Please Understand Me

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Please Understand Me
Please understand me cover.jpg
Author David Keirsey and
Marilyn Bates
Country United States
Language English
Subject Temperament, psychology, personality
Publisher Prometheus Nemesis Book Company
Publication date
Media type Paperback
Pages 210
ISBN 0-9606954-0-0
OCLC 11585453
Followed by Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence

Please Understand Me: Character and Temperament Types is a psychology book written by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates which focuses on the classification and categorization of personality types. The book contains a self-assessed personality questionnaire, known as the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, which links human behavioral patterns to four temperaments and sixteen character types. Once the reader's personality type has been ascertained, there are detailed profiles which describe the characteristics of that type.

Based upon the notion that peoples' values differ fundamentally from one another, Keirsey drew upon the views of several psychologists or psychiatrists: Ernst Kretschmer, Erich Adickes, Alfred Adler, Carl Jung and Isabel Myers who are all mentioned as predecessors in the psychology of temperament or personality.[1] Of these methods, preference is given to the Myers–Briggs test when determining personality type.[2]

Sixteen personality types[edit]

Keirsey and Bates offer a personality inventory to help readers identify their type. They are taken from the Meyers-Briggs Personality Inventory. The sets of indicated preferences create sixteen types:

  • I or E (Introversion–versus–Extroversion)
  • N or S (INtuitive–versus–Sensing)
  • T or F (Thinking–versus–Feeling)
  • P or J (Perceptive–versus–Judging)

An appendix offers a concise profile for each of the sixteen types.[3]

Four temperaments[edit]

Then Keirsey simplifies these sixteen types into four groups, whose archetypes he equates with the classical four temperaments: NT (Phlegmatic), NF (Choleric), SP (Sanguine), and SJ (Melancholic).

Keirsey organizes the groups asymmetrically, asserting Thinking–versus–Feeling as the most salient distinction among intuitives, but Perception–versus–Judging as the most salient distinction among Sensers. His methodology emphasizes the four temperaments, as he defines them, to generalize about different aptitudes and needs.

Please Understand Me II (1998) is a sequel, whose methodology generalizes more so according to these four categories.


  1. ^ Keirsey & Bates (1984), pp. 3-4
  2. ^ Keirsey & Bates (1984), p. 4
  3. ^


  • Keirsey, David; Bates, Marilyn (1984). Please Understand Me: Character & Temperament Types (Fifth ed.). Prometheus Nemesis Book Company. p. 182. ISBN 0-9606954-0-0.