MaryMac Books

Intergenerational Connections: Using Temperament and Psychological Type to Address Needs of Clients

by Mary McGuiness | May 31, 2017



“Every generation forms a collective group that shares the same cultural touchstones, a similar societal history, the same technology, and often, similar attitudes about the generation that came before it.”         Rita Murray and Hile Rutledge (2008).


Just as a family, a country, a community or a religious group has its own cultural identity,  each generation also have a distinctive culture. Understanding these generational differences gives us valuable insight into some of the powerful external forces that have influenced our clients. When we combine this understanding with our knowledge of individual personality types it can give us a powerful insight into our clients worldview and particular needs. We now have four generations communicating, living and working with each other:  Traditionalist, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials (Gen Y), plus a new emerging generation sometimes referred to as the Cloud Generation. Each generation has a unique perspective shaped by significant events and new technology.


Temperament Theory

To understand the generations a very useful model is the Temperament Theory described by David Keirsey (1998) in his book Please Understand Me II. This model is a modern version of the ancient Temperaments described by the Greek Philosophers Galen, Hippocrates and Plato. Keirsey uses Plato’s ‘character types’ to refer to the four Temperaments – Guardian, Artisan, Idealist and Rational. More recent labels used by some authors are Stabilizer, Improviser, Catalyst and Theorist. If we understand the Temperament differences, especially the core needs that drive each Temperament, it provides a useful framework for understanding the generations and how best to work with them. The core needs drive the behavior. Core needs lead us to value certain things and then to take on roles and behaviours that will help us to satisfy those needs. In therapy, if we focus on behavior the change is often temporary. Focusing on the core needs of the clients can have more lasting benefits. If the needs are met the dysfunctional behavior is no longer needed.


Psychological Type Theory

Temperament theory overlaps very closely with the 16 Psychological Types described by Carl Jung and Isabel Myers. Psychological Types theory is based on the work of the Swiss Psychiatrist Carl Jung (1875-1961). Jung noticed that much human behaviour that appears random actually follows clear and predictable patterns related to a few basic personality differences. These differences indicate the natural gifts and strengths of normal healthy people. This theory describes four pairs of characteristics or preferences. We can use all of the preferences, but each person has a natural preference for one from each pair. These preferences influence the way we behave, communicate and interact. The combination of the four preferences gives the personality Type. Jung’s psychological Type theory does not aim to categorize people. It categorizes the mental processes that people prefer to use. The ‘Type’ indicates which mental processes are most natural for that particular person.


The Eight Preferences

E          Extraversion: A preference for the outer world of activity, people, events and things.

I           Introversion: A preference for the inner world of ideas, thoughts, feelings, memories and impressions.


S          Sensing: Focus on past or present experience, what is experienced through the senses.

N          Intuition: Focus on patterns, future possibilities and the meaning behind ideas.


T          Thinking: Use logic to make decisions. Base decisions on laws and principles or logical analysis.

F          Feeling: Weigh values to make decisions. Decide what is most important for people.


J          Judging: Prefer to be planned and organized in the outer world, seeking closure.

P          Perceiving: Prefer to be spontaneous and flexible in the outer world, ready to explore new options.


The link between the 16 Types and the 4 Temperaments:

Temperament                                    Psycological Types

GUARDIAN  (Stabilizer)              ISTJ, ISFJ, ESTJ, ESFJ

ARTISAN  (Improvisor)               ISTP, ISFP, ESTP, ESFP

IDEALIST  (Catalyst)                  INFJ, INFP, ENFJ, ENFP

RATIONAL  (Theorist)                INTJ, INTP, ENTJ, ENTP



Guardian Temperament

The Guardians (SJ), sometimes called Stabilizers, are typically responsible, dependable, logistical and practical people. They focus on the way things have been done in the past, so they trust what they know from experience and are reluctant to change unless they can see that the change will work. They save and conserve resources and traditions. Guardians place high value on rules and authority and dislike any lack of respect for authority. They want security, routine and predictability so they work to maintain order in all areas of their lives. They enjoy being of service and so are attracted to business or service industries and careers such as nursing, teaching, public service, police force, military, finance, trades, administration and politics. They also enjoy ceremonies, awards and prizes that recognize their service. 

