PERSONALITY TRAITS AND TEMPERAMENTS

Personality traits and temperaments are elements wired in the human Deoxyribonucleic acid (dna) to compute his/ her character therefore the expected reactions in a foreseen situation can be predicted by probability of the above and measures taken to either promote or divert it instituted on the type or nature of person chosen to be in the leadership position for a vision and purpose driven future.

Personality traits

According to estimates, extroverts outnumber introverts by about three to one. Personality refers to “stable internal factors or traits which underlie consistent individual differences in behavior. These internal factors are called traits. It is assumed that individuals differ in terms of the extent to which they possess any given trait” (Fadi, 2003). Two personality traits that are frequently most examined are extroversion and introversion. These terms were first derived from Jung’s type theories. “An extrovert is said to receive energy from outside sources, whereas an introvert is more concerned with the inner world of ideas and is more likely to be involved with solitary activities. This trait does not describe whether a person is outgoing or shy, but considers whether a person prefers working alone or feels energized and at home working in a team” (Sharp, 2004). The “Big Five” theory was a generally accepted taxonomy of personality which consisted of five broad dimensions of personality. The five factors which are typically labelled are: Extraversion or Surgency (talkative, assertive and energetic), Agreeableness (good natured, cooperative and trustful), Conscientiousness (orderly, responsible and demand-able), Emotional stability versus neuroticism (calm, not neurotic, not easily upset) and Intellectual, imaginative and independent-minded). “The Big Five Structure does not imply that personality differences can be reduced to only five traits. Rather, these five dimensions represent personality at the broadest level of abstraction, and each dimension summarizes a large number of distinct, more specific personality characteristics” (John and Srivastava, 1999: 105). According to McRorie et al. (2009), Eysenck’s traits of extroversion and neuroticism are identical to the similarly named dimensions of the “Big Five”.

Extroversion

According to Erton (2010), an extrovert is a person who has a tendency to focus on the outer world of people and events. Extroverted persons do not like reading a lot, spending much time alone, but enjoy talking to other people, attending parties and social gatherings. They are social and outgoing. They have a lot of friends and acquaintances. As they talk a lot, they do not think much before saying something, but rather think while talking. Such persons are lively, active and often full of enthusiasm. They yearn for excitements, react quickly and are usually very impulsive. Extroverts are also unreserved, relaxed, careless and optimistic persons. They are constantly in the move. However, sometimes they can be aggressive and change their mood very quickly. Extroverted individuals often need social stimulation. They are more interested in the world, events, things and people around them than themselves. They feel energized by interaction with a lot of people. “In other words, extroverts are motivated from without and their interaction is directed outward” (Zafar, 2011). Extroversion is usually characterized by the traits such as gregariousness, assertiveness, activity, confidence, excitement-thinking, positive emotions and warmth. According to McRorie et al. (2009), during conversation, extroverts tend to position themselves closer to others, and direct facial posture and eye contact is more likely to be maintained.

According to John and Srivastava (1999: 112), extroversion includes at least five distinguishable components: Activity level (active, energetic), Dominance (assertive, forceful, bossy), Sociability (outgoing, sociable, talkative), Expressiveness (adventurous, outspoken and show-off) and positive emotionally (enthusiastic).

Extroverts are usually very friendly, energetic, they meet new people easily and often take leadership roles. They like cooperating with other people, group activities and have highly developed interpersonal intelligence. They have to experience things in order to understand them. Extroversion also plays an important role in choosing a career. The best jobs for extroverted individuals would be those which require a lot of social interactions with other people such as social work, teaching, managing, public relations or politics. According to Ostojic (1983: 406), the extroverted people have underdeveloped working habits and intellectual abilities. They do not have patience to read a lot or study something on their own for a long time. They also have a low level of aspiration and do not tend to plan a lot ahead. According to Zafar (2011), extroverts are easily distracted from studying, partly as a result of their gregariousness and partly because of their weak ability to concentrate for long periods.

