Ta-Da! The Launch of My Quiz on the Four Tendencies. Learn About Yourself!

Of everything I learned about habits and human nature from working on my book Better Than Before, the most challenging thing I figured out — and the insight I’m most proud of — is my Four Tendencies framework. (See below for a quick overview.)

It took me months of rumination to make sense of everything I’d observed, and to fit it into a system that accounted for everything. I’ll never forget the thrill I felt when everything at last fell into place.

I felt like I’d uncovered something like the Periodic Table of the Elements. My framework is balanced, consistent, encompassing, and predictive — if I do say so myself.

For that reason, I wanted to develop a quiz to help people figure out their Tendency. With the help of the extraordinary Mike Courtney and his team at Aperio Insights, it’s ready! (It turns out that it’s a lot harder to make this kind of quiz than you might think.)

At last, it’s finished. Take the quiz here. Your results will give you your Tendency, along with a simple description. If you’d like more information about your Tendency, you’ll get a prompt at the end to request a detailed report.

Remember, be honest! The Quiz is only as accurate as the answers you provide.

When I talk about the Tendencies, people often say, “I’m a mix.”  It’s true that the Tendencies do overlap, so each Tendency shares aspects with other Tendencies — but it’s not really possible to be a mix. To be an Upholder is not to be an Obliger. To be a Questioner is not to be a Rebel.   While Upholders and Obligers both respond readily to outer expectations, it’s how they respond to inner expectations that distinguishes them. Similarly, Questioners and Rebels both resist outer expectations; it’s how they respond to inner expectations that distinguishes them. And so on.

For this reason, part of what made the Quiz tricky was that I had to figure out questions that would really pinpoint the key differences among the Tendencies.

Once you’ve taken the Quiz — did your answer ring true for you?

In Better Than Before, I explore at greater length the nature of the Four Tendencies, and how they affect habits.

In fact, I’m thinking of writing a little book that’s a field guide to the Four Tendencies, one that goes even deeper into this framework. Would you be interested in something like that?

In the meantime, take the Quiz! I’d love to hear what you think.

If you need a quick overview of the Four Tendencies:

In a nutshell, it distinguishes how people tend to respond to expectations: outer expectations (a deadline, a “request” from a sweetheart) and inner expectations (write a novel in your free time, keep a New Year’s resolution).

Your response to expectations may sound slightly obscure, but it turns out to be very, very important.

  • Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations (I’m an Upholder, 100%)
  • Questioners question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense–essentially, they make all expectations into inner expectations
  • Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves
  • Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike


If you’d like to see me discuss each category in  a video, you can watch: for Upholders, watch here; Questioners, here;  Rebels, here, and Obligers, here.

I hope you find the Quiz useful. It was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun to do. I’m very curious to hear people’s reaction to it, so please do post a comment to share your thoughts..

  • Ralph

    The link does not work for me.

    • gretchenrubin


      Are you sure? It’s working for me.

      Or try this: https://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1950137/Four-Tendencies-January-2015

      Anyone else having trouble???

      • I just got an error message that there was “too many people taking the survey” right now. I guess it’s very popular. 🙂

        • gretchenrubin

          Good news, bad news, I guess —

      • Ralph

        Gretchen; The second link worked. Th anks!

  • Maggie

    Gretchen, you made me laugh out loud. I’ve been reading about the tendencies for ages but never really knew which I was. My result came back as Questioner, and I thought, “I don’t know if I’m really a questioner…” and then lo and behold, your description said, “If you’re questioning the validity this quiz… you’re probably a questioner!”

    Nailed it. I get it now.

    • gretchenrubin


    • Jennifer

      Hahaha me too!!!

  • Jennifer

    I got Questioner, which makes sense because I will reject or ignore any expectations that don’t seem worthwhile to me. However, I think I have Obliger tendencies too, because even if an expectation seems worthwhile to me, I find it much harder to stick to internal commitments (e.g. exercise x times per week, finish that side project I’ve been working on) than external commitments (e.g. send that report to my boss, attend group meeting).

    • gretchenrubin

      How do you feel about an expectation that someone imposes on you, but that you think doesn’t make much sense?

      Say your boss tells you to hand something in by Monday, but you KNOW that it’s not needed until Friday. Are you more likely to meet the expectation of Monday, or reject it, because it’s irrational, and hand it in on Friday?

      • Jennifer

        Interesting question! If I could do a proper job of it and it wouldn’t interfere with other priorities, I’d just agree to Monday and hand it in then. If I needed the additional time to do it properly, or had other time-sensitive tasks on my plate, I’d mention this to my boss and discuss how to prioritize – does the Monday deadline made sense with the trade-offs involved, or can we agree on a later deadline?

        If someone’s request doesn’t make sense to me, I have no problem saying no or negotiating an alternative. But once I’ve agreed to something, I will be extremely stressed out if I don’t follow through on my word. However, I make commitments to myself and break them all the time, despite good intentions. I would love to be more reliable in commitments to myself, but I seem to feel much less strongly bound by them than by promises to other people.

  • Sara

    I was always on the fence between Obliger and Rebel, but I took the quiz and got Rebel.I’m usually pretty good at doing stuff other people ask of me at work, but I guess I still kind of work to the beat of my own drum. I’m just glad to know there are others out there because I know how illogical it sounds when I say, “well I was going to do it until you asked me to, so now I don’t want to.” (Growing up this was the argument about cleaning between me and my mother all the time.)

    • Megan

      Me too, Sara! I would plan to do something nice for my mom, like the dishes or something while she was out, and then as she’d leave the house she’d ask me to do them. I’d be thinking – No way! It was fun when I was going to do them as a surprise for you Mom, but not now that it’s a chore! Now I think I’m doing the same thing to my kids… 🙂

  • michelle/nft

    Thanks for the quiz – I love quizzes! I got Upholder, which does not surprise me. When I first read about the tendencies though, I was somewhat resistant to the Upholder category and I wasn’t sure why. Now I think that it might have been because you often describe yourself as “an Upholder, 100%” and since I don’t feel like I’m 100% in that category, I somehow felt like I didn’t really fit into it. It just clicked with me that just because you’re 100% in that category, it doesn’t mean every Upholders is – the Venn diagram helped with that. Also, it’s important (for me) to remember that these are tendencies – what one tends to do most of the time, not necessarily ALL of the time. Thanks again!

  • Erica

    I got an error message that said “The maximum number of responses for this group has been met.” Same message for both links.

    • gretchenrubin


      Off to investigate.

      Thanks for letting me know!

  • HeatherY

    I get the same error message as Erica. I even tried the link you put in the comments. 🙁

    • gretchenrubin

      Hmmm…I wonder if there’s some limit to how many people can take it.

      Yikes! Off to figure this out.

    • gretchenrubin


  • Wow i tried to do the quiz too, because i am quite interested in the reveal–and first it was a ‘busy try back again later..’ and now it this message: “The maximum number of responses for this group has been met.” I hope your investigation results in another shot at the Quiz. -:)

    • gretchenrubin

      Fixed now!

  • Melody

    I was surprised to get an upholder, but I that maybe because as an upholder I am especially hard on myself for not meeting expectations. Ergo, I don’t think it is something I am good at.

    But realistically, I know I am. I have been a vegetarian for half my life and am self-employed, both situations that require a large degree of meeting inner expectations. I also do whatever my partner asks. My partner is an obliger though, so it works both ways.

  • theshubox

    Upholder! Not shocked, although I think I have Questioner tendencies too 🙂

  • Chris B

    Questioner here. Totally makes sense.

    Hey, I was wondering whether there are any differences in results by gender. My guess would be more female Obligers and maybe Upholders.

    Thanks, this was interesting.

    • gretchenrubin

      Not that I’ve noticed!

  • michelle

    I got a response that said, ‘thank you for taking the quiz’ but it never actually ever told me the result. Maybe because I took it on my phone? The mobile version also cut off part of the text boxes, FYI.

    • michelle

      OK, I tried it again and realized that it was just cut off on my phone.

    • gretchenrubin

      I’ll investigate!

      The text boxes…hmmmm. Will work on that.

      But the answer should definitely have come, even on a phone.

  • Elke

    Will this quiz remain online and free? Looks like an excellent tool to use with clients (i’m a healthcoach)

  • elisa

    Hi Gretchen and thanks for the idea!
    —Question 2: I go to such meetings with my laptop and work on my own staff whenever something completely uninteresting to me is discussed… but I do not know where to put this answer!
    —I do think that there is some truth in thinking of oneself as a mix. I am a questioner-upholder as far as my main areas are concerned (that is: work, education of my children, etc.), but I am a questioner-rebel as far as minor areas are concerned (I tend to rebel to stupid rules, only for the sake of enjoying the rebellion, in cases such as arbitrary dress-codes at parties or the like).
    —You might remember that I am not passionate about some of your topics (I am not interested in how to improve my house, I *hate* all discussions about how to loose weight…), but a book on the four habits would be much more appealing to me. I learnt a lot about others since I have started thinking of them through this pattern. Thanks!

