Personality can be defined as an individual’s outer and inner characteristics that determine how one is perceived by others. It is the individual’s behavioral characteristics. Temperament and character comprise the two sides of personality. An individual’s temperament is a combination of the inherent form of human nature and a pattern of tendencies developed through environmental influences. An individual’s character is developed through the interaction of temperament and environment.
The four temperaments identified by Dr. David Keirsey (1998), and a short description of each are as follows:
The Idealist (Diplomatic Skill Set)
The Idealist’s core needs are for the meaning and significance that result in having a sense of purpose and working toward some greater good. Idealists need to have a sense of unique identity. They value unity, self-actualization, and authenticity. Idealists prefer cooperative interactions with a focus on ethics and morality. Idealists tend to be gifted at unifying diverse peoples and helping individuals realize their potential. They build bridges between people through empathy and clarification of deeper issues.
The Guardian (Logistical Skill Set)
The Guardian’s core needs are for group membership and responsibility. Guardians need to know they are doing the responsible thing. They value stability, security and a sense of community. They trust hierarchy and authority and may be surprised when others go against these social structures. Guardians know how things have always been done, and so they anticipate where things can go wrong. They have a knack for attending to rules, procedures, and protocol.
The Rational (Strategic Skill Set)
The Rational’s core needs are for mastery of concepts, knowledge, and competence. Rationals want to understand the operating principles of the universe and to learn or even develop theories for everything. They value expertise, logical consistency, concepts and ideas, and seek progress. They abstractly analyze a situation and consider previously unthinkable of possibilities. Research, analysis, searching for patterns, and developing hypotheses are quite likely to be their natural technique.
The Artisan (Tactical Skill Set)
The Artisan’s core needs are to have the freedom to act without hindrance and to see a marked result from action. Artisans highly value aesthetics, whether in nature or art. Their energies are focused on skillful performance, variety, and stimulation. Artisans tend to be gifted at employing the available means to accomplish an end. Their creativity is revealed by the variety of solutions they come up with. They are talented at using tools, whether the tool is language, theories, a paint brush, or a computer.
Temperament information could be utilized in an organization setting by a Human Resource Development professional to form effective groups to better accomplish organizational tasks. Potentially, groups can outperform individuals in doing similar work, make better decisions because they generate more information, and are more productive because synergies develop. However, many factors such as group structure, the actions of the group leader, and diversity influence the performance of a group. Awareness, through temperament information, of the individual tendencies of each group member could assure that the team is working to their fullest potential.
Temperament affects learning and teaching styles. Through awareness of temperament, we can develop a myriad of learning (and teaching) methods that will enable us to work to our fullest potential. We have the ability to change personality, temperament, and character. In order to be able to successfully solve problems and situations that may require specific learning styles, we must be able to balance our learning preferences with the development of alternative learning strategies. Temperament information can help us understand our learning styles or tendencies. We can use this information to develop alternate learning styles so that we can take control of any learning situation.
Keirsey, David and Bates, Marily (1984). Please Understand Me II: Character and Temperament Types. De Mar, CA: Prometheus Nemesis Book Company, De Mar, CA, 1998.
By Shirley J. Caruso, M.A. Human Resource Development