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Disposition vs. Temperament: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 7, 2023
Disposition is a person's inherent qualities of mind and character, while temperament refers to their inherent emotional nature.

Key Differences

Disposition encompasses a person's usual attitude or mood, their tendency to act in a certain way, reflecting character traits and habitual inclinations. Temperament, however, is more specifically related to one's consistent emotional response patterns and is often considered as the aspect of personality that is biologically based. While disposition can be shaped by experience and conscious choice, affecting one's usual approach to situations or problems, temperament is thought to be innate, influencing how a person is likely to feel and behave from an early age.
A person's disposition might be described as friendly, which is a broader characterization of their general behavior towards others, while their temperament might be described as cheerful, which refers to their typical emotional state. Dispositions can evolve over time and be influenced by experiences; temperaments are often observed as more persistent throughout life. While someone might work to have a more positive disposition, their temperament can make this inherently easier or more challenging based on their natural predispositions.
Disposition is often used when referring to someone's predisposition to certain behaviors or attitudes, like being disposed to agreeableness or argumentativeness. Temperament speaks to the foundational emotional and activation level of a person, like being naturally energetic or placid. One's disposition might be adaptable, able to be cultivated or changed, while their temperament is often seen as a fundamental part of who they are, less susceptible to change.
In professional contexts, a person's disposition may refer to their tendency to behave in a particular way under specific circumstances, such as a disposition towards taking charge in group settings. In contrast, temperament is often considered when understanding a person's fit for a role that requires a certain emotional composition, such as the need for a calm temperament in high-stress jobs. A person might be described as having a legal disposition if they tend to interpret situations through a legal framework, but they might have a sanguine temperament, remaining optimistic and calm under pressure.

Comparison Chart


General attitude or mood; a tendency.
Emotional nature; innate response patterns.


Can evolve over time and be influenced.
Generally considered more innate and stable.

Relation to Personality

Reflects habitual inclinations and character.
Constitutes the emotional base of personality.

Biological Basis

Less commonly linked to biology.
Often considered biologically rooted.

Usage Context

Broader traits like agreeableness, openness.
Specific traits like cheerfulness, irritability.

Disposition and Temperament Definitions


Inherent qualities of mind and character.
His calm disposition made him excellent at resolving conflicts.


A person's or animal's nature, especially as it affects behavior.
The dog's friendly temperament makes it a good family pet.


A person's usual attitude or temperament.
Her sunny disposition brightens up the office.


The tendency to exhibit a particular emotional state.
His fiery temperament is well-known in the industry.


A person’s predisposition to certain health conditions.
Genetic disposition plays a role in her athletic prowess.


A person's inborn traits that influence how they interact with the world.
The child's easygoing temperament was evident from an early age.


A tendency or inclination.
She has a disposition to help others in need.


The characteristic way of thinking, behaving, or reacting.
Her artistic temperament drives her unique approach to music.


The way in which something is placed or arranged.
The strategic disposition of troops can determine the battle's outcome.


The psychological aspect of an individual's character.
His melancholic temperament shapes his worldview.


One's usual mood; temperament
A sweet disposition.


The manner of thinking, behaving, or reacting characteristic of a specific person
A nervous temperament.


A habitual inclination; a tendency
A disposition to disagree.


The distinguishing mental and physical characteristics of a human according to medieval physiology, resulting from dominance of one of the four humors.


What is a disposition?

It's a person's inherent qualities of mind and character, influencing their general attitude.

Can a person's disposition affect their career?

Certainly, as it influences how one typically responds and behaves in professional settings.

What factors influence a disposition?

Life experiences, environment, and personal choices can influence one's disposition.

Is disposition linked to personality?

Yes, disposition reflects one's personality traits and habitual inclinations.

Can a disposition change over time?

Yes, a disposition can change with experiences and conscious effort.

What is temperament?

Temperament refers to a person's emotional nature and innate response patterns.

How does temperament affect social interactions?

It affects one's approach to socialization, emotional reactions, and relationships.

Can temperament be observed in infancy?

Yes, early signs of temperament can often be seen in a child's behavior from a young age.

Is temperament genetic?

Temperament is often considered to have a genetic or biological basis.

Is being optimistic a disposition or temperament?

Optimism is generally considered a disposition.

Do disposition and temperament influence each other?

They can interact, as one's temperament can affect the development of certain dispositions.

Can temperament be altered?

While temperament is more stable, certain aspects can be moderated with effort and awareness.

Is temperament the same as character?

No, temperament refers to emotional nature, while character involves moral and ethical traits.

How do psychologists measure temperament?

Through observations and assessments of behavioral patterns, often starting in childhood.

Can a person have multiple dispositions?

Yes, individuals can have a range of dispositions across different contexts.

Can a job require a specific temperament?

Some jobs may be better suited to certain temperaments, like needing calmness in high-stress roles.

Are there different types of temperament?

Yes, such as sanguine, choleric, melancholic, and phlegmatic types.

How should one consider temperament in parenting?

Understanding a child's temperament can guide appropriate parenting strategies.

How do dispositions affect decision-making?

They can influence one's attitude towards risk, change, and how they evaluate options.

Is temperament related to emotional intelligence?

Yes, as both involve the management and understanding of emotions.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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