    • gretchenrubin

      Sounds like you’re a full Questioner. As I discuss in the book, Questioners can lean toward Upholding, and be pretty easy to convince to meet external expectations (my husband is like this), or be so hard to convince that they are almost Rebels.
      So what you describe is fits right within the Questioner Tendency.

      You sure sound like a questioner. For instance, saying “arbitrary dress-codes for a party” – Questioner!

  • Penelope Schmitt

    Interesting that according to your quiz I am an Upholder after all. Shoot, I wished I was a questioner, but of course I find it much easier to make a decision and then follow the rules of the decision. I am ALWAYS on time. And only when I am ‘not myself’ am I failing to be self-directed.

    Yesterday I had a day of burnout rejection of all my own rules for myself. I think I needed it after too much responsibility for too long. But it felt awful not to go out and walk and to eat all those crackers and to ignore those tasks. Today, back to upholding, I guess!

    I would think it might be indicative to think about what are the mottoes or sayings you hold dear. Here are three of mine:

    “To live this day for Thee in absolute integrity.” . . . “Always do right, you will please some people and astonish the rest” . . . “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

  • Jen

    Love the quiz – I came back as an Upholder. The interesting thing is that my husband of almost ten years (and 3 kids) predicted I would be a Rebel, and one of my coworkers who follows you was sure I’d be a Questioner. Any thoughts? Could I have different dominant types in my work life vs my spouse/parent life vs my relationship with myself? Am I being self-deceptive on the quiz? Does one or both of them not understand me?

    • elisa

      As explained in my comment above, I have also a similar pattern (I am a questioner-upholder as far as work is concerned and a questioner-rebel in my private life). In my case, I tend to rebel against things which I believe to be more trivial and unjustifiable (say, the assumption that women are expected to behave in a certain way drives me crazy).

      • gretchenrubin

        Spoken like a true Questioner.

        • elisa

          which I am (I am totally convinced), but I can also see nuances of upholding or rebelling showing up in different circumstances.

          • Jen

            Interesting. So then, despite the quiz results (Upholder), I am probably a Questioner? I guess I could see that. My only hesitation is that I’m super impulsive. I don’t need (or really even want) cohesive justifications and sound reasons in order to make a decision. When I’m deciding *for myself*, I am 100% guided by feeling/instincts. The Questioning comes in when someone else asks me to do something, which is why I think my husband sees me as a Rebel. But once I make a decision or commit to something, I do it no matter what – even if I don’t want to, which may be why I’d see myself as an Upholder.

          • gretchenrubin

            You do sound more like a Questioner.

            Both Upholders and Questioners can follow through on INNER expectations – that’s the part they share. They differ on how they respond to outer expectations.
            The quiz is just meant to be an aid…in the end, up to you to decide what Tendency best describes you.

          • elisa

            Jen, I agree, I have (again) the same issue. I am not paralysed by having to gather much information, although I am a Questioner.

          • gretchenrubin

            Not all Questioners experience that, just something that does pop up fairly often

    • gretchenrubin

      From my observation, people are consistent with the Tendency across areas of life.
      I wish I could sit down with you for 30 minutes! I bet I could figure it out.

      • Jen

        I wish you could too! I love the four tendencies and I think it’s such a useful and insightful tool – I just confuse myself! I also love the abstainer/moderator distinction (I’m entirely an abstainer) and marathoner/sprinter (sprinter all the way, except when it comes to running!). Huge fan of your work!

  • Jo-Anne Vandermey

    I didn’t want to read the complete descriptions of the tendencies before I took the quiz. I so much wanted to be anything but an obliger. I did come up with that profile. But in my obliging I have tendencies which strongly come out in my obliging.
    Here is the scenario … If it involves a obligation to the outside… I am a relentless questioner. I will ask questions and go boldly to complete my task. Ie getting help for my kids or researching a project. I like it when people follow rules and expectations set out but will question dumb ones. But I can not for the life of my follow through on a good eating plan or exercise or a schedule at home unless there is a real push to do so. I hate being put into a routine at home. I use to make lists and follow through. People would say I was quite organized. Now not so much. Is it because my role has changed? I feel like I am sabotaging myself. Which I am. Hope your new book helps.

    Looking forward to reading it.


  • claire_m

    Thanks for making this quiz Gretchen! I always thought I was an Obliger, but didn’t want to be – they sound kind of pathetic! Secretly I hoped to be a questioner or a rebel – so I was kind of interested to read this description of Obligers: “They may, in fact, reach the point of Obliger rebellion, a striking pattern in which they abruptly refuse to meet an expectation.” – and that certainly rang true, I have been there a couple of times, and it always seems to shock people. Oh well – I will just have to find a way to deal with my true nature I think!

  • Brad

    I tried this on my iPad in landscape orientation. The questions run past the screen (that is, the lines don’t wrap), but the windows won’t scroll horizontally, either. So, the longer questions get cut off. Could not complete the quiz as a result.

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks for letting me know. I’ll see if I can tackle that…

  • Ken Butler

    Speaking as a statistician, on your diagram, the four circles (at the top) ought not to overlap, because what your quiz is aiming to do is to classify a person as *one* of the four types, not as partly an upholder and partly an obliger (which is what falling in the intersection of those two circles would imply).

    Please feel free to classify me without my needing to take the quiz 🙂

    • gretchenrubin

      I don’t know how statisticians do it; just trying to show to the lay person that while each Tendency is distinct, it shares a feature with another Tendency.

      Upholder: meets inner, meets outer

      Questioner: meets inner, resists outer

      Obliger: resists inner, meets outer

      Rebel: resists inner, resists outer

      • Ken Butler

        I replied to this yesterday, dammit!

        Anyway, in brief, this: https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTiEtnIG3bSWqSANeLuFlYdAbTko8gw6hQupni1wI83FCl7gO0gn9OcGQ

        My idea: A is “outer expectations”, B is “inner”; inside is “meets”, outside is “does not meet”. Thus the area in both A and B is labelled Upholder; in A but outside B is Questioner, in B but outside A is Obliger, outside both circles (but inside the big rectangle) is Rebel.

        • gretchenrubin

          Hmmm..that image might be clearer for a statistician, but I don’t think it’s clearer for me. But thanks for sending along – thought-provoking!
          I have another graphic representation in mind, but I can’t describe it! I need to have it created. That might be useful too.

          • Ken Butler

            I think naturally in terms of “in a set” and “not in a set”, which is what my Venn diagram does. But I’m now curious about your other picture! I’d be interested to see it when you have it drawn.

  • Susan

    I thought I was an Upholder and the quiz agreed . The Commitment question really threw me because of “extensive” before evidence, and “very” before uneasy. I wonder if there are subcategories for Upholders who meet inner and outer expectations for different things.

  • Gillian

    I can see how difficult it was to create this quiz!

    On several of the questions, I wanted to answer either “none of the above” or “it depends” or select 2 of the options, so the answer I chose was somewhat arbitrary.

    I was rated as an Upholder (had hoped for Questioner) and do have strong upholder tendencies but also have questioner tendencies (e.g. several speeding tickets can attest to that). My habits tend to be the result of experimentation. Once I have decided on a course of action for myself AND have proven that it works AND feel reasonably secure that I can continue the action indefinitely (it can’t be something I hate doing), I can usually have reasonable success at maintaining it AS LONG AS no-one else gets in the way. I do, however, often defer to the preferences of my husband or a friend causing me to not meet my inner expectation. It seems this makes me a partial obliger. On the previous quiz you created, I came out as a mix of Upholder, Questioner and Obliger. I think many of us will change our tendencies as we age. When I was young, I was a much stronger Upholder, questioning very little, so I guess that is my native tendency. I’ve mellowed with age and wisdom to be more of a Questioner.

    I think what would be really useful would be to assign percentages to the tendencies – e.g. 50% Upholder, 30% Questioner, 20% Obliger, 0% Rebel.

    • Debra

      or maybe you’ve been a questioner all along and as you age you can express this more/drop learned behaviours and expectations. I was much more of a rule follower when I was younger and still have a tendency to follow rules and conventions but I am definitely a questioner. It is also possible that you defer to others sometimes because their opinions/preferences are another piece of information in your decision-making. How other people feel about what I am intending to do is part of the information that goes into the decision-making mix for me and I can change my intentions when I take that into account.

