The Four Temperaments
The four temperaments are a system for describing certain aspects of a person's personality, namely the ATTITUDE. They are not meant to describe personality wholly; they ONLY describe the emotional attitude.
They are consistent from birth until death, and are not temporary moods, outlooks, or phase-like behaviour patterns; this is important to realise!
They are sort of like a fundamental framework, a foundation, for personalities; they describe the basic 'form' and needs of your personality but not the details. They are somewhat comparable to sex; you can have a male or female body, and these male and female body structures are readily identifiable due to obvious features, but that doesn't mean that every person of a certain sex looks identical to everyone else of that sex, or that their sex determines everything about them.
The temperaments should be used as a guideline as sorts for understanding the 'type' of person that someone is. They apply in a 'broad strokes' sort of way, and as such, it is not necessary to know a person for longer than five minutes before being able to work out their temperaments (in some cases) as, like sexes, they are readily apparent unless somehow deliberately hidden or particularly unusual.
The temperaments are derived from an ancient, silly idea of personality traits being due to bodily 'humours' - that is, JUICES - which is where the temperaments derive their archaic and rather gory-sounding names.
Sanguine related to blood, choleric to yellow bile, melancholic to black bile, and phlegmatic to phlegm.
The idea that personality is related to body fluids like those is silly, but back when they believed it, science wasn't what it is now. However, just because the cause of the temperaments was grotesquely wrong doesn't mean the concept itself is. Compare it to how the ancient Egyptians believed that the sun was rolled into the sky by an invisible dung beetle, or a chariot, or something of the like. Most ancient peoples had some kind of superstitious or religious belief about sunrises like this, and some made offering to their gods out of fear that the sun wouldn't rise if they didn't. We now know that the explanations they had for the sun rising were rubbish, but that doesn't mean that what they were trying to explain - the sunrise itself - is also rubbish.
The temperaments were readily observed, and they still are.
What is Temperament?
It is important to understand exactly what the temperaments describe, so then you know also what they don't TRY to describe.
As humans, we have emotions. We all have the potential and ability to experience the same emotions, like anger, sadness, fear, sympathy, etc, but you may already be aware that not all of us experience these emotions with the same frequency or intensity.
You may know someone who is easily angered and has a short fuse, or who is easily scared and constantly shy and nervous, or someone who cries easily, or someone who you've never seen cry or get angry at all. These things are readily observable, and it's how we often identify people and remember them. We are all used to perceiving peoples' temperaments; it's just that usually, people don't have a word for them.
As mentioned previously, temperaments are ATTITUDE. They are basically the speed and duration of emotional responses, generally speaking. Some people tend to react quickly to things, whereas others are more slowly aroused emotionally. Some people hold onto emotions for a long time, while others are quick to move on and not dwell on them. The balances determine the temperaments.
Temperaments also each have a distinct set of identifiable traits that set them apart from the other temperaments. These traits are natural and are not decided by choice, but can be controlled by choice.
They are what the person is like MOST OF THE TIME. It is possible to hide them via acting or willpower, to pretend via deceit or acting that you're something you're not, etc... Or unusual emotions can be expressed when someone is pushed beyond normal limits.
When trying to work out your own temperaments, or those of other people, consider only what is MOSTLY the case. It is easy to look and traits and think 'yes, that applies to me sometimes', because, as previously stated, we are all human and all the things apply to us at some time or another. The temperaments are determined by things that occur MOST OF THE TIME.
Reasons and Needs
Temperaments seem to affect the *reason* for your decisions, and the way in which you go about doing actions, but they don't necessarily determine the actions in themselves.
It seems that temperaments are NEEDS in some way. They are driving forces that make you naturally more inclined to wanting certain things. Take sanguines, for example, who NEED to be around people; they derive their energy from being around others, and being alone is just a temporary rest between their socialising, which is where they're most comfortable. Melancholics NEED to be alone, however, and would feel stifled if given no quiet time; their alone time is their natural, comfortable state, and being outgoing is a temporary excursion from the usual state.
Note also though that the melancholic would find life difficult if ENTIRELY alone; social interaction is important for us all. Similarly, the sanguine may tire of being around others CONSTANTLY and alone time can be useful for them. It is the BALANCE that matters; melancholics would prefer a balance in favour of isolation, and a sanguine would prefer a balance in favour of social interaction.
Though the temperaments can be described in a sort of 'pure' way, people seem to be two temperaments, usually. One 'primary', another 'secondary'.
The 'primary' usually describes their most obvious attitude, while the secondary provides additional details.
A melancholic/phlegmatic, for example, may be moody, introverted, critical, creative, etc, BUT ALSO inoffensive and shy.
A melancholic/choleric may be moody, introverted, critical, creative, etc, BUT ALSO they'd possess a 'cold anger', would use force to get their way, and would tend to be outspoken and defiant IF approached.
A phlegmatic/melancholic may be inoffensive, shy, they may have difficulty making decisions and talking, etc, BUT ALSO they would be critical, self-deprecating and analytical.
A choleric/melancholic may be forceful, easily angered, self-righteous, outspoken, confident and dominant, BUT ALSO they would dislike others, have a deep stubbornness, and not be inclined to cheeriness.
Though it isn't easy to adequately explain the concept here in so few words, hopefully this gives a brief picture that you can expand upon in your own mind.
Important things to remember
- Everyone has traits of all of the four temperaments; the temperaments merely describe the BALANCES.
- Everyone has two temperaments; a Primary and a Secondary.
- Each temperament has natural strengths and weaknesses.
- Temperaments are the same from birth until death in normal circumstances, even though OTHER ASPECTS of personality may drastically change. (Sort of like how your general bone structure stays the same even though you may gain or lose weight or muscles, change your hair, get tattoos, get a tan, etc, etc.)
- Existing traits can be developed, because everything is a choice.
- Temperament can be 'masked' by deceit, pretending, expectations, etc, but the person will feel like they are merely acting in an uncomfortable, put-on manner.
- We are not all clones! Temperaments are merely a foundation, a form; we are all individuals in our details.
- The temperaments are not moods!
