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History of Personality Lingo

The evolution of PERSONALITY LINGO

Hippocrates (460-370 BC)

Quotemarks75 It is more important to know what sort of person has a disease than to know
what sort of disease a person has.   -Hippocrates

Often referred to as the “Father of Western Medicine” – Hippocrates is credited as being one of the originators of temperament theory. He observed that people in general seemed to have one of four approaches to life: Phlegmatic, Choleric, Melancholic, or Sanguine. Each correlated with a body fluid or “humor”. He theorized that a preponderance of one of the four humors was a strong predictor of personality type.


Yellow bile (Choleric) cantankerous
Black bile (Melancholic) gloomy

Phlegm (Phlegmatic) passive
Blood (Sanguine) buoyant

The number of notable contributions and remarkable distinctions since the time of Hippocrates are too numerous to name them all here. Instead, some of the most popular models that have impacted our modern personality lingo will be highlighted.

Carl Jung (1920’s)

Quotemarks75 Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.
–Carl Jung

Renowned psychologist Carl Jung is best known for his theory of psychological types. From years of observation and research, he proposed and developed the concepts of extraversion and introversion. He defined the two attitudes of Introvert (I) and Extravert (E) as the focusing of our psychic energy inward or outward. Although these terms have remained in our modern vocabulary, the way these words are typically used by the average person today differs from Jung’s original intent (see article “Introvert Does Not Equal Shy“). Later in his extended research, Jung noted that people further displayed “functions” or particular psychological patterns that remain the same in principle under varying conditions.


Sensing (S) Concrete information gathering by the way of your 5 senses

Intuition (N) Perception of meaning and possibilities by way of insight

Thinking (T) Decides from detached standpoint of logic and objectivity

Feeling (F) Decides by associating with situations and considering values and needs of people involved

Myers-Briggs (1950’s)

Quotemarks75 I dream that long after I’m gone, my work will go on helping people.
–Isabel Myers

Fascinated by the research of Jung, Katherine Briggs and Isabel Myers (mother-daughter team) developed the famous Myers/Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). One of the many ways they expanded the work of Jung was by adding two more functions. This addition of these two functions doubled the personality types designated by Jung: 8 x 2 = 16 personality types. Recognizing that using the four-fold combination of traits as descriptors for each type style would be quite a mouthful, they used specific letter combinations as a shortcut lingo for understanding their system. 


Perceiving (P) Those with an orientation towards this function spend more time gathering information as their circumstances unfold. They are most comfortable leaving options open and undecided as long as possible.

Judging (J) Those with an orientation towards this function move quickly through the information gathering stage in order to reach conclusions and closure as quickly as possible.

Keirsey (1970’s)

Quotemarks75 Our attempts to reshape others may produce change, but the change is distortion
rather than transformation. –David Keirsey

Embracing the two functions added by Myers-Briggs, Educational Psychologist, David Keirsey returned to classifying personality into four temperament types. In 1978, David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates published Please Understand Me using descriptors based on Greek Gods to represent each type: Apollonian, Promethean, Dionysian, and  Epimethean. Continuing to investigate personality differences and refine his theory of the four temperaments, Keirsey updated his terms in 1998 with the release his expanded book, Please Understand Me II. For ease of identification, Keirsey often refers to the letter abbreviations of the MBTI in conjunction with his personality temperament descriptors.


Idealist (Apollonian) NF
Intuition, Feeling

Rational (Promethean) NT
Intuition, Thinking

Artisan (Dionysian) SP
Sensing, Perceiving

Guardian (Epimethean) SJ
Sensing, Judging

Lowry (1970’s)

Quotemarks75 When you know what your core values and needs are, and feel good about them,
you can perform at your highest potential in every area . –Don Lowry

Author, educator and playwright, Don Lowry popularized the use of the colors blue, gold, green, and orange with his True Colors model. What began as a theater production by Don Lowry dramatizing each of the four dominant types, grew into widespread use of color terms. This popularity brought the concepts into the hands of the general public and caught the attention of other four quadrant personality models. Recognizing the practical benefits of using colors to trigger associations, even systems that had entirely different personality vocabulary started using color along with their descriptors.


Gold (SJ) Practical, dependable

Blue (NF) Spiritual, emotional

Green (NT) Inventive, analytical

Orange (SP) Active, hands-on

Miscisin (1990’s)

Quotemarks75 How do we bring out the best in each other instead of driving each other crazy?
That is the power of knowing your personality.   –Mary Miscisin

In response to the demand for more insights and applications of the personality principles, avid personality researcher Mary Miscisin authored the book Showing Our True Colors, first published in 2001 with several editions and translations throughout the years. After more than 25 years of experience in the field of personality theory, cognitive psychology and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), it became evident that it was time to open up her approach to include distinctions, research and data she had collected from years of combined knowledge. Recognizing that each system contributes to the popularity and application of the personality concepts– from humors and functions to letters, colors and other descriptors, it seemed only logical to call this collective vocabulary “Personality Lingo”.


Connector: connects their world with others, possibilities, feelings, and meaning

Planner: plans their world around consistency, responsibility, and rules

Thinker: thinks about the world; mentally active, questioning and innovating

Mover: moves in and about their world; spontaneous, adventurous, risk-taker

Continuing Evolution

 Quotemarks75 The connection between health and personality that Hippocrates theorized centuries ago continues to evolve. – Ed Redard, MD

In 1995 Mary Miscisin teamed up with Dr. Ed Redard, a family practice physician who integrated western medicine with holistic methods using hypnosis, NLP, cognitive psychology, nutrition, and personality theory into his medical practice. For the next several years, they conducted extensive researched together and collected information about personality and its important role in health, especially in the areas of stress management and weight loss. From case studies and focus groups to questionnaires, online surveys and one-on-one interviews – the personality concepts were integrated. The resulting data and success rate was outstanding!  The evidence is clear. An important key to health is discovering how to work with your personality strengths instead of against them.

 Modern research indicates our temperament is coded into our DNA

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