Of the 16 Types described by Carl Jung and Isabel Myers, the Guardian Temperament aligns with the four Types that have a natural preference for Sensing and Judging – ISTJ, ISFJ, ESTJ and ESFJ.  This combination of S and J indicates that the Guardians all have introverted Sensing (Si). This can be described as Sensory Memory (Si). These Si Types store sensory impressions made on the body in the past and recall them vividly when they experience some trigger to remind them. The memory comes flooding back with all the detail including visceral sensations. For example, an ISTJ smelling a particular perfume his wife was wearing was immediately taken back to a dinner date 15 years before. He could smell the food and see it and taste it, and could see what his wife was wearing and hear the music the band was playing. An ESFJ described how when she eats a really good meal in a restaurant her memory for tastes is so strong that she will easily recognise which herbs and spices have been used in the dish. She is able to go home a recreate the dish. 

This Si is locked into the body at an unconscious level, not the imagination. It is a tremendous gift, but can also be a problem. Negative memories locked into body can be relived in vivid detail when the memory is triggered 30 or 40 years later. This may result in depression, anxiety, hypochondria, nagging and relationship issues connected to such behaviour. One of the difficult challenges for a therapist is to help the client let go of the negative emotions connected with the past memory.

Core needs: To be psychologically and emotionally healthy Guardians need structure, order, responsibility and a sense of belonging. If these core needs are not met they will often complain to manipulate others into doing what they want. This may manifest in such behaviours as nagging, gossiping, excessive worrying, depression or being sick with stomach problems or muscle tension. Hypochondria are not uncommon with Guardians who are not coping with stress.

Intervention strategies: To help Guardians it is essential to focus on meeting the core needs of structure, order, responsibility and belonging. Useful strategies include providing order and structure in the form of timetables or physical order such as de-cluttering; helping them to find a sense of belonging for example by joining a support group; or opportunities to be responsible. It may also be important to help them redefine responsibility so that they can allow other people in their lives to accept some of the responsibility, rather than doing everything for others. 


Artisan Temperament

The Artisans (SP), sometimes referred to as Improvisers, are free spirit,  they are natural negotiators and trouble shooters. Like the Guardians they are realistic and practical, but unlike the Guardians they are spontaneous and flexible and often act on impulses. They focus on the present moment constantly seeking action, hands-on activity and movement. They want immediate feedback. Artisans are naturally optimistic and playful in their social lives and at work. And, they are tactical, able to get the job done with the least amount of effort. Artisans are attracted to careers that involve active physical work, such as trades, emergency services, sales, professional sport, fine arts and performing arts. Many Artisans are also found in business and finance especially, if there is an opportunity for variety and even risk taking such as the futures market.  

Of the 16 Types described by Carl Jung and Isabel Myers, the Artisan  Temperament aligns with the four Types that have a natural preference for Sensing and Perceiving – ISTP, ISFP, ESTP and ESFP. This combination of S and P indicates that the Artisans all have extraverted Sensing (Se). This can be described as Sensory Experience. It happens in the present and does not consider past or future. These Se Types live in the present moment constantly seeking stimulation and gathering information through their senses. They often prefer the outdoors or at least the ability to move around, not closed in by walls. They are very aware of what their bodies are doing so are naturally gifted in sport and performing arts and any action-oriented activity. Some examples of Artisans are Elvis Presley, Paul McCartney, Meryl Streep, Richard Branson and Steve Irwin. Having Se means they have enormous energy and the ability to move, play, sing and dance, or wrestle a crocodile.  They are usually capable of multi-sensory multi-tasking. This activity and high energy can be easily misdiagnosed as ADHD. 

