Home » Psychology » Keirsey Temperaments Explained: Artisan vs Guardian vs Idealist vs Rational

Keirsey Temperaments Explained: Artisan vs Guardian vs Idealist vs Rational

Some personality tests only account for actions or emotional states, and some cover only a few dimensions of a person’s character. The Keirsey temperament model, however, incorporates observed habits and actions, attitudes, personal values, and how they fit into their various social and relational circles.

It attempts to classify people not simply by their tendencies but by classes that present a more holistic picture. The classes also link closely with the Myers-Briggs indicator test, which can help if you are familiar with your personality type under that model.

The four types of Keirsey temperaments are Artisan, Guardian, Idealist, and Rational. Artisans make up about 30% of the population, Guardians make up the majority at about 45%, Idealists make up 15%, and Rationals have the least percentage at about 10%.


1. You Are Highly Creative
Artisans are exceptionally gifted at coloring outside the lines. They see opportunity everywhere and can bring beauty from chaos in any situation. Their creative approach allows them to see solutions that others can’t, and they are gifted when it comes to expressing themselves. They work well with their hands and have no trouble giving a voice to their ideas.

They always know what color to paint with, what note to play, or what material to use, and make for creative parents. They can put their voice and skill to optimum use and can attract a crowd with everything they do.

2. You Are Optimistic
An Artisan will generally see the best in people and will give anyone the benefit of the doubt. Their glass is always half full, and the sun always seems to be shining. Not much can slow down an Artisan or dampen their spirits; they can carry on through any circumstance with a smile on their face and their gaze on whatever is coming down the road next.

This also carries over into trying new things: they do not assume that the worst will happen but that everything will work out exactly as they planned. This gives them a great deal of confidence in their abilities and in the people and the world around them.

3. You Want to Make an Impact
Artisans are not content to sit in the corner; they want the things they do to mean something. They seek out opportunities to be in the spotlight, with all eyes and ears on them. This does not always mean that they will seek out positions of leadership – they may be perfectly content with simply being a member of the team, as long as others notice and verbally appreciate their work.

They want to be recognized for being at the top of their game and for contributing worthy and valuable work, even if it is something that others would merely do for pleasure.

4. You Can Adapt Easily
Artisans can thrive in any scenario because they have an innate ability to adapt to new circumstances. Nothing is set in stone for them, so nothing can hold them back. Even if a project’s requirements change at the eleventh hour, they will find a way to make it work.

If problems arise, they will move to completion as if nothing went wrong. They can make hard work seem like a breeze and can emerge from a trying environment with poise and calm.

5. You Are Intuitive
Nothing stumps an Artisan. They can take one look at something and know exactly how it works, while others would sit and scratch their heads. They rarely need an instruction manual and can always find a way to get a little more performance out of anything they work with.

They are also excellent problem-solvers. Unique solutions seem to bubble up to the surface when they consider how to move forward, and they can be counted on for that “light bulb moment” that removes roadblocks and helps progress to resume. Best of all, it requires no extra effort – it just comes naturally.

6. You Crave Excitement
An Artisan loves the rush of adrenaline, so they will constantly seek out people and places that excite them. They are on a moment-to-moment hunt for something new and thrilling and will be the first to try something new when offered.

This need to experience the unknown can make them great social planners, and their close relationships will never be dull because they will always come up with fresh and fun ideas for their partners and close friends. They would not do well in a monotonous job or a lack of social circles; they would rather fill up their calendars than have a quiet night in.

7. You Live in the Moment
An Artisan is always “present” and typically acts and speaks spontaneously. This can be seen as flighty or irresponsible, but they just prefer to enjoy each day as it comes, always ready to take in the joy of each moment. They are the ones to ride every roller coaster with eyes open, arms spread wide, and shouting at the top of their lungs. Once they have a positive experience, they will look ahead to the next one.

If they have a choice, they won’t let themselves be held back by something that would restrict their freedom. They would much rather break out of a routine than do the same thing over and over. These qualities translate into Artisans being playful partners in a romantic relationship.

8. Celebrities & Historical Figures
Well-known Artisans are George S. Patton, Winston Churchill, Michael Jordan, Amelia Earhart, Billy Graham, Ronald Reagan, Steven Spielberg, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.


1. You Are Responsible
Guardians can be relied upon to get the job done each and every time. They can be implicitly trusted with any responsibility and shudder at the mere thought of letting someone down. This applies to many areas of their life: they obey every law and regulation to present themselves as a good member of society, they keep all their personal obligations to be a good friend and family member, and they strive for top marks on their performance reviews at work.

If you want something done and done right, give it to a Guardian. Predictably, Guardians make responsible parents.

