What Is The Choleric Temperament?

Updated May 23, 2019

Reviewer Kristen Hardin

The idea of temperaments is that we are born with some aspects of our personality. This is one of the oldest classifications of temperaments and goes back over 2.400 years. There are quite a few schools of through on temperaments, and in this post, we will look at the four temperaments and especially focus on choleric temperament.

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What Are the Four Temperaments?

The four temperaments is a concept that has been around for a long time and has had less popularity in contemporary times. Despite this, the four temperaments are still important to the field of psychology. It is believed that everyone has all four temperaments in varying degrees of strength, and one is dominant and one is secondary and the other two are less significant. Here they are:

  • Sanguine. The sanguine temperament is said to be the most versatile of all four temperaments and is centered towards people who are social and active. They generally think positively and are the extroverted types who want social connection. They experience a wide range of emotions and enjoy excitement. They are talkative, fun to be around, impulsive, and often are good leaders.
  • Choleric. Choleric people are extroverted as well, but in a more leadership-oriented sense. They are logical and use facts. We will go into further detail of this type later on.
  • Melancholic. Melancholic people are logical and organized. They focus on finding the right solution and are slow if needed, and cautious. They focus on the details and thoughts. They do not enjoy taking risks and prefer to be reassured that things are going well. But, they are also creative and highly capable people.
  • Phlegmatic. Phlegmatic people are introverted, value peace and harmony, and are generally comfortable in passive roles. They are also good in supportive roles and do not enjoy or seek leadership.

More on The Choleric Temperament

As mentioned before, choleric people are the leaders of the group. They are quick-thinkers, effective influencers, competitive, independent, easily annoyed, and prideful. They are highly engaged and intentional in anything they do, be it at work or even during conversations. Their words are commanding and ordering, even if they are trying to be friendly. When they say things, they do so with such certainty that they are generally convincing and successful leaders.

One problem with people of this temperament is that they struggle to accept anything perceived as criticism. If they are criticized or even simply opposed, they will confront people and try to dominate those who they received criticism from. They will try to win through loudness and intimidation. Interestingly, they do well in these types of environments when their control or expertise is put in question. They will generally rise to the challenge and prevail.

When you think of a choleric personality, you may imagine a bully. However, not all choleric temperaments are actual bullies, in fact, many are not. Some of them despise bullies and instead want to make peace with everyone else. Oprah Winfrey is a good example. She is a strong entrepreneur and fought her way to success and has stayed successful because of her hard work and independence and confidence in her abilities.

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For this temperament, competition is not bullying, but a part of the game. They will want to prove themselves and challenge those who they feel are their antagonists. They believe that proving themselves right is sometimes better than reaching the truth. When they lose, they feel it, and they will go fiercer next time. A choleric may lie or use under-handed tactics to win, but not all do this, of course.

Someone who is a choleric personality doesn't generally like authority, even though they want to be authoritarian. They want to be in charge and believe there is not anyone better than them to be in charge on something they feel confident in.

Those who are bullies will humiliate those they do not like because they need to feel superior and want to show that person they don't like who is in charge. When they do make a mistake, they will often blame others if possible, and they will do so to protect their ego. They do like to define people, but what they do not like to do is to have themselves defined. To them, there is a clear double standard, and that double standard is designed to fit them. It is important to stress that describes someone on the extreme side of the choleric temperament. Many, if not most, do not behave this way.

Cholerics, like other extroverts, like to get social satisfaction and energy from people. Choerics also have a need to be social to be seen and express their beliefs and opinions and influence on others. When some people give their opinions, they may try to temper it down it in order not to hurt someone. A choleric person isn't like that. Instead, they will say their opinions directly and generally without considering the feelings of others. They see anything less as not being honest.

Chlorics are natural problem solvers. They are direct and detail oriented. They are visionaries and grow bored without a challenge. They will work to see a goal to the end. They are good leaders and enjoy taking charge and being responsible for the outcome of a project.

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Choleric people are prideful. As mentioned before, they hate to admit they have flaws and they always want to be right. Someone who is choleric can be a good friend to you if you are supportive of them. They may be supportive back. However, if one argues with a choleric person, expect them to enjoy the challenge and push forward in a dominating manner. A petty choleric might try a low-handed tactic or petty move to get revenge on you, but this is not common.

Cholerics rarely show fear, even if their body language says otherwise. Like being wrong, the only time they will admit to being fearful is if they can get a reward from it. They may act like they have no fears at all, even if they secretly do. Most people have fears, but a choleric person may act fearless, and there is no way for you to prove or disprove their fears.

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When a choleric is insulted, they don't seem to be hit by any criticism. Their skin appears to be thick, and criticizing them just doesn't seem to work. They will often laugh at your criticisms and instead try to make you feel bad for criticizing them. Even if they end up being upset by it in private, they will never show it.

In the past, a choleric was the leader of the tribe. They were the ones who lead other tribe members to gather the meat and to start the fires. They would compete with other tribe leaders to see who is on top, and it didn't matter who was hurt by it.

In modern times, these are the managers, leaders, politicians, team captains, and other people who are leading. If they aren't leaders, it is likely that their goal is to the leader be soon.

Is It Accurate?

We gave you quite a lot for you to process. While the four temperaments are an interesting way to classify people, you really can't realistically divide people into four different categories. There are so many variables and changes that we experience as we move through different seasons of life. But there is absolutely merit in this early work on temperaments. We are all born with certain parts of our temperament set. Many mothers will say that their difficult or high needs babies grew up to be adults with strong personalities and that babies who were born with a calm nature carried this through to adulthood. Even if you are mostly just curious, this can also be a fun way to examine your own temperament and those close to you. Not every team leader is going to be tough and afraid of criticism. Some are nice and want to lead with positivity. There are important pieces to these four temperaments, but it cannot be taken literally at every piece.

Seek Help!

Temperaments are said to be traits people are biologically prone to. However, you can change many aspects of your personality if there are things that you do not like or do not serve you well. For example, there is nothing wrong with being introverted, but if you feel it is holding you back, you can learn how to be more comfortable in social situations with the help of a counselor. You are not completely tied down to your genetics or how you were raised. If you want to be more assertive or more empathetic, there are ways to do that. You can see a traditional counselor or you can try online counseling. BetterHelp is an online platform where you can be matched with a counselor who you can interact with just as you would with a traditional therapist with all the same privacy and confidentiality, just via phone, video, chat, and messages.

A counselor can help by creating a plan for what you want to change and how to put that plan into action. You can also speak with your counselor on any number of issues that may be bothering you. Get started today!


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