Guide: Four Temperaments and Humors

Four Temperaments and Humors

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.

x-axis (vertical): Introversion – Extraversion scale

y-axis (horizontal): Thinking – Feeling scale

A 2 x 2 table of Hippocrates’ four (4) temperaments:

MelancholicCholeric
Black Bile

IT (Introverted Thinker)
DISC: Conscientious (C)
Socionics: IJ (Balanced–Stable)
Keirsey Temperament: Rational
True Colors: Green
Yellow Bile

ET (Extraverted Thinker)
DISC: Dominant (D)
Socionics: EJ (Linear–Assertive)
Keirsey Temperament: Artisan
True Colors: Orange
PhlegmaticSanguine
Phlegm

IF (Introverted Feeler)
DISC: Steady (S)
Socionics: IP (Receptive–Adaptive)
Keirsey Temperament: Guardian
True Colors: Gold
Blood

EF (Extraverted Feeler)
DISC: Influencing (I)
Socionics: EP (Flexible–Maneuvering)
Keirsey Temperament: Idealist
True Colors: Blue

Melancholic

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.

As for Holland Codes, Melancholics typically favor Investigative (I), Conventional (C), and Artistic (A) careers.

Common traits associated with the Melancholic temperament:

  • Focused
  • Meticulous
  • Logical
  • Analytical
  • Detail-oriented

Ideal career choices for the Melancholic temperament:

  • Scientist
  • Researcher
  • Analyst
  • Professor
  • Technical writer

Choleric

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.

As for Holland Codes, Cholerics typically favor Enterprising (E), Social (S) and Investigative (I) careers.

Common traits associated with the Choleric temperament:

  • Driven
  • Ambitious
  • Headstrong
  • Impatient
  • Serious

Ideal career choices for the Choleric temperament:

  • CEO
  • Creative director
  • Lawyer
  • Entrepreneur
  • Business leader

Phlegmatic

Patient and supportive, the mellow Phlegmatic temperament tolerates and heals others. They make excellent mediators, middle managers, and counselors.

As for Holland Codes, Phlegmatics typically favor Realistic (R), Artistic (A) and Conventional (C) careers.

Common traits associated with the Phlegmatic temperament:

  • Accepting
  • Calm
  • Stable
  • Collected
  • Harmonizing

Ideal career choices for the Phlegmatic temperament:

  • Counsellor
  • Human resources (HR) coordinator
  • Veterinarian
  • Nurse
  • Artist

Sanguine

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.

As for Holland Codes, Sanguines typically favor Social (S), Enterprising (C), and Artistic (A) careers.

Common traits associated with the Sanguine temperament:

  • Charismatic
  • Optimistic
  • Open-minded
  • Explorative
  • Energetic

Ideal career choices for the Sanguine temperament:

  • Public relations (PR) coordinator
  • Social influencer
  • Actor
  • Comedian
  • Travel writer

Four Temperaments and Humors: A Summary

  • Melancholic (Introverted Thinker)
  • Choleric (Extraverted Thinker)
  • Phlegmatic (Introverted Feeler)
  • Sanguine (Extraverted Feeler)

References

Faria M. A. (2015). A journey through time to ancient Greek medicine with medical historian and classical scholar Plinio Prioreschi, MD, PhD. Surgical Neurology International6, 100.

Fisher, H. E., Island, H. D., Rich, J., Marchalik, D., & Brown, L. L. (2015). Four broad temperament dimensions: description, convergent validation correlations, and comparison with the Big Five. Frontiers in psychology6, 1098. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01098.

Jackson, William. (2001). A short guide to humoral medicine. Trends in pharmacological sciences. 22. 487-9. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0165-6147(00)01804-6.

Kalachanis, Konstantinos & Michailidis, Ioannis. (2015). The Hippocratic View on Humors and Human Temperament. 2. 1-5.

Kleisiaris, C. F., Sfakianakis, C., & Papathanasiou, I. V. (2014). Health care practices in ancient Greece: The Hippocratic ideal. Journal of medical ethics and history of medicine7, 6.

Kushner, Irving. (2012). The 4 Humors and Erythrocyte Sedimentation: The Most Influential Observation in Medical History. The American Journal of Medical Sciences. 346. https://doi.org/10.1097/MAJ.0b013e31826cad55.

Lester, David. (1990). Galen’s four temperaments and four-factor theories of personality. Journal of Personality Assessment. 54. 423-426.

Tipton C. M. (2014). The history of “Exercise Is Medicine” in ancient civilizations. Advances in physiology education38(2), 109–117. https://doi.org/10.1152/advan.00136.2013.