How does a person’s temperament differ from his character?

Temperament and character are the basic concepts of personality psychology. It is these personal characteristics that make it possible to understand the individuality and uniqueness of a person. Representatives of various psychological schools explain the peculiarities of interpersonal interaction and work performance by a person by his type of temperament and characterological traits.

Temperament and character in life

Despite the fact that these components of the psyche are used to explain the characteristics of an individual’s activity and behavior, there is a fundamental difference between them, which is rooted in the emergence of these mental structures.

What is temperament

It’s worth starting with a definition, to immediately clarify. Temperament is a number of psychological properties and behavioral characteristics of a person that he is endowed with from birth. Temperament cannot be influenced. Over time, people learn to control negative manifestations, but no one has yet succeeded in eradicating shortcomings, for example, an explosive, hot-tempered temperament. The nervous system influences brain impulses and provokes human actions.

A person inherits a set of psychophysical properties from the first seconds of life. He is unable to influence this process. Evaluative epithets do not apply to temperament. It determines the behavioral characteristics of the individual. The definitions of “good” or “bad” do not apply to him.

Differences between temperament and character

Character, unlike temperament, is formed over the course of a person’s life. The development of character is influenced by a number of specific factors:

  • Education (parents and teachers play a big role in shaping a person’s character).
  • Education (study, the pursuit of knowledge develops perseverance, patience, and result-orientation).
  • Social life (the chosen communication environment shapes the attitude towards society).
  • Financial situation (teaches you to react steadfastly to downfalls, not to lose your humanity during ups).

There are minor factors that can change a person’s character throughout life. Experienced acute crisis in family relationships, loss of a loved one or betrayal. Character can change dramatically. You often hear the phrase: “You’ve changed, you weren’t like that before...”. Indeed, a strong shock can turn a person’s consciousness upside down and completely change him.

This is unacceptable in relation to the subconscious. It is impossible to change temperament. A bright, charismatic person cannot withdraw into himself and become a hermit. Genes cannot be destroyed, but it is at the gene level that temperament is formed.

Character is behavior shaped by environmental attitudes. Temperament is the unchangeable qualities of the psyche that accompany a person throughout life. They influence character.

Characterizing the character

Unfortunately, attempts by scientists to identify types in character have not been successful. Character is considered to be a set of qualities, each person has their own. Character qualities are formed under environmental influences.

Psychology emphasizes the importance of the personal example of parents for a child. It is impossible to force a child to be friendly if mom and dad are suspicious of everything new and express a negative attitude towards new acquaintances.

At the same time, the character can be changed. If you don’t like certain qualities in yourself, you can replace them with others, although this will take time. Such jokes do not work with temperament; the speed of nervous reactions cannot be changed.

What does temperament depend on?

We have sorted out the factors that influence a person’s character. But what about the influence on temperament? Of course, it is impossible to influence the body at the genetic level and convince the subconscious. Temperament cannot be touched or changed on your own or by working with psychologists. It has certain features.

Temperament is influenced by:

  • Age factors. Over time, a person's reaction slows down. Even the brightest temperament of a choleric person can fade against this background. Young people, even while working on themselves, cannot pacify it. Nature has provided for everything. There is no need to rush time. Enjoy being active when you're young. The turn of a comfortable and calm old age will come in due time.
  • Climate, territorial location. For example, the bright, explosive temperament of charismatic Italians has long been known throughout the world, while the inhabitants of the north are calmer and more reasonable. Of course, one cannot generalize. But the fact remains a fact.


They are somewhat similar to sanguine people, but at the same time they are fundamentally different from them. Choleric people are active people, characterized by increased temper and emotionality. Their behavior cannot be predicted; switching their attention from one situation to another is extremely difficult, if not impossible. Almost all the people around them are treated with aggression; an awkward word is enough for the choleric person to get angry, and it takes a few hours for him to come to his senses.

