Your Guide to The 4 Temperaments
Unlike The Eight Functions, The Four Temperaments did not exist until 1985. They were largely introduced to society with David Keirsey’s book Please Understand Me becoming almost immediately a huge success and best seller.
David Keirsey was a successful psychologist who had been observing, tracking, and using type theory for over 30 years before his revolutionary book came out. The Four Temperaments are easy to apply, useful, and easy to understand. The Four Temperaments expanded personality type theory, changing how it is perceived and used. Keirsey’s Temperament Theory is still widely used today by businesses, individuals, counselors, organizations, and educators across the globe.
Keirsey’s temperaments are so consistent, observable, and accurate, that the four similar groupings of personalities have been around since c340 BC, with only slight variations. Each temperament contains a group of similar characteristics that are greatly different from those of the other temperaments. No matter the time period or culture, there have always been these four main types of personality, argues Keirsey.
Keirsey proved that these temperaments are still clear today and, more importantly, that they can be derived not from a separate new test, but rather, can be easily derived from the Myers-Briggs.
Keiersey chose to use the same names for his four groups of personality types that Plato did. The Four Temperaments (with basic descriptions) are as follows; click on each for more detail below:
NT (Intuition and Thinking), Rational - Technical, Competent, Ingenious, Skeptical, Innovative, Non-Conformist. The personality types that share the Rational Temperament are ENTJ, INTJ, ENTP, and INTP.
Logical, pragmatic, and driven, rationals strive for competence and excellence in reaching their goals. They are the “why” temperament; ever skeptical, they constantly questions others and their environment. They typically want to know the reason why something is done, and the reason needs to make sense (whether it is politically correct or not).
Some more information on the NT Rational:
- Most uncommon of the Temperaments
- May be absent-minded but often shows flashes of brilliance
- Quick grasp of complex theories and systems
- Enjoys thinking and intellectual pursuits
- Often thinks about things that others don’t normally think about, such as the nature of the universe, religious issues, politics, philosophy, etc. NT’s want to figure out how and why the world works.
- Are technical with their language and strive to be logical and exact when speaking to others
- Easily notice inconsistencies
- Natural non-conformist
- Great analyzers
- Naturally good with technology (NT’s were key in the birth and growth of the tech era and Internet)
- Are naturally pragmatic, always asking “Is this necessary,” “How can this be improved,” “How does this work and how can it work better?”
- Can be very wise
- Natural brainstormers and problem-solvers
- Can be detached when involved with a project, undertaking, or thought
- Set high goals for themselves and are determined to achieve them.
- Strong suit in strategy
- Strive for efficiency
- May have trouble adapting to conventions
- NTs are very cerebral and take great pride in staying cool in crisis, not letting their emotions control them - even if it’s a matter of great importance or great intensity
- Often labeled as being argumentive by other temperaments
- Value independence
- May bother those who are sensitive to arguments or criticism
Romantic, empathetic, authentic, creative, and impassioned, Idealists strive to be true to themselves while inspiring and bringing out the best in others.
Some information on the NF Idealist:
- Have a need to live up to their high ideals
- Tend to glorify others and life in general
- Well-trusted and cultivated intuition
- Often interested in the spiritual, having a strong affinity for the mystical and what cannot be seen by the eye
- As kids, often show their elaborate imaginations
- Good with the use of words - if not when speaking, in writing
- Strongly believes in certain causes
- Wants deep, meaningful relationships
- May trust others more than they should, sometimes to the point of naivety
- Often enjoys reading (from fantasy to poetry, to creative short stories, to religious texts)
- Appreciates the arts and imagination
- Appreciates the uniqueness of themselves and others
- Natural conflict mediators with their strong insight and diplomatic nature
Guardians are dependable, traditional, attentive, and loyal, striving for stability and structure, providing reliability to others.
More on the SJ Guardian:
- As kids typically followed the rules and strove to be “good” children and students
- Sound, consistent
- Doesn’t like to see things get wasted (whether it be food or free time, conserving and usefulness is on their mind).
- Are often conservative in decision-making - whether financially, or even in what to do with their weekend.
- Strong sense of duty
- Feel obligated to perform the proper role and do so effectively (often giving up their free time to do so)
- Often family-oriented
- Relies and sticks by their principles
- Often become good authority figures
- Good with logistics and details
- While they may not willingly admit it, actually enjoys and needs to work - or at least being productive
- Revels in looking back on the past
- Strives to be respected (and typically are)
- Least likely of the temperaments to tolerate a messy living or work space
Artisans are action-oriented and live in the moment. They enjoy being spontaneous and strive for a range of experience and excitement.
More on the SP Artisan:
- Likes to engage the five senses
- Good at making things and working with their hands
- Trust their impulses and instinct
- Opportunistic - in fact SP’s keep a keen and sharp lookout for anything that will give them an advantage.
- Can be cunning
- Good at negotiating and cutting deals
- As kids were always active and getting into things
- Have a healthy aura about them
- Seek action
- Easygoing, chill attitude about most people and things
- Looks to develop skills
- Learns by “doing”
- Quick thinking (naturally responsive)
- Keen senses
- Typically good at multitasking
- Values freedom