PTypes - Personality Types
PTypes Temperaments

Idealist Rationalist Traditionalist Hedonist

The Rationalist (choleric) Temperament

The Anesthetic Idealized Image

"Rationals pride themselves on being ingenious, independent, and strong willed" (


The Rationalist type prefers power and disprefers weakness. The Rationalist prefers:

  • Power.
  • Control.
  • Status.
  • Recognition.
  • Science.
  • Authoritativeness.
  • Eloquence.
  • Energy.
  • Governance.
  • Greatness.
  • Influence.
  • Means.
  • Personage.
  • Potency.
  • Prerogative.
  • Privilege.
  • Strength.
  • Supremacy.
  • Talent.
  • Will power.

David Keirsey reconfigured the typology created by Isabel Briggs Myers to a scheme of four groups of four types that corresponds to the classic four temperaments. In Please Understand Me (1984), he defined one group as the Rational temperament, which I call the Rationalist:

Rationalists want to understand and gain power over nature, to understand, control, predict, and explain realities, to be seen as competent, to have, most of all, competencies, capabilities, abilities, capacities, skills, and ingenuity, to be able to do things well under varying circumstances, to constantly improve, to be free from errors, to increase their store of knowledge, to learn as much as they can, to rearrange the environment, either through constructing physical edifices or building institutional systems, to speculate about the possible motivations and thoughts of those they are with, trying to fit their experiences into some system (Keirsey, 1984, pp. 47-57; cf., Heineman (NT)).

The pathological representation of the Rationalist temperament type is the Anesthetic Personality.

Areas of interest

Many of these additional topics originated in ideas expressed by David Keirsey in Please Understand Me and Please Understand Me II.

abstract art, abstract thinking, acquiring intelligence, acquisition of knowledge, acquisition of skill, all-work-no-play, alternate lifestyles, aphorisms, authoritativeness, autonomy, behaviorism, biologists, books, bringer of fire, building institutional systems, building systems, calmness, cardiology, categories, causality, circular causality, circular processes, clarity of vision, coherence, collecting information, compact communication, competence, competencies, competency, complex systems, complicated subjects, comprehension, compulsion to improve, constructing edifices, control, controlling, criminology, critical experimentation, curiosity, cybernetics,



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Positive attributes: action-oriented, adventurous, ambitious, analyzing, assertive, autocratic, autonomous, bold, calm, capable, chief, collected, competent, competitive, conceptual, confident, cool, courageous, daring, decisive, demanding, determined, direct, dominant, driver, efficient, forceful, generative, global, identifier, independent, ingenious, inventive, leader, logical, mover, objective, opinionated, outspoken, persuasive, positive, powerful, pragmatic, proactive, productive, progressive, resourceful, responsible, results-oriented, ruler, self-assured, self-directed, self-reliant, serene, skilled, strong-willed, succinct, sure, task-oriented, tenacious, tranquil.

Negative attributes: aggressive, always right, angry, argumentative, arrogant, bossy, calculating, cold, crafty, critical of others, demanding, distracted, dominating, domineering, doubting, frank, harsh, headstrong, impatient, impulsive, insensitive, intolerant, lord over others, manipulative, merciless, nervy, power-oriented, preoccupied, proud, pushy, rash, resistant, sadistic, self-serving, severe, short-tempered, skeptical, solipsistic, stubborn, tactless, tough, tyrannical, unaffectionate, unsympathetic, workaholic.

Noteworthy Examples

Bella Abzug, Muhammad Ali, Idi Amin, Hannah Arendt, "Arthur Fonzerelli," Isaac Asimov, Charles Baudelaire, Bruno Bettelheim, Napoleon Bonaparte, Leonid Brezhnev, Julius Caesar, Al Capone, Truman Capote, Jimmy Carter, Carlos Castaneda, Fidel Castro, Dick Cavett, Elvis Costello, Tom Cruise, Jeffrey Dahmer, Charles Darwin, Bette Davis, Rene Descartes, Helene Deutsch, "Don Vito Corleone," Michael Douglas, Albert Einstein, Erik Erikson, M. C. Escher, Hans Eysenck, William Faulkner, Bobbie Fischer, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Michael J. Fox, Sigmund Freud, Betty Friedan, Indira Gandhi, Bill Gates, Charles de Gaulle, Richard Gere, Mikhail Gorbachev, Glenn Gould, Andrew S. Grove, George Gurdjieff, "Harry Potter," Stephen Hawking, Alfred Hitchcock, Saddam Hussein, John Huston, Lee Iacocca, "Jay Gatsby," Julian Jaynes, Lyndon Johnson, Jim Jones, James Joyce, Theodore Kaczynski, Franz Kafka, George A. Kelly, Martin Luther King Jr., Stephen King, Henry Kissinger, Kurt Kobain, Stanley Kubrick, k. d. lang, John Lennon, Doris Lessing, Courtney Love, David Lynch, Douglas MacArthur, James Madison, Madonna, Norman Mailer, Mao Zedong, Ferdinand Marcos, Christopher Marlowe, Karl Marx, W. Somerset Maugham, Golda Meir, Iris Murdoch, Isaac Newton, Friedrich Nietzsche, Georgia O'Keefe, Aristotle Onassis, Cynthia Ozick, H. Ross Perot, Pablo Picasso, Edgar Allan Poe, Ezra Pound, Mario Puzo, Muammar Qaddafi, Dan Quayle, Ayn Rand, J.K. Rowling, Jean Paul Sartre, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Frank Sinatra, B. F. Skinner, Mickey Spillane, Baruch Spinoza, Joseph Stalin, Sting, Meryl Streep, Barbara Streisand, "Tom Sawyer," Harry S. Truman, Mark Twain, Mike Wallace, Barbara Walters, Andy Warhol, James Watson, Simone Weil, Edward O. Wilson, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tom Wolfe.

Index of noteworthy examples


Aggressive Idiosyncratic Inventive Solitary

Keirsey, David, and Marilyn Bates (1984). Please understand me: character and temperament types. 4th ed. Del Mar, CA: Prometheus Nemesis [distributer].

* Sources of Attributes

The positive and negative attributes were compiled from the following four dimension personality instruments:

Littauer, Florence (1992). Personality plus : how to understand others by understanding yourself. Rev. and expanded ed. Tarrytown, NY: F.H. Revell.

Williams, Xandria (1996). The four temperments: how to achieve love, health, and happiness by understanding yourself and the people around you. New York: St. Martin's.

Merrill, David W. and Roger H. Reid (1981). Personal styles and effective performance : make your style work for you. Radnor, PA: Chilton Book Co.

Keirsey, David (1995). Portraits of temperament. Del Mar, CA: Prometheus Nemesis.

Social Style and Conflict :

Career/LifeSkills Resources Inc. > True Colors :

Hartmann, Taylor (1998). The color code : a new way to see yourself, your relationships, and life. New York: Scribner.

Disc Interconsult - Personality Profiling: DISC History :

Was, Mike, Alan Combs and Julie N. Combs (1999). Finding your strong suit: how to read your spouse, boss, partner, lover, opponent, & yourself. Los Angeles: Renaissance Books.

Idealist Rationalist Traditionalist Hedonist

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