This Se is so focused on the present moment that Artisans often neglect to look at future consequences of their actions, or to look back to learn from the past. This means they often repeat problem behaviour because they have not recognised the pattern. Research in the USA and anecdotal evidence in Australia indicates that Artisans are over-represented amongst inmates in the prison system. A counsellor in a Women’s Prison in Australia helped repeat offenders to examine each of their prison sentences. They were surprised to see that each time they were confronted with same problem, they reacted in the same way and received the same sentence. And they confessed that they had never looked back to see the pattern in their behaviour. Likewise, they often neglect to look ahead at the consequences of their actions.

Core needs: To be psychologically and emotionally healthy Artisans need physical activity, fun and freedom, and they need to make an impression. If these core needs are not met they will often engage in emotional blackmail or delinquent behaviours to manipulate others into giving the more freedom. This may include such behaviours as breaking rules, binge eating or drinking, tantrums or violent outbursts. Some Artisans may indulge in risky behaviours such as speeding in a car, surfing on top of trains or substance abuse. They may break into a home to steal things, not because they want the things, but for the thrill of taking the risk and trying not to get caught.

Intervention strategies: Artisan clients may find it difficult when asked to reflect on the past events. They have good short-term memory but often find it difficult to remember childhood events. When working with Artisan clients it is important to honour their core needs for freedom, action and fun, and to help them find socially acceptable ways to make an impact. They need rules and boundaries but will resist them. Give them some freedom within the boundaries. For example, they respond well when given clear choices with real consequences, honouring their need for freedom. But it is essential that they experience the consequences. If the person setting the boundaries backs down and doesn’t enforce the agreed consequences the Artisan will never take those boundaries seriously. A common misbehaviour of Artisans is the tantrum. For example, a child who throws a tantrum in a supermarket because he wants a particular toy. If the parent has said “No” but later gives in because of the tantrum the child knows exactly how to manipulate the parent next time. Establishing agreement or contracts works well with Artisans.


Idealist Temperament

The Idealists (NF), sometimes called Catalysts, are imaginative innovative and enjoy helping others achieve their potential. They are catalyst for growth and development. Idealists are naturally empathic and value harmonious relationships, so they are attracted to working with people. Idealists are found in large numbers in any career that has direct contact with people, especially the helping professions like psychology, counseling, education, medicine and personal development. They focus on the future possibilities for people, trusting inspirations and imagination. Idealists have a strong personal code of ethics, and they strive to be authentic. They seek approval, affirmation and cooperation The strengths of Idealists is their natural ability to understand and relate to people. Idealists make decisions that are consistent with their values more than logic. 

Of the 16 Types described by Carl Jung and Isabel Myers, the Idealist Temperament aligns with the four Types that have a natural preference for Intuition and Feeling – INFJ, ENFJ, INFP and ENFP. This combination of N and F indicates that Idealists all focus on big picture ideas and all make decisions with their values. The decision making of the of INFJs and ENFJs is extraverted Feeling (Fe) and focuses on the outer world, connecting with particular people or groups of people. The goal of Fe is to make decisions that create harmony and please others. Examples of Fe include behaving appropriately in a Church or celebrating birthdays and anniversaries. The decision making of the of INFPs and ENFPs is introverted Feeling (Fi) and focuses on universal values such as peace, love and freedom. People with Fi will defend people or causes that are consistent with their internal values, even if they disrupt the harmony in the outer world.  Examples of Fi include Nelson Mandela refusing to sign a piece of paper that would allow his release from jail because it violated his values, or refusing to purchase goods from a company that pollutes the environment. 

Core needs: To be psychologically and emotionally healthy Idealists need to find meaning in life, career and relationships, and need a sense of their own unique identity.  They also need harmony. If these needs are not met they will often play a masquerade game, denying reality so they don’t have to deal with it. This may lead to behaviours such as sacrificing themselves to please others, repressing unpleasant memories or avoiding conflict at all cost. A danger for the Idealists is that hey may lose their own identity trying to meet the needs of others. For example, Idealists as children will try hard to please parents and teachers to win approval. If this continues into adulthood they will often try to please their partner by behaving or dressing or acting according to what the other person wants. It is not uncommon to reach middle age and find that they have lost a sense of their own identity. They don’t know who they are. When they try to assert themselves or find themselves they may be met with hostility by family and friends. Their behaviour may be seen as aggressive.

