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And I believe it will be a blessing to you. That’s if you don’t know about temperaments before. But if you do, a quick reminder can’t do you any harm.
The Four Human Temperaments
“THE FOUR HUMAN
by Dr. D. W. Ekstrand
There are “reasons” for everything we do as
human beings, though it is often difficult for us to
understand why we think like we think, feel like we
feel, or act like we act in life. Many of the answers
for human behavior can be found in people’s
temperaments or personalities. The study of the
human personality goes all the way back to the
famous Greek physician Hippocrates (460-370 BC),
the “father of medicine” — he was born during the
prophetic ministries of Nehemiah and Malachi, or
some 450 years before the birth of Christ.
Hippocrates’ work has been researched extensively
and is used as a dynamic diagnostic tool in both
psychology and psychiatry to this day. A generic
explanation of human “Temperaments ” or
“Personalities ” is that all of us have been born with
genetically inherited “behavioral tendencies” that
are as much a part of our DNA as is the color of our
hair; all of us are made up of DNA combinations
passed on to us through our parents and ancestors.
This fact is important because it helps us to more
fully understand our basic behavioral disposition .
Even though much of our human personality is
inherited, it should also be noted, much of it has also
been influenced and shaped by our unique
environments. Most scientific research on human
behavior suggests that about 50% of the variations in
human personality are determined by genetic
factors — so our human behavior is shaped equally
by our environment and by our DNA. Thus, all of us
as human beings have been hard-wired by our
Creator (we are not just products of random chance
– Ps 119:73; 139:13-16; Is 44:24), and we have all
been impacted by the world around us.
Furthermore, according to the scientific analysis all
human personalities are commonly divided up into
four major categories (with the exception of those
with severe mental disorders), and these four types
are further broken down into two categories —
Extroverts and Introverts :
Extroverted Personalities: The Choleric and
Sanguine personality-types are more “out-going,”
more sociable, and more comfortable in a crowd,
even standing out in a crowd.
Introverted Personalities: The Melancholy and
Phlegmatic personality-types are more shy and
“reserved” and feel anxious about being in crowd,
especially at being singled-out in a crowd.
It should be noted that all human beings have a
degree of each of these four personality types
within them , though each person will definitely test
out higher in one , with another being a close
second . No individual only possesses one
personality type, and most of us have a very strong
secondary temperament. Should you take one of the
personality tests available today, you would
discover that you possess dominant characteristics
in a couple of the temperaments, and each kind of
personality has a general characteristic associated
with it. It should be noted that there are varying
degrees of Extroversion and Introversion — in
other words, some Phlegmatics and Melancholies
“border” on being out-going, and some Cholerics
and Sanguines “border” on being shy. Though the
characteristics may not be true for everyone with a
particular personality, they are generally true for
the vast majority of people. All four personality
types have general strengths and weaknesses with
which people must contend, and no one personality
type is better than any other. All four have both
good and bad qualities, and all four are needed to
make this world a better place. Whatever your
temperament or personality, God is the one who has
given you the abilities and sensitivities that you
possess, and He has given those things to you for a
purpose — that you might faithfully work at
developing them and using them in His service.
Though our temperaments have been tainted by sin
and the fall, God’s Spirit is mightily at work in us
transforming us into the image of Christ that we
might be more effective workmen in His Kingdom
(Jn 17:17-20; 2 Cor 3:18; 5:20; Eph 4:7-16; Phil
2:13). Remember, no two people are alike – we are
all unique – and we have all been given a unique
call-ing in life. Therefore it is important that we not
covet qualities we do not possess; rather, that we
focus on discovering God’s will for our lives and
enjoy serving Him with the skill-set with which we
have been blessed; knowing that God wants to use us
to do the work for which He designed us. So identify
your skills and strengths and get to work!
(Prayerfully reflect upon the following passages –-
Mt 6:33; 13:12; 25:14-30; Lk 12:48; Jn 21:20-22; 1
Cor 4:2; 12:4-7, 21-24; Eph 2:10).
Of all the relationships we have in life, marriage
is by far the most important. A good relation-ship
between a husband and a wife makes for a happy
home. A marriage shadowed by bitterness, fighting
and other unpleasantness leaves its scars on not
only the couple, but also on their children and those
around them. Good marriages are not just accidents
— they are the result of hard work and
understanding. In general, marriages between two
people with the “same personality type” have the
greatest potential for clashing, and anyone married
to a sanguine or choleric is in for a challenge; this is
mainly due to the tendencies of these two
personality types to require excessive attention and
control, respectively. Thus pretty much all
marriages will have fairly significant challenges.
