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Psychometrics vs neurochemistry: A controversy around mobility-like scales of temperament

Michael Araki Trofimova, I.
Personality and Individual Differences. December 2, 2021

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There is a disagreement between the factor-analytic (FA) approach in differential psychology and findings in neuroscience in identifying mobility-like temperament traits (i.e. speed of integration of actions that include plasticity, tempo, impulsivity). Due to their entanglement with “energetic” traits, mobility-like traits never emerge as independent dimensions in FA models of temperament and personality. This paper points out that there are, however, well-documented neurochemical biomarkers of these traits, which are distinct from biomarkers of “energetic” traits. To highlight this controversy, this paper reports the results from three studies conducted on English-Canadian, Russian, and Portuguese-Brazilian samples. The studies confirmed the correspondence between similar scales of two models developed independently in two distinct branches of the Pavlovian tradition. In all three samples and two inventories, there were strong positive correlations between mobility-like and endurance-like scales. By psychometric standards, these scales should be viewed as parts of one dimension, but this would be contrary to the evidence from neuroscience pointing to their different biomarkers. Moreover, our examination of PTS and STQ-77 temperament profiles associated with polymathy demonstrated the benefits of mobility-like traits. The disagreement between psychometric and neurochemical perspectives shows the limitations of relying on FA in deriving models of differential psychology.