Know Your Temperament: Here Are 5 Basic Temperaments

The five temperaments is a proto-psychological theory that suggests that there are five fundamental personality types, sanguine (enthusiastic, active, and social), choleric (short-tempered, fast, or irritable), melancholic (analytical, wise, and quiet), phlegmatic (relaxed and peaceful) and supine (mixture of introvert and extrovert). Most formulations include the possibility of mixtures of the types where individual share two or more temperaments.

Know Your Temperament: Here Are 5 Basic Temperaments

    The Sanguine is a very social person who likes to be with people. Of all the temperaments, the Sanguine is the easiest to be around socially. They are outgoing, handshaking, touching person. They bring life and energy into a room by their very presence. Their cheerfulness and humor brighten everyone’s life. They are an optimistic type of person who believes life is an exciting and fun-filled experience that should be lived to the fullest. Inactivity causes them stress because the pace at which they like to live their lives is fast and furious. The Sanguine is the most impulsive of all the temperaments.

    The Sanguine excels in communication-oriented things, but they do not relate well to tasks. They are the least disciplined and organized of all the temperaments. While they are outgoing, enthusiastic, warm, compassionate, and seem to relate well to other people’s feelings, yet they can be rude and uncaring. They tend not to be faithful nor loyal friends, since they do not want to be “burdened down” with commitments; they just want to have fun.  They live as though they have no past or future, the Sanguine rarely learns from their past mistakes. They are prone to exaggerate. They never recognize their failures, but exaggerate to make themselves appear to be more successful than they truly are. The Sanguine’s major weakness is that they adopt severe and destructive behavior.

    This person will volunteer for difficult tasks and they can and will complete the project so long as their ego is being fed. However, at the first sign indicating that they are not “the greatest thing that ever happened to the world,” the quit! They just stop and walk away and inwardly turn into themselves - caring nothing about the project or those depending upon them.

    Easily devastated if not constantly reassured they are loved and appreciated. Very demanding of other people for love and affection, plagued with feelings of jealousy when the love and attention they feel belongs exclusively to them is given to others.


a) Strengths of a Sanguine

Emotionally; they are the life of the party, have good sense of humor, physically holds on to listener, demonstrative, enthusiastic and expressive, cheerful and bubbling over, lives in the present, sincere at heart and always a child

At work; they volunteer for jobs, think up new activities, creative and colorful, have energy and enthusiasm, inspires others to join

Socially; they make friends easily, love people, thrives on compliments, are envied by others, do not hold grudges, apologizes quickly, prevents dull moments and like spontaneous activities

 b) Weaknesses of a Sanguine
Emotionally; Compulsive talker, exaggerates and elaborates, Can't remember names, have restless energy, egotistical, blusters and complains, have loud voice and laughter, gets angry easily and ever grows up
At Work; would rather talk, forgets obligations, doesn't follow through, confidence fades fast, undisciplined, priorities out of order, decides by feelings, easily distracted and wastes time talking
Socially; Hates to be alone, needs to be center stage, looks for credit, dominates conversations, interrupts and doesn't listen, answers for others, fickle and forgetful, make excuses and repeat stories


    This temperament is identified as the most powerful (and destructive) of the temperaments. It is not unreasonable to state that the world’s greatest feared dictators and diabolical criminals were perhaps Choleric.
    Cholerics are extremely tough-willed. When they have made up their minds they rarely if ever change it, even if they are wrong. Cholerics will seldom listen to the advice of anyone else. They want to have total control over themselves and anyone around them. Cholerics are of the opinion and belief that they know what is best for those around them, and what is acceptable behavior according to them.

They have a severe problem with anger; “the angry temperament”. Cholerics have a tendency to seldom express other emotions such as love, tenderness, warmth and compassion. This is often offset with a secondary temperament.
When other people express these emotions they consider them as unnecessary and useless.
Cholerics believe that no one else can carry out a task as well as them. They have a tendency to overwork themselves, and are prone to burnout. When carrying out various tasks to accomplish goals they are capable of undertaking any behavior necessary to get it done.
Unlike the Melancholy, who is capable of seeing the pitfalls of a project before taking action, Cholerics refuse to see any pitfalls. The Choleric will forge ahead regardless of the cost, the end justifies the means.
The Choleric is extremely self-centered and the needs of others do not matter.
They are perfectionistic and even their own flaws are flawless. When they are wrong they will not accept it, theirs is the only way that is correct and matters. Yet, when the Choleric is brought under the authority of Jesus Christ, greatness can be accomplished for the Kingdom of God.

a) Strengths of a choleric
Emotionally; Dynamic and active, compulsive need for change, must correct wrongs, strong-willed and decisive, not easily discouraged, independent and self-sufficient
At Work; Goal oriented, sees the whole picture, organizes well, seeks practical solutions, moves quickly to action, delegates work, insists on production, makes the goal, stimulates activity and thrives on opposition
Socially; Has little need for friends, will lead and organize, is usually right and excels in emergencies

b) Weaknesses of a choleric

Emotionally; Bossy, impatient, quick-tempered, too impetuous, enjoys controversy and arguments, won't give up when losing, comes on too strong, inflexible, is not complimentary, dislikes tears and emotions and is unsympathetic