- Nor are they stereotypes.
- They are not *restrictive*, but they do affect the frequency of certain behaviours.
- Temperaments are what you are MOST OF THE TIME.
- Temperaments DO NOT CHANGE.
- They influence everything you do.
- They are more about the 'How and Why' of your actions than the actions themselves.
Below are a list of 'traits' for each temperament. Traits arise from temperament, and are not mutually exclusive. Though it could be said that a certain behaviour is perhaps a 'choleric trait', it doesn't mean that anyone who ever shows that trait is choleric or that non-cholerics are incapable of showing it.
Instead, you must see the traits as a *whole*. Don't look at the individual parts and judge what you or someone else's temperaments are from one or two observed traits. Instead, look at many and see what image the traits describe, connect the dots, see the big picture.
Many traits can be exhibited for wildly different underlying emotional reasons, and since the temperament is the cause of the 'emotional reasons' but not necessarily the trait in itself, that's why you must look deeper.
Let's take the trait 'argumentative', for example. This could be a 'choleric trait' OR a 'melancholic trait', and even then sanguines and phlegmatics are capable of being argumentative too, so you can't determine the temperament from this alone. The reasons why each temperament would BE argumentative are different; a choleric would argue to show dominance, a melancholic would argue to set wrongs right, etc...
How and Why, not What
Just to follow on from the last point, it is not the actions themselves that determine someone's temperaments, but why and how they do them.
With the 'argumentative' example, someone could be argumentative 'forcefully' and 'condescendingly' because they want to show off that they are superior, that they know best, etc; this would suggest choleric not because they're arguing, but because they 'how and why' suggest a 'forceful attitude'.
Someone could also argue with detail, reasoning, and distress, trying not to put the other person down, but to clear up any wrongness that they perceive; this would suggest melancholic due to the reasons. Even if the two people arguing are making the same point, the way that they go about it and the reason they try are where the temperament can be seen.
The Whole, Not the Parts
Something crucially important to realise about the temperaments is that they're to be seen as 'wholes', rather than 'traits' (as previous sections covered).
Here's an analogy, a description of an animal: it has hoofed feet, long, fast legs, a long face, short, sleek fur, a mane along its neck, pointed ears, amongst other traits.
If you guessed 'horse', you'd be right... (Of course, it could be other animals too, realistically, but this is an analogy, so please don't pick out flaws in terms of realism; I notice people have a tendency to do that, as if it makes any difference to the point I'm trying to make!)
Now, some dogs have pointed ears, as do cats and kangaroos and so on. Does this mean that they're horses? No. Does it mean that they're 'part horse'? Ignoring biological inner-workings and ancestry, no, they're not 'part horse' just because they have a 'trait' that horses also have.
The same goes for temperaments. While something may be a 'choleric trait' - say, getting angry - that doesn't mean that anyone who ever gets angry ever is choleric, or 'part choleric'; they don't 'have some choleric in them' since that's a nonsense description; you're either choleric or you're not, you can't go part way. Being angry and being choleric are not synonymous.
Traits are not mutually exclusive, and you shouldn't focus on traits in isolation.
"That dog has pointed ears, so it's part horse... Oh, but it has paws, so it's part cat! Its fur is long; it's part bear! It has teeth; it's part lizard! It's part every animal, so it can't be defined within the confines of a single label! It is far too complex!"
There's a clear parallel between that and how many people mistakenly think about the temperaments and their relationship with them.
Instead, look at the *sum of the parts*, the *big picture*, the *whole*, and work out the temperament from that. The horse needs *all* - or most - of its traits to be a horse. (However, one exception won't spoil the picture; that too would be thinking in terms of isolated traits! It's a fuzzy concept, you see...)
'Motive' and Emergent Traits
Each temperament has many traits, but it could be said that each one has a fundamental subconscious framework, a 'motive' of mind from which their other traits emerge.
For example, the choleric mind has a deep-down, hard-wired 'motive' towards dominance and force. This is not to be seen as a crude and repellant flaw; it might sound like one due to the choice of the word 'dominate', but all it means is that they're motivated to 'get what they want', essentially. This leads to them becoming easy leaders, to 'dominate' - rule over - others in some form. It also leads to anger; this is the result of force combined with dominance being questioned; when the choleric is not 'in control', they are not 'dominant' and therefore become angered.
This can lead to them becoming the 'doers' of the world, having ideas and seeing them through with confidence and persistence. This same mental 'motive' leads to traits such as stubbornness - submitting is the opposite of dominance - and competition - it should be obvious what the link is between a 'dominance' psychology and that trait.
Theirs is the mentality of the Alpha of a pack of animals; it's probably where this personality type originated back in our social but primitive ancestors. They would lead the pack and assure their status by fighting those who dared oppose them.
They are the Warrior, the General, the Captain, the King, the Manager.
The Melancholic mind has a Motive derived from 'perfection'; they are idealists, and wish for everything to be a certain way. This leads to emergent traits such as self-deprecation - they can't live up to their standards; analysis and learning - in order to understand, to know, because to be ignorant is to be lacking; being critical - since others don't live up to their standards; stubborness - a trait shared with the choleric, but due to a differnent 'motive'; they are tenacious and cannot let things go because 'good enough' is not good enough, and perfection is a desirable outcome.
Their generally dour demeanour comes about as this inner struggle between an imperfect world and a desire for perfection, and their introversion comes about similarly; they don't feel that they are worthy so seeking out others with confidence is difficult. They may also feel that others do not interest them sufficiently since they don't meet their too-high standards.
In a primitive pack, they may have been the 'analyst'; the one who surveyed, gathered data, and so on; a middle rank. Their analysis was important for survival, and the more accurate it is, the better the chances of that survival; hence the perfectionism developing.
They are the Wizard, the Scientist, the Logician, the Advisor, the Developer.
The Phlegmatic mind's Motive is inoffensiveness. They live to be subservient, essentially; this is the opposite of the choleric's drive for dominance. They take the path of least resistance so that they don't get on anyone's bad side, as the thought of doing so is deeply upsetting to them as it goes against their most fudamental wiring, rather than due to some conscious assessment. They are wont to feel that they're in the wrong rather than others, since they put others higher in the hierarchy than themselves and take the blame. They may not approach others because they feel it's their place to be approached; going against this is not easy.
