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Modern Temperament vs Classic Temperament factors

August 9, 2014

Reading Personality Junkie’s new book (My True Type) and how it mentions Jerome Kagan’s Galen’s Prophecy, which is the premier book on modern mainstream temperament theory, and how he mentions one of them: [high/low] reactivity, in addition to a similar factor from later research: inhibition/unihibition (both of which Drenth connects to I/E), this got me interested in connecting the modern theory to the ancient one. Another common version uses nine factors outlined by Thomas/Chess and Birch.

I think I once did try to connect the nine factors (for children, basically) to classic and typological factors somewhere, but couldn’t readily match anything consistently, so then set that aside, but recently had been thinking of it again.
I discuss this, because many people today will dismiss classic temperament as some ancient myth, like the astrology it was once remotely connected to, and then point out that the valid “temperament” theory recognized today is the nine factors for children.
But classic theory is based on the expressiveness × responsiveness matrix (originally in terms of moisture), and as we’ll see, it looks like these dimensions have simply been split and refined in this newer theory.

So the notion of four (or by extension, five) temperament types is associated with this old, outmoded theory, and the modern one uses “Traits” without making types out of them (just as the official Five Factor Model theory, which is the one that has the most respect in the larger “scientific” field of psychology). But what’s not usually said is that this modern theory did derive “types” from the factors! (Albeit an incomplete matrix).
They are called
difficult” and

Here are the nine factors and how the three types are determined:

mood, (positive=”easy”, negative= “difficult”, “slow to warm up”)
activity, low=”slow to warm up”
rhythm, regular =”easy”, slow to warm up; irregular=”difficult”
approach/withdrawal (Initial Reaction), positive=”easy” negative=”difficult”, “slow to warm up”[“withdraws on first exposure”]
adaptability, high=”easy” slow=”difficult”
intensity, low/moderate=”easy”, low=”slow to warm up”, high=”difficult”
attention span,
sensory threshold

Now it looks like these can fit the categories of expressiveness and responsiveness.

So it seems reactivity then (which seems to closely correspond to “sensitivity” or “sensory threshhold”), as I/E would correspond to Galen’s “hot/cold”.
Activity, approach (initial reaction) and distractibility (And by extension, persistence/attention span) looks like it too, as they all deal with the response to the outside world (which will set the distinction from the internal world), and thus “response-time delay” and “expressed behavior”.

Now looking for the other factor, “moist/dry” (people vs task), Adaptibility, Intensity, and Mood all seem to fit a more “positive/negative” response that woud shape “wanted behavior”.
Regularity, at first glance doesn’t look like it fits, but then since it’s about “routine”, that can shape wanted behavior as well (since the high regularity child will want less disturbance to his routine, and the low regularity child will be more open to change).
Kagan added another factor, for infants who were inactive but cried frequently (distressed) and one for those who showed vigorous activity but little crying (aroused). This also seems like it might fit responsiveness.

The four factors used for the three types were the ones likely associated with “wanted behavior”. The “slow to warm up” was is basically a “difficult child” with low activity specified (the only instance of an “expressive” factor being used), and said to be fairly regular rhythm [in the last link].

So the three look like partial portraits of Melancholies and perhaps a Phlegmatic.

This looks like how they could match:

expressed Inclusion: activity, initial reaction, distractibility, attention span, sensitivity
wanted Inclusion: mood,
wanted Control: rhythm, adaptibility, intensity

Edit: I’m realizing “adaptibility” is something the Sanguines in Control, as SP’s have a hold on. Their preference is extraverted Sensing, which exploits the current tangible environement, which on one hand, gives them their higher expressed Control (“pragmatism”), but on the other hand, allows them to drop it when needed, and take another course of action. The Chleric in Control doesn’t adapt like that, and will keep pushing. The other “motive focused” temperament, NF, will also adapt, according to others’ wants or needs.

Also worthy of mention is the Taylor-Johnson Temperament Analysis® (T-JTA®) which unlike other “temperament analyses”, seems to be a more “standardized” and “in extensive use as a diagnostic instrument” that is designed for use in individual, premarital, marital, group, and family counseling.

It also has nine dipolar factors (and what they seem to line up with):

Nervous / Composed (wI)
Depressive / Light-Hearted (wI)
Active-Social / Quiet (eI)
Expressive-Responsive / Inhibited (eI)
Sympathetic / Indifferent (wI, wC or perhaps T/F)
Subjective / Objective (E/I: wI)
Dominant / Submissive (eC/wC)
Hostile / Tolerant (wI/wC)
Self-Disciplined / Impulsive (eI/wI or J/P)

The pastor who married us said he used this with us, but I don’t remember any of these; all I remember was Type A/B (She was A; I was B).

