Temperament and character in psychology - similarities and differences

Many people quite often compare a person's character with his temperament. Often even they are considered identical to each other. However, if we turn to scientific views, we can see that there are several points of view regarding the interaction of character and temperament: some scientists identify them (A. Ruzhitsky, E. Kretschmer), others contrast them and focus on the rivalry between them (V. Virenius, P. Viktorov), others consider temperament to be a component of character (S. Gorodetsky, S. Rubinstein), the latter are confident that temperament is the natural basis of character (B. Ananyev, L. Vygotsky).

Temperament and character in psychology

Temperament in the human sciences is understood as a set of characteristics of the course of psychodynamic processes in the body. This characteristic of an individual is innate. Most often, a child’s temperament type is inherited from one of the parents. Genetic laws also explain the presence of mixed types of temperament.

There are 4 types of temperament: melancholic, choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic. The uniqueness of each person is determined by their character.

Character is a combination of an individual’s personal traits that manifest themselves in activities and behavior. Character formation depends on:

  • Features of family upbringing and living conditions of a person. Severe emotional shock and the loss of loved ones leave an indelible mark on an individual’s behavior.
  • The reference group and social circle of the individual (especially during adolescence). A person feels the need for recognition from others, therefore he develops those traits that are valued in a company that is attractive to him.
  • Cognitive activity and level of education of the individual.
  • Financial security, status position of a person in the production team.

In the process of ontogenesis, character is constantly modified under the influence of external circumstances or targeted efforts of the individual. In order to find out individuality, psychologists advise: separate the properties of temperament and character traits.

Additional Information. People can restrain the manifestation of negative traits due to their character. There are cases when people, through constant work on themselves and self-control, develop certain patterns of response that are not characteristic of their temperament.

Controls your temperament

Types of human temperament and their characteristics

Over time, the types of human temperament and their characteristics were carefully studied and supplemented. In modern psychiatry, temperament types are used to diagnose mental disorders and diseases. Depending on the type of temperament, one or another disorder can be assumed with a high degree of probability. After all, higher nervous activity controls a person’s interaction with the environment and his psychophysical reaction to external stimuli.

Immanuel Kant and Rudolf Hermann Lotze proved that balance (and imbalance) in neurotransmitter systems is the main cause of psychiatric disorders and there are 4 types of temperament described by Galen and Hippocrates. These 4 types, if they are pronounced, fit into psychiatric profiles.

The description of temperaments used by Galen and Hippocrates states that human behavior is influenced by “vital juices” and their relationship with other “juices”.

Choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic, melancholic - what they are, and what “juices” determine the type of person, is described quite clearly.

► Lymph (Old Greek phlegm) phlegm - the predominance of this “juice” makes a person phlegmatic.

► Yellow bile (Old Greek chole) poison – characterizes choleric people.

► Blood (ancient Greek sanguis) – determined in sanguine people.

► Black bile (ancient Greek mylena chole) – the predominance of black bile manifests itself in melancholic people.

A brief description of types describes human behavior and temperament, and helps explain why, under the same conditions, people react differently. Sometimes this helps in understanding oneself, and gives the opportunity to change in order to improve the quality of one’s life and gain peace of mind.


Let's take a closer look at the types of temperament, and how to determine what characteristics are inherent in each category.

Who is a choleric person? A choleric person is a person whose body is dominated by yellow bile or poison, as Hippocrates called it. The predominance of bile has a peculiar effect on the human nervous system.

The choleric type of temperament is characterized as a strong but unbalanced type. He is characterized by impetuosity, passion and unrestraint. Such people quickly grab onto a new business and devote themselves to it without reserve, but quickly cool down if it doesn’t work out. The temperamental properties of a choleric person are such that they are capable of causing a scandal over any trifle, and it can be dangerous for them to fall under the “hot hand”. They often cross the line, and often suffer from their own incontinence.

The characteristics of a choleric person are actually not so gloomy, and this type also has its positive sides. Cholerics are incredibly efficient. They can work tirelessly day and night, sweeping away all obstacles in their path. They don't need plans and are able to take advantage of any opportunity to achieve results. Often choleric people work extremely hard, which leads to nervous exhaustion and a long recovery period.

In a family, a choleric person will definitely be a leader and demand unquestioning obedience from his partner and children. For him there are no authorities except himself, or the one whom he himself places on this pedestal.

The main character traits of a choleric person are ambition, sociability, independence, optimism and determination. Cholerics make excellent leaders, athletes and inventors. They need competition and constant racing to feel happy.

You can name famous personalities whose choleric temperament predominates.

Famous choleric people:

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