Temperament III: Analysts

This is the third in a series about “temperament” after Temperament I where we discussed the idea of temperament in general and Temperament II where we introduced the temperament of “player.” In short review, and acknowledging that there are many shades of personality assessment, we propose that there are four primary temperaments that give us a general orientation to the world, e.g.:

  • Players: seek experience, often excitement, adventure, and tend to take a rather physical engagement to the world
  • Analysts: whom we will discuss herein
  • Lovers: seek human connections
  • Caretakers: take care of things, both property and people

We admit to the obvious, that no one falls completely into one of these categories and that many people have perhaps two dominant temperaments, although our experience is that such is rare. More often, people have found ways of accommodating to the world that is outside of their basic life orientation and temperament. E.g., players perhaps have the most difficult time adjusting to life in America because this country tends to be caretaking first based on production, business, and the Protestant work ethic. So players often find ways of skirting these things and fail in life, or give into a caretaking way of life and end up unhappy. In Temperament II we discussed our daughter, Krissie, who operates primarily as a caretaker because of her profession at an insurance company and as a mother of two young children. She has accommodated to these seeming necessities of life. We also mentioned Kevin who was actually the stimulus for our understanding of the player personality 40 years ago. While distinctly a player, his profession is actuarial science. Now how does that sound as a fit for a player? Not particularly good. So he has also accommodated.

Accommodation is good but better is adaptation, which is primarily a Jungian word for a more positive and self-enhancing way of adjustment. The difference here is that accommodation tends to be a kind of giving in to something that is not particularly good for someone, while adaptation is a means of adjusting to the environment while not losing one’s life orientation. Adaptation also helps a person mature beyond his or her temperament while not losing the foundation what is one’s personality structure. True maturing is remaining foundational in one’s nature, which is one’s perspective of life, and then adding profitable means of operating out of one’s foundation. Jung referred to this kind of adjustment as adaptation, which we might also call developing one’s shadow, or one’s secondary nature. It is also important to mature beyond one’s foundation because it is impossible to be successful, happy, and productive in life without such maturing. If one does not mature beyond one’s foundation, one will tend to find an accommodation that is not valuable, which could be some kind of addiction, or more commonly doing something to a fault. As a caretaker myself (Ron), I spent many years working, fixing, and other doings to a fault. It is yet hard for me to just “hang out,” or dolce far niente as the Italians say, which is quite easy for my other daughter. So as we continue to study the four temperaments as an important way we have come to understand and value people, know that no one is any one thing, and that is important to “know thyself first” and then mature beyond ones’s basic foundation. Now, let’s look at the analyst temperament.

Characteristics of analysts

The primary element of such people is, as the name suggests, analysis. What is analysis? Analysis is taking apart or even breaking up something for the purposes of understanding, for the purpose of identifying the elements in something and ultimately to make things work more effectively. Synthesis is quite the opposite, namely the bringing together of things for the increased value of how things can work together more effectively. You can see how both analysis and synthesis ultimately have the goal of making things work more effectively. People with an analyst temperament love to break things up and see how they work, or perhaps not don’t work, to make things work better.

The second element that analysts have is problem-solving. They love to see problems in the sense that they are intrigued as to why something doesn’t work because it stimulates their interest in making them work. The “things,” by the way, could also be people, namely working to have people live more efficiently or effectively. They not only like to solve problems, they also like to prevent problems, namely for the same reason, to make things (or people) perform better. Analysts are fascinated by problems because they want to make the world a better place. They think, “What better thing to do for the world than to solve and prevent problems?”

There are several other characteristics that evolve out of these two basic elements of analysis and problem-solving, one of which is predicting the future. Because analysts look intently at how things work, or don’t work, they like to suggest how the future might work out with things. They might suggest, for instance, how a sports team might win or lose as they progress in a game, or they might see how a political candidate might succeed or fail after having examined the candidate and the voting populace.

It might seem quite antithetical to our discussion of analysts to suggest another characteristic, which is uncertainty. Analysts know a lot, usually much more than the rest of us, but they also know that they don’t know everything, so they fully understand the uncertainty principle that is quite basic to physics. You will rarely hear an analyst suggest some future event without a qualifier like, “it is not entirely clear to me.” So, they hedge their bets, knowing that they might wrong or inadequate in their analyses.

The value that analysts bring the world

Much. The obvious value that analysts bring us is their seeking to understand how things (again, also people) work and how they don’t work. So, their primary contribution to the world is to solve problems and prevent problems. We just spent three hours with our IT guy who helped us analyze some problems we were having with our emails, contacts, and other Internet challenges. Although Chris is not primarily an analyst by temperament (he is a “lover,” our discussion in Temperament IV), he was able to solve a myriad of problems that resulted from a breach in our email account.

Chris helped us solve our IT problems, but he also helped us prevent future problems. He gave us some ideas of how we could better utilize our computers, social media, and general maintenance of all the IT that is so central to doing business.

While analysts are primarily interested in preventing and solving problems, some analysts are truly investigative; they think about what could happen, what could be invented, and what could be discovered. Galileo, Newton, Einstein, and the like were most certainly analysts at heart as they discovered various elements of the universe. We are indebted to such people who are scientists at heart, but we are also indebted to people like Martin Luther King of the world who have seen possibilities like, “white children and black children on the mountaintop.” Might it be profitable for all for nations to have analyst leaders who were able to foresee potential problems and current problems with an eye for making the world a better place?

I will close this third edition of Temperament by noting two things. The first is this: analysts are my favorite people, and that would include my wife, consummate analyst that she is. Secondly, as with players and people of all stripes and colors, have challenges, which we will discuss later in this series.