      • gretchenrubin

        Great point –

        People of the same Tendency will be very different, in how they come across, depending on other elements of their personality: how ambitious they are, or how considerate of other people, or how intellectually curious, etc. A very considerate Questioner would analyze a decision differently from a less considerate Questioner.

        • Debra

          Ooh, this would be great to know more about too! Can’t wait for the book …..

      • Gillian

        Interesting observations, Debra! I had virtually no questioner tendencies as a child but that might well have been in large part due to my environment and expectations – be a good girl and do as you are told – as well as being a very timid introvert. The questioning began in adulthood, in large part due to my husband who is somewhere between a questioner and a rebel (the rebel side of him would never take such a quiz!).

        Interesting thought on deferring to others. There are times when it is the case that their opinions/preferences inform my decision but it is more often that I don’t want to prevail over their wishes or to cause any kind of conflict – is this Obliger behaviour?

  • Felicity

    I think qu.15 (tend to agree – neutral – tend to disagree) is the real sorting question in this quiz. Up till then I seemed to be inclined to pick Rebel answers even though I’m a dyed in the wool Obliger. Weird. But then, Obligers do overlap with Rebels…

    • gretchenrubin

      Yes they do! LOTS of affinity between Obligers and Rebels. I have to admit, this took me a while to see.

  • Gail

    Wow! I just joined a Health Challenge for 6 weeks, and now know exactly why this is the only way I lose weight/stick to a good habit, like drinking enough water. I am a firm Obliger. I need external accountability. It all makes so much sense now. Thank you.

    • gretchenrubin

      Terrific – so happy to hear that it’s helpful.

  • Penelope Schmitt

    I have been mulling this quiz result over. Interesting . . . so if we identify our Rubin Tendency, does that tell us that we are less happy if we are not living by it? if we are allowing it to dominate us to the detriment of flexible living? How should this inform my choices. The obvious two are Obligers should set up accountability situations, and Rebels should do what’s good for them even if someone else will approve. Upholders . . . seems like the lesson for me is to recognize that I am not happy when I am flouting my own rules and those that I know are good for me.

    • Gillian

      Interesting questions, as always, Penelope.

      I think the answer is Yes to both of the first 2. Identifying our Tendency can help explain sources of frustration and unhappiness – not living in accordance with our nature or being dominated by our nature thus narrowing our choices. As an Upholder, I do get frustrated when I don’t uphold my own rules – either because of my own weakness or lack of discipline or because of the interference of someone else. However, having identified myself, what I have learned (and already knew to a large degree) is that rigidly following rules for the sake of the rule is foolish. I think we should all first question the validity of a rule before slavishly following it. Some logic and flexibility can make life much more pleasurable.

      And I think that through awareness and effort, we can change our inborn natures to a limited extent. I have grown from an almost 100% Upholder in my earlier years to at least a partial Questioner. The Obliger part of me is the most problematic. When is my obliging an act of caring and consideration and when does it cross the line into subverting my own values and goals to satisfy someone else’s wishes?

    • phoenix1920

      I didn’t take the quiz as telling me what makes me happy at all. As a rebel, there are times my rebel-ness itself makes me unhappy. People often misunderstand you or sometimes want to manipulate you, but I want to be myself and do things on my terms. Feeling bound by others’ unsolicited expectation is miserable, but having loved ones angry with you because you did not abide by their expectations is also miserable. Yet, there are wonderful joys of being a rebel, too,like thinking outside the box and focusing on authenticity.

      For me, learning my tendency has helped me tremendously in finally being able to adopt “habits” that I have always wanted to adopt, but with a three part approach: I focus on the joy the exercise will bring me; I give myself more freedom in how to implement the exercise so it is not so restrictive that I can’t keep up with it (It’s more of a theme), and I focus on how it fulfills my overall dream or is a part of who I was meant to be.

      • This hits the nail on the head for me. I’m a Rebel who is mostly unhappy with this; I admire Questioners and Upholders and sometimes manage to fake being an Obliger (but I’m not feeling obliging while I’m doing it).

        At the moment I’m trying to work on strategies for making myself do stuff I don’t want to, because a lot of it is stuff I actually do want to do – or at least, I want to have accomplished it. I have small children and I don’t want to be the parent who was grudging about the less fun aspects of parenthood, housekeeping and so on.

        I have had some success at motivating myself to do things in the past by actively trying to be selfish: yes, I want to go running/out to the movies/spend the evening crafting even though it will mildly inconvenience other people if I take the time to do it. But then I feel bad about the inconvenience, and I also don’t value the result because other people mostly don’t value it either.

        It’s infuriating! I feel I constantly tie myself in knots to try to motivate myself. And I seldom feel 100% that anything is a good idea, because I’m already coming up with defensive comments because I expect other people to think it isn’t a good idea.

  • Judy

    I took the quiz, but it didn’t give me my results. Also, why did the children’s ages stop in the mid-20’s? I live with my children, but they’re in their mid-40’s.

    • gretchenrubin

      You can imagine how long the quiz would be if every possible iteration was covered.
      You should have received your result…did you hit the button at the bottom, to keep moving through the quiz?

  • Laurie

    Both hubby and I took this fun quiz. No big surprises; he’s Obliger and I’m Rebel. 🙂

    • gretchenrubin


  • Mimi Gregor

    The quiz labeled me an Upholder, but I think of myself more as a Questioner. I think what may have skewed it toward Upholder for me were the questions regarding commitments to others. If I said I’d do something, I almost always carry it through. The thing is, just because someone asks me to do something, or expects me to do something, doesn’t mean I will say yes to doing it. I have no problem saying no — in fact, I say it quite often — and have to have a good reason for doing something. But if after thinking about it, I do say yes to it, then I feel obliged to carry it through, even if I no longer feel like it. So I guess there is a little Upholder in that, but I always question the request/rule/tradition first to see if it makes sense to me.

    • gretchenrubin

      Yes, you sound like you might be more of a Questioner.

    • phoenix1920

      I had a similar sway–if I tell a person that I will do X and they are counting on me to do X, I do it, whether I feel like it at the time or not. I wasn’t sure what the test would say I fit, but it put me as a rebel, which I think is true. I want to be very authentic to who I am, but I am also a good friend and reliable. So to break a commitment that I chose to make to a friend would be contrary to who I see myself as. (However, I have also learned that I need to keep a small circle of friends–too many gets stifling)

  • elisa

    Just in case it might be useful for you as author of the test: As already mentioned, I struggled with the question concerning the office meetings (I go and work on my own things meanwhile), but the only Questioner-like answer which really does not describe me, although I am a Questioner, is the feeling of being paralysed because of having to gather as much information as possible. I enjoy gathering information because I want to be in control of my decisions and of my life, but this never leads to the feeling of paralysis.

  • Elana

    I was happy to see your quiz to validate where I thought I was on the Tendencies. Prior to taking it, I was wavering between Upholder and Obliger. After taking it, I ended up soundly in the Upholder category which I can now see is exactly right. I had my husband take the quiz as well and he ended up precisely where I thought he would: Questioner. Which leads me to ask, since I know you are an Upholder and your husband is a Questioner, do you think there are any natural propensities for these two types to end up together (or any of the types really)? Just wondering.

    • gretchenrubin

      Hmmmm…if you’re trying to decide between Upholder and Obliger, you’re probably an Obliger, even if the test doesn’t say so.
      The question is: can you meet expectations that you impose on YOURSELF, without much trouble? If yes, Upholder. If no, Obliger.

      The most striking pairing is that when a Rebel is in a long-term relationship, almost invariably, it’s with an Obliger.

  • Debra

    Yes, yes, yes to your little book. I am a Questioner (so of course I want to know more!) and I’m specifically interested in how I can deal with maintaining habits. I either forget why I’m doing something (and therefore it’s up for questioning and decision-making again and again) and/or encounter new information or a new idea and drop what I’ve been doing in it’s favour, again sometimes forgetting some of the important reason why I was doing my previous habit. I find it easy to start doing something but hard to maintain it over a longer period of time. Ideas about how other questioners cope with this would be great.

  • Natalie

    I got rebel which confused me. I don’t feel like a rebel at all. But I struggled with quite a few questions as I felt none of them applied to me and didn’t cover all possibilities. I guess I’m rebelling against the quiz? I am so law abiding (including everyone in authority as ‘the law’) that I rather expected Obliger. Or maybe questioner? (Not upholder, never upholder).

    • gretchenrubin

      The quiz is just meant to be a tool…think about the descriptions and what fits you best.

  • Deb Anderson Weaver

    Your four tendencies is brilliant. From reading your posts this past year, I knew I was an obliger. The quiz confirmed it. Need to learn more about setting external boundaries for what I consider important. Also can’t wait to read your book!

