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The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People's Lives Better, Too)
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The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People's Lives Better, Too)

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  16,744 ratings  ·  2,051 reviews
In this groundbreaking analysis of personality type, bestselling author of Better Than Before and The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin reveals the one simple question that will transform what you do at home, at work, and in life.

During her multibook investigation into understanding human nature, Gretchen Rubin realized that by asking the seemingly dry question "How do I
Audio CD, 7 pages
Published September 12th 2017 by Books on Tape (first published September 7th 2017)
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Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum This is a stand alone book, so you don't need to have read anything else by the author. In fact, this is the first book I've read by her and I loved i…moreThis is a stand alone book, so you don't need to have read anything else by the author. In fact, this is the first book I've read by her and I loved it.(less)

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Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
The author profile on the back states that Gretchen Rubin is one of the most influential writers on human nature. Really? According to whom? I’d like to see that data (and also any data at all to support these four personality profiles that stemmed from a weird quiz about resolutions). But that goes with my type though. I’m a Questioner. 2 stars
Oct 09, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I don't know where to start. I have read a few things claiming Gretchen is an expert, but as far as I can tell she has a law degree and is an author with no other qualifications and none are mentioned in the book. Why does that make her an expert? She has had dinner with some really impressive people and written some other books on improving yourself and happiness, but that still doesn't make her an expert. The book doesn't provide any research or proof that what she is talking about has any mer ...more
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh. Oh. My. Gosh. Too simple to be so true, and surely not perfect for everyone, but goodness, perfect for me. For the first time in five blinking decades I've realized that I am actually a 'rebel' and not an 'obliger.' I was such a good girl as a child, and I've never done anything truly reckless as one would think of when one thinks of ppl who are rebellious, and I've always taken pretty good care of my household and family... but my personality is rebel, and that means nobody, not even me, ca ...more
Jan 21, 2018 rated it did not like it
I am a fan of Gretchen Rubin and her podcast. I am sad to say that this book was really disappointing. Her "Four Tendencies" was a cute idea in her book Better Than Before and I was hoping she would do actual research and collect real evidence to validate her theory. Sadly, this book is just a rehashing of her opinions and insights with no evidence or justification. Gretchen Rubin, perhaps, has not heard of confirmation bias? She only uses her own brilliant insights as proof of her tendencies. H ...more
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: self-help, bookclub
I didn't find this to be as revelatory as it seems to be for so many.

To use Rubin's own language this book is definitely written by an Upholder. Full of little boxes to sort everyone into, and you must fit into a box. That is Upholder logic, if I understand it correctly. Tidy little rules for everything, and if you follow those rules everything in your life (and everyone else's) will be so much better. Personally, I don't think people are quite so simple, neat or orderly. I saw pieces of myself
Elyse  Walters
Pop psychology....
.... categorizing people into ‘types’..... 🧐😊🥴😖

Depending of situations and circumstances....
I uphold- I oblige-I question
and I rebel.
All of the above.

Harmless fun; conversation starter!

Jul 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology, self-help
There are numerous personality tests available, that rate your personality in one or more dimensions. I like the Myers Briggs test, that gauge your personality in four dimensions (I am an INTP type). This book bring to light a totally different dimension; the dimension of expectations. That is to say, do you respond to internal expectations, and do you respond to external expectations. So, there are four basic types:
Respond to internal and external expectations: Upholder
Respond to internal but n
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Britany by: Jennifer Lane
How do you handle expectations?

That is the premise for this book (my first by Rubin). Ultimately, Rubin has tagged four tendencies on how each person responds to inner and outer expectations. Those expectations you put on yourself vs those placed on you from someone else (ie work, family, etc.). I am an obliger with an upholder wing. Meaning that I will always do outer expectations, but have a hard time getting things accomplished for myself. I need accountability.

This was a perfect book to sta
Oct 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I like this author. She has some great ideas for living happier. In this book, she deals with four different personality types: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels.

