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The Rational temperament is one of the four temperaments defined by David Keirsey. Correlating with the NT (intuitive–thinking) Myers-Briggs types, the Rational temperament comprises the following role variants (listed with their correlated Myers-Briggs types): Architect (INTP), Fieldmarshal (ENTJ), Inventor (ENTP), and Mastermind (INTJ). This temperament makes up only 5 to 10 percent of the general population, making this the smallest temperament group.
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Rationals are abstract in speech and utilitarian in pursuing their goals. Their greatest strength is strategy. Their most developed intelligence role is that of either Engineers (Architects and Inventors) or Coordinator (Masterminds and Fieldmarshals).
As the knowledge-seeking temperament, Rationals trust reason implicitly. They rely on objective observations and factual analysis in any given situation. They seek a logical argument as a basis for action. As strategists, Rationals strive to gain as much information as possible, applying what they learn to develop long-term plans and the steps for achieving them. They are characterized by a tough-minded personal style, tending to pursue either power or understanding. They are often strong-willed, ambitious, intelligent, and self-determined. Subjective thoughts and emotion have no place in the decision-making process of Rationals. Driven to excel, they work hard to achieve their goals, and they do well where they can take control or work independently on a task.
Rationals are drawn to science and technology. They usually seek careers involving systems—whether mechanical or electrical (engineering), organic (biology), social (psychology and sociology), or organizational (business and economics).
Rationals are pragmatic about the world around them, having little use for social conventions or sentiment except as a means to an end. They weigh logical outcomes before acting, looking for errors in reasoning—in themselves and others. Some believe that ethical concepts like good and evil are relative, depending on particular points of view. They regard time as the duration of events rather than as a continuum. They view places as the intersection of two crossing lines (as in Cartesian coordinates, for example).
Rationals appear calm even in times of turmoil. They achieve this state through an intense concentration of effort rather than through emotional detachment. They trust reason and strive for achievement. They are knowledge-seekers who aspire to technical superiority, and so are pleased when others defer to their expertise.
In romantic relationships, Rationals want a mindmate with whom they can discuss the topics that interest them, which are often abstract or theoretical, such as philosophy. As parents, they encourage their children to become self-reliant individuals capable of critical thinking. In their professional and social lives, Rationals are visionary leaders, developing and consolidating coherent long-term plans.
When under stress, Rationals may intellectualize or repress their feelings. The informative Rationals (Architects and Logicians) prefer theorizing, designing, and prototyping their ideas, which may cause them to feel overburdened when called upon to finalize their ideas into practical operation by themselves. This can result in feelings of inadequacy, which can lead to poor or no execution.
The directive Rationals (Masterminds and Fieldmarshals) experience stress when their long-range vision is resisted or derailed. They may respond by collecting more and more minute data or by becoming increasingly authoritarian, unaware of how their demands are perceived by others. When confronted with negative consequences in their endeavors, Rationals may experience feelings of incompetence, especially if they are not emotionally intelligent. They are frustrated by inefficiency and the perceived illogical tendencies of others.
Traits in common with other temperaments
Keirsey identified the following traits of the Rational temperament:
- Abstract in communicating (like Idealists)
Rationals use concepts, possibilities, theories, and identified patterns as a means for communication. Although Rationals are realistic, the abstract world serves as a tool for thinking independently and developing new ideas that can be used in more practical matters.
- Pragmatic in pursuing their goals (like Artisans)
Rationals are unconventional thinkers when deciding on a task or solving a problem. Individualistic by nature, Rationals observe their own interests as a response to action, free from societal conformity or traditional thinking. Rationals are not necessarily uncooperative, but they will refuse to perform a certain action if it goes against their understanding or experience and is not based on sound logic or the facts (as they understand them) in a given context.
According to Keirsey:
- Masterminds are introspective, logical, rational, pragmatic, clear-headed, directive, and attentive. As strategists, they are better than any other type at brainstorming approaches to situations. Masterminds are capable but not eager leaders, stepping forward only when it becomes obvious to them that they are the best for the job. Strong-willed and very self-assured, they may make this decision quickly, as they tend to make all decisions. But though they are decisive, they are open to new evidence and new ideas, flexible in their planning to accommodate changing situations. They tend to excel at judging the usefulness of ideas and will apply whatever seems most efficient to them in accomplishing their clearly envisioned goals. To Masterminds, what matters is getting it done—but also learning the principles of how to get it done efficiently and well; that is, at a professional level of quality. However, they may not give much thought to the social cost of getting there, "focusing so tightly on their own pursuits [that] they can ignore the points of view and wishes of others.":200
- Inventors are often nonconformists and can have a circle of friends who are interested in their ideas or activities. Inventors are generally laid back, nonjudgmental, and good conversationalists. They are often able to explain their own complicated ideas, as well as comprehend the complex ideas of others. In arguments they may use debating skills, often to the significant disadvantage of their opponent. This strategy can backfire, however, by alienating those seeking a cooperative relationship rather than a combative one—a typical source of conflict between Rationals and Idealists, for example. Inventors are generally ingenious individuals capable of rising to meet the demands of challenging situations. In work, they are usually good leaders of pilot products that test their abilities. Inventors are constantly looking for new ways to do things and usually have the social skills and drive to implement their ideas. According to Keirsey, Inventors are often perceived as the most outwardly arrogant of all types.
- Keirsey.com Portrait of the Rational.
- 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 (2001). Quick Guide to the 16 Personality Types in Organizations. et al. Huntington Beach, CA: Telos Publications. pp. 15–21. ISBN 0-9712144-1-7.
- "The Portrait of the Inventor (ENTP)," Keirsey Temperament Website, Accessed May 15, 2018.
- "Personality Zone: Tips on Fair Fighting between the Temperaments". Retrieved 2009-04-23.
- "Me!? Arrogant.." Keirsey Temperament Website, Accessed March 22, 2015.