Deutsch: Temperamentsmerkmal / Español: Rasgo de Temperamento / Português: Traço de Temperamento / Français: Trait de Tempérament / Italiano: Tratto del Temperamento

Temperament trait in the psychology context refers to the basic, innate aspects of an individual's personality that are evident from early childhood and remain relatively stable throughout life. These traits are the foundational elements of personality and influence how individuals react to their environment, regulate their emotions, and interact with others. Temperament traits include a variety of dimensions, such as activity level, emotional reactivity, sociability, and regulatory capacity. Researchers believe that these traits are largely biologically based, shaped by genetic, neurobiological, and evolutionary factors, although they are also influenced by an individual's interactions with their environment.


Temperament traits are typically categorized into several broad dimensions, each representing a continuum of behavior and emotional responses. For example:

  • Activity Level: The overall energy output, including the tendency towards physical movement and restlessness.
  • Emotional Reactivity: The intensity and duration of emotional reactions, encompassing aspects like fearfulness, frustration, and the capacity for joy.
  • Sociability: The preference for being with others versus alone, reflecting how individuals engage with social interactions.
  • Regulatory Capacity: The ability to control impulses, maintain attention, and manage behavior and emotions.

Understanding temperament traits is crucial for recognizing individual differences in behavior and emotional responses from a young age, guiding parenting, education, and therapeutic approaches.

Application Areas

Temperament traits have implications across several domains within psychology:

  • Developmental Psychology: Exploring how temperament influences development, personality formation, and adjustment across the lifespan.
  • Clinical Psychology: Understanding temperament can help in diagnosing and treating mental health issues, tailoring interventions to match an individual's temperament.
  • Educational Psychology: Applying knowledge of temperament traits to create learning environments that accommodate diverse behavioral and emotional needs.

Well-Known Examples

Thomas and Chess's New York Longitudinal Study (NYLS) is a landmark research project that identified nine temperament traits and classified children into three general types of temperament: easy, difficult, and slow-to-warm-up. This study underscored the importance of the "goodness of fit" concept, which highlights the compatibility between an individual's temperament and their environment, impacting their psychological adjustment and development.

Treatment and Risks

While temperament traits themselves are not pathological and do not require treatment, understanding an individual's temperament can inform approaches to managing behavioral or emotional challenges. A poor fit between a person's temperament and their environment may contribute to developmental issues or psychological distress. Interventions can include strategies for parents and educators to adapt environments and interactions to better suit individual temperament profiles, enhancing well-being and minimizing conflict.

Similar Terms or Synonyms

  • Constitutional Disposition: An older term that refers to the inherent psychological and physiological characteristics that define an individual.
  • Personality Foundation: Suggests that temperament traits form the underlying basis of an individual's personality.


Temperament traits are fundamental, biologically rooted aspects of an individual's personality that manifest early in life and influence how they interact with the world. Understanding these traits provides valuable insights into human behavior, emotional regulation, and personality development, emphasizing the significance of aligning environments and interactions with individuals' innate tendencies for optimal psychological health and development.