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/