Introversion

According to Zhang (2009), an introvert is a person who is more interested in his or her own thoughts and feelings than in things outside himself. An introverted personality is quiet and introspective. They do not like being the center of attention. Introverted people have highly developed interpersonal intelligence. Unlike extroverts, the introverted personality does not feel energized by being with a lot pf people, but rather by their inner world. For example, the introverted people feel very exhausted after partly attending a party or having a large group of people for a long time. Then they have to spend time alone to be with a large group of people for a long time. They then have to spend time alone to regain their energy. They are reserved towards everyone, except their closest friends. They like to plan things ahead and do not seek excitement. Introverts are very serious, responsible, and reliable persons. They are able to control their feelings and do not tend to show them. They do not change their mood quickly and do not tend to be aggressive. Sometimes they can be very pessimistic, but they believe in moral standards. Introverts can also be nervous, passive and feel inferior in society. According to Ostojic (1983: 407), the intellectual abilities of the introverts is high. Although such persons may not be very talkative, they usually have a broad vocabulary. They are persistent on achieving their goals and have a high level of aspiration. The major characteristic of introverted people are: self-awareness, thoughtfulness, interest in self-knowledge and self-understanding, tendency to keep emotions private, being reserved in unfamiliar people, gregariousness only with close friends, and learning well through observation. It is not very easy for them to meet new people and make friends. However, they do not need contact with too many people because it takes too much energy. Unlike extroverts, introverts have few friends, but their friendships are more profound. They would rather have one-on-one conversation than talk in a large group of people about superficial things, which they do not find interesting. Unlike extroverts, introverts think before they say or do something.

Introversion is not the same as shyness. Unlike shy people, introverted people do not necessarily feel nervous, uncomfortable or inhibited when being with other people; they do not avoid social interactions out of fear, but they simply feel energized by solitary activities such as reading a book or writing and find them more interesting. Moreover, people who are introverted but not shy, may have developed social skills, but they still need their inner peace, so that they can focus more on themselves, their personal problems, feelings, needs, and habits.

When choosing a career, introverts should choose jobs which do not require a lot of social interaction, but more independent work like artist, writer, computer programmer, engineer, inventor or graphic designer. Unlike extroverts, introverts do not seek varieties of activities. They want to focus on one activity at a time. They do not like unpredictable situations, but prefer a routine.

Introverts often find that other people try to change them or even think that there is something “wrong” with them. Introverts often have that feeling that extroversion is more valued by society and that extroverts are better accepted by other people, while introverts are often seen as strange, boring, weird, friendless, lacking social skills or even antisocial and not normal, which sometimes makes them feel frustrated. However, there is no wrong or right personality type. Not many people are completely extroverted or completely introverted, but are always characteristic of one type which are more dominant within an individual. Moreover, some people may be extroverted in one situation, but introverted in another. According to Zafar (2011), everyone is extroverted or introverted in some degree, but not in the same degree.

Temperaments

Many people have a very specific image of what a leader is and how a leader behaves to be authoritative, have a decisive commanding presence and is always pushing to take action. However, everyone is called to lead regardless of their personality type / temperament. The term temperament comes from a Latin word known as, “Temperamentum” that means proper mixing, and the idea behind it was if the human body fluids were reduced in their intensity by balancing humor with each other, then healing would occur (media Spotlight, 1994). From this Latin word the theory was born. However, the four temperament theory is referred to as a way devised by the psychologists so as to comprehend the human characteristics or nature, assisting in improving the human condition and also grouping people into various personality characteristics that seemingly appear to make up their basic temperaments (Martin & Bobgan, 1992). This so called temperament means the characteristic phenomena of an individual’s emotional nature while personality is a sum total of the physical, mental, emotional and social characteristics of an individual. Temperaments are inborn traits while personality is shaped by nature and nurture.

According to a great Greek philosopher known as Empedocies (495-425 BC), the four primary elements that were used to describe the human temperament were fire( that could be warm and dry), air (that could be warm and moist), earth (that could be dry and cold) and water (that could be moist and cold). Furthermore, during the Empedocles time, each element was seemingly assigned to a corresponding god and goddess because cosmology was mixed together with mythology. The god and goddess assigned to these elements were: Zeus (the fire), Hera (the air), Aidoneus (the earth) and Nestis (the water). The other great philosopher who came after Empedocles was Hippocrates (460-377BC) who developed and seemingly expanded on the former’s evaluation on human personality and temperaments by using four corresponding body fluids and the yearly seasons. Hippocrates therefore came up with the following schema giving corresponding names from the elements of Empedocles as here below: blood had links with Spring, yellow bile with Summer, black bile with Autum and phlegm with Winter (Media Spotlight , 1994). On the other hand, Plato made up very interesting remarks regarding bad behavior that:

“For no man is voluntarily bad; but the bad came by reason of an ill disposition of the body and bad education, things which are hateful to every man and happens to him against his will. For where acid and briny phlegm and other bitter bilious humors wander about in the body, and find no exit or escape, but are pent within and mingle their own vapors with the motions of the soul, and are blended… and being carried to the three places of the soul… they create infinite varieties of ill-temper and melancholy, or rashness and cowardice, and also forgetfulness and stupidity” (Media Spotlight, 1994, p2).

