What is Temperament? Detailed Classification

The human being has different ways of being and acting in his daily life, and this causes feelings, specific behaviors to be generated in him that can develop positive or negative relationships with others. Here we will deal with what temperament is .

What is temperament?

Temperament is the particularity and intensity of each person in terms of both psychic affects and the structure that dominates humor and motivation. This term comes from the Latin temperamentum which means “measure”. It is the particular way in which human beings interact with others.

This can often be related to what is hereditary and does not affect external factors, unless they are very strong and followed attitudes. It is also the layer of the instincts and affections of the person, related to the will, intelligence, thus modeling the character, on which if there is influence of the environment.

Similarly, it occupies the ability in terms of adaptation, mood of the person, intensity, level of activity, accessibility and regularity. Temperament is also the generalized nature of the person’s personality, which is directly related to characteristics of the nervous system.

In the same way, temperament is directly related to the endocrine part; This is due to genes, which manifest different physical and psychological traits. Temperament and character are what define the personality of the individual; as well as the development of both in different areas of the person’s life, this makes us unique and human.

In the same way we can affirm that temperaments or temperament is the descriptive feature of the mode of attitude that characterizes us before other people as unique and irreplaceable beings, so that we get along with them.

During the 20th century, the study of temperaments was very important, occupying a special and important place within psychology. Currently, it is of great daily value and useful for people who seek a more consistent meaning to their life through temperamental characteristics as well as virtues.

Classification of temperament according to Hippocrates

In relation to this point we can mention two doctors of the past, Hippocrates (460-370 BC) and Galen (129-200); They studied four types of temperaments, which they considered as fluids of the soul due to the interrelation of the different affects of the body, namely:

Sanguine: This refers to people with a highly variable mood.

Melancholic: it is about sad and dreamy people.

Choleric: they are people with a mood characterized by a strong attitude and impulsive feelings, in which yellow and white bile predominated.

Phlegmatic: It deals with people who are late in making decisions, have characteristics of apathy, often cold-blooded, in this type of attitude phlegm was the component that predominated in the body’s humors.

Regarding this, the theories of the Russian physiologist Iván Pávlov are also added, who argued that the particularities of the temperament are related to the nervous system that at the same time has three characteristics: strength, balance and speed related to each other.

From there you can see the mixture of the characteristics that give rise to the different types of nervous system; all of which characterize each temperament individually: fast and balanced nervous system (sanguine), slow and balanced nervous system (phlegmatic), weak nervous system (melancholic) and strong, fast and unbalanced nervous system (choleric).

As for the division made by Hippocrates himself, there are four types of temperaments according to the predominance of the four types of humors that psychology encompasses, namely:

blood temper

It is based on a fast and balanced nervous system, has a high sense of sensitivity, low level of activity and fixation on concentration and a slight reactivity to the environment. It is characterized by a slight relationship with activity and reactivity; He is usually extroverted and has a high flexibility to changes in the environment.


They are warm, cheerful, lively people who enjoy life whenever they can.

They are receptive people by nature, the impressions that come from outside easily get inside, causing a release of responses.

They make decisions based on feelings rather than reflection.

They are so communicative that they pass for being extroverts.

They have an unimaginable capacity for enjoyment and it generally spreads to those around them, producing a feeling of being fun lovers.

These types of people generally speak before generating thoughts, they are extroverted, active and intuitive.

phlegmatic temperament

It is based on a slow and balanced nervous system characterized by low sensitivity but high concentration and activity on attention. It is also characteristic of a nervous system with low reaction to environmental stimuli, and a slow correlation with activity; They tend to be introverted and have low flexibility in terms of changes in the environment.

He has the characteristic of being calm, he never loses his composure and is generally never upset. Due to its balance, it is usually the most pleasant of all the types of temperaments. This type of temperament makes people not mix much with other people’s activities. They are generally apathetic people, apart from that they have good reason. They do not try to be leaders, however if they were they could be very capable.


They are calm, calm people, who never break down and who have such a high boiling point that it is rare for them to bother.

They are serious, impassive and very rational people.

They tend to be calculating and analytical.

Commonly this type of temperament is of people with a lot of capacity and balance.

This is the type of person who is most easily handled and because of this they are naturally agreeable people in terms of temperament.

The phlegmatic is usually a cold person and takes the time necessary for his decisions.

They prefer to have a happy, pleasant and non-discordant life experience to the point that they get involved in life as little as possible.

melancholy temperament

This is based on a weak nervous system, it consists of high sensitivity, high level of activity and they have high concentration, they also have a low reactivity in terms of environmental stimuli, and also a low ratio of activity to reactivity.

They are introverted and are characterized by low sensitivity, a high level of activity and concentration of attention, as well as low reactivity to environmental stimuli, and a low correlation of activity to reactivity; he is introverted and is characterized by low resistance in relation to changes in the environment.

They tend to be self-sacrificing, perfectionistic, and analytical. They are very sensitive in relation to the emotional. They are prone to being introverted, however they can also have an extroverted attitude. They do not get involved in meeting people, on the contrary, they let people be the ones to approach them.

