Psychology Wiki

Assessment | Biopsychology | Comparative | Cognitive | Developmental | Language | Individual differences | Personality | Philosophy | Social |
Methods | Statistics | Clinical | Educational | Industrial | Professional items | World psychology |

Personality: Self concept · Personality testing · Theories · Mind-body problem

Simple emoticons of the five temperaments: Sanguine (top right), Choleric (bottom right), Melancholy (bottom left), and Phlegmatic (center), with the new fifth temperament (top left).

Five temperament theory is a relatively new theory of psychometrics, that expands upon the "Four Temperaments" proposed in ancient medical theory.


The development of a theory of five temperaments begins with the Two-factor models of personality and the work of the late William Schutz, and his FIRO-B program. It is a measure of interpersonal relations orientations that calculates a person's behavior patterns based on the scoring of a questionnaire. Although FIRO-B does not speak in terms of "temperament," this system of analysis graded questionnaires on two scales in three dimensions of interpersonal relations. When paired with temperament theory, a measurement of five temperaments resulted.

History and The Ancient Four Temperaments

Five Temperament theory has its roots in the ancient four humors theory of the Greek Historian Hippocrates (460-370 BC), who believed certain human behaviors were caused by body fluids (called "humors"): blood (sanguis), [yellow] bile (cholera or Gk. χολη, kholé) black bile (μελας, melas, "black", + χολη, kholé, "bile"); and phlegm.

Next, Galen (131-200) developed the first typology of temperament in his dissertation De Temperamentis, and searched for physiological reasons for different behaviors in humans. Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1654) was the first to disregard the idea of fluids as defining human behavior, and Maimonides (1135-1204), Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), Alfred Adler (1879-1937) and Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) all theorized on the four temperaments and greatly shaped our modern theories of temperament. Hans Eysenck (1916-1997) was one of the first psychologists to analyze personality differences using a psycho-statistical method (factor analysis), and his research led him to believe that temperament is biologically based.

Development of related "two factor" models and the regaining popularity of the ancient temperaments

From the beginning, with Galen's ancient temperaments, it was observed that pairs of temperaments shared certain traits in common.

  • sanguine quick, impulsive, and relatively short-lived reactions.
  • phlegmatic a longer response-delay, but short-lived response
  • choleric short response time-delay, but response sustained for a relatively long time.
  • melancholic (Also called "Melancholy") long response time-delay, response sustained at length, if not, seemingly, permanently. [1]

Therefore, it was evident that the sanguine and choleric shared a common trait: quickness of response, while the melancholy and phlegmatic shared the opposite, a longer response. The melancholy and choleric, however, shared a sustained response, and the sanguine and phlegmatic shared a short-lived response. That meant, that the Choleric and melancholy both would tend to hang on to emotions like anger, and thus appear more serious and critical than the fun-loving sanguine, and the peaceful phlegmatic. However, the choleric would be characterized by quick expressions of anger, while the melancholy would build up anger slowly, silently, before exploding. Also, the melancholy and sanguine would be sort of "opposites", as the choleric and phlegmatic, since they have opposite traits.

As the twentieth century progressed, numerous other instruments were devised measuring not only temperament, but also various individual aspects of personality and behavior, and several began using factors that would correspond to the response and delay behaviors; usually, forms of Extroversion and a developing category of people versus task focus.

Examples include DiSC assessment system, and Social styles. In both of these, the four behaviors or styles resembled the key characteristics of the ancient four temperaments: The Choleric's extroversion and seriousness; the Melancholy's introversion and seriousness; the Sanguine's extroversion and sociability, and the Phlegmatic's peacefulness.

