Psychology Wiki

Five Temperaments

Revision as of 00:35, March 9, 2007 by Dr Joe Kiff (Talk | contribs)

(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
34,200pages on
this wiki

Assessment | Biopsychology | Comparative | Cognitive | Developmental | Language | Individual differences | Personality | Philosophy | Social |
Methods | Statistics | Clinical | Educational | Industrial | Professional items | World psychology |

Personality: Self concept · Personality testing · Theories · Mind-body problem

Five temperaments

Simple emoticons of the five temperaments: Sanguine (top right), Choleric (bottom right), Melancholy (bottom left), and Phlegmatic (center), with the new fifth temperament (top left).

Five temperament theory is a relatively new theory of psychometrics, that expands upon the "Four Temperaments" proposed in ancient medical theory.


The development of a theory of five temperaments begins with 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.

Need Areas and Grading Scales

These three areas of interaction are Inclusion (how much you generally include other people in your life and how much attention, contact, and recognition you want from others), Control (how much influence and responsibility you need, and how much you want others to lead and establish procedures and policies), and Affection (also called "openness"; How close and warm you are with others and to what extent you want others to show warmth and support to you). Note that these areas include the two scales: how you want to relate to others (known as "expressed behavior"), and how you want them to relate to you (called "wanted behavior"). Scores in these scales range from 0 to 9.

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) developed the first typology of temperament in his dissertation Die Temperamentis, and searched for physiological reasons for different behaviors in humans. Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1654) was the first to disregard 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. 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.

  • High N, High E = Choleric
  • High N, Low E = Melancholy (also called "Melancholic")
  • Low N, High E = Sanguine
  • Low N, Low E = Phlegmatic

He later added a third dimension psychoticism, resulting in his "P-E-N" three factor model of personality. (And this was split into the categories of "conscientiousness" and "agreeableness" with a new category "openness to experience" added by the five factor model of Big Five personality traits.)

Similar "four type" models and scales and the regaining popularity of the ancient temperaments

At the same time, other, similar "four personalities" models were being developed. In 1928, William Moulton Marston identified four primary emotions, each with an initial feeling tone of either pleasantness or unpleasantness:

•Dominance, with a feeling of unpleasantness until stimulus is acted upon
•Compliance, with a feeling of unpleasantness until stimulus is reconciled
•Inducement, with a feeling of pleasantness increasing as interaction increases
•Submission, with a feeling of pleasantness increasing as yielding increases

This would be further developed by John G. Geier into the DiSC assessment system, which grades individual scales of "Dominance", "Influence", "Steadiness", and "Conscientiousness". It too consists of pairs of Extroverted aspects (D, I), Introverted aspects (S, C), Task-oriented aspects (D, C) and social aspects (I, S).

David Merrill, an industrial psychologist and university professor in 1964 began researching predictors of success in selling and management careers, which led to the foundation of the Social Styles model [1], which also gauges a person on the two dimensions of "Assertiveness" and "Responsiveness" which describe those who are more responsive as emotionally responsive or expressive and those who are less responsive as emotionally controlled. The descriptors of this dimension include people versus task focus. This yielded the styles:

•Analytical (low Assertive + low Responsive): serious, exacting, logical; values accuracy and facts.
•Driving (high Assertive + low Responsive): independent, practical, formal; values actions and results.
•Expressive (high Assertive + high Responsive): animated, forceful, impulsive; values approval and spontaneity.
•Amiable (low Assertive + high Responsive): dependable, open, supportive; values security and relationships.

In both of these cases, the four factors 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.

Christian writer and speaker Tim LaHaye also helped popularize the ancient temperaments beginning in his books The Spirit Controlled Temperament (Illinois: Tyndale Publishing, 1966), Your Temperament: Discover It's Potential (Tyndale Publishing, 1984 ISBN-10: 0842362207), and Why You Act the Way You Do (Tyndale Publishing, ISBN-10: 0842382127). The latter used illustrations of the temperaments as cartoon characters, "Martin Melancholy", "Sparky Sanguine", "Rocky Choleric" and "Phil Phlegmatic", to help the reader visualize the basic characteristics of the temperaments.

The FIRO-B connection

Meanwhile, some researchers employed FIRO-B, and while Schutz was emphatic that all FIRO scores in themselves "Are not terminal—they can and do change", and that they "Do not encourage typology" (and thus contradicted the notion of "inborn" "temperament"); at some point, the four temperaments were mapped to the FIRO-B scales.

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.