Development and application of the Four Temperaments Theory

From the works of early scholars, it is very evident that human personalities and temperaments depend upon the body fluids or humors hence the following classification arose: sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric and melancholic. However, the character traits of these kinds of temperaments have been discussed and given traits differently so as to suit different placements and professions. According to Martin and Bobgan (1992) the following traits can be observed on each category of temperaments such as: Sanguine [cheerful, friendly, talkative, lively, restless, self-centered and undependable], Phlegmatic [calm, dependable, efficient, easy-going, passive, stubborn and lazy], Choleric [optimistic, active, confident, strong-willed, quick to anger, aggressive and inconsiderate] and Melancholic [melancholic/ sad, sensitive, analytical, perfectionist, unsociable, moody and rigid].

On the other hand, other scholars define these temperaments in some other ways such that the sanguine is considered to be [fairly extrovert, enjoy social gathering, making new friends, tends to be boisterous, quite creative, often day dream, some alone time is crucial for them, very sensitive, compassionate and thoughtful] but with the following weaknesses [chronically late, tend to be forgetful, a little sarcastic, lose interest quickly when pursuing a new hobby, very much a people persons, talkative and shy , and often emotional]. The phlegmatic has the following traits [tend to be self-content and kind, very accepting and affectionate, very receptive and shy, prefer stability to uncertainty and change, very consistent, relaxed, calm, relational, curious, observant, are good administrators, can be very passive and aggressive]. The choleric is [ a doer , have a lot of ambition, energy and passion and always try to instill it to others, can dominate people of other temperaments especially the phlegmatic, many great charismatic military and political figures are choleric] and the weakness is that [ they like to be leaders in charge of everything and can also be very manipulative]. The melancholic have traits such as [a thoughtful ponderer, very considerate and get rather worried when they could not be on times of events, can be highly creative in activities such as poetry and art, can be occupied with the tragedy and cruelty in the world, often a perfectionist, often self-reliant and independent] but with a weakness that [they can get so much involved in what they are doing and forget to think of others].

Here is a summary of the different temperaments:

The Sanguine Personality

Strengths

  • Enthusiastic
  • Fun Loving
  • Great Sense of Humor
  • Present Based
  • Sincere

Weaknesses

  • Over talker
  • Misses Deadlines/ Focus
  • Hard to stay on Track/ details
  • Easily Taken In/ Scams
  • Exaggerates/ Trivia

In the work field:

Positives

  • Starting the Discussion
  • Leading Brainstorming sessions
  • Inspiration to others

Negatives

  • Talk instead of work
  • Easily Distracted/ Lose Interest
  • Misses Deadlines

Careers for the sanguine

  • Actors/ Entertainers
  • Trainers
  • Sales

Famous Sanguine Characters

  • Bill Clinton
  • Magic Johnson
  • Kelly Ripa
  • Ronald Reagan
  • Robin Williams
  • Larry Ellison

The Phlegmatic Personality

Strengths

  • Peacemaker
  • Warm
  • Empathic
  • Sympathetic
  • Values peace and love
  • Artistic
  • Reflective
  • Agreeable
  • Self-sacrificing
  • Conflict averse
  • Great listener
  • Patient
  • Quiet but Good Humor
  • Emotionally Balanced

Weaknesses

  • Avoids Decisions
  • Lacks Goals
  • Perceived as Lazy
  • Hard time with change
  • Shown as having no enthusiasm

Phlegmatic in the work field

Positives

  • Great Administration Skills
  • Great Team Player
  • Great Under Pressure
  • Great Mediator

Negatives

  • Lacks motivation at times
  • Fence sitter at times
  • Dooms Day” Attitude Affects others

Careers for the Phlegmatic

  • Teachers
  • Postal Workers
  • Counselor
  • Administrator

Famous Phlegmatic Personalities

  • Albert Einstein
  • Keanu Reeves
  • Michael Jackson
  • Calvin Coolidge
  • Tim Duncan

The Choleric Personality:

Strengths

  • Practical
  • Leadership
  • Goal Oriented
  • Finisher
  • Decision Maker

Weaknesses

  • Perceived as insensitive / bossy
  • Short fused
  • Holds Grudges
  • Leaves ”Body Bags”
  • Just the facts

