Philosophy Dictionary of Arguments

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Author Item Summary Meta data
Corr I 89
Personality traits/temperament/personality traits/Ancient Philosophy/Deary:
Theophrastus (371–287 BCE) enumerated various typical human ‘characters’ that the translator also reckoned could be called traits (Rusten 1993)(1).
The humoral theory of bodily health, illness and personal wellbeing that can be traced to Hippocrates and Galen (Stelmack and Stalikas 1991)(2), and which held sway for about 1,500 years, described four temperaments, or personality types, which map rather well on to the quadrants provided by the two orthogonal dimensions of Neuroticism and Extraversion: melancholic, choleric, sanguine and phlegmatic.

1. Rusten, J. (ed.) 1993. 3astus: Characters. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press
2. Stelmack, R. M. and Stalikas, A. 1991. Galen and the humour theory of temperament, Personality and Individual Differences 12: 255–63


Ian J. Deary, “The trait approach to personality”, in: Corr, Ph. J. & Matthews, G. (eds.) 2009. The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology. New York: Cambridge University Press

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Corr I 177
Temperament/Ancient Philosophy/history/Rothbart: Temperament study has an ancient history: individual differences in temperament were described in the fourfold typology of Greco-Roman physicians, who linked temperamental characteristics to Hippocrates’ model of the humoural constitution of the body (Diamond 1974)(1). The term temperament itself derives from the Latin temperamentum, meaning a proportionate mixture, denoting the relative preponderance of one or more of the body humours. In Vindician’s typology, the melancholic person, quiet and moody, was seen as having a predominance of black bile; the choleric person, touchy, aggressive and active, a predominance of yellow bile; the sanguine person, sociable and easygoing, a predominance of blood, and the phlegmatic person, calm and even-tempered, a predominance of phlegm.


1. Diamond, S. 1974. The roots of psychology: a sourcebook in the history of ideas. New York: Basic Books

Mary K. Rothbart, Brad E. Sheese and Elisabeth D. Conradt, “Childhood temperament” in: Corr, Ph. J. & Matthews, G. (eds.) 2009. The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology. New York: Cambridge University Press


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Ancient Philosophy
Corr I
Philip J. Corr
Gerald Matthews
The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology New York 2009


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2019-08-22
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