Who doesn’t love a Quiz, am I right?! Especially one that identifies your dominant personality type!

I know there are tons of quizzes out there about personalities: Which Disney Princess you are, or what Marvel superhero you are most like…

All joking aside, knowing your inherent tendencies and the unique mix of strengths and weaknesses that make up your dominant personality type is huge for understanding how to live your purpose in this life.

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As far back as the Greeks and Romans people have pondered the best way to classify personalities. The most enduring and possibly oldest personality system was put forth by Hippocrates, a Greek physician who lived in the 4th century B.C.

He defined four dominant personality types based on a person’s “humor,” or the proportion of bodily fluids in one’s body. (I know, a bit graphic right?) The predominant form of fluid determined the person’s appearance, behavior and psychological type, which he called temperaments.

Understanding the personalities is the first step in understanding people. If we can’t see the innate difference in others and accept them as they are, we will think everyone not like us is at least slightly irregular. When we understand temperaments, we begin to see why opposites attract. We learn that for a family to have a variety of temperament traits provides a variety of activities and interests.

The Four Temperaments Outlined by Hippocrates Are:






  • The sanguine personality type is characterized by blood and represents social usefulness.
  • The choleric type is characterized by extroversion.
  • The melancholic type is characterized by an analytical and detail-oriented person.
  • The phlegmatic type is indicative of a relaxed and easygoing personality.

Although no solid relationship exists between internal secretions and human behaviors (thank goodness!), Hippocrates’ temperaments still stand up today. Many personality types base their temperaments on those of Hippocrates but use colors or animals instead of the rather graphic terms Hippocrates chose.

I reference Florence Littauer’s book Personality Plus in this article, and base most of my understanding of the personalities from her work. I suggest you read it because it is the best one I have read that explains, in easy anecdotal terms, the four dominant personality types and how to manage them.

Littauer uses Hippocrates’ terms, however I prefer to use adjectives. I find it is much more likely that I will remember what an ‘Expressive’ temperament is like rather than a ‘Dolphin’ temperament or a ‘Sanguine’ temperament.


To take a more modern approach let’s look at the Four Dominant Personality Types in 21st Century terms:

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Expressive = The life of the party

And don’t we love and need Expressives in our life! They are the ones with a circle of admiring fans around them at any social gathering. Positive and optimistic, a bit absent minded, and a little messy and disorganized. They are always volunteering for things and planning fun events but not always following through on them.

They often have a colorful memory and are prone to exaggeration. They are very talkative and love to tell stories – sometimes with embellishments. Expressives always have lots of friends and everyone wants to be around them. They are natural entertainers and are also very creative.

They are often wide-eyed and innocent and very emotional, but in an expressive and explosive way. They move, wave, hug, and gesture A LOT. Expressives are curious and don’t want to miss out on anything fun. They inspire and attract others. They are optimistic almost to a fault.

Expressives are often good at jobs that deal with people or in positions of attention where they need to express their thoughts with excitement.


Expressives on TV / in the world: Joey Tribbiani (Friends), Penny (Big Bang Theory), Kimmy Schmidt (The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) / Kelly Ripa.


Driver = The Leader

Nothing would get done if it weren’t for Drivers. (If you ask a Driver anyway!) They are easy to understand and get along with as long as you do things their way.

Drivers are constantly achieving and succeeding. They are optimistic and outgoing like Expressives and often share this as a secondary trait. They are natural leaders and often in charge.

Drivers are very competitive and argumentative. In times of crisis, they take charge. They are often compulsive and must correct things that are out of place and right any wrongs. Drivers are confident and have a strong ability to make decisions.

People are usually offended by Drivers and they are not always popular because they are bossy and “always right.” They love to fix everyone else’s problems. They naturally see the practical answers and are a bit judgmental of those who don’t. (Which is everyone else of course!)

They are always more interested in achieving a goal than pleasing others, and they often organize dole out orders. (Which is just another way to say bossy, am I right?)

Drivers excel at jobs that require instant action and in areas that demand strong control and authority.


