The concept of four temperaments and humors is an ancient and alternative approach to personality theory by Hippocrates. He proposed an imbalance of bodily fluids (i.e. black bile, yellow bile, phlegm, blood) results in extreme temperaments.
The cure would be to let out excess fluids through surgical cuts—practices which have since been fully abandoned. Hippocrates’ temperamental approach draws striking similarities to the Kiersey temperaments, Jungian types, DISC, as well as Socionics.
The four temperaments had a significant impact on Western thought and influenced various fields, including medicine, psychology, and literature. They were prevalent during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. They also played a role in early personality theories, such as Carl Jung’s psychological types.
x-axis (vertical): Introversion – Extraversion scale
y-axis (horizontal): Thinking – Feeling scale
A 2 x 2 table of Hippocrates’ four (4) temperaments:
IT (Introverted Thinker)
DISC: Conscientious (C)
Socionics: IJ (Balanced–Stable)
Keirsey Temperament: Rational
True Colors: Green
ET (Extraverted Thinker)
DISC: Dominant (D)
Socionics: EJ (Linear–Assertive)
Keirsey Temperament: Artisan
True Colors: Orange
IF (Introverted Feeler)
DISC: Steady (S)
Socionics: IP (Receptive–Adaptive)
Keirsey Temperament: Guardian
True Colors: Gold
EF (Extraverted Feeler)
DISC: Influencing (I)
Socionics: EP (Flexible–Maneuvering)
Keirsey Temperament: Idealist
True Colors: Blue
Perfectionistic and organized, the Melancholic temperament upholds logic and consistency above all else to their high internal standards. They take work seriously and strive to sharpen their skillset.
They may also exhibit perfectionism, moodiness, and a tendency to be overly self-critical or pessimistic.
As for Holland Codes, Melancholics typically favor Investigative (I), Conventional (C), and Artistic (A) careers.
Common traits associated with the Melancholic temperament:
Ideal career choices for the Melancholic temperament:
- Technical writer
Direct and Type A to a tee, the firey Choleric temperament sets goals and hits them. Better yet, they go above and beyond. They also build doors of opportunity for themselves and knock them down, unapologetically.
They may also display impatience, irritability, and a tendency to be controlling or dominating in their interactions.
As for Holland Codes, Cholerics typically favor Enterprising (E), Social (S) and Realistic (R) careers.
Common traits associated with the Choleric temperament:
Ideal career choices for the Choleric temperament:
- Creative director
- Business leader
Patient and supportive, the mellow Phlegmatic temperament tolerates and heals others. They make excellent mediators, middle managers, and counselors.
They may, however, display passivity, indecisiveness, and a tendency to resist change or avoid taking risks.
As for Holland Codes, Phlegmatics typically favor Realistic (R), Social (S), and Conventional (C) careers.
Common traits associated with the Phlegmatic temperament:
Ideal career choices for the Phlegmatic temperament:
- Human resources (HR) coordinator
Bubbly and optimistic, the Sanguine temperament lightens up the mood and brings life to the party. They possess boundless amounts of energy and thoroughly enjoy being on the go.
They may, however, display impulsiveness, distractibility, and a tendency to avoid routine or long-term commitments.
As for Holland Codes, Sanguines typically favor Social (S), Enterprising (C), and Artistic (A) careers.
Common traits associated with the Sanguine temperament:
Ideal career choices for the Sanguine temperament:
- Public relations (PR) coordinator
- Social influencer
- Travel writer
Four Temperaments and Humors: A Summary
We’ve looked at the following four temperaments and humors in detail:
- Melancholic (Introverted Thinker)
- Choleric (Extraverted Thinker)
- Phlegmatic (Introverted Feeler)
- Sanguine (Extraverted Feeler)
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