Rusalovs Theory of Temperament Based on a Functional Systems Approach

In the 1960s Rusalov, originally an anthropologist, joined the Teplov-Nebyl-itsyn group which consisted of about a dozen researchers, among them Borisova, Golubeva, Gurevich, Leites, Ravich-Shcherbo, and Rozhdestvenskaya (for detail, see Strelau, 1983). All of them were involved in studying different aspects ofCNS properties, thus contributing basically to the development ofTeplov and Nebylit-syn's neo-Pavlovian theory. In the 1980s Rusalov introduced some new ideas to the neo-Pavlovian approach, resulting in the development of an original, albeit speculative, theory oftemperament. In terms of the criteria depicted in Table 3.1, Rusalov's theory may be regarded as centered on adults, causal, multidimensional, and oriented to whole human behavior.

Theoretical Background

Vladimir M. Rusalov's first studies in the domain ofCNS properties, as understood by Teplov and Nebylitsyn (see Chapter 2), attempted to measure the lower threshold (the sensitivity pole) of strength of the nervous system as postulated by Nebylitsyn (1972a). His anthropological training influenced these studies in that he tried to relate sensory sensitivity to two body types (''fatty'' and "osteomuscu-lar"), but without much success (Rusalov, 1972). Furthermore, his attempts to measure visual, auditory, and cutaneous sensitivity showed that correlations between the separate sensory thresholds, even when statisically significant, were low or wholly lacking (Rusalov, 1967, 1972). These findings supported the conclusion that CNS properties, when measured by peripheral indices, are modality specific (the so-called partiality phenomenon).

In order to "grasp" CNS properties not influenced by peripheral phenomena, Rusalov (1974, 1979), guided by Nebylitsyn's ideas, undertook to measure the EEG components of CNS properties. These studies led him to conclude that the polarity-amplitude asymmetry of evoked potentials reflects a general brain factor which might be identified as a general CNS property.

In view of the shortage of appropriate electrophysiological equipment, and his increasing interest in the psychological aspects of human individuality, Rusa-

lov's attention turned to theoretical issues of individual differences; this change in direction was significant for the development of his theory of temperament. Especially significant for his theory were Teplov's (1964) considerations on CNS properties and Nebylitsyn's (1976) view of the structure of temperament as composed of activity and emotionality. Also influential were Rubinstein's ( 1946) and Leon-tev's (1978) theories of activity, which regarded activity as the source ofhuman development, as well as Merlin's ( 1986) theoretical considerations on individuality, in the molding of which activity plays a crucial role. These were significant landmarks for Rusalov's theory, but most important was Anokhin's (1978) physiological theory of functional systems.

Temperament as a Substructure of Human Individuality Composed of Object-Related and Social-Related Traits

According to Rusalov (1989c), temperament is one ofthe most important substructures of human individuality. Individuality is understood as the most general psychological concept, one that comprises individual-specific innate prerequisites, temperament, and such personality traits as abilities (intellect) and character (Rusa-lov, 1985, 1986). Rusalov defined temperament "as a totality of formal characteristics of behavior as distinguished from the totality of content properties constituting personality features" (Rusalov, 1989c, p. 817). Temperament is a psychobiological category, whereas personality is a sociopsychological category. A trait that fulfills the following seven criteria can be considered as belonging to the domain of temperament: (a) refers not to the content but to formal characteristics, (b) reflects the dynamic aspect of behavior, (c) is expressed in all kinds of behavior, (d) is present since childhood, (e) is stable across a long period of life, (f) has close relationship with biological systems, and (g) is inherited (Rusalov, 1985, 1986, 1989a).

In his first writings on temperament Rusalov (1982, 1985, 1986) distinguished, following Nebylitsyn (1976), two basic temperamental traits: activity and emotionality. General activity is expressed in the extent of the dynamic-energetic tension in the individual's interaction with the physical and social environment. The basic indicators of activity are tempo, rhythm, speed, intensity, plasticity, and endurance.4 Emotionality refers to formal-dynamic characteristics which comprise sensitivity, impulsivity, and prevailing mood in terms of positive versus negative emotions (Rusalov, 1985, 1986).

Rusalov's (1979) and his coworkers'(Bodunov, 1986) studies on EEG correlates of CNS properties and their relationship to some aspects of activity, such as

4The term indicator used by Rusalov means in this context rather "aspect" or "component" of activity. In his criticism of Strelau for considering temporal characteristics as independent temperamental traits (which Rusalov himself also postulates in his recent theory) Rusalov (1986) regarded these characteristics as composing the syndrome of activity.

tempo, speed, and endurance, led to the conclusion that the CNS properties, as well as temperamental characteristics related to these properties, have a hierarchical structure and are a result of interacting physiological systems. The theory of functional systems as developed by Anokhin (1978) was adopted by Rusalov (1989a, 1989c) as the most adequate for interpreting the origins and nature of temperament as well as for composing the structure of temperament. Since this theory is unknown to most temperament psychologists, some basic information is needed for a better understanding of Rusalov's conceptualization. The essence of Anokhin's theory of functional systems, from the behavioral point of view, can be briefly presented in the following three postulates:

(1) Each behavior is a result of functional systems which consist of dynamic structures comprising the whole organism. By means of modification and change, these structures interact in such a way as to assure the attainment of given adaptive behavior (a useful result).