They listen because they wish to do others a service; they wish to make others happy, but not for personal gain, but because it 'feels right'. That is, they would not act this way out of some conscious desire to Be A Good Person, but just because it's how they'd *naturally* behave without thinking about it.
In the pack, they'd be the bottom-of-the-rung menial labourers, the grunts, who know their place. It would not do for them to be rebellious, and it became natural for them to want to 'do their job' for the good of the pack. All places are important, however; these well-behaved so-called 'grunts' are the foundation of all working groups ever. Without them, everything would fall apart.
They are the White Mage, the Medic, the Redshirt, the Cook, the Worker.
The Sanguine's Motive is social/fun/attention. They are jokers and party-goers because they live for fun and derive this fun from being around others. They are unserious, because it leads to more fun and happiness bolsters social relationships; they wish to make friends and therefore tend to behave in a way that leads to that outcome. They may be unreliable in serious matters simply because it doesn't fit well with their subconscious Motive; they have to engage it with their conscious minds, which is the weaker part in us all.
They talk to bond, and to get attention. They perform for the same attention and to give others what they themselves like: fun.
A group needs good social bonds in order to work together in unison, so it pays to have a 'counsellor' and 'entertainer' who'd lift the spirits and ensure group cohesion in the pack. They would be the 'glue' that keeps the group a whole.
They are the Bard, the Performer, the Comic Relief, the Diplomat, the Spokesman.
- Prone to anger; 'short fuse'
- Needs to see results
- Gets things done
- Doesn't show weakness
- Makes things their business
- Likes to be in charge
- Likes things their way
- Can't admit if they're wrong
- More likely to fight than flee
- Tends to show little emotion, other than anger
- Reliable; sticks by you and holds to promises
- Vengeful; they will be your best friend if you stick by them, but turn against them and they'll make a point of making you regret it
- Dislikes following
- Condescending, especially if you try to defy them
- Likely to offer advice
- Criticises others
- Loves winning; likely to humiliate the one they defeated/dominated
- Gives advice or help which isn't asked for
- Tends to blame others
- Prone to misery
- Emotionally sensitive
- Needs things to be RIGHT
- Moved to tears by beauty
- Can have unrealistically high standards
- Easily upset
- Rejects others so then they aren't themselves rejected
- Very emotional, but keeps emotions inside mostly
- Holds grudges
- Deep and thoughtful
- Prefers planning to spontaneous action
- May dislike more than they like
- Corrects others
- Reluctant to make friends
- Takes ages for them to consider someone a friend
- Suspicious; untrusting
- Complains OFTEN
- Tends to blame self
- Can't say no
- Struggles with decisions; prefers others to decide for them
- Doesn't assert themselves
- Doesn't like change...
- ...but will rather change themselves than cause conflict
- 'Easygoing' in normal situations...
- ...but they panic if put into new situations
- Doesn't crave excitement
- Tends to show little emotion
- Not very passionate
- Low confidence
- Fears doing things wrong
- Avoids conflict
- Finds leading stressful rather than desirable
- Also tends to find *winning* against someone else stressful rather than a reward; they do not seek personal glory
- Does not believe they know best
- Gives in easily rather than arguing...
- ...or feels extremely nervous and upset if they do argue
- Tends to blame self
- Displays emotions openly
- Changes emotions quickly
- Loves attention
- Life of the Party
- Perhaps follows trends
- Will try to make people pay attention to them if nobody is
- Very emotional, and expresses emotion openly
- Likes more than they dislike
- Make you feel comfortable when talking with them
- Vain, narcissistic
- Makes friends quickly and often; they can make someone into a 'best friend' in mere hours
- Naturally physical; 'touchy-feely'
- Tends to move on rather than blaming anyone
Cholerics are the proud alphas of our race, the forceful leaders who guide us. They are the ones who start wars and end them, they are most politicians... They are the Hero AND the Villain in most fiction, because they go out of their way to GET THINGS DONE.
They have a tendency to get set in their ways, forming opinions then refusing to change them, perhaps even veering towards irrationality all so as not to be shown that they are wrong. This is because they are all about PRIDE and STRENGTH, and being shown to be wrong is a sign of weakness.
They love to win and hate to lose or be wrong.
They tend to do things to look superior a lot of the time; this is much of their primary motivation. It may lead to them gloating about their abilities, belittling others, or perhaps being humble to show that they're better than the LESS humble people. This is a trait that they may be reluctant to admit or realise, however.
They are dependable. If you are their friend, you can rely on them to stick with you and defend you if you are in need. They look out for their allies, but they can be ruthless against their enemies. They have a tendency to try to 'run your face into the dirt' if you get on their bad side.
They can be the kindest people you know, or the cruelest; it all depends on what they think shows them in the strongest light. They have a lot of CHOICE about what they ARE, it seems.
They tend to be unemotional, because emotion shows weakness... Similarly, they don't often show fear, and would take the lead when everyone else was sitting around scared.
They tend to use FORCE to get things done. This often tends towards shouting demands at others, or just shouting at people in general. They keep pushing themselves forward until they have the results that they want, and do not back down. They are quick to anger; they have a 'short fuse'.
If you try to defy them, they will likely laugh at or mock you to assert their superiority.
Cholerics may not realise or admit that they are in fact choleric; this seems to be relatively common for some reason. Perhaps they feel that it sounds BAD to be choleric and don't want to sound BAD?
Melancholics are introverted pessimists. They prefer to spend their time alone, deep in thought. They tend to be inventors, scientists, artists, and the like. (Note: Not ALL inventors, scientists and artists are melancholic!!)
They are very sensitive and emotional people. Criticism hurts them a lot, and they spend a lot of time being very moody... but they are the types to go and sob in a corner to themselves rather than scream in anger at anyone.