Intervention strategies:To help Idealists it is essential to focus on meeting the core needs:  meaning, identity, harmony and approval.  Help them find meaning in their life, their work and their relationships. Help them find a sense of their own unique identity, to know who they are and to live that authentically. Because Idealists live so much in the world of the imagination it is very easy for them to ignore reality and delude themselves into believing whatever they want. Sometimes they need help to see the present reality. Bring them into the present to look at what is really happening. More than any other Temperament Idealists can easily repress unpleasant memories for decades and can even be convinced that they have experienced an event that in fact never happened. They will often benefit from therapies that explore the unconscious through meditation, art or journaling. They may also benefit from assertiveness training to help them deal with conflict. 


Rational Temperament

The Rationals (NT), sometimes called Theorists, are analytical, inventive, independent thinkers. They value knowledge and understanding because they seek competence. They are self-critiquing, and set very high standards for themselves and others. They question everything, constantly asking Why? Why not?  or What if? Rationals are attracted to science, technology and research. They like models and theories and particularly enjoy researching and problem-solving. Rationals focus on the future, not the present or the past, constantly seeking to find new ideas, new thinking and new technology. Their work often involves strategic planning and design rather than practical work. The strengths of Rationals are logic and theories more than relationships or reality. Their concern for people is mostly expressed through their search for justice and fairness.

Of the 16 Types described by Carl Jung and Isabel Myers, the Rational Temperament aligns with the four Types that have a natural preference for Intuition and Thinking – INTJ, ENTJ, ENTP and INTP. This combination of N and T indicates that Rationals all focus on big picture ideas and all make decisions with logic. The logic of INTJs and ENTJs is extraverted Thinking (Te) and focuses on the outer world, organising systems to manage time, money, people or resources. The goal for Te is competency and efficiency in what they do. Examples of Te include project planning, train timetable, a financial budget, or organising products into sections a hardware store. The logic of ENTPs and INTPs is introverted Thinking (Ti) which is internal analysis, and focuses on building models or frameworks inside the head. Examples of Ti include solving mathematical problems, planning moves in chess,  analysing ideas or a models to find the flaws in the logic. The goal with Ti is to develop internal models that are logically consistent. The model may be used to solve problems in the outer world, but not necessarily. The real goal is to get the model right.

Core needs: To be psychologically and emotionally healthy Rationals need to feel competent and to be seen as competent. They also need achievement, mastery and intellectual freedom. If these needs are not met they will often act like robots, dismissing emotions as irrelevant. This may include such behaviours as keeping others defensive by constantly asking what they think, want, feel or do, and why, or intellectualising everything, including emotions. They may also have mental blocks where they can’t remember familiar words or may be haunted by a particular memory, song or image that won’t go away.


Intervention strategies: To help Rationals it is essential to focus on meeting their core needs:  competence, mastery achievement and intellectual freedom. Strategies that are useful for Rationals include helping them to experience success so that they can reconnect with the feeling of being competent. For example, asking for their help with a computer problem is an effective strategy. Some Rationals may avoid learning new things because they fear failure. To hide their fear of looking incompetent they may become super-critical, even with the therapist. It is often useful to give them something to read or models to explain things and opportunities to find their own solutions. In a counselling or coaching situation, if there is resistance from the Rationals, ask them to critique the model you are using and give you feedback at the end of the session. This honours their need for competence and removes their need to play games with the therapist. Some Rationals struggle with establishing relationships and may benefit from coaching in basic social skills.



The Generations

Each generation is shaped by particular events, technology, values and socio-economivc. All of these create a culture that influences the thinking and actions of that generation. Over the pastone hundred years our world has seen four distinct generations emerge and help to shape our world. In turn, they have been shaped by their own generational culture. Rita Murray and Hile Rutledge (2008) have identified the four generations and the culture that defines each one.  They call these generations the Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials that are sometimes called Gen Y.