At Work; Little tolerance for mistakes, doesn't analyze details, may make rash decisions, may be rude or tactless, manipulates people, demanding of others, work may become his god and demand loyalty in the ranks
Socially; Tends to use people, dominates others, decides for others, know-it-all, think they can do everything better, is too independent, possessive of friends and mate, can't say, "I'm sorry"


    Melancholies need to learn to communicate their feelings; emotionally they are very protective and guarded. The way that a Melancholy demonstrates or says that they love someone is by being dependable and responsible not in physical or verbal terms necessarily. Because of their intellectual and analytical energies they can see the end results of a project before moving forward.

    Melancholies have a very sensitive emotional nature; feelings dominate their being. Sometimes moods will lift them to extreme highs; at other times they will be gloomy and depressed. The secondary temperament will often help balance this out. My secondary temperament is Phlegmatic and it most definitely balances these tendencies in me, especially as I get older. Unsocial by nature, meeting new people is difficult and social activities are draining.

    Melancholies when rising to their strengths, and once these strengths are brought under God, the Melancholy is capable of great and wonderful things. When Melancholies sink to their weaknesses they become destructive to themselves and those close to them.

    The pure Melancholy for example is an introvert and a loner. Melancholies are more task oriented as opposed to relationship-oriented. Melancholies tend to be perfectionists and set unreasonable standards and goals for themselves and the people around them.

    Melancholies are very loyal people: to their family and friends. If they make a promise the Melancholy will keep it. Melancholies are very creative people, but are prone to deep depression. They are very private people, as well as very serious.

    They are self-motivated, and do not respond to the promise of reward nor the threat of punishment.
    Often they are not satisfied with only one chance at something because they feel they could always do better. They tend to take a more realistic viewpoint. A Melancholy knows their limitations and they rarely take on more than they can do.

    The Melancholy temperament is the most self-centered; their extreme sensitive nature causes them to be easily offended or insulted. They can be suspicious and jump to unfounded conclusions. They have the tendency to self-examine themselves to the degree that they become inactive, and unenergetic; over thinking everything can cause a variety of problems.

    Melancholies may be calm and quiet on the surface but they are often angry and resentful. They tend to keep those feelings to themselves until they build up and eventually the anger explodes in a fit of rage.

    a) Strengths of Melancholies

Emotionally: Deep and thoughtful, analytical, serious and purposeful, genius prone, talented and creative, artistic and musical, philosophical and poetic, appreciative of beauty, sensitive to others, self-sacrificing, conscientious and idealistic
At Work; Schedule oriented, perfectionist, high standards, detail conscious, persistent and thorough, orderly and organized, neat and tidy, economical, sees the problems, finds creative solutions and needs to finish what she starts

Socially; Makes friends cautiously, content to stay in background, avoids causing attention, faithful and devoted, will listen to complaints, can solve others' problems, deep concern for other people, moved to tears with compassion and seeks ideal mate


           b) Weaknesses of a Melancholic
Emotionally; Remembers the negatives, moody and depressed, enjoys being hurt, off in another world, low self-image, has selective hearing, self-centered, too introspective, guilt feelings and persecution complex
At Work; Not people oriented, depressed over imperfections, chooses difficult work, hesitant to start projects, spends too much time planning, prefers analysis to work, self-deprecating, hard to please, standards often too high, have deep need for approval
Socially; Lives through others, insecure socially, withdrawn and remote, critical of others, holds back affection, dislikes those in opposition, suspicious of people, antagonistic and vengeful, unforgiving, full of contradictions, skeptical of compliments


    The Phlegmatic temperament is extremely slow-paced and stubborn. Goes through life doing as little as possible, quietly, and expending little energy. It is not clear whether the Phlegmatic has very little energy, or it is because they refuse to use what little energy they do have.
    They are task oriented with a great capacity for work that requires precision and accuracy and expends a minimal amount of energy. Only sleep can regenerate a Phlegmatic. The world may never know all the brilliant thoughts, great books, and spectacular works of art, or wonderful ministries that have been buried with the Phlegmatic. They seldom, if ever, use these ideas and talents because it would require expending to much energy and effort, to put these ideas into action.
    The Phlegmatic sits back and watches other temperaments busy doing things wrongly and looking at all the things in the world that need to be changed. Identifying the injustice is not difficult for the Phlegmatic in Inclusion; however, they will seldom, if ever, initiate action against injustice. They will try to inspire others to do something, but are not likely to personally get involved themselves.
    The Phlegmatic is the only temperament the Choleric is unable to control (which frustrates the Choleric tremendously). The Phlegmatic is the most stable temperament. The Phlegmatic is the most stubborn of all the temperaments when it comes to making changes. Because of their tendency to uninvolvement, they are natural negotiators and diplomats. “Peace at all costs” is their motto.