As personality typing increased, Christian writer and speaker Tim LaHaye helped repopularize the ancient temperaments beginning in his books The Spirit Controlled Temperament (Illinois: Tyndale Publishing, 1966), Your Temperament: Discover Its Potential (Tyndale Publishing, 1984 ISBN 0842362207), and Why You Act the Way You Do (Tyndale Publishing, ISBN 0842382127). The latter two used illustrations of the temperaments as cartoon characters, "Martin Melancholy", "Sparky Sanguine", "Rocky Choleric" and "Phil Phlegmatic", to help the reader visualize the basic characteristics of the temperaments.[2]

Another addition to the two factor models was the creation of a 10 by 10 square grid developed by Robert R. Blake and Jane Mouton in their Managerial Grid Model introduced in 1964. This matrix graded from 0-9, the factors of "Concern for People" and "Concern for Production", allowing a moderate range of scores, which yielded five "leadership styles". The Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) used a version of this with "Assertiveness" and "Cooperativeness" as the two factors, and an intermediate score in both scales likewise resulting in a fifth mode directly in the center of the grid.

The FIRO-B connection: The Need Areas plus Grading Scales

FIRO-B was another such two-factor system, originally created by Dr. Schutz in 1958, using the same scales corresponding to extroversion/introversion and people/task focus. The difference now was that there were three such matrices. These three areas of interaction are Inclusion (how much you generally include other people in your life and how much attention, contact, and recognition you want from others), Control (how much influence and responsibility you need, and how much you want others to lead and establish procedures and policies), and Affection (How intimate you are with others and to what extent you want others to approach you for deep personal relationships). Note that these areas include the two familiar scales: how you want to relate to others (called "expressed behavior"), and how you want them to relate to you (called "wanted behavior"). Scores in these scales range from 0 to 9. In 1977, "locator charts" were produced for each area by Dr. Leo Ryan, providing a map of the various scores, following the Managerial Grid model; with unofficial names assigned to different score ranges.

It must be noted that Schutz was emphatic that all FIRO scores in themselves "Are not terminal — they can and do change", and that they "Do not encourage typology" (and thus contradicted the notion of "inborn" "temperament"). However, the four ancient temperaments were eventually mapped to the FIRO-B scales, including the three separate temperament grids for individuals' scores in each area.

A Melancholy tends to be an introverted loner, and in the area of "control" such a person would exhibit a low need to control others, and also have a low tolerance of control by others (i.e. "dependency"). In the areas of inclusion and affection, such people would display a low need to include or be close to others, and a low need to be included by others.

A Choleric, however, is an extroverted "leader"-type who, in the area of control, has a high need to control others, but a low tolerance of others controlling him. He also has a high need to include or be close to others, but a low level of "responsiveness" (used as another term for "wanted" behavior) to them. He tends to be a "user", and only relates to people according to his own terms, which are usually goal-oriented.

A Sanguine is an extrovert who has a high need to include and be close to others, but unlike the Choleric, the Sanguine genuinely likes being around people just for the sake of socialization. The Sanguine also "swings" between both control and dependency.

From Four to Five

The low scores in both "wanted" and "expressed" would fall into the lower left corner of the charts, and would correspond to the Melancholy. Since the scale of "expression" lies on the horizontal axis of the chart, a high score in "expressed" with a low score in "wanted" falls in the lower right corner, and this corresponds to Choleric. The upper right corner represents a high score on both scales, and corresponds to the Sanguine.

The result, in this version of the grids, is that the left half represents introverts, the right half extroverts, the upper half those who are more "relationship-oriented", and the lower half those who are more serious, or "task-oriented". However, there was now a totally new twist. In the older model, the fourth temperament, Phlegmatic, had generally been regarded as "introverted" like the Melancholy, yet a less critical or "task-oriented" temperament than the Melancholy and Choleric, like the Sanguine. For example, the "slow response/short-lived sustain" of the original conception, where it shares one factor with the Sanguine, and the other with the Melancholy. In the other instruments using people/task-orientation, the type that holds the corresponding place in respect to the other types (such as Social Styles' "Amiable" or Adler's "Leaning") is also generally correlated with the Phlegmatic in comparisons.