Most often “opposites do attract ” — Sanguine
individuals tend to marry Melancholy ones, and
Cholerics favor Phlegmatics; though such situations
are not always the case, they do appear to be the
most common. It should be noted that there is no
such thing as “the ideal combination ;” we are all
fallen human beings with foibles and shortcomings.
Following is a brief description of each of the
four temperaments or personalities — at the end
of each description I have listed the two primary
characteristics for that temperament. By identify-
ing the two temperaments that best describe who you
are as a person, you should be able to identify your
“strongest characteristic” — be it predominantly
extroversion, introversion, organizational, or
relational. Aside from the Extrovert-Introvert
continuum that was described above on the pre-
vious page, there is the Organizational-Relational
continuum — Cholerics and Melancholies are more
“organizational ,” whereas the Sanguines and
Phlegmatics are more “relational.” With that said,
let’s look at a description of the four temperaments,
beginning with the “sanguine” —
A. SANGUINE — The Sanguine temperament
is fundamentally impulsive and pleasure-seeking .
Sanguine’s are frequently referred to as “the
talker.” They are expressive in personality… desire
influence, and being enthusiastic with people… in
expressing thoughts with excitement… and being the
center of attention. The Sanguine is sociable and
charismatic, generally warm-hearted, pleasant,
lively, optimistic, creative, compassionate, and
outgoing; he is the life of the party, humorous,
enthusiastic, and cheerful; he easily attracts others
and makes friends; he inspires others to work and
join in the fun. He is sincere at heart, always a
child, creative and colorful, possesses energy and
enthusiasm, loves people, is a great volunteer,
thrives on compliments, and doesn’t hold grudges.
The Sanguine likes to talk a lot… struggles with
completing tasks… is chronically late… and tends to
forget his obligations… he bases his decisions
primarily on feelings. Sanguine types can be great
parents, because they love to have fun; but their
homes are often frenzied and disorganized, and the
only time you find everyone silent is when they are
sleeping! Sanguine people usually possess high
amounts of energy, so they often seem restless and
spon-taneous. This type of personality loves the life
of luxury and impressing others… they are big
spenders… they love to travel the world and indulge
in rich, comfortable living… and they will do almost
anything to satisfy their always present need to be
absorbed by something meaningful and exciting.
They are impulsive and often find it difficult to
control their cravings; as such, people with this
temperament are more susceptible to smoking,
alcohol, drugs, gambling and taking risk; sadly, they
are most susceptible to chemical imbalances,
addictions and mood disorders. These people feel
bored if they are not absorbed by something
intriguing and adventurous. The Sanguine is very
poor at tolerating boredom; for the most part he will
try to avoid monotony and that which is routine at
all costs; routine jobs and boring companions annoy
him and irritate him. The Bible characters that seem
to best fit the characteristics of a Sanguine are King
David and Peter. In addition to the characteristics
listed below, the Sanguine is essentially described as
being relational and an extrovert …
• Is self-composed, seldom shows signs of
embarrassment, perhaps forward or bold.
• Is eager to express himself before a group; likes to
• Prefers group activities; work or play; not easily
satisfied with individual projects.
• Is not insistent upon acceptance of his ideas or
plans; compliant and yielding.
• Is good in details; prefers activities requiring pep
• Is impetuous and impulsive; his decisions are often
• Is keenly alive to environment, physical and
social; likes curiosity.
• Tends to take success for granted; is a follower;
• Is hearty and cordial, even to strangers; forms
• Tends to elation of spirit; not given to worry and
anxiety; is carefree.
• Seeks wide and broad range of friendships; is not
selective; not exclusive in games.
• Is quick and decisive in movements; pronounced
or excessive energy output.
• Turns from one activity to another in rapid
succession; little perseverance.
• Makes adjustments easily; welcomes changes;
makes the best appearance possible.
• Is frank, talkative, sociable, expresses emotions
readily; does not stand on ceremony.
• Has frequent fluctuations of mood; tends to
frequent alterations of elation and depression.
