Home BooksBook Reviews The Four Tendencies Book Review: Are You a Rebel, Questioner, Upholder, or Obliger?

The Four Tendencies Book Review: Are You a Rebel, Questioner, Upholder, or Obliger?

by Pallavi D. Patel

Book No. 3 for my 2021 Goodreads Reading Challenge is The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (And Other People’s Lives Better, Too) by Gretchen Rubin.

I have read her Happiness Project, and I liked it. I was listening to an episode of her podcast Happier with Gretchen Rubin where she mentions these tendencies briefly which prompted me to read this book.

What is the book The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (And Other People’s Lives Better, Too) by Gretchen Rubin about?

As the title suggests, the book divides people into four different groups, just like the Hogwarts Houses,Β (The author’s words, not mine.),Β based on how we meet expectations.

There are two types of expectations: Inner Expectations and Outer Expectations.

Outer Expectations include expectations that others have of us, such as your boss may need you to hit a specific target every month, or your teacher may want you to get a certain grade in your next test.

Outer expectations include everything that others expect from you, it can be a person, an organization, a book, or even an entity we believe in such as a God.

Inner expectations are the things that we expect from ourselves such as taking a day off, reading a book for pleasure, or setting up our business.

The inner expectations often include goals and tasks that we set for ourselves.

Gretchen Rubin puts each one of us into four different categories based on our reaction to both these types of expectations.

The Four Categories are the Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels.Β 

You can find out your own tendency by taking The Four Tendencies Quiz designed by Gretchen Rubin.

Let’s have a closer look at the Four Different Tendencies Described in the book The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (And Other People’s Lives Better, Too) by Gretchen Rubin.

Upholders: They Respond Readily to both Outer Expectations and Inner Expectations

People who are Upholders can easily do the things others ask them to do such as handing a work report on time, getting a good grade, following the customs of a new place so they are good at following pre-set rules and routines.

At the same time, they have no problem in fulfilling the expectations they have from themselves, such as taking a vacation when needed and following their new year’s resolutions.

Upholders, according to the others will do what other people want them to do, but they will be equally motivated to keep the promises they make to themselves even if no one but they alone benefit from it.

Upholders are quick to adapt to new routines and habits, and they are reliable people which are often favored by most people.

The author lists Hermione as an example of an Upholder, and Gretchen categorizes herself as an upholder as well.

Questioners: They question all expectations; they meet an expectation only if they believe it’s justified, so in effect, they respond only to inner expectations.

Questioners are people who are driven by their inner compass regardless of the task at hand, you can ask them to do something, but they will only do it if they can properly justify the cause.

They will not blindly follow a rule or a custom, just because someone asks them to, they will want to know why and only if the reasons are good enough for them, they will accomplish the task.

They question everything, they will need figures, facts, and numbers and they will take time to make an informed decision, but once they have their reasons ready, there’s no stopping them.

The Questioner may do something for a while, but if their personal research and analysis show that a particular exercise or investment or a job is not for them, they will quit without any problem.

Obligers: They respond readily to outer expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations.

Obligers are people, who in most simple terms can be said to be people’s pleasures, people who cannot say no!

According to the criteria of the book, Obligers can easily do things that are expected from them, if they are held accountable. They thrive under pressure, they need deadlines and someone who can serve as an authority figure who holds them answerable for their tasks.

Obligers will meet expectations on time if they come from someone outside, such as a boss, a teacher, or a child. If they know that someone else is relying on them to finish a task, they will do it no matter the stakes.

But they cannot meet inner expectations, they are more likely to give up new year’s resolutions, they will be working way past their bedtime, they will often bend over backward to please others.

Even when they meet their inner expectations, they are more likely to feel guilty if it clashes with their outer expectations.

Now that I think about it, it sounds a bit like being a house-elf, doesn’t it?

Rebels: They resist all expectations, outer and inner alike

Rebels are basically people who will do things when they want to and how they want them to, but if someone asks them to do it, their whole body will pull them away from the task.

Rebels hate to be told what to do, and if anyone asks them to do it, they will develop an unexplainable urge to avoid it even when they know that the right thing to do would be to do something.

