Blog of Sara Jakša

Self Esteem and Personality Type

In the recent research paper from Baumeister and Vohs they have discussed the benefits of self-esteem and the supposed benefits it does not actually have. But before I get to this, let me first talk about the what is for me the most interesting point in their paper.

Ready? This is that self-esteem is mostly a result, and not the cause of things. The self-esteem is bad at predicting the future happenings, be it from grades, jobs or many others. But having a good grades, good job, having a lot of friends and so on is a good predictor of the self-esteem.

Keep this point in mind, because I will return to it.

Well, let us go to the benefits then. There are two benefits of the self-esteem: happiness and initiative. And this two benefits made me think about it.

The initiative is about acting authentically, be trusting ones own opinions. This allows them to go against the flow, not caring what the other are doing. And in my opinion, this reminds me somehow about the emotional stability. In the Big Five description, we would say that the person have low neuroticism.

Sure, it could also be connected to the agreeableness, but I don't think the link is as direct as with neuroticism.

The second one is happiness and the general ability to feel happy emotions. Which is part of the description for the extroversion, that appear in the scientific papers, something that I, as an introvert, found a bit annoying. But feeling happy emotions is one facets of the extroversion.

But there is a personality type model, that connects the two dimensions, and this is the theory based on humors. Sure, theory is no longer what it was in old Greek times, as nobody wants to balance body fluids anymore. Instead, the emotional stability (neuroticism) and extroversion divide the people into four types:

Four temperaments in two dimensions

So now let us connect this theory with the point about self-esteem being the results. So the sanguinics among us are the ones having the highest self-esteem. The melancholics are the ones having the lowest one. The cholerics and phlegmatics are somewhere in between them.

My intuition would have come up with something similar, but not by the same method. I would say that cholerics and sanguinics have the higher self esteem than phlegmatics and melancholics. I would also say that phlegmatics have higher self-esteem than melancholics, but I could not decide who between cholerics and sanguinics have a higher self esteem.

But considering that there are only two benefits, and among them I don't really believe that happiness is a worthwhile goal in life, so I wouldn't worry too much. If you are a sanguinic, then use it as one of your strengths, but even if you are melancholic, I don't think it will have a big effect on life and can be mitigated with other qualities.