(2) The systems are hierarchically organized, which means that the results of lower-level subsystems contribute to the results of higher-level systems (from the biochemical to the behavioral level); all systems, independent of their level of organization, have the same functional architecture.

(3) The architecture of functional systems underlying behavioral acts consists of the following mutually interacting components: (a) afferent synthesis which serves to establish the result (goal) of behavior to be achieved; this is a process in which the dominant motivation and its physiological correlate (excitatory processes) plays a basic role; (b) decision making during which, from a variety of possible behavioral options, a selection is made of those enabling the result to be obtained; (c) execution ofbehavioral acts; and (d) acceptor of behavioral results which, on one hand, serves for programming behavior, and, on the other, evaluates behavior; evaluation consists of comparing the obtained result with the planned one by means of feedback afferentation.

Referring to Anokhin's theory, Rusalov regarded temperament as a result of "systems generalization" composed of components involved in the functional systems of behavior. An initial, genetically determined, set of systems of individual-specific biological properties, engaged in various kinds of activity, results from successive restructuralization and reorganization in the formation of a generalized system of individual behavior (temperament) of invariant properties. The nature of these qualitatively new properties is not just biological, but psychobiological. They are regarded as formal properties independent of behavioral content (Rusalov, 1989a, 1989c).

If we accept that the formal properties of individual behavior are formed as a result of "systems generalization" of individual biological properties serving the functional state of human behavior, then, in the context of the internal four-state structure of the functional system, we can derive four fundamental parameters of formal organization of human behavior. (Rusalov, 1989c, p. 818)

The components of the architecture of functional systems, as delineated by Anokhin, led Rusalov (1989c) to distinguish the following four temperamental traits: ergonicity (endurance), plasticity, tempo (speed), and emotionality. The first three were treated as components of the most general temperamental trait: activity.

Ergonicity is derived from the width-narrowness characteristic of afferent synthesis, which applies to the excitatory processes of the CNS. Plasticity refers to Anokhin's decision-making component, in that it characterizes the ease or difficulty in switching from one decision (behavioral program) to another. Tempo as a temperament trait is associated by Rusalov with the degree of speed in realization of behavioral programs. Emotionality refers to the evaluatory aspect of the acceptor of behavioral results. It reflects the sensitivity to discrepancy between planned and realized behavior, or between input information and expectancy. As is known, this discrepancy is a source of emotional tension (Festinger, 1957; Simonov, 1984).

According to the Russian tradition in psychology, activity, understood as goal-directed behavior, is the most crucial concept in psychology. By means of activity human beings regulate their relationship with the external world—objects and persons (Rubinstein, 1946; Leontev, 1978). Guided by the idea that man's activity may be directed toward objects (things) or toward people (social world), Rusalov (1989b, 1989c) extended the structure of temperament by separating two facets of each of the four temperament traits. Thus, depending on whether a given temperament characteristic is expressed in behavior directed toward objects (things) or toward people (social interaction), Rusalov developed the following eight-dimensional structure of human temperament: object-related ergonicity (Er), social (communicative) ergonicity (SEr), object-related plasticity (P), social plasticity (SP), object-related tempo (T), social tempo (ST), object-related emotionality (Em), and social emotionality (SEm).

The Measure of Object-Related and Social Temperament Traits

In line with his theoretically postulated structure of temperament, Rusalov (1989b, 1989c) developed a questionnaire known as the Structure ofTemperament Questionnaire (STQ) aimed at measuring the eight temperamental traits just mentioned. Three consecutive studies designed for constructing the STQ were conducted on student samples numbering 118 to 190 subjects of both sexes. These studies resulted in a selection of 96 items (12 for each scale) from 160 formulated at the beginning of this project. The STQ has a Yes-No format and includes as well a Lie scale adapted from the Eysenck Personality Inventory.

In constructing the STQ, Rusalov (1989b, 1989c) applied the latent-structure analysis technique which enabled him to relate the empirical data to the theoretically postulated items and scales. Those items that showed highest loadings on the so-

called theoretical scale Rusalov considered as reflecting the "essence" of the scale. For a better understanding ofthe separate traits and scales distinguished by Rusalov the most "basic" (reference) item for each ofthe eight scales is given below.

• Er—Are you so energetic that you need the challenge of a difficult job?

• P—Do you switch easily from one task to another?

