New perspectives in temperament/personality research: The “Behavioral” model of the Warsaw group

  • Gordon L. Mangan
  • Timothy J. H. Paisey


This paper reviews the theory and research of the Warsaw school of differential psychophysiology, which has modified and extended the typologic model constructed by Teplov and Nebylitsyn. While Soviet theory still favors a relatively inflexible structure of nervous system properties as the biologic basis of individual differences in personality, Strelau and colleagues, in line with the action/activity model of Vygotsky and Tomaszewski, begin with the premise that for every individual there is a specific, genetically determined optimal level of arousal, a necessary background for fullest emotional and intellectual development. The person strives to create this optimal climate through an active process of stimulation control, achieved primarily through enhancement or dampening of reactivity—which describes innate responsivity in the reacting systems to both sensory and emotional stimuli—through various hormonal ‘tuning’ mechanisms and through “appropriate” activity, reflected in different cognitive styles and preference for certain work conditions. Such activities aim to ensure comfortable physical and psychologic environments, in which the individual can avoid conflict and stress. The system regulating and integrating such control mechanisms is the core of personality. Investigations of the Warsaw group on relationships between reactivity and different forms of stimulation seeking/control—risk-taking, work style preferences, cognitive style, defense mechanisms, for example—and between reactivity and tolerance of stress and conflict and their speculations about the neurophysiologic and endocrinologic mechanisms of stimulation control are described, as are a number of questionnaires developed by this group to measure reactivity, the temporal parameters of response, and stimulation-seeking in a variety of occupational and social contexts.


Cognitive Style Temperament Trait Work Style Temperamental Trait Transformation Ability 


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Copyright information

© Springer 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gordon L. Mangan
    • 1
  • Timothy J. H. Paisey
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Experimental PsychologyUniversity of OxfordUSA

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