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  1. Michael Windle

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0979

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Windle, M. 2010. Temperament. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–3.

Author Information

  1. Emory University

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Temperament refers to biogenetic dispositions that influence individual variation in emotional and behavioral styles. There is general agreement that temperament is manifested early in life, is highly heritable, and displays at least moderate stability over the life course. The study of temperament has a venerable history, dating from Greco-Roman times, with scholars such as Hippocrates and Galen, through nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century contributions by Pavlov and others, to early- to middle-twentieth-century representations in many of the grand trait theories of temperament and personality, such as those of Eysenck and Cattell. Nevertheless, the revival or resurgence of temperament in the 1960s is typically credited to Thomas, Chess, Birch, Hertzig, and Korn (1963) in their highly influential New York Longitudinal Study (NYLS). The NYLS investigated 133 children and their families from childhood to adulthood with respect to causes and consequences of normal development and of behavioral and emotional problems. Of importance, Thomas and colleagues identified and labeled an individual difference variable, temperament, as critical in understanding the development of behavioral and emotional problems.


  • behavioral styles;
  • difficult temperament;
  • personality traits;
  • temperament