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International Journal of Emergency Mental Health and Human Resilience
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Static/Unchangeable and Dynamic/Changeable Nature of Personality According to the Nine Types Temperament Model: A Proposal

Enver Demirel Yilmaz1*, Ozge Unal2, Ali Gorkem Gencer3, Omer Aydemir4, Ziya Selcuk5

1Department of Psychiatry, Hatay Dörtyol State Hospital, Hatay, Turkey

2Education, Health Care and Counseling, PersonaLogia Institute, Istanbul, Turkey

3Department of Psychiatry, Başakşehir State Hospital, Istanbul, Turkey

4Department of Psychiatry, Celal Bayar University, Manisa, Turkey

5Faculty of Education, Gazi University, Ankara, Turkey

*Corresponding Author:
Enver Demirel Yilmaz
E-mail: [email protected]

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Researchers which aimed to understand human behaviours have propounded many opinions about temperament and personality. Some of them centralize temperament while others centralize personality in their studies. They defined temperament and personality in many ways and tried to explain similar and different features of these concepts. The disagreement of the researchers on the definitions of temperament and personality concepts caused confusion in explaining the relations between these concepts. Besides, this confusion brings along the question “which one is the changeable and unchangeable part of the human behaviours, temperament or personality?� Nine Types Temperament Model (NTTM) is new model that considers human behaviour with a temperament based approach, claims to formulate a holistic model to the definitions, boundaries, scopes, interrelations of temperament, character and personality. The aim of this study is to explain the relation of personality with temperament and to propose an approach which conceptualizes the personality’s unchangeable -originating from the temperament- and changeable facets from the NTTM perspective, which can be a conceptual base for future empirical studies. In this study; first we explained the definitions and the relations of temperament, character and personality propounded by NTTM based on the current literature. Second we proposed “natural personality� concept in order to explain unchangeable features that originate from the individual’s temperament type. Also we proposed “synthetic personality� concept in order to explain the traits that do not exist in the temperament type of the individual and are acquired after birth through parents, school and social transference. In conclusion, in this study we tried to offer a new perspective to the researchers for understanding the nature of temperament -character- personality concepts and the link between them. Additionally, we propounded the concepts of natural and synthetic personality that will be able to answer the questions about changeable and unchangeable facets of personality.


Nine types Temperament Model, temperament, character, personality, natural personality, synthetic personality


Understanding human behaviour is related with the nature of the personality and its organization. The main aim of personality researchers is to clarify the four important elements of personality (identification, parts, organization and development of personality) and how the psychological systems that make up the personality work together (Mayer, 2005). At the same time, “which factors affect the personality?” and “does personality stay unchanged or does it change over time?” are among the most fundamental inquiries of temperament/personality researchers (Caspi & Roberts, 2001; Mischel, 1969; McCrae & Costa, 1994; Roberts et al., 2006; Robins et al., 2001). Many researchers emphasize that it is important to comprehend the relation between temperament, character and personality, in order to find a comprehensive and consistent answer to these questions (Fromm, 1999; Rothbart et al., 2000; McCrae et al., 2000).

There are many studies in the literature on the nature of temperament and its affect on personality, including the study of four well-known temperament researchers - Rothbart, Thomas and Chess, Buss and Plomin, and Goldsmith- which is a classic, comparing their views on temperament and personality (What Is Temperament? Four Approaches) (Goldsmith et al., 1987; Shiner et al., 2012). According to Kagan and Snidman (2004, p.218-219), temperament is defined as possible reactivity series based on biological traits of a person, depending on the quality of mood through a sequence of physiological responses. On the other hand, Burger (2006, p.352) defines temperament as general behaviour and emotion patterns that can convert into different personality traits according to environmental factors and personal experiences. Although there are different definitions in the literature, many researchers agree that temperament is a starting point for individuals to display different behavioural traits, has an inherited part, is observed in early babyhood and consists of traits which generate the unlearned part of personality (Diamond, 1957; Strelau, 2002; Joyce, 2010). In addition, it is widely accepted hypothesis that temperament traits are the first factors that form the personality traits which will generate in the future (Goldsmith et al., 1987; Costa & McCrae, 2001; Kagan, 2010; Rothbart et al., 2000).

