Temperament and Personality

"How shall we observe men, classify them, ane measure them? How shall we learn to tell them apart, not 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?"

Strealau and Angleitner (1991) in reviewing the international perspectives on the theory and measurement of temperament noted that during the years 1975 to 1979, the term temperament was used in the title and/or summary of 173 abstracts. During the next five years (1980-1984), it was used in 367 abstracts, and during the years 1985 to 1989, the term appeared in 463 abstracts. As the authors note, even if the review of temperament literature is restricted to those abstracts,

The modern history of temperament research began in the late 1950s with the New York Longitudinal Study conducted by Alexander Thomas, Stella Chess, and their colleagues. Similar research was conducted in Russia by Boris M. Teplov (Moscow) and Vulf S. Merlin (Perm, Ural) and their students. The decades which have passed since the beginning of this modern approach to the studies of temperament may be characterized as a period of essential development of temperament research which grew both in the number of studies and the range of problems being attacked. As Van Heck (1991) notes,

Dominating the literature on temperament are behavioral studies in the context of child development and social adjustment where temperament and assessment are proposed as bipolar measures of social adjustment behavior. Bates (1994) notes that among the empirical advances in the area,

Recognizing that studies often fail or succeed depending on the quality of the assessment instrument, many researchers have posed questionnaires, interviewing schedules, home observations, coding systems, and laboratory methods for assessing early temperament. Yet the literature reveals little research in theory and measurement of adult temperament traits. The controversy in comprehending temperament is further complicated by authors who use the term personality and temperament synonymously. The literature offers no agreement as to what temperament is. Hofstee (1991) argues that temperament is a subclass of personality taking as his standing that personality is the study of traits:

Strelau (1987, p.182) discusses five respects in which there is at least a popular difference between personality and temperament.

Hofstee (1991) argues against all of these conditions. Diamond (1957) considers the dispositions which we share with other animals as being temperament. Those aspects of individuality which arise from distinctively human capacity Diamond calls personality. Phillips (1983) defines personality as:

Some psychologists, writes Phillips (1983),

A comprehensive theory of personality, according to Mehrabian (1991) must provide answers to the following questions. The first of three contemporaneous questions addresses the interrelationship among behavioral, personality, and situational variables:

The second set of longitudinal questions addresses issues of development and modification of personality over time:

The terms personality and temperament are both used in the literature to refer to temporary and relatively stable individual differences in behavior. Researchers in both temperament and personality make use of the trait concept for a convenient description of individual differences (Angleitner & Reiman, 1991). As Zuckerman (1991) notes, "personality trait dimensions based on self-report questionnaires or ratings by others, represent the most abstract level of description" (p.130). One of the most essential differences between personality and temperament inventories as Angleitner and Strelau (1991) suggests is that,

Van Heck (1991) referred to temperament as "those traits or mechanisms which (1) form the biological basis of personality, (2) reflect style rather than content of behavior, and (3) have a high heritability" (p.165). This sentiment is echoed by Buss (1991) who regards temperaments as "a subclass of personality traits defined by: appearance during the first year of life, persistence later in life, and the contribution of heredity" (p.43). The three personality traits that meet these criteria as defined by Buss are emotionality, activity, and sociability, from which are derived the acronym EAS. "Emotionality is defined as distress that is accompanied by intense automatic arousal". The major components here are fear and anger. "Anger is defined as the expenditure of physical energy [and] consists solely of movements of the head, arms, legs and body". Major components include tempo, vigor, endurance, and motivational components. "Sociability is defined as preference for being with others rather than remaining alone (p.49-50). Major components include incremental seeking out others and remaining with them.

Talwar, Nitz & Lerner (1991) viewed temperament as a "key instance of behavioral individuality" (p.29). Gray (1991) identified temperament as reflecting parameter values that determine, for a particular individual, the operating characteristics of our three emotional systems, alone and in interaction with one another" (p.123). Gray's three systems are termed the behavioral inhibition system, the fight/flight system, and the behavioral approach system. Bates (1994) noted "considering the general meaning first, the widest unanimity in the definition seems to be that it concerns behavior traits which appear early and can be seen consistently, at least within a major class of situations" (p.123).

Citing the 1980 temperament Research Symposium in New Haven, McCall (1986) notes that temperament "involves those dimensions of personality that are largely genetic or constitutional in origin, exist in most ages and most societies, show some consistency across situations, and are relatively stable, at least with major development areas" (p.17). In short, McCall proposes that temperament is relatively stable, continuous, pervasive, and inherited. Slabach (1991) suggests "temperament refers to stable cross-situational patterns in observed behavior" (p.215).

Mehrabian (1991) refers to temperament as a characteristic emotion state described and measured by averaging emotion states across representative samples of situations. Diamond (1957), on the other hand, prefers to define temperament in terms of the ease of arousal of unlearned patterns of adaptive behavior, and to define its dimensions in terms of whole classes of adaptive responses, rather than in terms of emotional expression.

The dynamics of temperament are addressed by Hinde (1986) who argues that ,

Phillips (1983), citing Allport (1937), notes that tempearment represents the "dynamic organization within the individual of those psychological systems that determine his unique adjustments to his environment" (p.2).

The most typical definition of temperament was proposed by Thomas and Chess (1986). Temperament, by their definition, can be equated to the term behavior style. Each refers to the how rather than the what or the why of behavior. By this definition,

Assuming the basic premise that temperament refers to a set of phenomenon with important developmental histories rather than performed on hard-wired characteristics, Goldsmith and Rothbart (1991) propose three assessment principles. The first principle is that behavior manifestations of temperamental dispositions change during development." A second principle of "developmentally sensitive assessment of temperaments is that the elicitors of temperament-related behaviors change during development." A third development assessment principle is that "observed individual differences in temperament can be due to either rate of development of temperament-related behavior or characteristic (or strength) of disposition, or to a combination of the two" (p. 250). Angleitner & Reimann (1991) who, citing Buss and Poly (1976), felt that the concept of temperament is rather straightforward and represents little difficulty referring as it does to individual differences in temper, that is, characteristics which are largely stylistic ways of behaving in social situations" (p.192).

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Peter L. Heineman
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