They tend to have unrealistically high expectations and standards. Things must be RIGHT according to their own personal idea of what's right; this leads to them arguing almost as much as cholerics would, but for different reasons. The choleric may argue to assert his superiority, but the melancholic would argue to 'set wrongs right'.
They are tenacious, and cannot leave alone things that they find to be wrong; they 'refuse to drop it' or 'let it go'. This can lead to intolerance and even more arguing.
Due to their absurdly high standards, they find themselves failing to meet them and this leads to self-deprecation. They are loth to push themselves forward or brag about themselves, even if they are particularly skilled.
They are analytical and seek to understand things thoroughly; this, along with most of their time spent alone rather than having fun with others, is what leads them to becoming scientific or artistic.
They ask specific questions and crave detailed answers. Knowledge, information, understanding... these things are all deeply important to them.
They can be difficult to know, as they do get moody, jealous, and so on... but they realise their own faults. They hate others, but hate themselves as well.
Melancholics are perfectionists. Often, things are a 'perfect or nothing' affair; if they can't do something impeccably, then they often won't do it at all. Due to their low opinion of themselves, this often leads to them not doing things because they feel they'll only fail.
They are known to complain all the time about nearly everything, but these complaints tend to be directed at 'things in general' rather than criticism of a specific person. "My legs hurt! The sky's too bright! I don't like the look of those houses! Politics are annoying! I don't like things!"
They tend to judge people quickly and in detail, assessing the nature of a person from their clothing, their mannerisms, just the look of them... They make up their mind about people quickly from what they observe briefly, and it's hard to change this first impression.
Phlegmatics are quiet, calm, and generally kind. They tend to take things as they come, and often don't want much from life. They shy away from excitement in favour of a regular, predictable life; this can lead to the other temperaments finding them 'boring'. They tend to be scared by things that take them out of their comfort zone.
They are quiet and shy, because they always try to take the path of least resistance. They abhor conflict because they are terrified of it, and wish that everyone would just get along; this leads to them often WANTING to play the mediator between the more passionate temperaments (particularly the melancholic and choleric, who are prone to argue often), but they lack confidence and don't assert themselves...
They don't assert themselves because they do not want to INTRUDE. They don't want to draw attention to themselves, and they put others above themselves; they don't want to make others do things their way. This leads to them doing things like working the same job their whole life without complaints.
They do things that they don't want to do just because they 'cannot say no' to other people; they are self-sacrificing in this way. This often leads to them being used and abused, taken advantage of...
They are timid, quiet and meek... They hate making decisions because they don't trust themselves and don't have the confidence; they instead rely on others to make the decisions and merely follow, generally without objection.
They tend to lack passion and drive, and don't seek things out themselves, but instead rely on others to 'push' them in certain directions.
Sanguines are lively, outgoing, friendly people-people. They derive their energy from being around others, and as such have many friends and like parties. They're most alive when surrounded by friends.
They tend to talk to strangers openly and often, and cheerily so; generally people feel comfortable with a sanguine talking to them, almost as if that sanguine has known them all their life. They have a lot of confidence, and a lively and fun way of talking.
They crave the attention of people. This leads them to often becoming performers, actors, comedians, and the like, or sometimes they just get seen as things like a 'Drama Queen', an 'Attention Whore', the Life of the Party, etc. If nobody's paying attention to them, they attract attention to themselves.
Despite their natural charisma, sanguines can be highly unreliable. They find it difficult to keep secrets since they love to gossip and chat and talk, and they're 'flighty', with a short attention span, which means that they can be hard to depend on.
Due to the same flightiness, they are not loyal friends. If they find a friend tiresome and dull, they are likely to move onto more exciting, enjoyable friends, without much concern for any forgotten relationships. It's not that they *don't care*, but that they move on easily and do not dwell in the past. Also, rather than defending their friends, they would be more likely to laugh, move to distraction, or flee if their friends were threatened.
They feel emotions strongly, but briefly. They are the types who may end up screaming and shouting in your face about how they hate you, but then mere moments later, they'd be profusely apologising, then they'd go on to talk about something entirely different as if it was all water under the bridge...
They have a high self image and openly brag and boast about themselves, often to the point of exaggeration. This is similar to the choleric, who does that too, but cholerics tend to do it in an 'I'm BETTER than you' way, whereas sanguines are more like 'I'm great! Praise me!'
They need compliments like water.
You can easily recognise them by bubbly, open personalities and loud expressions of free emotion, like openly cheering or weeping based on the situation.
What they are not:
Cholerics are not constantly-angry, rage-filled evil barbarians who cannot be controlled. They are not all bullies, and they are not bad people at all (that is, the temperament itself doesn't make someone a bad person; many bad people are choleric, but few cholerics are bad people).
They are not always openly proud, strong, confident leader types who happily jump to the front to command everyone.
They are not caricatures.
The defining traits are things like frankness (not being afraid to say what they think), a desire for some kind of control, thinking strength is important, not showing weakness, frequently feeling anger, and a forceful approach to dealing with problems.
Being any of the following does not necessarily imply that you are melancholic in any way:
- Depressed (even if it's Depression)
- A loner
- Creative; an artist
The melancholic temperament is more about an attitude than things like that. It's an outlook, a way of perceiving the world.
(See 'General Misconceptions' below...)
The defining traits of the melancholic are things like self-deprecation; a low self image. They hate everything, including themselves, because things cannot live up to their too-high standards. They are quick to put themselves down and don't brag.
Phlegmatics are not merely people who lack open displays of emotion, nor are they people who are 'laid-back'. Those traits can be applied to the choleric as easily as the phlegmatic.
The most important defining trait of the phlegmatic is their submissiveness. This is not merely 'doing as others say sometimes' - that's just being human and having common sense - but it's born out of the desire to NOT BE A BOTHER and to NOT OFFEND and to NOT INTRUDE and to NOT DO SOMETHING WRONG. They feel that they don't know best - because of this, they rarely, if ever, argue, and find it terrifying if they're forced into an argument - and that other people should make decisions for them (they struggle to make decisions at all), in most aspects of life.
Actually, 'cannot make decisions' is probably one of the most defining traits. If you're laid-back, quiet and unemotional but don't struggle with decisions, chances are you aren't phlegmatic.
