Temperament (Encyclopedia of Psychology)
An individual's characteristic emotional nature, including energy level, prevailing mood and sensitivity to stimulation.
Individual variations in temperament are most readily observed in newborn babies. Even immediately after birth, some babies are calm while others cry a lot. Some respond favorably to being held while others squirm and protest. Some are soothed by soft music and others do not stop crying long enough to hear it. Because of these immediately observable variations, temperament is often considered a biologically based characteristic.
Hippocrates discussed variations in temperament as early as the 5th century B.C. His hypothesis that there are four basic human temperaments that correspond to various bodily characteristicsholeric, sanguine, melancholic, and phlegmaticendured for many years before modern theories became accepted. American psychologist Gordon Allport (1897-1967), who came to dislike psychoanalytic theory and behaviorism because of their emphasis on seeking universal theories to explain all human behavior and disorders, believed temperament was one of three "raw materials" that distinguish individuals from one another and from other living beings. Along with intelligence and physique, temperament was genetically determined and unique within each person. Allport wrote that...
(The entire section is 719 words.)
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Temperament (Encyclopedia of Children's Health)
Individual differences in human motivation and emotion that appear early in life, usually thought to be biological in origin. Temperament is sometimes considered the biological or physiological component of personality, which refers to the sum total of the physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and social dimensions of an individual.
Ancient Greek and Roman physicians invoked nature, claiming that the proportions of the various humors or fluids in the bodies influenced personality. They thought that there were four basic temperamentsanguine (cheerful), choleric (irritable), melancholic (gloomy), and phlegmatic (apathetic)hich were determined by the predominance of blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm respectively in the person's physical constitution. The ancient theory survives in the form of such expressions as "being in a bad (or good) humor."
The theory of four bodily humors did not survive the rise of scientific medicine in the seventeenth century as an explanation for differences in human temperament, but it has not been replaced by any single universally accepted theory of personality either. During most of the...
(The entire section is 3927 words.)