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Temperament Theory & Models

Temperament Theory Contributors

     A temperament is a set of behaviors, skills, and preferences motivated by a core need. Every human being is born with a "natural" temperament. Your natural temperament directly influences your attitude, behavior, and perception. You cannot separate yourself from your natural temperament - for it is the essence of who you are.


     Temperament theorists, philosophers, psychologists, and behaviorists focus on answering the question that most of us ask ourselves everyday. It sounds something like, 'Why did he just do that?', "Why did I do that?' In other words, 'Why do people do what they do?' The first documented person to take this question seriously was the philosopher and physician, Hippocrates in 400 B.C. His work purported that there are four basic types of people, and each person is "born" as a primary type. Hippocrates further postulated that people of similar type share similar preferences, motives, and behaviors. He named each of the four types after a body fluid, namely, Melancholic (black bile), Choleric (yellow bile), Phlegmatic (phlegm), and Sanguine (blood) representing the four primary humors in the body. Humors are the four fluids entering into the constitution of the body, maintaining its functioning and regulation. In medieval physiology it was believed that a person's health and temperament was determined by the relative proportion of each fluid. Whether this is physiologically accurate or not, we do note know. But what we do know for absolute is that Hippocrates identification of the four temperaments has stood the test of time, scientific research, and human experience. Hippocrates is known as the 'grandfather of temperament theory' and his work continues to be the foundation for all legitimate temperament theories today. 




     Another significant contribution to the temperament field came in 1967 from a clinical psychologist named David Keirsey. Keirsey published a book, "Please Understand Me." His work returned to classifying behavior into four different temperaments. He proposed that the four types are fundamentally different. They want different things, they have different motives, and they interpret life, people, and events differently. Keirsey's work is widely respected and recognized in the temperament field today.

     In 1920 a Swiss psychiatrist named Carl Jung suggested that people's behavior could be classified into four types based on their preferences related to basic functions in life. His works Psychological Types, outlined the same four temperaments identified by Hippocrates. Jung referred to the types as Sensor, Feeler, Thinker, and Intuitor. Unfortunately, by the 1930's his temperament explanation of behavior was replaced by "dynamic" psychology in which behavior is explained as deriving from unconscious motives or from past experience, or from both. The theory of temperament was pretty much abandoned at this point in history.

     In the 1950's a mother-daughter research team, Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, became very interested in observing and understanding people's behavior. They used Jung's work to develop a tool, the MBTI, to help measure the differences in people's behavior. They took the basic four temperaments from Jung and expanded them into 16 different types, adding various dimensions, The MBTI uses letters to describe the different types. Their work set the precedence for research in the temperament field.

Carl Jung
Book by David Keirsey

Spectrum Development Temperament Model

     The Spectrum Development Temperament Model is derived from the contributions made by Hippocrates, Jung, Myers-Briggs, and Keirsey. Building and expanding on the existing theories, the Spectrum Model includes one very important difference from all other models: emphasizing that through experience and practice, people can develop skills and strengths which are not part of their innate preferences and abilities. It's a more dynamic approach, founded in the belief that people are constantly evolving, learning and changing within their innate structure. The Spectrum Model teaches and emphasizes the key components for achieving optimal success: an awareness, appreciation and development of self and others. 

     There are two aspects to your Full Color Spectrum. First is the interaction styles, Introversion and Extroversion, which describe your thinking process and energy source. The second is your temperament colors, Blue, Green, Gold and Orange, which denote four distinct patterns of behavior, each driven by a core need. The combination and blending of your interaction styles and temperament colors create your unique Full Color Spectrum. 

     People are born with a preferred interaction style, either Introvert or Extrovert. This style describes how you think - in your head or out loud; and where you get your energy - from yourself or from others. Introversion and Extroversion play a significant role in understanding people. Your interaction style is what people see 

     However, you are also born with the capacity to develop skills and strengths of the other colors. Through life experiences and relationships, most people develop traits of at least one other color. This is called your "secondary" temperament. When your secondary temperament is developed effectively, it becomes a "blend" with your natural temperament. You then use the two in unison, with your natural temperament always leading the way. Most people possess traits and skills from their third and fourth colors; however, these colors are usually less developed than their natural and secondary colors. By learning and developing qualities from all four temperament colors you can enhance your relationship with self and others. In fact, for optimal success it is absolutely essential that you develop skills from all four colors and both interaction styles

on the outside. Once you make a connection with someone, you start to reveal your needs, preferences, talents, and skills.

     You are also born with a "natural" temperament color that provides you with a unique array of gifts, talents and skills. Your natural temperament directly influences your attitudes, behaviors and perceptions - it's the "nature" of the nature vs. nurture theory. You cannot completely separate yourself from your natural temperament, for it's the essence of who you are. 


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