However, while the Phlegmatic is not as extroverted as the Sanguine and Choleric, nor as serious as the Melancholy and Choleric; he is neither as introverted as the Melancholy, nor as relationship-oriented as the Sanguine. Thus the Phlegmatic (which was even once defined by critics as the absence of temperament), is basically a moderate temperament, and hence in this new system it winds up having only a mid-range score in responsiveness and expressiveness. That placed it directly in the center (like TKI's "Compromising" mode or Blake and Mouton's "Middle of the Road"). The Phlegmatic person is by definition, ambiverted, being capable of interaction with people, but overall, can "take them or leave them". This left the upper left corner unaccounted for. This would represent people with a high "wanted" score in the areas of control, inclusion and affection, (like a Sanguine) but a low "expressed" score (like a Melancholy); the true "relationship-oriented introverts". Other researchers had been suspecting that there might be a fifth temperament, but most simply regarded it as a "passive sanguine."

Finally, in the 1980s, the National Christian Counselors Association, Inc. founders Richard G. and Phyllis J. Arno.[3], after extensive research, identified a separate temperament, which they called Supine, which means “with the face upwards,” like a servant looking up to his/her master. The Arnos refer to it as “the serving temperament,” because the Supine “feels” that their only value is to serve others. Supines like and need people; however, they have a fear of rejection and do not initiate.

Supines are identified by strengths, such as a desire to serve, liking people, and having a gentle spirit. Their weaknesses include expecting others to read their mind (indirect behavior), harboring anger as "hurt feelings," and feelings of powerlessness. They are generally open to receiving affection, but have trouble initiating. Other profilers who use similar systems still refer to it as "Introverted Sanguine." Thus, in some respects, this can be considered as the true opposite of a Choleric, just as the Melancholy is opposite of Sanguine.

Comparison of Fifth Temperament to the Phlegmatic

Since people who fall into this category do not express themselves much, it is believed that this indirect behavior might be the reason this temperament had gone unrecognized for so long. Cholerics are also indirect, but in the opposite fashion (and in some respects can be regarded as "extroverted melancholies"). But since they are high in the expression area, their temperament was readily obvious all along.

The Phlegmatic also is peaceful at heart, making them a great asset in social, political, friendship, business, and commercial activities. Their knowledge of the society around them, and the self enables the phlegmatic to interact with the most unlikely of all people. This is one reason the Phlegmatic had held the place in the older four temperament model the Supine holds in the five temperament model. The difference is that the Supine is more "needy" for acceptance (or control) from people, yet less able to initiate and express this need to them than the Phlegmatic. Supines are often frustrated because they expect people to know they want interaction, while the Phlegmatic expresses a moderate need, and wants only the same moderate amount in return.

While the other systems highlighted the Phlegmatic's "introverted" and "agreeable" aspects, the Arno Profile System (APS) places a greater focus on its low energy reserve, which causes overall sluggishness, stubbornness, indifference, and a "dry, wry humor" (replacing the more energized emotions of the other temperaments). These are the familiar traits which defined the temperament in terms of "phlegm" in the first place, and here further distinguishes it from the Supine, which is also described as "slow-paced" , but nevertheless does have a substantial amount of emotional energy. (The Melancholy is also described as slow paced). This is also what causes the Phlegmatic's peacefulness (such as being a negotiater for other people's conflicts), and having the least problems with anger and other negative emotions of the temperaments. Phlegmatics like to "take the path of least resistance" to protect their low energy.

Another big difference, is that four temperament theories such as LaHaye's often depict the Phlegmatic as being very fearful (according to LaHaye, "he is a worrier by nature", which is what keeps him from making full use of his potential). But in the APS, it is described as having very little fear. (Fear for the Phlegmatic is present primarily in the area of codependency). The Supine, however, does generally have a lot of fear.

