What Is the Difference Between Temperament and Personality?

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Temperament refers to a set of innate or inborn traits that organize a child’s approach to the world, while personality is what arises within the individual. Personality is acquired on top of the temperament. Temperament can be viewed as an artist’s canvas while personality can be viewed as the painting on the canvas.

Psychologists conclude that people can be categorized into four basic types of temperament: sanguine, choleric, melancholy and phlegmatic. Two of the basic temperament types are more introverted or inward-directed and the other two are extroverted or outgoing. Personality, which stays constant all through a person’s life, consists of certain characteristic patterns like thoughts, feelings and behavior.

Since it is naturally occurring, temperament cannot be taught or learned but, despite this fact, it can be nurtured as one grows. Parents have an important role in nurturing the temperament of their child from infancy. Personality is also developed over a long period of time and is affected by factors like socialization, education and different pressures in life.

Understanding temperament equips people to successfully handle interpersonal relationships. Studying one’s own temperament helps establish personal weaknesses and strengths. Studying other peoples’ temperaments allows individuals to adapt their communication skills to others.