Sanguines are not merely people who feel happy a lot. If you have a positive outlook and feel happy often, that doesn't mean you're sanguine.
Nor are they people who are friendly. Every temperament can be friendly in different ways for different reasons (the melancholic is least likely to be, but it's not impossible); the sanguine just has a generally cheery disposition and a desire to bond with everyone who communicates with them or something.
Sanguines crave to be around people. They have a strong NEED for this, and feel upset and jittery if they go too long without socialising with friends.
Note, though, that we ALL desire to be around others at some point or another and would likely succumb to madness with too much alone time; it's just that the sanguine's upper limit of how much loneliness they can take would be much less time than the other temperaments.
NeedsEach temperament has certain NEEDS, generally, which, if not met, makes them feel very unpleasant. We all need these things at times, but generally you'll know which ones you need most.
- To be in control; dominant
- Alone time
- For things to be Right/Perfect/'Ordered'
- To understand things
- To not be a problem; peace
- Stability; routine
- Social company; friends
It is easy and natural to see the temperaments as caricatures, defined by one single trait, but this isn't so. They're more complex than that, and a presence of certain traits doesn't necessarily suggest a certain temperament. It's *attitude* and the WHY, not the WHAT or HOW, that determine temperament.
Take the melancholic temperament, for example...
It seems that many people mistakenly think that since they're intelligent loners who draw from time to time that they're melancholic, when they could just as well be choleric/phlegmatic or any other combination.
It's important to try to see the reasons why you are what you are, or why you do what you do. Take being a loner, for example. A melancholic may tend towards being a loner because he is stifled by other people and internally frustrated by their imperfections or 'not understanding' or something, and/or he may reject others out of self-deprecation; because he feels that nobody would want to be around him, so he doesn't try to assert himself or inflict himself on others. He may feel upset about being a loner sometimes.
Someone cholerically inclined, however, may be a loner because they feel that they don't NEED friends; subconsciously, it'd be assessing such a need as a weakness and declaring yourself a loner shows you're above such a base need and above other people, too. Others might not be good enough for you, or you may have an abrasive personality that they find unappealing, leaving you unpopular.
Creativity, too, can have different causes. Sanguines might find it fun or like showing off, melancholics would just see the beauty in the world and it would make them wish to analyse and understand every detail, or something, and cholerics may take up a creative skill as a form of challenge, or to feel satisfaction from showing that they are capable of such a thing.
It's also worth noting that sanguine and choleric artists tend to feel self-satisfied about their skills, and tend to brag; they would continue sticking with it as a hobby because they think they're good at it. The melancholic, on the other hand, may be usually self-deprecating and not entirely pleased with his skills; he'd continue because he thinks he's no good and wishes to improve. The phlegmatic may depend on others' feedback to determine whether or not they're doing well (the choleric would ignore negative feedback, and the melancholic would ignore positive feedback, generally speaking).
These are not the only reasons for things; just examples of how the same 'conclusion' can be reached via many different paths. It is the path, not the destination, that you must analyse to find your temperament. Understand WHY you are what you are or do what you do.
As mentioned above, everyone is two temperaments. Though it's possible to work out the two temperaments of yourself or others just using the 'pure' definitions above, this section will go into detail about how each blend can be identified.
Please note that these tend to describe 'unrefined' traits, seen in people of all ages, but as people grow older, they often learn to 'control' certain traits and act more 'maturely'.
Also note that you should look at the bigger picture, rather than individual traits. If an animal were described, for example, as 'a creature with pointed ears, a long face, herbivore, long, fast legs, a mane on its long neck, short silky coat, hoofed feet', then taking each trait individually, you'd be able to come up with many different animals and it'd tell you nothing, but looking at the traits *as a whole* gives a much more restrictive set of animals to choose from. As such, with these descriptions, think of someone who has 'all' or 'most of' the traits as definitive features of their attitude rather than focusing on the traits specifically and dismissing a description because of one trait being an exception or something.
- Choleric/Sanguine people are generally cheerful, friendly extroverts... unless you get on their bad side, in which case they'll make you live to reget it.
- They are courageous and take risks, moving to action where the meek might not. They are usually very independent, and do not dwell on negatives.
- They are optimists in their own abilities; they are proud and feel they're capable, so they assume that they'll succeed.
- They tend to have confidence and drive, but may lack tact; they may be condescending towards others in their interactions or may use 'force' (not necessarily violence, but more like dogged persistence and bluntness) when trying to solve a problem or get what they want.
- In most interactions, they may put the goal above the feelings of others, using their 'forceful' approach regardless of how others may feel about it. They've no qualms about hurting people they don't like.
- People of this temperament blend usually have a high opinion of themselves, and are likely to brag about how 'awesome' they or their achievements are. They may enjoy competition, but only if they win.
- They have trouble admitting that they are wrong, due to a strong sense of pride; they will blame others and deny facts to seem right even to the point of absurdity.
- They don't like it when others don't do what they tell them to do, or when others tell THEM what to do.
- They thrive on the companionship of others, but due to their strength of mind, it isn't a Need, as such; they can survive without socialising if they so desire.
- They are quick to anger, and open with their feelings (particularly happiness) unless it appears to make them weak (like crying, for example). Their anger is of the explosive, wall-punching kind, and may be inflicted on others.
- They are people of action, not brooding or sulking or deliberating. They seek thrills and excitement.
- Choleric/Melancholic people are much 'colder' in their overall attitudes than the warmer choleric/sanguines. They are more likely to find socialising unpleasant than something to seek out, and to hate people rather than love them.
- They are blunt and forceful, perhaps with a lack of empathy towards others, cruelly hurting those who wrong them.
- They are calculating and manipulative, observing others and essentially looking down upon them, perhaps considering how they could use others or even wondering how others may be using them.
- They feel that they can define and perfectly understand others, but cannot themselves be defined or understood, as they're far too complex (this is based in the 'dominant psychology' of the choleric - defining someone is showing your superiority over them, but being defined puts them in an inferior position - tied with the analytical approach of the melancholic). Like all cholerics, they prefer to be in a dominant position in relationships or dialogue, and have great difficulty accepting or realising that they are ever wrong.
