According to Cloninger’s thinking, “personality can be defined as a complex hierarchic system that may be split in two main features, temperament and character” (Cloninger et al., 1993). In other words, according to Cloninger’s theory, which may be defined as a psychosocial theory, personality takes form the interaction between temperament and character: while temperament reflects biological features provided to us at birth and that will lead us to act in specific ways, character may be influenced from the environment the individual grows in. In summary, personality is a complex adaptive system composed by seven different dimensions. Temperament reflects differences among people when they need to react unexpectedly to environmental stimuli: it involves basic emotional reactive patterns activated by these stimuli, such as anger, attachment and exploration. In other words, different reactions reflect biological variability. Temperament can be understood during childhood and tends to remain steady for the whole life, as it origins from inheritable biological features (investigations on twins showed traits heritability included between 40 and 60% (Healt et al., 1994; Stallings et al., 1996)) promoting activation, inhibition of neurobiological systems.
NS Novelty Seeking. It is the tendency to react excitedly to novelties. This personality dimension implies the necessity of a higher level of stimulation; it is related to enthusiasm and exploration. These people tendto get bored easily and to be impulsive.
HA Harm Avoidance.It is thetendency to react intensely to negative stimuli. This is likely to bring excessive preoccupation for the consequences of these individuals’ own actions. These people tend to be cautious, sensitive to criticism and punishment.
RD Reward Dependence.It is thetendency to react intensely to situations that might lead to a reward, particularly social approval, affective signs or help offering.
Persistence. It is the tendency to carry on with a type of behaviour known to bring frustration and tiredness.
Character is the way peoplerelate to themselves and to others; it reflects individual differences based on what they have experienced and learned. Character traits are not heritable and they origin from life experiences; nevertheless, temperament may lead individuals to have certain kinds of experiences. Although this doesn’t happen gradually, character traits tend to change during life: on these bases, the character may be defined as “temperament’s non linear function” and it is influenced by social learning and life events.
SD Self directedness.It is related to the willingness, ability to control, regulate and adapt behaviour for goal achievement in a functional and effective way. It is index of responsibility, maturity and reliability.
C Cooperativeness. It implies identification, acceptance of others, availability to help and cooperation. It is associated to empathy, availability tolerance and supportive skills.
ST Self-Transcendence. It is theability to feel part of everything (nature, universe), to perceive a whole consciousness. It is associated to creativity, altruism and spirituality.