B. CHOLERIC — The Choleric temperament is
fundamentally ambitious and leader-like . The
Choleric is the strongest of the extroverted
Temperaments, and is sometimes referred to as a
“Type A” personality or “the doer ” (or “the driver”);
he is a hard driving individual known for
accomplishing goals… he has a lot of aggression,
energy, and/or passion, and tries to instill it in
others. Dominant in personality Cholerics desire
control, and are best at jobs that demand strong
control and authority, and require quick decisions
and instant attention. The Choleric is the most
insensitive of the Temperaments; they care little for
the feelings of others; feelings simply don’t play into
the equation for them. Most Cholerics are men, and
born leaders who exude confidence; they are
naturally gifted businessmen, strong willed,
independent, self sufficient, they see the whole
picture, organize well, insist on production,
stimulate activity, thrive on opposition, are
unemotional and not easily discouraged. They are
decisive, must correct wrongs when they see them,
and compulsively need to change things. They
systematize everything, are all about independence,
and do not do well in a subordinate position. They
are goal oriented and have a wonderful focus as
they work; they are good at math and engineering,
are analytical, logical and pragmatic; and are
masters at figuring things out. They are skeptical
and do not trust easy; they need to investigate the
facts on their own, relying on their own logic and
reasoning. If they are absorbed in something, do not
even bother trying to get their attention. Negatively,
they are bossy, domineering, impatient, can’t relax,
quick tempered, easily angered, unsympathetic,
enjoy arguments, too impetuous, and can dominate
people of other tempera-ments, especially the
Phlegmatic types. Many great charismatic military
and political figures were Cholerics. They like to be
in charge of everything… they are workaholics who
thrive on control and want their way… they are
highly independent people, and have very little
respect for diplomas and other credentials. They set
high standards, are diligent and hard-working, are
rarely satisfied, and never give up their attempts to
succeed. Choleric women are very rare, but
strangely are very popular people. Cholerics have
the most trouble with anger, intolerance and
impatience; they want facts instead of emotions; and
should you get your feelings hurt, it’s your problem,
not theirs. The Choleric does not have many friends
(though he needs them), and he has a tendency to
fall into deep sudden depression, and is much prone
to mood swings. The Bible characters that seem to
best fit the characteristics of a Choleric are the
apostle Paul, James, Martha and Titus. In addition to
the characteristics listed below, the Choleric is
essentially described as being organizational and an
• Is self-composed; seldom shows embarrassment, is
forward or bold.
• Is eager to express himself before a group if he has
some purpose in view.
• Is insistent upon the acceptance of his ideas or
plans; argumentative and persuasive.
• Is impetuous & impulsive; plunges into situations
where forethought would have deterred him.
• Is self-confident and self-reliant; tends to take
success for granted.
• Exhibits strong initiative; tends to elation of spirit;
seldom gloomy; prefers to lead.
• Is very sensitive and easily hurt; reacts strongly to
praise or blame.
• Is not given to worry or anxiety; he is seclusive.
• Is quick and decisive in movement; pronounced or
excessive energy output.
• Has marked tendency to persevere; does not
abandon something readily regardless of success.
• Is characterized by emotions not freely or
spontaneously expressed, except anger.
• Makes best appearance possible; perhaps conceited;
may use hypocrisy, deceit, disguise.
C. PHLEGMATIC — The Phlegmatic
temperament is fundamentally relaxed and quiet ,
ranging from warmly attentive to lazily sluggish.
Phlegmatics are referred to as “the watcher” — they
are best in positions of unity and mediation, and
solid in positions that desire steadiness. The
Phlegmatic is most often a female who tends to be
easygoing, content with herself, calm, cool and
collected, tolerant of others, well-balanced,
sympathetic, kind, unassuming, keeps emotions
hidden, is happily reconciled to life, not in a hurry,
has many friends, avoids conflict, inoffen-sive,
quiet but witty, agreeable and intuitive… though they
are very peaceful, patient and adaptable, they tend
to be reluctant, indecisive and a worrier. They are
wonderful at gathering facts, classifying them, and
seeing the relationship between them; basically, they
are good at generalizing, seeing the bigger picture,
and reading between the lines. They are accepting,
affectionate, frequently shy, and often prefer
stability to uncertainty and change. Because they are
fearful, indecisive and hesitant of things in life, they
have a compromising nature. Phleg-matics often
worries about everything. They want to know other
people’s deepest feelings and strive to build intimate
attachments with just about everyone in their lives.
They are interested in cooperation and
interpersonal harmony, and this is why they
preserve their family ties and friendships. They
could be described as considerate, charitable,
sympathetic, trusting, warm, calm, relaxed,
consistent, rational, curious, and observant — this
makes them good adminis-trators. Phlegmatic men
and women strive for greater self-knowledge, and
seek to contribute to society at large. On the negative
side, they are often selfish, self-righteous, judge
others easily, resist change, stay uninvolved,
dampen enthusiasm, and can be passive-aggressive.
