Emotional Intelligence model: The History of the Humm-Wadsworth model of Temperament

In 1924, an American psychologist, Rosanoff, first proposed the model we are going to use to increase Emotional Intelligence.  Until the work of Rosanoff, doctors defined abnormal psychological conditions in black and white: people were either mad or not.  Rosanoff suggested that such a distinction between the normal and abnormal states was artificial and the difference was not one of kind but of degree.  Normality and abnormality are not black and white but as different shades of grey.

Whether there is a sharp division between sanity and insanity is still a matter of debate.  The first person to develop a scientific system of classification of mental illness was Emil Kraeplin of Germany.  Searching for patterns in hundreds of case studies, Kraeplin proposed two broad categories of mental illness: schizophrenia and manic depression.  Kraeplin began a more generalised approach to diagnosing symptoms, which is the basis for today’s diagnostic bible in psychiatry, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). 

Rosanoff, using the work of Kraeplin, further noted there were few mental illnesses and proposed a theory of personality based on the most common four:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Epilepsy
  • Hysteria
  • cyclodia (what we now would call manic-depression)

and a fifth component called the Normal which is driven by the desire for order and is associated with behaviour such as social adjustment or integration with society.  The Normal is the gradual change that occurs to the personality as the human being matures—and then may fade away if the adult enters a second childhood

In 1935, Two southern Californians, Humm, a statistician, and Wadsworth, a clinical psychologist, using multi-variate factor analysis extended the Rosanoff hypothesis by sub-dividing both cyclodia and schizophrenia into two new components.  Cyclodia was divided into manic-depression and schizophrenia divided into autistic-paranoid. The Humm-Wadsworth model thus has seven personality temperament components.  For simplicity we are going to refer to the model as the ‘Humm’.

A major advantage of the Humm is that it uses seven components, which is the limit of the short-term memory of most human beings.  We are born with two memories, a short-term memory and a long-term memory.  Before information is put into our long-term memory, it must go through our short-term memory, which has a maximum limit of seven items. This becomes especially useful when trying to analyse and understand the temperaments of others.

However, even though the Humm has overcome the problems with other methods of personality profiling, it was initially overlooked because the original Humm-Wadsworth terms were alien to most people and are associated with mental illness.

Consequently, a new terminology was developed during the 1990s associated with the seven core emotional drives.  We all have these seven components within ourselves, but it is the variation and mix of these components that are reflected in the personality of the individual.  In addition, in every individual several components tend to be dominant over time.  The secret of the Humm is to learn how to recognise these dominant components in both yourself and in others.  Then using that knowledge, develop the appropriate habits for self-control and social skills.

For a more detailed history of the Humm-Wadsworth model of Emotional Intelligence, download our free White Paper here.