On the other hand, character is usually defined by researchers as a structure that is affected distinctly by social learning, life events specific to the individual and culture, and has less inherited parts (Aslan, 2008). Character is mostly considered within the context of moral values (Doris, 2002; Fromm, 1999; Lickona et al., 1996). In addition, the characteristic patterns of an individual show that what becomes typical for that person is produced through something that is relatively constant (Maltby et al., 2007, p.34). Personality is defined as the dynamic organization of psychophysical systems within an individual that determine the unique harmony of an individual with his surrounding (Svrakic & Cloninger, 2007). It is also suggested that interaction of temperament and character constitutes the personality, which is an adaptive structure (Cloninger et al., 1993; Svrakic et al., 2002).

Approaches focusing on personality can be divided into two, according to the way personality is considered: a) psychoanalytic and behavioural/cognitive theories b) discriminating trait approach. Psychoanalytical theories, which constitute the first group, explain the development and organization of personality with concepts like conscious, unconscious, id, ego, super ego, defence mechanisms and impulses (Blum, 1953; Bornstein, 2003; Fairbairm, 1952). Behavioural and cognitive theories explain personality through personal experience and learning (Ewen, 2010; Loevinger, 1987; Miller & Dollard 1950). In the second group, the discriminating trait approach, the researchers focus on determining the traits that constitute the personality and accept that personality has a biological feature (Allport, 1961; Cloninger et al., 1993; Eysenck 1998; McCrae & Costa, 2003). As the first group theories focus more on the explanation of personality development and its organization, generally temperament concept is not mentioned in these theories; while the second group theories focus more on discussions related with the temperament, which is the biological part of the personality, the relation of temperament and personality, as well as static and dynamic traits of personality.

Nine Types Temperament Model (NTTM) is a new model that considers human behaviour with a temperament based approach, claims to formulate a holistic model to the definitions, boundaries, scopes and interrelations of temperament, character and personality (Yılmaz, 2010, Yılmaz, 2011; 2014a; 2014b, 2015). According to NTTM, temperament is a whole of discriminating traits that are innate, unchanging throughout the lifetime and differentiate one individual from others. At the same time, temperament is a program that constitutes the most basic constructive element of the personality development (Yılmaz et al., 2014a; 2014b). Character is generated with some temperament features being distinctive and shaped by becoming determined and consistent. Character, which develops on the basis of temperament and constitutes the distinctive, determined and consistent traits of personality, is not unchanging, however is very resistant to changes (Yılmaz, 2010; Yılmaz et al., 2014b; 2015). Personality is the interaction of all innate / internal (intelligence, gender, genetic structure, age, biological traits) and external (family, education, social environment, life experiences, culture, belief) factors on the basis of temperament (Yılmaz et al., 2014a; 2014b). Personality, which develops from the static/unchanging traits of the temperament, has a dynamic/changing structure (Yılmaz et al., 2014b).

Understanding the nature of human behaviour is closely related with understanding the relation between the temperament –the fundamental core of this nature- and the personality. The aim of this study is to explain the relation of personality with temperament through the perspective of NTTM, which approaches human behaviour on the basis of temperament, as well as propose a new approach that conceptualizes the unchanging parts of personality that is rooted in the temperament and its changing parts, which can be a conceptual base for future empirical studies.

The Relation of Temperament and Character with Personality

Although the researchers agree that temperament does have an important impact on the personality, they differentiate on how temperament should be defined as a concept and what its traits are (Goldsmith et al., 1987; Joyce, 2010; Rothbart et al., 2000; Strelau, 2002). Researchers like Goldsmith and Campos (1990), Kagan, (2010), Mehrabian, (1991; 1996) focus more on the emotional parts of temperament and define temperament as differences in emotional states of individuals. Researchers like Buss and Plomin (1975; 1984), Rothbart, Ahadi and Evans (1989, 2000), Zuckerman (1990) and Cloninger (1993), focus more on the biological part of the temperament. The famous New York Longitudinal Study (NYLS), in which Thomas and Chess (1990) observe 133 babies for approximately 30 years, temperament is considered as a behaviour style. Thomas and Chess propounded that temperament is a genetic component of personality traits and determines how behaviour is realized (Goldsmith et al. 1987). It is obvious that there is a certain disagreement between the researchers on how the temperament will be defined and what it will consist of (Zentner& Bates, 2008). According to our view, this disagreement causes confusion on defining temperament, character and personality concepts, as well as on clarifying the relation between these concepts (Yılmaz et al., 2015). Therefore, NTTM, while centralizing the temperament concept, clarifies the definitions, boundaries, scopes and interrelations of character and personality through a holistic perspective (Yılmaz et al., 2011; 2014a; 2014b; 2015).

