Temperament and Its Four Types
What is temperament?
Temperament is a set of individual human peculiarities that characterize the emotional and dynamic aspect of a person’s activity (mental activity and behavior). The individual properties and features of temperament may foster or inhibit the development of personality traits.
From a physiological point of view, type of the highest nervous activity that manifests itself in human behavior and the degree of its vitality determines temperament.
The word “temperament” translated from Latin means “the proper relation of parts”. The equal to it Greek word “krasis” (“merger, mixing”) was introduced by the doctor of antiquity, Hippocrates. By “temperament” he meant anatomical, physiological, and psychological characteristics of an individual. Hippocrates explained types of temperament as behaviors determined by the prevalence of one of the four bodily fluids:
- Phlegm (or lymph) makes a person calm and slow – phlegmatic.
- Yellow bile (choli) makes people short-tempered and irritable – choleric.
- Blood (sanguis) makes a person vivid and cheerful – sanguine.
- Black bile (melena choli) makes a person sad and fearful – melancholic.
This concept still has an influence on literature, art, and science. Types of temperament played an important part in modern psychology, in the philosophy of Immanuel Kant and Rudolph Hermann Lotze.
We can rarely see people with strongly pronounced features of a certain temperament. Mixed temperaments in various combinations are more common. However, an excess of features of any temperament makes it possible to attribute a person’s temperament to a particular type.
Important! These notions are not related to temperament!
- Character determines how a person acts; it is acquired and can be changed.
- Abilities determine speed, depth, and strength of gaining knowledge and skills.
Temperament is the basis of character development, has an impact on ways of communication and human behavior.
Temperament is an innate aspect of a person, it cannot be changed. A person with any type of temperament can be capable and incapable. The type of temperament does not influence the person’s abilities; one type of human temperament solves some vital objectives easier than another.
Adults should consider the type of their child’s temperament in order to make educational methods and techniques effective and harmless.
In psychology, there are four temperaments: choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic and melancholic.
Psychological characteristics of the four temperaments – strengths and weaknesses
The type of the nervous system is unrestrainable, strong, unbalanced, and mobile.
- This type is characterized by resoluteness, initiative, and straightforwardness.
- They are mobile and fast.
- They work with enthusiasm, overcoming obstacles.
- They are usually shifty in disputes.
- They are not resentful.
- They have an expressive mimicry.
- Their speech is lively and emotional.
- Choleric are able to make decisions quickly.
- They are open to new ideas and information.
- They fall asleep and wake up fast, sleep tight.
- Feelings appear fast and they are well expressed.
- They are hasty.
- Choleric temperament is characterized by sharp, jerky movements, restlessness, instability, irritability.
- They are impatient.
- They may be sharp and straightforward in everyday communication.
- They may provoke conflicts.
- They are obstinate and cranky.
- Sometimes they don’t want to understand the essence of the problem.
- They tend to be risky.
- Speech is rapid and sometimes inconsistent.
- They are irascible.
- Mood swings and breakdowns are common.
- The lack of energy leads to a bad
- They are sensitive.
Choleric people should learn to control themselves, not to be arrogant.
The type of the nervous system is strong, balanced, and mobile.
- This type is cheerful, energetic, and responsive.
- The mood is changeable, but good mood prevails.
- The feelings of affection, hostility, joy and sorrow occur quickly but they are not strong.
- They are interested in new things.
- They quickly move from one activity to another.
- They easily go through their failures.
- They easily adapt to different life circumstances.
- They have endurance.
- They perform every task with enthusiasm.
- A sanguine speaks loudly, hastily but distinctively, their speech is accompanied by different gestures and facial expressions.
- They are not afraid to communicate with others.
- They control their emotions and feelings in stressful situations.
- Sanguine are able to reasonably defend themselves and, at the same time, they try to normalize the situation.
- They fall asleep and wake up quickly.
- They are persistent in achieving goals.
- They are good organizers.
- If sanguine are not interested in what they do, they will stop doing it.
- Sanguine people do not like monotonous work.
- They tend to overestimate themselves and their capabilities.
- They are unstable in interests and hobbies.
- Hasty decisions.
- Unstable mood.
- It is difficult to cultivate volitional qualities.
In order to achieve success, sanguine people should be motivated.
The type of the nervous system is inert, strong, balanced, and sedentary.
- This temperament is calm, careful, patient and diligent.
- Phlegmatic show sequence and circumstantiality at work, thus they finish all their tasks.
- Phlegmatic people are persistent in achieving their goals.
- Speech is quiet, with pauses, without expressive emotions, gestures, and facial expressions.
- They are taciturn.
- They are able to perform monotonous hard work.
- They do not waste their strengths in vain.
- They are systematic in work.
- Phlegmatic prefer routine to chaotic and rough life.
- This type is able to control emotions and feelings.
- They are not spiteful.
- They are stable in relationships and interests, often monogamous.
- They do not like chaos and mess.
- They are not led by feelings.
- They get along with people of other temperaments.
- Good memory.
- They are reliable.
- Feelings are strong but they are hidden from others.
- They do not pay attention to approval or disapproval.
- They cannot respond quickly to new situations.
- They hide their emotions and feelings.
- Facial expressions and movements are slow and inexpressive.
- They slowly move from one task to another.
- They adapt to new environment with great effort and do not want to get acquainted with new people.
- There are many stereotypes and templates in their life.
- They are not shifty.
It is necessary to develop such qualities as mobility and activity. Inertia and lethargy should be suppressed.
The type of the nervous system is weak, unbalanced, and immobile.
- This type is characterized by increased sensitivity.
- They are able to accept approval and disapproval.
- High demands on oneself and other people.
- They feel others.
- They are restrained and tactful.
- Emotions and feelings are strong and durable.
- In a familiar and peaceful atmosphere people with this temperament type feel comfortable and work very productively.
- Emotional sensitivity.
- Melancholic hide their emotions.
- They do not share their thoughts and feelings with others.
- They cannot go through failures.
- A melancholic is very timid, sensitive, modest, hesitant, and insecure.
- They are often pessimistic, rarely laugh.
- They are lost in unfamiliar surroundings.
- They are not eager to communicate with new people.
- It takes time while they adapt in a new team.
- They have few close friends.
- There is a tendency to loneliness, depression, suspicion. They are detached and unsociable.
- Speech is weak and quiet, sometimes they whisper. They are prone to crying.
- The slightest trouble or stressful situations may lead to breakdowns.
- Melancholic is the only type of temperament characterized by vulnerability and touchiness.
- A melancholic prefers to obey the rules and authority.
- Before important events they always experience anxiety.
- The other types can deal with some problems while a melancholic is not able to overcome an obstacle. In such moments, they need sympathy and support of their loved ones and friends.
It is necessary to be more active, engaged in organizational activity and mentoring in order to feel one’s importance and improve self-esteem. Regular exercises are helpful and effective.
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By Maria Shevtsova
Born in Belarus, 1985, a pedagogue and family psychologist. Taking action in support groups organization and social adaptation of the people with mental disorders. Since 2015 is a chief editor of the undepress.net project, selecting the best and up-to-date material for those, who want to get their life back or help someone dear, who got into mental trap.
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