The four temperament theory is a psychoanalytic or proto-psychologic theory that classifies human behaviours into four temperaments. Temperament can be described as one’s nature that determines their behaviours. Psychoanalysis is a concept popularized by Sigmund Freud (hailed as the Father of Psychoanalytic Theory) that described that there is a relationship between peoples’ attitudes (what is expressed) and their subconscious minds.
The four temperament theory describes the attitude of people toward other people and toward themselves as you will find out in this post. Whereas some temperaments may look negative from the outset, with a closer look into all the characteristics, you discover that they all have their own strengths and weaknesses.
Before, I talk about the four temperaments, if the search term “strengths and weaknesses of four temperaments pdf” or related search query, you are in the right place because you will learn so much about the four temperaments in this post. And of course, I have a concise downloadable pdf for you as well.
The Four Temperaments
The four temperaments have been studied intensively and found that they exist as exact patterns in some individuals. In some individuals, there can be a mixture of the temperaments but this is primarily based on how much they have developed themselves.
The aim of learning about these four temperaments is to be able to understand your predominant temperament, know your strengths and weaknesses, and the good and the bad sides so that you can improve yourself and build on your strengths. Also, a proper understanding of people’s behaviour types will help you better understand and tolerate their actions.
Following years of personal experimentation and a lifelong search for a more perfect temperament, I came up with the fifth and ultimate temperament but I will talk about this at the end of the strengths and weaknesses of the four temperaments.
First, we will explore their dominant attributes first and in the later section, we will see a summarized version of the strengths and weaknesses of the four temperaments.
Choleric derives its name from bile or yellowish colour (Latin. Cholericus for bilious). Cholerics are generally known to be extroverted and arrogant and we are going to explore these features together here.
Cholerics are dominant
Cholerics seek dominance, they are authoritative and daring. Cholerics would make statements like “get me a drink” instead of “can I have a drink?”. You can feel the commanding tone in the statements, don’t you?”. Cholerics would rather use authoritative words than use “please” words.
Cholerics are tough and domineering. They are often respected leaders and they love to challenge other people to prove themselves with the intention of helping them develop to their full potential. However, this may also be viewed as intrusive by those individuals. Cholerics are firm and forceful in their approach to problems, thus enabling them to get the work done as soon as they put their mind to it.
If faced with opposition, a choleric will likely react in a confrontational or defensive manner. This implies that most bullies have a choleric temperament – as they often desire to be feared. A choleric would stand up to defend someone who is/was being treated unfairly because they believe that they should be treated with dignity and respect, and also to exercise their dominance.
Still, in their domineering mindset, people with the choleric temperament love competitions but hate to lose. They will do anything as long it makes them stay dominant even if it means having to lie to save their face.
Their daring and confident nature makes choleric people natural leaders even though they might not enjoy leadership positions all the time. This is primarily because of the negative perception some people may have about them. In unpleasant situations, they’d rather take charge instead of folding their hands and doing nothing.
Finally, they may take pleasure in the pain of others as a way of reassuring themselves of their superior position.
Cholerics are extroverted
Cholerics are highly extroverted and can sometimes meddle in the affairs of other people, rather than minding their own business. They can talk out of proportion under the umbrella of “speaking their mind”.
They seek to be prominent or popular and would take it out openly on anyone that stands in their way of achieving that. Cholerics are honest about their opinions, bluntly expressing them instead of “sugar-coating” (minding their words) them to suit the situation or individual.
They are proud
I don’t mean proud in the sense of “being proud” as you imagined but choleric generally believe they are always right. They are stubborn about admitting their flaws except if doing that will make them look better than others.
People with the choleric temperament seek respect from others and can hold grudges against those they consider rivals. If you are close to them, they can go the extra mile or would ‘take a bullet’ except if you have got on their bad side.
Finally, they strive for independence and see it as a sign of superiority over other people. Their high self-esteem makes them see dependence as a form of weakness.
The name ‘Sanguine” is derived from the colour of blood (of both Latin and French origin). Sanguines are social, expressive and loving.
Sanguines are social
A sanguine is often free-spirited, chatty, openly emotional and might be regarded as socially extroverted. They are very social and find social interactions interesting and easy to initiate. They are not picky and would interact with anyone who they like to interact with even if that was just the first time.
Sanguine love company. The more they are surrounded by people, the happier they get. This may be part of their attention-seeking desire and they just feel good about the fact that they are not lonely.