    • gretchenrubin

      I’m so pleased to hear that you find it useful —

  • Collin

    I would be interested to know how introversion/extroversion fit into these categories. I am an introvert and questioner, and I wonder if there are any trends.

  • andreasd

    Hello Gretchen,

    I am a full blown Rebel.

    I’d like to share a tactic I apply when I need to do (repetitive) chores but everything in me screams ‘noooo’. It is a variation on what you call Strategy of Identity.

    I call it ‘as if’. I simply enact being somebody else or doing stuff while being filmed:
    e.g. I enact being a perfect butler, cook, chambermaid, laundress, interior designer. Works for difficult stuff like writing essays, difficult letters: the famous poet, the cool scientist….

    I know it sounds cheesy, but it really works. Sometimes I spend days hopping from one identity to the next.

    Disclosure: I learned this tactic from a friend who is impoverished nobility and needs to do ‘servants chores’ by herself.

    Best, Andrea

    • gretchenrubin

      This is SO INTERESTING.

      I wonder if any other Rebels have hit on this. Thanks so much for passing this along–

  • Megan Kelly McQuivey

    I took your quiz and then posted it on my facebook page; it’s been really fun and revelatory and interesting to see what my friends’ results were. Which leads to this question someone posted: Have you found any commonalities in partners? Do people pick partners/spouses who are their similar tendency? An opposite tendency? Are there certain pairings you see over and over? (I’m an obliger. I’m going to guess my husband is a questioner.)

    • gretchenrubin

      Yes! there are definite patterns.

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  • Martina

    I got questioner, which I wasn’t surprised by. I was thinking that I act differently at work: I am more likely to respond to outer expectations without much probing, making me more of an obliger. Then I realized that I do have a good personal reason for doing those things, namely, wanting to impress at my job! The real reason I do things that I think are less useful at work is to make myself look better.

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  • I’m extremely impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself? Anyway keep up the excellent quality writing, it’s rare to see a great blog like this one today..

  • Gretchen,
    I want to know why I’m just now finding you!? 😉

    Looking forward to reading Better than Before. Congrats!

  • Caro

    I finished the quiz and immediately looked at my tendency (Questioner) and was unsure of whether it applied, and whether I wasn’t somewhat of a mix depending on the situation. Then I read through the description and came to the last line about how if I was a Questioner I was probably questioning the validity of this quiz as I read. hahaha TRUE. I guess the quiz is pretty accurate then, huh?

  • Tara

    I got nothing but this message,

    “Thanks for taking the quiz!
    I hope you find the Four Tendencies framework helpful, as you think about ways to master your own habits.”

    Where is my result?

  • Upholder. No surprise there. I know myself very well.
    But I do think it is healthy (I have no proof of this, just my own observation) to take 1 quiz per week (on anything) just to keep the mind ‘percolating’.

    — I had no issues with the link or the quiz (Windows 7, desktop computer, latest Firefox browser) —

    Cheers, JBS

  • I can imagine it would be hard to create a quiz like this and I think you did a great job! I’m definitely a Questioner!

  • Beth

    this quiz captured me perfectly – upholder all the way!!

  • I’m a Rebel. I feel like I’m a Rebel with Questioner tendencies. Could that be true?

  • Jen

    Yep, that’s me the Obliger. Makes sense. Always feeling I’m on a hamster wheel, with no energy to do what I need to do for my own life 🙂 Interesting quiz.

  • Kay

    Hi Gretchen,

    I couldn’t see a result at the end of the quiz and also the prompt to opt for more information didn’t come up? I was doing it via iPad so don’t know if there have been problems with the iPad version perhaps.

    • gretchenrubin

      Hm….strange. not sure what happened. Sorry about that!

  • Catherine

    Gretchen, thank you for this site. I admit I had been resisting the happiness project for years, thinking it may be another “turn your frown upside down” attempt at being happy… something a chronically depressed person never wants to hear. And this quiz is legit! I went in thinking I was an Obliger and was confused when Questioner was my result. A little insight has made me realize that the result is accurate and that I may have been trying to convince myself that I am more selfless than I actually am. I really think this discovery may help me in my relationships. Sorry, to say it but you may just need to hurry and write a book sooner than later delving into the four tendencies!

    • gretchenrubin

      I’m so happy to hear that it struck a chord with you.

  • Joyce Oxfeld

    I am an obligor but I question constantly.

  • Chris

    Gretchen, the link is very frustrating inside KinkedIn. It keeps taking me to a blank page and in order to take the test I have to copy it and paste in safari.

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks for letting me know. I’ll investigate.

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  • Rae

    Gretchen, this framework is impressive. It has sparked a fascinating discussion with my husband, a Questioner. I came up with Obliger, but I think the model is more complex than that.

    I think that we can and do have different tendencies in different roles in our lives. Ideally, we find a vocation that lets us find internal and external motivation. I am a high school history teacher, and for the most part, find the combination of external deadlines and guidelines as well as my internal motivation to learn more about my content area and to create new lessons to be a great fit for my life. I think that at work I am an Upholder.

    However, in my role as homemaker and mom, I am definitely an Obliger. But I (rebelliously) believe that that tendency has absolutely no negative connotations. I think that almost all of the way we structure our home lives is to send a message to the outside world that we are of a specific social class or personality type, and we crave feedback that we are athletic, fit, well read, that our kids are polite and smart, that our house looks pretty, or that we give cool parties. How on earth does anyone find internal motivation for home-making? All we need is to raise relatively happy kids, have a warm relationship with a spouse, to have some good books at home, or to have some healthy food in the fridge. I think anything else is externally motivated and a desire for “likes” on Facebook or society at large.

    In terms of personal health, I’m a Questioner. I know that walking is almost as good as running. so I don’t need to be a marathoner anymore, and that I can be a healthy size 8, so working toward being a size 4 only gets external reward from my community and not much more health benefit.

    I bet a lot of Obligers are drawn to this website. Just as MTBI introverts are starting to realize their strengths in a world that values Extroversion (See Susan Cain’s TED talk http://youtu.be/c0KYU2j0TM4) Homemaker Obligers need to realize that we live in a society that does not value ‘caring for others’ as valuable, but that is not a universal belief.

    • Posey

      I agree. i think obligers are wonderful friends and spouses and aspire to be one. but alas. im a questioner :-/ i get on my own nerves.

  • Molly

    This was a fantastic exercise for me. Thanks Gretchen.

    • gretchenrubin


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  • Brigitta

    I especially enjoy the Venn diagram of overlap between the tendencies. Mine came back as an Obliger, but I can sometimes identify with the two neighboring categories. When I try to resist unhealthy habits, I can take the rebel approach and completely abandon healthy principles and gain some enjoyment from the rebellion. But I also really identify with upholding principles and rules because I want to respect their authority. It sounds like many other readers are finding similar overlaps with the questioner-upholder categories.
    I thoroughly enjoy all of your work (I consider the Happiness Project one of my favorite books!), and the podcasts are great reminders of the self-improving principles I’ve learned from you over the years.
    I can’t wait to read Better than Before, as I have to wait for my school break. But I know I’ll enjoy it when I do. Thank you for sharing your literary skills with us!

  • Jay Averageman

    Sounds like the same 4 factor model that’s been in use since Hippocrates. Nothing new, just new packaging.

    • gretchenrubin

      No, that’s not true! This is new.

      • Jay Averageman

        It’s a simple DISC profile.
        D = Rebel (Choleric)
        I = Upholder (Sanguine)
        S = Obliger (Phlegmatic)
        C = Questioner (Melancholy)
        Even the descriptions are similar.
        D’s are demanding and headstrong
        I’s seek to please people and make connections.
        S’s are obliging (not even MY words there)
        C’s question data
        Yep, simple DISC profile.

        • MK Wayman

          No, not a “simple” DISC profile. Just as basic mathematic principles underlie the most complicated formulas, I think Gretchen has taken the profiles and fit them into a new matrix, used them to understand a different aspect of this thing we call life. As I read about her “tendencies” and took the quiz, I saw echoes of my own master’s thesis, which examined journalism school graduates’ views of their own workaday ethics. I believe there were very similar categories sorted out, but on a different aspect of human endeavor, an equally valid analysis or purposing of the underlying principle.

          • Jay Averageman

            LOL! Ok. But my master’s thesis (I can drop the “I’m smarter than you” thing too), was on the the use of assessment profiles in the hiring and coaching process. I examined 177 different assessment products, the most prolific being the 4 factor profile that started with Hippocrates, continued through William Moulton Marston in his book Emotions of Normal People, and then exploded in the 70’s and 80’s with dozens of people doing what Gretchen did… using it to create their own assessment product and claiming it’s “new”. I also examined the use of validity studies with Cronbach’s alpha, McDonald’s omega, structured equation modeling, and other data analysis.