Life, saturated with such a flow of emotions, quickly exhausts. For this reason, a person with a similar temperament can change his mood five times a day. At the same time, they respond with pleasure to new proposals, but as soon as they stumble on the first “bump,” they give up and give up (while sanguine people will always finish the job they started). Why is this happening? Choleric people have too high self-esteem.

This type of people belongs to the category of jealous people and owners. It is useless to argue with them and prove that you are right; they will not hear you and will still remain with their opinion, or they will “press” until the interlocutor accepts their point of view. Cholerics are “domestic tyrants.”

You can recognize them by their stately, “royal” posture. At the same time, they speak very quickly, it is not always possible to understand the speech, they are always late for something, are in a hurry, and fuss. They constantly have a dissatisfied expression on their face, twitchy facial expressions. There are practically no friends, because it is not so easy to endure such a person. Also, choleric people quickly get tired and love to argue, and are initially negative towards their interlocutor.

Properties of character and temperament

Based on the above, we note that temperament influences character traits. Of course, a person’s character is formed independently, but the degree of manifestation of certain qualities determines temperament. Let's say 4 different people have the same character trait - hard work.

Now we will analyze in detail the attitude towards work of employees with different types of temperaments:

  1. The choleric person will passionately immerse himself in the process, but will be aggressive at the first failures, blame others for everything and, most likely, will not complete the job if the problem is not resolved as soon as possible. Moreover, the choleric person does not intend to participate in solving the problem. He is committed to the final result. Interference knocks him out of his working rut.
  2. A sanguine person will enthusiastically embrace a new project; failures will not affect his mood. He will easily survive and forget them. Most likely, he will give preference to something new.
  3. A suspicious melancholic person will worry around the clock about non-existent problems and invent potential failures. He works hard, but due to his own insecurity, he is rarely satisfied with the result of his own efforts.
  4. A phlegmatic person will immediately focus on a new task. Outwardly, he will seem uninterested, but this is absolutely not the case. In his head he had already begun to work out a plan for implementing the assigned tasks. He doesn’t need haste, cold calculation and balance are his main helpers on the path to a better result.

Therefore, sensitivity is provoked by temperament, and character is formed only by the perception of external factors.

Character and temperament are not necessarily closely related. The same character trait of a person is interpreted and perceived by others differently, depending on temperament.

It is fair to note that temperaments of the same type do not occur in nature; they are mostly mixed and predominate to a greater or lesser extent.


Temperament is much easier to divide into types than character. They are well known: choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic and melancholic. Although most people have a mixed temperament type, let's look at them individually.

Choleric is the most unbalanced type. It can be compared to a lighter - click - it lights up. This type of character helps in emergency situations when quick decision-making or reaction speed is important.

Sanguine - ease of communication, friendliness, speed of reaction. Rarely goes to extremes. If interested, he is efficient; if the work does not inspire, he tends to be lazy.

A melancholic person is often a person with increased anxiety, but has depth and thoughtfulness. Impressive.

Phlegmatic people are the calmest people. Outwardly, they are most often calm and not prone to showing emotions. Slowly, but diligently.

You can determine what type of temperament a person belongs to by observing his behavior. In addition, there are a huge number of tests to determine the type of temperament.

It is very difficult to divide characters into certain subtypes. Many scientists and psychologists have tried to do this. As a result, several character divisions were formed. Character is divided into types as follows: strong-willed, emotional, rational. This division is related to temperament.

Character is also classified according to a set of certain traits:

  • in relation to a person’s attitude towards people around him (rudeness, responsiveness, callousness, etc.);
  • attitude to activity (laziness, activity, conscientiousness);
  • attitude towards things (stinginess, frugality, accuracy);
  • attitude towards the inner “I” (pride, selfishness).

We are not talking about temperament, whether it is good or bad; there can be no assessment here. But we often evaluate character traits. For example, when certain traits are combined, they say about a person: “Complex character” or “easy character.”

  1. Temperament is innate, character is acquired.
  2. Temperament cannot be changed, you can learn to restrain it, but character can be adjusted under the influence of external factors.
  3. Temperament is divided into generally accepted types, but many scientists tried to classify character, but did not come to a consensus.
  4. Temperament cannot be assessed; we evaluate character traits.

