How will we vote?

The influence of Temperament

“Yet his temperament really gives him a stronger bias than any of his more strictly objective premises.” William James

IF the last article gave you some insights into the characteristics of each of the four Temperaments – Stabilisers, Improvisers, Theorists and Catalysts – and the kind of Temperament some of our politicians may be, here are some things that each Temperament might look for when voting in the general election.

As a quick recap, two psychologists Dr David Keirsey and Dr Linda Berens developed the idea and used the term “temperament” to describe the occurrence of types of people. Each temperament has its unique basic needs or motivations, values, intelligence, talents and skills, elements of conduct and ways of communicating. Each of us tends to be most comfortable operating according to one of the four temperament patterns.


In this second and final essay on Temperament and the elections, we will examine how a person’s Temperament can influence his or her choice of candidate or political party in the March 8 elections.

Theorist voters trust logic and reason. They want to have a rationale for everything, and are skeptics. When confronted by a candidate, they might ask difficult questions or challenge the candidate to prove him/herself. They want a representative who is competent, and who knows his/her stuff. Theorists tend to look at the overall scheme of things in the political arena and may be better informed than others. Therefore, they may be argumentative and are likely to get to the bottom of things.

They might also look into the candidate’s credentials and professionalism. They frown upon candidates who are wishy-washy and who don’t take a strong stand on issues or who try to avoid a question. Being future-oriented, Theorist voters would also look at the bigger vision of things to come, and examine if the candidate has what it takes to create that vision. They are not easily swayed by rhetoric or charisma but rather, they want to see proof and evidence.

They would also like to see a candidate who is an independent thinker rather than a party yes-man or yes-woman who would just toe the line; they need to see someone who will stand up to right a wrong. They want to see fairness and justice from a more nationwide perspective.

Stabilisers value law and order, security, peaceful living and stability. They would appreciate candidates who have a good track record, know how to navigate the grassroots, and work hard for the constituency. They prefer candidates who are responsible and accountable, and who will acknowledge community or neighborhood leaders because they are sensitive about positions within communities.

Stabilisers have good memory and remember past mistakes and slip-ups; therefore it is important that a candidate takes time to listen to Stabilizer voters who bring up issues even if it is from the past. Stabilisers want candidates to help protect their livelihood and ensure there is community unity.

Stabilisers are cautious about change and they don’t take to audacious promises so easily. Rather, they want small tangible results that can be clearly seen. They trust those who have rendered service and assistance to them and are accessible to the people as a representative.

They are concerned that their community and rights are protected and want assurance that the candidates will keep to their promises. It’s also interesting to note that the media’s survey on what voters want show, at the top of the list, values such as security, stability, safety, and cost of living.

Catalyst voters want authenticity and they typically can tell if a person is being sincere or pretentious. They want a candidate who is benevolent and empathic. Their main hope is that their candidate can bring peace and harmony in this country. They want someone who can look beyond racial and political missions.

They want a politician who can really connect with the people, someone who knows how to be diplomatic, resolve conflicts and create harmony and unity. They also want to know the candidate’s true agenda and mission. Preferably they like to see that the candidate is working towards the nation’s greater good or is someone who is championing a cause.

Conflict and confrontation upset Catalysts because they feel these put up angry barriers between people; as such they dislike politicians who badmouth others and create animosity. They prefer a candidate who can bring people together to make a change; they also want a candidate who can inspire and motivate the entire community, and who can focus on the goal, vision, cause, or purpose they are fighting for rather than to put someone else down.

For Improvisers, the cliché “talk is cheap” sums it all up. They want a candidate who will take action. They want someone who will prove him/herself through his/her actions and not just through some political speech or manifesto.

They want to see tangible and immediate results. It would be a challenge to convince an Improviser without any proof of results through action. Unless the candidate has a clear bargaining chip such as something that they want done immediately after the elections, it would be hard to win Improvisers over. Most Improvisers have a “what’s in it for me” philosophy, and it is not easy to win an Improviser’s trust.

They will not trust anyone whom they think would threaten their freedom nor would they have faith in politicians who do not roll up their sleeves to get things done. Improvisers don’t take to hierarchy, titles or position but rather they like to see someone who responds quickly to troubleshooting or to managing difficult situations.

Although we might find some of all four of the above in our own voting trend, in my opinion, we will ultimately prioritise a decision based on our Temperament. To find out more about your best-fit-temperament, visit And happy voting.

Daniel Liew is managing director of Direct Results Asia Pacific Consultancy Sdn Bhd.

He is an organisational development specialist, focusing on helping organisations grow and honour individual differences. He is a leading expert in Asia on psychological type and has been a student on this subject for the past 17 years. He can be reached at


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