Ink-Stained Scribe

The Four Temperaments (for You and Your Characters) - Part II - Sensing/Perceiving

Last week, I discussed how to use the sensing and intuitive distinction in characters in description and exposition. As I mentioned in that post, the largest division of temperament occurs in the method of gathering and processing information (Keirsey). The next division is within the sensing and intuitive types.

This next bit goes into the background of the distinctions, so if you’re just interested in the behavior of the SP temperament types, skip everything between the camels.
In Please Understand Me, Keirsey describes the reasoning behind the division:

The Ns...opt either for...spirituality (self actualization) (powers). ... The Ss...choose (freedom to act) or...duty (social status). ...[F]eeling now distinguishes the...self-actualization motive from the thinking...power motive. ...[J]udgement (J) distinguishes the...duty motive from the...freedom motive (P).
Because intuitive (N) types experience the world in a more metaphysical way, it makes sense for the distinction to rest on whether they are thinking or feeling types, or--as Keirsey states--whether they persue self-actualization or powers (which he defines as knowledge or skills). This gives us two of the four temperaments:


There seems to be some disagreement over how the distinctions are made when it comes to the sensing types. In the first post in this series, there was a graphic that split up both Intuitive and Sensing types by whether they’re thinking or feeling. Considering the sensing types are mostly concerned with the facts, the experience, and the present it makes more sense to me to distinguish Sensing types based on their need (or lack of need) to make conclusions and create deadlines, or the pursuit of duty versus the pursuit of freedom.
So for the purpose of this blog series, I’m going to be using Keirsey’s distinction. Thus, the sensing temperaments are:


Temperament of the Day

(Sensing / Perceiving)

Dionysus riding a leopard.
Like a boss.
Sensing/Perceiving types are best embodied by the idea of the free-roller. Dionysus, the Greek God of wine and general debauchery, is a great example of the independent, fun-seeking SP.

They are independent, and rather than a work ethic, these types have a play ethic.They are optimists with a strong belief in and desire for equality. SPs are impulsive, and like being impulsive. They are the heart-breakers, the epicurians, and the easily bored.

SPs don't tend to pursue goals. They may have them, but the goal itself tends to be arbitrary. They run because they feel like running, not because they want to reach a finish line. This often means they have an inexhaustable endurance in comparison to more goal-driven types, because SPs aren't looking for a finish-line. It's all about the experience. As soon as the experience stops being fun, the SP can cast aside the goal like a banana peel (which also sometimes leaves the people around them in...slippery situations).

SPs go along with rules and regulations until a crisis strikes, or until they feel their autonomy is being challenged, at which point they break for the exit like Kim Kardashian in a wedding dress.

Despite their flaws, SPs are generally well-liked for their optimism, sponteneity, and the sense of adventure they bring to every day life.

Some Suspiciously SP Characters in Fiction Are:

  • Falstaff (Henry V, The Merry Wives of Windsor)
  • Sirius Black (Harry Potter)
  • Ron Weasley (Harry Potter)
  • Howl/Howell (Howl's Moving Castle)
  • Menolly (Harper Hall Trilogy)