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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).

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