At work

Positives:

  • Will complete project
  • Will implement better ways/ innovations
  • Others respect leadership

Negatives:

  • Can sometimes hurt people’s feelings
  • Will make decisions without input
  • Can be inconsiderate of other’s priorities

Careers for the choleric:

  • Law Enforcement
  • Coaching
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Project Managers

Famous Choleric Characters:

  • Bobby Knight
  • Johnny Carson
  • Margaret Thatcher
  • Michael Jordan
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Bill Gates
  • Donald Trump
  • Julius Cesar

The Melancholy Personality

Strengths

  • Analytical
  • Detail Oriented
  • Runs life on Time
  • Faithful
  • Perfection is always goal

Weaknesses

  • Procrastination
  • Depressed Easy and Moody
  • Bad self-image/ low
  • Dwells on Negatives
  • Planning Overload

Melancholy’s at Work

Positives

  • Highest standards- perfection
  • Understands the problems- solver
  • Great with charts, graphs and figures

Negatives

  • Paralysis by analysis
  • Hard time starting projects
  • Not people oriented

Careers for the Melancholy

  • Accountants/ Financial
  • CSI
  • Doctors
  • Researchers
  • Computer Programmers
  • Artists

Famous Melancholy Characters

  • Ernest Hemingway
  • Albert Einstein
  • Hilary Clinton
  • Plato
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Warren Buffet
  • Beethoven

In supporting this theory, Sunday Standard (2004) in the editorial of Society Magazine titled, “Understanding people’s temperaments can make the world a better place” sums up the functionality of Four Temperaments theory that:

“Everywhere, there are expectations for people to behave in a certain way – even when it goes against their temperaments. Although no one can be placed in the box and said to belong to one personality, having a good understanding of who we are and who others are can help us achieve greater success and understanding in our lives. It takes all sort of people to make a world, and the sooner we realize that, the better off everyone will be. By realizing human beings are different, both in their genetic make-up and upbringing, we can begin to support each other to bring out the best in each person. For example, if we know that a certain temperament is inclined towards leading while the other towards following, all we need to do is put the necessary structures in place. Ensure that the ones with an inclination to lead get the opportunity to do so, and the followers also are left to do what they will do best”. (p.3).

We categorize everything that comes our way including people. Mbti assessment

Personality type involves how you prefer to gain energy, gather information, make decisions and live your life. Preferences within ourselves which are natural ways for the way you like to think or do or act. Perception of the same world differs among the several personality traits. It helps you know more about yourself.

Preference pair:

Where we direct and receive energy could be extroversion or introversion. Extroverts want their energy to go out while introverts want their energy to go in by looking at ideas or facts. We have both within us just that we prefer one over the other.

How we gather data and the kind of information we like and trust could be either sensing or intuition. Sensing the actual, practical or real of the here and now about what is going on. Intuitive types like possibilities, meanings and pictures. You can look at the same picture and see different things. Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity says that not all that counts can be counted (intuitive perspective).

The way we prefer to make decisions could either be through thinking or feeling. Thinking involves looking at the world in a logical way through looking at the pros and cons with the data they have to make certain decisions while feeling types step into the decision by becoming aware of how it will impact people to look for harmony with their value system. The scale of being fair according to thinking types and feeling types differ. To thinking types, being fair means treating people equally. To feeling types, being fair means treating people according to their needs.

How we prefer to go about living our lives either through judging or perceiving. Judging types like to organize things and make decisions while perceiving types like to fit in the crowd and go with the flow and be spontaneous in continuing to gather information. Judging types will normally use the words that end with “ed” such as finished, completed, accomplished. Perceiving types will normally use “ing” words such as finishing, completing, accomplishing, deciding. A plan is a systematic way of achieving an objective to judging types. Plans are options to perceiving types.

Conclusion

It is very instrumental for us to understand different individual personalities and temperaments and that of our leaders so that they may know the strengths and weaknesses of a sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric and melancholic leaders. The four temperaments theory has been successfully applied in the religious circles and even the developments of human resources in order to boost the company’s image therefore it is also fruitful in a political arena to boost leadership credentials. Proverbs 14:28 says, “The mark of a good leader is loyal followers; leadership is nothing without a following.” Therefore, with great wisdom, we need to choose who to follow based on his temperament and personality since it immensely affects our perception of leadership.

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