The Four Temperaments

St. Augustine said, “Know thyself, and thy faults, and thus live.”

What did he mean by this? Well, think of it like this: You’re in a dark room that has ‘bumps’ on the floor—perhaps carpet coming up in some areas, toys scattered throughout the room, a few clothing items here and there. You try to navigate the room, but find yourself tripping over all the items that you can’t see.

But what if you turned on the light? Walking through the room would be a piece of cake! You could see the obstacles in front of you and then avoid them with much greater ease.

Hans Urs von Balthasar once said, “Sin obscures sight.” But knowing ourselves—or more specifically, knowing our temperament—can help us navigate through our lives with clear sight. Our temperament sheds light on our greatest natural inclinations, strengths, and virtues. It also “sheds light” on the vices and sins that are uniquely challenging to each of us, based on the way God designed our personality.

If we “know thyself,” and “turn the light on” by discovering our temperament, we can better avoid those vices and sins that trip us up and work to strengthen the virtues to which we are already inclined. Knowing thyself, and thy faults, leads to living a good life. 

What is Your Temperament?

First, we strongly recommend Art and Laraine Bennett’s book, The Temperament God Gave You. They have a great temperament test in their book, and explain in detail each of the four temperaments and their effects on relationships and the spiritual life.

The book mentioned above has one of the best, most thorough temperament tests out there. It helps you determine your primary temperament, as well as your secondary, tertiary, and quaternary temperament.

If you want another quick, free test to gauge your primary temperament, you can find one here: Your Personality Type. You can also find more temperament tests online, like this Temperament Test from Catholic Match.

If you don’t want to take a test, but rather figure out your temperament by reading about them, you can learn more here:

Now, learn the habits of your temperament, to help you know how to avoid vice and sin and grow in virtue based on your personality.