K is for Keirsey


Do you have any idea what your personality type is? No, we are not talking about your introduction. In the four planes of personality, on which ones do you reside? Oh, you have no idea what this is? Step right up. Let’s have a little fun.

Keirsey, David (31AUG21- )

World War II veteran David Keirsey took a psychology book with him from post to post. After the war, he went to Pomona College and Claremont Graduate University to study anthropology, sociology, psychology, ethology and biology. The scientific cocktail fueled his investigation into the four personality types he traced back to observations of Aristotle, Hippocrates and Plato.

Please Understand Me II Keirsey 1998

PUM II 1998 cover compliments of TanagerReads via Amazon

Working as an educational psychologist in correction facilities for youth, Keirsey refined his behavior observation techniques. Over the course of the 1950s and ’60s, he developed a theory which he published in the book Please Understand Me, in 1978. Keirsey defines 16 personality types within four classes.

In 1998, Keirsey published Please Understand Me II. It tackles the social psychology of personality types’ effects on mating, parenting, intelligence and leading.

Although based on similar ideals as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator™, the Keirsey Temperament Sorter™ translates into many different personality applications beyond occupational identity, to include love patterns, educational styles, organizational dynamics and more. It has been taken by more than 40 million people over the last 40 plus years, and its results have been used in non-profit, government, corporate and education settings worldwide.


Keirsey states the personality types are not merely collections of traits, but rather are products of the interaction between our words and deeds based on our observable behavior…in short, what we do and what we say. Each kind of personality has different strengths and weaknesses. Each contributes differently to occupations and society, while satisfying different personal needs.

Actions are broken into Utilitarian and Cooperative. Communication is split into Concrete and Abstract. The four kinds of personalities are based on the combinations of the two:

Keirsey Please Understand Me Original Cover

Original Cover compliments of Sterling Service via Amazon


The Concrete Cooperators speak about their jobs, duties and responsibilities. They are careful planners who oversee and tend processes until results are complete. Guardians follow rules, obey laws and respect others’ rights.


The Concrete Utilitarians talk about the here and now, what they can see and touch in the moment. They do whatever it takes to get the quickest satisfaction, even when it means bending or breaking the rules.


The Abstract Cooperators speak of what is possible and their hopes. In keeping with their consciences, they attempt to meet goals without compromising their codes of ethics.


The Abstract Utilitarians talk of the solutions they envision to the problem of interest at the moment. They act efficiently to satisfy goals and are pragmatic about ignoring capricious rules in the pursuit.

Whilst everyone can identify in themselves one or more of the traits of all four personalities, one will surface as the most fitting during the Keirsey Temperament Sorter™ because subjects answer the questions as they see fit, rather than how they envision others seeing them.


The 16 kidneys can be grouped by fours, with one group under each class of personality.

  1. Guardians
    1. Supervisor
    2. Inspector
    3. Provider
    4. Protector
  2. Artisans
    1. Crafter
    2. Promoter
    3. Performer
    4. Composer
  3. Rationals
    1. Architect
    2. Inventor
    3. Field Marshall
    4. Mastermind
  4. Idealists
    1. Healer
    2. Teacher
    3. Counselor
    4. Champion

Each of the 16 kidneys are based on four defining principles and represents a singular combination.

  1. Introvert vs. Extrovert
  2. Thinking vs. Feeling
  3. Sensing vs. Intuitive
  4. Judging vs. Providing

No one readily chooses one over the other after the first choice of introvert or extrovert. Most people feel they are a combination of the two choices. While that is true, one personality trait will prevail over the others through the Keirsey analysis.


Why would you want to know what your temperament is? You could…

  • Find compatible friends and significant others for longer-lasting relationships.
  • Understand workplace dynamics to avoid office politics.
  • Create team synergy.
  • Identify habitual behavior to affect change.
  • Lead or follow to effectively expedite results.
  • Release tension by identifying wrong fits in relationships and occupations.
  • Stop sabotaging your own success.
  • Identify learning style.
  • Realize the logical progression of your own behavior.
  • Observe others to adjust your approach to problems you must jointly solve.

If you want to do anything on the list, knowing yourself is the first line of offense.


Want to know how your words and actions hold up to what you believe your personality is? Kick the tires. Take it for a test drive. Let’s compare notes. Go to the Keirsey Temperament Sorter™ and see if you are a guardian, idealist, rational or artisan. It only takes a few minutes, and your report is free. Oh, and it is fun.


