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C. Robert Cloninger on Temperament - Dictionary of Arguments

Corr I 328
Temperament/R. C. Cloninger: He hypothesized that the original three traits and Persistence reflect dimensions of temperament, meaning that they should be evident early in ontogeny and strongly genetically determined. In contrast, he hypothesized that Self-Directedness, Cooperativeness and Self-Transcendence reflect dimensions of character, meaning that they should develop later, being determined by experience during development rather than primarily by genes.
VsCloninger: Research has demonstrated several problems with Cloninger’s model (>personality traits/Cloninger).
(1) A simple distinction between temperament and character appears untenable. The character traits show much the same levels of heritability as the temperament traits (Ando, Suzuki, Yamagata et al. 2004(1); Gillespie, Cloninger, Heath and Martin 2003)(2).
(2) Evidence has accumulated to contradict the idea that single neurotransmitter systems are responsible for Novelty-Seeking, Harm Avoidance and Reward Dependence (Paris 2005)(3).
(3) Cloninger’s seven-factor structure has not proven consistently replicable. Factor analyses have demonstrated (a) that the scales Cloninger developed do not group together in the manner that he assigned them to his seven traits (Ando, Suzuki, Yamagata et al. 2004(1); Ball, Tennen and Kranzler 1999(4); Herbst, Zonderman, McCrae and Costa 2000)(5), and (b) that his instrument is best described by the five factor structure of the Big Five (Markon, Krueger and Watson 2005(6); Ramanaiah, Rielage and Cheng 2002)(7).



1. Ando, J., Suzuki, A., Yamagata, S., Kijima, N., Maekawa, H., Ono, Y. and Jang, K. L. 2004. Genetic and environmental structure of Cloninger’s temperament and character character dimensions, Journal of Personality Disorders 18: 379–93
2. Gillespie, N. A., Cloninger, C. R., Heath, A. C. and Martin, N. G. 2003. The genetic and environmental relationship between Cloninger’s dimensions of temperament and character, Personality and Individual Differences 35: 1931–46
3. Paris, J. 2005. Neurobiological dimensional models of personality: a review of the models of Cloninger, Depue, and Siever, Journal of Personality Disorders 19: 156–70
4. Ball, S. A., Tennen, H. and Kranzler, H. R. 1999. Factor replicability and validity of the Temperament and Character Inventory in substance-dependent patients, Psychological Assessment 11: 514–24
5. Herbst, J. H., Zonderman, A. B., McCrae, R. R. and Costa, P. T. 2000. Do the dimensions of the Temperament and Character Inventory map a simple genetic architecture? Evidence from molecular genetics and factor analysis, American Journal of Psychiatry 157: 1285–90
6. Markon, K. E., Krueger, R. F. and Watson, D. 2005. Delineating the structure of normal and abnormal personality: an integrative hierarchical approach, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 88: 139–57
7. Ramanaiah, N. V., Rielage, J. K. and Cheng, Y. 2002. Cloninger’s temperament and character inventory and the NEO Five–Factor Inventory, Psychological Reports 90: 59–63



Colin G. DeYoung and Jeremy R. Gray, „ Personality neuroscience: explaining individual differences in affect, behaviour and cognition“, in: Corr, Ph. J. & Matthews, G. (eds.) 2009. The Cambridge handbook of Personality Psychology. New York: Cambridge University Press


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Cloninger, C. Robert
Corr I
Philip J. Corr
Gerald Matthews
The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology New York 2009

Corr II
Philip J. Corr (Ed.)
Personality and Individual Differences - Revisiting the classical studies Singapore, Washington DC, Melbourne 2018


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2021-04-12
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