The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin

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If you are a friend or family member of mine, it’s highly likely that I have already talked your ear off about The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin! I’ve probably made you take her quiz too! I’m a little obsessed. Gretchen Rubin is a researcher who studies happiness and habits and creator of the Four Tendencies framework. It is absolutely fascinating to me! I love learning about why people do the things they do.

The Four Tendencies

She breaks people’s personalities into four different types:

  1. The Upholder – they always do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. They get annoyed with people that can’t keep themselves accountable and can sometimes be too rigid in their ways. They have no problem meeting inner and outer expectations.
  2. The Obliger – this is the most common tendency. Obligers can be accountable to others but not to themselves. If someone is meeting them at the gym, for instance, they will show up because of the other person’s expectation of them. If they told themselves they wanted to go to the gym on their own, they might be less likely to go.
  3. The Questioner – pretty self explanatory :) They question everything and the why behind doing things.
  4. The Rebel – “You can’t make me do it, and neither can I.” The least common tendency. Rebels do everything from a deep sense of self. They work hard, etc. because that’s the kind of person they are. They like to be bound as little as possible and wake up every morning thinking, “What do I want to do today?” When someone tells them to do something, they often want to do the exact opposite.

Take the Quiz

To see which tendency you are, take Gretchen’s quiz here.

I am a REBEL! So is my mom, dad, and sister. My brother is the lone QUESTIONER in the family. I’m married to an OBLIGER which is who us Rebels are most compatible with.

I’ll never forget on a Saturday morning, early on in our marriage, I was making myself a to do list for the day. Matt asked me if I would make one for him. I said yes, but told him that I would be insulted if someone made me a list of things to do. I’m fully capable of seeing what needs to be done and making a list myself! He said that he would rather me just tell him what needs to be done and give him the list! It’s worked very well for us over the last 11 ½ years, and is an example of different tendencies working together well.

I love the Four Tendencies framework because it’s not an end-all be-all description of you as a person. It’s about how you react to and deal with expectations. Birth order, events in your life, your personality, and many other things play into the type of person you are.

In her book, Gretchen goes into deep detail about each Tendency. How to work well with different tendencies, and how to use your own tendency to your benefit! As parents, it’s been so helpful for us to see what our girls are (just by knowing them so well, they haven’t taken the quiz) and use the tools Gretchen teaches about to help parent our girls.

Ironically enough, the Rebel chapter is the longest :) She points out in the book that being a rebel isn’t a bad thing…it’s not like the kid smoking in the bathroom in school or anything like that. Just that we rebel against expectations and want to do things our own way, not necessarily being destructive or bad.

I could go on for days about The Four Tendencies. If you know me in person, I probably already have with you! I would love for you to take the quiz and then tell me which Tendency you are. I love hearing what your spouse is, too! It’s incredible to me how we all work together. Matt and I have so much fun trying to peg people’s Tendencies. I love it!

The Happier Podcast

Gretchen and her sister, Elizabeth, have a podcast, The Happier Podcast, that is full of great ideas for making your life a little happier. They are both pleasant to listen to, too, because of their voices. They have deeper voices and are very calm people :) I have gotten so many wonderful ideas from them! Like my 18 for 2018 list. I’m checking things off and motivated by what’s to come this year!

I was first turned on to Gretchen after a really hard event in my life last year. I was researching happiness and came across her work and book, The Happiness Project. I listened to it, loved it, and then listened to The Four Tendencies and became obsessed!

Buy the Book!

You can buy the book here:

Or listen on Audible (the only way I can “read” books these days) here:

I hope you love it as much as I do! Let me know what you think :)

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