Arno & Arno 2002, p. 140.
  14. ^ Arno & Arno 2002, p. 105.
  15. ^ Arno & Arno 2002, p. 156.