            Considering that there are over 1,500 other assessment companies and all use some form of the 4 Factor Model, creating yet another one won’t tell you anything new. Companies spend millions on their research and have tens of millions of data points. This is just a toy.

          • Posey

            interesting comments!!
            i wonder if jay is a man. . .

        • angelica

          I have always been rated a sanguine/melancholy. As a person that at least has her BS in psychology, I’ve taken the DISC and others many times over. I think that this quiz looks at different parts of a personality. If I would take and expand on YOUR theory, I would be a choleric/melancholy with no sanguine in me. I have very rebel tendencies and rated that with her quiz. Cholerics are just mean!

          • Jay Averageman

            Just remember that a DISC (or any other four or five factor model) has only been shown to give you 50% to 60% of the info you need to explain behavior. Delve into a Hartman Axiology Values Profile along with an adapted Motivators Profile based on Spranger’s model and you’ll be much further along. Her “new” profile is just a product of DISC plus a thesaurus.

          • Jay Averageman

            And 100 to 1 it isn’t validated or proven reliable by third parties. It isn’t EEOC compliant either.

          • gretchenrubin

            For sure, it’s not!

            It comes from my observation.

            I’m reminded of a passage that I just read in a novel (which I HIGHLY recommend):

            Professor [Adam] Frank was referring to an old Zen koan about the Sixth Patriarch of Zen, who was illiterate. When asked how he could understand the truth of the Buddhist texts if he couldn’t read the words, the Sixth Patriarch raised his arm and pointed to the moon. Truth is like the moon in the sky.
            –Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being

          • Jay Averageman

            I’m a professional psychometric analyst. I see right through it.

          • So what, it’s not harming anybody. 😀

          • Here’s the thing though…the thing you are missing entirely…


            And what is the point of any of this pontification if it doesnt actually lead to more personal clarity that we can actually USE TO MAKE OUR LIVES BETTER? It’s ALL pointless unless it does that.

            And this quiz actually does do that.

            I have taken the Myers Briggs and I got nothing out of it. Why? It told me stuff I already know about myself. Not a single “aha! ” moment. Nothing to clarify to myself why I had experienced certain things, or how I could better frame my interactions with people moving forward. in short, I did not feel any more equipped with any sorts of “tools” as a human being.

            Whereas when I took the Tendencies quiz, it clarifed a LOT for me. Suddenly my approach to the world (which had seemed so bafflingly different than others’) suddenly made sense.

            Now I understand why “accountability” doesn’t work for me. Now I can stop feeling bad about that, and not just think that there must be something wrong with me. No, I am a questioner, that is all. And most “self help” out there is geared towards obligers and/or upholders. That is why my entire life I have heard “good advice” that probably is good for others, but that never worked for me. Now I can feel empowered about that, moving forward.

            CLARITY. Do you not get how valuable that is?

            So no matter what kind of analyst you are, lift your head out of the details (and your desire to “be right”), and look at the bigger picture.

            Is this quiz a useful tool for people, to actually get more out of their lives and their interactions moving forward?

            I say yes, indubitably. Maybe not for everybody. Maybe not for you. But is has been for me, and for others. Therefore hallelujah for its existence.

      • Well, yes and no. The Four Tendencies scheme looks to me like a unique, new version of the very old inner-outer metaphor in psychology, described by Hogan and Cheek in their 1983 publication “Identity, Authenticity, and Maturity” (a chapter in a book edited by Sarbin & Scheibe). In the chapter they list David Riesman’s “inner-directedness” (being guided by one’s own expectations) and “other-directedness” (being guided by others’ expectations) as an example of the metaphor. Cheek developed Personal and Social Aspects of Identity scales to assess two constructs similar to Riesman’s and provides in the chapter a table of four types defined by high and low involvement in personal and social identity that are nearly identical to the Four Tendencies.

        High Personal, Low Social = Inner-directed, Autonomous
        High Personal, High Social = Mature, Flexible
        Low Personal, Low Social = Alienated, Unsocialized
        Low Personal, High Social = Other-directed, Trendy

        I would post a PDF of the chapter if I could; it is available at Jon Cheek’s ResearchGate site. I am including a jpg of the page with the fourfold table.


        My observation is not meant to take anything away from the Four Tendencies as a way of thinking about people. To the contrary, I think the connection to the venerable inner-outer theme in psychology makes it even stronger. And Gretchen Rubin has done a brilliant job explaining how knowledge of the Four Tendencies can be used to better one’s life. I have read the first chapter and pre-ordered the book. I greatly look forward to reading the book in its entirety.

        • gretchenrubin

          This looks fascinating! Thanks so much for the reference, can’t wait to check it out.
          From your description, sounds like there are important difference from the Four Tendencies – the Four Tendencies framework doesn’t include the same idea of “social.” Can’t wait to learn more.

    • Jenya

      The DISC model has almost zero overlap with the Four Tendencies. Even rebels can be conscientious if they think that’s part of their identity.

      I would say it’s weird to see someone be so wrong while expressing it with so much authority, but I guess it’s not weird at all. You could try this post:
      http://gretchenrubin.com/happiness_project/2012/06/ever-been-stuck-in-an-im-right-youre-wrong-conversation/. Or perhaps this article: https://www.guernicamag.com/daily/rebecca-solnit-men-explain-things-to-me/.

  • Kim

    I got Rebel, but I think I may be more of a Questioner who tends to rebel.

  • Hunter

    I scored as an “Upholder”, but I know my self well enough to identify as a “Obliger” — I need structure to get most things done. Although I aspire to be an “Upholder” I don’t think the quiz got it right for me.

  • Catherine

    Sorry for my bad english…..(i’m german)
    i filled in the quiz and as i thought i am a obliger. But in some parts of my life i am not i am rebell. For instance loosing weight is something i can not do with the backround of any accountability in this part of my life or at this Challenge i act like a rebell. I don’t meet any expactations. Must hear the part of the rebel again.
    i would love it to read the book in german…..

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  • Nancy

    Interesting quiz. When I looked at your 4 categories before taking the quiz, I pegged myself as a questioner–think that knowledge could skew your results? And yes, I was a questioner. Have been since I was small and often drive people crazy (particularly bosses I don’t respect). I am incredibly disciplined at completing a goal once I make one and this quiz/category chart sort of explains why. Don’t know if the book will be useful for me :-} but, I like the concept–thanks!

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  • Machtelt

    Thanks Gretchen!
    You made me realise I am a rebel, and with a son being a rebel too, I now understand the difficulties we sometimes have. And also the relationship with my husband (I expect him to be an obliger) makes more sense now.
    You asked about our interest in the fieldguide, I am definitely interested.
    Would it be interesting to have all your audience give their best tips and tricks, experience, etc? And also it would be great if you could tell more about relationships with others having other/ or the same tendencies.
    Being a behaviorist I am very keen on your tendencies and already use them in my work.
    If you need anyone to co-create this fieldbook, I would be very happy to do so.

  • Alison

    Am in the middle of reading “Better than before” and was thinking I might be an upholder according to your model – and the quiz suggests I am, though I would say with questioner tendancies! Thanks for your books – I am not at all into self help literature but I have really enjoyed all your books.

  • Melanie White

    I’m clearly a rebel with a hint of obliger and a twist of upholder. Now I finally understand why, when my mother would tell me to take a cardigan, I would say no, regardless of how cold it was. As a wellness coach, I’m finding these Tendencies are extremely useful in helping my clients develop appropriate habits and strategies. Thank you – looking forward to hearing more!

  • indoorcamping

    Oh my family is rolling on the floor laughing at my results. They had me pegged as an Upholder, as I never skip exercise, obey traffic rules and, in general, love rules. Turns out that rule-love might be more due to my chaotic past.

    Rather than rebelling, I’ll embrace it (how’s that for rebelling?) My husband is a rebel, too, but he is stereotypically rebellious (put it on his calendar and he’s already figured out how to get out of it).

    Two rebels are better than one, and we’re saving two non-rebels from being frustrated with us!

  • Stacey

    I found this really interesting and would have loved to have known the other percentages I came out as. I completely get that I’m an obliger for most of the time, however I see myself as Rebel/Questioner whenever I’m with my parents/brother. I think it is interesting that that behave differently in different situations – you could argue to that I either revert back to childhood when I’m with my parents or perhaps or I just feel more comfortable being more “selfish” with them as they know all my deep dark secrets and I don’t need to oblige them!

  • John Zhu

    Ummmm… did u really lose weight through a diet of eggs and BACON???

    • gretchenrubin


      Try it.

      If you’d like to learn more, read “Why We Get Fat” by Gary Taubes.

