Factors of Temperament

"We may ask, 'What are the effects of culture (or environment or learning) upon temperament (or personality or attitudes)?' Or we may ask, 'What are the effects of different types of nurture upon various aspects of behavior for persons of differeing constitutional endowment?' The importance of putting the question in this latter form is expresed by the old saying, 'What is one man's meat is another man's poison.'"

Pavlov, in the tradition of his time, made use of the Hippocratic theory that it is possible to recognize in humans four tempeamental types; phlegmatic, choleric, sanguine, and melancholic. Pavlov argued that dogs with each of these types of temperament differed in behavior during his conditioning experiments because their nervous systems were constructed differently with respect to the properties to brain function he had defined. Two of the temperamental types-sanguine and phlegmatic-he considered to have strong nervous systems. In these cases the nervous system was also judged to be relatively balanced, in the sense that it did not show a tendency to veer either towards increased excitabililty (arousal) or towards increased inhibition (Claridge, 1985, p.18).

Even at the early stage of theorizing about animal behavior, notes Claridge, Pavlov recognized its relevance to understanding human personality and would occasionally draw colorful parallels between his favorite dogs and the vaieties of temperaments he observed among man. Pavlov was, as notes Claridge,

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Peter L. Heineman
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