The PersonAbilities Temperament Types

Dan McKinley

Head of Innovation

April 19, 2021

Temperament is first thing we understand about others. It might be hard to quickly grasp someone’s personal values, intelligence, or inner psychology, but it can be very easy to see another’s temperament. Everyone has a distinct temperament that they use to give powerful messages to those in their world.

Reading people is part of the human experience. By the time most of us are toddlers we develop a theory of mind. This means that we can understand what other people are thinking and feeling around us. As highly social beings, we have to have a clue what’s going on in each other’s head. We do this through temperament. Temperament is how we present ourselves to others. It’s the outer layer of our personality. It’s the energy and vibes that we give off. Temperament is the pattern of emotions that we portray to others. It’s manifested in our behavior and our interactions with others in social situations. Temperament is really how those around us see and understand about ourselves. Temperament is especially important during first impressions. Temperament is first thing we understand about others. It might be hard to quickly grasp someone’s personal values, intelligence, or inner psychology, but it can be very easy to see another’s temperament. Everyone has a distinct temperament that they use to give powerful messages to those in their world. Even socially intelligent animals like dolphins and dogs pick up on our temperament. Every book has a cover and every person has a temperament. 

Temperament has long been a part of our collective fascination. Ancient tribes compared people’s temperaments to specific animals like wolves, leopards, and cobras. Ancient Egyptians came up with four different temperament types and likened them to a man, an eagle, an ox, and a lion. Many systems down through the ages have also described four basic temperament attributed to the basic elements: earth, water, air, and fire. Earth people are methodical, intelligent, sturdy, logical, mature, introverted, and reasonable. Water people are agreeable, sensitive, trusting, pleasant, soft, empathic, and soothing. Air people are energetic, bouncy, bubbly, sociable, fast, fun and friendly. Fire people are daring, bold, charismatic, extroverted, motivated, warm, and gritty. This temperament model based on the elements is used in hundreds of personality systems throughout the world. 

Quadrants, Alignments, and Types

Temperament is by far the most studied aspect of personality theory. When most people think of personality they normally only think about temperament. They forget or may not know that our intelligence, culture, and neurology all have important influences over our personality. However, temperament is easy to observe, so it has been studied by research psychologists and psychometricians for decades. Since the 1980’s western academics have relied on a 5 factor model of temperament known as OCEAN or the Big 5. These traits include openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. PersonAbilities measures these traits and hundreds of others to paint a complete picture of one’s entire personality. We have also utilized the work of other psychologists to create a new system of understanding temperament with four quadrants, three alignments, and 12 distinct types. 


There are four temperament quadrants or general styles or directions of temperament behavior. These quadrants are known as the Sustainer Quadrant, the Respecter Quadrant, the Animator Quadrant, and the Igniter Quadrant. Each quadrant has three distinct temperament types with altogether more similarities than differences. Because of their common behavior and themes, it can be easy for most people to identify one’s temperament quadrant. Each quadrant has three different temperament alignments. These alignments are known as the Adaptive Alignment, the Insider Alignment, and the Free Alignment. Alignments helps us to understand more about the detailed motivations, social behavior, and the energy that each type gives off. Finally each type has one of two different subtypes. Every type has a relaxed subtype and an intense subtype. Subtypes account for behavioral nuances and differences among each type. 

The Sustainer Quadrant is known for being supportive in its behavior towards others. Sustainers are often highly mature people who take on a great amount of responsibility Most Sustainers are highly conscientious people. Some of them are very wise individuals with prudent judgment. Sustainers often have a high degree of self-mastery. They care about doing things the right way. Many of them are highly organized individuals. They are usually highly affected by their environments, this means that a sizeable number of sustainers are quite physically sensitive. They frequently ruminate or think things over in their heads. To establish control over their environments they develop a very methodical approach to life. They largely follow their personal routines and many of them care about detailed and specific processes. All of these traits are valuable in sustaining the work of other people and society at large. 

The Respecter Quadrant is known for being compassionate, empathetic, and congenial towards the human family. Respecters are strongly connected to their individual emotions and the emotions of others. As strong listeners, they naturally feel what other people are feeling. They pick up on subtle cues and vibes that other temperament quadrants might overlook. Respecters value vulnerability and expect others to share their authentic experiences. They enjoy creating strong relationships with others based on mutual trust and affinity. Respecters value interdependence, friendship, and the quality of relationships. They focus on transformational instead of transactional relationships. Every person they interact with is respected as a real human being with deep value and important advice towards others. They are quick to listen and slow to judge. They are sensitive souls who are poised, introspective, and agreeable. They have incredible emotional capabilities that help other people feel respected and loved. 

The Animator Quadrant is known for being optimistic, energetic, enlivening, and encouraging towards others. Animators open up new experiences through their interactions with others. Animators’ behavior, communication styles, and energy allow people to consider to possibilities in themselves and in the world at large. Animators are fast people. They talk fast, move fast, and do things fast. Most of them even think fast too. They go through and observe a lot of change in their lives. They are more likely to make major life-altering decisions than others (i.e. moving homes, changing careers, new relationships, etc.) Even though they may feel deep emotions like other some of the other quadrants, they have a high degree of emotional velocity. This means that they get over things quickly and can easily forget or look over negative experiences. They frequently choose to focus on the most positive things life has to offer. They can be very humorous, bubbly, and charming. Most of them carry the hopeful energy of a child throughout their entire lives. 