In large part, the Phlegmatic temperament is
deemed to be a neutral temperament. The Bible
characters that seem to best fit the characteristics of
a Phlegmatic are Joseph, Timothy and Barnabas.
In addition to the following characteristics, the
Phlegmatic is essentially described as being
relational and an introvert…
• Is deliberative; slow in making decisions; perhaps
overcautious in minor matters.
• Is indifferent to external affairs.
• Is reserved and distant.
• Is slow in movement.
• Has a marked tendency to persevere.
• Exhibits a constancy of mood.
D. MELANCHOLIC — The Melancholic
temperament is fundamentally introverted &
thoughtful . Melancholies are often referred to as
“the thinker.” Their analytical personality’s desire
caution and restraint, best at attending to details
and in analyzing problems too difficult for others.
They tend to be deep-thinkers and feelers who often
see the negative attributes of life, rather than the
good and positive things. They are self-reliant and
independent and get wholly involved in what they
are doing. Melancholies can be highly creative in
activities such as art, literature, music, health-care
and ministry, and can become preoccupied with the
tragedy and cruelty in the world; they long to make
a significant and lasting difference in the world.
Melancholies usually have a high degree of
perfectionist tendencies, especially in regards to
their own lives or performance. They are serious,
purposeful, analytical, musical, artistic, talented,
creative, self-sacrificing, conscien-tious, idealistic,
philosophical, and are genius prone. They are also
very “introspective” and hold themselves to a very
high standard — one that can rarely be achieved.
They tend to be highly organized, schedule oriented,
economical, tidy, neat, detail conscious, finish what
they start, like charts, graphs, figures and lists, see
the problems and are able to identify creative
solutions with ease. Sadly, many Melancholies are
also victims of deep bouts of depression that come
from great dissatisfaction, disappointment, hurtful
words or events. Melancholy personalities are
people who have a deep love for others, while
usually holding themselves in contempt. In short,
melancholies take life very seriously (too much so
sometimes) and it often leaves them feeling blue,
helpless or even hopeless. Because they are deeply
caring people, they make great doctors, nurses,
social workers, ministers, and teachers. This comes
from a deep sense of what others are feeling or
experiencing and the inward need to reach out and
do something in order to help them. They are
extremely loyal in friendships; there is an old
saying that goes like this: “If you have a Melancholy
for a friend, you have a friend for life.” Most
Melancholies have a low self-image, are inclined
toward depression, think “self-promotion” is tacky,
are continually into “fixing themselves,” are
notoriously “guilty” (they have an over-active
conscious), and tend to worry much too often about
their health. The Bible characters that seem to best
fit the characteristics of a Melancholy are Moses and
Abraham. In addition to the following
characteristics listed below, the Melancholy is
essentially described as being organizational and an
• Is self-conscious, easily embarrassed, timid,
• Avoids talking before a group; when obliged to he
finds it difficult.
• Prefers to work and play alone. Good in details;
• Is deliberative; slow in making decisions; perhaps
overcautious even in minor matters.
• Is lacking in self-confidence and initiative;
compliant and yielding.
• Tends to detachment from environment; reserved
and distant except to intimate friends.
• Tends to depression; frequently moody or gloomy;
very sensitive; easily hurt.
• Does not form acquaintances readily; prefers
narrow range of friends; somewhat exclusionary.
• Worries over possible misfortune; crosses bridges
before coming to them.
• Is secretive; seclusive; shut in; not inclined to speak
unless spoken to.
• Is slow in movement; deliberative or perhaps
indecisive; moods frequent and constant.
• Often represents himself at a disadvantage; modest
Closing note to this section: The biblical characters
listed above — Joseph, Timothy, Barnabas, David,
Peter, Paul, James, Titus, Martha, Moses, and
Abraham — obviously possessed temperaments other
than the one attributed to them. These individuals
were chosen because of the behavioral tendencies
they demonstrated at various times in biblical
Following are the various temperament
combinations and what they look like when they are
combined together. Once you have identified your
“primary temperament ” and the temperament that is
a close second for you, you are then ready to see
how the two temperaments look when joined
together. When looking at the various temperament
options below, your “primary temperament ” will be
listed first — for example, if your primary
temperament is a Sanguine and your runner-up
temperament is a Choleric, they would be listed as
“San/Chol” under the heading “Sanguine,” not as
“Chol/San” under the heading “Choleric” (your
secondary temperament); your primary temper-
ament needs to be listed first. The corresponding
results of the combinations listed can be found on
the following website if interested: http://
San/Chol – This is the strongest “extrovert” of all
the blends because both primary types are
extroverted. They are people-oriented and
enthusiastic but with the resolutions of the Choleric
tempering the lack of organization of the Sanguine.
