Keirsey Personality Types

Temperament is described as a configuration of observable personality traits, such as patterns of action, habits of communication and sets of characteristic values, attitudes and talents. Also, it encompasses the kinds of contributions that a person makes in the workplace, his personal needs and his roles in society. And as identified by Dr. David Keirsey, mankind’s 4 basic temperaments are the Artisan, the Guardian, the Rational and the Idealist, with each having its own unique strengths, qualities, shortcomings and challenges.

To most effectively use the concept of temperament, it is important to understand that its 4 types are not simply arbitrary collections of characteristics, but also spring from the interaction of the 2 basic dimensions of how humans behave—action and communication.

The Four Temperaments

Keirsey expanded on the ancient study of temperament by Plato and Hippocrates, and in his works, Keirsey used the names suggested by Plato for the 4 temperaments mentioned above. He also divided them into 2 categories (roles), each also having 2 types (role variants). This resulted in 16 types that correlate with Briggs and Myers’ 16 personality types.

The Artisan – This person is concrete and adaptable who seeks virtuosity and stimulation, being concerned with making an impact. His greatest strength is tactics, excelling at agility, troubleshooting and manipulation of tools, equipment and instruments. This personality type’s 2 roles are:

Operators who are the directive (proactive) artisans, with expediting as their most developed intelligence operation. Their 2 role variants are the attentive Crafters and the expressive Promoters.

Entertainers who are the informative (reactive) artisans, with improvising as their most developed intelligence operation. Their 2 role variants are the attentive Composers and the expressive Performers.

The Guardian – This person is concrete and organized (scheduled) who seeks belonging and security, being concerned with duty and responsibility. His greatest strength would be logistics, standing out when it comes to organizing, facilitating, supporting and checking. This type’s 2 roles are:

Administrators who are the directive (proactive) guardians, with regulating as their most developed intelligence operation. They have 2 role variants, which are the attentive Inspectors and the expressive Supervisors.

Conservators who are the informative (reactive) guardians, with supporting as their most developed intelligence operation. The expressive Providers and the attentive Protectors are their 2 role variants.

The Rational – This is the abstract and objective individual who seeks self-control and mastery, being more concerned with his competence and knowledge. Strategy would be his greatest strength is strategy, where he would excel in any kind of logical investigation, such as conceptualizing, engineering, coordinating and theorizing. These are this temperament’s 2 roles:

Coordinators who are the directive (proactive) rationals who regard arranging as their most developed intelligence operation, with the role variants being the attentive Masterminds and the expressive Fieldmarshals.

Engineers who are the informative (reactive) rationals with their most developed intelligence operation identified as constructing. The 2 role variants are the attentive Architects and the expressive Inventors.

The Idealist – This individual is the abstract and compassionate type who seeks significance and meaning, being concerned with finding his own unique identity and personal growth. He is strong when it comes to diplomacy, excelling at individualizing, clarifying, inspiring and unifying. The two roles of this personality are:

Mentors who are the directive (proactive) idealists and are identified with developing as their most developed intelligence operation. They can come as the attentive Counselors and the expressive Teachers.

Advocates who are the informative (reactive) idealists, with mediating as their most developed intelligence operation. For their role variants, they can be the attentive Healers and the expressive Champions.

Utilitarian vs. Cooperative (Action)

If you watch closely how people go about their business and how they try to accomplish their goals, you would notice that there are 2 fundamentally opposite types of action. On one hand, they may act primarily in a utilitarian or pragmatic manner, where they perform tasks that get results, help them achieve their objectives as efficiently as possible, and only after they accomplished the tasks will they check to see if they observed the rules or took the right channels. On the other hand, other people tend to act primarily in a cooperative or socially acceptable manner, where they try to do the right thing and keep with the agreed-upon social rules, codes of conduct and conventions, only later will they concern themselves with their action’s effectiveness. These two ways of acting can certainly overlap, as these individuals lead their lives, where the utilitarian instinctively do what works and the cooperative will do what is right.

Concrete vs. Abstract (Communication)

Naturally, people would think and speak of what they are interested in, and by carefully listening to their conversations, you will find 2 broad but distinct subject areas. First, some people would talk primarily about the concrete and external world of everyday reality, which includes facts, figures, work, play, home, family, sports, news and the weather. Secondly, others would talk mainly about the abstract or internal world of ideas, which cover theories, conjectures, philosophies, dreams, beliefs and fantasies. Of course, sometimes everybody would address both sorts of topic, but for the most part of their daily lives, concrete people would talk about reality, while the abstract individuals would talk about ideas.

The Four Interaction Roles

In his book “Brains and Careers”, Keirsey also divided the temperaments’ role variants into groups called “four differing roles that people play in face-to-face interaction with one another”. For the Proactive Enterprising Roles, these are the Initiators (expressive and directive), which include the Supervisor (ESTJ), Field Marshal (ENTJ), Teacher (ENFJ) and Promoter (ESTP), and the Contenders (attentive and directive), which include the Inspector (ISTJ), Mastermind (INTJ), Counselor (INFJ) and Crafter (ISTP). As for the Reactive Inquiring Roles, these are the Coworkers (expressive and informative), which include the Provider (ESFJ), Inventor (ENTP), Champion (ENFP) and Performer (ESFP), and the Collaborative Responders (attentive and informative), which include the Protector (ISFJ), Architect (INTP), Healer (INFP) and Composer (ISFP). All these roles were implied in the informing/directing factor that is being introduced in “Portraits of Temperament”.

Significant Difference of Keirsey’s Temperaments from Myers-Briggs Personality Types

The Myers-Briggs personality type descriptions differ from Keirsey’s character descriptions in several ways. For one, Myers primarily focused on how people feel and think, while Keirsey’s focus is more on behavior. Another important difference is that Keirsey’s descriptions use a systems field theory model, unlike that of Myers which is a linear four-factor model. Moreover, Myers emphasized the extraversion/introversion dichotomy, while Keirsey placed greater importance on the sensing/intuition dichotomy.