  • Eva

    Thank you Gretchen. Questioner here also 😀 You might wanna replace $ to USD(if that’s what it meant to be) in the last part of that quiz. There are also AUD, NZD at least. Then standard of living in different countries is different also etc so would need to think what would that money buy in other countries and then identify the price of the item at the local market…to answer that question correctly, was hard question to answer..

    • gretchenrubin

      Great suggestion. Thanks!

  • Amaro Araujo

    Gretchen, couldn’t get yet de full report (blank page) but it turned out I’m a questioner. So far so good, what I question a bit (right, I’m a questioner) is the direct link between questioner and commitment. I like to understand the scope and the purpose of what I’m doing. I like to “question” ready made answers, get answers to my questions and even question my own questions/doubts. Now, regardless of the outcome on each, the commitment will always be there (with myself or other peers) as long as I can share the vision/goals/purpose regardless of eventual open questions. But congrats it’s a good exercise.

  • just purchased your new book at Target, thanks for signing it!

  • I’m currently reading “Better than Before” and based on what I was learning my mind was made up that I was an Obliger. In fact, I even work with a business/life coach because it is helpful for me to achieve my goals. Felt compelled to take the test to see what came up and I was surprised to see that Questioner came up as my tendency. Although I was thinking that I did identify with it in some aspects but Obliger resonated with me more. The book is absolutely fascinating, and it’s really been motivating me to make progress. I found out, though, that my hubby is a Rebel so this is going to be interesting! 🙂

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks for the kind words!

      Trust your gut, not the quiz. If you think that Obliger fits you better – well, you know yourself! The test isn’t infallible, just supposed to be a guide. Whatever makes the most sense for YOU. And if you’re married to a Rebel…that’s a good clue that you are in fact an Obliger.

      • Thank you for taking the time to reply, Gretchen! I appreciate your insights.

        Also, I wanted to let you know I enjoyed the Lively Show Podcast you did recently. The info you shared coupled nicely with the book, and it was neat to hear you have a live conversation about it!

        • gretchenrubin

          Terrific, thanks for listening!

  • Julie Majerus Roundtree

    I’ve taken this quiz 3 times – first I got Questioner, then Rebel, and finally Obliger. My husband is an upholder and he told me I would be an obliger from the start. 🙁 I think it’s good to be one, but people tend to think you’re a doormat. It’s a choice though and they don’t know how lucky they are!!! I think I was a rebel in my youth and I still am a bit, but I’m mostly an obliger. I got the detailed report for rebel. I’d like the report for obliger.

  • IndyRose

    I would reckon that we can be a combination!

    • Vicki Brown

      Gretchen says “When I talk about the Tendencies, people often say, “I’m a mix.” It’s true that the Tendencies do overlap, so each Tendency shares aspects with other Tendencies — but it’s not really possible to be a mix.”

  • IndyRose

    Same here. Kind of had to pick the closest.

  • Vicki Brown

    “Once you’ve taken the Quiz — did your answer ring true for you?”

    Yes. I KNow who I am and ‘guessed’ first, based on the diagram and the descriptions, then took the quiz and confirmed my guess.

  • Vicki Brown

    This sounds like Questioner to me. Take Gretchen’s descriptive sentence and substitute “commitment” for “expectation”.

    Questioners question all commitments; they’ll make an commitment (only) if they think it makes sense–essentially, they make all commitment into inner commitments

  • Vicki Brown

    This ‘quiz’ (and Gretchen’s four groups) remind me of Psychological Type and Temperament. (In fact, there is a correlation between Gretchen’s Tendency groups and the 4 Kiersey temperaments”. So (as I know a LOT about Type and Temperament) I feel that I may be able to help you by using the same sorts of instructions we use for those.

    The Tendencies quiz is about _tendencies_ (just as a Type or Temperament ‘quiz’ is about preferences). Not absolutes. People can flex and modify their behaviour. For example, you might be more likely to do things your mother asks you to do or more likely to do any task your boss sets for you.

    Instead of thinking about Who is asking (and coming up with “well, if it’s the boss, always, and if it’s my Mom rarely, and for Sally, never…” think about _you_. WHat would you do if it were up to you? No argument from Mom, no poor review from boss, just you?

    (Oh, and Questioners? We’re not ‘mellow’ 😉

    • Whitney

      Which How do the Kiersey Temperaments match up to the Four Tendencies? i.e. Which Kiersey Temperament is most like Upholder?

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  • This is awesome!!! But what do I do if I’m a rebel? Really bugs me because I need to establish some habits and I have this crazy resistance inside… :/

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  • Poppy

    The quiz came back as rebel and at heart I think this is right – but as a mother and now a single parent and responsible employee I think I have had to adapt certain tendencies to make my way in the world. I think come across more as an obliger on the surface but I know it is because that is sometimes the best way to get things done without hassle so I can get on with the stuff I really want to do. So rather than obliger being a tendency for me I think I use it as a strategy to get people off my case.

  • shelley

    I am, and always have been a REBEL. Alas, re-re-re-confirmed after the quiz! Biggest hurdle is that I want to rebel against what I set out to do, yet I DO a lot… but it has to really work for me and be meaningful to me. Ages ago, someone else called me internally-motivated (MUST be meaningful to me, according to my own standards for myself (which have nothing to do with standards for or of others)), as opposed to externally motivated (by sparkly stuff: perks//titles). THANKS!

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  • Phil Henderson

    First, let me clarify, Gretchen, that I’m absolutely not trying to blame you or deride your work. I think this framework you’ve come up with is quite insightful, and I can see why a lot of people find it useful. My problem with it is that I personally don’t.

    The problem is, I can’t find which category I fit into, and that’s quite frustrating. The only thing I’m absolutely sure of is which category I DON’T fit into, and that’s Upholder. I feel like I have the worst traits of all the other three. Just when I think I can reject that I’m a Rebel, I realize that I’ve done a good number of things in the past simply to show my contempt for rules. Then, when I think “Hey, maybe I’m a Rebel,” I think some more, and realize that I’ve always thought it’s stupid to rebel simply for the sake of rebellion. When I think I might be an Obliger (which is what the quiz identified me as), I realized that I don’t really care about other people’s opinions of me, and when I recognize other people’s expectations of me are too unreasonable or illogical, I bristle against them. That naturally leads me to think I might be a Questioner. This could fit me well, since I often accept people’s explanations if they’re logical. But that wouldn’t explain my inability to uphold my obligations to myself.

    Maybe there’s a fifth Tendency you should add: Mess. That one I’d fit into quite nicely.

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  • Julie Hawkins

    Gretchen, what about if my likelihood to meet someone else’s expectation depends on WHO the outside person is? I definitely put more value on others’ expectations than my own, but it really depends on who it is. For example, I have always been very diligent at work and at school, but terrible with other groups, like PTA or social clubs. With those groups, I tend to say yes when I want to say no, and then have trouble following through with what I said I would do. Is that a Rebel?

    • gretchenrubin

      Sounds like Obliger-rebellion. Or lack of accountability.

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  • Lipton ice tea

    well, you got me. most of the habis is right. most the time i like upholder. thank you
    and i suggest your questioner to my friend and my network. thanks


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  • I started to take the quiz. I think I made it to about question #4. It felt like I had resonated with too many answers at once and became difficult to discern which answer made the most sense. At first I brokered these conflicts by choosing my answers to conflict with one another, to give the best representation, but then decided that probably defeated the purpose of taking the quiz in the first place.

    I’ve been trying to make huge shifts in the way I think lately, which I felt might attribute to being all over the map while trying to answer the questions, and in the end, decided that I didn’t want to possibly reinforce old behavior and mindsets that I was trying to change — with a label steeped in those old mindsets.

    I’d rather be surrounded by chaos and potential change. I self-manage depression. Something as simple and little-seeming as a label … it’s important not to feed the ones that lead nowhere. I often don’t feel like I have what it takes to stand on my own two feet. At times like these, I fall back to managing my life through distraction and ‘misdirection’. When I’m stronger, however, I manage it more directly.

    I challenge your statement that there is no ‘in-between’. I challenge it because I’m not sure that I’m privy to a stable mindset to begin with. I think I use the best of what I have available to me, at any given time.

    Commitments are an interesting topic for this frame. What makes ‘commitments’ interesting to me is that I think of them as bound by consistent behavior over a span of time. Consistent behavior seems to be out of my reach.

    As I write this, there is a nagging in the back of my mind: maybe I’m just proving out one of your tendencies. But maybe I’m providing more details that you hadn’t considered or don’t have access to in your own life experience.

    I might (carefully) identify myself with the following labels: an adult male sexual and physical abuse survivor, who manages depression, possibly has a place on the Asperger’s spectrum, who does his best at being conscious and aware.