There are many characters in books and movies that belong to this category, people who want to have complete power our their life choices regardless of the consequences.

They are people who often do not prefer working under a boss or being micro-managed, they do things at their own pace, and only if and when they want to do it.

These are the four tendencies in brief, but they are described in elaborate detail in the book. It gives us in-depth information about the basic traits of each category and how we can overcome the weaknesses and enhance the strength associated with them.

If any one of you finds this concept interesting and want me to describe all these 4 categories in-depth with their strengths, weakness and how we can be more productive using this information, then do drop a comment.

If at least 7 people want me to write more about this book, I will make it the subject of my next post.

Meanwhile, do share your own tendencies in the comment section, or name a book character or a movie character or anyone you know if you recognize them in these four tendencies.

Personally, I am an Obliger and I think Harry should be a Questioner, as he was alright in resisting the cruciatus curse in the book Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and he often questions things before doing them.

My Thoughts About The BookΒ The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (And Other People’s Lives Better, Too) by Gretchen Rubin

I have read Gretchen Rubin before, so I was pretty familiar with her writing style, and I enjoyed this book. I also loved the concept of the four tendencies, it helped me be more productive and even improved the way I communicate about tasks that I need others to do for me.

I definitely recommend this book, as it’s grounded in good facts, the tips are practical, there’s enough material for every category and nothing comes off as made-up as it often happens with self-help books.

Everyone has a different opinion regarding self-help books, and I am of the view that nothing works all the time, and we have to keep adjusting and tweaking our actions at every stage to be happier and more productive.

Let me know your views about it, at least give The Four Tendencies Quiz a try, even if just for a bit of fun!

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Aejal Patel October 11, 2021 - 4:57 pm

I am a rebel.
“if someone asks them to do it, their whole body will pull them away from the task.” Nothing describes me better. I have understood myself better reading the rebel part of the book and I highly recommend reading the book to everyone else.

Pallavi D. Patel October 11, 2021 - 4:59 pm

Of course, you are! It was fun discussing this book, wasn’t it?

Dhruv patel October 12, 2021 - 10:23 am

So I read this blog and I’m Little surprised to know that I’m Rebel. Though I have a few weaknesses, my strengths are literally awesome. And yeah I would like to know more about the book.πŸ‘ A big thumbs up for your upcoming blog. Eagerly waiting to know more about myself.

Pallavi D. Patel October 12, 2021 - 11:53 am

I will surely write for you, dear!

Nicole F. October 12, 2021 - 6:31 am

Hello Mrs. Reena. This blog was an eye opener for me! Taking the four tendencies quiz I found out that I am a Questioner! It made things clear for me and I feel like I know more about myself than I did before! Keep writing I am glad to read your blog again!

Pallavi D. Patel October 12, 2021 - 9:18 am

Thank you so much, Nicole!

You are right, knowing our work tendencies definitely changes things.

Let me know if you want me to write detailed a post about your tendency. I would happily do it for you.😊

Aaku October 14, 2021 - 8:31 am

Good Morning Didi!😊😊 I am a House-elf πŸ˜‚! And I could relate myself to one of my fav characters from the anime world that is Naruto (In his childhood days). I am starting to understand the depth of one’s inner persona, sometimes it’s so hard to understand or control how we feel or behave. It feels like how fortunate we were if we came with a manual to guide ourselves about ourselves. To know the inner workings of our brain and taking full control of thoughts and feelings. If you are feeling sad just tap a button and Boom! You are happy with no regrets! Hahaha….. Pretty handy manual right! Now that I think about it. If this was not a string of my thought we would be like Robots! So being a human has its benefits on its own plus I am glad that I am unique in my own way of thinking and also the way I feel and react to things.

This post presented to me as a manual to identify my category and guiding my character but also keeping me a sane human, and not a strictly programmed robo. As an obliger, I certainly realized & noticed so many things about myself which I never know I was doing. Now that I know my key points, I try to control them or I know what should I do or how should I approach them.

Self-understanding is the key to the successful resolution of any emotional problem!


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