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Written by Thomas Godwin

Updated: May 27, 2024

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Temperament is the nature of either a human or an animal. It’s not malleable like “demeanor” or “bravado,” but something intrinsic and permanent in the person or animal’s nature. In other words, it’s based on biology far more than psychology.

In terms of psychology, temperament is an identifiable trait, not a symptom of a deeper issue. Temperament in humans is all over the place, depending on the person. Animal temperament is much the same but more directly focused, in terms of defensive and offensive.

Four Types of Temperament

There are four types of temperament: melancholic, sanguine, choleric, and phlegmatic. These fall under four categories and each temperament features several co-factors. Furthermore, there are three levels of intensity for each temperament.


Melancholic falls under the task-related, introverted categories. These personalities are typically exemplified by a desire to discover the truth of what’s right and wrong. There’s not necessarily an interest in being right—only figuring out what’s right. As introverts, melancholic individuals tend to be private and prefer to think things through before taking action.


Choleric is nearly the polar opposite of melancholic. The only similarity between the two is the task-oriented part. Choleric individuals are always on the attack, not necessarily in a bad way, and are highly extroverted. As task-oriented people, cholerics focus hard on problems and attack them from all angles.


Sanguine, like choleric, is highly extroverted but more in a “people-person” way. They aren’t nearly as task-oriented as choleric individuals and just prefer the social aspects of life—hanging out with people. They are always very comfortable and at ease in a crowd.


Like melancholic individuals, phlegmatics are very introverted and prefer peace over random, exciting activities, especially activities that include more people. Rather than being task-oriented, they are service-oriented. Phlegmatic individuals are more likely to be fantastic team players.

Three Levels of Intensity

Levels of intensity in temperament are probably the most easily understandable and recognizable. Temperaments are mild, moderate, and high. For instance, a laid-back, social, task-oriented person is mildly choleric. Someone at work 14 hours a day, who sleeps little, and is highly motivated and intense is a high choleric.

Temperament Pronunciation

Temperament is pronounced: tem – pr – uh – muhnt

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About the Author

Thomas is a freelance writer with an affinity for the great outdoors and Doberman Pinschers. When he's not sitting behind the computer, pounding out stories on black bears and reindeer, he's spending time with his family, two Dobermans (Ares and Athena), and a Ragdoll cat named Heimdal. He also tends his Appleyard Ducks and a variety of overly curious and occasionally vexatious chickens.

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