Appreciating Differences - Jack Falt - Ottawa area, Ontario, Canada

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Appreciating Differences

Your True Colors

This column, written by Jack Falt, is the seventh article on personality types and a regular feature of Energy Medicine. It was first published October 1999, Volume 2, Issue 1. To understand this article better, why not take the Keirsey Character Sorter at This will provide you with an indication of your temperament. It is always wise to have a qualified person administer a temperament sorting instrument.

Now let us examine temperament. While personality type gave us a look at how the brain functions in the 16 types, temperament theory helps us see how our temperament provides the motivation to satisfy our needs and thus determine our behaviour.

While everyone is unique and different, we tend to put people into categories. We like to do this because it helps us predict their future behaviour. Primitive people perhaps thought of others as either ferocious or peaceful. About 2,500 years ago, Hippocrates believed that individuals had four temperaments, each influenced by excess body fluids or humours.

Astrologers described people according to the four elements. In modern times David Keirsey investigated these four temperaments that have been rediscovered over and over again. When he came across personality types, he found a close correlation between his groupings and the ones Isabel Myers used. Then a student of Keirsey, Don Lowry, who was also a drama teacher, made the concepts easier to grasp by developing a program called True Colors®.

Today the True Colors® program is used with all ages, from upper management people of major companies to even kindergarten children. Ontario schools have been using this program quite extensively in recent years. People are presented with pictures, descriptions and words that represent the four colours. They rank order each of these components to determine their True Colors. The highest score is their brightest colour and their lowest score is their palest colour. This brightest colour is their dominant temperament. So just like personality type score, it only indicates a preference for a specific temperament. This is the one a person feels most comfortable with. But be aware, that we often have to assume a temperament that we don’t really like.

The four colours used are: Orange for the Adventurous temperament, Gold for the Responsible, Green for the Curious, and Blue for the Harmonious. (See the chart below indicating the comparison between the various systems.)
Hippocrates Sanguine Melancholic Phlegmatic Choleric
Astrology Fire Earth Air Water
Keirsey Artisan Guardian Rational Idealist
Myers-Briggs SP-Sensing-Perceiving SJ-Sensing-Judging NT-Intuition-Thinking NF-Intuition-Feeling
True Colors Orange-Adventurous Gold-Responsible Green-Curious Blue-Harmonious

The Orange temperament wants to do things now. Their motivation is to be free. They like variety and to be spontaneous. As children, they learn best by doing. As adults they like to solve practical problems. They are the artisans and craftspeople, painting, sculpting, dancing, singing, acting and making fine furniture. They enjoy action, participating in sports or watching sporting events.

The Gold temperament is the keepers of our traditions. Their motivation is to belong. They look to the past to determine what must be done in the future. They value membership in groups and want to know where they stand in the hierarchy of the group. As children, they are more willing to follow the rules. Most teachers in the elementary system tend to be Golds. Golds are the record keepers, the inspectors and caregivers. They enjoy family traditions such as birthday parties and family gatherings.

The Green temperament is always questioning the status quo. Their motivation is a quest for power. For them, knowledge is power.  They strive for competency. As children, they are always asking “Why?” They are the inventors. They may enjoy a sport, but once they have mastered it, they may move on to something else. They see the world as a set of systems and are very good at organizing for efficiency. But even when they have succeeded in making an organization highly efficient, they have difficulty refraining from making further modifications.

The Blue temperament is searching for the meaning of life. Their motivation is to feel authentic. They yearn for self-actualization, yet it is always just beyond their grasp. They are the peacemakers and as children find conflict very stressful. They focus on people and their relationships to one another. They often work in careers that involve helping people, such as psychology, ministry or travel agent.

Keirsey found that the main factors that separated the four temperaments were the use of words and tools. People tend to use either concrete (“this is a hammer”) or abstract (“justice for all”) words. Also, they tend to use tools in a cooperative way “(I’ll bring a rake and you bring the hoe”), or a utilitarian way (“we need a Phillips screwdriver to do the job”). The four temperaments fit into a matrix. (See the chart below.)
Blue-Harmonious Gold-Responsible
Green-Curious Orange-Adventurous

 Understanding that there are four temperaments can be very helpful to people. If you feel that you are somehow different and never quite fit in, it can be relief to know that you are comparing yourself to people with a very different temperament than your own. We often marry people with a different temperament and then think they are being quite obstinate. Why won’t they change? But their difference is probably what attracted us to them in the first place.

When this series of articles was written, only one more article on temperament was written for EnergyMedicine. That was an article on Orange-Adventurous. For articles on all of the four temperaments, see Introduction to Appreciating Differences Thru Colours.

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List of articles by Jack Falt