There was a test at the beginning to figure out which one you are. It wasn't that clear at the end of the test, which one was supposed to be my mother ship.....I still didn't know by the end of the book. But, I did like the understanding she offered when dealing with these different personality types. Overall, this didn't ro
Sep 25, 2017 rated it did not like it
A very simplistic view, rather poor content, no actual research or evidence is provided for this operation of dividing all mankind in 4 pretty boxes. Sloppy writing also, with parts rehashed from Better than before, the author's previous book. What would you think of somebody who categorizes herself as upholder, and goes on to define 3 other categories, all of whom are missing something (either the ability to answer positively to external motivation, or to internal one, or to both of them) compa ...more
Feb 02, 2018 rated it did not like it
I have sorta mixed feelings about the author. I have read and liked her other happiness/habit books. She has some good insights and is definitely interesting to read. There's something fulfilling about following someone else's personal journey and choosing tidbits that can help your life.

But in this book, I think she goes too far. In her other books, she's kinda been saying, "I did some research and I tried this stuff out myself. Here's how it worked and what you might try." This book, though,
Jul 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Upholder, Questioner, Obliger or Rebel?
Find out here:

Only four types of people? That's reductive or is it? Actually it's four tendencies that people have when it comes to outer and inner expectations. Once I answered the eight questions and got my type and its characteristics, I couldn't dismiss it, because, unfortunately, everything was spot on.

I liked this book, I like Rubin's writing and advice, it's practical, concise and well structured.
Stephanie Phillips
Dec 10, 2017 rated it did not like it
Rubin herself says that she was clerking for a Supreme Court justice when she suddenly decided she wanted to be a writer. Not a researcher. A writer. And it shows she didn’t want to be a researcher. That would be fine, unless you decide to come up with four personality types into which all of humanity can be divided, and then come up with a quiz and write a book based around your “framework,” simply after having a self-described revelatory and insightful conversation with a friend.

No information
Nile Stanley
Dec 13, 2017 rated it did not like it
Awful book with no scientific merit. A slap in the face to real researchers. Research 101...what evidence for the reliability and validity?
Oct 13, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book does not present solid evidence and I would not recommend as an introduction to psychology of personalities. This is a personality-types book: Upholder, Obliger, Questioner, Rebel. The book is a little different than previous Rubin books- Better than Before, Happier at Home, The Happiness Project, Forty Ways to Look at JFK - in that it looks at the psychology of these broad personality types and provides strengths and weaknesses of each. Rubin argues these personalities are nature not ...more
Tiana Hadnt
Mar 08, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was terrible for so many reasons. I could write an entire thesis on everything that’s wrong with it, but this is a review website so I’ll just list a few of the things I had issues with.

1. The writing itself was terrible. It felt like she only had enough to say to fill about 25-30 pages, so she spent the rest of the time repeating things she’s already said. She also contradicted herself on numerous occasions, thereby further destroying her credibility. This credibility was already on
Sep 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
If you're not at all familiar with Gretchen Rubin's theory of the Four Tendencies, then this book is a great entry point to her framework for how people respond to inner and outer expectations. I am a big fan of Gretchen's and I've read her previous books on happiness and habits, plus I listen to her podcast (and her sister's podcast) and I get her email updates and read her blog. So I already felt pretty immersed in the Four Tendencies before I read the book, and the book did not deepen my unde ...more
Kelly 💜☕️
LOVED this book!!!

I'm a Gretchen Rubin super fan. I've read all her books & listen to her podcast. I was also lucky enough to meet her on the book tour for this book in September 2017. Thanks to the awesome independent bookstore Warwick's in La Jolla.

Gretchen briefly introduced the Four Tendencies in her previous book about habits, BETTER THAN BEFORE. This book takes it to a new level and explains each tendency in detail, analyzes the pros and cons, how the tendencies work together and how to
Aug 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I snagged an ARC from my job at a public library. I knew a little bit about the four Tendencies before starting this book—mostly, that I am totally an Upholder—but not too much. I mostly enjoyed this book and the way it helps us both define others and give tips for living, working, and playing with them. Some of the examples didn't resonate with me, but overall, this is a good book for anyone who wants to know more about themselves and how to get the best out of themselves and others. ...more
I really liked this. I read it for my "learning time" at work and have been recommending it to my coworkers. ("Learning time" is a thing at my work in general--it's a library, after all!--and our new department goal is for each of us to get 24 hours of it a quarter. It finally occurred to me I could read for it!)

