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.
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.