Types of Temperament

"A plea for the study of individual differences becomes a plea for the recognition of parameters."

Ignoring the lack of constancy in agreement on what variables constitute temperament and concomitant general definition, numerous authors typify temperament based on the premise that temperament refers to characteristic patterns of behavior. Chess and Thomas (1991) identify three temperaments in relation to their "goodness of fit" concept. "easy temperament comprises a combination of regularity, positive approach responses to new stimuli, quick adaptability to change, mildly or moderately intense mood that is preponderantly positive." Difficult temperament, "which comprises irregularity in biological functions, negative responses to new stimuli or people, slow adaptability to change, and intense mood that is frequently negative." Slow-to-warm-up temperament, "comprises negative responses of mild intensity to the new, with slow adaptability after repeated contact" (p.17).

As Bates (1986) observes,

Bates suggests that adults with negative reactions,

Talwar, Nitz and Lerner (1991) ask, "what influences whether a given attribute is regarded as easy or difficult by a parent, teacher, or peer. What gives a given temperament attribute its particular meaning?" (p.30). Super and Harkness (1982, 1988) point out that "the developing person's context is structured by three kinds of influences: the physical and social setting; culturally regulated customs involved in socialization; and the 'psychology' of the caregivers or the other significant people with who the developing person interacts" (p.33). This psychology is termed ethnotheory, "that is, significant others' preferences, aversions, beliefs, or expectations ergarding the meaning of significance of particular behaviors. Together, the three types of influences compromise the developmental niche of the person, that is, the set (or sets) of structured demands on the developing person" (Talwar, Nitz & Lerner, 1991, p.33).

Hofstee (1991) proposes a personalogical approach in viewing behavioral traits. "[actor][behaved in a certain way] because he or she is [trait], for example: The reason Mary hit John is that she is aggressive." Or more sincinctly, "Jane hits John because she tends to do that sort of thing" (p.178).

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Peter L. Heineman
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