- They may be loners, and may shy away from others due to them 'not being worth their time' or due to hating them rather than due to fear or feelings of inadequacy.
- They are generally excellent at what they choose to do, if they choose to do anything at all, as they have a mind fit for planning and for controlling. This is the mind of many a strategic general throughout history, the mind of a conqueror.
- They feel that things should be an ideal way, THEIR way, and are likely to use force (of language if not muscle) or argument to get their way.
- They are likely to hold grudges, and though they're not as openly braggy to strangers as the choleric/sanguine may be, they'd still have a high opinion of their abilities around those who have managed to get close to them.
- Though their ego is strong, they've a bitter, negative streak and tend towards self-loathing in the privacy of their mind.
- They are not necessarily quick to anger, but they do have a strong 'cold anger' about their presence, like they'd be easy to annoy, and when they are sufficiently riled up, they explode violently and are likely to inflict emotional or physical pain on those around them.
- They are deeply emotional inside - with a tilt towards negative feelings - yet their pride may forbid them from expressing many of these emotions openly.
- This blend manages to be even more sealed off than the choleric/melancholic blend. Due to being a combination of two temperaments which don't openly express emotion, they can seem to have almost 'Spock-like' levels of feeling or reactions to events.
- If they're to respond emotionally at all, usually it'd be with a subtle smile, a cold scowl, rather than a jump for joy or an explosive rage... though the rage is the most likely of the two to ever happen.
- They are relatively laid-back, and calm, yet they have a 'leader' streak about them so they tend towards a dominant state of mind in interactions.
- They are likely to have a sort of 'casual confidence', a lack of worrying and nervousness, an ability to 'just do' (non-creative) activities instead of dilly-dallying and wondering about them ('non-creative' is mentioned because this 'just do it' approach isn't the same as having artistic motivation).
- They've a tendency to be pragmatic and hands-on. They'd be confident in their abilities, but not necessarily braggy or humble; somewhere in the middle.
- They're independent, and generally prefer to do things alone, perhaps because they don't feel that they NEED help, and don't want to inconvenience the other person or something.
- They can pick on or annoy others for amusement without really 'meaning it', acting condescending and so forth, expecting the other person to not make too big a deal of it.
- They may prefer to play a mediator role, telling others to 'calm down', firmly but not necessarily aggressively.
- They may look down on people who get emotional, considering emotions a sign of weakness (not explicitly as such; they may find it annoying that someone can't 'control themself' and gets emotional, etc).
- Like all combinations of 'opposites', they may assume that the temperaments do not apply to them, since all or none of the traits may seem applicable.
- Melancholic/Phlegmatic people tend to be deep and analytical, but shy, reclusive, and very nervous and full of self-doubt. The stereotypical meek, socially awkward, nervous, bookish nice guy fits this blend.
- They seek to understand everything, and have a strong lust for knowledge and appreciation of beauty as natural 'outlook' traits rather than learned behaviour (that is, some people are encouraged by their parents to like learning or art, or do so for the thrill of power or to seem intelligent in a show-offy way, but these types are 'like that naturally' and are driven only by a deep internal sense of personal wonderment with no desire to show it off).
- They tend to lack confidence and are easily nervous and doubtful, worrying about every little thing they do in case they look like a fool or end up hurting or offending other people, etc. They don't assert themselves very well for these reasons.
- For the same sorts of reasons, and because they are deeply emotionally sensitive, they are easily hurt by criticism or insults, and things really get to them; it's hard to shrug off abuse for these sorts of people.
- They are deeply emotional and moved to tears by beauty, or distress, perhaps (they're more likely to react with distress in response to aggression rather than with anger). They may consider themselves to have a 'romantic' outlook, in a gentle, appreciative kind of way.
- They usually keep to themselves, partly out of a distaste for socialising, but also because they reject others before they themselves are rejected; they have a low self-image and assume that people won't want to talk to them, so they don't want to barge in or offend so they avoid people to avoid disappointment and shame.
- Due to their emotional bent and analytical minds, and their introverted nature, they tend to focus well on whatever they set their mind to, and are inclined towards creative pursuits.
- They have a strong sense of right and wrong, becoming deeply upset if things are 'wrong' according to their own sense of Rightness. This leads to them becoming argumentative, though in a calm (or distressed, if met with aggression) anayltical way based on reasoning rather than aggression and intimidation, seeking to convince people rather than merely having them submit (they don't derive pleasure from winning arguments, but merely feel that it must be done). They are very tenacious and can't merely let things go, because they are so deeply moved and concerned by things; the things they argue about *mean* a lot to them, generally speaking.
- They tend towards negative feelings and hatred rather than happiness and joy and such. Though they are generally Nice people due to a strong sense of not wanting to offend people or be hated, in their minds they are always judging others, assessing their worth, feeling inwardly annoyed at various actions, traits, etc; this ties into their deep sense of wrong and right, so if someone's wrong, they hate it because they wish it were otherwise.
- Their introversion - coupled with their analytical mind - leads to a lot of time spent alone in introspection, meaning that these people generally understand themselves better than most.
- Melancholic/Choleric combines features mentioned in the Choleric/Melancholic description with some others mentioned in the Melancholic/Phlegmatic one...
- The differences between this combination and its 'reverse' (Choleric/Melancholic) is that these types are much more reserved and 'shy', in a fearful kind of way; less confident and outgoing. They have many of the fears of the melancholic/phlegmatic, internally - they are scared of rejection by others, critical of their own flaws, etc - yet their choleric half leads to an increase in pride that may prevent them from making these inner doubts clear to others unless they know them intimately.
- They may act strong-willed, and emotionally tough, and generally have a 'cold and cool' air about how they talk and act, but it could be said perhaps that they're 'crying inside' at times.
- They have less of a problem compared to the melancholic/phlegmatic with hurting people, especially enemies. While melancholic/phlegmatics may submit, retreat and cry if hurt badly, melancholic/cholerics are more likely to retaliate, to hurt their aggressor, to seek vengeance.