Born 1920-1945 

Characteristics of the Traditionalists:

•       Loyalty

•       Respect for authority

•        Follow rules and protocol

•        Responsibility, contributing to society

•        Formality in work and social life

•       Institutional loyalty

•       White, male, seniority driven

•        Mixing of generations rare


This description of the Traditionalists is consistent with the Guardian Temperament described by David Kiersey.  They were a generation that was tested by hardship and war and responded with a devotion to duty and a willingness to sacrifice.

The most significant events for this generation were the Great Depression and World War II. There were many character shaping events for this generation as they grew older including Hiroshima and the birth of the Nuclear Age; the Golden age of radio and Hollywood; Post war migration. In Australia there were also particular evets like the coronation and visit of Queen Elizabeth to Australia; the Melbourne Olympics and the Economic boom of the 1950s and 1960s. Traditionalists were born in the industrial age of mass production where the variety and supply of goods increased dramatically.

The heroes of this generation were mostly military leaders and politicians such as Winston Churchill, General Douglas MacArthiur, Franklin D Roosevelt. This is evident when we look back at the covers of magazines like Time and the Women’s Weekly in the 1930s and 1940s we see several pictures of men and women in uniform, US and Australian flags and the women’s land army.  In the 1950s the theme changes with pictures depicting secure, prosperous family life and several covers showing the young Queen Elizabeth. This was a generation that focused on hard work, loyalty and traditional family life. There was limited physical mobility for the average person and many people spent their working lives in the town or community where they were born. Many work in the same organization for their entire working life. Loyalty to the organization, the church and the country was given and expected in return.

The radio was the dominant technology at the beginning of this age, with television and computers having a major impact on society as this generation moved into middle age. The telephone was not available to many people until many of this generation had reached middle age or beyond. Communication for this generation was mostly in person or by letter. 

While not every person in this generation has a Guardian temperament, the culture of this generation is Guardian and so would impact on other members of the generation, and those born at the beginning of the next generation. Even those people who had a very different Temperament, such as the Artisan free spirits, would have been encouraged to be loyal and responsible, to respect the rules and authority and to dress, speak and behave appropriately at work and in social situations. 

Communication: Traditionalists usually respond positively to people who

  • Are respectful and polite
  • Use formal language and behaviour
  • Are well-prepared and on time
  • Act at a steady pace without rushing.




Baby Boomers   

Born 1946-1964


Characteristics of the Baby Boomers:

•       Idealistic, focused on growth and fulfillment

•       Confident, expectant generation

•       More cosmopolitan -End of rural, lifestyle

•       Well educated

•       Child rearing - hobby and a pleasure

•       Redefining period between mid-life and old age 


The description of the Baby Boomers is consistent with the description of the Idealist Temperament described by David Keirsey.  This generation was born in a post-war era of growth and prosperity. Economically Australia and other Western nations enjoyed an expansion of manufacturing as new goods and services became commonplace and working people had the opportunity to be well educated and live a comfortable and secure life. With basic needs being well taken care of, the focus of this generation was on and personal growth and personal prosperity.

The most significant events for this generation were the Cold War and the Communist Scare; Sputnik and the Moon landing; the Civil Rights movement in the USA and Aboriginal Rights in Australia; the Vietnam War and the protest marches for Peace; President Kennedy, Camelot and the assassination; and in Australia, the dismissal of the Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. Alongside all these events were huge social changes, especially the sexual revolution, feminist movement, all reflected in the world of entertainment and the rise of Rock and Roll. As this generation grew older there were significant political changes including the break up of the Soviet Union, the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Cold War was over, the threat of communism faded and there had been a rise in the middle class in western countries. The world of the Baby Boomers was is reflected in the covers of magazines like Time and the Women’s Weekly, including several pictures of Jack and Jacqueline Kennedy showing the White House as Camelot, then pictures of JFK’s funeral. There were covers showing Celebrities like Julie Andrews and later in this generation Bill Gates appeared with a sub-heading saying “The Magic Inside the Machine.”