Further Reading

Bates, J.E. and Wachs, T.D. (1994). Temperament: individual differences at the interface of biology and behavior. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

Johnson, R. and Brock, D. (2019). Watch your temperament. Prepublication manuscript available in our office.

Jung, C.J. (1971). Psychological types. Princeton, NJ: Bollingen Press.

Keirsey, D. and Bates, M. (1978). Please understand me: character and temperament types. Del Mar, CA: Prometheus Nemesis Book Company.

Feelings VII: It’s Not All About Hurt

How odd it must seem to start this blog with what seems like a contradiction to the title of the previous blog, “It’s All About Hurt.” All about hurt? Not all about hurt? What am I trying to say? I am saying that both are true, however paradoxical that sounds. In Feelings 6 we talked about the centrality of hurt, something that began to talk about in Feelings 2. If we knew how to process hurt, we would reduce wars and divorces to a minimum and reduce arguments to zero. Yes, hurt is very central in the business of human relationships, and I work diligently to help people understand hurt and effectively process it. The centrality of hurt that we discussed in the previous blog has to do with the origin of hurt. Hurt always originates from love. We can’t prevent hurt and we don’t want to prevent hurt. Why? Because without hurt we would have no improvement, no excellence, to success because all of these important matters of life depend on being hurt, recognizing that we have been hurt because we have lost something that we love, and then becoming better as a result of this lost love. So, we begin the current discussion by affirming that hurt is a central ingredient in life and that we have to recognize it, understand it, resolve it, and learn from it.

This is the seventh blog about feelings, and it is feelings that drive us, however impossible it is for us to define “feelings.” Hurt, and the emotion of sadness that is the core of hurt, is an important feeling but it is not the most important feeling we have. It is just the most difficult one, at least in this North American culture. Recall from Feelings 1 that there are two basic feelings that erupt from love: joy and sadness. If you want to improve your emotional and interpersonal life, you need to recognize and value both joy and sadness. In our book, The Positive Power of Sadness, we talk about the importance of sadness. But joy is equally important. If you want to have a fulfilling life, you need to learn how to express joy at least as much as you express sadness. Learning how to express joy, the practice of it, is just as important as learning and practicing hurt

We have spent a lot of time in the last blog on defining and discussing hurt.  Now we want to define and discuss joy. And even though it might seem peculiar, many people do not know how to really engage and express their joy.


All four basic emotions have to do with love. Joy is the feeling of having something, whereas sadness is the feeling of losing something, anger the feeling of having lost many things, and fear the feeling of potentially losing something. There are many forms of love, perhaps as many as there are experiences in life, but it is the experience of loving something that we call joy. If we love something, the loving of this something causes joy in our lives. But everything we love we eventually lose, so it is important to know both the emotions of joy and sadness that always accompany love. We will lose the people we love, the property we love, and the ideas we love…eventually. The fact that we will eventually lose something that we love should not keep us from loving, but it often does. The only way we can protect ourselves from feeling hurt and sadness is to avoid loving something. But in avoiding sadness, we also avoid joy. If we are going to love something, we need to experience the joy of having this something as well as allow for the process of feeling sad when we lose this something. Joy and sadness are companions in life as we love, lose, and love again.

We previously discussed the emotion of sadness that accompanies hurt. In this and following blogs we want to begin to discuss the other half of love: joy. As we go forward with this discussion, note how often you have some form of joy in your daily life and then note how often you express this feeling. If you really want to enhance life, you will get better at expressing the joys you have in life. Sometimes joy is a simple, indescribable, ineffable experience like Deb and I had the night before I wrote these words. We were sitting on our dock “up north” at our cabin in the waning dusk of the day and saw three loons pass in front of us just a few meters away, seemingly completely disregarding our presence. We had earlier seen two other loons that day and thought that this group of three might be the brood now on their own. We just watched as the three took turns diving into the water only to surface some 100 meters away barely visible in the dusk. This was one of those ineffable experiences that brought a sense of joy that was multifaceted: we felt a peacefulness, a connection with nature and a felt sense of gratitude as well. (Watch for Deb’s forthcoming blog on Grieving Loons) The moment passed quickly but the memory stayed. It was a moment of genuine joy.

Wondrous as the loon experience was last night I remember a time some years ago when a severe storm damaged the loon nest that was situated on the island just across from us on our little lake. Lost to mother and father loon were their young ones, and we heard the most woeful waling of the loons for several hours. They had loved their little ones and now they had lost them. These two very different experiences with Nature showed us how joy and sadness are intrinsically related to love. In this series on Feelings we have previously focused on the hurt, sadness, and relational difficulties that result from loss. The feeling of joy could come like it did last night, simple and wondrous, but it can come in many other forms, times, and places.  We want to turn our attention to the other half of the love phenomenon, the joy of loving something, which means the joy of having something. In forthcoming blogs we will be discussing:

  • How we experience joy in our five senses
  • How we experience joy in our sixth sense, which we might call intuition
  • How we experience joy with people
  • How we experience joy alone
  • How we experience joy with property
  • How we experience joy with ideas, hopes, dreams, and plans
  • How we express the feeling of joy in each of these experiences

Consider your own experiences and expressions of joy as we explore this important emotion. And as always, please feel free to comment, correct, or otherwise add to this and all our blogs. It is a pleasure to be of service.

Further Reading

Previous Feelings blogs

Forthcoming Feelings blogs on joy

West, M. (2007). Feeling, being, and the sense of self. London: Karnac

Damasaio, A. (2003). Joy, sorrow, and the feeling brain. New York: Harcourt Books.