- They can derive amusement from the pain of others, inflicted by themselves or otherwise, but this may be because they feel so poorly about themselves that they need to see others belittled, hurt or miserable in order to feel good about themselves and to sate their choleric need for 'dominance'.
- Melancholics tend to be 'competent', because they can focus and they're analytical, and melancholic/cholerics are no exception. They may be proud of what they can do, perhaps openly, unlike the melancholic/phlegmatic who would be averse to bragging.
- Both melancholic and choleric are stubborn temperaments, so this combination leads to tenacity to see that their opinions are taken notice of or that their will is done. Like the choleric blends, they may have difficulty admitting that they're wrong... but tend towards self-deprecation when they know that they are.
- Like the choleric/melancholic, they feel that they can analyse, define, and understand others but that they themselves are complex, mysterious and elusive, beyond the discernment of the other mere mortals who are below them.
- They are bitter, negative and pessimistic by nature, and can lack tact when interacting with others. They give off 'leave me alone' and 'don't dare offend me' vibes.
- They can be sadistic and hurt others, but they're also masochistic and hurt themselves just as much.
- Unlike the melancholic/phlegmatic, they get angry and have outbursts, but they are moved to this rather slowly.
- This melancholic blend is more social and extroverted than the others, more cheerful and charismatic.
- They are emotional, and strongly so. Both melancholic and sanguine are emotional temperaments, with melancholic being on the negative, internal end and sanguine being on the extroverted, positive end. The combination of the two can lead to a personality that could be described as 'unstable'. This may lead to feeling like they're on top of the world one minute and depressed the next.
- They're prone to exaggeration, of their own abilities or experiences, and do a lot of pondering and analysing while also desiring to attract attention.
- These traits combined result in a character who makes a great entertainer or public speaker - as they are competent and skilled and want to show off what they know to seem impressive and receive admiration - but it can also lead to one who is emotionally difficult because they blow things out of proportion. They may attempt suicide or other similar things out of misery and attention-seeking, and their instability can lead to unpredictable behaviour at times.
- Though friendly, open and a joy to talk to for many, they can be picky about who they prefer to speak to, and as such would prefer to talk at length with close friends or associates than with throngs of strangers at a party or something.
- Due to being a combination of opposites, they may think that no temperaments (or all of them) fit them because they're sometimes one thing and sometimes another. What they should realise is that this apparent malleability of personality is in itself a trait that is indicative of a pairing of opposite temperaments.
- In summary, they're the kind who spends a lot of time alone developing skills, then goes and shows off what they can do or what they know. They're the kind who brags but knows what they're talking about, in a 'look what I know/can do!' way rather than an 'I am better than you' kind of way..
- Phlegmatic/Melancholic people are quiet and shy, out of fear. The fear of looking foolish, or the fear of hurting others. This contrasts with other people who may be 'quiet and shy' for other reasons like apathy, disinterest, hatred, general incompetence, or feelings of talking being 'not worth their time'.
- Primarily, they hate to offend others; this is anathema to them. They'll always take the path of least resistance, and will endure a whole lot of personal inconveniences as long as everyone else is happy. And it is always everyone else who they want to be happy; being in a situation between two or more conflicting parties where they'd have to chose a 'side' is a nightmarish scenario for this blend, because the idea of being on someone's bad side is so terrifying.
- As such, they're not likely to argue very much, if at all, and are likely to be subservient to others, changing based on others' whims and rarely putting themselves forward or making demands.
- They constantly dread doing things wrong, but perhaps have a calmer, more internally confident mind than the worrying melancholic/phlegmatic.
- They are of the mentality that rather than doing or saying something wrong, they would do or say nothing at all.
- They are at ease in situations in which they are familiar, expressing confidence and aptitude, but if they are faced with an unfamiliar situation, they panic. Due to this, they prefer a steady, secure lifestyle than one full of thrills and excitement.
- Since they have such great difficulty putting themselves forward due to their lack of ego and strong desire to not intrude or offend, they are unlikely to ever become leader figures or anything like that. They're not driven in that way, and don't seek personal glory anyway.
- They are too quick to give in to others; it is not difficult to argue or intimidate them into submission.
- They are very slow to emotion, and do not express themselves openly, which often seems like they don't feel anything at all. Emotions affect them 'shallowly' and then disappear quickly. It takes a lot of abuse for them to finally snap.
- However, they are adaptive, and may pick up the emotional behaviours of those around them, superficially at least. If around someone miserable for a long time, for example, they may end up in a simmering negative mood for a long time.
- They are quiet, because they don't want to intrude or offend, and would much rather listen. They make great listeners because they really *care* about what the other person is saying, and are likely to offer analytically-inclined support than to be judgemental and belittling, or to offer demands or I-know-best style advice. When expected to keep up their end of a conversation though, they may have difficulty or take a while saying very much, which may give the impression of a sluggish mind to one more socially suited. If someone were to comment on them 'not talking enough', they'd be more likely to feel upset than to defend themselves in a 'that's just who I am' kind of way.
- They like having friends and tend to have many of them, because of their listening abilities and because they're supportive and inoffensive. Generally, though, their friends come to them; they don't seek out other people easily.
- They have great difficulty making decisions!
- A good word to describe them would be 'timid'.
- Phlegmatic/Sanguine people are calm and inoffensive, but pleasant and sociable. They like making and spending time with friends, and tend towards pleasant emotions. They are affectionate and don't hold grudges, they're slow to hate, and they probably have more likes than dislikes. Chances are they'd be up for whatever their friends wanted to do, and they'd do it happily.
- They are not deeply emotional. Though emotions can effect them, it is brief, and forgotten quickly. They're the 'no worries' type, but in a calmly cheery sort of way, unlike the choleric/phlegmatic or phlegmatic/choleric, who are more on the 'apathetic' side of things.
- They are not known for their reliability, since due to being of two 'soft' temperaments, they are not deeply devoted to things, but more like casually interested until their attention runs out. They can be 'fairweather friends', moving away from people they once were close to due to disinterest, and may even laugh along with someone who was teasing one of their friends, just because they see the fun in everything rather than out of any genuine malice.
