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Introduction to Temperament Theory

September 27, 2012

The theory of personality began with temperament, which has traditionally been measured in terms of expressive and responsive behavior. Expressive behavior is generally how much a person approaches others in interaction. Responsive behavior is how much a person wants to be approached by others. These are the terms employed by a modern version of temperament theory, but they have had various names throughout the centuries.

Factoring these two dimensions together generated four temperaments. Here are the basic descriptions:

Melancholy – has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, prone to genius, very creative, mind tends to work overtime, going over and over events of the past, needs alone time to regroup. (Also prone to “black moods”).
Sanguine – fun loving, will leave in the middle of a chore or assignment if they find out there is something fun going on somewhere, never wants to grow up, stressed out if there are not places to go and people to see.
Choleric – a drive to greatness, but will step on your toes to get there, needs lots of appreciation along the way.
Phlegmatic – quite stubborn and set in his ways, uncomfortable with confrontation and seeks peace at all costs to avoid strife, feels he needs sleep to regroup but never gets enough, very annoying to the Choleric as this is the one temperament that cannot be coerced into doing something if they don’t want to.

Here are more detailed descriptions of the temperaments:

We see here, that two are very outgoing and energetic, the other two are slower paced, and two are more “serious”, while the other two are less serious.

These temperaments were named after body fuids, or “humours” which were at the time believed to cause the associated behaviors. (Blood (sanguis), yellow bile (cholera), black bile (melas, “black”, + kholé), and phlegm). This is now known not to be the case, but the names stuck as a good correlator of those fluids to the traits associated with them.
The first form of this matrix tied the humors to the four elements.

Original Galen matrix:

cold hot
wet water/phlegm air/blood
dry earth/black bile fire/yellow bile

Basically, the more outgoing ones are “hot”, the slow paced ones are “cold”, the less serious are “wet”, and the more serious are “dry”.
Eventually, we would get what has become the most popular version of the factors: introversion/extroversion and people/task focus.
Introverts would be the more reserved types, extroverts would be the more outgoing and gregarious ones, people-focused would respond more to people, and task-focused would respond more to tasks and less to people. This one is important to consider, because we would think extroverts would be “people-focused”, and perhaps introverts be “task-focused”, but that is not necessarily the case. And this question comes up a lot in discussions on personality.

It was later determined that one dimension determined how a person expressed, while the other determined how much they wanted from others (also called “responding to”). While people can express themselves as introverts or extroverts, the truly people-focused are those who can be said to respond as extroverts (despite how they actually express), while the task-focused respond as introverts (again, despite how they express).

By using the FIRO-B instrument, whose matrix is graduated from 0-9 to map the temperaments, moderation was introduced into temperament by National Christian Counselors Association, Inc. founders Richard G. and Phyllis J. Arno; as opposed to the dimensions being a hard “either/or”. One major development from the use of moderate scales, was the discovery of a fifth temperament, in addition to the ancient four.

The temperament that was moderate in both scales was determined to be the familiar, ancient Phlegmatic. The Phlegmatic had always fit into the low expressive (introvert, long delay), and people-focused (responsive, short sustain) position of the matrix. However, while the Phlegmatic is not as extroverted as the Sanguine and Choleric, nor as task-oriented as the Choleric and Melancholy; he is neither as introverted as the Melancholy, nor as relationship oriented as the Sanguine. They can basically “take people or leave them”. They both express moderately to people, and respond equally to people or tasks, depending on their low energy reserve, which is their real driving motivation. (Hence, not being very driven). Thus the Phlegmatic (which was even once defined by critics as the absence of temperament), is basically by definition a moderate temperament, or an “ambivert”.

So the low expressive, high responsive area was deemed to be the previously unrecognized fifth temperament.
The Arnos called it Supine, meaning “lying on the back” or “with the face turned upward”. (Think of a dog looking up to or rolling over for his master, or a servant slightly bowed before his master. So instead of body fluids, it’s named after a body position).

