Idealist temperament

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The Idealist temperament is one of four temperaments defined by David Keirsey. Correlating with the NF (intuitive–feeling) Myers-Briggs types, the Idealist temperament comprises the following role variants (listed with their correlating Myers-Briggs types): Champion (ENFP), Counselor (INFJ), Healer (INFP), and Teacher (ENFJ).[1]


Idealists are abstract in speech and cooperative in pursuing their goals. Their greatest strength is diplomatic integration. Their best developed intelligence role is that of either the Mentor (Counselors and Teachers) or the Advocate (Healers and Champions).

As the identity-seeking temperament, Idealists long for meaningful communication and relationships. They search for profound truths hidden beneath the surface, often expressing themselves in metaphor. Focused on the future, they are enthusiastic about possibilities, and they continually strive for self-renewal and personal growth.[citation needed]

Idealists strive to discover who they are and how they can become their best possible self -- always this quest for self-knowledge and self-improvement drives their imagination - and Idealists yearn to help others make the journey too.[citation needed]

Interests: Idealists tend to study the humanities. They seek careers facilitating the personal growth of others, whether through education, counseling, or other pursuits that promote the happiness and fulfillment of individuals and society.[citation needed]

Orientation: The lives of Idealists are guided by their devotion to their personal ethics.[1] They are altruistic, taking satisfaction in the well-being of others. They believe in the basic goodness of the world and of the people in it. They take a holistic view toward suffering and misfortune, regarding them as part of a larger, unknowable truth, a mystical cause-and-effect. With an eye toward the future, they view life as a journey toward a deeper spiritual knowledge.[citation needed]

Self-image: The Idealists' self-esteem is rooted in empathetic action; their self-respect in their benevolence; and their self-confidence in their personal authenticity.[citation needed]

Values: The emotions of Idealists "are both easily aroused and quickly discharged."[2] Their general demeanor is enthusiastic. They trust their intuition and yearn for romance. They seek deeper self-knowledge and want to be understood for who they are behind the social roles they are forced to play. They aspire to wisdom that transcends ego and the bounds of the material world.[citation needed]

Social roles: Idealists seek mutuality in their personal relationships. Romantically, they want a soulmate with whom they can share a deep spiritual connection. As parents, they encourage their children to form harmonious relationships and engage in imaginative play. In their professional and social lives, Idealists strive to be catalysts of positive change.[citation needed]


Idealists experience stress when their desire for cooperation and harmony within their group conflicts with their desire for personal authenticity.[3] Since Idealists often go to great lengths to try to ensure that everyone's needs are met, they can become frustrated when others fail to do the same, either by acting independently of the wishes of the group, or by trying to enforce the wishes of the group without regard to individual needs. This tension is especially evident in the two mentoring types (Counselors and Teachers).[citation needed]

Idealists tend to come by their best ideas through a combination of intuition and feeling, so they may have difficulty explaining how they reached their conclusions. They may become frustrated, or even insulted, when others fail to share their enthusiasm and instead want an explanation of the reasoning behind the Idealist's insights. Since inspiration is not a conscious process, the Idealists may not have an immediate explanation, even though their reasoning is sound, and so may feel dismissed and undervalued.[citation needed]

Idealists have a strong drive to work for the betterment of a group or organization, and can feel as though they are losing their identity if stuck in an environment that requires conformity.[4] This is especially evident in the two advocating types (Champions and Healers).

Traits in common with other temperaments[edit]

Keirsey identified the following traits of the Idealist temperament:[1]

  • Abstract in communicating (like Rationals)

Idealists focus not on what is, but on what could be or what ought to be. They see the world as rich with possibilities for deeper understanding.

  • Cooperative in pursuing their goals (like Guardians)

Idealists believe that conflict (and often competition) creates barriers between people, preventing society from reaching its full potential. Idealists seek harmony in personal and professional relationships, working toward solutions that respect the needs of all parties involved.



