According to the theory, you are born with a temperament. Its manifestation occurs soon after birth, and it is based in biological configurations you have, such as your tolerance or intolerance to stimulations, your sensitivity to noxious stimuli such as noise, and a range of other things.
As a baby, you may have been easy or hard to sooth, easy or hard to entertain, easy or hard to warm up to a caretaker, and so on- and all of that would be due to the temperament you were born with. Temperament is something that doesn't really change throughout life. What changes is how you learn to handle it, work around it, or work with it.
This is as far as the general consensus in the academia goes. From here on, it's a free for all and you get to pick the theory that most suits you regarding temperament and the different categories of temperament (and the behavioral patterns that go with it) to suit you.
There are way too many of them for a single article (hell, for a single course) but I will pick the simplest one best formulated by Hans Eysenck, from which the rest are derived anyway, and I invite you to research the others.
Eysenck suggested that temperament varied across two axes: Neuroticism (N) and Extraversion (E).
For his theory, Neuroticism is defined as “the tendency to experience negative emotions” and Extraversion is defined as “the tendency to enjoy positive events, especially social ones”.
Note that neuroticism here does NOT have a psychopathological connotation.
Depending on how a person places on both of these axes, we get the four basic temperaments:
High N, High E = Choleric
High N, Low E = Melancholic (also called “Melancholy”)
Low N, High E = Sanguine
Low N, Low E = Phlegmatic
If you look around the internet, you will find little blurbs about what a Sanguine, a Choleric, a Melancholic or a Phlegmatic temperament equals in terms of personality.
BUT I ADVISE YOU NOT TO.
The reason this theory is so good for a writer to play with is that it is a spectrum theory . That means that instead of neat little boxes, you have ranges of manifestation. That means you can have a whole team of Sanguines, and each of them will be vastly different because while they may score high in Extraversion and low in Neuroticism, HOW high and HOW low is a completely different thing! They may all be energetic, but how they manifest this high energy will be unique to each of them. They may get easily enthused with new friends, but how they connect to them or what they want to do with new friends is different (i.e. one might want to keep going out for coffee, the other might stalk them 24-7 for a month to get to know them).
When building a character through the Temperament lens, you will have two tiers to consider: first, the genetics. What temperament are they born with, and where exactly do they fall in that spectrum? How were they as babies due to their temperament?
And second, the socialization. How much has their temperament interfered with their life's important events? How much have they managed to work with/control/exploit/ be aware of their temperament and how did they manage that? Based on their temperament, what are the stimuli, the situations, where their socialization breaks down and the pure temperament manifests?
No matter what answers you come up with, it's very likely that you'll have created a unique, vibrant character with a solid basic background in the process.
NOTE: this is a THEORY. Nobody has proven that genetics control personality. As I said in my previous introductory post, take this only as a theory, and use its reasonings (i.e. the why's) as real only within your story, do NOT apply it to yourself or real life. Most psychologists don't, they use all these theories as tools, not as ‘the one and only truth’. This was my disclaimer for tonight. :D
SOOO… where do YOUR characters fall in the Temperament spectrum??
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Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, March 13, 2021
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