Supine – one who loves to do things for people and enjoys people, but is very indirect and shy about letting this be known. (One version adds “May feel like has tape over mouth…”)

This temperament likes people and wants to be accepted, but lacks the mechanism (boldness) to express this need by approaching others, like the Sanguine does. Thus, they use tasks, like service to others, to try to win this acceptance.

A need to have people “read their minds” and know that they want interaction is a trait that is stressed in the APS definitions. Supines also tend to think of themselves as worthless, while others are worthy. Since they depend on acceptance by others, they have problems with guilt.

Other points from the Supine report is “likes to be with people, but they tend to stress him and wear him out (if he is with them for long periods of time). He needs to alternate between being with people, and doing tasks”.

Full article:

  1. Somebody pointed me to this free book (220 p) someone published on the APS concept of temperament:

    God Created You
    A Guide to Temperament Therapy

    by Dr. Rick Martin

    Click to access GCY.pdf

  2. Now, someone has VIDEOS on APS!

    Main introduction:

    Each of the five temperaments:

    (I’ll just say that they are apparently VERY Charismatic in doctrine, from seeing their other video topics. Still, for those who prefer audio rather than text, now there is something for you).

    There’s also my review of the book mentioned in the previous comment:

  3. “Consciousness” is a term that gets used a lot in the Jungian framework of the more mainstream type theory, but I see now where it figures directly in the factors of APS. (Just like I had realized the temperaments in the different areas, can be thought of as “ego states”, or essentially, archetypal complexes, like the ones associated with different functions for each type):

    So, the Responsiveness scale can be thought of as dealing in the “consciousness” of the need of people. As God Created You (link in comments, right above) shows, all temperaments, including the Melancholy, need people. (The APS manuals sometimes give the impression that temperaments with low responsiveness or “Wanted” behavior do not have these needs).

    The Sanguine is fully conscious of this need, and then approaches people to have it met. The Supine is also conscious of the need, but his fear of rejection (the low expressiveness that ultimately stems from overstimulation by the environment) leaves him in a bind by pushing him to withdraw and hope the others will prove themselves accepting, and invite him instead.
    The Melancholy is not conscious of the need, and so all he is left with is his fear of rejection, which then pushes him to also withdraw, and not want to be approached, unless a stricter criteria is met. Thus, they will end up with a few people they will want to socialize with.
    The Choleric is not conscious of the need either, however, his lack of fear of rejection (stemming from an understimlation by the environment) leads him to approach others, not to fulfill a need of people in themselves, but for his goals.
    So in both of these latter cases, the need is there, just not as conscious as the former two.
    The Phlegmatic tends to be conscious of the need (at least, moderately so), but his low energy doesn’t push him, to either approach or want others beyond a certain point. So he can take them or leave them.

    • Oct 21, 2017
      Still building upon this “consciousness” concept.

      expressed Inclusion: consciousness of need of stimulus from the environment

      high (E):
      feels understimulated, turns to environment to seek more
      dominant ego-state and associated cognitive function are “extraverted”
      low (I):
      feels overstimulated and withdraws to “individual” to regroup
      dominant ego-state and associated cognitive function are “introverted”

      wanted Inclusion: consciousness of the need of other people
      wants inclusion by others, allows them to “define the relationship”, softens communication to “informing”, tends to consider “people” in judgments (F), and/or has the “openness” to them provided by and environmentally oriented perception function (P).

      only wants uninvited interaction according to a higher criteria; wants to define the relationship; hardens communication to a dry “directing”, more “task” focused, tends to impersonally look at “things“ in judgments (T), and/or prefers the “closure” of an environmentally focused judgment function (J)

      expressed Control: consciousness of the need to take on action or responsibilities

      quick to take action, based on simply what “works” (pragmatic)
      slower to take action, needing to verify what’s “right”

      wanted Control: consciousness of the need to share responsibilities

      allows others to make decisions, including following the dictates of their “motives”
      does not want to follow other decisions unless a strict criteria is met according to the dictates of a “structure”

      (Affection is likewise similar, and of course, the cognitive functions of type are also about “consciousness”).

