What does a temperament test tell me about myself, and where can I take one?

Medically reviewed by Laura Angers Maddox
Updated January 3, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

It can be common to want to know more about ourselves and our personalities, and one way to do this may be through various personality tests, which can give us some insight into who we are. A temperament test can be a specific type of personality test that offers information on the way we respond to the world around us through our emotions and behaviors. You might take a “four temperaments” test that lets you know whether your temperament may be sanguine, choleric, melancholic, or phlegmatic. You could also look at the Thomas and Chess temperaments, which are usually applied to children but may be useful for adults as well. However, online temperament tests may not always offer accurate information, and if you’re interested in learning more about yourself, a licensed therapist can offer professional, personalized insight.

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What is temperament?

Temperament can be thought of as a personality type that one is born with or prone to. It may impact the way we usually respond to various stimuli emotionally and behaviorally. While many parts of our personality can be shaped by life experiences, there can be some aspects we may be born with and favor. 

The four temperaments

The four temperaments can be a traditional way of measuring one's temperament. While they may not be used much in contemporary times, they can still be an intriguing way to categorize oneself. It should be noted that few people may perfectly fall into one temperament or the other. Usually, a person may have two dominant temperaments and two lesser temperaments. 

Sanguine 

Someone with a sanguine temperament is usually quite extraverted. People with a sanguine temperament tend to take risks and may be open with others. They may also be optimistic and tend to keep busy.

Choleric

A person with a choleric temperament may also be extroverted, but instead of being more of a “party animal,” they may fall into a leadership role. They can be assertive and make wise decisions, can sometimes be seen as a bully in certain aspects, and tend to place a lot of stock in their own perspective.

Melancholic

A melancholic person tends to be introverted and might not like to be around other people very often. Instead, they may want to rely on themselves and can get anxious when others try to help them. They can be creative, artistic, and perfectionistic.

Phlegmatic

Those with a phlegmatic temperament also tend to be introverted. They can be more caring of others, however, and might try to be there for others without entirely showing their emotions. They typically want people to make peace with each other. If there is conflict, they might become uncomfortable or upset.

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You can find many “four temperaments tests” online. It should be noted that while these temperaments can be an intriguing way to categorize people, they should not generally be treated as absolute truth. Instead, a temperament personality quiz should typically be thought of as a fun activity. Each person’s personality tends to be more complex and unique than most personality tests allow for.

Thomas and Chess temperaments 

The Thomas and Chess Temperaments are generally temperament measurements for children, created by two psychologists named Alexander Thomas and Stella Chess. They generally believe that one's temperament is made up of nine traits, and how one measures those traits can say a lot about one’s temperament. You can measure your child's temperament, or even your own, through online quizzes.

The nine traits typically include the following:

  • Activity level: Some people can be much more energetic, and others may have less energy or varying levels of energy.
  • Distractibility: Some people can be distracted easily. They may have trouble maintaining focus on things, even if they are interested in them. Meanwhile, other people may be able to maintain focus even if they find the subject at hand boring. 
  • Response: When one is faced with a stimulus or an emotion, this trait can measure how intense the response is. Some people can maintain their cool, even if the stimulus they face is powerful. Others may not be able to keep their emotions controlled even if the stimulus isn't very strong.
  • Rhythmicity/regularity: This can measure how much a person needs a routine. Some people might have no set routine. They might seek out opportunities to do something different. Other people might need to have a routine or structure or easily become emotional or annoyed. If a change is made to a routine suddenly, they may have a hard time being able to manage it.
  • Sensory sensitivity: This generally refers to the way someone reacts to environmental changes involving the senses. 
  • Response to new things: This can refer to how someone reacts a certain way to a problem. Some people tend to approach the problem head-on without a plan, while others may deliberate and form extensive plans before addressing the issue. Others may withdraw from a problem for a while or even avoid it altogether. When the problem grows too big, they might not know how to handle it.
  • Ability to adapt: It can be common to face various changes, especially as a child. A new school, new house, new friends, and other changes can present challenges. If a child has a hard time being able to adapt, they might become shy, reserved, or depressed when faced with a new situation. Meanwhile, other children may love to be given new situations and dilemmas to face because they enjoy change.
  • Attention span: When one has a project or task to perform, some may work on the task for a while and then lose interest. Meanwhile, others may never give up on the problem. For example, someone who is business-minded may take risks and keep their business going even if the waters are murky. Others may be in between, taking risks and pursuing success, but realizing there may be a time when it's okay to withdraw.
  • Disposition: Some children and adults can be prone to a generally happy or sad mood. Other people may have a neutral mood or a mood that frequently changes. 

How online therapy can help

If you want to work through difficult-to-understand emotions that may be related to your personality or overall mental health, online therapy can be a valuable resource. Because there tend to be more options with online therapy compared to in-person therapy, you may have a better chance of connecting with a therapist who can match your preferences and help you with your specific concerns. 

Studies suggest that online therapy platforms can provide valuable tools to those who want to understand more about their personality, temperament, and any mental health challenges they may be experiencing. In one broad-based review, researchers examined the effects of online cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) on several mental health disorders. They found that online CBT could be useful in strengthening mental health when treating depression, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, panic disorder, phobias, bipolar disorder, OCD, and more. By treating any underlying mental health conditions, you can gain insight into your personality and temperament.

Read below for online therapist reviews from those who have sought help in the past.

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Therapist reviews

“I’m really glad I took a chance on counseling and SO glad I was matched with Natalie. She made me aware of aspects of my personality that I wasn’t fully aware of, and that knowledge has helped me make life decisions (I expect both now and in the future) that work for me. I’m extremely grateful for her knowledge, guidance, and care.”

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“I don’t have enough words to describe how amazing Shannon is. She truly saved me! I consider myself the luckiest person ever to have her as my therapist. Shannon is so sweet, caring, understanding, and just the best! During sessions, she always pays close attention to everything you have to say and lets you let it all out. I love my sessions with her. She makes sure to do activities and provide therapy that works best with your personality. I wish everyone could have her as a therapist. I have grown so much since I started with her and I am in a much better state all around. I love her!” 

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Takeaway

Taking a temperament test may offer you some information about your personality. Two common temperament tests can include the “four temperaments” that originated in Ancient Greece, as well as the more recent Thomas and Chess Temperaments. It can be important to keep in mind that online temperament tests may not always be accurate or reliable. If you’d like personalized insight into your personality, it can be best to work with a licensed therapist online or in person.

Grow your understanding of your temperament

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
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