In the 1970s, David Keirsey applied his knowledge of Jung’s Mental Mechanisms and the MBTI letter-code designations to associate human behavior with four fundamental temperaments.
Artisan (SP) free-spirit, impulsive
Idealist (NF) search for self, helpful
Rational (NT) abilities, self-judging
Guardian (SJ) duty, useful
He published his theory of four fundamental temperaments and sixteen role variants in the book, co-authored with Marilyn Bates, titled Please Understand Me.
Keirsey related his own observations of human behavior with historical, philosophical, and literary comparisons of character.
The names of Greek Gods were used to represent each of the temperaments in the first edition of his book. The terms were later updated to Artisan, Idealist, Rational, and Guardian.
Keirsey’s Temperaments correspond to a subset of the letter-code combinations of the MBTI system.
Keirsey’s Temperament Theory is highly insightful and extremely useful. However, the complexity of the terminology kept the theory somewhat out of reach for anyone who wasn’t an educator interested in psychological type theory and human behavior. Read the following passage as an example.
The purposes of SPs, SJs, and NTs are understood by SPs, SJs, and NTs alike, although they may not embrace them. The NT can understand the SPs desire to be free of responsibility just as he can understand the SJs satisfaction in its possession. So can the SP see the NTs desire to store up capabilities and the SJs desire to store up commodities. He would be the last to look a gift horse in the mouth, for that matter, since these stores tend to be given out to those who need them. The SJ even admires the NT for his technical storehouse and envies the SP for his generous and receiving nature. But here the mutual understanding of purposes ends. None of these understand the aim of the NF, and in turn, the NF cannot really grasp the others’ commitment to what seems to the NF to be false goals. For the NF pursues a strange end, a self-reflective end which defies itself: becoming… (The NFs) purpose in life is to have a purpose in life. How can one achieve a goal when that goal is to have a goal?
David KeirseyPlease Understand Me
You will be presented with this passage from Keirsey’s book again in just a bit, this time using more comprehensible terminology for the four temperaments.