One Comment
  1. Saw someone on FB mentioned something “about a dichotomy represented by ENFP and ISTP.”

    I always wondered if there was something tying ST to NP (and SF to NJ), which would “mirror” Keirsey’s cooperative/pragmatic, which is the S/N reverse of that; the way “directing/informing” of the Interaction Styles mirrors “structure/motive” of the Keirseyan groups.

    When discussing “mirror temperaments” (see ), where Keirsey’s SP, SJ, NT, NF are “mirrored” by NP, NJ, ST and SF, which do not represent any particular model in type discussions, but do figure in the Interaction Style factors of “directing” (ST/NJ) and “informing” (SF/NP). D/Inf actually mirrors the conative factor of “structure” (SJ/NT) vs “motive” (SP/NF). The common thread is that T and J are less ‘responsives”, and F and P are more responsive or “people-focused”.

    structure: SJ, NT directing: NJ, ST
    motive: SP, NF informing: NP, SF
    cooperative: SJ, NF ?????????: NJ, SF
    pragmatic: SP, NT ?????????: NP, ST

    Str/M was originally a “cross-factor” in Keirsey’s matrix of S/N and Cooperative/Pragmatic. Converting Keirsey to classic “expressive/responsive” flips it so that S/N becomes the cross factor (tying together diametric opposite Sanguine-SP and Melancholy-SJ, etc.) and cooperative (SJ/NF)/pragmatic (SP/NT) as “expressivness” to match Str/M as “responsiveness”.

    But you would think that the true “mirror” of a factor tying together SJ/NF and SP/NT would tie together NJ/SF and NP/ST. I for the life of me couldn’t figure out such a commonality between those two sets of groups. I didn’t know where to even begin to look, among all the facets of human behavior!
    That should have been the affective (i.e. “Interaction Style”) counterpart for C/Prg; but instead, that would just employ good old, plain, simple I/E.
    I had even mentioned this to Bissell (site linked above), and ran it through the “EAR” (i.e. MBTI Step II, “Expanded Analysis Report”) study he was doing years ago, and it (along with the C/Prg it mirrors) turned up as “indicating slight differences in the EAR subscale preferences” as I mentioned on part 2a of my web series.
    But still, what, practically did this represent? (Bissell doesn’t believe in Keirsey or Interaction Styles, and these studies to him were evidence against those models. But C/Prg at least seemed to make some observable sense).

    Forward to recently, the FB poster was an ENFP “in a weird relationship with an ISTP.” Suddenly the real dichotomy between this two types came to her: The ablility to adapt. “These are two of the most resilient personalities in the MBTI in my experience except they achieve this resiliency in different ways.
    ENFP accomplishes it through adaptability. We can adapt to situations until they unfold into their natural consequences and then we are extremely capable adapting to a new status quo.
    ISTP accomplishes resiliency through NOT adapting, not running risks, scaping reality, and avoiding situations when they see their event horizon in sight. Emotionally we both embody the opposite type’s stereotype. The ENFP ‘spiritual guide’ stereotypes wish they had the emotional quiteness ISTP has and the ISTP ‘warriors’ wish they were a micra as bold as ENFP.”

    So it’s really more of a scale of “resiliency”, ranging from “adaptable” to “non-adaptable”.
    I just now notice, above in the OP, where I added an edit: “I’m realizing “adaptability” is something the Sanguines in Control, as SP’s have a hold on”! which I attribute to Se. This person is saying at least one SP, ISTP, is about not adapting. Yet still being ‘resilient” through that. But then, it’s ST, not SP that we are looking at.

    Of course, this article is on the Birch & Thomas/Chess temperament theory, of which “adaptability” is one of the factors. Trying to link the factors to expressiveness and responsiveness (to maintain some form of continuity with classic temperament), I ended up associating adaptability with expressed Control (which I also associated with Keirsey’s C/Prg!). Yet this is suggesting it is really affective (Inclusion/Interaction) rather than conative (Control/Keirsey). Yet, a mirror to a form of “expressiveness”.

    Translating this to APS, ST is Choleric or Melancholy in Inclusion with a Sanguine or Melancholy Control (the “directive” S’s), and NP is Sanguine, Supine or Phlegmatic in Inclusion with a Choleric, Supine or Phlegmatic Control (the “informative” N’s).
    SF is Sanguine, Supine or Phlegmatic in Inclusion with a Sanguine or Melancholy Control (the informative S’s) and NJ is Choleric or Melancholy in Inclusion with Sanguine, Supine or Phlegmatic Controls (the directive N’s).
    ENFP is Sanguine/Supine or Sanguine/Phlegmatic and ISTP is Melancholy/Sanguine. Of course, the preferred functions are NeFi and TiSe, respectively.