Teachers correlate with the ENFJ Myers-Briggs type.[2]

Teachers are introspective, cooperative, directive, and expressive. They tend to look for the best and to expect it from those around them. Teachers communicate a belief that everyone has the potential to succeed, and Teachers often seek to help others express this inner potential. In doing so, they may motivate others to meet the Teacher's positive expectations.[5] However, Teachers may unintentionally overpower others with their idealized vision.[2]:151

Teachers tend to be organized and like to have things settled. They usually plan their work hours and social engagements in advance and can be trusted to honor their commitments. Yet Teachers also use their creativity to invent engaging activities with little planning. Teachers gravitate more toward educational leadership than social leadership. Their primary interest is in personal growth.[2]:150

Teachers generally have a clear understanding what is going on inside themselves, and their intuition gives them insight into the feelings of others. However, they tend to be less skilled at logical decision-making, and may do well to seek the advice of a Thinking type.[2]:151 Teachers often mirror the beliefs, characteristics, and emotions of those they interact with to generate rapport. This helps them develop a sense of connection with the joys and problems of others.[5] However, they can become overly involved in other people's concerns, which can leave Teachers feeling overwhelmed.[2]:150


Healers are introspective, cooperative, informative, and attentive. Their tranquil and reserved exterior masks a passionate inner life. Healers care deeply about causes that interest them, and they often pursue those causes with selfless devotion. They are highly compassionate and empathetic to the needs of others, seeking to bring peace, health, and integrity to their companions and to society at large. They want to heal the problems that trouble individuals and correct the conflicts that divide social groups.[citation needed]

Healers tend to be private individuals who have a strong sense of right and wrong and an idealistic worldview. They are deeply committed to things that are positive or good and may be inspired to make extraordinary sacrifices in attempts to achieve their ideals. They are prone to errors of fact as they follow their feelings more than they follow logical analysis. However, following their feelings also means that Healers seldom make errors of feeling.[citation needed]

Healers are often misunderstood as children.[6] In practical minded families, their devotion to idealism may be frowned upon and may even be punished. Most other role variants can shrug off the parental expectations that don’t fit them, but Healers are greatly affected by it. They want to please their parents and their siblings and, in attempt to do this, they may mask or hide their differences. This can create inner turmoil within the Healer. Healers are often better at detecting this inner turmoil than other role variants. Healers seek unity of mind, body and spirit, perhaps because of the inner turmoil caused during their upbringing.[citation needed]

Healers are adaptable, patient with complicated situations, and welcoming of new ideas and information. They are impatient with routine details. As they are aware of people’s feelings, Healers relate well with others. They are also comfortable working alone given their private nature. Healers have an interest in scholarly activities and often have exceptional language skills.[citation needed]

Occurring in only about four to five percent of the population, and as one of the less common types, Healers can easily feel isolated. They value harmony and integrity in human relationships, but often find these values to be out of step with the more concrete pursuits of the rest of the world. Feeling "different", they may wonder whether something is wrong with them. But those differences—an ethical nature, a devotion to ideals, a commitment to harmonious interaction—are in fact some of their greatest strengths.[citation needed]

Love and relationships[edit]

One of the rarest of the types, Healers can be both extremely romantic and extremely independent. They are likely to want a mate who won't shrink from their expansive imagination. They are often attracted to those whom others have overlooked, given the Healers' rare ability to see the positive qualities that lie beneath the surface.[7]

In romantic relationships, Healers generally seek mates who, like themselves, have a highly developed inner life. An ideal mate must be open to the Healers' expressions of unique ideas. Healers may need long periods of privacy, followed by periods of intense intimacy, so they are best suited to a partner who can adapt to these changing needs.[7]