They are usually reliable due to their perfectionistic traits and conscientiousness; since it does not allow them to push someone away when they are counting on them. They also have great character and this helps them finish what they start. They tend to be difficult to convince to start a project, due to the fact that they constantly consider all the pros and cons of the situations they live in.


These have the characteristic of being melancholic, they are the richest and most complicated of all the types of temperaments.

They can be analytical, self-sacrificing, perfectionistic, and gifted types.

Their nature is emotional and sensitive, they can often be predisposed to suffer from depression.

These kinds of temperaments get more enjoyment out of the arts.

They tend to be prone to introversion, but according to the influence of feelings, they can achieve a variety of talents.

They present sudden emotional changes and get angry easily.

They do not like to be interrupted from the moment they concentrate on something that they consider important.

They fall in love easily and they do it with absolute seriousness.

choleric temperament

It is also based on the fast and unbalanced nervous system, it has low sensitivity and a high level of activity and concentration in terms of attention, however it has a high level in relation to the reaction to environmental stimuli and a high correlation, likewise, it also presents flexibility in terms of changes in the environment.

They are people who, when they are told something that annoys or dislikes them, violently try to remain silent When someone describes or says something that annoys or dislikes them, they try to abruptly silence the people who make the comments . They are quick, quite active, practical in making decisions, self-sufficient and independent.

They are extroverted, however on a lesser scale than those with a sanguine temperament. They usually set goals and objectives. They are very ambitious, assess quickly and intuitively, and recognize the possibility of obstacles that may arise in the pursuit of their goals.


They are warm, quick, active, practical, willful, self-sufficient and independent people.

They tend to be determined and have firm opinions, both for themselves and for other people, and take an imposing attitude.

They are extroverted, however not more so than those with a sanguine temperament.

They usually prefer activity.

They do not need stimulation in relation to the environment, but on the contrary they stimulate it themselves with their ideas, plans and unattainable goals.

They tend to set very high goals and plans, since they consider themselves capable, however they do not always fulfill them, not because they do not have the capacity but because of lack of time or loss of interest.

Dominant and even manipulative to reach the objectives.

They tend to be manipulative, and at the same time they are very intolerant.

They want to do whatever they want.

Characteristics of the biotemperamental or naturalistic temperament

Some researchers pointed out a new model of temperament, which they called biotemperamental or naturalistic, it develops as the person grows and evolves within the social environment in which they develop.

Affinity for own skills.

Share the attributes with other people.

Combined Temperaments

Due to the fact that no person has only one temperament in terms of personality, they were developed, as an improvement of the division of the four temperaments, as well as the combinations of them, where one of the temperaments will be the dominant one and another one is usually secondary; An example of this is that the person with COL-MEL temperament, this means that the COL temperament becomes the dominant and the MEL the supplementary. Therefore, different combinations are obtained such as: MEL-COL, FLEM-SAN, FLEM, among others.

temperament in psychology

If we take the branch of psychology, temperament is called the personality of the individual whose beginning is in the inheritance of genes. Likewise, character is called the part of the personality of the subject that is created during the life of the person, the culture and the experience of it

We can affirm that one is born with a type of temperament already given or predisposed to certain personality traits, however these are strongly conditioned by the environment, this refers to the vital experiences of the individual, which is transformed and allows the development of personality or skills so that their ease is consistent. Here you see the phenotype concept.

Among some examples of personality temperament traits we can mention: trait anxiety and extraversion, these currently add sufficient scientific evidence from psychobiology and other studies that are related.

The temperament of a person can perfectly affect their life, an example of this is the experience of episodes of stress.

Genetic inheritance and environment

This is a hypothesis that temperament has a genetic basis. However, this has become difficult to verify directly. It is also said that as a general rule, temperament is thought to be given and related to genetics, and character is born from the previous one, feeding on experiences and experiences created by the environment.

What is character?

Regarding this definition, a reference is made to the way in which people express the internal temperament, however, in this case, there is not such direct stability as in the case of temperament as such. In character, changes can occur over time.

So these modifications become possible since individuals learn with the passage of time and experiences, all depending on what they have learned, hence there are a number of changes in terms of character, this will depend on the benefits that this generates.

Differences between temperament and character

If we talk about character such as temperament, they become a set of characteristics of individuals that define personality. The main difference between temperament and character is about the origin, unlike this, the temperament is biological and innate, the character is usually learned.

In relation to this, when an individual is intended to be exhaustively described, we normally see in detail the aspects that define the character of a certain person, since character is what people themselves show in terms of social level.

As a second difference we can mention that this is derived from the first and there is the possibility of modification. The temperament is usually biological and more stable and can be kept the same, unlike the character has the option of being able to change through learning.

In conclusion, as we have already seen, temperament and character are usually two concepts that are easily confused by people according to the relationship that exists between the two, since they are part of the personality itself.

We hope that the article that we have just described will be of benefit to the reader and serve as a guide for the improvement of some attitudes that people often take in life situations, and all of them are related to these two concepts such as temperament and the character.

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