- They probably don't care deeply enough about things to argue at length or with passion; they're more the 'flighty' sort of personality.
- Social gatherings are highly enjoyable for them; they're very much a party sort of person, though they may be the sort that is found in the midground rather than the background with the 'wallflowers' or the foreground with the sanguine-dominant party animals.
- People like this may be very 'normal' and may follow trends and fashions just because it's expected; they would care a lot about fitting in but would achieve it casually, going with the flow.
- They will usually volunteer for things out of a genuine desire to help, but it's unlikely they'd follow through for very long, becoming unreliable then moving on within days once their attention waned.
- Phlegmatic/Choleric people can mistake their temperaments for a melancholic blend, because this combination shares many things in common with the melancholic temperament.
- They're usually introverted and shy, quiet, preferring to not associate with people, perhaps.
- However, there are major differences, mainly in the 'how and why, not what' sort of way.
- Melancholics are motivated by fear and self-loathing; they avoid others because they are so emotionally sensitive and easily upset. Phlegmatic/choleric blends, on the other hand, are strongly unemotional due to being a combination of two unemotional temperaments. They don't feel things strongly at all, and are much 'tougher', much harder to upset. Like choleric/phlegmatic, emotional outbursts are not something that they're likely to do, but they're even less suceptible to anger than that reverse blend.
- They keep to themselves due to feelings of apathy, not caring about spending time with others, because they don't like it, because it's 'not worth their time', or because they just have no desire for companionship. They aren't constantly fearful.
- They're sort of 'laid-back' in general, but can be passive-aggressive if confronted. They may argue at length with a sense of force, and care much less about offending others than the phlegmatic/melancholic.
- Though they don't seek out attention as such, usually, they don't like being ignored if they have something to say. They're firm but not aggressive unless pushed, when it comes to their views being represented.
- They have a casual confidence in situations they're familiar in, but may not step out of their comfort zone due to a lack of desire to. If pushed out, they'd cope well enough without much fear or worry.
- Apathy is strong with them.
- An open, friendly, extroverted temperament blend. These people have 'bubbly' personalities and display their emotions openly, but these emotions, no matter how strong or explosive, don't generally last long.
- They're very forgiving and don't hold grudges. They probably like much more than they hate, and make friends very, very easily, with basically anyone; it wouldn't take them long at all for them to consider a person their Best Friend.
- However, they're quick to move on if they get bored, which happens quite easily.
- They love attention and compliments, and dislike being ignored, though they're more likely to think 'aww... D:' if ignored than to get angry or anything.
- Their interest in things is generally of the 'shallow' variety. They're more interested in casual, fun things that spending weeks brooding in private over some problem or another. So exciting, fun things are far more appealing to them than anything that might require boring, dry research or lots of practice.
- They are gentle, and very touchy-feely. They're generally great friends to have, but they're not the most loyal people in the world just because they are not very 'deep' (see above; 'deep' might mean 'brooding' and focused on big but dry issues which take a lot of thought and aren't very fun; sanguine-primary blends would rather focus on something entertaining with social involvement instead).
- They may be interested in hobbies with showy displays, like dancing or singing, but probably lack the drive or attention to pursue move introverted hobbies very far.
- They are warm, and easy to talk to; people may get a feeling of comfort, like they've known the person all their life, talking to such a person.
- As with all sanguines, they're open, chatty, social, love attention, show their emotions openly, etc.
- Their extroversion is doubled by their secondary temperament; these people have a lot of confidence and brag quite openly and often. Their self-esteem is high, and they think they're amazing.
- They brag about their abilities and think that they can do anything, often giving advice to people as if they know best.
- They are touchy-feely and physically affectionate.
- If they're not being paid sufficient attention, they will attract some forcefully, perhaps getting angry if nobody is interested in them. Their anger is frequent and explosive, but short-lived; they don't hold grudges.
- They can be condescending towards others due to their choleric secondary, and may taunt and tease for their own amusement without regard for the feelings of others. This doesn't mean that they're devoid of empathy, but that they're selective about it, doing whatever entertains them most or shows them in the best light.
- They exaggerate their abilities and perhaps speak of them in an 'I am better than you' kind of way more than 'look what I can do!'...
- They'll not think much of going and talking to strangers, just for a chat. They make friends quickly and often, but move on when those people bore them. They have a tendency to regard people sort of like playthings, at a deep, subconscious level.
- They are people people, and love to be around friends.
- They are passionate and open with their emotions, and very charismatic. They make good leaders due to their social prowess and their choleric drive.
- They may feel that they can do anything, and can do it well.
- Probably loves social competition and parties. Likely to be the type to organise group events merely than just going to those started by others.
- They are likely to excel at things and love showing off their abilities to others; they are more likely to improve at things for the sake of impressing others than just to impress themselves.
- Similar to the melancholic/sanguine, though this blend is more open and extroverted, wishing to take centre stage to show off their skills or knowledge.
- While the melancholic/sanguine could be said to be the brooding, analytical, competent type who shows off his skills when he has the opportunity, the sanguine/melancholic is more the type to show off his skills, and refine them when he no longer has the opportunity to show them off. There's a difference of priorities, and the sanguine-dominant one may brag about skills he doesn't yet have or exaggerate those that he does have.
- Again like their reverse counterpart, they are wildly emotional and their emotional state changes a lot; they're likely to do things like attempt suicide out of a mixture of misery and a desire for attention.
- Due to less time spent brooding and more time showing off, they may be less concerned with the feelings of others than their reverse, thinking of others only when it suits them. Chances are they'd talk someone's ear off about their own problems, because it gives them a chance to dwell on problems, a chance to talk about themselves, and a lot of attention.
- They're less selective about who they're friends with, preferring anyone as long as they'll listen.
- They're extremely charismatic, but may find it difficult to sustain lasting relationships due to a short emotional attention span and their varying moods.
- They're likely to talk (or type) in an 'outgoing' style, speaking a lot and using friendly and emotive figures of speech.