From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article
|This article is written like a personal reflection or opinion essay that states the Wikipedia editor's particular feelings about a topic, rather than the opinions of experts. (June 2010)|
Temperance is the espousal of moderation, marked by personal restraint. It has been studied by religious thinkers, philosophers, and more recently, psychologists, particularly in the positive psychology movement. Upheld as a virtue throughout time and across cultures, it was one of the cardinal virtues in Greek philosophy, being believed that no virtue could be sustained in the face of inability to control oneself, if the virtue was opposed to some desire, and was subsequently incorporated in the Catholic catechism's Seven heavenly virtues. It is also one of the six main categories of the VIA character strengths. Temperance is generally defined by control over excess, so that it has many such classes, such as abstinence, chastity, modesty, humility, prudence, self-regulation, forgiveness and mercy; each of these involves restraining some impulse, such as sexual desire, vanity, or anger.
Themes of temperance can be seen across cultures and time, as illustrated here.
Confucius encouraged modesty and self-control for the humane life. In the Analects, speaks of those who "choose to live simply (6:10), refrain from self-aggrandizing boasts (6:14) or extravagance (3:4), and place hard work before reward (6:22)" as virtuous. In addition, the Taoist Lao-Tzu advocates temperance: He who becomes arrogant with wealth and sex . . . sows the seeds of his own misfortune [chap. 9] . . . he who boasts of his own achievements harms his credibility . . . he who is arrogant experiences no growth in wisdom [chap. 24] . . . he who knows glory, but keeps to humility . . . is sufficient in the eternal virtue [chap. 28]." 
Temperance is an essential part of the Eightfold Path. The third and fifth of the five precepts (pañca-sila) reflect values of temperance: "misconduct concerning sense pleasures" and drunkenness are to be avoided.
The concept of dama (Sanskrit: दम) in Hinduism is equivalent to temperance. It is sometimes written as damah (Sanskrit: दमः). The word dama, and Sanskrit derivative words based on it, connote the concepts of self-control and self-restraint. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, in verse 5.2.3, states that three characteristics of a good, developed person are self-restraint (damah), compassion and love for all sentinent life (daya), and charity (daana). In Hinduism literature dedicated to yoga, self-restraint is expounded with the concept of yamas (Sanskrit: यम). According to ṣaṭsampad, self-restraint (dama) is one of the six cardinal virtues.
The list of virtues that constitute a moral life evolve in vedas and upanishads. Over time, new virtues were conceptualized and added, some replaced, others merged. For example, Manusamhita initially listed ten virtues necessary for a human being to live a dharmic (moral) life: Dhriti (courage), Kshama (forgiveness), Dama (temperance), Asteya (Non-covetousness/Non-stealing), Saucha (purity), Indriyani-graha (control of senses), dhi (reflective prudence), vidya (wisdom), satyam (truthfulness), akrodha (free from anger). In later verses, this list was reduced to five virtues by the same scholar, by merging and creating a more broader concept. The shorter list of virtues became: Ahimsa (Non-violence), Dama (temperance), Asteya (Non-covetousness/Non-stealing), Saucha (purity), Satyam (truthfulness). This trend of evolving concepts continue in classical Sanskrit literature, Dama with Ahimsa and few other virtues present in the evolving list of virtues necessary for a moral life (dharma).
Five types of self-restraints are considered essential for a moral and ethical life in Hindu philosophy: one must refrain from any violence that causes injury to others, refrain from starting or propagating deceit and falsehood, refrain from theft of other's property, refrain from sexually cheating on one's partner, and refrain from avarice. The scope of self-restraint includes one's action, the words one speaks or writes, and in one's thoughts. The necessity for temperance is explained as preventing bad karma which sooner or later haunts and returns to the unrestrained. The theological need for self-restraint is also explained as reigning in the damaging effect of one's action on others, as hurting another is hurting oneself because all life is one.
