Temperament and the Concept of Goodness of Fit

  • Stella Chess
  • Alexander Thomas
Part of the Perspectives on Individual Differences book series (PIDF)


Research centers in various countries have formulated different theoretical viewpoints and methodological approaches to the diagnosis of temperament, to the definition of categories of temperament, and the rating schemes used to identify the categories. But no matter what the conceptual scheme and methodological techniques may be, a crucial question arises. How do we formulate the mechanism or mechanisms through which temperament exerts its influence on the psychological development of the individual from early childhood into adult life? In other words, given any diagnostic system of temperament, how do we examine its functional importance and its relationship to the values, demands, and expectations of the culture in which the person lives? A conceptual framework that serves as a basis for analyzing the dynamics of the influence of specific temperamental characteristics on any individual’s life course gives us the ability to use our diagnosis of temperament in a number of important ways. We can counsel parents and teachers as to the best approach to children, which will vary according to the child’s temperament. We can identify high-risk patterns of parent-child interaction, and intervene to prevent or treat more effectively the behavior disorders of children. Older children and adults can use their knowledge of their own temperaments to channel their behavior to achieve more effectively their personal and career goals.


Behavior Disorder Toilet Training Difficult Temperament Temperamental Trait Temperamental Characteristic 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stella Chess
    • 1
  • Alexander Thomas
    • 1
  1. 1.Medical CenterNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA

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