Keirsey Temperament Sorter

Personality tests are a lot of fun. As humans, we love learning more about the inner workings of our mind and how we behave differently from others. It’s exciting to get your Myers-Briggs result and see how you relate to the description of your personality type. 

The famous Myers-Briggs test comes from Jungian psychology and the dichotomies that exist within our personalities. But it’s not the only one. Another psychologist studied Carl Jung’s work and uncovered 16 types of people that exist in the world and created the Keirsey Temperament Sorter.

Who Created the Keirsey Temperament Sorter? 

David Kiersey created a test to determine a person’s “temperament” instead of their “personality.” The Keirsey Temperament Sorter first appeared in the 1978 book Please Understand Me. While it is not as popular as the Myers-Briggs assessment, it may be used alongside it in coaching or personal development. 

Temperament Types 

The Keirsey Temperament Sorter uses a questionnaire to label people with one of four temperaments, based on their communication (concrete or abstract) and action (cooperative and utilitarian.) These four temperaments are:

  • Guardian 
  • Artisan
  • Idealist 
  • Rational

Let’s talk about what these four temperaments say about a person. 

Kiersey Temperaments


Concrete communication and cooperative action label someone as a Guardian. 45% of the people in the world hold this title. It’s a good thing, too – guardians excel in handling logistics, organization, and management. They approach decisions rationally and with care. People who fall under the Guardian temperament are likely to follow the rules, respect order, and base their decisions in facts and concrete information. While this doesn’t sound too fun, Guardians can be loyal and dependable friends, partners, and community members. 

There are four “subsets” of Guardians: Supervisors, Inspectors, Providers, and Protectors. I’ll talk more about what makes these four subsets later in the video. 


Concrete communication and utilitarian action label someone as an Artisan. 30% of the people in the world are artisans. As the name would suggest, artisans are the creatives of the world, but enjoy their craft in the “real world.” They are likely to enjoy building things with their hands or participating in the performing arts. Artisans take pride in their ability to make life fun, and enjoy expressing themselves with every opportunity. The phrase “seize the day” was made for Artisans. 

There are four “subsets” of Artisans: Promoters, Crafters, Performers, and Composers. 


Abstract communication and cooperative action make up an Idealist Temperament. 15% of the people in the world are Idealists. They enjoy working with people, but most importantly, helping people reach their full potential. Personal development and self-discovery are especially important for Idealists. Cooperation and kindness are extremely valuable to Idealists in problem-solving and building relationships with others. 

There are four “subsets” of Idealists: Teachers, Counselors, Champions, and Healers. 


The least common Temperament is the Rational Temperament, made up of abstract communication and utilitarian action. Only 10% of the people in the world are Rationals. They are focused on solving problems, no matter how impossible the problems seem to solve. Rationals are logical, driven, and very reasonable. Intelligence is extremely valuable to Rationals, and they dream for a level of intelligence that can make the world a more functional and enjoyable place. 

There are four subsets of Rationals: Fieldmarshals, Masterminds, Inventors, and Architects. 

Taking the Test 

The test that determines your Temperament Style consists of 70 questions. Each question offers a prompt and two options for answering that prompt. Here’s an example: 

“Are you more likely to trust your: 

a. Experience 

b. Hunch” 

It’s easy to go online nowadays, take the test, and get your answer. This will put you into the four categories that were mentioned above.

By calculating the results yourself, you will be able to get a better understanding of each element of your Temperament and Subset: ENTJ, ISTJ, etc. For example, a “Supervisor” is an ESTJ. A fieldmarshal is an ENTJ. 

MBTI types

But hey, don’t these “types” look just like the Myers-Briggs types? They do! While Myers-Briggs personality types and the Keirsey Temperament Sorter have many things in common, there are some key differences that can alter what score you get and what it says about you. You may even notice that if you take the Myers-Briggs and Keirsey tests, you may receive different answers and have different “roles.” (An ENTJ in the Kiersey world is a “fieldmarshal,” while an ENTJ in the Myers-Briggs world is a “commander.”) 

Differences Between Myers-Briggs and Keirsey Temperament Sorter 

Both Myers-Briggs and Keirsey were influenced by Jungian psychology. The two sets of psychologists interpreted Jung’s work very differently, creating tests that emphasized different parts of a person’s results. Some of Keirsey’s influences outside of Jung were the Greek philosophers: Plato, Aristotle, etc. This could explain why he created a Temperament Sorter, rather than a personality test. 

About Myers-Briggs Tests

Myers-Briggs tests strongly emphasize how a person thinks. It looks at different mental processes and how someone takes in the world around them. Jung’s extraversion/introversion dichotomy (the E/I in your personality type) is the most significant result. Once extraverted vs introverted thinking is uncovered, the rest of the pieces will fall into place. We are more likely to know whether we are an extravert or an introvert, rather than a “judger” or “perceiver.” 

About Kiersey Tests 

Kiersey tests are more likely to look at a person’s observable behaviors. How a person acts on what they are thinking and observing is more important in forming their temperament. The sensing/intuition dichotomy (N/S) is the primary result. This result categorizes people into introspective (“martians”) or observant (“earthlings.”) Once this is determined, all of the other pieces fall into place. 

Other Personality Assessments and Tests

Is one better than the other? The answer might depend on your personality type or temperament! While Myers-Briggs is certainly more well-known than the Keirsey tests, the Temperament Sorter is still used to help world leaders and Fortune 500 companies learn more about behavior and how to run a more effective workplace. 

Kiersey and MBTI

So take both tests. See for yourself what answers you end up with and how they may differ depending on the type of test that you take. It’s fun to see your answers, but the results are not set in stone and do not have to dictate the way you make decisions or feel about yourself.

You can also take a variety of other assessments to learn about yourself. This Reddit post includes a longer list of assessments and comments on which ones users prefer! The possibilities are endless and continue to evolve today.

Theodore T.

Theodore is a professional psychology educator with over 10 years of experience creating educational content on the internet. PracticalPsychology started as a helpful collection of psychological articles to help other students, which has expanded to a Youtube channel with over 2,000,000 subscribers and an online website with 500+ posts.