Temperament is a characteristic of an individual in terms of the dynamic characteristics of his mental activity, i.e. tempo, speed, rhythm, intensity of the mental processes that make up this activity. (V.D. Nebylitsyn)

There are three areas of manifestation of temperament:

  1. general activity (intensity and volume of interaction with the environment, the individual’s tendency to self-expression, transformation of reality);
  2. features of the motor sphere (speed, pace, rhythm, total number of movements);
  3. emotionality is divided into:
  • impressionability - the subject’s affective susceptibility, his sensitivity to emotional influences;
  • impulsiveness - the speed with which emotion becomes the motivating force of actions and actions without prior thought and a conscious decision to carry them out;
  • emotional lability is the speed with which a given emotional state ceases or one experience changes to another.

Is it possible to change temperament

I think the phrase “Nothing is impossible in the world” is inappropriate here. A person’s temperament, unlike character, cannot be changed. It is impossible to influence the moment of its acquisition. It is transmitted at the genetic level from parents and ancestors. The only thing we are capable of is to control ourselves in not the best manifestations of our temperament and character. Contain aggression and irritability, do not become despondent and do not offend near and dear people in a fit of impulsive passion.

Not everyone manages to overcome their emotions, but those few who have mastered themselves are happy and enjoy the benefits of temperament. An emotional and incendiary choleric person is able to attract the attention of the crowd and lead them with him. The enthusiasm of a sanguine person is infectious. Those around him feel comfortable and happy in his company. The compassion and sincerity of a melancholic person is captivating. And the sanguine person, despite everything, moves forward and achieves his goals. Skilfully use the character and temperament that nature has endowed you with. Conquer the heights of success.

Basic provisions

Based on the relationship between the two main concepts of personality psychology, scientists have identified blocks in the character structure that can be briefly described as follows:

  • An emotional block characteristic of melancholic and sanguine people. It includes empathy, impulsiveness, and emotional sensitivity.
  • A volitional block, pronounced in choleric people. It is based on integrity, categorical judgments, and responsibility.
  • An intellectual block characteristic of phlegmatic people. It includes a penchant for analysis and reasoning, thoughtfulness, intelligence, cognitive interest, and the ability to understand the figurative meaning of statements.

How to change yourself and your character for the better

In addition, character and temperament are reunited in the overall direction of the personality. This is noticeable in a person’s attitude towards himself and others, towards his own and other people’s work, towards works of art. Personal orientation consists of goals and prevailing motives.

Important! The active formation of the basic foundations of character occurs in the period from 2 to 10 years. It is at this time that the child needs to see a positive example in an adult and adopt positive traits from him. Communication is of great importance for the development of character. There will be a huge difference between the character of a child whose family practiced respectful and trusting communication between members, and the character of a child in an orphanage.

During the preschool period, the main role model for a child is his parents. From the moment they enter school, in addition to parents, teachers and classmates influence the formation of children's character. During adulthood, the character of a man or woman is influenced by colleagues and superiors.

Additional Information. It is a common belief that the formation of character is completed in youth, but some of its traits are acquired only in adulthood.


People with this temperament resemble the wise turtle Tortilla. They are leisurely, movements are smooth. Calm and balanced melancholic people prefer to spend time in their cozy “nest”. They make good friends, they are loyal and devoted, and will take your side in any issue. At the same time, they are easily influenced, naive and gullible. If a melancholic person falls under the influence of a choleric person, he will simply wipe his feet on him.

They have low self-esteem, get tired quickly, and need to rest periodically. Susceptible to depression and frequent mood swings. The main thing they value is peace of mind. Their whole life is planned out to the smallest detail and any deviation from the plan can drive them into hysterics. Melancholic people are the best housewives.

How to determine? Such people speak slowly, their story is constantly interrupted, and they can jump from one topic to another. They are shy and modest. They have a limited circle of friends, but they make good comrades. Melancholic people do not like large companies and prefer quiet gatherings.

