Temperament Things-in-Common


Adapted from Linda V. Berens, Understanding Yourself and Others®: An Introduction to the 4 Temperaments-4.0 (Telos Publications, 2010) *Used with permission.                
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We often relate to more than one temperament pattern because each pattern has something in common with the others. These things-in-common reveal themselves in the interactions between people, especially in our communications. As you try to sort out which temperament is the best fit for you, you may identify a preference for one or the other of the dynamics that are at play when the temperaments interact. These dynamics are

  • Abstract versus Concrete language-The way we tend to think about things and the way we use words
  • Affiliative versus Pragmatic roles-The way we prefer to interact with others
  • Structure versus Motive focus-Where we focus our attention when interacting



These dynamics are always operating in a situation, and if we become polarized along these dimensions as we interact with others, communication can become extremely difficult. However, we need to remember that we have at least one thing in common with every temperament.


Catalyst™ & Theorist™
have in common

Abstract/Idealistic - Symbolic awareness, The mind's eye
Stablizer™ & Improviser™
have in common

Concrete/Realistic - Experiential awareness, The body's eye
Catalyst™ & Stablizer™
have in common

Affiliation/Sanction - Want everyone to work within the norms or values of the
Theorist™ & Improviser™
have in common

Autonomy/Pragmatism - Want to control own actions to meet goals
Catalyst™ & Improviser™
have in common

Motive - Focus on why people do things.
Theorist™ & Stablizer™
have in common

Structure - Focus on order and organization.


Language-Ways to Use Words

Language provides us a way to think about things, a way to translate back and forth between our thoughts, feelings, and world views and the events and people in our world. Our language usually reflects our natural way of viewing the world.

Abstract Language

Thinking and talking about concepts and patterns, referencing sensory detail as needed. Implication, hypotheses, or symbolic meanings might occupy most free "thought time."

Concrete Language

Thinking and talking about tangible realities backed up by sensory observation. Free "thought time" is likely filled with reviewing events, facts, images, memories, and how things look, feel, taste, and sound.

Roles-Ways to Interact

When people come together to accomplish something, they typically either (a) refer to other people and strive to get the job done together in an affiliative manner; or (b) refer to the desired outcome and more autonomously take whatever action they see fit to get the outcome in a pragmatic manner.

Affiliative roles

Affiliative roles require that people act in community, with a sense of what is good for the group. They may be people or task focused. They may be practical or idealistic. No matter what, there is always some sense of cooperation and agreement, even if competing or being an individual.

Pragmatic roles

Pragmatic roles require that individuals act in accordance with what they see needs to be done to get the desired result. They may be people or task focused. They may be practical or idealistic. When a decision needs to be made or an action needs to be taken, their first inclination is to act independently.

Attention-Interest and Focus

We can focus our attention on different things. Often in our communications we find our interest and attention going to either the structure of a situation or to people's motives. In the Stabilizer and Theorist temperament patterns, there is a focus on structure, and in the Improviser and Catalyst temperament patterns, the focus is more on motives.

Structure Focus vs Motive Focus

The structure-motive dynamic is about what people pay attention to, not necessarily their interests. A psychologist may ask about motive, and if she is of a Stabilizer or Theorist pattern, she is doing this to place those motives in a structure so she can help the client. If she is of an Improviser or Catalyst pattern, then knowing the motive is enough. Different occupations and interests influence people to focus on either structure or motive, regardless of their temperament.


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