He is almost always a sports enthusiast and is ideal
in sales. He can talk too much and can be obnoxious
if threatened. The forgetfulness of the Sanguine and
the caustic nature of the Choleric may make them
hurtful without realizing it.
San/Mel – They are highly emotional people whose
moods can fluctuate from highs to lows and back
again quickly. The Sanguine’s outgoing nature often
allows the Melancholy’s critical nature to surface
too easily. It is very easy for a San/Mel to “get
down” on themselves, and to realize their potential,
it is best that they work with others.
San/Phleg – The overpowering outgoing nature of
the Sanguine is tempered by the gracious
Phlegmatic. These are extremely happy and carefree
individuals who live to help people. They would not
purposely hurt anyone but they must fight a lack of
workplace motivation; they would rather visit than
Chol/San – The second strongest extrovert is an
active and purposeful individual; he is almost
fearless and has high levels of energy. Whatever his
profession, his brain is always active and engaged.
His weaknesses combine the quick anger of the
Sanguine with the resentment of the Choleric. He
gets AND gives ulcers. He may leave people
(including spouse and children) shell-shocked and
resentful because of his angry outbursts.
Chol/Mel – The Choleric/Melancholy is very
industrious and capable. He is both Industrious and
detailed. He combines verbal aggressiveness with
sharp attention to detail. He is very competitive and
forceful. He can be autocratic and opinionated with
work habits that keep after details until the job is
completely finished. He finds interpersonal
relationships difficult due to the hard-to-please
nature of the Choleric and the perfectionistic nature
of the Melancholy.
Chol/Phleg – This is the most subdued of the
outgoing temperaments. He is extremely capable in
the long run though he may not impress you that
way at first. He is organized and a good planner. He
often gets more accomplished than other
temperaments because he always thinks in terms of
enlisting others to help him. His weaknesses include
a tendency to quietly harbor bitterness rather than
letting it out. Acknowledging weaknesses is difficult
for him and he tends to worry about his
performance in life activities.
Phleg/San – This is the easiest to get along with
being congenial, happy, and people-oriented.
They make excellent administrators and other jobs
that involve getting along with people. He may
lack motivation and discipline and may fall short of
his true capabilities. He may “putter around”
for years without making progress.
Phleg/Chol – This is the most active of the
introverts but he’ll never be a ball of fire. He can be
an excellent counselor because he is an active
listener. He is practical and helpful and patient. He
may lack motivation and may become stubborn if
threatened. He may also have a tendency toward
being sedentary and passive. He needs to be around
other people as he is externally motivated.
Phleg/Mel – This is gracious and quiet, does the
proper thing and is dependable. He wobbles between
patience and criticism and may tend toward
negativism. They can be afraid of over-extending
themselves so may avoid involvement in a group.
Mel/San – They are detailed and organized; the
Melancholy is tempered by the outgoing and warm
Sanguine. He makes an excellent teacher as his
organized side is well versed in the facts and his
Sanguine side makes him enjoyable to listen to. If he
goes into sales it will be sales that calls for exacting
detail and the presentation of many facts. He is an
emotional person – from being moved to tears to
being critical and hard on others. Both
temperaments can be fearful which may make this
an insecure person with a poor self image.
Mel/Chol – This is both a perfectionist and a driver
which may lead him into law or medicine. They mix
decisiveness and determination. Because of the
critical nature of the Melancholy they may be very
difficult to please. If they become negative about
someone or something it will have a tendency to
stay with them for a long time. Their combination
can lead them to “nit-pick” others and be revengeful
to those they have a grudge against.
Mel/Phleg – These are often teachers and scholars.
They are not as prone to hostility as other
Melancholy blends and combine analysis with
organization. They make excellent accountants and
bookkeepers. Unfortunately he can become easily
discouraged and may be susceptible to fear and
anxiety. They may become uncooperative because of
stubborn, rigid tendencies.
Have a great day,
Harkheindzel Kenny O.