observing people

Coaching and counseling university students over the years, we’ve really enjoyed helping them think about their strengths, talents, and styles of leading and communicating. Every person is infinitely unique. Even still, there are some intriguing similarities among our personality types. Over the past 3000 years, significant thinkers have all independently observed and identified four primary categories of personality. In case you’re interested, here’s a brief list of some pre-20th century thinkers and their observations.

Galen, a doctor during the Roman empire, identified four humors: Sanguine (optimistic), Melancholic (doleful), Choleric (passionate), Phlegmatic (calm).

Around 400 B.C., in his book entitled The Republic, Plato wrote about the four temperaments (in terms of virtue) attributed to Hippocrates: Iconic (artistic), Pistic (caretaker), Noetic (idealist), Dianoetic (rationale).

Aristotle observed four types and defined his in terms of happiness: Hedone (sensual), Propraietari (asset gathering), Ethikos (moral) and Dialogike (investigatory).

Paracelsus, a Viennese doctor in the 1500’s, observed four spirits similar to what Galen and Plato offered: Salamanders (impulsive and changeable), Gnomes (industrious and guarded), Nymphs (inspired and passionate), Sylphs (curious and calm).

Interesting huh?