The Igniter Quadrant is known for fueling excitement, motivation, and passion into others. These people are naturally fiery individuals that make things happen. Igniters are a true force of nature. They’re very assertive individuals and can become quite aggressive under certain circumstances as well. They’re strongly oriented to act, be seen, and to make a statement to the world. Igniters have a lot of grit. They are known for their insatiable desires. They won’t give up until they’ll get what they’re looking for. They’re powerful instincts, persistence, and perseverance allows them to achieve great things. Igniters are known for their extraverted temperaments. They’re often very warm and gregarious people and quite a few of them would describe themselves as the life of the party. Many of them are very audacious individuals who like to take risks, do exciting things, and push things to the limit. They’re charisma ignites flames in other people to take on new challenges, complete daunting tasks, and to make a name for themselves as well. They’re swift, loud, and bold. It’s very clear to others when they’re interacting with a dynamic member of the Igniter Quadrant. 


The Adaptive Alignment is focused on being responsive to the social needs of other people. Adaptive types often have a higher social intelligence than other types of each quadrant. They are highly responsive individuals who appropriately react to things as they come up. They are in the flow of the moment and social behavior is second nature to these individuals. Even if they’re shy, reserved, or introverted, they still have the same social capabilities of any extrovert. They’re much more focused on the outer world and our very attuned to not only environment, but the surroundings of others. They’re extremely sympathetic towards others wants and needs. They enjoy the acclaim and praise of others as well. Adaptive types are very persuasive and have a natural command for things. When they invite someone to do something it feels easy to agree with their proposal. They’re often quite flexible individuals who can effortlessly adapt to new and different circumstances. Adaptive types bring people, organizations, and communities together in meaningful ways. 

The Insider Alignment is focused on aiming their individual energy on their self as opposed to others. This does not mean that they are selfish, this means that they hone in on their own individual wants for their personal self-care and mental survival. They narrow in on their self-preservation before considering the emotional situation of others. Insiders care about being safe and secure. They can be quite sensitive to the criticism of others and can be quick to justify their actions. However most of them have strong, good, and clear intentions. They value control over their physical environment. Insiders need to feel comfortable. Insiders look for consolation, reassurance, and relief to the physical problems that they encounter each and very day. Insiders conserve their mental and emotional energy. Compared to other alignments, they’re more likely to value rest and relaxation. They also conserve their physical resources whether it be food, money, or other material goods. Insiders know how to restrain themselves when speaking with others. They often listen more than they share. Insider’s often do a good job at keeping information, objects, and people safe from others. People trust them with insider knowledge. 

The Free Alignment is focused on self-differentiation. Free types need to be a unique individual and will often ignore the feelings of others. Free people don’t care what other people think of them. They feel free to be themselves. Their temperaments allow them to rarely feel embarrassed around other groups of people. They have a strong individual focus and self-assurance that carries them through life. They often consider unique points of view and are rarely impacted by groupthink. This means that the opinions of their group or society won’t have as much sway as with other aligned types. Freely aligned people can be quite humorous and will often easily make other people laugh. People often enjoy what they have to say as a welcome change to the monotony of life. However, the Free individuals often go through unique experiences that can make it harder for them to relate to other types. They naturally see the world through a different lens. They’re temperament may allow them to do things that aren’t socially acceptable to others. However, they believe that there’s always more than one way of doing things. They love having interesting conversations with others that expand other people’s sense of what’s real and what’s possible. They often enjoy powerful one-on-one interactions with others that expand their sense of self and their ability to be create personal authenticity. 


The Relaxed Subtype is easygoing, chill, carefree, flexible, and nonchalant. Relaxed people are socially more agreeable. Relaxed Subtypes are more likely to say ‘yes’ with no reservations. They’re more likely to go with the flow of things. They’re less likely to be neurotic and typically have more moderate emotional states. They’re smooth temperament allows some of them to persuade people without others even realizing it happens. They bring a steady energy of calmness, stability, and serenity. They’re laid-back dispositions rarely cause public scenes or riveting arguments. They’ll usually let other people guide the flow of the conversation. Many of them prefer to talk about normal day to day things as opposed to controversial or charged topics. They’re a bit more conventional and take life at a fluid and peaceful pace. 

The Intense Subtype is sharp, fierce, ardent, eager, and zealous. They’re profound encounters with others are rarely dull, gentle, or shallow. Intense Subtypes care about depth, experience, intimacy, and interpersonal involvement. Intense people are always searching and wanting for something more. They have strong desires. They want their dreams to become tangibly real. They’re keen, quick-witted, and impassioned. They care about a lot of things and are usually very opinionated individuals. They extend themselves emotionally onto other people. It’s hard for most of them to hide what they’re feeling. They experience powerful emotions that go through great changes. They’re more likely to be eccentric and be interested in non-conventional topics. It’s quite easy to see their unique idiosyncrasies. They care about being something more, having bigger ideas, and completing more powerful actions. Intense people bring compelling transformations to our world. 


There are 12 different temperament types in the PersonAbilities model. Each type comes about from a combination of each quadrant and alignment. Furthermore, each type is also a combination of the different quadrants. It shares most of its traits with its primary quadrant while carrying some of the traits of a different or neighboring quadrant. Each type also has a two different subtypes. The 12 types are as follows: the Soothers, the Admirers, the Receivers, the Sparklings, the Movers, the Adventurers, the Enthusiasts, the Captivators, the Drivers, the Examiners, the Supporters, and the Anchors.

Every temperament type plays an important role in society. There is an incredible range of social behavior among humans. We can easily see that in our day to day interactions with others. Through understanding temperament we can see past the differences in others and reach them in ways that they want to be connected with. It is time that we acknowledge that these differences are invaluable in every organization. The variety of the human experience makes life far more beautiful than it normally would be. PersonAbilities allows us to see those differences in meaningful ways. It helps us communicate with others in their own style and language. It helps us understand their own emotions. It helps us see the potential in others. Temperament is a crucial part of the living embodiment of being and feeling human.


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