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About my temperament

I took a curious personality test at work the other day and figured it’s worth describing in a post.

The test is called Keirsey Temperament Sorter and aims at identifying your temperament from amongst four standard types, and then further detailing it into one of the sixteen common “characters”, or personality types.

There are 70 questions, each with a binary answer, of the kind of You are the happiest a) while working on a project, b) when the job is finished, or When approached by strangers you tend to be a) open and friendly, b) reserved and curt. The answers form the basis of your score along Jung-Myers dimensions of personality. There are ten points on each axis to go around. The more you score on one side of the dimension – your “preference” – the less is left on the other end. Your combined preferences define your overall personality.

First dimension is Extraversion/Introversion (E-I), i.e. whether you are gregarious and expressive or private and reserved. My closest friends may find it strange, as I happen to be loud and convivial in the company of people that I am comfortable with, but I personally was shocked that I did not score a perfect 10 for Introversion. I got 9.

Sensation/Intuition (S-N) dimension differentiates between types of human focus. In other words, high Sensory scores mean attentiveness to outside world of concrete things, whereas high Intuitive scores suggest more attention to the inside world of abstract ideas. This was my most even-balanced dimension – I scored a 6 for Sensation.

Next is the Thinking/Feeling (T-F) dimension, which goes to what plays bigger role in decision-making process. Despite my occasional combustible tendencies, I always thought of myself as being a think-it-through type of a person. No wonder, then, that I got an 8 for Thinking.

Finally, Judgment/Perception (J-P). It measures how people process information and arrange their lives. High score on Judgment means quickly making up one’s mind and committing to a course of action, while high score on Perception means keeping options open and timetables flexible. This result was the most surprising: I knew I would score higher on Judgment, but I did not expect a 9…

The four standard character types are: Artisans, who are spontaneous and freewheeling; Guardians, who are wired to seek stability and cherish responsibility; Rationals, who tend to be individualistic and focused on improving their intelligence and competence; and Idealists, who are likely to be people-oriented and helpful to others.

Further, each of these types is associated with a leadership style (also called type of intelligent role or talent). Artisans are tactical, Guardians – logistical, Idealists – diplomatic and Rationals – strategic.

So, who am I? My preferences of ISTJ make me a Guardian, with further breakdown into Inspector character type (the other choices are Supervisor, Provider and Protector). In other words, I am neither spontaneous, nor people-oriented, nor even focused on improving my level of competence (how about that?); I am, instead, a dependable, hard-working individual, focused on community and traditions…


Ok, some of the traits ascribed to me do make sense. Dependable? Check. Dutiful? Check. A bit of a freak when it comes to things being in order? Check. Intolerant of people not up to my own standard? Check, as well.

There are other things that are, without any false modesty, true in this assessment. Strong work ethic, responsible to the core, operating in a way that is thorough, steady, reliable and orderly, wanting others to be orderly as well all describe me to a large degree. Determined to be on time and on schedule and happiest when able to schedule activities and stick to the schedule are my very obvious characteristics. Not a temperament that jumps into any personal or professional situation half-cocked is a fair description. I am certainly very comfortable when life appears to be planned and structured.

The dubious trait of not being comfortable with anything that gets too fancy can be bent to fit me. As long as we replace the word fancy with gaudy or ostentatious.

I’ll even give you Don’t really trust newfangled gadgets. Until they become cheaper and more stable, that is. I am a technologist, after all.

I am definitely the kind of person who will see that rules are followed, laws are respected and standards are upheld. People who aren’t willing to behave accordingly rub me the wrong way. Totally.

Skilled in creating lines of communication and at following through on jobs until completion are a couple of my best professional qualities. I also like to get things clear, settled and wrapped up, which is bread and butter for any self-respecting Guardian/Inspector.

Guardians are also described as loyal mates, responsible parents, stabilizing leaders. Me. Me. Me again (if I say so myself).

They want organization to run on solid facts and are able to survey, remember and apply a great amount of factual information. Ok, great may be a stretch, yet, still, me.

But then, there are supposed facets of my personality that I can only laugh about.

Guardians are law-abiding individuals who place trust in authority and go out of their way to seek justice. My disregard for law does not go too far, stopping at driving above the speed limit, making me mostly law-abiding, but I possess a healthy doze of dislike for cops, politicians and other authoritative types. I definitely have a heightened sense of fairness – maybe, even justice, – and can imagine myself going out of my way to right a wrong, but I do not recall the last time that I actually have done that. Could be that it was on my way already…

Guardians tend to be concerned citizens who are willing to join together with others around them. Huh?

They typically value the camaraderie and security in belonging to groups. That’s hardly me at all. Outside of being with family and friends, I am as individualistic as they come.

Their strengths are in establishing schedules, routines, rules, protocols. They value contracts, regulations and standard operating procedures. They don’t deviate from instructions or protocol. They are right at home with paperwork and maintain effective data flow up and down the hierarchy. Oh, come on!!! Yes, I like planning and enjoy structure, but I am horrible with creating rules and procedures myself, or anything that has to do with bureaucracy. In fact, there are very few things that I hate more than required paperwork. And I am more than willing to bend the rules, as long as there is a noble goal in sight. Finis sanctificat media, to a reason.

Guardians preserve and nurture traditions, and often create them, establishing customs and ceremonies, as well as hold social ceremonies dear? Believe me when I say that the only thing I truly hold dear is being with family and friends. Through being orderly, they may earn a reputation for being cold and unfeeling? I had to work really hard to rectify my past reputation of being too passionate, which some people saw as an obstacle to my career progress. Like to stay connected with community? Uh, no. Tendency to resist new ideas? Puh-leeze!!! Strive to keep working environment neat and orderly? Well, ok, I admit that I seriously hate clutter, even though I learned to tolerate it a bit while sharing the home office with my lovely family.

The bottom line is, the profile largely fits me, and I am obviously intelligent enough to realize that there is no possible way for just sixteen personality types to perfectly fit every human being. Therefore, the sensible way to view this exercise is to admit that many of my major traits do indeed correspond to this temperament designation, and the rest should be viewed as natural deviations. The problem is that I do not seem to like the designation too much… :'(

They gave me a couple of examples of famous Guardians. We supposedly make over 40% of the world population (it is the most commonly found temperament), yet the best examples they could come up with were Harry Truman and Queen Elizabeth II. Both deserving admiration, neither exactly truly inspiring. Then again, Guardians normally do not require something as ephemeral as inspiration


  1. Yan Leychkis

    I too took this test recently and tested as ISTJ/Inspector. What’s even more interesting, however, is that ISTJ happens to be the most common personality type among U.S. law students, claiming about 17% of the students surveyed. So much for the popular image of lawyers as loud and pushy extraverts.

    Keep up the good work,


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