NTTM agrees with the view that temperament is innate and constitutes the structural base of the personality (Yılmaz et al., 2014b). However, opposite to the views that differentiate temperament as emotional or behavioural, it also proposes that the temperament is a core that is the whole of traits which shape the behavioural, emotional as well as cognitive processes, and which differentiate one individual from another (Yılmaz et al., 2014b, 2015). According to NTTM, every individual has the potential to bear all positive potentials and all risky traits open to negativity according to his temperament. The potential traits of temperament types of NTTM are presented in Table 1.


Table 1: Traits of Nine Types Temperament Model Types

Strelau (2002) indicates that besides biological mechanisms, the temperament is shaped by the environment and is the expression of personality traits as reactions and behaviours. According to Strelau (2002, p.47), while temperament has a biological root, personality is structured with environmental factors. Buss and Plomin indicate that environmental factors cannot generate a result which is totally independent from temperament (Goldsmith et al., 1987). Although centralizing temperament in personality development, NTTM agrees that the external factors have an important impact, besides the temperament (Yılmaz et al., 2014a; 2014b). In addition, it also proposes that the formation process of personality is not only the interaction of the temperament with external factors, but also its interaction with both external and internal (intelligence, gender, genetic structure, age, biological traits, etc.) factors (Yılmaz et al., 2014a; 2014b; 2015).

Cloninger points out to the importance of character besides the concept of temperament for explaining the personality. In Psychobiological Personality Model (PPM), developed by Cloninger, four temperament and three character dimensions are defined and it is proposed that personality is comprised of the total of the temperament and the character (Cloninger et al., 1993). Although Cloninger considers temperament and character traits separately, he defends that these two are interacting (Maltby et al., 2007, p.201). Parallel to Cloninger’ s perspective, NTTM also emphasizes the importance of character concept besides the temperament for the explanation of the personality (Yılmaz et al., 2014b; 2015). However, it opposes to the view that temperament and character concepts should be considered as separate components of personality. According to NTTM, character is not a totally different component from the temperament, on the contrary, it is some of the temperament traits of that type becoming distinctive, consistent and determined as a result of the interaction of the temperament with environmental factors (Yılmaz et al., 2014b; 2015). Although social values and education have an important impact on the development of character, the structural impact of temperament is observed more (Yılmaz, 2010). For example, an individual with Nine Type Temperament 2 (NTT2) has a potential to be helpful in his temperament. The distinctive appearance of the trait of being helpful in the life of this individual (for example, often helping people around with his own will, being described as a helpful person by the others, etc.) is a trait that belongs to his character. As in this example, temperament bears the potential whether an individual is characteristically helpful or not. Character is the determined, consistent and distinctive correspondence of the behavioural, emotional and cognitive processing of the temperament in an individual. In character development, the impact of structural temperament traits is dominant. Personality consists of the interaction of the temperament with internal and external factors, however in personality development, both temperament and internal-external factors affecting temperament are equally important (Yılmaz et al., 2014b).

As a result, personality develops from structural temperament traits that are innate and unchanging throughout the lifetime, however it is a comprehensive structure which includes character (Yılmaz et al., 2014b). It can be stated that this view is similar to that of Evans and Rothbart (2007), claiming that the temperament is a subfield of the personality, but the personality contains more than the temperament.

An Unanswered Discussion: Does Personality Change or Not?

Some researchers, including Costa and McCrae, who proposed the renowned Big Five Model (BFM), claim that the personality is comparatively stable (Costa & McCrae 1988; 1994; Hooker & McAdams, 2003; Caspi & Roberts, 2001; Caspi et al., 2003; Gustavsson et al., 1997; Soldz ve Vaillant, 1999). However personality researchers have different opinions on whether the personality is static/unchangeable or dynamic/changeable (Alwin, 1994; Mroczek & Spiro, 2003; Ozer & Gjerde, 1989). Roberts, Wood and Smith (2005), criticize the view of BFM which states that normal personality traits develop in relation to genetic factors mostly, and pointed out to the importance of acquired experiences during young adulthood for the development of normal personality traits. In addition, current studies don’t verify that personality dimensions stay unchanged during the adulthood (Mroczek & Spiro, 2003; Allemand et al., 2007; Roberts, Walton & Viechtbauer 2006; Donnellan & Lucas, 2008).