Temperance is a major Athenian virtue, as advocated by Plato; self-restraint (sôphrosune) is one of his four core virtues of the ideal city, and echoed by Aristotle. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, temperance is prolific. The Old Testament emphasizes temperance as a core virtue, as evidenced in both Solomon's Book of Proverbs and in the Ten Commandments, with its admonitions against adultery and covetousness. The New Testament does so as well, with forgiveness being central to theology and self-control being one of the Fruits of the Spirit. With regard to Christian theology, the word temperance is used by the King James Version in Galatians 5:23 for the Greek word ἐγκρατεία (enkrateia), which means self-control or discipline (Strong's Concordance, 1466). Thomas Aquinas promoted Plato's original virtues in addition to several others.
Within the Christian church Temperance is a virtue akin to self-control. It is applied to all areas of life. It can especially be viewed in practice among sects like the Amish, Old Order Mennonites, and Conservative Mennonites.
Values of temperance are still advocated by more modern sources such as the Boy Scouts, William Bennett, and Ben Franklin  Philosophy has contributed a number of lessons to the study of traits, particularly in its study of injunctions and its listing and organizing of virtues.
There have been many roadblocks in the psychological study of virtue. In the past, psychology was more accepting to the study of character and virtues, but the topic lost favor for some time due to a number of concerns. First, the concern was that objective research would be compromised by personal beliefs. As a result, the idea of character and morality were largely ignored, especially in the realm of personality trait psychology, where references to character and morally tinged terms were completely avoided, even banned, by Gordon Allport, a major personality psychologist at the time. Guilt by association may have played a role in the controversy surrounding intelligence tests, and psychoanalytic theory's hold on the discipline for some time also deterred from the study of positive traits, which were chalked up to unconscious impulses. Finally, perhaps most importantly, the so-called "medical model" approach that has been (and continues to be) so pervasive in the study and practice of psychology over the last several decades encourages a focus on human deficits and disorders rather than strengths and virtues. However, Peterson and Seligman (2004) argue that "an exclusive focus on what is wrong with people can lead us to overlook what is right and precludes the possibility that one of the best ways to undo someone's weakness is by encouraging his or her strengths." (55-56)
Despite difficulties, a number of leading psychologists, historical and contemporary, have contributed to the rise of the study of strength traits. Thorndike, an early, influential behavioral psychologist, "proposed that a person's morality (character) could be measured in quantitative terms," just like intelligence. Erikson's stage theory involved persons confronting various challenges that occurred throughout the lifespan, and with each stage, various "psychosocial" virtues were to develop. Especially relative to temperance was the acquisition of self-control in the early childhood stage. Maslow's hierarchy of needs includes the self-actualization near the top; in his characteristics of self-actualized individuals he included a number of virtues, including humility and respect for others. The "Big Five" in personality psychology includes the trait of conscientiousness, which is related to the strength of self-regulation.
Before a discussion of psychological approaches to the topic of temperance begins, one must consider the fact that "temperance" is more of an overarching concept that houses a number of more specific traits and patterns that can be specifically operationalized. That is, most studies deal not with the overarching virtue of temperance but with its specific subclasses. For the purposes of this entry, the separate but related subclasses discussed will include: (1) forgiveness and mercy, (2) modesty and humility, (3) prudence, and (4) self-regulation.
This strength is characterized by "forgiving those who have done wrong, accepting the shortcomings of others, giving people a second chance, and not being vengeful." According to Peterson and Seligman (2004), "forgiveness represents a suite of prosocial changes that occur within an individual who has been offended or damaged by a relationship partner (McCullough, Pargament, & Thoresen, 2000a). When people forgive, their basic motivations or action tendencies regarding the transgressor become more positive (e.g., benevolent, kind, generous) and less negative (e.g., vengeful, avoidant)." As was previously alluded to, the major religions stress forgiveness especially in their worldviews.
Currently, measures for forgiveness are mostly self-report (e.g., Mauger et al., 1992; Mullet, Houdbine, Laumonier, & Girard, 1998) but also include hypothetical scenarios (e.g., Berry et al., 2001; Rye et al., 2001) and peer report (Berry et al., 2001).
