History of the Temperaments

2,000 years ago, the ancient Greeks (notably Hippocrates, the "father of medical science") developed the first personality theory. One's temperament--whether choleric, melancholic, sanguine or phlegmatic--was due to one's predominant bodily fluid.

We no longer believe that bodily fluids affect personality (though some researchers have suggested that gut bacteria affect temperament) but psychologists do believe in temperament, which is one's inborn tendency to react in certain ways emotionally and behaviorally.

Do you recall the nature versus nurture debate? Your personality is formed by both nature and nurture. Nature is temperament (inborn) and nurture is all the environmental factors (culture, family of origin, education, etc.) that might impact your budding personality.  And of course, your free choices also impact who you are as a person.

But, back to the Greeks. In that ancient typology, the "sanguine" temperament was thought to be enthusiastic and optimistic; the "melancholic" reticent and somewhat doleful; the "choleric" passionate; and the "phlegmatic" calm. 

Modern day psychologists who study temperament, such as Dr. Jerome Kagan of Harvard or Drs Stella Chess and Alexander Thomas, no longer use the Greek terminology or typology, but rather speak about underlying temperamental characteristics such as sociability, persistence, impulsivity, reactivity, or a tendency to anxiety or inhibition.

Temperament is very much a hot topic--whether it is a study about school children with high maintenance temperaments or a debate about presidential candidates' temperaments or how one's temperament affects one's health

For the purposes of this fun and informative test, we use the ancient Greek terminology, not for any scientific reason, but simply out of respect for the ones who started it all. 

For your reading pleasure, we suggest The Temperament God Gave You, The Temperament God Gave Your Kids, and The Temperament God Gave Your Spouse.