They do more of the talking than the listening and are not particularly very trustworthy to keep a secret. However, they easily make friends and will not feel awful talking with total strangers. Because of their sublime nature, friendship with a sanguine may end up at the level of knowing faces and exchanging names.
They are expressive
Talkative, energetic, and playful are the adjectives you can use to describe a sanguine. They speak in a friendly and lively manner. They are often charismatic and easy-going. When an interaction is started with them, you soon begin to feel you might have known them all your life because they make you feel so welcomed and relaxed.
They can be very emotional and would express their emotions using words like “I hate you”. They are however quick to forgive and forget and expect others to overlook things the same way. A good way to describe them is “living in the present”.
Just like a choleric, a sanguine also has high self-esteem and is show-offy. They may reflexively brag about themselves without minding if someone may feel offended by that.
Naturally, they express their affection and feelings without restraint, openly offering hugs, stroking and grabbing shoulders or other similar ways.
On the matter of tidiness, you could not say that a sanguine is neat or tidy. Poor planning, disorganization and messiness are the prices they had to pay for living only in the moment.
They are attention-seeking
Sanguine loves attention and would behave in ways that may suggest that the spotlights be beamed on them. They would go out of their way to get compliments and keep doing so.
In the world of the sanguine, attention is all that matters. When on their own, that is counted as extreme loneliness or boredom, so they would do things that will give them the desired attention. If these did not work, sanguines can intrude into a conversation or say something that makes people turn their eyes to them. Yeah, that’s the goal!
The name is derived from phlegm (Latin. for ‘flame’ and inflammation). However, for some unknown reasons, phlegmatic temperament was associated with the ‘cold or cool’ personality type. Phlegmatic individuals are described as calm, introverted, indecisive, and submissive.
Submissiveness and Introverted
Phlegmatic individuals are cool-headed, submissive and eager to please others and give in to their insistence rather than try to assert themselves. They wish for peace and would do anything to avoid conflict even if it will be to their own discomfort.
To the phlegmatics, as much as they want to win, there is no need to win or be the best if that would disrupt the peace everyone shares.
They often find difficulty in saying ‘no’ to requests especially when it might make someone feel bad. They are very empathic; understand other people’s feelings primarily because they try to put themselves into their shoes rather than being selfish in their thinking.
They are indecisive because they easily submit to the choices of other people to make their decisions. They are naturally unable to see themselves assuming the ‘leader’ role and work best as followers – when they are told what to do.
They are calm and less intrusive
Phlegmatics are introverted and enjoy being alone. They are not picky, do not judge others easily and are not so concerned with ‘perfectionism’.
They have few friends they love hanging out with. They enjoy the company of these selected friends and are very loyal to them, sticking with them through thick and thin.
They are almost immune to anything that makes them get angry and can defuse such things very willfully. However, they would only snap after long periods of extreme tolerance.
Phlegmatics lead a calm and steady life; they are confident in familiar situations but may panic in unfamiliar ones. They are satisfied with predictable, quiet, ritualistic lifestyles rather than trendy, spontaneous or dynamic ones.
They are often silent about their lives and achievements and do not readily share their inner thoughts because they hate to be judged. They also consider that talking about themselves can be bothersome to others. However, they are great listeners and will offer supportive feedback instead of harsh criticisms. They get absorbed in conversations with friends, chipping in only a very few, ‘necessary’ words.
They are not worried about boredom, in fact, they enjoy being alone. It is not other people’s duty to entertain them, make them happy or motivate them. They are okay by themselves. Lastly, they do not express physical passion for doing things; their drive comes from deep within.
They derive their name from black bile (melan – black; chole – bile). They are generally emotionally sensitive and are best described as perfectionistic introverts.
They are perfectionistic
Melancholic individuals are characteristically described as perfectionistic. They believe things should be done in a certain ideal way and will get distressed if there is the slightest change.
They hold themselves and other people to high standards with very high expectations that should/must be met. This makes them very critical and often unsatisfied with others as they find it hard to meet up with their set standards.
If anyone would care about details, it will be the melancholics. They wish to understand every tiny bit of detail because being ignorant is considered a sign of imperfection. They don’t accept things just the way they are and will ask specific questions for more clarity and understanding.
They are stubborn and dogmatic to new behavioural trends and would not easily change their “carefully thought” views and standards. In other words, they don’t go with the flow, at least not easily.
Melancholics are often very pessimistic, assuming the worst from the onset and would thus think and plan carefully before taking any actions instead of resorting to rash impulsive behaviours.
