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Another step in the Evolution of Temperament and the Neuroticism Factor

October 7, 2013

Continued from:

I recently find this paper: which says

“Another noteworty personality taxonomy that captured an extraversion dimension was the model of the four temperaments described by Hippocrates and Galen, which was later reorganized into two dimensions (changeability and excitabiliity) by Wundt (Wundt & Judd, 1897). The choleric and sanguine temperaments can be characterized as being more changeable whereas the melancholic and phlegmatic temperaments are less changeable. The changeability dimension was later conceptualized as extraversion by Eysenck (H. J. Eysenck & Himmelweit, 1947; H. J. Eysenck, 1981).”

Became curious about that “exciteability” dimension (which would be either people/task or Eysenck’s Neuroticism) dimension), especially since Eysenck would associate “excitability” (cortical at least) with the Extraversion scale; but the article doesn’t go into it.

So looking up Wilhelm Wundt (who I had never heard of before), I find the information in this book:

“Cholerics and melancholics are characterized by strong emotions, sanguines and phlegmatic by weak emotions. Rapid emotional changes are typical for cholerics and sanguines, and slow for melancholics and phlegmatics”. (p 5)

We can see here another step in the evolution of temperament, and this seems to be the split-off point of Neuroticism from people-task or “proto-Agreeableness”. Task focus is strong emotion, and people focus is weak emotion. (And the speed of “emotional changes” would of course be the “changeability” that represents extraversion or “expressiveness”).

This seems a bit different in some ways, as Sanguine is traditionally seen as having strong emotions, and the book (p. 4) mentioned Kant as having Sanguine and Melancholic as having emotion “dominate” (sanguine: strong, quick but superficial; melancholic: slow, long-lasting and deep; while for choleric and phlegmatic, it’s about action, with one being rapid and impetuous, and the other slow and inert with a simultaneous lack of emotional reactions).
But the key for the sanguine is superficial (which was tied with the old “short sustain” dimension that shaped people focus). In the long run, the emotions are weak, as the sanguine seeks more stimulation (I believe stimulatability should be extended to other dimension besides Extraversion; i.e what we actually “want” as distinct from how we “express”), and thus ends up less “Neurotic” (more “Stable”) from not holding in the negative emotions.

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