1890s: Ivan Pavlov. According to Changing Minds, Pavlov found that dogs could be sorted into four different temperaments, according to their reactions to stress.
- Strong excitatory: Highly strung and easily excitable with moderate levels of stress.
- Lively: Very responsive to stress but reactions not as extreme as the strong excitatory.
- Calm imperturbable: Generally passive response to stress, coping well with it.
- Weak inhibitory: Reacts to stress with extreme passivity in order to avoid tension.
1907– 1920: Adickes, Kretschmer, Adler, and Spranger. Several psychologists during this period used four as a base for their theory: “In 1907 Adickes said man is divided into four worldviews: dogmatic, agnostic, traditional, and innovative. In 1920 Kretschmer said abnormal behavior was determined by the temperament similar to those of Adickes: hyperesthetic, anesthetic, melancholic and hypomanic. Thus some people are born too sensitive, some too insensitive, some too serious, some too excitable. Around 1920 Adler spoke similarly by pointing to four ‘mistaken goals’ people of different make pursue when upset: recognition, power, service, and revenge. Also in 1920, Spranger told of four human values that set people apart: religious, theoretic, economic, and artistic” .
1921: Carl Jung. Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, who published Psychological Types, in which he theorized that there were four fundamental psychological types and, based on clinical observation of his patients, he found these four fundamental types fell loosely into Zeus’s categories, and so for the sake of clarity he named each type after the corresponding god: Apollo (spirit), Prometheus (science), Dionysus (joy), and Epimetheus (duty) .
1930s: In General. The idea of temperaments to explain behavior was abandoned in favor of what was called “dynamic” psychology and “behaviorist” psychology, which looked to unconscious motives and past experiences to explain behavior .
1950s: Isabel Briggs Myers and (her mother) Katharine Cook Briggs. The nonscientific duo of mother and daughter extrapolated 16 types from Jung’s Psychological Types to create what became the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. In a two-page chart of “Characteristics of Types in High School” (Myers Briggs Manual, Form E 1958), Isabel Myers briefly described the 16 types.
1970s to Now: David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates. Published Please Understand Me: Character and Temperament Types, a greatly expanded version of the MBTI and personality test that has been popularized by thousands of companies trying to improve relationships in the workplace and individuals seeking to advance their careers. Myers-Briggs’s descriptions of the 16 types accurately mirrored Keirsey’s observations as a school psychologist, and (after Bates died) he again greatly expanded and modified the types in his 1998 rewrite of the book, Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence, in which he changed the names of Jung’s psychological types. But that will have to wait for another day. ♂ ♀