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TCI (Temperament and Character Inventory)

The Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI) is an internationally recognized personality test developed by Dr. C. Robert Cloninger. The TCI assesses different traits of human personality and provides a detailed analysis of them. Each person has a unique configuration of emotions and higher cognitive processes. However, our personality taken as a whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. While each of these traits has independent effects on our personality, their interactions also contribute to our dispositions, attitudes, and worldviews.

Personality is composed of both temperament and character. Temperament refers to the automatic emotional responses we have to different experiences. The four temperament traits measured by the TCI are Novelty Seeking, Harm Avoidance, Reward Dependence, and Persistence. These four traits are moderately heritable (i.e. genetic, biological) and are more or less stable throughout one’s life.

Character refers to our conception of self, along with our goals and values. Character types vary widely, and differences in character influence voluntary choices, intentions, the meaning we place on events, and our ability to regulate emotions. Character traits are partly inherited, but they are also influenced by our experiences. Expression of these traits can improve significantly over time.

The three character traits measured by the TCI are Cooperativeness, Self-Directedness, and Self-Transcendence. A strong expression of these traits indicates a mature and well-regulated personality. Each trait helps us govern our lives and develop well-being in different ways. People who are high in Cooperativeness tend to be tolerant and helpful. Those with a high expression of Self-Directedness are more likely to be responsible and resourceful. People with high scores in Self-Transcendence are often genuine and insightful.

Each temperament and character trait interacts with the others to help us adapt to life, and each influences our susceptibility to emotional and behavioral disorders. By understanding these traits and their relations to one another, we can gain a more comprehensive view of ourselves and other people.

Experts often argue over whether personality is a biological, psychological, or social phenomenon. The TCI, however, attempts to form a conception of the human being as an integrated whole, looking at the interactions and roles of all aspects of life in the development of personality. The insights derived from the TCI help us take a more comprehensive approach to measuring happiness and mapping out a path to well-being.

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Find out more about the TCI on the Center for Well-Being Website