Personality Theory

I fell in love with this personality theory because it is so picturesque and makes so much sense to me!

The 4 temperament personality theory is as accurate today as it was in 400 BC when formulated by Hippocrates to explain human behavior. Some may think it kind of gross as the idea was that the 4 main personalities identified were equated with “humors”, basically bodily fluids of black bile, yellow bile, blood and phlegm…yuk! 

  • Black bile (earth) was matched with a MELANCHOLY personality
  • Blood (air) was matched with a SANGUINE personality type
  • Yellow bile (fire) represented the CHOLERIC personality
  • Phlegm (water) equated to the PHLEGMATIC personality type.
It was believed that the bodily fluids influenced the bodies and emotions of people. Ancient wisdom at its best!

What is Sanguine?

The word “Sanguine” comes from Middle English, and prior to that, from the French word Sanguin literally meaning “blood red” or “related to blood”, hence the ancient theory of blood as the Sanguine body fluid. 

Modern meanings of the word include “cheerful hopefulness”; “confidently optimistic” or “ruddy” (of complexion). It may also be used as a synonym for “bloodthirsty”. 

The Sanguine Personality

In a nutshell, the Sanguine personality is used to describe someone who is an extrovert – cheerful, optimistic, loud and talkative, confident and sometimes larger than life! They have a “big” personality and love the spotlight.

They tend to have many friends, and enjoy being around others and socializing. They are fun to be around and love life. 

What is Choleric?

The word “choleric” originates from Middle Latin and means “bilious” meaning “having excess bile”. See the link to the ancient idea of yellow bile? 

Modern meanings of the word includes “easily angered or annoyed”, “grouchy or grumpy”.

The Choleric Personality

You may have got an inkling about the Choleric personality from the definition. Whilst it does refer generally to someone who is quick-tempered, there is much more to the choleric temperament than that!

Choleric people are also, like the Sanguine, extroverts who are confident and outspoken. They have excellent leadership capacity and are great decision makers. These people are goal-driven and ambitious. They enjoy challenges and are task-driven.

What is Melancholy?

The word “melancholy” derives from the ancient Greek word “melancholia” meaning “black bile” – there is the reference to the ancient personality temperament theory again. 

The way we understand the word today is “a gloomy state of mind”, sadness or pensiveness.

The Melancholy Personality

Taking your cue from the meaning above, it would seem that a Melancholy Personality would be sad, depressed and down-in-the-dumps. But, there is so much more to the melancholy personality than this!

Melancholy people are highly creative, deep and hardworking individuals. They are deeply caring introverts who have huge compassion and pay careful attention to detail. They may often have talent in the musical, dramatic arts or writing fields. 

What is Phlegmatic?

The word “Phlegmatic” derives from the Greek word “phlegma” literally meaning the bodily fluid, phlegm – just as gross as the other three temperament types, but pointing back to the origins of this personality theory once again. 

Modern meanings of the word include sluggish, unemotional, balanced or composed.

The Phlegmatic Personality

The Phlegmatic Personality is the other introverted personality of the four temperament types and denotes someone who seems calm and laid-back, not easily stressed, quiet but friendly. 

This person is reliable, a loyal friend, and a great peace-maker. They like to bring people together and are good at sorting out conflict between people. They are the most easy person to get along with, and never have great differences in their emotions. They are consistent and well-balanced, the voice of reason in chaos.