Did you take the Keirsey Temperament Sorter or have you taken it before? What personality class are you? Can you see yourself in the psychological description? Had you heard of David Keirsey or his work in social psychology before?

© Red Dwyer 2012
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  1. I did the test and I am an Idealist, which they say is rare. I totally agree, I have done tests before and always fall in the rare/minority category. Sucks to be that way at times because majority rules – no wonder I find so much of ‘reality’ idiotic!

    Very nice post.
    Alexandra Heep recently posted..K is for Ken HensleyMy Profile

    • Red

       /  April 12, 2012

      I am not all that rare, at 10%. I am one of the Guardians. I would have guessed you as an idealist. There are two others in the M3 Readers I think are idealists as well. I hope everyone tries it!

  2. What, no Chocolate Rocketeers? I am utterly dismayed. And too lazy to take the test.
    Binky recently posted..Learning to DoMy Profile

  3. I came out as an idealist! 🙂

    Interesting result! 🙂

    Love and hugs!

    prenin recently posted..Thursday – Sunny weather.My Profile

    • Red

       /  April 12, 2012

      You are one of the other two I pegged as an idealist 😉 You are in very good company with Alex. {HUGZ} Red.

  4. Mine came up as Idealist as well. It was very difficult for me to answer some of those questions because I would have picked both in some and none in others. Ah well. That’s probably pretty accurate anyway.

    I am a Meloncholy Phlegmatic in that temperment test 🙂

    Yes, I had heard of him, but not taken his test. I have taken other personality tests before, though.
    Angela recently posted..Why You Should Still Carry OnMy Profile

    • Red

       /  April 12, 2012

      I was right about you, too! I pegged you and Prenin both as idealists. I love your answer for the temperament!

  5. I refuse to be classified since none of the classifications is “extraordinarily stubborn, does not play with others well” — and few square pegs fit in round or triangular holes. Although I am a guardian in nature, all of the other characteristics are far too much fun to deny.
    I am inventive, a teacher, an idealist and a warped mastermind–rarely ordinary, and as for architecture, I default to comfort over style, substance over fluff. Take that. “:) GREAT post, Red!
    Raymond Alexander Kukkee recently posted..M is for MethodMy Profile

  6. I’m scared to try this 🙂

    Hope you’re enjoying the challenge so far!
    –Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2012

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z
    Damyanti recently posted..K for Kokeshi was the name of the beautiful doll: #atozchallenge fictionMy Profile

    • Red

       /  April 12, 2012

      Oh, you should! I think you would like it. So, far the challenge has been fun! Glad to see you tonight, Damyanti!

  7. I will have to call back later to add what I think as I need some coffee, and quick 🙂 lol Have a fun rest of evening Red and I will be back soon 🙂

    Androgoth XXx

  8. Very informative reading and leads to much personal insight, dont know what personality I am categorized in as I float between love and romance poetry and the mad ravings of a weird Aussie bird, maybe I have been locked up in this aviary too long.
    Have a beaut weekend Red
    aussieian2011 recently posted..The Pearl Within My OysterMy Profile

    • Red

       /  April 17, 2012

      Then you should definitely take the test and then read Muse for Monday 😉

  9. I am a Rational Architect (INTP) – not feeling much like that right now.

    I took this test years ago, out of curiosity I took it again to see if anything had changed, weirdly it hadn’t. I guess our core personality type, though we mature over time we don’t really change.

    This also explains why I have such a low tolerance for certain things both in my personal and professional life. I wish I had remembered this.
    valentinelogar recently posted..Versatile BloggerMy Profile

    • Red

       /  April 17, 2012

      The “I” is what makes me roll on the floor laughing to beat the band. It is hard to find a supervisor who is truly an I, so naturally I am an E. But you, an introvert….it is to laugh! The rest, I get. Intuitive, thinking and productive.

      • It shouldn’t though, not if you consider how I work or function in real life. Just because I talk to you, or am able to function outside of myself doesn’t mean I don’t have an internalized life I enjoy and am happier in.

        I am not actually overly fond of people and have learned the behaviors of extroversion in order to be successful. It isn’t natural.
        valentinelogar recently posted..Throwaway ChildrenMy Profile

        • Red

           /  April 17, 2012

          I realize, by far, I am the exception to the rule in terms of interaction. Coupled with your excellent extroversion mimicry, I tend to forget you LTL persona is not your preferred modus operandum.

  10. Idealist (NF)
    NTFP for Myers/Brigg

    Are you surprised Red???
    Friggin Loon recently posted..Dear ColleaguesMy Profile


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