Many theories about personality and general psychology were developed long ago but still hold true today. Hippocrates, a Greek physician that lived from 460-370 BC, had a theory that connected the inner workings of the body to a person’s personality and behavior. He theorized that human feelings and behaviors are connected to an overload or depletion of body fluids that he called humors.
This led to the development of the four temperament theory which was later generalized to characterize and identify four main personality types: sanguine, choleric, melancholic, and phlegmatic. While modern medicine has not found a biological link to the theories of Hippocrates, theorists continue to use the language of his early understanding of temperament to describe the different character traits of people today.
Over time, theorists have defined people with a sanguine temperament as having mostly characteristics similar to extroverts; that is, being highly energetic and outgoing. Those with a sanguine temperament are talkative, charismatic, friendly, and full of life.
Traits of a Sanguine Personality Type
As with any personality trait, there are positive and negative attributes about a sanguine temperament that impact the daily lives of those that have them.
Positive Attributes of a Sanguine Temperament
- Full of Energy – Sanguine people are usually the ones who never seem tired or down. They’re quick-witted and people find them clever and funny.
- Thrill Seeking – They love adventure and new experiences.
- Being Social Butterflies – They love being around people and crave the energy of interacting with others.
- Easy Going – They usually don’t take life too seriously and are able to get over any conflicts that arise without much difficulty.
- Optimistic – They usually have a positive outlook on life and can see the bright side of things.
- Strong Communicators – They love to talk and are able to convey information to others easily and comfortably, sharing ideas in a way that can interest others.
- Confident – Generally people with a sanguine temperament have a higher self-esteem and portray themselves as being confident in who they are.
- Mindful – Sanguine people often seem to live in the moment and don’t focus too much on the past or present.
Negative Attributes of a Sanguine Temperament
- Recklessness – Their tendency for thrill seeking can put them in unsafe situations that could harm themselves or others.
- Impulsivity – They tend to make quick, irrational decisions.
- Poor Concentration – They may bore easily and find it hard to stay focused on a task.
- Addictive Personality – They can develop a dependency on substances that feed their high need for excitement throughout their life.
- Neediness – They often need reassurance of their positive attributes from others, even if they themselves feel confident. This can lead to a sense of neediness where they require a lot of reminders of their importance to others.
- Attention Seeking – They often need so much reassurance from others that they may struggle to feel completely devoted to their relationships; they never feel like one person can give them all the attention they need. This means that they end up engaging in activities that demand a lot of attention from crowds to show off their creativity and talent.
- Mood Swings – They can have mood swings and intense emotional outbursts without warning, which end as quickly as they start.
The four temperaments and their characteristics are not based on any psychological or medical principle. However, they are a framework that theorists use to try to understand and categorize human behavior. If you find yourself struggling with some of the more difficult attributes of a sanguine temperament, working with mental health professional or teletherapy provider can help you to understand where some of these negative traits come from. You can then learn how to overcome them to have a happier, more deeply connected life.
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- Saklofske, D., Eysenck, H., Eysenck, S., Stelmack, R., & Revelle, W. (2012). Extraversion–Introversion. Encyclopedia of Human Behavior, 150–159. https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-12-375000-6.00164-6