The four temperaments are a proto-psychological theory first attributed to the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates. He hypothesized that four major bodily fluids (black bile, yellow bile, blood, and phlegm) affected people’s health and personalities.
The four temperaments were also adopted by other physicians and psychiatrists throughout history, including the Greco-Roman physician and philosopher Galen and the influential psychologist Carl Jung.
The four temperaments are:
- Sanguine (blood): People with sanguine temperaments are typically outgoing, cheerful, and optimistic. They’re quite extroverted and love adventure. People with this type may get bored easily and not enjoy routine. They jump at the chance to learn something new but often have trouble sticking with something for very long. If you have this temperament, you may end up accumulating many degrees or diplomas over your lifetime. Your thirst for experiences might leave you susceptible to harmful behaviors.
- Choleric (yellow bile): People with choleric temperaments are typically success-oriented. They often rise to the top of organizations or start their own businesses as entrepreneurs. If you have this temperament, you may be a natural leader and have trouble thriving in subordinate positions. You’re a logical, analytical thinker that may prefer subjects such as math to more creative subjects such as art. You may not be invested in politeness and may have been told that you’re rude or bossy. You enjoy a challenge and can be highly competitive.
- Melancholic (black bile): People with melancholic dispositions tend to be loyal, kind people who value family above all else. They’re sensitive and often feel their emotions strongly. People with this temperament love to love and often make doting parents and partners. If you have this temperament, you likely remember details about people and know how to make someone feel special. But you may be seen as pessimistic by some.
- Phlegmatic (phlegm): People with a phlegmatic disposition are often intuitive, introverted, empathetic, and unassuming. They’re abstract thinkers who may not default to black-and-white thinking. If you have this type, nuance may be crucial to you. You enjoy harmonious relationships and are typically even-tempered. People may have told you that you’re indecisive, so having fewer options may be more helpful for you.
These archetypal descriptions don’t fit everyone perfectly and aren’t supposed to. Some people have a primary temperament and a secondary temperament. Others display behaviors associated with three or all four temperaments.
Knowing your primary or secondary temperament(s) can be a powerful self-awareness tool to help you notice behavior patterns.
Remember that your temperament isn’t the same as your personality. While your temperament is typically decided at birth, your personality is developed over time and influenced by your experiences.
This brief, time-saving temperaments quiz is designed for anyone who wants to know which of the four temperaments best describes them and what that may mean for different aspects of their life, such as their career and relationships with others.
This online screening is not a definitive tool. But it can be used as a tool for self-awareness.
Keep in mind that most people don’t display traits of only one temperament but rather a mixture of two or more. Your results will show what is likely your primary temperament but aren’t likely to describe you perfectly.
If more than one answer could apply to you, try to choose the response that describes you most of the time.