Drivers on TV / in the world: Monica Gellar (Friends), Paris Geller (Gilmore Girls), Lisa Simpson (The Simpsons) / Hillary Clinton


Analytical = The Thinker

Without Analyticals, chaos would ensue. (At least that is what they think). Analyticals are thinkers, organizers, and perfectionists. They set long term goals and stick to routines and tasks until complete.

They are perfection oriented which can often get in the way of them completing tasks. They are deep and soulful. They speak slowly and deliberately. They do not tolerate long emotional diatribes – just the facts please, ma’am.

They are talented and creative and are often musicians, painters and poets. Analyticals love lists, charts, graphs, and figures. They are often focused on little things like how to load a dishwasher (there is only one correct way, of course!)

Analyticals are very detail oriented, always planning, always orderly and organized. They are often very well dressed and meticulously groomed. They have very high standards for themselves and others. Economical, not wasteful or frivolous like an Expressive might be.

Analyticals have a deep concern for other people’s needs but are also very melancholy and moody and prone to depression. Analyticals make friends cautiously but are loyal, and thus have a few close and faithful friends.

Analyticals excel at jobs with numbers, graphs and a strong need for organization; science, law, mathematician, etc.


Analyticals on TV / in the world: Ross Gellar (Friends), Monk (Monk), Sheldon (Big Bang Theory) / Barack Obama


Amiable = The Laid Back One

Amiables are the great mediators between the other three dominant personality types. They help us to remember that hey, it’s all gonna be okay!

Flexible and happy where they are, humble, not trying to stand out. They don’t like to think too far ahead and like to take things slow and easy.

They never want to rock the boat so they will go along with the status quo. They are often not overwhelmed by emotion and can move calmly through a crisis and can be counted on to hold their tongue and be patient, even when provoked.

The tend to be realistic, not overwhelmed or pessimistic like an Analytical. They are often accused of being lazy and procrastinating. They are often late. They have many friends because they are calm, pleasant, and great listeners but it is hard to get them out because they would rather stay at home!

Amiables are best at positions of mediation and unity or in stormy situations where a calm hand is needed. They also excel in jobs and routines that might seem dull to others.


Amiables on TV / in the world: Rachel Green and Phoebe Buffay (Friends), Raj (Big Bang Theory), Homer Simpson (The Simpsons) / Ellen DeGeneres


Personality Blends

Now, you might be thinking “Hold on, not everyone can fit so neatly in to four boxes like that!” and you are right! Every one of us has a dominant personality and a secondary personality. Within those two personalities we have any number of the strengths and weaknesses associated with them, which is what makes each of us unique.

Not all of the traits listed for each will fit with you because you will have a unique blend of both your dominant and secondary personality. The most common blends are:

While it is common to have any number of traits from complimentary or natural blends, it is not common, and not really possible to have the majority of your traits from two polar opposites temperaments.

Where you do see this is in relationships. Good friendships and romantic relationships are often based on polar opposite personality types because one fulfills the needs of the other.

Expressives help Analyticals to be more outgoing. Drivers help Amiables to get more done. While an Analytical might help an Expressive to be more organized and an Amiable can help a Driver to relax.

As you can imagine, this can create quite the dynamic in any relationship, with the potential to create a power couple OR drive each other crazy with their wildly different ways of doing and being!


Strengths and Weaknesses

Both Expressives and Drivers see their strengths quickly and identify with them immediately. However, they can hardly bear to evaluate their weaknesses. One of their greatest faults is their belief that they don’t have any.

On the other side of the spectrum are Analyticals and Amiables. Because of their pessimistic natures, they have to think awhile before accepting their positive qualities but may embrace their weaknesses to a fault.

Once you understand your dominant and secondary personality type you can begin to look at the strengths and weaknesses associated with those temperaments and take stock of which ones you possess to harness them to your advantage.

How can you use this information? Check out my follow-up post on understanding your personality types and using your knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses associated with each to Get Out of Your Own Way and excel in life! Plus, check out this post all about self-improvement resources for each of the 4 Dominant Personality Types.

And don’t forget to take the quiz!

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Amanda Richey