Temperament Through Time

drawing of four faces showing temperamentsThe history of temperament goes back over 2400 years. Around 450 BCE, four (or sometimes five) elements (water, fire, air, earth, and ether) were used to define temperament. Then, about 50 years later, Greek physician Hippocrates’ system of the four humours became popular—an excess of a substance in the body (black bile, yellow bile, blood, and phlegm) would dictate a person’s personality.

Years later, in 190 ACE, Galen, a Roman physician/philosopher, also recognized four temperaments (sanguine, melancholic, choleric, and phlegmatic), based on the balance of hot/cold and dry/wet in each person. And about a millennium later, in 1025, Persian polymath Avicenna furthered the four temperaments to include a connection to emotions and thoughts. After the medieval period, various psychologists and philosophers (Immanuel Kant, Rudolf Steiner, Alfred Adler, Erich Fromm, etc.) developed their own theories encompassing the four temperaments.

Probably the best-known modern-day system is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), developed in 1958 and based on Isabel Briggs-Myers’ study of Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung’s four psychological types. Then, David Keirsey developed his four temperaments theory—first (dionysian/artful, epimethean/dutiful, apollonian/soulful, and promethean/technological) in 1978, then in a newer version (artisan, guardian, idealist, and rational) in 1988, and connected them to the MBTI types.

This brings us up to today, the 21st century. Most people have heard of the MBTI, and many have taken the formal test and/or some version of it online. There are even diets and dating services (Chemistry) using temperament as a foundation now. So, temperament theory may be around for yet another 2400 years.


Career Typing

RIASEC Holland Hexagon DiagramThis week, a summary of some of the major (and minor) career personality assessment tools in use today:

MBTI, Keirsey Temperament Sorter, DISC, FIRO, Strong Interest Inventory, Holland Codes, Multiple Intelligences, and Kingdomality

System Founding Overview
MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) During WWII, by Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother, Katherine Briggs, to help women entering the workforce Based on Swiss Psychologist Carl Jung’s typology; four dichotomies: Extravert vs. Introvert, Sensor vs. Intuitive, Thinker vs. Feeler, and Judger vs. Perceiver relate to energy, learning/taking in information, making decisions, and need for order in life, respectively
Keirsey Temperament Sorter 1956, by personality psychologist David Keirsey Based on ancient temperament theory by Hippocrates and Plato; four temperaments: Idealists, Rationals, Artisans, and Guardians—further divided into two categories each (roles) with two types each (variants)
DISC (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Compliance) By John Geier, based on psychologist William Marston’s 1928 published theories Quadrant behavior model; tests behavior preferences in four areas (the acronym):

  • Dominance—control, power and assertiveness
  • Influence—social situations and communication
  • Steadiness—patience, persistence, and thoughtfulness
  • Compliance—structure and organization
FIRO (Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation) 1958 by American psychologist William Schutz to assess how teams performed in the Navy 9 “types” measure amount of interaction a person desires in/with groups—Expressed and Wanted levels of Inclusion, Control, and Affection/Openness on a 0–9 scale; frequently used with MBTI; reflects learned behavior
Strong Interest Inventory 1927, by psychologist E. K. Strong, Jr., to help people exiting the military find jobs; modern version based on Holland Codes Interest, not personality, assessment;The results include:

  • Level of interest on each of the six Holland Codes.
  • 30 Basic Interest Scales (e.g., art, science, and public speaking)
  • 244 Occupational Scales, which indicate the similarity between the respondent’s interests and those of people working in each of the 122 occupations.
  • 5 Personal Style Scales: learning, working, leadership, risk-taking, and team orientation.
  • 3 Administrative Scales used to identify test errors or unusual profiles.
Holland Codes (RIASEC) By psychologist John Holland Holland’s believed “the choice of a vocation is an expression of personality”; describes both people and work environments.Used by U.S. Dept. of Labor for classifying jobs. All people have some interest in all, but top two or three are used in occupational guidance.

Model: the hexagon. Those areas touching are more closely related.

The six personality and work environment types:

  • Realistic—practical, physical, hands-on, tool-oriented
  • Investigative—analytical, intellectual, scientific, explorative
  • Artistic—creative, original, independent, chaotic
  • Social—cooperative, supporting, helping, healing/nurturing
  • Enterprising—competitive, leading, persuading
  • Conventional—detail-oriented, organizing, clerical
Multiple Intelligences 1983, by American developmental psychologist Howard Gardner Used in education; 8 major intelligences:

  • Verbal/Linguistic
  • Mathematical/Logical
  • Spatial
  • Body/Kinesthetic
  • Musical
  • Interpersonal
  • Intrapersonal
  • Naturalistic
Kingdomality 1990, by vocational psychologist Richard Silvano 12 medieval vocations as career types:

  • Bishop
  • Benevolent Ruler
  • Shepherd
  • Black Knight
  • Scientist
  • Discoverer
  • Merchant
  • Prime Minister
  • Engineer-Builder
  • Dreamer-Minstrel
  • White Knight
  • Doctor

 And a neat Enneagram type career site I just ran across: http://www.enneatype.com/

Personality Type and Life Purpose

question mark with personPersonality type, along with other factors such as our interests and environmental influences/upbringing, can have a major impact on our life purpose. Typing systems provide a way of defining our nature—our strengths, weaknesses, and values. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is used by career counselors and coaches to help students and clients select their ideal career. The Enneagram is used by spiritual seekers as a personal development tool. What can each of these systems tell us about what we should be doing with our lives?

The MBTI focuses on external behavior—how we prefer to act in most situations, which can be seen from our actions. Through activities we perform regularly, we develop a standard skill set for our type. These skills then become strengths to use in our work.

The Enneagram, on the other hand, focuses on internal motivations for actions—the “why” rather than the “what”. These are our inner drivers behind our behavior, our fixations, and what must be present in our lives for our happiness. These values indicate what we must strive for in life.

Together, both the MBTI and Enneagram provide a more complete picture of our nature and nurture and suggest ways, through balancing opposing forces, that we can achieve our potential and life purpose.

X-Men Chronicles: Professor Xavier and Magneto—Alignment

Professor Xavier vs. MagnetoFor the second in the X-Men identity series, we look at another factor of identity—alignment. Anyone who’s ever played roleplaying games is aware of alignment: lawful vs. neutral vs. chaotic, and good vs. neutral vs. evil. In most all fiction, alignment (good guy vs. bad guy) plays a major part in the drama and climax of story. But, even more so in X-Men.

The leader of the X-Men, Professor Charles Xavier, is training a group of young people with the mutual gene to do good in the world and use their powers for the benefit of society. On the other side, Magneto also leads a group of mutants to reclaim their power in the world—not for the benefit of society, but for their own benefit. Not exactly anti-society (which would be “evil” and seek to destroy society), but anti-establishment, seeking to change society and promote themselves. For these reasons, I see Xavier as lawful good (doing good for society), and Magneto as chaotic neutral (doing whatever it takes to promote themselves). These alignments define their purpose.

The alignment issues for Xavier and Magneto are a combination of their background (Charles: privileged, Magneto: tragic) and personality (Charles: assimilating, Magneto: rebellious). Nurture and nature combining in the choices they make that determine their character.