    I allow myself to consider the above labels because I can see points in time where elements of those things seem to govern my behavior, whether or I want them to, or not, and labels help me to intentionally manage the more consistent inconsistencies …

    Perhaps I would be better off just reading the book, and not trying to take the quiz.

    Anyway, I thought I would share my thoughts. It’s interesting that one person could collate the experiences of others ( with entirely different modes of thinking and operation ) in a way that would be useful to everyone. … I suppose that I’m really talking about any self-help book now … but to do it for how to create and maintain habits in a way that’s practical to anyone … seems like a very useful tool.


    Gretchen, I have an idea for a name. The 4 “Motivation” Tendencies.

    Or something with the word MOTIVATION or ACTION.

    Because really, you are addressing what it takes for us to “get things done” aka, feel & be motivated to act.

    By the way, I am a Questioner, and I really went back and forth between Questioner and Rebel. Because, (even though I once got kicked out of a 3rd grade reading class for – wait for it – asking too many questions!!) every time I heard you interview a Rebel, I also identified with almost everything they said.

    The thing that really clinched it for me? When mentioned that questioners are (almost) obsessive hoarders of information. The whole information gathering thing is so dead on.

    I think that a lot of Questioners are probably “questioning” (what else!) if they are a Rebel or not, since they seem similar on many accounts. I would say to them – if you aren’t sure, ask yourself about your attitude towards gathering information before making a decision. That should probably clarify it!

    Anyways, the quiz was VERY enlightening to me. So many things became clear to me about why I always have felt so “different” from everybody around me.


    PS: I also think that the majority of entrepreneurs, freelancers and
    independent business owners (like myself) must surely be either Rebels
    or Questioners.


    • Nis

      I too love to make informed decisions and gather information first, but my tendency is clearly rebel. The distinction I see isn’t so much what happens before but after making a decision. Will you stick to it? Questioner. Will you resist? Rebel. I may have decided to do X yesterday, but today I’ve changed my mind.


    Questioners say:
    “I’ll only do it if it MAKES SENSE”

    Rebels say:
    “I’ll only do it if I WANT TO”

    Obligers say:
    “I’ll only do it if SOMEBODY ELSE EXPECTS ME TO”

    Upholders say:
    “I’ll do it if I told myself or another I would”
    (This is the one I am least clear on)

    Agree? Disagree?

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  • Amy Gregory

    Thanks for doing this. I’m struggling with the bad habit of never sleeping enough. The problem is, as much as it messes up so many other things, it also serves a vital function for me, which is that late at night is my only time to myself, without kids, without anyone. My brain feels calm, alive, and most of all, MINE. As much as this bad habit is messing up my life, that is hard to let go of.

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  • Jesse Easter

    Do you consider an Upholder to be the ideal? If so, and considering the fact that you designed this system and gave yourself the title of ‘Upholder’, this could be seen as ‘be like me’ self-help, which people generally look down on as not contextual enough. If you don’t think Upholders are superior, either morally or productively, you may want to lay out some examples of effective and ineffective Upholders, Questioners, Rebels, and Obligers. That way, you can address the sense that you designed a system for yourself to sell as a kind of brand, rather than it being designed to
    understand people themselves.

  • Cait-y-did-not

    Rebel. My husband is entirely unsurprised. pffff

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  • Anita Ki

    Obliger to a T. Have recently started created a mechanism of external accountability with a friend who is my “accountability partner.” We Skype every two weeks and make commitments about what we want to do in that time. We share photos and whatsapp messages about our progress (and occasionally lack thereof). It’s hard to break the habit of putting external commitments to others over my own internal commitments.

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  • Wendy Barron

    I am also a Questioner, as it turns out. Even as I was reading the questions and answers, I was thinking that none of the answers applied perfectly, and how I would have worded things differently.

    I thought I’d be an Upholder, given my long history as an admin assistant. But Questioner makes much more sense, given how annoyed some people used to get when they gave me work and I interrogated them in turn. Hmm. It’s a good thing I left admin assisting for editing; now I get paid, not told off, for questioning, analyzing, and thinking.

    • gretchenrubin

      Great to hear that it strikes a chord.

  • Jessyka

    When I told my husband about the four tendencies and expressed that he was probably a Questioner, he was sceptical and questioned me on the source and research methodology. After a bit of searching around, he still wasn’t entirely convinced. There is no doubt in my mind: Questioner. Lol!

    • gretchenrubin

      A sign of a Questioner is to say, “I question the validity of this framework.” True!

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  • DeDe

    I enjoyed taking the quiz. The results were correct I am a questioner.

  • Catherine

    I just took the quiz and came out questioner. This did ring true. Then I thought hang on, I think I’ve done this before and came out obliger. I checked back in my emails and I did! Is it possible to be two types or very mixed? I feel like I am both obliger (as I often strike when I feel live I’ve ‘given’ too much) but also a questioner in that I need to do a lot of research before I make purchases etc! Love the podcast Gretchen, keep up the great work 🙂

    • gretchenrubin

      The question is: how do you respond to an expectation? Do you need outer accountability, in order to meet it; or is it a matter of feeling that the expectation is justified, sensible, etc? That’s the KEY difference. An Obliger might well love research, but that’s not what makes for action.

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  • Bridgett Mahoney

    I had the exact same response when I got “Questioner.” I had my doubts at first, big time, and it isn’t what I would “choose” to be — I guess because I worry I am belligerent by over-thinking the flaws that could be associated…? Though everyone is so unique and with a special way of dealing with things, whatever their type. Maybe some are belligerent, and some are smooth talkers. In reality, I have little cares for authority and just follow my inner conscience and goals. SO a questioner. I love to succeed, and I used to be a real driven person intent on achieving great feats. But I have no diplomacy (not that all questioners are like that). I live life on my terms. I don’t like to be judged, but I defend myself with carefully prepared logic usually.

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  • Sarah Griffiths

    I couldn’t BELIEVE how accurate this was… I’m a Questioner, without doubt. I was stunned, it explains so much… showing it to my husband so he “gets me” more. He will probably start laughing and want to take the quiz himself…

    • gretchenrubin

      Terrific! that’s great to hear.

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  • Nadia

    You may have answered this already, but without searching everywhere… Is it better to be one or the other? Or is the idea that we understand our own tendency?

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  • Damian

    I was labeled as an Obliger, however I don’t see myself in that way. I see serving others as a Blessing to my guests and my team and a natural part of the hospitality industry. I don’t do it out of duty, I do it because it is the right thing to do. I don’t do it for others to notice, but to make their lives better, because I was Blessed.

  • LLB

    I’m finding your work so interesting. That quiz was torture though! I REALLY wanted you to give me some specific examples. I came out as a Questioner, which is what I mostly thought I was. Making all expectation into inner expectations seemed to help clarify. I will not commit to ANYTHING external if I think I can’t or won’t follow through. I’ll just leave it up in the air, and then, if I feel I CAN fulfill the expectation, there you go—bonus. And all the things I was asked to do at work that I didn’t believe in, I did because it was required, and there was no way around it. But ultimately, I didn’t want to continue to be a party to something I didn’t believe in, so I decided 30 years was enough. And that is why I had to opt out of the income question. $0 wasn’t there. 🙂 Does that still sound like Questioner?

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  • Barbara Whitley

    I haven’t read.. but as a rebel .. lol . I don’t believe u understand the rebel …internal… while the rebel “is born to resist the external”…. the internal… is not always in resistance… in fact the contrary . The true rebel .. born to make changes ..must be in excellent awareness and control of the internal. Theven sociopath or psychopath may not be. I encourage reevaluation and interview with people who “know ” . Without the test ..who they r … the “reliability and validity might then be more acceptable. U have in essence put the rebel in the “I’m not ok and you’re not ok ” catergory… for the Eric berne models… certainly something that will not meld well with the 5% of the true rebels. While the up holders .. ok / ok .. r far less in reality …who think that balanced. Will read later ..

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  • kristenlaughlin

    My results came back as Questioner as well and I thought for sure I would be an Obliger. However, once I read the “if you’re questioning the validity of the quiz” part, it reasonated that I’m likely a Questioner. ha

    • I felt like I’d uncovered something like the Periodic Table of the Elements. My framework is balanced, consistent, encompassing, and predictive — if I do say so myself.

    • Would you be interested in something like that?

    • Would you be interested in something like that?

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  • K

    Hilariously, as soon as I got my “questioner” result, I closed the quiz and Googled, “What is a questioner tendency,” in order to gather more information to see if I really AM a questioner. Then I realized… oh. Yeah. Got it.

  • At first I wasn’t sure whether I was really a questioner, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that the description rang true for me. Before taking the quiz I thought I leaned towards Obliger.

