Sheldon and Stevens

Research of Sheldon and Stevens

"How shall we observe men, classify them, and measure them? How shall we learn to tell them apart, not jsut as Jim and Joe but as kinds and types of animals? In short, how shall we proceed if we are to ignore superficialities and fasten attention on the basic first-order variables of a science of individual differences."

Sheldon and Stevens were among the first to investigate the behavioral dynamics and the interrelationships between the static and dynamic levels of personality. Building on the previous work of Kretschmer, Sheldon and Stevens' five year study analyzed 200 young men both morphologically and temperamentally, measuring in addition to the primary components a number of apparently secondary temperamental characteristics. "Sheldon's system of rating [was] based on measurements of 17 anthropometric characteristics, in addition to the ponderal index, or ratio of height to the cube root of weight, which is the best single indicator of somatotype" (Diamond, 1957, pp. 139-140).

Sheldon and Stevens (1942) found that three groups of traits showed positive intercorrelation among themselves, and engative correlation with all or nearly all of the other traits. The 17 anthropometric and single ponderal index give rise to three indices, one each for each of the morphological components. The procedure requires that the researchers observe the subjects for at least a year in as many different situations as possible. Conduct a series of not less than 20 analytic interviews with him in a manner best suited for the situation, and to the temperaments and interests of the two principles... turn in a score sheet and assign a rating on as many traits as possible. Repeat observations, interviews, and revisions of rating until reasonably satisfied that all of the 60 traits have been adequately considered and evaluated.

To determine an individual's somatotype, he must separately relate to each component on a seven-point scale. The three somatotypes as described by the authors are:

Viscerotonia...has a relatively long, heavy digestive tube, with large liver, and with other subsidiary organs of digestion showing increased size of development...The lfe of a viscerotonic seems to be organized primarily to serve the gut (p.31). named because the complex traits to which it refers is associated with functional and anatomical predominance of the somatic structures-the moving aprts of the body frame...activity of the voluntary muscles appears to be prepotent. Such a person seems to live primarily for muscular expression (p.49).

Cerbrotonia The prepotent activity seems to be that of conscious attention, which involves an inhibition or "hushing" of other activities of the body (p.69).

Reported correlations of the order of .80 between the two levels of personality (morphological and temperamental) indicate that temperament may be closely related to physical constitution.

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All contents copyright (C) 1995
Peter L. Heineman
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