      Neuroticism (the “fifth factor of personality”) can be defined as the lack of consciousness of one’s need for people or the disparity (incongruence) between the consciousness of the need and the need of stimulus from the environment

  4. Found this page, which gives good descriptions on the four classic temperaments, plus 12 blends:

  5. 2017/04/15 at 4:20 pm

    In this comment: I discussed the realization that extraversion and introversion were based on stimulation specifically of dopamine. Now, I’ve seen someone suggest the other factor of temperament is based on another chemical, serotonin!

    Dopamine: “I want.”
    Serotonin: “I am satisfied.”

    Sanguine: High Dopamine, High Serotonin
    Wants a lot out of life and is easily satisfied. Energetic and happy.

    Melancholic: Low Dopamine, Low Serotonin
    Wants little out of life but is not easily satisfied. Slow and depressive.

    Choleric: High Dopamine, Low Serotonin
    Wants a lot out of life but is not easily satisfied. Energetic and drawn to intensity.

    Phlegmatic: Low Dopamine, High Serotonin
    Requires little of life but is easily satisfied. Slow, calm and undemanding.

    (I would say, again, Phlegmatic would be moderate, and this would lead to their less “driven” behavior; while Supine would be low dopamine and high serotonin. It should also be pointed out that “responsiveness” has corresponded to “wanted behavior”, but this refers to want of interaction from others, or more accurate, the strength of the criteria one has in responding to uninvited interaction. People who are less satisfied will tend to have stronger criteria in who they will allow to approach them. So then dopamine “I want” would define want by the level we approach others for our goals. So the Choleric, for instance, “Wants” others for the goal more than they want the actual interaction from others).

    With this, temperament theory has come full circle, as it started with the belief that certain body fluids caused the behavioral dispositions, and here, we see it’s just a different set of fluids that are likely responsible!

  6. A few APS temperament combination profiles

    The APS manuals unfortunately do not give an exhaustive set of profiles for at least the 125 basic Inclusion-Control-Affection temperament combos (which would jump to 2197 if they included the eight Phlegmatic variants, and 4913 if they added to that the four “compulsive” variants).

    However, the main manual, and the little book on temperament they produced (The Missing Link), does throw in a total of five combinations. There’s also the “Case Studies” manual, which includes numerous different combos of actual people used as the cases (usually marital/family conflicts), but while you can get a sense of the behaviors, these aren’t descriptive temperament profiles.

    In the correlation I have made with MBTI type, the first two areas are what connect, with Inclusion (social skills) being the “Interaction Styles” (I/E + a combination of S/N with T/F/J/P), and Control (leadership and responsibilities) as the Keirsey temperaments. The third area of Affection (deep personal relationships) is left out, and would mark a variation in the person’s interpersonal skills. It’s similar to Interaction Style, but will be “deeper”. When Inclusion and Affection are both the same temperament, then they can be counted as the general Interaction Style.

    The Missing Link:

    Sanguine in Inclusion, Supine in Control, Melancholy in Affection (GSM):

    Extrovert and needs people, parties and going places to meet the need for Inclusion. Need to socialize is the basis for attracting the few deep personal relationships (A) needed to to share in making decisions and accepting responsibility for the decisions made. (C)
    In the original Leo Ryan FIRO-B interpretation, this combination would fall into the category of “Table Hopper” (The Sanguine goes from table to table, but the Melancholy chooses only a few to become close to).

    In my correlation, this is an ENFP, who is less open in deep personal relationships than typical for the type.
    On one of the type forums, there was once an ENFP, who identified with Melancholy descriptions and thought she was an ESFJ (though everyone knew she was ENFP, and she, IIRC was aware that her Feeling attitude was more introverted), and when I gave this description, it helped her settle on ENFP.

