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 corresponding Myers-Briggs types): Champion (ENFP), Counselor (INFJ), Healer (INFP), and Teacher (ENFJ).
Idealists are abstract in speech and cooperative in pursuing their goals. Their greatest strength is diplomatic integration. Their best developed intelligence role is either mentoring (Counselors and Teachers) or advocacy (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.
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.
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.
Orientation: The lives of Idealists are guided by their devotion to their personal ethics. 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.
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.
Values: The emotions of Idealists "are both easily aroused and quickly discharged." 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.
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.
Idealists experience stress when their desire for cooperation and harmony within their group conflicts with their desire for personal authenticity. 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).
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.
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. This is especially evident in the two advocating types (Champions and Healers).
Traits in common with other temperaments
Keirsey identified the following traits of the Idealist temperament:
- 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.
- Keirsey.com Portrait of the Idealist
- Keirsey, David (1998). Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence. Del Mar, CA: Prometheus Nemesis Book Company. ISBN 1-885705-02-6.
- 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.
- 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.