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  • Pam

    Totally nailed me as a questioner. lol. I love this quiz and the empowerment I feel now!

  • Melissa Falk

    So, I’m an obliger. I could have told you that and so could all of my friends and family. Heck, I’m a Masters level Social Worker, My problem is 100% accountability. I’m looking for a free way to be accountable for my weight loss goals. Any suggestions or ideas would be fantastic.

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  • Cassie Scarano

    I love learning about the four tendencies and I am definitely an obliger. I have been thinking a lot about inner purpose and meaning recently, and I wonder whether being an obliger is related to my feelings of NOT having an inner purpose?

  • Pam Watson

    Hi Gretchen! Love your book and still have about 1/2 more to read! Was just wondering – do you think the quiz would be applicable to youth? If so, at what age or development stage do you think it may be useful? Am currently working/thinking on developing a self-esteem project for youth and self-awareness seems like a great place to start.

    • gretchenrubin

      For some children, Tendency is obvious very early…for others, not until much later. Children aren’t autonomous in the same way as adults, so that can cloud the issue. But I think the framework is very helpful for many children, from what I’ve seen.

      Gretchen Rubin

      Visit my blog

      My podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin
      My books:Better Than Before —New York Times bestseller
      The Happiness Project —#1 New York Times bestseller
      Join the discussion on Facebook @gretchenrubin

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  • flossattrocbrocandrecup

    Tricky. I got upholder. I’m better at external obligations than personal ones, but I do OK at both. I love routines but rules have to make sense. I can ignore rules if they don’t. And if someone (my husband usually) tries to influence me regarding what I consider to be a personal obligation (exercise, diet etc) I’d rather scrap the whole project than give him the satisfaction of thinking I obliged him – so I identify with the rebels there!

  • Rui Alves

    Rebel and listening to your gym example makes sense, but I think I have also a bit of obliger and questioner. You should present percentages, because is just a tendency like you say, its never 100% one thing. Also, since they are four categories, you have to have more options in a question to get to all, or at least try better, with permutations or something like that to calculate number of questions. For instance, for first question about new year resolution I cant find a suitable answer.

    • gretchenrubin

      I discuss all these issues fully in my book THE FOUR TENDENCIES. http://amzn.to/2o49ZZZ
      May I say that based on your response, I suspect that you’re a Questioner?

      • Rui Alves

        Ahh ok, I don´t have your book yet, if you say so, makes me more interested in having it. When I started to follow you, seeing your videos and articles, I thought I was a questioner (I have to follow more my intuition, since it is usually right!) but your quiz gives me rebel. I give an example, I don´t ask of questions in public but a lot of questions inside, maybe because I am introverted. So there´s some problem in the quiz or we are a mix, in last case the percentages can help.

      • Rui Alves

        Yes, i believe so, but your quiz gave me rebel.

      • Rui Alves

        Explaining better, I don´t have your book yet, if you say so, makes me more interested in having it. When I started to follow you, seeing your videos and articles, I thought I was a questioner (I have to follow more my intuition, since it is usually right!) but your quiz gives me rebel. I give an example, I don´t ask of questions in public but a lot of questions inside, maybe because I am introverted (and I know at least one or more questioners that are more aggressive with questions and they are extroverted, and they say I am too peaceful and soft) . Also I tend to do for others. So there´s some problem in the quiz or we are a mix, in last case the percentages can help.

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  • Amanda

    I am a rebel. But, I am wondering if this is my true nature or is it just a behavioural response to my childhood experience of being mothered by a Narcissist.. Because I have lots of resistance to others, I feel I am still trying to self actualise and find a power base. Then there is a fear in being the rebel I take on the Narcissist tendencies myself- so the pattern repeats. If it is a behavioural response- one should be able to be more compliant and powerful in making healthy decisions through retraining and healing? What do you think?

  • Rebecca Muth

    I’d really like to see the Field Guide please!!!
    I’m a Questioner with inclination to Rebel. I got your PDF detailed report and find it quite accurate that I use the Strategy of Distinctions and Strategy of Clarity.
    So that’s great, now what do I do about it?
    I’m afraid of buying a habit book… as with what I’ve always thought of as a strong rebellious streak, anything pushing me too hard to change often has an opposite effect. So what’s a better way to proceed?
    I’d love to get the field guide 🙂 Great work on the typing system, BTW!

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  • lupusposse

    I strongly believe the quiz to be situational, although it appears to uncover distinct variables.

    Forming mental images to evaluate the questions brings out the most emotionally salient (and emotional salience does seem to be involved in the way brains are built).

    Additionally, when one is under pressure to respond to requests, answers appear to skew toward relieving the social pressure. After today’s assessment as obliger, I will very likely follow my lifelong pattern of rejecting requests (periodic – I tend to attempt to cut off communication at all the users I have experienced in this culture).

    The latter response seems to have led to happiness, greater creativity, and stronger bonding to the single other who spent a lifetime of integrity resisting others, for whom I found my only positive reinforcement in amicably sharing obliging behavior.

    But that Wolf is gone, and obliging is clearly a strategy of the unmoored.

    Pretty much all humans seem to be users, entirely involved in social status – the world’s greatest source of boredom for me.

    it has Really clashed with my obliging personality, as I have always felt to a great extent that I was wallowing in the sewage of those I oblige.

    Looks like the evaluation model may describe weather, not climate.

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  • Jim Burke

    Cute quiz. If it were only that simple!

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  • GG Hirst

    Hi Gretchen, I have only just started reading your book, Better than before. I really like the idea of knowing who you are, so that you can approach problem solving the best way for you. So I can’t wait to learn more. I must say however, after coming out as the Rebel in the questionnaire, that at this point in time (without having studied your work entirely) I am feeling a bit disheartened. I hope I am proven wrong but I feel that although a Rebel personality has a lot of positive aspects, a Rebel in effect might just be a lost cause altogether? This worries me, as I would very much like to believe that I can at least marginally improve my tendencies to meet my own expectations. I believe that a Questioner is the best trait of all the four traits to have and I want to strive to be able to meet more if not all of my own expectations. Furthermore I believe that there are certainly overlaps between the traits. I believe that I have a combination of Rebel and Questioner, so I wonder if there are strategies to move myself more towards the Questioner in me, is this something that you believe could be a possibility and if so how? Kind Regards Gx

    • Nis

      I too am a Rebel, and I don’t think we’re lost causes. I think it’s a matter of finding strategies that work for you. Trying to impose a schedule or deadline on myself is doomed to fail; so are most accountability strategies. However, appealing to my sense of fun (i.e. picking a form of exercise I truly enjoy) and the strategy of convenience are very helpful to me.
      Another approach is telling myself “It’s true I don’t *have* to take out the trash. But I also don’t have to live with it stinking up the place! so I’ll just do it”.
      I wish you luck! Don’t give up!

  • I live life on my terms. I don’t like to be judged, but I defend myself with carefully prepared logic usually.

  • Knock knock

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  • sicklygreyfoot .

    Yeah, see, the second question especially troubles me. Literally the first three statements equally frustrate me. This is why I disagree that one cannot be a mix. I very much am. The quiz puts me as an Obliger, but the way I answered the questions, it was only BARELY.

    So, I AM a mix. I question because I rebel, and I rebel because I question. Yet I also fulfill my obligations to people. I practice all three of these tendencies. Often I won’t do a chore WHEN it’s expected (Rebel) of me, or I’ll just decide the chore can be done later (Questioner). But eventually, I will do the chore (Obliger).

    If “overlap” is the more accurate word for me, then fine. But to say that Questioner is not a Rebel is just wrong.

  • peabodyrus

    just discovered: being an obliger is a reaction to having difficulty making choices about what to do next – if someone hand you a task, it can be the thing to do next, and at least someone will be happy with your “choice” – I think being an obliger goes hand in hand with being a procrastinator, frankly. Maybe adjusting one tendency will also adjust the other . . . one can hope!

  • Arthur

    I got Questioner and everything in the description matched me to a T, but then I realized that I wasn’t questioning the result, which made me question the result, so I guess now I’m back on track! 🙂 I’m looking forward to the book.

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  • Hey Gretchen, I’d love to know how long it took you to develop your framework -you mention ruminating for months, but how much data and how many responses did you get to the quiz to develop a solid framework. I’m interested in creating one around personal freedom hence why I ask – and no I’m not a questioner, I’m an upholder it seems. Thanks!

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  • D


    I tried to answer the quiz questions. I erroneously left one of it unanswered. The system blocked when I tried to go back using the link offered by it. Then I left it.

    Beside this technical failure, I did form an opinion on the quiz itself, based on five or ten questions I answered, but I choose not to write it unless you are very keen to learn about it. 🙂

    Best regards,