Sunday, November 30, 2008

Temperaments and Accentuations

I noticed that there are some serious differences between American and Russian psychology. For example, in Russian psychology, temperaments and accentuations are widely accepted. However, they are almost not used in American psychology.

4 temperament model was developed by Ivan P. Pavlov. He said that person's temperament depends on the type of the central nervous system. The types of the nervous system depend on three factors:

* Strength of the nervous processes
* Balance of the nervous processes
* Mobility of the nervous processes

There are four types of temperament:

1. Sanguine temperament is characterized by a strong, balanced, and mobile nervous system. Sanguines have a quick reactions and can easily change their activity. They are cheerful and sociable, like to contact new people, change the environment. They usually are not so upset at their problems.
2. Phlegmatic temperament is characterized by a strong, balanced, and inert nervous system. Phlegmatics have slow reactions, not easily change their activity and adapt to the new environment. They usually have calm and stable mood.
3. Choleric temperament is characterized by a strong, unbalanced, and mobile nervous system. Cholerics have very quick reactions and can easily change their activity. However, they have sudden changes of mood, quick-tempered, and impatient. They have strong "ups" and "downs" and often have conflicts with people.
4. Melancholic temperament is characterized by a weak, unbalanced, and inert nervous system. Melancholics are very sensitive and emotional, but often do not express their emotions outwardly. Their mood is changeable. They are often sad, depressed, have a lack of self-confidence.

All the temperaments are considered to be normal, inborn, and unchangeable.

There are several classifications of accentuations. The most famous of them was developed by East German psychiatrist Karl Leonhard and described in his book "Accentuated People" which as far as I know has never been published in English. His system includes 12 main accentuations and many mixed accentuations. All the psychologists admit that accentuations are normal. However, there are disagreements how many the people have them. Leonhard said that about 50 percent of Germans have accentuations. He defined accentuations as very expressed traits of character or temperament. He made a difference between "standard" people who do not have accentuations, that is, they have an average character and people with accentuations. According to Leonhard, people with accentuations are between "standard" people and people with personality disorders.

12 accentuations described by Leonhard:
1) demonstrative (histrionic) accentuation;
2) pedantic (anankastic) accentuation;
3) sticking (paranoid) accentuation;
4) excitable (emotionally unstable) accentuation;
5) hyperthymic (hypomaniac) accentuation;
6) disthymic (subdepressive) accentuation;
7) affect-labile (cyclothymic) accentuation;
8) affect-exalted accentuation;
9) anxious accentuation;
10) emotive accentuation;
11) extraverted accentuation;
12) introverted accentuation.

Leonhard's definition of extraversion and introversion was different from Jung and Eysenck.

While every person has a certain temperament, not everyone has an accentuation. Accentuations may become more or less expressed from time to time.

Since temperaments as well as personality types are inborn and unchangeable, it is possible to use temperaments for a study like what Yeakleys did with the members of ICC and other groups. However, accentuations are not so stable and not all the people have them. There is a widely used in Russia Shmisheck test for accentuations. I took that test about 6 years ago, 3 months ago, and recently. Each time this test indicated that I have no accentuations. So, accentuations probably cannot be used for a study like Yeakley's.

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