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know your color

For as long as I can remember, I have always been fascinated by behavior, personalities and temperaments.

I’m a big believer in the school of thought that suggests our personalities are innate – that is, our personalities are formed within us from birth. Obviously, I do not disagree with the fact that they are also influenced by culture, experiences, family, friends, media, and of course, nurture.

Anyway, during my free time, I began to do some research of my own to gain more knowledge; and I discovered there are/were numerous studies on personalities. Most of these studies all began with studies by the Father of western medicine and I’ll start from there.

The Hippocrates Model

The famous Greek physician (and Father of western medicine), Hippocrates developed the ancient theory of humorism, in which he suggested that human behaviors were influenced by four of our bodily fluids: blood, black bile, yellow bile and phlegm.

The most popular studies are probably those on the basic temperaments. Tim LaHaye’s ‘Spirit-Controlled Temperament’ actually what got me re-fixated on personalities and temperaments.

The study on temperaments began with Galen’s work-

The Galen Model

The famous Roman physician, Claudius Galenus/Galen of Pergamon improved on Hippocrates’ theory and coined the term, temperament – the manner of behavior and thinking of a specific person. He named the four temperaments- Choleric, Melancholy, Phlegmatic and Sanguine.

  • Choleric: These are the action people. They are ambitious, energetic, passionate; and try to instil that in others.They can be controlling, domineering and manipulative.
  • Melancholy: These are the thoughtful people. They are caring, considerate, empathetic and independent. They can be forgetful and perfectionist.
  • Phlegmatic: These are the nice people. They are affectionate, calm, content, consistent, kind, observant and tolerant. They can be very passive-aggressive, too relaxed, shy and too trusting.
  • Sanguine: These are the fun-loving people. They are bold, creative, friendly, outgoing, sociable and talkative. They can be emotional, sensitive and perpetually late.

The famous Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung took different approach with his own personality model-

The Carl Jung Model

He focused on people’s decision-making processes with his research based primarily on Intellect, Body, Intuition and Feeling.

Katharine Briggs and her daughter, the famous American psychological theorist, Isabel Briggs Myers created a new model based on Carl Jung’s work.

The Myer-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

It focuses on eight areas of personality- Extraversion (E), Feeling (F), Introversion (I), Intuition (N), Judging (J), Perception (P), Sensing (S) and Thinking (T). This is the study:

Extraversion vs. Introversion (E/I)

Extraversion and Introversion basically defines attitudes. It highlights how individuals interact with the world.

  • Extroverts are action-oriented, prefer frequent interactions because they are energized by spending time with people (energy for external sources), and they prefer to acquire a breadth of information. They multitask very well. Their typical conversation style is talk-listen-talk.
  • Introverts are thought-oriented, prefer substantial interaction significant interactions because they are energized by spending time alone (energy from within), it is important for them to have meaningful conversations, and they prefer to acquire a depth of information. They focus on one thing at a time. Their typical conversation style is listen-think-talk.

Perceiving vs. Judging (P/J)

This basically analyses perception and judgement based on observation. Perceiving is simply making observations and judging is allocating value to those observations.

Sensing vs. Intuition (S/N)

Sensing and Intuition basically defines intellects. It highlights how individuals perceive the world.

  • People who prefer sensing are more likely to trust tangible information – information understood by the five senses. They prefer details and facts to hunches.
  • People who prefer intuition are more likely to trust abstract information – information that exists in a proven pattern or theory.

Thinking vs. Feeling (T/F)

Thinking and feeling basically defines philosophies. It highlights how individuals react to the world.

  • People who prefer thinking make decisions based on what is logical, proven and reasonable.
  • People who prefer feeling make decisions based on the consensus, diplomacy, empathy and experience.

Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers’ conclusion was every individual is a mix of one of the 4 categories; hence making a total of 16 different characters/personality traits.


The famous American psychologist, David Keirsey improved upon the Myer-Briggs Model and invented this modern system in 1998.

The David Keirsey Temperament Sorter (KTS)

Most believe his is loosely based on four of the Greek gods- Apollo (god of knowledge and sun), Dionysus (god of arts and theater), Epimetheus (god of afterthought and excuses) and Prometheus (forethought and intelligence).

He identified four temperaments- Artisans, Guardians, Idealists and Rationals.

  • Artisans: They are observant, pragmatic and their greatest strength is operation and tactics.
  • Guardians: They are observant, cooperative and their greatest strength is logistics ad planning.
  • Idealists: They are introspective, cooperative and their greatest strength is diplomacy and mediation.
  • Rationals: They are introspective, pragmatic and their greatest strength is strategy.

Finally, the model I recently participated in and the basis for this post’s title was created by Don Lowry; which I gather is applied in colleges, universities and work places all over North America today. It helps people understand their classmates, employees, friends and supervisors.

The True Color Test

Don Lowry expanded on and simplified David Keirsey’s four temperaments developing: Blue – Compassionate, Green – Conceptual, Gold – Responsible and Orange – Spontaneous. In some variations, classified as Blues (the Authentic), Greens (the Inquiring), Golds (the Organized) and Oranges (the Resourceful).

I cannot talk about it without spoiling the experience for you. You can read more about it here – http://www.true-colors-test.com/truecolorstory.html. I’m a Gold anyway.

There are/have been other “random” studies –

A notable one was by the famous Greek philosopher, Aristotle. He identified three kinds of persons who attend the Olympic Games:

  • The Athletes: those who participated in the games.
  • The Spectators: those who watched the athletes.
  • The Hawkers: those who sold things to the athletes and spectators.

Another is OCEAN, which is an acronym for the big five factors of traits in psychology.

  • Openness: The “inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious” trait – They have an appreciation for artemotionadventure, unusual ideas, curiosity and variety of experiences.
  • Conscientiousness: The “efficient/organized vs. easy-going/careless” trait – They have a tendency to show self-discipline, act dutifully and aim for achievement through meticulous planning.
  • Extraversion: The “outgoing/energetic vs. solitary/reserved” trait – They have energy, positive emotions, surgency, and the tendency to seek stimulation in the company of others.
  • Agreeableness: The “friendly/compassionate vs. cold/unkind” trait – They have a tendency to be compassionate and cooperative rather than suspicious and antagonistic towards others.
  • Neuroticism: The “sensitive/nervous vs. secure/confident” trait – They have a tendency to experience unpleasant emotions like angeranxietydepression, or vulnerability easily.

Spirit-Controlled Temperament

The famous Christian writer, Tim LaHaye focused on the four temperaments- Choleric, Melancholy, Phlegmatic and Sanguine in his book. He believes we are not predominantly one, but a mixture of two or three – there is a dormant temperament and a recessive temperament, thereby making about twelve different variations: Mel-Chlor, Chlor-San, San-Phleg, Phleg-Mel, Mel-San, Chlor-Phleg, Chlor-Mel, San-Chlor, Phleg-San, Mel-Phleg, San-Mel, and Phleg-Chlor. In his book, he highlights the behaviour, strengths and weaknesses of all temperaments.

According to his book, I’m a Phleg-Chlor and he described my personality to the T! I found a few pages of his book online. Enjoy!

By the way, if you ever find the book, go through it. It’s a very good read 🙂

  1. dinky
    August 11, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    This is interesting because this is actually related to my field 🙂
    I did some of that in school, but thanks for the added knowledge

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