The Four Temperaments
The four temperaments were conceptualised many years ago in one of the oldest known systems of personality types. People were categorised by their mood. The belief was there were people that were choleric, melancholic, sanguine, and phlegmatic.
The phlegmatic is best understood as the slow-moving, careful, methodical, self-bettering type. The Sanguine as the cheerful, positive, mindful type. The Melancholic is best known as the brooding, thoughtful, sensitive and contemplative type. The choleric is finally most associated with strength, aggression, passion and productivity.
The Melancholic Types
The idealists (NF) and the Crafters (IP) fit best with the melancholic description, making the INFP the true melancholic type. Introverted Perceiving tends to make this type need to spend a lot of time on their own thoughts and their inner world.
iNtuitive Feeling makes this type more focused on dreams, ideas, and abstract values. The most melancholic type is the INFP, associated with the ability to dream bigger and to feel deeper than almost any other personality type.
The Sanguine Types
The sensors and the feelers best characterise sanguine values: life is best experienced directly and in vivid detail and intensity. Life is a personal experience and your mindset matters more than facts or rules from the system.
You can adjust and change your view and perception to accept things as they are. Pair this with the Adaptor (Extroverted Perceiving) and you get an adaptable and flexible type who adjusts to circumstance and sees the easiest way to get something done. The most sanguine type is the ESFP personality type, associated with an always happy mood and an ability to remain hopeful and positive even in the darkest of times.
The Phlegmatic Types
The intuitive and thinking types best sum up the phlegmatic values. You can make anything happen if you work hard for it, your wildest dreams can come to fruition if you are ready to think realistically about something and to focus on it. Combined with introverted judging, you get a goal oriented, long term thinking type.
This type is more interested in the inner world of thoughts, memories, and ideas, and in the execution of your intentions and how you achieve your dreams. The true phlegmatic type is the INTJ, who combines the long-term attitude of guiding the system and the development of the system. The INTJ will be able to set aside emotions and personal feelings and do what is strategic and rational when necessary.
The Choleric Types
The choleric type is sensing, thinking, extroverted, and judging. Being extroverted and judging, this type needs to focus on management of resources, tools, people, and items. The choleric type wants to execute and manage resources strategically and to see how best to use them and where.
Combine this with sensing and thinking, and you get a true choleric type such as the ESTJ. They will mainly be interested in practical ideas and goals that can be clearly defined and executed swiftly. Emotions will be set aside and the focus will be on working hard and doing whatever necessary to get the best score or result.
Most people are a mix of the temperaments
Most types are a mix of multiple temperaments. We have for example the ENFP personality type. The ENFP can confuse many because they appear on the outside very cheerful and happy, but their inner world can be quite dark and their depth is as vast as it is unexpected. On the other end here is the INFJ who shares the same idealism and dreams as the ENFP, yet lacks their energy and enthusiasm for it. The INFJ can actually appear extremely cold and rational while working towards the dreams they believe in.
Another interesting mention is the ENTP who is a mix of two opposites. They have the pragmatic values of the phlegmatic type, but the sanguine temperament of the adaptor type. They are able to somehow be easy-going and ambitious at the same time, and they can appear like they are never serious, yet, deep down, they are far more serious than perceived.
The INTP actually risks being mistyped as an NF at times, because of their melancholic tendency. They can appear quite sensitive while working and tinkering on different ideas and theories and are known to go quite dark. But their true values are quite phlegmatic and they are actually quite detached from the sometimes dark matters they explore.
Something people tend to miss in classic ENTJ descriptions is that ENTJs are quite head-strong and passionate types. They are more than likely to try to push you if they believe it will get you towards a positive outcome. They tend to dismiss dreams as unrealistic and crazy, but are quite inventive and intuitive in how they achieve their results and get where they need to be.
What about the sensors?
The ISTJ is phlegmatic about how they achieve their more choleric values. They value strength and productivity but believe in taking things slow and methodically. There is no need to rush and structure and order will come with time. This allows ISTJs to be extremely patient with iNtuitives and big dreamers. Only the ISFJs can compete with this patience. ISFJs can put up with pretty much anything, and are masters of turning the cheek the other way when necessary. But what people miss about ISFJs is that ISFJs are quite pragmatic people: and while feelers are often associated with being sweet and selfless, ISFJs are the most likely to engage in manipulation to get what they want, if they think it is for your best.
The ESFJ, as one of the choleric temperaments, may hold a peaceful-anything goes attitude in most situations, but when they need to push or fight, they can surprise you. ESFJs can be one of the most fiercely argumentative and passionate types in a conflict. The thing is: they never need to or want to fight, but when it is necessary, they are more than ready to do so.
I have found ISFPs to be the most zen of all personality types. I have hung out with many ISFPs when younger. I was always surprised to find them whistling on their own or smiling about some crazy thought they got. They may not share much, and as one of the melancholic temperaments, they typically hold most to themselves, but they appear to have made some peace with that that INFPs and INFJs have not.
A final interesting mention is the ISTP personality type. The most surprisingly hard-headed and conflict-oriented introvert. They tend to go on a pendulum between “I have to show them how wrong they are” to “There is no point, people are too stupid to get it.” Perhaps something they have in common with ENFJs. ENFJs may be idealists and dreamers, but they have a really practical side to them.
They hate when there is no concrete path to their dreams. A dream without a concrete path to get there is the biggest ENFJ frustration. To the ENFJ, it feels like wasting time or giving up. ENFJs often see their idealist friends as lazy for not being able to put the work in and to make their dreams come true.
Read more about your personality type by using the menu above.