2. You Are Respectable
Guardians think common decency and self-respect are values that everyone should strive for, but even if no one else does, you can be sure they will. They are dressed appropriately for every occasion and observe all the right social niceties. They simply believe that if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well, even if it is a casual family gathering or a volunteer opportunity.

They won’t seek out the spotlight, but they do want to be recognized and remembered for the care, attention, and respect they pay to themselves and those around them.

3. You Focus on the Facts
It is facts first with Guardians. Opinions and judgment calls are just second-best. They are detail-oriented and will gather as much information as possible before making a decision and will follow a process step-by-step without cutting corners. Guesswork is considered sloppy, and they are highly averse to taking risks based on gut feelings.

If a project deadline is coming and they feel like they do not have enough data to make an informed decision, they will ask for an extension before giving what feels like a halfhearted effort at the answer.

4. You Are Organized
Because order and clarity are so important to Guardians, they are also highly organized. A messy desk or home makes them itch; they would rather spend a free day cleaning and sorting than leaving the house unattended. However, this extra effort eases their mind and can make them more relaxed and even feel more secure with themselves.

They can bring order to chaos in any situation and will even come up with systems that only they can understand in order to make the most sense out of their surroundings.

5. You Desire Belonging
Ironically, Guardians need to feel that someone is a guardian for them. They want to feel loved and valued and appreciated, and so they will seek out relationships that make them feel secure. They will do what they can to feel like they are worthy of that kind of care, so they will make loyal partners and employees.

They also want to provide a safe environment for their own families, hoping that those closest to them will return those feelings in kind. When they choose a group to belong to, they want others to regularly remind them that they are loved and accepted as one of them.

6. You Are Cautious
Fearful is too strong a word, but a Guardian will look two or three times before crossing the street. They prefer to be sure of themselves before stepping out on a limb and do not like wading into the unknown without a clear idea of what will happen. This can make them slow to invest in new relationships, and they may not step up if they are offered a transfer to an unfamiliar position or location.

This also expresses itself in a deep-seated concern for others: they will try to warn or protect against anything they think may cause harm or discomfort. This protectiveness comes from a desire to make others feel safe and secure.

7. You Seek Out Stability
Guardians embrace routine and predictability. They would rather do the same thing day in and day out without any surprises. They are creatures of habit and comfort – if something is different, it feels strange and unsettling to a Guardian. When the world around them is in upheaval, they will seek out the things they can control and focus all their efforts on calming those seas.

They will be hesitant to try something new for fear that it will lead to an outcome they can’t foresee. They would rather stick to what they know works than trying something new.

8. Celebrities & Historical Figures
Well-known Guardians are Vince Lombardi, George Washington, Queen Victoria, Warren Buffett, Barbara Walters, Gerald Ford, Mother Teresa, and Rosa Parks.


1. You Are Compassionate
Idealists wear their hearts on their sleeves and can empathize with anyone. They give of their time, their treasure, and their talents to those around them and never count the cost to themselves; if they can bring a smile to somebody’s face or feel like they made a difference, it was well worth it.

They find it easy to love others, see compassion as the driving focus in their lives, and naturally make nurturing parents. They will choose career paths and even friendships based on the opportunity they perceive to make others grow and become better.

2. You Value Relationships
Relationships are of the utmost importance to an Idealist. They are all about bringing people together, especially in bringing others closer to themselves. They will fiercely pursue others with vigor and intensity, both in choosing a partner and in caring for their children.

If there is a disagreement, they will stop at nothing until an equitable solution is reached, and everyone is on friendly terms again. They seek out deep connections and want the same thing for those around them.

3. You Are a Team Player
An Idealist will do whatever it takes to move the group toward a common goal. They will do the thankless jobs without taking credit if it means they can support others. They will be the first to raise their hands when assignments are being handed out, and they will help guide a discussion toward a consensus. They can also present an optimistic appraisal of team dynamics, not to be unrealistic or inauthentic, but simply in the hopes that they can smooth out any wrinkles and help everyone arrive at a harmonious conclusion.

4. You Are a Natural Communicator
Idealists have a way with words, and they use it to their advantage. They always know the right thing to say and the right time to say it. They are inspiring and charismatic, drawing others toward a common vision and maintaining that fervor until the last person crosses the finish line.

They gain strength and energy from the chance to motivate others and will seek out opportunities to offer encouragement and support. Whether written, spoken, or visual, they know exactly how to get their message across in a way that will maximize its impact and drive their intended point home.

5. You Have a Great Imagination
An Idealist can see the possibilities all around them and are not bound by the concrete and the observable. They can see past hard facts and data and will usually try to think of unorthodox ways to arrive at the same goal. Convention does not hold them back, and what is commonly accepted is never the starting point for them. Their minds and hearts are open to new ideas at every turn, and they are always reaching for something that no one around them can see.

