Are personality, character and temperament the same thing? What are their differences? In this article we will know the 6 differences between personality, character and temperament.
First of all, we will define, broadly speaking, what is understood by each of these concepts, and then we will explain in detail each of their differences.
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Personality, character and temperament: what do they consist of?
So, before explaining the 6 differences between personality, character and temperament, we are going to explain what each of these concepts consists of.We are going to extend a little more on the personality because of its great importance as a “central” factor.
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Personality is a concept that has multiple definitions. As a general definition we can take that of Bermudez (1996), who defines it literally as “a relatively stable organization of structural and functional characteristics, innate and acquired under the special conditions of its development, which make up the peculiar and defining behavioral equipment with which each individual faces different situations”.
Thus, personality is a hypothetical construct that we infer by observing people’s behavior; that is, it is intrinsic but also manifests itself extrinsically. The elements that make up personality are fairly stable and consistent (these elements are personality traits).
Personality encompasses both overt behaviors and private experiences (feelings, emotions, thoughts…). In addition, it also includes cognitive elements, motivations and affective states.
Character is an individual’s way of being, which has more to do with learning and culture than with personality.. It could be said that it is the learned part of the personality. It is born and configured through the experiences that take place on the temperament. It is possible to have a nervous, calm, passionate character?
Temperament is a more biological conceptThat is to say, it is a concept similar to personality, but of a more biological etiology. It would be like the biological part of the personality. It manifests itself before the personality, and is inheritable from the parents (or a great part of it).
The 6 differences between personality, character and temperament
Now we are going to explain the 6 differences between personality, character and temperament, let’s explain the 6 differences between personality, character and temperament.. As we shall see, these differences refer to different aspects of the three constructs (onset, etiology, degree of stability, etc.).
The first of the differences between personality, character and temperament refers to their origin. Thus, while personality arises from the interaction of genetic, biological, social and cognitive factors, character arises from learning (from experiences on temperament) and temperament from biological factors (it is inherited).
The first thing that appears, when we are born, is the temperament. Little by little, personality and character appear. Personality is shaped over the years and character may take a little less time, as we will see below. Thus, each of these constructs has its period of appearance (at least, the first traits), although logically this may vary slightly from person to person.
Personality consolidates around the age of 18, approximately. This does not mean that in many people it consolidates earlier or later (i.e., it is an approximate age). This is because as we grow up, especially from childhood to adolescence, our personal characteristics change and are gradually consolidated.
Character, on the other hand, can be said to consolidate a little earlier, although it may vary over time.
Finally, temperament is consolidated much earlier (when we are young); that is why in children we essentially speak of three types of behavior: easy, difficult and slow (as we will see below).
4. Degree of stability/oscillations
Another difference between personality, character and temperament is their degree of stability. Thus, temperament is fairly stable over time. Once it is formed (at birth), it remains rather stable over the years.
Character, on the other hand, can undergo much more oscillations, since it depends on learning, and this is more changeable. Personality, on the other hand, undergoes few oscillations throughout life; thus, it is rather stable especially after adolescence (before that it undergoes many changes, but this is because it is not yet fully defined).
Another difference between personality, character and temperament is their types. Thus, each of these concepts includes different types of them:
5.1. Types of temperament
The types of temperament that exist (according to the most accepted classification), characteristic of babies or infancy, are:
- Easy temperamentThey are children with good humor, easy to deal with.
- Difficult temperamentThey show a more negative mood, and are more difficult to treat or comfort.
- Slow temperamentthey show less intense emotions and adapt to situations slowly.
5.2. Character types
As for the types of character, the difference with respect to temperament lies in the fact that there are many more types of temperament. Each author proposes his own. An example of character typologies is that proposed by René Le Senne (1882-1954), French philosopher and psychologist.
This author groups the different types of character into 8 types: nervous, passionate, choleric, sentimental, sanguine, phlegmatic, amorphous and apathetic.
5.3. Personality types
Finally, following the differences between personality, character and temperament in terms of typologies, we find the different personality types. There are many authors who have proposed their own classification.
Here we are going to include one of the most important ones: “the Big Five of personality” (Big Five Model of Costa and McCrae), which speaks of 5 personality factors. These are: neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness (friendliness) and responsibility. Each factor characterizes a personality type.
6. Degree of permeability
When we speak of degree of permeability we are referring to the degree to which a phenomenon, construct or structure allows itself to be influenced by external factors (modifying its own structure).
Thus, temperament would be the least permeable of the three constructs, due to its high biological component, and because it is difficult to change people’s temperament; it is followed by personality, which is also not easily influenced (or difficult to modify).
Finally, character would be the easiest to change, or the construct with the highest degree of permeability, since character depends essentially on learning and culture. This does not mean that it is easy to change someone’s character, but it does mean that it is easier to change than the other two constructs.