When they argue, it’s not because they just want to make you feel bad or assert dominance. They simply cannot let things go wrong or tolerate information they see as wrong because they often have so much knowledge about the subject. They argue with reason, evidence and logic while offering their explanations or pleas.
They are introverts
Of the four temperaments, melancholic has the most introverted individuals. They are happier alone and would agree that they perform best when they are alone. They consider the presence of other people a burden to them because they will always be tempted to dive into every one of their actions or behaviours.
They are wary of making friends and it would take them a pretty long time to make a friend. But once they call you their friend, know that you have found the most loyal person ever. Because of the high standards they like to maintain, they prefer to have only a few close friends than flocking with everybody.
Sometimes, you may see them as being selfish, as they prefer not to share their thoughts, time, or personal belonging with other people. They are very possessive of their properties, especially because they worry that other people will not care for them with the same level of care as they would.
They are extremely sensitive
Melancholics are very emotional individuals, deeply moved by failure, distress, loss, and beauty. They are easily hurt as their moods are as delicate as the glass, easily shattered by other people’s behaviours.
They hold grudges for a long time because they believe that those who hurt them will not easily repent of their wrongs, or adjust to meet up with their standards.
When confronted with things they dislike, they respond to them with tears and feelings of misery, rather than rage or aggression. They would prefer to flee from things that might cause them to distress instead of trying to confront them. Their major comeback is making someone feel guilty for their actions rather than attacking them with abuse or inflicting physical harm on them.
Now that we have explored the dominant characters of the four temperaments without categorizing them into strengths and weaknesses, it will be appropriate to do so at this point. In the following section, you will see the various strengths and weaknesses of the four temperaments, where strength refer to positive attributes and weakness refer to negative traits.
Strengths (of the Four Temperaments)
Below are the strengths (virtues or positive characters) of the four temperaments. They will be grouped together but in a clear order of arrangement.
- Careful planning (Melancholic)
- Search for reason and logic (Melancholic)
- Faithfulness in friendship (Melancholic and Phlegmatic)
- Non-judgmental (Phlegmatic)
- Great listening ability (Phlegmatic)
- Ability to distribute glory and efficiently dissipate defeat (Phlegmatic)
- Friendliness (Sanguine)
- Easy to forgive (Sanguine)
- Strive for independence (Choleric)
- Determination (Choleric)
- Honesty (Choleric)
- Tough and confident (Choleric)
Weaknesses (of the four temperaments)
Here are the weaknesses of the four temperaments
- Easily offended (Melancholic)
- Self-guilt ( Melancholic)
- Self-condemnation at the slightest mistake (Melancholic)
- Pessimism (Melancholic)
- Lack of tolerance (Melancholic and Choleric)
- Unhealthy competitions (Choleric)
- Haughty pride (Choleric and Sanguine)
- Obsession for attention (Sanguine)
- Forgetfulness or lack of intimate relationship (Sanguine)
- Poor organization (Sanguine)
- Indecisiveness (Phlegmatic)
- Lack of self-confidence (Phlegmatic)
The Fifth Temperament; “The Ultimate Temperament”
I believe the aim of this four temperament theory was to give us a better understanding of the people around us and how to deal with them, but this knowledge also equips us with the right understanding of ourselves and how we can develop ourselves.
I created this fifth or ultimate temperament out of the need to conquer each and every one of our weaknesses, thus, this temperament is a product of a conscious or deliberate effort towards improvement.
By optimizing the strengths of our temperament, acquiring those of others, and shedding off all the weaknesses, we become a better and stronger version of ourselves. This is the ultimate temperament, more like a blend of as many of the positive attributes as possible.
Prior to now, a new fifth temperament has been proposed in the 5 temperament theory. This new temperament is called “Supine”, best described as a gentle spirit. This temperament was not covered in this article about the four temperaments, but if you choose to use any number of temperament theories, the ultimate temperament will always feature as the positive blend of all the temperaments. That’s what you should aim to achieve.
The sanguines desire inner peace and joy and find it when they are cheerful, lively and unrestrained. The phlegmatics are happier when others are happy; they don’t need to seek happiness from other people – a true sense of inner peace. Taking these two together in a balance, you have someone who does not need other people to be happy and also wants other people to be cheerful too. It’s a win-win and the world would be a better place.
Also, check out my post that talks about how some of these personality characteristics can make one have a magnetic personality to other people.
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