    Melancholy in Inclusion, Melancholy in Control, Sanguine in Affection (MMG):

    Dependent on significant others to help meet temperament needs, but has to become aware of these needs and learn to verbalize them. (“Responsive” behaviors are basically awareness of one’s needs. The Melancholy is low in that area, and thus choosing only a few “significant” others as opposed to seeking more interaction; while the Sanguine is high, and also expressive of it).
    This combo is known as an “Affectionate Homebody”. This would be an ISTJ that is more open and expressive in deep personal relationships

    Melancholy in Inclusion, Choleric in Control, Supine in Affection (MCS):

    Needs to learn to meet Control need in a way foreign to them. Should avoid work or living where they are under the thumb of a strong authority, and if forced to submit, must see it as their own choice, because “no one can make me do anything I do not want to do”. They also need to learn to be more direct in showing love and affection to family and friends. The Affection may cause them to feel unloved and unaccepted.

    This would be an INTJ who is more dependent on acceptance from close relationships. Differing from my combo only in Inclusion (and yet still close in that area), I used this profile to get a sense of my own blend (since they don’t have it anywhere). Similar, though it’s harder to get me to convince myself that some order imposed on me is my own choice. The difference there would be one of Te (logical order is based on external authority) and Ti (logical order is based on what makes sense to me). So the MCS might find it easier to submit to authority than the SCS! (Likely why INTJs [MCx] stereotypically tend to do better in institutional sciences than INTPs). All the double-Supine does is get me terrified of punishment, as I stew against the “irrational” rules!

    Temperament Theory“:

    Melancholy in Inclusion, Choleric in Control, Melancholy in Affection (MCM):

    Inclusion is very private, self-protective, expressing and wanting very little social interaction, task-oriented and extremely serious about life in general. Affection has deep, tender feelings, but lacks the mechanism needed to express those feelings.

    The Choleric in Control is strong-minded tough-willed, and being a “dominating” temperament, will even dominate their Inclusion and Affection. So they can even overcome their Inclusion traits and force themselves to be outgoing and personable. It can also pretend to be affectionate and loving. (This is what I have been identifying with the “pragmatism” of the NT)

    The combination of Control and Affection will cause them to make up their mind to something and carry it through to the end, regardless of the feelings of others. This will be the combination most likely to be an abusive parent or spouse. They will be very vengeful when rejected or angered. In FIRO-B, this combo is called “The Dictator”.

    Since Inclusion and Affection are both Melancholy, then Affection will blend right in with the surface social skills of Inclusion, so that both are represented by the INJ “Chart the Course” Interaction Style. So this would be the “pure” INTJ.

    We should keep in mind that FIRO-B tends to be rather negative (sort of like Enneagram), and APS retains some of this influence. So while some people may shudder at some of these descriptions, usually when typing a character (real or fictional) who sounds like this, this is the type that will often come up. It’s the negative side of the type or temperament combo.

    Sanguine in Inclusion, Melancholy in Control, Sanguine in Affection (GMG):

    The Melancholy in Control will discipline the Sanguine in the other areas. They will still socialize in the same way as other Sanguines, but it will be in a disciplined manner (this will correspond to the difference between FeSi and SeFi, which of course is also the difference between “J” and “P”). Sometimes, they will still be ready to abandon tasks to meet the need to socialize and be with people. They may compromise standards and moralities to keep from being rejected. Procrastination is for shorter length than for others who are prone to procrastinating, and will usually take the form of talking or socializing.

    With Inclusion and Affection again being the same, this would be the purest ESFJ. Being married to one, I see first hand how there is a swing between responsibility and procrastination and frivolity. (Which gets annoying when they’re jumping on you about “responsibility” all the time, and then sometimes flipping and being frivolous when you decide to be serious).

    They can react with a hot temper and will exhibit their anger in a learned behavior (especially when pushed into unknown areas; here we see the SJ’s Si perspective). The Sanguine in Affection will be quite sexually oriented, but this too will be disciplined by the Melancholy in Control.