To summarize, compared with less forgiving individuals, it has been found that more-forgiving people tend to:
Experiencing empathy toward the transgressor is an enabling factor for forgiving, whereas rumination on the offense is a disabling factor. In addition, people are less likely to forgive when they believe the transgressor's actions to be intentional, and when there are more dire consequences (Boon & Sulsky, 1997; Girard & Mullet, 1997; Takaku, Weiner, & Ohbuchi, 2001). Along the same vein, apologies appear to go a long way in promoting forgiveness (Darby & Schlenker, 1982; McCullough et al., 1997, 1998).
There appear to be no significant differences between men and women's tendency to forgive (Berry et al., 2001). Culturally speaking, there appears to be a difference in the factors motivating individuals toward forgiveness: persons from collective cultures forgive out of "concern about maintaining positive relationships with others and about maintaining social norms regarding how a victim should respond, whereas people from individualist cultures are more motivated by the desire to maintain a favorable self-identity or to fulfill abstract moral principles (e.g., justice; Takaku et al., 2001)."
Various methods have been designed to increase forgiveness for individual psychotherapy (Enright & Coyle, 1998; Kaminer et al., 2000; Malcom & Greenberg, 2000; McCullough & Worthington, 1994); marital therapy (Gordon, Baucom, & Snyder, 2000); and psychoeducational groups (Worthington et al., 2000; Worthington, Sandage, & Berry, 2000)
An intervention method developed by Ernright has been shown to encourage forgiveness and also increases positive states while decreasing negative ones (Enright & Coyle, 1998). A number of psychoeducational group studies have shown to be effective when promoting empathy (McCullough et al., 1997) and encouraging forgiveness (Worthington, Sandage, et al., 2000). Finally, the effectiveness of interventions depends on their length of time - at least six hours should be committed (Worthington, Sandage, et al., 2000).
The strength of modesty and humility is characterized by "letting one's accomplishments speak for themselves [and] not regarding oneself as more special than one is." A review by Tangney (2000, 2002) "identified a number of humility's key features:
It should be noted that some cultural differences seem to exist for this strength; whereas humility is celebrated in Buddhism's emphasis on the balanced life, in the United States, humility is infrequently praised. The US's cultural values of individualism and pride, as well as the more modern emphasis on self-esteem, may account for this fact.
Humility is a difficult trait to operationalize and measure by itself, other than through self-report, which would be rather unreliable. Thus, it seems that the best way to operationalize humility is by equating it inversely with the trait of narcissism, self-enhancement, and/or defensiveness, which are essentially the opposite of humility. Much work must be done to better the measures, as many studies on humility are plagued by low reliability.
Because measures on humility are currently so weak, the best option for studying empirical findings is to look at the findings for narcissism – so in reading the findings below, the opposite should be true for the humble. Thus, relative to those who score lower, people who score highly on narcissism tend to:
In addition, in one study, violent criminals scored significantly higher on "personal entitlement" inventories than college students (Bushman & Baumeister, 2002). Thus, one can make the conclusion that humility serves as a protective factor against social conflict, since humble people tend to lack many qualities leading to conflict (hostility, bragging, lack of forgiveness, etc.). Finally, "willingness to self-criticize, if moderated, may ultimately help people move toward self-improvement goals (Heine et al., 2001). Personal deficits will be addressed only if we are willing to see that they exist." 
Parenting is believed to be a crucial factor in the development of humility. Specifically, factors promoting secure attachment are believed to promote humility (cf. Bowlby, 1973; chapter 13). Specifically, Peterson and Seligman (2004) propose that "humility would be unlikely to stem from parenting or educational styles that involve the following: (a) an extreme emphasis on performance, appearance, popularity, or other external sources of self-evaluation, particularly if combined with perfectionist performance standards; (b) inaccurate, excessive praise or criticism (c) frequent comparison of the child against siblings or peers, especially if this comparison is accompanied by competitive messages (d) communicating to the child that he or she is superior or inferior to other people. Such practices would predispose a child to turn to external sources of validation for a sense of security, and they would also encourage the child to make competitive, invidious comparisons." 