Rather than being considered "relationship-oriented" as the Supine is, and as other instruments regarded the Phlegmatic or its corresponding types; the Phlegmatic is generally described in the APS manuals as "task-oriented", with the clarification that they can relate to people at times, as well. The APS also considers the Phlegmatic "both introverted and extroverted", while the Supine specifically "expresses as an introvert, and responds as an extrovert".

Driving Needs

Each of the four corner temperaments has a driving need that energizes its behavior. For the Melancholy, it's fear of rejection and/or the unknown. He has a low self esteem and figuring that others don't like him, he rejects them first before they reject him. The Supine also has low self esteem, but is driven to try to gain acceptance by liking and serving others. The Sanguine is driven by the need for attention, and tries to sell himself through his charm, and accepts others before they can reject him. His self esteem crashes if he is nevertheless rejected. Yet, he will regain the confidence to keep trying to impress others. The Choleric is motivated by his goals, in which other people are tools to be used. The Phlegmatic's lack of a driving need becomes his driving need: to protect his low energy reserve.
The driving needs are important in the APS, because as has been noted above, various behaviors in a particular temperament can be similar to one or more other temperaments, but they are actually undertaken for different reasons. This is key to understanding temperament.

Simple emoticons of the five temperaments: Sanguine (top right), Choleric (bottom right), Melancholy (bottom left), and Phlegmatic (centre), with the new temperament (top left) and Phlegmatic blends inbetween.

Temperament blends

The four-temperament model had 12 mixtures of the four temperaments, such as Mel-Chlor, San-Mel, etc. The order of temperaments in these pairs was based on which temperament was the "dominant" one. This new model has two types of "blends": across the three areas of inclusion, control and affection, and within each of those areas. "Across" the three areas, a person can be one temperament in inclusion, another one in control, and yet another in affection. So a "San-Mel" in the older system would be someone dominantly Sanguine, but with some Melancholy traits. There are usually no specific criterion given, as to in what respect they are one temperament or the other; it just states that they have the traits of both. The new system, however, handily tells us where the different temperamental traits lie: namely, the three "areas of need"! So what the older system would call a San-Mel, might correspond to Sanguine in Inclusion and Affection, and Melancholy in Control. Or they could be any other combination of two to one. The new system does not use designations like "San-Mel"; but rather "Sanguine-Melancholy-Sanguine"; listing all three in the order of Inclusion, Control and Affection. This yields 125 (5×5×5) blends of basic temperaments overall!

Within one of those areas however, there are only eight blends of the Phlegmatic temperament with the other four. These blends lie between adjacent temperaments, mid-range vertically or horizontally. Phlegmatic Melancholy and Phlegmatic Choleric lie between Melancholy and Choleric. Choleric Phlegmatic and Sanguine Phlegmatic lie between Sanguine and Choleric, and so on. The order of the temperaments in these pairs is not determined by "dominance" of one, but rather according to "expressed" and "wanted" behavior, respectively. A Phlegmatic Melancholy in Inclusion, for instance, expresses himself as a Phlegmatic but wants the same as a Melancholy. This person is moderately more sociable than a pure Melancholy, but otherwise does not have much of a real need for interaction. A Melancholy Phlegmatic expresses himself as a Melancholy but wants the same as a Phlegmatic. This person has a moderate need for interaction, but is still not very expressive of it. These types of blends are different from the older system's "Phleg-Mel" and "Mel-Phleg", though those two blends may be a Phlegmatic blend in one or more of the three areas of the five-temperament theory. (If the eight Phlegmatic blends are counted separately from the primary five, the total number of possible temperament combinations is 13³ or 2197!) "Compulsive" variations of the four outer temperaments lie in the squares furthest in the corner of those areas of the grid. These are the most driven forms of the temperaments. Since Phlegmatic is directly in the middle, it has no Compulsive variation, since it is by nature the opposite of Compulsive.