  7. 2021/06/27

    A half year, and I just now realize I never posted here the news about the Worley Identity Discovery Profile system! (I had posted it to my “Personality Matrix” page on FB, though).

    Basically the same as Arno Profile System (not sure of what the exact connection is), Worley uses a different questionnaire, and renames the terms:

    The factors are “Demonstrated” and “Desired”, the three areas of need are “Social”, “Leadership” and “Relationship”, and Supine is replaced by “Introverted Sanguine“. (The “Phlegmatic blends” are the same).

    They were dormant for years, but as of 2018 have come back with a revamped website ( and also a new book, Inside Insights.

    He starts out giving the basics, of what he calls the “triangle” (his own version of a Maslow pyramid; of temperament>character and personality mask), and then a chapter for each of the five temperaments including each of the three areas, then the three “domains” themselves, then the dimensions of demonstrated and desired, and a chapter on the eight Phlegmatic blends.

    Now, we have something we have not seen in APS: the “GAP” theory! (Great Anxiety Present). This consists of the bulk of the “inconsistent” temperaments that do not demonstrate and desire congruently; i.e. the Choleric and Introverted Sanguine. The boundary of the GAP cuts diagonally across the two temperaments on the map (which is the same 0-9 matrix as FIRO and APS) and running from the most extreme score of one neighboring temperament’s Phlegmatic blend to the other. (0/4-5/9, and 4/0-9/5, and including 1/5, 2/6, etc. encompassing everything to the corners. 3/6 and 6/3 will be the sole scores of the Introverted Sanguine and Choleric not in the GAP, and the highest two scores of the ISP and PC, and lowest scores of the PIS and CP are also not in the GAP. Pure Phlegmatic in the center is of course completely out of the GAP. “The fuller the GAP [i.e. closer to the corners], the more anxious, intolerant, insensitive, sensitive, stressful, blunt, stubborn, indifferent, cold and driven the person will be” (p.173). These are then discussed for each area, and suggested as determining who might be the best “team leader”.

    We see here also the “Neuroticism” of the GAP temperaments Choleric and even the otherwise “responsive” Introverted Sanguine. The Melancholy is also Neurotic (as originally determined by Eysenck, along with Choleric) but not in the GAP. The Melancholy of course is often all of those things listed, and I’m not sure how Worley would explain this, but from what I know of them, since their demonstrated and desired needs are congruent, they will tend to be met more than the GAP temperaments. Their “Neurotic” traits will come from the fact, as I’ve discussed (especially in the [APS-based] God Created You review, that a low “desired” need really runs counter to the more “Stable” (low Neuroticism) need of other people, which they are lower in awareness of. So they will shut people out, and yet still be very miserable, and there will be no seeming cure for it. This probably has to do with the fact that the Melancholy is low in both demonstrated and desired, so you won’t see their “Great Anxiety” demonstrated for a long time, and they may not even feel it themselves, as connected with any desire for people. With Choleric and Introverted Sanguine, it will be made quite obvious to themselves and those around them!

    Next is the psychometrics of the matrix, and then some case studies

    He actually addresses Keirsey and MBTI, even making the same correlations of the Keirsey groups to the humour temperaments as I do: SJ: Melancholic, SP: Sanguine, NT: Choleric, NF: Phlegmatic.
    Other chapters compare it to Taylor-Johnson, LaHaye and DISC.

    I even directed one or two people to take the assessment, due to the better prices. (One, an INTP very similar to me in several ways, and who had gotten similar scores on the FIRO-B years ago, came out pure Melancholy. Though she does often think she is ISxJ, and acknowledged that it could have been from “my particular state of mind when taking the test at the moment”, and when I mentioned this to Worley himself, he did say:
    “She can switch from one temperament to the other in a heartbeat. Once she grasps that concept she will become a new person.” (Which I don’t completely understand).

