The Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ)
Eysenck's theory is based primarily on physiology and genetics. Although he was a behaviorist who considered learned habits of great importance, he considers personality differences as growing out of our genetic inheritance. He is, therefore, primarily interested in what is usually called temperament.
Temperament is that aspect of our personalities that is genetically based, inborn, there from birth or even before. That does not mean that a temperament theory says we don't also have aspects of our personality that are learned, it's just that Eysenck focused on "nature," and left "nurture" to other theorists.
Eysenck initially conceptualized personality as two, biologically-based categories of temperament:
The two dimensions or axes, extraversion-introversion and emotional stability-instability, define four quadrants. These are made up of:
- stable extraverts (sanguine qualities such as - outgoing, talkative, responsive, easygoing, lively, carefree, leadership)
- unstable extraverts (choleric qualities such as - touchy, restless, excitable, changeable, impulsive, irresponsible)
- stable introverts (phlegmatic qualities such as - calm, even-tempered, reliable, controlled, peaceful, thoughtful, careful, passive)
- unstable introverts (melancholic qualities such as - quiet, reserved, pessimistic, sober, rigid, anxious, moody).
Further research demonstrated the need for a third category of temperament:
The following table describes the traits that are associated with the three temperaments in Eysenck's model of personality:
||Lack of reflection
||Lack of autonomy
The further Categories included in the 'Know Your Own Mind' online test are not fundamental temperaments but during the exhaustive testing of personality that Eysenck conducted, he also looked into the areas of sexuality and political attitudes that of course play a major part in our lives, and determined norms of behavior and viewpoint with his usual statistical thoroughness.
Hans Eysenck was born in Germany on March 4, 1916. His parents were actors who divorced when he was only two, and so Hans was raised by his grandmother. He left there when he was 18 years old, when the Nazis came to power. As an active Jewish sympathizer, his life was in danger.
In England, he continued his education, and received his Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of London in 1940. During World War II, he served as a psychologist at an emergency hospital, where he did research on the reliability of psychiatric diagnoses. The results led him to a life-long antagonism to main-stream clinical psychology.
After the war, he taught at the University of London, as well as serving as the director of the psychology department of the Institute of Psychiatry, associated with Bethlehem Royal Hospital. He has written 75 books and some 700 articles, making him one of the most prolific writers in psychology. Eysenck retired in 1983 and continued to write until his death on September 4, 1997.
Eysenck's theory remains influential; before his death in 1997, he was the most cited living psychologist, and he is the third most cited psychologist of all time, after Freud and Piaget.
This article is drawn from the following sources, which include detailed print references:
Interesting background reading at Abalard about the use and abuse of statistics, particularly in regards to intelligence testing.
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