by | Jul 22, 2008 | Personal Reflections | 5 comments

Last summer a friend of mine loaned me a wonderful book about the four temperaments. I didn’t have much time to spend reading it, but what I did read taught me quite a bit about myself, my family and my friends!

All of us are born with distinct personality traits. Some of us live for crowds and parties; others seek solitude and time for quiet reflection. Some of us are naturally pushy, while others are content just to get along. We don’t pick and choose these traits; they’re just part of the way we’re made. For in the womb God doesn’t merely mold our body; He also gives us the temperament that, all our days, colors our understanding, guides our choices, and serves as the foundation of our moral and spiritual life. Ancient philosophers identified four basic temperaments, and over the centuries, countless wise souls have used these four to understand human nature. Now comes The Temperament God Gave You, the first Catholic book on the subject in 70 years. Here veteran Catholic counselor Art Bennett and his wife Laraine provide an accessible synthesis of classical wisdom, modern counseling science, and Catholic spirituality: a rich understanding of the temperaments and what they mean for you and for your family. Drawing on decades of study, prayer, and practical experience, Art and Laraine show you how to identify your own temperament and use it to become what God is calling you to be: a loving spouse, an effective parent, and a good friend. Best of all, they give you a Catholic understanding of the four temperaments that will bring you closer to God and help you discover the path to holiness that’s right for you. Peace. Happiness. Holiness. You’ll find yourself growing in each of these qualities as you come to understand, and learn to use as you should, the temperament God gave you. (Product Description)

Most people are a combination of primary and secondary temperaments. However, it is important to keep in mind that your temperament is not the whole of your personality, nor does it “put you in a box.” Quite the opposite. Understanding and accepting your God-given temperament will help you identify your natural strengths, as well as ways to grow in virtue.

I am hoping to re-read the book soon, but in the meantime, Audio Sancto, is getting ready to preach a sermon on spiritual growth and the four temperaments. I CAN’T WAIT TO LISTEN TO IT! To prepare for the sermon, it would be helpful to know what your dominant temperament is.

You can take a test here.

**Note: Whatever you do, don’t take the test here. After answering hundreds of questions, you will be asked to create an account to see your results, you will create an account (since you just wasted all that time), and your hubby will come home see the computer screen and ask *just WHAT* you were doing on that site! He will not understand, that is, depending on his personality. Mine didn’t! 😉

For the record, I am a Choleric /Sanguine. A “glass half full” type of person.

The choleric-sanguine is a blending of the two extroverted temperaments and will be somewhat less extroverted than the sanguine-choleric, because the choleric’s extroversion often takes a back-seat to his goal-oriented behavior. Nonetheless, this temperament combination is second only to the sanguine-choleric in terms of being outgoing and people-oriented. This temperament mix tends to give rise to an enthusiastic, motivational, and highly driven leader (choleric) whose social skills and interest in other people (sanguine nature) make him less dictatorial and capable of some flexibility. He will value relationships more than a pure choleric, and will show greater compassion in dealing with people, will be less controlling than the pure choleric, and will be more willing to take time out to relax and enjoy himself.

If you are a choleric-sanguine, you will find that you have a great amount of energy and inspiration for initiating projects and can be highly focused on task completion as well. Although you tend to be very objective, pragmatic, and logical — and may sometimes find yourself stepping on toes in the process of accomplishing the task at hand — you will also have the interpersonal skills needed to resolve conflict and to help people work together and get along with one another. The creativity and sensitivity of your sanguine nature will enable you to be flexible when the situation calls for it, and less demanding and harsh than a pure choleric would tend to be. You are likely an energetic leader or manager, with superb debating skills: firmly convinced that you are right, you also have the “people-skills” necessary to convince others as well!

Without strong formation and a deep spiritual life, however, your temperament’s weaknesses will be intensified. Without attention to self-formation you may find yourself quickly aroused to anger, yet also unforgiving. You can be impatient with others and overly opinionated. You may speak frankly or impulsively without regard for others’ feelings. You should take care that you become neither a workaholic nor driven by your passions. You may insist on having your own way, and become angered, blame others, or make excuses when corrected. But, once you become aware of the weaknesses of your nature, and make a commitment to self-improvement, you will be able to be equally determined in pursuing self-formation.

It’ s very interesting stuff, don’t you think? I will link to the sermon as soon as it is posted.

If you take the test, I would love to hear what your temperament is!


  1. stephanie

    I am practically the opposite – a melacholic/phlegmatic!

  2. Anonymous

    I took the short form from Audio Sancto and it said my results were:

    Choleric: 53%
    Sanguine: 42%
    Melancholic: 40%
    Phlegmatic: 42%

    Wow. Could I be less complicated? 🙂
    Where do I find the descriptions?

  3. Jessica Gordon

    Oh that is too funny Christie! I would be curious to hear how that compares to the results on the long version.

    I found my description when I initially took the test on Catholic Match! 🙂 Here is the link to the descriptions:

  4. Sara

    I’m a Phlegmatic/Melancholic. It seems to be fairly accurate. I took the longer test because I’m so NOT introspective that I knew I needed it for accuracy. I started reading the book, but didn’t get through it. Got bogged down in the test and the fact that it said it can be hard to define someone who had a difficult upbringing. Like me. I would love to see the Melancholic part go away and become Sanguine!

  5. Jessica Gordon

    It is so interesting seeing what temperaments you all came up with!

    I wish that I was more Phlegmatic, but I am so not. It is something that I am always trying to work on.


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