Enabling factors for humility include the "appearance of attachment, the development of a sense of self, the emergence of independence in infancy, openness to new experiences, experience with decision making, and life review and integration in old age" (Santrock, 1996, pp. 332–333). In addition, parenting and education that promote identity development are more likely to lead to humble individuals, but the direct influences leading to humility are yet undiscovered.
In general, it appears that women are somewhat more modest (Berg, Stephan, & Dodson, 1981; Heatherington et al., 1998), have slightly lower self-esteem (Kling, Hyde, Showers, & Buswell, 1999), and have lower levels of narcissism (L. Carroll, 1989) than men. Culturally speaking, collectivist cultures tend to value humility more than individualistic ones, as evidenced by a study on Japan vs. the United States (Heine et al., 1999, 2001; Markus & Kitayama, 1991).
"If self-enhancement is understood as a motivated and partially controllable strategy (Krueger, 1998b)., and not as a cognitive illusion, humility seems to be within reach for most." However, as yet there are no direct interventions to promote humility. Research suggests that 12-step self-help groups (Kurtz & Ketcham, 1992), character development programs, and religious interventions might foster humility (Watts, 1960). Peterson and Seligman (2004) suggest a number of strategies for improving humility, including:
With such interventions, "the goal would be to enable the individual to feel safe enough to nondefensively acknowledge both strengths and limitations." The warning should be made, however, that such interventions run the risk of causing self-esteem to plummet if not conducted carefully.
Prudence is characterized by "being careful about one's choices, not taking undue risks, and not saying or doing things that might later be regretted." VIA Prudence's roots date back to Aristotle's writings on practical wisdom, in which he hails it as a crucial, linking virtue. Currently, prudence is usually used in reference to financial or political situations, but to psychologists prudence's meaning extends much further. According to Peterson and Seligman (2004), "Individuals with this strength have the following attributes:
No tools have been developed to measure the prudence trait. However, prudence may be related to the conscientiousness construct of personality inventories such as the ones presented by Costa & MacCrae.
Therefore, findings on conscientiousness may also apply to prudence. The same goes for moderation.
Prudence may also be positively related to risk aversion—the tendency to avoid uncertain situations where negative payoff may ensue, and opposed to impulsivity, e.g., as expressed through delayed gratification measures.
Findings suggest that prudent people (or those with more conscientiousness, or who have more congruence among their strivings) tend to:
As was mentioned previously, prudence tends to increase with age. Although there are few studies dealing with prudence under that particular title, much research has been done on impulse control and delay of gratification (see self-regulation section), both of which are correlated with prudence. One study even suggested that prudence may be linked with altruism in adulthood.
No research exists on prudence specifically and gender, but conscientiousness shows no difference across genders There is also little research on cultural differences for prudence, although it has been suggested that prudence would not be as advantageous in collectivist cultures.
No interventions are currently known to improve levels of prudence, but it has been suggested that programs for financial self-discipline, safer sex, and certain forms of cognitive and/or behavioral psychotherapy may prove useful.
Self-regulation, or self-control, is characterized as "regulating what one feels and does, being disciplined, and controlling one's appetites and emotions." It "refers to how a person exerts control over his or her own responses so as to pursue goals and live up to standards." Its roots lie in its early use by Bandura, who theorized that individuals administer internal rewards and punishments for their behavior when exerting control over themselves. Perhaps most influential are the delayed gratification studies by Mischel et al., which will be discussed later.
Most research focuses on behavioral measures of self-regulation, such as amount of food or alcohol consumed in a setting. A number of other scales exist, but tend to be too narrowly focused (on food, for example) or lacking in validity. Peterson and Seligman (2004) recommend both the Self-Control Scale (Tangney, Baumeister, & Boone, 2004) and the Low Self-Control Scale (Grasmick et al., 1993) for their "psychometric properties, face validity, and a demonstrated capacity to produce significant results"
According to a review by Baumeister et al. (1994), "self-regulation failure is central to nearly all the personal and social problems that currently plague citizens of the modern, developed world. These problems include drug addiction and abuse, alcoholism, smoking, crime and violence, unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, underachievement in schools, gambling, personal debt and credit card abuse, lack of financial savings, anger and hostility, failure to exercise regularly, and overeating."