    So we’re looking for something in common among directive S’s and informative N’s, and something else in common between informative N’s and directive S’s. Or to put back together the “mirror temperaments” by name, recall ( “Dreamer” (NP), “Visionary” (NJ), “Aesthete” (SF) and “Realist” (ST). So this hypothetical factor would pair Dreamers and Realists; and Visionaries and Aesthete.

    Realist was initially presumed to be opposite of “Idealist” (NF), which is the opposite in both letters, and one of the conative temperaments. But clearly, it sounds even more opposite than “Dreamer”, which is opposite in S/N, and not the other letter, but rather directive/informative (still represented by T and P, respectively). Realists could have also been called “Factualists”, since both S and T end up associated with “fact”.
    If we assume the commonality is a scale of “adaptability”, and that the other ST’s and NP’s follow the two types mentioned, then Dreamers are resilient through high adaptability, and Realists are resilient through low adaptability. This sounds like it makes sense.

    Pairing these names together suggests a scale of “approach to reality”. One takes it head on, and the other dreams of the possibilities. Instead of using F “personal affect” as the opposite to T impersonal logic, it’s basically using P “openness to new information” as the opposite of cold logic. Of course, the information the openness is toward is abstract, in opposition to the concreteness the logic is applied to. So it’s an opposition of “openness to abstract information” versus “concrete factual logic”. This I had long recognized as part of what shaped informing/directing, for those two groups. But now, we’re looking at those to sets of traits in their own right.

    Someone with a concrete fact perspective will tend to limit themselves to what they see before them, and how things work. It doesn’t matter whether they take what they see before them at face value and filter it through their internal sense of how things work, or filter what they see before them through their familiar experience and then let the object dictate what will work. The Se of STP’s will sound adaptable, but they still have to wait for an opportunity to arise in order to meet an objective. When it doesn’t, then, to translate back to APS, the Sanguine in Control will drop it. So we can see how the Sanguine in Control’s “dependent” swing will correspond to this “low adaptability”. This however, according to APS, is what prevents them from “burning out” (like the Choleric NT might).

    Openness to abstract information, embodied in extraverted iNtuition, will be resilient through hope, of a possible better outcome. That’s what kept me going at times when things seemed hopeless. The “Choleric” N+T aspect had its goals, and would burn out, but it’s the N+P, with its hope (and like for people) that made me bounce back. (and this is even more so for the Supines in Control, the NFP’s.
    ST parents did tell me to “adapt” to situations (“that’s life; deal with it”), which I didn’t want to, but I “adapted” through hoping, where their idea of adapting was through a set of learned facts on how one responds to situations, which they dared not veer from. (They regarded my approach as “haphazard” and risky. Like the way I approached other people, “hoping” for the best instead of engaging in a regiment of “self-improvement”).

    Now, what about the other “mirror” pair, SF and NJ? It wouldn’t be an opposite of “adaptable” if that is really itself a scale, with ST as low and NP as high. Still, there could be an opposite sort of category with its own “high/low” scale. Perhaps one of the other factors in the modern temperament model? But none of them would be an opposite of adaptability. Or could it be simply low resiliency? Perhaps, still through high and low adaptability?

    These are the Visionaries and Aesthetes we’re talking about. Are NJ’s and SF’s less resilient? I could imagine SF’s as such, but don’t know enough about NJ’s.
    The Aesthete makes concrete things nice for people, and the Visionary draws upon the abstract closure of his internal visions. Again, an informing/directing difference, but instead of T impersonal logical as the opposite of the F personal considerations, it’s the J “closure”, which in this case is abstract, but drawn from within (Ni), it is still set and doesn’t really regard what people desire.

    A theme those two names seem to have in common is the “portrayal of reality”. Both can be artistic, and the Aesthete will use visual beauty for its own sake, while the Visionary might use art to illustrate the visions of Ni which are hard to represent. Hence, NJ’s often will share these beautiful but often weird looking (in contrast to the NF’s) patterns, which have deep meanings behind them.
    For NFJ’s , it will be more about human issues, and for NTJ’s, it may be something more mathematical, Like those fractal designs you always see.
    Maybe it’s not about resilience, then. Out of one of the other modern temperament factors; perhaps something like “mood”? Or “intensity”? This deserves serious consideration!

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