Correlations with other psychometric systems

  • The Five Temperaments system is similar in some ways to the 9 types of the Enneagram. In the roughly corresponding scores of Ryan's FIRO-B locator charts, what would have been the Phlegmatic blend pairs (whose behavior is similar) are generally grouped as one type each, and with the five other score groups, result in nine basic groups for each area, and the basic behaviors are comparable, with some being more or less extroverted, introverted, task-oriented, people-oriented, or ambiguous in those areas. The types have been mapped to a two-scale matrix, however, instead of "Expressive" and "Responsive" behavior, the scales are "Surface Direction" and "Deep Direction". These are similar to Expressive and Responsive, but instead of the types being plotted on a scale of 0-9, Karen Horney's three coping strategies of "towards", "away", and "against" were retained, and now used in both dimensions. This changes the criteria, as the "moderate" grade is considered "away", but this does not necessarily correspond to the moderate "expressed" or "wanted" scores of 4 and 5 in the FIRO and APS scales.

    The Enneagram also has specific “areas” similar to Inclusion, Control and Affection, known as “Social”, “Self-survival” and “Sexual”, but these are not always used, and when they are, they are usually treated either as being in addition to one’s “basic” type, or a person's type is assigned to one particular area specifically.

  • Comparisons to the MBTI types can be made through the similar Interaction Styles model, and through the statistical correlations of MBTI with FIRO-B


The presence of only two factors in the FIRO-B and Arno systems do not necessarily mean that they are missing elements of behavior picked up in analyses with more factors. Since the two factors of E and W are repeated in the three areas of Inclusion, Control and Affection which the others lack, this is technically a six factor model! The difference between all of these instruments is in the way the various elements of personality and behavior are broken down and measured.

Table of Comparisons of similar systems

Founder Scales Need Areas Introverted, Task-Oriented Extroverted, Task-Oriented Extroverted, Relationship-Oriented Ambiverted Introverted, Relationship Oriented
c. 400 BC Hippocrates's four humours Scales Not Recognized black bile yellow bile blood phlegm Not Recognized
c. 190 AD Galen's four temperaments response- delay/sustain time observed Areas Not recognized melancholic choleric sanguine phlegmatic Not Recognized
c.1900 AD Ivan Pavlov's four temperaments Passivity, Extremeness Areas not distinguished Weak inhibitory Strong excitatory Lively Calm imperturbable Not Recognized
c. 1900 AD Alfred Adler's four Styles of Life "activity", "social interest" Areas not distinguished Avoiding Ruling or Dominant Socially Useful Getting or Leaning
c. 1966 Temperament by LaHaye Compares other instruments [4] Areas not distinguished Melancholy Choleric Sanguine Phlegmatic "passive sanguine" [5]
1964 Blake-Mouton Managerial Grid Model Concern for People, Productivity Areas not distinguished Impoverished Produce or Perish Team Type Country Club Middle of the Road
1974 Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Modes[2] Assertiveness, Cooperativeness Areas Not distinguished Avoiding Competing Collaborating Compromising Accommodating
c. 1958 William Schutz, FIRO-B Expressed,
Names different for each need area. See FIRO article.
c. 1984 The Arno Profile System[6] Expressive, Responsive Inclusion, Control, Affection Melancholy Choleric Sanguine Phlegmatic Supine
c. 1995 Worley Identification Discovery Profile[3] Demonstrated, Desired Social, Leadership, Relationship Melancholy Choleric Sanguine Phlegmatic Introverted Sanguine


  1. (Evidence-based Research in Complementary and Alternative Medicine I: History Francesco Chiappelli, Paolo Prolo and Olivia S. Cajulis)[1]
  2. LaHaye's Four Temperament Characters
  3. Arno Profile System
  4. Why You Act the Way You Do, ch.7: "Uses of Temperament in the Workplace"
  5. Not recognized as separate "temperament" from Sanguine. (Cited in Arno Temperament Theory manual p. 165.; NCCA, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1994).
  6. (fka "Temperament Analysis Profile")
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).