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First Four, then Five; why not more temperaments?

April 19, 2014

Someone I had been talking to; the person who informed me of the God Created You book, in fact, told me of pondering the thought that there might be other temperaments yet to be discovered. Since Supine took a long time, perhaps there are others.

I actually once wondered then, if “new temperaments could be discovered” as well, but quickly realized that what we call temperaments are just abstract plottings on a 2D matrix, and they’re not really set in stone. The primary factors are expressiveness and responsiveness, or basically, what Galen called “hot/cold” and “wet/dry“, which he used to plot the temperaments with the ancient elements and humors.

Melancholic was cold/dry, Choleric was hot/dry, Sanguine was hot/wet, so the remaining temperament of Phlegmatic was left in the remaining corner, cold/wet.
The Arnos, by mapping the temperaments to the FIRO-B scoring system (which uses basically a Blake-Mouton style 10×10 grid) discovered that Phlegmatic was really moderate in both scales. Therefore, the former cold/wet (low expressive, high responsive) had to be a different temperament that was not recognized, but was evident in certain people not fitting into the other four. Because it was low in expressiveness, it looked like Melancholy, and his high want of interaction (setting him apart from that temperament) is not usually recognized.

So any “new” temperaments would be determined by lying somewhere else on this graph. There are already others, such as combinations of high in one scale, with moderate in the other. However, these are simply labeled “Phlegmatic” variations of the other temperaments. If it’s low in expressiveness, and moderate in responsiveness, it will be different from a regular Supine or Melancholy, so it is called “Supine Phlegmatic” or “Melancholy Phlegmatic” (which will both be similar, yet lean slightly toward the need of the suffixed temperament).
There are also the compulsive variations, which represent the highest expressive and responsive scores, and are in the extreme corners. In fact, the main APS Manual considers these separate temperaments, saying “there are nine temperament types” (I don’t know why the compulsives are considered separate ones rather than the Phlegmatic blends. The compulsives would actually be the purest form of the temperament needs. The further from the corners you go, the more moderated the need becomes).

So if you look at it, there are 17 different “temperament” groups on the matrix (five “pure” ones, eight “moderate” variations, and four “compulsive” variations). Since there are three areas of need, and you can be any one in each of them, that’s why this system has 4913 different blends.

How the Fifth Temperament was derived:

How the matrix is plotted:

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One Comment
  1. Someone on one of the boards asked about the Supine temperament (they had seen it mentioned somewhere, but hadn’t seen my explanations of it, so then someone “tagged” me so I would be notified and respond).
    So here is an expansion of what I mentioned above in establishing why five in the first place:


    The original four temperaments were plotted on a matrix of the “temperature” and “texture”, based on the “humors” and by extension, “elements” associated with them. “hot/cold” is “expressiveness” (I/E) and “moist/dry” is “responsiveness” (people vs task focus). Phlegmatic [water] was considered “cold/moist” or introverted and people-focused. (While Sanguine [blood/air] was hot and moist, Choleric [bile/fire] was hot and dry, and Melancholic [earth, and some substance considered “black bile”] was cold and dry]).
    Forward to the 1980’s, when a Christian Counseling couple, the Arno’s, license the FIRO-B instrument (which uses scales of 0-9), and map the temperaments to it, they find that the Phlegmatic was actually moderate (4’s and 5’s) in the Expresssed and Wanted (responsive) scales. Therefore, low [0-3] expressiveness and high [6-9] responsiveness (the former “cold/moist” slot) was determined to be a previously unrecognized temperament, that went undetected for so long because of the low expressiveness (so they would look like Melancholies), yet having a high level of want from people, like a Sanguine. (The want then goes unrecognized and unmet, because of the fact that they don’t express it like the outgoing Sanguine does).

    Earlier modern temperament theorist Tim LaHaye apparently surmised certain Sanguines as being “passive”, but did not recognize it as a separate temperament. Meanwhile, at one point much earlier, some critics were saying Phlegmatic was the absence of temperament. Basically, temperaments are driven in their expressive and responsive directions by emotional energies. Phlegmatic, being directly in the middle, did not have this, and this is what gave it its “sluggish” characteristic. (Which again, seemed “introverted” or “reserved” in comparison to Sanguine and Choleric, and people focused or less task focused in comparison to Melancholy and Choleric, so it fit that position all those centuries).

    So it really fit; with myself falling in the category in two of FIRO’s three areas. Comparing it to type, I find that it fits the Behind the Scenes (ISF/INP) Interaction Style, and Phlegmatic does too, which can explain some variations in those types (like Phlegmatic INTP’s being more of the typical “cool, aloof, unemotional”, etc. while Supines will have more of an emotional energy, and to the point of possibly even confusing as Feelers).
    Another area of temperament is represented by the Keirsey groups, where either Supine or Phlegmatic would be represented by NF. This too seems accurate, and many NF’s who take four or five temperament tests will usually come up very strong in either. (Really, Phlegmatic should hypothetically be any Keirsey group or Interaction Style, but again, the classic characteristics fit the same position; just a milder version or it).

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