I've always had fun with personality quizzes and have spent hours of my life reading about my MBTI type (INTJ!), but this one was so great about learning about OTHER people. The idea her
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
There are two kinds of people: those who divide people into categories and those who don't. ;)

I generally enjoy Rubin's writing but this one wasn't terribly revelatory for me. I'm still not sure if I'm an Obliger with a Rebel streak, or an weird Obliger / Questioner hybrid (which does not exist in the book). But I get that this formula might work for some people.
I have loved reading Gretchen Rubin's books each time, but when she published her habit book, I questioned everything. So I put reading this one off, since it came out of that book. And when I discovered I am a questioner, suddenly everything made sense.

Like literally every personality theory, this is just that: a theory. This is a really useful framework for thinking about why some people are so motivated to do things they do and don't like while others resist any and all things set before them
After reading Rubin’s Better than Before, I was convinced that I was an Upholder (and my husband an Obliger). But from skimming through this I see that I am in that overlapping space between an Upholder and an Obliger, and I can feel myself edging ever closer to Obliger tendencies the longer I’ve been a freelancer: why bother showering if I’m not going to see any human beings today? I’ll only be ignored or rejected, so why try pitching that article idea? Unless I pay for a set of exercise classe ...more
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
Seriously underbaked, poorly organized, drastically oversimplified claptrap from a person who hails herself as one of the "foremost thinkers on human nature" (human!!nature!!!) yet has literally no qualifications, expertise, or social scientific background. There are perhaps ten citations in this entire book, which nonetheless makes sweeping claims about being able to diagnose all of humanity (ALL OF HUMANITY!!!) including fictional characters and historical figures. Maybe if this were a medium- ...more
Jessica Howard
Enjoyable, and informative. Not totally groundbreaking if you're familiar with Rubin's work, but I'd still recommend it. ...more
Emmy Hermina Nathasia
I feel exasperated by the book, but in a good way. So I did the quiz and I got Questioner. When I read Chapter 1, I kinda have a tendency in my head that best described me, and I am excited about reading about it further to understand my tendencies more. Instead, I got a Questioner. I was aghast to the point that I couldn't continue reading that first night. I really couldn't accept it. Then through out second day, I ponder upon my life and have to admit that, the prediction is kinda true in cur ...more
Mandi Ehman
Dec 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book and have talked to approximately 72 people about it since I started reading it.

I found this personality framework fascinating and appreciated the advice she gives for managing your own tendency as well as interacting with those around you (although I found the sections for interacting with “your patients” a bit superfluous).

Definitely one that I’ll continue to think about and refer back to in the future!
Beth Bonini
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I hesitated about how to categorise this book: the word ‘self-help’ has always made me cringe, and somehow the word ‘psychology’ seems too academic. Many people will describe it as yet another personality test-cum-self-knowledge-cum-positive change type of books, and it is that for sure - but the ‘label’ is a bit unwieldy! Some people love the reductive personality tests, while others don’t find them credible or useful at all. I will say this: the paradigm in this book works for me. I tend to av ...more
Rebecca Severs
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is changing my life. My three kids are all different tendencies to me and so is my husband (though we naturally get on well). I've now realised why I find it so exhausting parenting them when they respond to totally different things and very differently to me. I've realised we all have utterly different ways of thinking about everything and why I struggle so much with certain goals and inner expectations (being an Obliger). It's already helping me parent better, harness my strengths an ...more
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
This book explores her concepts of the four tendencies even further than in Better than Before. Where Better than Before focused on how to use knowledge of your tendency to meet goals, this book focuses more on how to deal with a child, partner, boss or employee, or patient of each tendency type. It explains how to motivate or manage each type. Interesting stuff.
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I am the author of New York Times bestsellers The Happiness Project, Happier at Home, and Better Than Before, and The Four Tendencies. My newest book, Outer Order, Inner Calm , is on sale now.

Curious about The Four Tendencies? Find out if you're an Upholder, Obliger, Questioner, or Rebel (and how to harness your strengths. Take the free Four Tendencies quiz.

I have a popular, award-winning podca

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