The 4 Temperaments

Temperament theory describes 4 fundamentally different core patterns of observable behavior found in all people.

To discover what your temperament is, take our Free Personality Test.

Improvisors (Artisans) (SP)

  • Spontaneous, flexible, adaptable
  • Focused on the present, in the moment
  • Closely attuned to what is going on around them
  • Takes action based on the needs of the moment
  • Driven to have new experiences
  • Generally optimistic and enthusiastic
  • Entertaining and sometimes flashy


Stabilizers (Guardians) (SJ)

  • Stable, dependable, practical, traditional
  • Driven by duty, honor and service to others
  • Logical, tactical
  • Detail oriented (small to big thinking)
  • Driven to make sure things are done right
  • Looks to the past to see what has worked before
  • Prefers taking the proven approach

Theorists (Rationals) (NT)

  • Comfortable with theories, concepts, abstract thought and complex systems
  • Logical, analytical, autonomous, ingenious
  • Future oriented, driven by a vision of the future
  • More big picture oriented, less detail oriented (big to small thinking)
  • Contingency plans
  • Flashes of insight, brainstorming, new ideas, new possibilities

Catalysts (Idealists) (NF)

  • Idealistic, empathetic, people oriented
  • Relationships and people matter the most
  • Attuned to people and what people need
  • Driven to achieve harmony
  • Driven to help people find their true path
  • Future oriented
  • Authentic
  • Diplomatic

Knowing your own temperament will tell you a lot about your self. Knowing the temperament of others will help you understand them better and get along with them better.

People with the same temperament will share some of the same basic traits:

  • Values
  • Outlook on life
  • Optimism / pessimism
  • Areas of strengths and weaknesses

Just as with Personality Type, your Temperament remains the same from birth to death.

 

Brief History of the 4 Temperaments

We have David Keirsey Ph.D. (August 31, 1921 - ) to thank for researching the history and for elaborating the theory of the 4 Temperaments in his book Please Understand Me II.

According to Keirsey, Plato (340 BC), Aristotle (325 BC), and Galen (190 AD) found similar way to divide up people into four groups based on observable behavior.

 
SP
SJ
NF
NT
Plato 340 BC Artisan Guardian Idealist Rational
Aristotle 325 BC Hedonic Proprietary Ethical Dialectical
Galen 190 AD Sanguine Melancholic Choleric Phlegmatic
Myers 1958 Probing Scheduling Friendly Tough Minded
Berens 2010 Improvisor Stabilizer Idealist Theorist

 

Subsequent to Keirsey, author, psychologist and trainer Linda Berens Ph.D. updated the names and descriptions of the 4 temperaments in her book Understanding Yourself and Others, In Introduction to the 4 Temperaments.