MAPPING SOME POPULAR PERSONALITY THEORIES 

DID YOU FIGURE OUT YOUR BODY-TYPE  YET? 

If you have some reasonable idea of your body-type you are prepared for the challenge of discovering your core personality also known as temperament.  There is a vague intuition that there is some kind of core identity that needs expression.  But how can you know your core temperament.  You can’t go back in time to observe yourself.  Perhaps psycho-analysis can reconstruct this core.  The problem is that the core was there before we even had words to describe it. That’s why our memories aren’t the best ally in this quest.  At best your current personality is some version of that core that has been modified by life experiences. The one thing that you have with you is your genetic inheritance sometimes referred as your genotype (the genetic constitution of an individual organism.) in contrast to your present phenotype (the set of observable characteristics of an individual resulting from the interaction of its genotype with the environment)

The discovery of the ways our bodies are constructed opens the only (as of 2017) door to access our genotype.  This is not a common understanding in the field of psychology.  In fact the majority of college psychology textbooks and general reference works portray somatotype as some kind of pseudoscience.  The problem is that universities are not encouraging follow-up studies on this subject.  There have been some excellent studies that have shown a relationship between somatotype and temperament.

Here are two noteworthy tests of Sheldon’s theory.  There are others  but these are interesting because of the separation in their timing and culture.  One was done in the USA in 1965 and the other was done recently in 2013 at the University of Gambia.

Cortés, J. B., & Gatti, F. M. (1965). Physique and self-description of temperament. Journal of Consulting Psychology, 29(5), 432-439. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/h0022504

O Kenneth, Igharo & M. Matthew, Bakke. (2013). Investigation of William H. Sheldon’s Constitutional Theory of Personality: A Case Study of the University of the Gambia. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences. 4. 85-92. 10.5901/mjss.2013.v4n7p85.

None of the researchers that did follow-up work on somatotype came up with correlations as high as Sheldon’s:  .40 to .50 compared to Sheldon’s  .70 to .80  Follow up research was done with self administered paper and pencil tests.  Paper and pencil tests are popular because they are less labor intensive than personal interviewing, especially with doctoral candidates.   Contrast those methods with Sheldon’s description of his process of scoring the subjects in his research with 200 college students.

 In the interviews it is necessary to cover rather thoroughly the
general physical or health history; the genetic and family history; the economic, social, sexual, educational and aesthetic history; the history of characteristic tastes and habits; and such special clinical matters as the individual case may indicate. A method of guided discussion and systematized questioning is ordinarily employed,although in difficult cases it may sometimes be necessary to resort to the method of free association or even to dream analysis. In such cases the constitutional analysis will require more than the minimal 20 hours of interviewing.  In Appendices 2 are included two special forms which have been found to facilitate the systematizing of some of the guided discussion. The interview should be conducted in a systematic manner, according to a practiced plan. The interviewer is attempting to take and evaluate a psychological history. This is more difficult and involved than a medical history. In fact the medical history but one necessary step in a good psychological history. Training is necessary before reasonable dependability can be expected in the use of this instrument, for it makes no claim to being foolproof.

This is ignored by those who bludgeoned Sheldon with the mighty “halo effect”.  In a world where you can be mobbed for claiming that IQ is heritable it is risky to extend the heritability claim to other territories.  Critics of Sheldon ought to at least discover their own somatotype and if they aren’t willing to do that …

At least I got that out of the way.  It’s an upstream battle to get people to give serious consideration to somatotype.

So now let’s look at some diagrams of how some of the popular personality typologies can be mapped on the somatotype triangle.  In each typology you will find a list of the traits associated with the basic dimensions which form the scaffolding for the individual types.

 

 

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