Humans; skin, flesh, bones and mind. We are all made up of the same stuff. We even have the same brain capacity, yet you are so unlikely to meet a person with a personality that is 100% identical to your own. Have you ever wondered why? Sure we all have a different upbringing, education and environment but there is a science behind your own personality and this is where the theory of temperament comes in.

‘’Temperament lies behind mood; behind will, lies the fate of character. Then behind both, the influence of family, the tyranny of culture; and finally the power of climate and environment; and we are free, only to the extent we rise above these. ‘’– John Burroughs

Temperament is the nature or usual attitude of a person of which there are 2 major types: Introvert and Extrovert. Introverts are more concerned with their own feelings and thoughts whereas extroverts are preoccupied with their surroundings and environment.

Think of temperament as an empty canvas which needs to be painted upon to complete the picture. The painting therefore is called ‘personality’. Together, the unique blend makes you who you are. There are millions of different kinds of blends, of people, but psychologists have been able to group these personalities in 4 categories.

  1. Choleric
  2. Sanguine
  3. Phlegmatic
  4. Melancholic

If you rewind back in time, you will learn that these 4 temperaments have stuck around for a while dating back to 400 BC. Florence Littauer, a personality expert and author of several books on the subject, has interestingly described the 4 types as Powerful, Popular, Peaceful and Perfect.

All temperamentsNone of these personality types are regarded as being specifically positive or negative. They are for observing and identifying, not judging.

The Fire- Choleric

The Choleric is the no-nonsense, hands-on, task-oriented, forceful, opinionated and driven individual who is a born leader. If you have this temperament, you’ll be the King of the Jungle with the silencing roar. You grab the first opportunity that arrives and capitalize on it. You make hard decisions. In simple words, you are THE boss. You are the least sympathizing or sensitive of all the other types and least likely to show affection.

You are the one to look out for. Your personality can be intimidating and your highly practical, all-business and no-excuses attitude can make another a little shaky to stand up to you. Cholerics are good leaders because they tend to get things done. Great examples of Choleric personalities are Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Dr Phil and Donald Trump – an intimidating bunch of people don’t you think?

The Air- Sanguine

The Sanguine is the ‘party stopper’, the ‘head turner’, ‘Mr or Mrs popular’. You are usually very friendly, love socializing and are fun to be around. You are the ‘now’ kind of people; the one who lives in the moment, reacts on an impulse and enjoys attention. You are the most sensitive of all types but can come off as a drama queen/king with the excess show of emotions. It’s no wonder you love being the center of attention and entertaining wherever you go. You promise the world to people, because that is the friendly thing to do.

Although Sanguines are defined as being popular, underneath the liveliness and the funny stories, you crave approval. You will go to great lengths to be loved. You can be flexible on morals in order to please others and lack emotional consistency. A few popular Sanguine personality types are Robin Williams, Bill Clinton and Kelly Ripa.

The Water- Phlegmatic

Phlegmatic, the easy-goers and the peace lovers. You are lovable, nonchalant and so laid back. You avoid conflict and are flexible in all situations. You are the ‘nice’ one others just  want to get up and hug. You are introverted with a dry humor and generally like being low-key and tend to stay out of trouble. You are in your element in a peaceful, chilled out environment.

All good things aside, you can be lazy, unmotivated and lack ‘the push from within’. Some well-known peaceful personalities are Keanu Reeves, Tim Duncan, Sandy Koufax and Calvin Coolidge.

The Earth- Melancholic

The Melancholic is the perfectionist, the thinker, the introvert. You love maps, charts and graphs. Disciplined, organized and faithful to the few you like to be around. You are the most dependable of all. Due to your analytical attitude and your tendency to dwell on details, you are most prone to depression. Melancholics can be very sensitive and can take offense easily.

You are the ‘perfect’ type. You avoid group gatherings and can have difficulty making new friends. You like things to go your way according to plan and can be impatient or dissatisfied easily. Perfect examples of Melancholic personalities are Beethoven, Hilary Clinton, Ernest Hemingway and Vincent Van Gogh.

Click here to read the struggles faced by melancholics.

You are most likely to be a blend of 2 or more temperament types, making one type dominant and the other secondary. Otherwise there would be only 4 types of people in the world. The blend is what makes us all unique. Your upbringing, lifestyle and other factors all play part in who you are and how you have become who you are.


So if you want to find out your type, take the temperament test. It’s fun! You might even find out a few things you didn’t know. Enjoy!

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