6. You Are Authentic
Although they are highly imaginative and strive for harmony, they will always do so in a real and believable way. They do not behave one way in one setting, then change their ways in another – what you see is what you get in every case, with every group. This authenticity is a cornerstone of their personality; anything fake or phony is seen as deceptive and hurtful and can prevent people from growing closer together. They want everybody to get along, as long as they remain open and honest along the way.

7. You Are a Hopeless Romantic
Idealists yearn for the “ideal” scenario and make for intense partners in a romantic relationship. They romanticize about the way things could turn out, which brings them the label of the “hopeless romantic.” They have their own visions of a dream world or relationship, and they can feel let down if things don’t go exactly as they had hoped. This can also mean that they can have unattainable standards and are dissatisfied if others don’t hit the mark.

8. Celebrities & Historical Figures
Well-known Idealists are Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, Jane Goodall, C.S. Lewis, Nelson Mandela, Bono, Princess Diana, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky.


1. You Are Logical
Those with a dominant Rational personality type prefer a straightforward, methodical approach based on facts and data. Life is one big equation to solve, and emotion can be seen as fickle and unreliable. This does not mean they are cold and emotionless, but they are more able and willing than others to set those feelings aside and take an unemotional view of things.

This can also mean that they might arrive at conclusions faster than others if they think they have all the facts, and their decisions are usually sound and well-reasoned.

2. You Are Skeptical
Rational individuals question everything. Even if all the data is pointing in the same direction, they will still seek out any evidence to the contrary. They look for any possibility that things will not go according to plan – not because they are pessimistic or cynical, but simply because they want to be thorough. They don’t want failure to occur because they did not ask enough questions or pursue enough leads.

3. You Are Calm & Balanced
Along with their tendency to suppress their emotions, Rational people always appear balanced and focused. Nothing seems to get under their skin or ruffle their feathers. They can remain calm through any crisis, which makes them excellent teammates when new requirements get added at the last minute. This can also mean that they do not show their emotional side when it matters, and they can seem passive at social gatherings.

They prefer instead to guard their feelings and offer a sense of stability to others. This makes them reasonable partners in a romantic relationship.

4. You Value Knowledge & Facts
A Rational individual has no room for intuition or “feeling” things out. They depend on their senses for everything, and much prefer concrete data – if it can’t be measured, it’s not useful. Numbers, measurements, and accurate readings are all of paramount importance to Rational people.

When they start a new hobby, they dive in and learn as much as possible and quickly become self-taught experts. If they are responsible for a family gathering, they will research and plan out everything from food to entertainment to transportation, and will have accounted for every variable.

5. You Strive to Become the Best
Rational people take their preference for accuracy and try to rise to the top in any situation. They believe that with the right facts on their side, they can become the best in their field. They don’t engage in any activity merely for enjoyment purposes; there is always a reason for what they do, and they don’t do anything without striving to deliver with the highest quality.

They have a natural drive to supersede others in every scenario; when a possible promotion opportunity is announced, they are the first to figure out exactly what it will take to earn it. Even in their pastimes and social life, they strive for excellence in their own eyes and in front of others, wanting to be seen as reliable and worthy of attention.

6. You Are Innovative
Despite their tendency to look at hard data, Rational people are extremely innovative. They can see patterns where others cannot and will use that to their full advantage. They won’t rely on a gut feeling but will instead think through every possibility and choose the one that makes the best use of the information and resources they have at hand.

“Imaginative” may not be the best term or the one they would apply to themselves, but it does fit. They would instead say that an out-of-the-ordinary solution was easily apparent in the data, and they simply followed things through to a natural conclusion.

7. You Are Independent
Rational individuals have their own way of doing things, and they do not seek the approval of others before moving forward. Such approvals will only slow them down or be based on something that has no direct bearing on the outcome they seek. Rules, regulations, and even people themselves can be seen as roadblocks on the way to accomplishment, and Rational people seek to avoid roadblocks at all costs.

This also applies to their personal lives in that they have their own way of doing things that may not fall in line with what others do. They know what works for them, and they will do it regardless of what other people think.

8. Celebrities & Historical Figures
Well-known Rational types are Margaret Thatcher, Douglas MacArthur, Susan B. Anthony, Bill Gates, Walt Disney, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and Thomas Jefferson.


Keep in mind that the Keirsey temperament model is closely aligned with the Myers-Briggs personality test. Each of the four temperaments listed above can be broken down even further by the varying personality combinations found in this sister model, and many of the analyses and interpretations align very closely. That being said, a casual observer can take this test on its own merits, and it is an extremely useful tool for assessing someone’s temperament based on several dimensions of personality.

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