• SP—Do you often express your first impressions without thinking them through?

• ST— Is it difficult for you to talk very quickly?

• Em— Do you often get excited about errors committed at work?

• SEm—Are you sometimes inclined to overemphasize a negative attitude that familiar persons have about you?

Reliability scores ofthe STQ scales obtained by Rusalov (1989b, 1989c) vary from .71 (SEm scale) to .84 (Em scale). Intercorrelations between scales have shown that object-related scales (as well as scales referring to the social domain) correlate with each other more highly than do object-related and social scales referring to the same temperament trait. A four-factor solution, preferred by Rusalov (1989c), has shown that Factor I comprises scales that refer to object-oriented activity (Er, P, T), Factor II unites the equivalent social scales of the activity components (SEr, SP, ST), Factor III consists of emotionality scales (Em, SEm), and Factor IV refers to the Lie scale. This factor solution explained 72 percent of the total phenotypic variance.

The STQ, originally constructed in the Russian language (Rusalov, 1989b), has been published in an English translation by Rusalov (1989c), and also used in English-speaking countries (D. Bishop, Jacks, & Tandy, 1993; Brebner & Stough, 1993; Stough, Brebner, & Cooper, 1991), as well as in Germany (e.g., Ruch, Angleitner, & Strelau, 1991) and Poland (Zawadzki & Strelau, in press).

Final Remarks

Only a few years have elapsed since Rusalov published his conceptualization of temperament with reference to Anokhin's theory, and the STQ has not yet been used in many studies. Accordingly, there are almost no data relating the eight temperamental traits postulated by Rusalov to behavior and performance in laboratory or field investigations. In a study conducted on 56 adults Rusalov and Parilis (1991) showed that a cognitive style characterized in terms of simplicity-complexity correlates with several STQ scales (Plasticity, Social Plasticity, and Social Emotionality). The authors interpreted these relationships as showing that temperament, a more primitive construct, constitutes the basis for the development of more complex cognitive structures of personality.

In view of the recency of Rusalov's theory, there has not been time for other authors to make critical appraisals of this conceptualization. Some comments which seem to me most important are given here.

If we consider the original Pavlovian typology, as well as Teplov's view on the CNS properties, to be rather static, it seems reasonable that Rusalov adopted Anokhin's theory regarding the dynamic interaction between the hierarchically organized functional systems as a kind of heuristic basis for his own conceptualization. However, the derivation of the four temperamental characteristics from Anokhin's theory of functional systems is not obvious. First, there is no logical reason why, for example, plasticity should be limited to the decision-making component, or tempo to the realization of behavioral programs, as postulated by Rusalov. In fact, each of the temporal sequences of a behavioral act, as proposed by Anokhin, may be characterized in terms of tempo and plasticity. Second, three among the four basic temperament dimensions—ergonicity, plasticity, and tempo—had been distinguished by Rusalov (1985) and Bodunov (1986) before Rusalov made use of Anokhin's idea regarding the components of behavioral acts.

In using the English version of the STQ we must take into account the fact that the English translation of the STQ (Rusalov, 1989c) is not the best. Several items in the English version differ from the original items of the Russian STQ. To give one example, item 67, regarded as the best reference for the Social Ergonicity scale reads in English: "Are you the life of the party?" while its Russian (original) version is as follows: "Are you relaxed in a large company?" (Russ. "Derzhites' li svobodno v bolshoi kompanii?"). No studies have been undertaken regarding the specificity of the populations and languages to which the Russian STQ is to be adapted to permit such changes. In short, the English STQ, as published by Rusalov (1989c), is not equivalent to its original Russian version (this was also the case with the STI; Strelau, 1972a).

The object-related items of the STQ refer mainly to work (see Brebner & Stough, 1993), thus limiting the area of object-related traits to very specific activity. This may be exemplified by the reference items (see the preceding discussion) ofthe four object-related scales. Other studies conducted using the STQ (Bodunov, 1993; Ruch et al., 1991) do not confirm Rusalov's postulate that object- and social-related temperament traits are orthogonal to each other.

Exploratory as well as confirmatory factor analyses conducted on the Polish STQ version by Zawadzki and Strelau (in press) suggest that whereas ergonicity, plasticity, and tempo can be separated as object- and social-related traits, and emotionality occurs as a common, indivisible trait, Thus Rusalov's dichotomy—toward objects and toward people—seems to be limited only to those traits which refer to the broad, Russian, construct of activity (ergonicity, plasticity, and tempo).

Rusalov's theory of temperament needs stronger empirical support in order to demonstrate its advantages over other conceptualizations on temperament. Data showing the functional significance of the object- and social-related temperament traits would be the best argument in favor of Rusalov's conceptualization. Whatever the further development of his theory, Rusalov has clearly contributed essentially to the neo-Pavlovian approach to temperament by offering a new perspective.

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