These scores are represented in a 10 by 10 square grid on three charts for individuals' scores in each area. The low scores in both "wanted" and "expressed" would fall into the lower left corner of the charts, and were found to correspond to the Melancholy. Since the scale of "expression" lies on the horizontal axis of the chart, a high score in "expressed" with a low score in "wanted" falls in the lower right corner, and this corresponds to Choleric. The upper right corner represents a high score on both scales, and corresponds to the Sanguine.

From Four to Five, and the role of the Phlegmatic

Basically, the left half represents introverts, the right half extroverts, the upper half those who are more "relationship-oriented", and the lower half those who are more serious, or "task-oriented". However, there was now a totally new twist. In the older model, the fourth temperament, Phlegmatic, had generally been regarded as "introverted" like the Melancholy, yet a less critical or "task-oriented" temperament than the Melancholy and Choleric, like the Sanguine. (For example, the "Low E/Low N" of Eysenck's model). 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. Thus the Phlegmatic (which was even once defined by critics as the absence of temperament), is basically a moderate temperament, and hence in this new system it winds up having only a mid-range score in responsiveness and expression. That placed it directly in the center. The Phlegmatic person is by definition, ambiverted, being capable of interaction with people, but overall, can "take them or leave them". This left the upper left corner unaccounted for. This would represent people with a high "wanted" score in the areas of control, inclusion and affection, (like a Sanguine) but a low "expressed" score (like a Melancholy); the true "relationship-oriented introverts". Researchers began suspecting that there might be a fifth temperament, but most simply regarded it as a "passive sanguine."

In the 1980s, the National Christian Counselors Association, Inc. founders Richard G. and Phyllis J. Arno.[1], after extensive research, identified a separate temperament, which they called Supine, which means “with the face upwards,” like a servant looking up to his/her master. The Arnos refer to it as “the serving temperament,” because the Supine “feels” that their only value is to serve others. Supines like and need people; however, they have a fear of rejection and do not initiate.

Supines are identified by strengths, such as a desire to serve, liking people, and having a gentle spirit. Their weaknesses include expecting others to read their mind (indirect behavior), harboring anger as "hurt feelings," and feelings of powerlessness. They are generally open to receiving affection, but have trouble initiating. Other profilers who use similar systems still refer to it as "Introverted Sanguine." Thus, in some respects, this can be considered as the opposite of a Choleric, just as the Melancholy is opposite of Sanguine.

Since people who fall into this category do not express themselves much, it is believed that this indirect behavior might be the reason this temperament had gone unrecognized for so long. Cholerics are also indirect, but in the opposite fashion (and in some respects can be regarded as "extroverted melancholies"). But since they are high in the expression area, their temperament was readily obvious all along.

The phlegmatic also is peaceful at heart, making them a great asset in social, political, friendship, business, and commercial activities. Their knowledge of the society around them, and the self enables the phlegmatic to interact with the most unlikely of all people. This 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 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.

While the other systems highlighted the Phlegmatic's introverted and agreeable aspects, the Arno Profile System (APS) places a greater focus on its low energy reserve, which causes overall sluggishness, stubbornness, indifference, and a "dry, wry humor" (replacing the more energized emotions of the other temperaments). These are the familiar traits which defined the temperament in terms of "phlegm" in the first place, and here further distinguishes it from the Supine, which is also described as "slow-paced", but nevertheless does have a substantial amount of emotional energy. This is also what causes the Phlegmatic's peacefulness (such as being a negotiater for other people's conflicts), and having the least problems with anger and other negative emotions of the temperaments. Emotions and strife require a lot of energy. Another big difference, is that four temperament theories such as LaHaye's often depict the Phlegmatic as being very fearful (according to LaHaye, "the most fearful"), while in the APS, it is described as having very little fear. (Fear for the Phlegmatic is present primarily in the area of codependency). The Supine, however, does generally have a lot of fear. Rather than being considered "relationship-oriented" as the Supine is, and as other instruments regarded the Phlegmatic; the Phlegmatic is generally described in the APS manuals as "task-oriented", with the clarification that they can relate to people at times, as well. The APS also considers the Phlegmatic "both introverted and extroverted", while the Supine "expresses and an introvert, and responds as an extrovert".