Some of the most influential research that has been done related to self-regulation is Mischel and his colleague's studies on children and delay of gratification. In these studies, children have the option of receiving an immediate, smaller reward, or a delayed, larger reward. Those who choose to wait for the larger reward, despite the temptation of the immediate reward, are characterized by "delaying gratification." In longitudinal follow-ups, the children who delayed gratification (and thus showed self-regulation) were more successful both academically and socially a decade later (Mischel, Shoda, and Peake, 1998). So those who exhibit high self-control tend to:
Little is known about the development of self-control. Even in early childhood studies, such as the delay of gratification, it is unclear whether the child or the parenting is most responsible - so it's a nature vs nurture debate. However, learning the abilities to self-soothe and self-regulate are widely held to be developmental goals of the infant/caregiver attachment relationship. Secure attachment would lead to modulation of physiological arousal, increased ability to self soothe, thus, possibly an increase in temperance or self-regulation.
Self-regulation appears to function like muscle, growing initially fatigued but stronger over time with frequent exercise. Thus, self-control functions as a limited resource that can only be maintained for so long. Self-monitoring (attending to one's own behavior) appears to be a crucial factor in self-regulation (Carver & Scheier, 1981)
It appears that there are no real differences between males and females in their self-control abilities. However, the specific application of self-control may differ, with males displaying more sexual aggression and women being more likely to binge eat. Little is known about general differences in self-control across cultures, but more specific applications such as alcoholism (Peele, 1989) teen pregnancy (Barber, 2000) may see differences across cultures or even religions (Weber, 1904).
Little research has been done on specific interventions, and it is yet unclear whether self-regulation can truly be taught. However, it has been suggested that using conditional statements (i.e. "if someone offers you drugs, just say no") may be helpful for parents attempting to instill self-control in their children. Additionally, "a brief longitudinal study by Muraven et al. (1999) found that people who worked on their self-regulatory capacities by daily exercises such as improving their posture ended up performing better than other people on laboratory tests of self-control."
For forgiveness, more reliable measures are needed, and longitudinal studies are needed in order to support the claim about forgiveness varying as a function of age, and also to study temporal variation in forgiveness. More studies on the social aspects of forgiveness should be done to ascertain how forgiveness affects social groups in families or communities. In addition, little is known about the actual process of forgiveness - what goes on cognitively and emotionally when someone forgives? Finally, perhaps most "hot topic" with regards to forgiveness is the notion that forgiveness may be associated with health benefits (preventative and curative) and well-being. Thus far, there have been only a few studies with weak designs on this topic, so stronger studies need to explore this idea. One promising study by Witvliet, Ludwig, and Vander Laan's (2001) showed that "forgiveness can influence short-term markers for sympathetic nervous system arousal."
For humility, much more research must be done. Diverging opinions on what exactly humility is have prevented studies from being reliable, and a consensus needs to be reached on its definition, as contrasted with modesty. In addition, the question of what positive traits humility exhibits (apart from the absence of negative ones). The question of how humility looks across the lifespan should be asked. And finally, the question of whether humility can be developed in an individual, and how (through interventions etc.) should be addressed.
For prudence, general research is very much needed, as there is basically none on prudence specifically as a construct (only related ones such as conscientiousness).
For self-regulation, it is still unclear whether it can be taught. A central question to be asked is what kind of interventions, if any, can be done, especially on the part of parenting techniques. It is unclear whether any genetic, environmental, or other factors have any influence on the development of self-regulation, but these areas would be very worthwhile to explore, considering the many benefits of this strength. In general temperance appears to be the lowest-scoring area out of all the virtues on the VIA survey, suggesting that it is a weakness across individuals. Perhaps this explains why the research is so lacking thus far. Given the many benefits of temperance (which should be further explored) and its potential to enable the psychological good life, exploring it further should prove to be an important endeavor.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Temperance|