Four Types of Temperaments

There are four temperaments or dispositions that characterize human beings. Most people are influenced by one predominant temperament. Some have a combination of two that are almost equally predominant. It is also possible to possess a fairly even blend of all four temperaments.

Read through the strengths and weaknesses of each temperament before you try to detect which one you are. Remember, no one temperament is better than the others. They are not in competition with one another. The study of human temperaments is simply an interesting way to better understand yourself and those whose lives touch yours.

The Go-for-it (Choleric) Temperament

Gwen is a born leader and an honor student. Accomplishing a lot is important to her. Gwen has a strong will, and she's determined to make something out of tier life. She's fiercely independent and doesn't care so much about what others think about her. She has a mind full of ideas, challenges, and projects. Recently, she decided to travel abroad before entering college, and it has been easy for her to make the plans involved. She has a generous amount of self-discipline working for her in all she does.

The special weaknesses she must work to avoid are being too bossy (some cholerics are domineering), too unemotional, and too self-centered. Others who are less-motivated or lazy stir up the anger of a choleric. Gwen and others like her are instigators, independent thinkers, and industrious workers. They are extroverted, but less so than sanguines, the other extroverted temperament.

The Nice-and-easy (Phlegmatic) Temperament

This is the direct opposite of the choleric. One of the introverted temperaments, the phlegmatics have special problems that relate to fear rather than to anger. These people rate the nice-guy or nice-girl label.

Tony is a fine example of this temperament. He's even-tempered most of the time. He willingly does what people expect him to do because he's a peacemaker at heart. He's calm, easygoing, and dependable. Tony often surprises his friends with his quick wit and great sense of humor. He's a practical guy. He gets along with almost everyone.

On the other side of the coin, Tony's lack of motivation is one of the hallmarks of a true phlegmatic. He is more passive than active and is content to be a spectator (TV addiction has been a real problem for him). He has trouble making decisions, and he hangs back in fear when he should be more assertive. But he gets satisfaction by being well liked and accepted wherever he goes.

The Up-with-people (Sanguine) Temperament

She's outgoing, enthusiastic, warm, friendly, and talkative. Her friends sometimes call her Motormouth. This girl says, “I just love people, and I can't help being friendly!”

Sanguines are the most extroverted or socially inclined of the four temperaments. Because of their love for people, they tend to be compassionate.

Impulsive action is their forte rather than diplomatic conversation. They tend to act before thinking things out, and that can lead to trouble.

Up-with-people teens tend to brag or exaggerate too much. They are restless and unstable. They tend to have angry outbursts which they struggle to keep under control. They experience problems because of weak wills and overinflated egos. You can detect them by the overuse of the word I in their conversation. Yet these people-lovers have a lot going for them, and others are drawn to them for friendship.

The Still-waters-run-deep (Melancholy) Temperament

A good percent of artists, musicians, and writers fall into this category. Melancholies are highly creative people. They have a great love for the arts, for natural beauty, and for the finer things of life. There is also great idealism in this kind of temperament.

Cliff is a quiet guy whose feelings run deep. He's a gifted musician and makes excellent grades at school. Highly sensitive, he is quite a perfectionist. He does not find it difficult to make sacrifices to obtain his highest goals. Recently, he gave up buying a new musical instrument so he could put the money into savings for college.

This personality can be moody, negative, pessimistic, and self-centered. Stillwaters-run-deep teens need to be more satisfied with their successes and less disappointed with occasional failures. Their constant challenge is to avoid criticizing others. This is the other introverted temperament, and fear is a part of their natural makeup. Cliff and other melancholies need to be much more aware of all they have going for them. Then they can strike out with more confidence to reach their goals.

The people used as examples of the four temperaments are each predominately one temperament. But many other teens are a blend. Some common blends are sanguine-choleric (both extroverted); phlegmatic-melancholy (both introverted); melancholy-choleric (introverted/extroverted); and sanguine-phlegmatic (extroverted/introverted).

Now that you've been exposed to some of the natural strengths and weaknesses of the four temperaments, can you decide about your own? Do you tend to be open and outgoing? Or are you inclined to be shy, sensitive, and self-examining? To know yourself as an extrovert or an introvert, or a blend of the two, is a good starting point in discovering your own temperament.

Check over the good points of each temperament to see which one seems to be most descriptive of you. Then check over the negative aspects of each. Do you discover more of your flaws in one temperament? It may be helpful to talk with a close friend (or counselor) about the temperaments. Maybe you can help each other discover which ones are predominant in your life.

After you learn more about the real you through the study of temperaments, you can use it as a tool. It's a great way to understand yourself, your friends, and family much better than you ever have before.


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