Driving Needs

Each of the four corner temperaments has a driving need that energizes its behavior. For the Melancholy, it's fear of rejection and/or the unknown. He has a low self esteem and figuring that others don't like him, he rejects others before they reject him. The Supine also has low self esteem, but is driven to try to gain acceptance by liking and serving others. The Sanguine is driven by the need for attention, and tries to sell himself through his charm, and accepts others before they can reject him. His self esteem crashes if he is nevertheless rejected. Yet, he will regain the confidence to keep trying to impress others. The Choleric is motivated by his goals, in which other people are tools to be used. The Phlegmatic's lack of a driving need becomes his driving need: to protect his low energy reserve.

Temperament blends

The four-temperament model had 12 mixtures of the four temperaments: 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 new model has two types of "blends": across the three areas of inclusion, control and affection, and within each of those areas. "Across" the three areas, a person can be one temperament in inclusion, another one in control, and yet another in affection. So a "San-Mel" in the older system would be someone dominantly Sanguine, but with some Melancholy traits. There are usually no concrete criterion given, as to in what respect they are one temperament or the other; it just states that they have the traits of both. The new system, however, handily tells us where the different temperamental traits lie: namely, the three "areas of need"! So what the older system would call a San-Mel, might be Sanguine in Inclusion and Affection, and Melancholy in Control. Or they could be any other combination of two to one. The new system does not use designations like "San-Mel"; but rather "Sanguine-Melancholy-Sanguine"; listing all three in the order of Inclusion, Control and Affection. This yields 125 (5×5×5) blends of basic temperaments overall!

Within one of those areas however, there are only eight blends of the Phlegmatic temperament with the other four. These blends lie between adjacent temperaments, mid-range vertically or horizontally. Phlegmatic Melancholy and Phlegmatic Choleric lie between Melancholy and Choleric. Choleric Phlegmatic and Sanguine Phlegmatic lie between Sanguine and Choleric, and so on. The order of the temperaments in these pairs is not determined by "dominance" of one, but rather according to "expressed" and "wanted" behavior, respectively. A Phlegmatic Melancholy expresses himself as a Phlegmatic but wants the same as a Melancholy. A Melancholy Phlegmatic expresses himself as a Melancholy but wants the same as a Phlegmatic. This is different from the older system's "Phleg-Mel" and "Mel-Phleg", though those two blends may be a Phlegmatic blend in one or more of the three areas of the five-temperament theory. (If the eight Phlegmatic blends are counted separately from the primary five, the total number of possible temperament combinations is 13³ or 2197!) "Compulsive" variations of the four outer temperaments lie in the squares furthest in the corner of those areas of the grid. Since Phlegmatic is directly in the middle, it has no Compulsive variation.

Correlations with other psychometric systems

  • The Five Temperaments system is similar in some ways to the 9 types of the Enneagram. If the Phlegmatic blend pairs (whose behavior is similar) are treated as one type each, then added to the five other temperaments, there are nine, and the basic behaviors are comparable, with some being more or less extroverted, introverted, task-oriented, people-oriented, or ambiguous in those areas. The types are similarly plotted on a two scale matrix, but instead of "Expressed" and "responsive" behavior, the scales are "deep Direction" and "surface Direction" with grades of "towards", "away", "against". The Enneagram also has specific “areas” similar to Inclusion, Control and Affection, known as “Social”, “Self-survival” and “Sexual”, but these are not used in a consistent fashion, and usually treated as being in addition to one’s “basic” type.
  • The MBTI system is now the most popular (and had surpassed FIRO-B in the 1970's), and is based on the cognitive functions introduced by Carl Jung. Statistical correlations of FIRO and MBTI scales have been done [2].
  • In connection with MBTI, it is also very similar to the Interaction Styles of Linda V. Berens, in which the scales of “Directing” and “Informing” (which are similar to "task-oriented" and "relationship-oriented" or low and high W) are paired with E/I. The extroverted/directing is called "In Charge", and behaves like a Choleric, as the name itself even implies. The introverted/directing is called "Chart the Course" and corresponds to the Melancholy, who is very analytical and needs order and familiarity. The extroverted/informing is called "Get Things Going" and fits the description of the Sanguine, who is upbeat, enthusiastic and focused on interaction. The introverted/informing; "Behind the Scenes" is a calm peacemaker who sees value in many contributions and consult outside inputs to make an informed decision and is usually linked to the Phlegmatic, but in some respects is also like the Supine. In fact, one of the key traits of the Supine in the area of Control is that they are good at enforcing rules set by others (thus "informing") while the Directing types prefer to make the rules. And Supine in APS' definition more closely fits the style because it is also low in expressive behavior (Introverted) as well as Informative, while the Phlegmatic's behavior is again defined as being ambiverted in both dimensions.
  • Supporting this comparison, David Keirsey, when adapting his temperament system to the 16 types model, renamed "Thinking" and "Feeling" (T/F) to "Tough mindedness" and "Friendly", in his Keirsey Temperament Sorter scores. These descriptions roughly parallel low and high Wanted behavior. Berens herself stated "Directing communications seem to have a task focus and Informing communications have a people focus. MBTI practitioners have long related task focus to a preference for Thinking and people focus to a preference for Feeling". "Descriptors of 'responsive' seem to go with the Informing style of communication and descriptors of 'less responsive' seem to go with the Directing style of communication." (Understanding Yourself and Others: An Introduction to Interaction Styles Telos Publications, 2001 ISBN: 0971214409). T/F along with J/P factor into the Informing and Directing categories. The difference between the Interaction Styles and Keirsey's temperaments is the crossing of either informing or directing communication with introverted and extroverted action, or Concrete or Abstract Communication with Cooperative or Pragmatic action. While the Interaction styles are said to be the "how" of behavior, in contrast to Keirsey's temperaments being the "why", the APS system does also address the "why", in the form of the “driving needs” that energize the behavior of each temperament.


