The Keirsey Temperament Sorter is a personality instrument which attempts to identify which of four temperaments, and which of sixteen types, a person prefers. Hippocrates, a Greek medic who lived from 460-377 B.C., proposed the four humours, which are related to the four temperaments. These were sanguine, choleric, phlegmatic, and melancholic. In 1978, David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates in the book Please Understand Me reintroduced temperament theory in modern form and Keirsey renamed the four temperaments in the book Portraits of Temperament (1987) as Guardian, Artisan, Idealist, and Rational. As he was developing modern temperament theory, Keirsey discovered the MBTI in 1956, and found that by combining intuition with the judging functions, NT and NF, and sensing with the perceiving functions, SJ and SP, he found that grouping those Myers types correlated to his four temperaments. The chart below compares modern and ancient aspects of the theory:
|c. 400 B.C.||Hippocrates's four humours||blood||black bile||yellow bile||phlegm|
|Characteristics:||courageous, amorous||despondent, sleepless||easily angered||calm, unemotional|
|c. 325 B.C.||Aristotle's four sources of happiness||hedone (sensuous pleasure)||propraitari (acquiring assets)||ethikos (moral virtue)||dialogike (logical investigation)|
|c. 190 A.D.'||Galen's four temperaments||sanguine||melancholic||choleric||phlegmatic|
|c. 1550||Paracelsus's four totem spirits||curious sylphs||industrious gnomes||changeable salamanders||inspired nymphs|
|c. 1905||Adicke's four world views||innovative||traditional||doctrinaire||skeptical|
|c. 1914||Spränger's four value attitudes||artistic||economic||religious||theoretic|
|c. 1920||Kretchmer's four character styles||hypomanic||depressive||hyperesthetic||anesthetic|
|c. 1947||Erich Fromm's four orientations||exploitative||hoarding||receptive||marketing|
|c. 1958||Myers's cognitive function types||SP - sensory perception||SJ - sensory judgement||NF - intuitive feeling||NT - intuitive thinking|
|c. 1978||Keirsey's four temperaments||artisan||guardian||idealist||rational|
|Keirsey, David  (May 1, 1998). Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence, 1st Ed., Prometheus Nemesis Book Co. ISBN 1885705026.|
Describing the temperaments
Artisans (SPs) seek freedom to act and are concerned with their ability to make an impact on people or situations. Their greatest strength is tactical intelligence, which means that they excel at acting, composing, producing, and motivating.
Guardians (SJs) seek membership or belonging and are concerned with responsibility and duty. Their greatest strength is logistical intelligence, which means that they excel at organizing, facilitating, checking, and supporting.
Idealists (NFs) seek meaning and significance and are concerned with finding their own unique identity. Their greatest strength is diplomatic intelligence, which means that they excel at clarifying, unifying, individualizing, and inspiring.
Rationals (NTs) seek mastery and self-control and are concerned with their own knowledge and competence. Their greatest strength is strategic intelligence, which means that they excel at engineering, conceptualizing, theorizing, and coordinating.