The sanguine type is cheerful and optimistic, pleasant to be with, comfortable with his or her work. According to the Greeks, the sanguine type has a particularly abundant supply of blood (hence the name sanguine, from sanguis, Latin for blood) and so also is characterized by a healthful look, including rosy cheeks.
The choleric type is characterized by a quick, hot temper, often an aggressive nature. The name refers to bile (a chemical that is excreted by the gall bladder to aid in digestion). Physical features of the choleric person include a yellowish complexion and tense muscles.
Next, we have the phlegmatic temperament. These people are characterized by their slowness, laziness, and dullness. The name obviously comes from the word phlegm, which is the mucus we bring up from our lungs when we have a cold or lung infection. Physically, these people are thought to be kind of cold, and shaking hands with one is like shaking hands with a fish.
Finally, there’s the melancholy temperament. These people tend to be sad, even depressed, and take a pessimistic view of the world. The name has, of course, been adopted as a synonym for sadness, but comes from the Greek words for black bile. Now, since there is no such thing, we don’t quite know what the ancient Greeks were referring to. But the melancholy person was thought to have too much of it!
These four types are actually the corners of two dissecting lines: temperature and humidity. Sanguine people are warm and wet. Choleric people are warm and dry. Phlegmatic people are cool and wet. Melancholy people are cool and dry. There were even theories suggesting that different climates were related to different types, so that Italians (warm and moist) were sanguine, Arabs (warm and dry) were choleric, Russians (cool and dry) were melancholy, and Englishmen (cool and wet) were phlegmatic!
Eysenck is also primarily a research psychologist. His methods involve a statistical technique called factor analysis. This technique extracts a number of “dimensions” from large masses of data. For example, if you give long lists of adjectives to a large number of people for them to rate themselves on, you have prime raw material for factor analysis.
As you might imagine, the kinds of qualities found in high psychoticistic people include a certain recklessness, a disregard for common sense or conventions, and a degree of inappropriate emotional expression. It is the dimension that separates those people who end up institutions from the rest of humanity!