Four Temperaments Scale & Initial Thoughts

Hey all! Since I’m a bit of the reflective type, I decided to take the Four Temperaments personality test today. Here are my results, and my thoughts on the system.

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Photo by Sander Smeekes on Unsplash

My main temperament is Melancholic, followed by Sanguine, and then Phlegmatic, and finally Choleric. I’ve included the results below so you can get a better idea of the distribution.

Fundamentally introverted and thoughtful? Love for poetry and art? I certainly identified with some of the characteristics ascribed. It’s pretty apparent to those around me too.

Now, I didn’t want to take these results at their word. In a former experience, the initial results of the MBTI did not reflect my real type, which I was able to determine using research and further reading and testing.

When I took the test, I tried to be honest, and to not think of what I “wanted” to be and how others “saw” me, and to maintain that objective, third-person point of view to gauge my responses.

I decided to dig a little more into the basis of the personality test I had just taken.

In traditional medicine, the Four Temperaments (FT) was one of the oldest typologies, and it was based on Humorism. The slight imbalance or predominance of one type of fluid in the body over another determined the psyche and appearance, or “humor”, of a person.

In Greek,

  • Sanguine: blood;
  • Phlegmatic: phlegm;
  • Choleric: yellow bile;
  • Melancholic: black bile.

Arabic terms are as follows:

  • Sanguine: Damawiyy;
  • Phlegmatic: Balghamiyy;
  • Choleric: Safrawiyy;
  • Melancholic: Sauda.

After understanding the origins of FT (I was already a little familiar with the Greek idea of Humors), I wanted to know what my results meant. I found a few charts, which gave me a good laugh. As a Biochemistry major, I have to reject the basis of the theory! However, I recognized that in ancient times, this would have made intuitive sense.

Qualities Associated with the Temperaments.

Sanguine Phlegmatic Choleric Melancholic
Skin color Ruddy Pale Yellow Brown
Skin texture Smooth / firm Smooth / soft Rough Rough / dry
Skin quality Warm / moist Cold / moist Warm / dry Cold / dry
Hair color Dark brown /
Dark blond /
Dark brown /
Dark brown /
Hair quantity Hairy Hairless Very hairy Balding
Stature Medium Short Short Medium
Body build Muscular Flabby / fat Lean Slim
Pulse Strong / even Soft / deep Fast / sharp Deep small
Appetite Good Poor Strong Large
Digestion Quick / good Slow / weak Overactive Slow
Urine Light yellow Thin / pale Orange / thick Thick / pale
Faeces Brown / firm Pale / loose Dry / yellow Dry / black
Dreams Happy / red Water / pale Quarrel / fire Fears / dark
Emotions Happiness Apathy Anger Worry / grief

Hysen P. Book 2, Application Page 21.

They seemed to acknowledge that most personalities were mixed – people had a secondary temperament as well as their primary one. In fact, the word “temperament” comes from the word in Greek for “mixed”. There was a chart for these compounds too.

Qualities Associated with the Eight Compound Temperaments.

Sanguine / phlegmatic Sanguine / melancholic Phlegmatic / sanguine Phlegmatic / choleric Choleric / phlegmatic Choleric /  melancholic Melancholic / sanguine Melancholic / choleric
Skin color Pink Bronzed Pale Sallow Tawny yellow Swarthy Dark red Dark and pale
Skin texture Smooth Smooth Smooth / soft Rough / soft Moist Hard / rough Softish Rough / hard
Skin quality Warm Warm Cool Tepid Tepid Tepid Cold
Hair color Light brown / blond Dark brown / black Brown blond / straight Chestnut Yellowish / sandy Light brown / chestnut Mid brown / auburn Dark brown
Hair quantity Medium Small amount Medium Hairy Variable Moderate Little
Stature Tall Medium Medium Medium / short Medium Medium tall Tall Tall
Body build Strong / large Strong / wiry Solid / fat Slightly fat Solid Slight / lean Big / strong Slender
Pulse Normal Large / full Soft / deep Moderate Fast Slow / strong Normal Slow
Appetite Good Variable Good Average Good Average Good Weak
Digestion Fair Variable Fair Average Good Strong Good Weak
Urine Pale yellow Deep yellow Pale/thick Pale yellow Saffron Straw/ thin Pale saffron Pale / thin
Faeces Brown / pale Brown / thin Variable Yellow / thick Yellow / hard Yellow / hard Brown / soft Pale / thin
Dreams Rain / flying Wells / flying Falls / water Swims / rain Fight / storms Burns / murder Pleasant Fear / falls
Emotions Controlled Pleasant Fearful Kindness Unpleasant Vengeful Happy / open Gentle / loyal

Hysen  P. Book 2, Applications Page 22,

It’s true that I’m thoughtful to the point of over-analysis and perfectionism. But I hold this in tension with an ultimately optimistic world view and willingness to leave my comfort zone.

It was interesting to find that the Myers-Briggs has actually been assorted under this system. While I find FT cruder and based off little more than intuition, my MBTI type (INFJ) came pretty close to the results I got on the FT test (Mel-Phleg). While one data point, myself, is hardly enough to say anything about a correlation between the two systems, I am able to say that upon reading the descriptions of each aspect of myself, I was able to identify parts of my personality.

I can see the FT was a prototype for later tests such as the MBTI – within this grouping system, we also have four main groups – the Artisan (SP), Guardian (SJ), Idealist (NF), and Rational (NT).

It would be a useful metaphor to describe tests based on more scientific concepts. The test results were more on the generic side – after all, there are four results, but billions of personalities – so I’m taking it with a large grain of salt.


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