The heroes of this generation were people who were inspiring and who imagined and worked for a better world, such as John Kennedy, Bill Gates, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Corazon Akino. It included entertainers like Elvis and the Beatles who imagined a better world and sang about peace and love, and movies about people who faced challenges and about stood up for their values, questioning things like as sex role stereotypes, marriage, authority. This was reflected in movies such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, A Clockwork Orange, Kramer VS Kramer, Ghandi, Star Wars, Lorenzo’sOil and Chariots of Fire. It was a generation that focused on authenticity and personal development – physical, emotional, spiritual.

Technology for the Baby Boomers centred on the television and the computer. Television became a central feature of almost every home providing instant news from around the globe. There was an information explosion and for the first time people spoke about the ‘global village’. This was also the age of the computer. It began with huge mainframe computers in colleges and universities, gradually becoming smaller, faster and more powerful, but still too big for home use. These computers were still clumsy, processing linear sequential data. As the Baby Boomers moved into middle age computers became smaller and available at work and at home.

While not every person in this generation has an Idealist temperament, the culture of this generation is Idealist and so would impact on other members of this generation, and on those born at the beginning of the next generation. Even those people who had a very different Temperament, such as the conservative Guardians, would have been influenced by the hopefulness of the idealistic dreamers seeking personal growth and a peaceful world. The impact of this generation was significant changes in the political sphere, in the business world and in family life.  Businesses began to talk about being more people-focused. This generation focused on personal relationships, respect for the rights of individuals and the right to follow one’s own destiny.

Communication: Baby Boomers will respond positively to people who:

•       Value people and relationships

•       Are supportive and affirming

•       Speak in an open, friendly, personal style

•       Focus on teamwork and cooperation

•       Honour their experience




Generation X   

Born:  1965 – 1980


Characteristics of Gen Xers

•       Skeptical – question everything

•       Anti-institution

•       Changing family structure

•       Family values redefined

•       Latchkey kids – home alone

•       Strong entrepreneurial spirit

•       24/7 MTV


This description of Generation X is consistent with the Rational Temperament described by David Keirsey. They are a generation that was raised with computers and rapid advances in technology, including the space race and computers. Gen X question what existed in the past and embrace change, and are constantly learning.

Gen X lived through political, socail and tecnhnological upheavel.  On the world stage there was massive change with end of the Cold War and the break up of the Soviet Union, symbolised by the fall of the Berline Wall.  It was also a time of trumoil and loss of trust in political institutions as the world watched the United States deal with the Watergate Scandal and the resignation of President Nixon, and later Reagan’s Iran-Contra scandal. In Australia we saw the Whitlam dismissal and later the election of a progressive Hawke-Keating government. And, while it was a time of great technological advancement, technology also proved that it was was not infallable with the Challenger explosion and nuclear scare at Three Mile Island. Socially the institution of marriage and the whole idea of parenting were questioned. Working mothers became more common with children spending more time unsypervised. Divorce and blended families also became more common. Gen X grew up in a world where nothing was certain anymore.

Generation X belong to the information age. Computers of 80’s, early 90’s became more accessible to everyone with the introduction of personal computers that were small enough for home and school use. Local area networks were also introduced. This generation also saw the introduction of mobile phones so communication became easier and immediate. In 1982 Time Magazine named “the computer” its Man of the Year with a personal computer on the front cover. Other issues in the 1980s also included computer ‘geeks’ and headings like Striking it Rich and America’s Risk Takers. Time magazine also featured political events like a lone protester standing in front of a tank in Tianamen Square.

The heroes of Gen X are people who challenge the way things are, particularly in the field of information technology, people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Many Gen X teenagers even dressed as ‘Goths’, shunning the conventional codes for dress and make-up. Many of these Goths later became lawyers, consistent with the Rational Temperament. Popular movies for Gen X were often about challenging boundaries and authority or futuristic stories. Some examples include Wall Street, Greed, E.T., Star Wars, Twilight Zone and 1984.  

While not every person in this generation has a Rational Temperament, the culture of this generation is Rational and so would impact on other members of the generation, as well as those born at the beginning of the next generation. Even those people who had a very different Temperament, such as the Guardians and Idealists, would have been encouraged to be skeptical and questioning, to think outside the box, to embrace change.