Generally thoughtful and considerate, Healers are good listeners and put people at ease. Although they may be reserved in expressing emotion, they are deeply caring and genuinely interested in understanding people. This sincerity is sensed by others, making Healers valued friends and confidants. They do not like conflict and go to great lengths to avoid it. In conflict situations, they place little importance on who is right and who is wrong. They focus on how the conflict makes people feel, a trait that can make them appear irrational and illogical. [8]

Work and career[edit]

Perfectionists, Healers have very high standards. Consequently, they are usually hard on themselves, and don't give themselves enough credit. They may have problems working on a project in a group, because their standards may be higher than those of other members of the group. This can lead them to become overly controlling. Healers are often well served to balance their high ideals with the requirements of everyday living. [8]

Healers tend to be flexible, unless one of their values are violated. When their value system is threatened, Healers can become aggressive defenders of their cause, and any project or job that Healers adopt is likely to become one of their causes. Although Healers do not generally focus on specifics, they cover every possible detail with determination and vigor when working on a project that engrosses them.[8]

Healers are often talented writers. Some may be awkward and uncomfortable expressing themselves orally, but demonstrate a wonderful ability to define and express what they're feeling on paper. Healers appear frequently in social service professions, such as counseling or teaching.[8]


Counselors correlate primarily with the Myers-Briggs type INFJ.[9]

Counselors are introspective, cooperative, directive, and attentive. They have a strong desire to contribute to the welfare of others. Counselors are gratified by helping others to develop and reach their potential. Counselors often communicate in a personalized manner. They tend to be positive and kind when dealing with others. Counselors are good listeners and can sometimes detect a person's emotions or intentions even before the individual is aware of them. This ability to take in the emotional experiences of others, however, can lead Counselors to be hurt easily.

Counselors usually have intricate personalities and rich inner lives. They tend to understand complex issues and individuals. They are generally private people who keep their innermost thoughts and emotional reactions to themselves. This quality can make them difficult to get to know. Counselors value harmony, which they work to maintain at home and at work. They may lose confidence, become unhappy, and even become physically ill if subjected to a hostile environment. Counselors may be crushed by too much criticism, though they may not express their feelings to others. Counselors desire harmony in their homes and find constant conflict to be extremely destructive to their psyches. Their circle of friends is likely to be small but deep and long lasting.


Champions correlate with the Myers-Briggs type ENFP.[10] Champions delight in novelty. They are optimistic, enthusiastic, and vivacious, craving expressions of strong emotion. With a dramatic flair, they share their experiences with others, hoping to reveal some universal truth or win others over in support of a cause. Attuned to possibilities, Champions scan their environment, probing the emotions, needs, and motivations of others. This sensitivity sometimes conflicts with their intense drive for personal authenticity. Spontaneous and personable, they attract others to their company.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Portrait of the Idealist
  2. ^ a b c d e f Keirsey, David (1998). Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence. Del Mar, CA: Prometheus Nemesis Book Company. ISBN 1-885705-02-6.
  3. ^ Rodionova, D.E. (2007). "Specifics of defensive-coping strategies in connection with typological characteristics of the personality". Psychological Science and Education (in Russian). Moscow, Russia (2007, N5): 259–266.
  4. ^ Berens, Linda V.; Sue A. Cooper; et al. (2001). Quick Guide to the 16 Personality Types in Organizations. Huntington Beach, CA: Telos Publications. pp. 15–21. ISBN 0-9712144-1-7.
  5. ^ a b " Teacher Role Variant". Retrieved 2008-06-21.
  6. ^ " Healer". Retrieved 2008-11-09.
  7. ^ a b "Idealist-Healer Classic Temperament Report from" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-03-07.
  8. ^ a b c d "Portrait of an INFP". Retrieved 2018-05-15.
  9. ^ Keirsey, David (1998). Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence. Del Mar, CA: Prometheus Nemesis Book Company. ISBN 1-885705-02-6.
  10. ^ Keirsey, David (1998). Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence. Del Mar, CA: Prometheus Nemesis Book Company. ISBN 1-885705-02-6.
  11. ^

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