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What Is the Keirsey Temperament Sorter?

What Is the Keirsey Temperament Sorter?

The Keirsey Temperament Sorter is a self-inventory personality questionnaire developed by psychologist David Keirsey.

How Does the Keirsey Temperament Sorter Work?

Keirsey’s assessment describes four key temperaments: Artisan, Guardian, Idealist, and Rational.

Keirsey defines temperaments as a “configuration of observable personality traits, such as habits of communication, patterns of action, and sets of characteristic attitudes, values, and talents.”

These four main temperaments are then further divided into two roles, leading to a total of 16 different personality types which then correlate with the 16 types described by the Myers Briggs Type Indicator.

  • Artisans tend to be rooted in concrete experiences. Keirsey describes them as optimistic, realistic, bold, spontaneous, and focused on the here-and-now. The four types of Artisans are the Promoter, the Crafter, the Performer, and the Composer.
  • Guardians are described as hard-working, dependable, loyal, stable, and responsible. They tend to be cautious and concerned with maintaining tradition. The four types of Guardians are the Supervisor, the Inspector, the Provider, and the Protector.
  • The Idealist temperament is described as enthusiastic, intuitive, romantic, truth-seeking, kind, inspiration, and authentic. Idealists tend to seek self-knowledge, self-understanding, and strive to achieve their ultimate potential. The four types of Idealists are the Teacher, the Counselor, the Champion, and the Healer.
  • Rationals are described by Keirsey as having a problem-solving temperament. These individuals tend to be pragmatic, independent, strategic, and skeptical. The four types of Rationals are the Fieldmarshal, the Mastermind, the Inventor, and the Architect.

The test consists of 70 self-report questions that offer two choices for each option. Test-takers select the option that best describes their own temperament or behaviors. Versions of the test are offered online for free including at the website.

Uses for the Keirsey Temperament Sorter

The Keirsey Temperament Sorter is one of the most widely used personality assessments in the world today. Its users include some of the largest corporations in the world including Coca-Cola, AT&T, IBM, Bank of America, & the U.S. Air Force. The test is designed to help people gain a greater understanding of their own personality and how they interact with other people and their environment.

How Does it Differ From Myers-Briggs?

While the 16 variants described by Keirsey correspond to the 16 types identified by the MBTI, Keirsey’s assessment differs from the Myer-Briggs indicator in a number of ways. Both Keirsey and Myers-Briggs drew heavily on Jung’s work, but Keirsey’s assessment stresses the sensing/intuition spectrum while Myers and Briggs centered their work on the extroversion/introversion spectrum. Keirsey’s assessment categorizes personality by temperament, while the MBTI groups types according to cognitive functions such as the thinking and feeling. Finally, Keirsey’s sorter stresses actual observable behaviors, while the Myers-Briggs is more focused on internal thoughts and feelings.

References (n.d.). The Keirsey Temperament Sorter. Retrieved from

 Keirsey temperament versus Meyers-Briggs Types. (n.d.). Retrieved from