Communication:  Gen X usually respond positively to people who

•        Value their need for constant learning

•        Provide immediate answers and feedback

•        Give them real challenges

•        Talk with them, not to them

•        Delegate outcomes; don’t micro-manage

•        Treat them as competent. Listen and learn!





Millennials  (Gen Y)  

Born 1965-1980


Characteristics of Millennials:

•       Optimistic, Hopeful

•       Many live in single parent home

•       Many have working mothers

•       Live in a multi-cultural society

•       Internet generation

•       Tecnologically savvy

•       Constantly connected, want immediate feedback

•       Work is a means to an end


This description of the Millennials is consistent with the Artisan Temperament described by David Keirsey.  This generation has grown up in a very different world to their parents and grandparents. The societal structures and customs have changed with so many single parent families and blended families.  Institutions like church, school and government are constantly questioned and often ignored as the Millenials demand a voice and question the rules and traditional practices. 

The most significant event for this generation is that the world has moved from talking about a global village to being a globalized world. Significant events in one country, like the attacks on 9/11 2001, Hurricane Harvey in Texas, the refugees in Syria or the oil spill in the gulf of Mexico are important to this generation because they are in touch with what is happening everyday. Millenials have witnessed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and questioned their government’s involvement. They have seen America elect its first black President, twice, after two hundred years of slavery and oppression. They have seen Australia elect its first female Prime Minister and then another four Prime Ministers is less than five years. And they openly debate LGBT rights, a topic their grandparents would never have spoken about.

The heroes of this generation are mostly action-oriented and often ‘kid-focused’ depicting the fight between good and evil or the struggle for life in a Zombie world. Many of these movies were set in a distant past or a futuristic world. Some of the most popular movies and TV shows include Avatar, Guardians of the Galaxy, Game of Thrones, Vikings, Dark Knight and Lord of the Rings. This fight for good against evil is almost traditionalist-looking. The Millennials also enjoy movies with crazy humour like Shaun of the Dead (zombies) and Anchorman, and stories about entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Social Networking. The world of the Millennials is reflected in the covers of magazines like Time and the Women’s Weekly, including Julia Gillard, Steve Jobs, Facebook and Virtual Reality.

The technology of the Millennials is dominated by theinternet and social media. They have grown up with the internet, mobile phones, and social media - Facebook, Instagram, Facetime, Twitter. They are constantly connected with numerous people through a variety of mobile devices and get most of their news from social media rather than newspapers or television. These devices are wireless and are becoming increasingly linked with each other.  They have access to instant information on any topic and can watch news as it happens. The computers of the Millennials are in fact 10,000 times more powerful than those of the 1940s. 

While not every person in this generation has an Artisan temperament, the culture of this generation is Artisan and so would impact on other members of the generation, and those born at the beginning of the next generation. Even those people who had a very different Temperament, such as the conservative Guardians, would have been encouraged to be open-minded, questioning the established ways of doing things, seeking fun, action and excitement and living in the moment, and seeking instant feedback.


Communication: The Millennial (Gen Y) responds positively to people who

•       Are realistic, factual and friendly

•       Respond quickly and briefly

•       Answer their constant “why” questions

•       Emphasize positives of doing right

•       Are flexible – not rigid in scheduling

•       Approach them as a mentor.




Psychological Type and Temperament theories give us valuable insights into the individual person. Psychological Type tells us about how our brains process information differently. Our brains have different ways of perceiving information and different ways to process that information to make decisions. Temperament theory tells us what drives our behavior, leading to certain values and behaviors designed to satisfy our core needs.  Both of these theories provide valuable insights into our clients. Understanding the generational culture provides us with another layer of information. It gives us important insights into how the Type and Temperament may be manifested slightly differently in people from different generations. Just as family of origin, national identity, church or national groups influence us, so too generational culture can moderate our behavior. And, just as therapists adjust their methodology to suit different personalities, so too considering generational differences can make a therapy even more effective in supporting the client.



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Pearman, Roger & Albritton, Sarah.  I’m Not Crazy I’m Just Not You.  Palo Alto, CA:  Davies-Black Publishing, 1997. 





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