    When I assumed this was falling by the wayside, I was interested in maybe buying it, if he was ever willing to sell.
    I would have renamed it the “TIDP” (Temperament Identity Discovery Profile), and keep the three areas names and the term “demonstrated” (d) and change “desired” to “allowed” (a)(which I believe is a bit more accurate for what responsiveness really is). “Introverted Sanguine” would become “Leukoplasmine (aka ‘Supine’) [the ‘fifth humor’ of white blood]” (L) (Since “Leukine” is a brand name, and “leucine” is an amino acid).

    So now, if I created my own, I would use “approach” for expressiveness, and “response” for responsiveness; and simply “Affective” (A), “Conative” (C) and “Super-affective” (S) for the three areas (Aa, Ar, Ca, Cr, Ss, Sr); and Phlegmatic expressives would become “Ambiverted [temperament]s”, (AS, AC, AM, AL) while the responsive Phlegmatics would become “[temperament] Bi-focused” (aka “Balanced”; SB, CB, MB, LB). Compulsives would be “+” (S+, C+ M+. L+)
    So all 4913 possible combinations could be expressed by a 3-6 letter (or character) code.

  8. Decided that a better term for “responsiveness” is receptiveness!

    The only other uses of the term on here has been from the “Solar vs Lunar” article where it is “Lunar”, and the review of Pierce’s Motes and Beams, where it was the “feminine” relationship to “the object” (and thus also “lunar”) ( But this goes along with the notion that the classic female stereotype is that of an SF type, which is ‘responsive” , or “role-informative”.

    But it is better than “responsive”, which [literally would] assumes “responding positively“. Technically, responding negatively (as someone low in the factor might do; they don’t usually simply ignore, which be [literally] not “responding”) is still “responding”. So just to clarify what the other factor is, how we “receive” approaches from others better covers it, where (“expressiveness” is how much we tend to do the approaching of others).

  9. All this time, I never thought of an extension of DISC to a fifth temperament! I figured both Phlegmatic and Supine would fall into the “S-Steadfastness” type (Just like they both fit “Behind the Scenes” Interaction Style of MBTI type).

    But in just reading “The influence of temperament style on a student’s choice of and performance in a computer programming course”
    Pieter Blignaut, Annelie Naude
    and it explained that

    “Those who are slow-paced and people-oriented fit the steady temperament style (S).
    They are easy-going and dependable. They adapt to what is going on around them rather than attempting to lead. They cooperate with others and are most comfortable in supportive situations (Boyd, 1994).”

    Then it clicked, that this is really the “moderate” temperament (Phlegmatic) after all. All along, while not mentioning it, IIRC, the first impression I had gotten from the names usually given is that “Steadiness” or “Steadfastness” was the task-focused Melancholy, and that “Compliance”, which I originally saw called “Conscientiousness”, was the more acquiescent (responsive or receptive) to people Phlegmatic (or Supine).

    Putting it as simply “Steady”, and not the other two variations of the term makes it sound more Phlegmatic. Yet it also makes it sound less Supine, which is hardly a “steady” temperament.

    So now, a new letter is needed. As the true diametric opposite of “Dominant” (Choleric), I’d say “A-Abdicating/Abdication”, and the full name of the model now would be “DISCA”!
    “Compliance” sort of sounded like the opposite of Dominance, and thus appeared Supine, but “compliance” is more a perspective of rule enforcement, which requires a natural “task focus“ or low receptivity to unauthorized influence; including that which is purely their own; i.e. taking “pragmatic” action. This is the key to the Melancholy or Keirsey “Guardian” (SJ)’s low receptivity or structure focus (and hence, ending up “cooperative”, which might also sound like high receptiveness; but is only toward those authorities that meet the strict criteria that characterizes “task focus”). The Supine on the other hand, is more likely to yield to anyone willing to lead.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Supine “service”: introverted or extraverted Feeling? « "ERIPEDIA"
  2. Renamed Fifth Temperament Becomes TV Trope | "ERIPEDIA"

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