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A Ternary Model of Personality: Temperament, Character, and Identity

Chapter in book
Authors Danilo Garcia
Kevin M. Cloninger
Sverker Sikström
Henrik Anckarsäter
C. Robert Cloninger
Published in Statistical Semantics - Methods and Applications
ISBN 978-3-030-37249-1
Publisher Springer
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Psychology
Centre for Ethics, Law, and Mental Health
Language en
Keywords Quantitative Semantics, Personality, Cloninger, Biopsychosocial Model of Personality
Subject categories Psychiatry, Health Sciences, Psychology


Human beings are definitely storytellers capable of travel back and forward in time. We not only construct stories about ourselves, but also share these with others (McAdams and McLean 2013). We construct and internalize an evolving and integrative story for life, that is, a narrative identity (Singer 2004). However, the life story is just one of three layers of personality that are in a dynamical complex interaction, the other two being temperamental dispositions and goals and values (McAdams and Manczak 2011) or what Cloninger (2004) defines as temperament and character. The use of language, that is, words and their meaning or semantic content, to understand a person’s identity is definitely not new. On basis of the psycholexical hypothesis, for example, relevant and prominent features of personality are encoded in natural language (John et al. 1988), thus, individual differences are manifested in single words that people use to describe their own concept of the self or identity (cf. Boyd and Pennebaker 2017; McAdams 2008; Gazzaniga 2011; Koltko-Rivera 2004). However, although some models of personality, such as the Big Five, stem from natural person-descriptive language, the original clustering of the person-descriptive words used to develop these lexical models was conducted by a relatively small number of researchers who lacked the technical programs available today to handle large amounts of text (Leising et al. 2014; see also Garcia et al. 2015a). In addition, these approaches involved, to a larger degree, only one layer of personality for clustering the person- descriptive words, namely, temperamental dispositions (cf. Gunderson et al. 1999). Here, as a first step, we present a new approach to analyze the way people describe themselves and use Cloninger’s biopsychosocial theory to interpret our results.

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