The presence of only two factors in the FIRO-B and Arno systems do not necessarily mean that they are missing elements of behavior picked up in analyses with more factors. They may not directly have Myers’ S/N, or Keirsey's Cooperative/Utilitarian, but they do have the distinct categories of Inclusion, Control and Affection which the others lack. Since the two factors of E and W are repeated in the three areas, this is technically a six factor model! This may also explain the different variations of types, because when the temperaments are blended across those areas, they modify one another so that Sanguine Inclusion behavior will be influenced by a Melancholy Control, for instance; while in the “16 types” systems, the areas of behavior of Inclusion, Control and Affection are blended together throughout the 16 types, as they are in most other systems. The difference between all of these instruments is in the way the various elements of personality and behavior are broken down and measured.

Table of Comparisons

Founder Scales Need Areas Introverted, Task-Oriented Extroverted, Task-Oriented Extroverted, Relationship-Oriented Ambiverted Introverted, Relationship Oriented
c. 400 BC Hippocrates's four humours Scales Not Recognized black bile yellow bile blood phlegm Not Recognized
c. 190 AD Galen's four temperaments Scales Not Recognized melancholic choleric sanguine phlegmatic Not Recognized
c. 1947 Eysenck's four temperaments extroversion, "Neuroticism" Areas not recognized Melancholic Choleric Sanguine Phlegmatic Not Recognized
c. 1966 Temperament by LaHaye Scales not used Melancholy Choleric Sanguine Phlegmatic "passive sanguine" [How to reference and link to summary or text] [2]
c. 1958 William Schutz, Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation-Behavior [3] Expressed,
Inclusion "The Undersocial"
(fka "the Loner")
"The Oversocial" "the Social"
Control "The Rebel" "The Autocrat" "the Democrat" "The Abdicrat"
Affection "The Underpersonal" "The Overpersonal" "the Personal"
c. 1984 The Arno Profile System [4] Expressed, Responsive Inclusion, Control, Affection Melancholy Choleric Sanguine Phlegmatic Supine
c. 1995 Worley Identification Discovery Profile[3] Demonstrated, Desired Social, Leadership, Relationship Melancholy Choleric Sanguine Phlegmatic Introverted Sanguine
c. 1928 William Marston and John G. Geier DiSC assessment D/I; S/C —
D/S; I/C
Areas Not distinguished Conscien-
Dominance Influence "Phlegmatic" counterparts regarded as "Introverted, relationship-oriented" (see right column) Steadiness (see left)
c. 1960's David Merrill, "Social Styles" Assertiveness, Responsiveness Areas Not distinguished Analytical Driving Expressive Amiable (see left)
c. 1996 Tony Alessandra "the Platinum Rule" Personality Styles Indirect/Direct,
Areas Not distinguished Thinker Director Socializer Relater (see left)
c. 2001 Linda V. Berens' four Interaction Styles Initiating-

Responding, Informing- Directing

Areas Not distinguished Chart The Course In Charge Get Things Going Behind the Scenes (see left)
1958 MBTI codes E/I, "Informative/

Directive" (mapped by David Keirsey)


See also

References & Bibliography

  1. Arno Profile System
  2. Not recognized as separate "temperament"
  3. (Not recognized as inborn "temperament")
  4. (fka "Temperament Analysis Profile")

Key texts



Additional material



External links

Around Wikia's network

Random Wiki