Every individual is “hard wired” with a genetic predisposition for a certain temperament. However, while temperament has a biological basis, it can be altered.
Humans are primed by genetics to respond to situations in either a generally positive or generally negative way. Brain wave patterns can classify people as tending toward a morose or upbeat temperament.
Individuals with cheerful temperaments have the ability to bounce back from setbacks. This is due to greater activity in the left frontal lobe. Other individuals have a tendency toward melancholy and negativity. This is due to higher levels of activity in the right frontal lobe.
Emotional experiences can actually change the neural circuitry in the brain, affecting ingrained temperament. When individuals take part in positive emotional experiences, they give their neural circuits a chance to build new pathways that supersede the existing ones, which may have caused melancholy moods or negative attitudes.
Psychotherapy (emotional relearning) can accomplish the same thing and help an individual transcend ingrained temperaments by reshaping brain functions.
To determine your temperament, you will have to conduct a self-assessment. If you determine that you have a melancholy or negative temperament, keep in mind that you can shape your temperament through emotional experiences or psychotherapy.
The most important point, however, is simply to be aware of your temperament, because that affects your emotional intelligence. Remember, knowledge is the first step on the road to improvement, no matter what you’re striving to improve.