Management methods

Like Eysenck, other theorists were interested in quantifying the different temperaments. Statistical methods such as factor analysis have been applied, but with mixed results. However, there is a theory that seems to have a stronghold in this area. Using three dimensions: emotionality, activity and sociability, the EAS temperament model was developed.

EPQ-model in the EAS system – management and formation of temperament

Temperament is (in psychology and psychopedagogy the method of complex analysis is used to correct behavioral factors) a variable “quantity” that can be controlled in conditions of imperfection – by children.

Statistical analysis of screening results allows us to identify personality disorders. The results of the testing studies showed a high percentage (41%) of people with probable personality disorder among the sample healthy population.

From this we can conclude that managing an adult’s mature temperament is possible only in working conditions:

CholericThe leader adheres to an authoritarian type of management.
He is characterized by control, and may be interested in the cohesion of the team, the presence of high goals, and the independence of his subordinates. The latter, under the guidance of the choleric person, must show creativity in their work. A choleric worker is very contradictory - he is active, but does not like haste and a pace set from outside.
SanguineIPDE-s analysis reveals the strengths of a leader:
  • professionalism;
  • democratic management style;
  • resolving issues based on the situation.

A sanguine leader does not like lazy people. A sanguine subordinate can be controlled if he is spoken to as an equal. The type is reserved, businesslike, strives to take the place of a leader. It will not be possible to communicate familiarly with such a subordinate, since he, like a leader, divides people into useful people, relatives and colleagues.

Phlegmatic personTEMPS-A analysis revealed the peculiarities of activity management by a phlegmatic leader.
He adheres to a loyal type of management, does not control his subordinates and often shifts responsibility onto them. If he has to be responsible for his actions, he uses an authoritarian management style over his subordinates. The latter, in turn, being also phlegmatic, will obediently carry out commands and carefully check the results of their work. They do not take the initiative and do not show team spirit.
MelancholicSTAI-Y testing allows you to identify the strengths of a melancholic person. This type of leader is considered emotionally closed. He doesn't show his feelings. A melancholic subordinate is interested in work where there is no negative atmosphere. A melancholic person is an ideal subordinate for a leader with an authoritarian type of management.

A set of analyzes is used in companies' personnel policies to identify the most favorable candidate for a position. Other control methods may also be used.

Reward and Punishment

When working with temperament, you should always take into account the good and bad sides of a person.

How you can influence negative traits helps in managing the positive characteristics of a person’s temperament:

  • The architecture of temperament distinguishes “untouchable” workers - those who do not like instructions, but carry out everything clearly according to plan.
  • “Speed” workers show their temperament in communication – they respond quickly, remember, and more. This indicates a strong personality, and the speed indicator is closely related to emotions.
  • To influence “inhibited” individuals (phlegmatic, melancholic), you need to put an unbearable burden on their shoulders. Such people will be the first to notice that the most difficult thing has befallen them, and any crisis in the company can be avoided.

These methods allow not only to recognize character traits in a person, but also to create a favorable atmosphere for work in a group/team. Temperament helps bring out the strengths of an individual.

This is a kind of lever by which you can pull and direct a colleague or subordinate in the right direction, not without benefit for yourself. In psychology, methods for managing temperaments come down to understanding the characteristics of character manifestations and analyzing communication.


Temperament can be studied through existing assessment methods. The most widely used traditional method in psychology is the questionnaire , in which either parents rate their children or individuals rate themselves.

Proponents of this system point to a number of advantages over observational or laboratory procedures, including the ability of an informant to estimate a child's "usual" temperament over time, ease of administration, and good psychometric properties of the technique.

Some questionnaires use a true/false format, others use a Likert scale in which informants rate the degree to which they agree with each statement.

An approach that may serve as a model for incorporating multiple informants and assessment strategies is Achenbach's empirical scoring system for measuring psychopathology.

Widely used instruments produce standardized results among informants (parent, individual, teacher) using questionnaires. More recently, they have also enabled the integration of observational data.

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