    The Phlegmatic has no fear of rejection and can handle unaffectionate and hostile people. They are calm, easygoing people who are not plagued with the emotional outbursts, exaggerated feelings, anger, bitterness or unforgiveness as are other temperaments. They are observers who do not get involved nor expend much energy. Their cool, complacent attitude can hurt people that love them.  The way they observe can cause them to never to give of themselves and, therefore, never receive either.


a) Strengths of a phlegmatic
Emotionally; Low-key personality, easygoing and relaxed, calm, cool, collected, patient, well balanced, consistent life, quiet, but witty, sympathetic and kind, keeps emotions hidden, happily reconciled to life and all-purpose person
At Work: Competent and steady, peaceful and agreeable, has administrative ability, mediates problems, avoids conflicts, good under pressure and finds the easy way
Socially; Easy to get along with, pleasant and enjoyable, inoffensive, good listener, dry sense of humor, enjoys watching people, has many friends and has compassion and concern

 b)Weaknesses of a phlegmatic
Emotionally; Unenthusiastic, fearful and worried, indecisive, avoids responsibility, quiet will of iron, selfish, too shy and reticent, too compromising, self-righteous
At Work; Not goal oriented, lacks self-motivation, hard to get moving, resents being pushed, lazy and careless, discourages others and would rather watch
Socially; Dampens enthusiasm, stays uninvolved, is not exciting, indifferent to plans, judges others, sarcastic and teasing and resists change

    If you are Supine you probably have many interests and cares, but little ability or need to express your needs. One Supine remarked that to be a Supine "felt like having tape over his mouth." They often have a wish or desire, but are unable or unwilling to express it. The Supine often wish that others could "read their minds." If others have ever observed that you are too sensitive or easily offended, you may very well have a Supine temperament. Slow-paced and diligent, Supines are not indifferent or uncaring about life. Quite the opposite, they may have the strong feeling of the Sanguine but simply be unwilling to express themselves.

    Supines have a view of the world that makes them consider others to be superior to themselves. They frequently employ themselves in positions that permit them to be servants to others. They will dutifully work to please others, who they see as better than themselves.

    Perhaps the best way to describe the Supine is that it seems to be a combination of the Sanguine and the Melancholy. The Melancholy expresses little need for and, as a true introvert; they tend to shy away from social contact. A Supine does not express much need for much social contact either; however their need is VERY great! Like the Sanguine, they have a great need for social relationships. They look like they don’t want it but effectively hide their needs and expect you to read their mind. And if you fail to correctly read their mind, they will be “hurt.”

    A great capacity for service, liking people, and the desire to serve others. They possess an inborn gentle spirit. As youngsters, they are often tormented and abused by other children. They are typically slow to fight back. Instead they tend to internalize their anger and hurt, actually believing they deserve the treatment they receive.

    Dependability, ability to enforce “the policies” set by others and to serve those they follow, their caretakers, with absolute loyalty. A Supine will always be inclined to seek out others advice when trying to make a decision. Supines feel very inadequate and consider themselves incapable of making a good decision on their own. They may seek out the counsel of several, and become quite confused if they receive differing opinions.

    Aggressive disorders, open dependence, defensive against loss of position, weak willpower, a tendency to feel powerless and at the mercy of others-they have such an intense need to serve others, they often become "natural born victims." Other temperament types may view the Supine as a dominating individual. By all outward appearances they are. But the real truth is that they are manipulating others into taking care of them, and do not want the responsibility of actual decision making.

    The ability to respond to love and to open up emotionally when they feel emotionally “safe.” If treated properly, they are capable of absolute and total commitment to deep personal relationships. However, if a Supine actually feels safe in a close, personal relationship, they can respond and return expressions of caring. They can become intensely loyal, producing absolute, complete faithfulness. No temperament is more prone to this kind of intense loyalty.

    The inability to initiate love and affection. They require constant reassurance that they are loved, needed and appreciated. Because of their inability or unwillingness to express their needs, most Supines fail to get their needs met. While they appear reserved and cool, the fact is they are truly in need of a lot of close, personal affection, love, and attention. Since they find it nearly impossible to actually express themselves, they simply cannot get their needs communicated.

    a) Strengths of supines
    Emotionally; Gentle spirit, desire to serve others, dependable, intensely loyal, can feel God's love, joy, and peace, and Great capacity to respond to love

    At Work; Slow-paced and diligent, great capacity for service, dutifully pleases others, decision making abilities, ability to enforce "the policies" set by others

    Socially; Needs social relationships, likes people, slow to fight back, seeks counsel in decision making, can undertake numerous tasks especially if these tasks are performed for the development of relationships


b) Weaknesses of a supine

Emotionally: Unable to express themselves, feels inadequate, hurt easily, fear of rejection, harbors anger as hurt feelings, internalizes anger and too sensitive

At Work: Needs constant reassurance, avoids making decisions, makes decisions cautiously, feels powerless and feels at the mercy of others

Socially: Wishes and desires unexpressed, feel others are superior to them, expect others to read their minds, fail to communicate their needs