Can Personality be Both Static/Unchangeable and Dynamic/Changeable?

Considering NTTM perspective, the answer to the question “does personality change or not?” can be given paradoxically as “it changes and it does not change”. Evans and Rothbart (2007) stated that there are two separate sides of the personality as temperament and non-temperament. Parallel to this view, we believe that the personality has two sides (temperamental and non-temperamental), which are rooted in unchanging temperament traits and not. In addition, this view can be extended as the personality having two sides, one which develops in the direction of the traits of the individual’s temperament type and the other which develops by learning the traits that do not exist in the individual’s temperament type. In this section, we will try to explain the two sides of the personality with “natural personality” and “synthetic personality” concepts. The natural personality expresses the personality which develops on the basis of the individual’s temperament traits and the behaviours are expressed the same way as the temperament traits. The synthetic personality defines the personality, which are the traits that do not exist in the temperament type of the individual and are acquired after birth through parents, school and social environment. Natural personality, are the predictable personalities that develop on the positive or negative traits/potentials that potentially existing in the temperament types of the individuals. Innate temperament traits –which constitute the natural personality according to our view, do not change (Goldsmith et al., 1987, Pedlow et al., 1993; Yılmaz et al., 2014a; 2014b).

According to Kagan, every adult profile develops under the effect of the temperament, but is not completely limited by the temperament (Kagan & Snidman, 2004, p.6). Every individual, as indicated by sociallearning and cognitive theories (Bandura, 1977; Dollard & Miller, 1950; Dumont, 2010, p. 77), can extend his behaviour repertoire in the personality by his natural personality developed from his own temperament type, as well as by learning. According to us, this can be explained with the synthetic personality concept, which the individual develops from the traits that do not exist in his temperament type, therefore through learning from the impact of social values, family, education and culture. Actually synthetic personality enriches the natural personality and adds variety to it, enabling the individual to display traits that are not in his temperament type under the personality manifestation. For example an individual with NTT5 temperament type is introverted. This individual cannot be an extroverted person in his natural personality manifestation, which develops from his temperament traits. However, he can learn this trait later, which does not exist in his nature, through educationor social transference and can sometimes display extroverted behaviour due to his synthetic personality.

In the study of Robins, Fraley, Roberts and Trzesniewski (2001) conducted with 270 university students for four years, it was proposed that the personality traits showed consistency, however can change systematically. We propose that this systematic change, which corresponds to the synthetic personality traits of an individual, can be realized under the leadership/guidance of the natural personality that develops in the direction of the individual’s own temperament traits. For example, an individual with NTT6 temperament type who has the trait of being thrifty cannot display the trait of being generous –a synthetic personality element- as if the thriftiness trait does not exist at all. However, when the individual gains the generosity trait with his synthetic personality, when necessary, he can display generous behaviour, although he has the natural tendency to be thrifty.

In brief, the natural personality develops from the individual’s own temperament traits and in accordance with these traits. However, synthetic personality develops together with natural personality and definitely with the interaction of natural personality basis. Therefore, while the natural personality development roots in the individual’s own temperament tendencies, synthetic personality development is generally related with environmental/social expectations, obligations and guidance. It can be stated that as synthetic personality traits integrate better with the natural personality so the harmonic personality will be more qualified and healthier (Figure 1).


Figure 1: The Relation of Temperament and the Harmonic Personality

Result and Proposals

The disagreement of the researchers in defining temperament and character, which try to explain human behaviour based upon temperament and personality, cause a confusion in explaining the relations of these concepts. Probably the existence of different studies manifesting that personality is static/unchangeable as well as dynamic/changeable which seem to falsify each other originates from this conceptual confusion. We have the opinion that NTTM, which explains the formation of character and personality systematically and handles the concepts of temperament, character and personality and their relations between each other with an integrated approach, can present a new and comprehensive perspective to the researchers. Also the concepts of natural and synthetic personality introduced by this study which aim to explain two aspects of personality –originated from temperament and acquired- can change the direction of the argument whether personality changes or not. In the future academic studies related to definition, context and conceptualizations which are propounded by NTTM may contribute to the testing of these opinions.


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