I'm still obsessed with the four categories I've developed—which, for lack of a better name, I'm currently calling the Four Rubin Tendencies.
These categories describe 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, train for a marathon).
Upholders respond readily to both inner and outer expectations
Questioners question all expectations, but will follow expectations if they think the expectations are sensible (effectively making all expectations into inner expectations)
Rebels resist all expectations
Obligers meet outer expectations but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves
I'm still working on refining these types, and I'd love to hear what you have to say about the following questions. Obviously no one would answer all these questions, but if one strikes a particular chord with you, I'd be interested in your reaction.
- Do you feel that you have to work by yourself, or be in charge, or work with others?
- How do you feel about standing in line?
- Do you make and keep resolutions? Why or why not? Do you do them as New Year's resolutions?
- Is it important to you to have a lot of information?
- Are you powerfully motivated by a desire to avoid feeling guilty?
- Do you struggle with the question, “How do I make time for me?”
- Do you hate making a mistake or dropping the ball?
- If you believe that a rule is arbitrary, though not unethical, would you be likely to follow it or not?
- If you have difficulty sticking to a course of action, do you find yourself assigning responsibility to someone else? “I can’t stick to a diet because my mother urges me to take more food.” “My boss makes it hard for me to exercise.”
- Do you prefer to do things spontaneously?
- Do you prefer to do things according to a plan?
- Do you sometimes feel paralyzed when you feel that you don’t have enough information to judge a course of action?
- Do you enjoy the process of questioning and learning?
- Do you like to be the boss? Do you need to be the boss?
- How do you view shared work in a household? (Laundry, trash, cooking, etc.) How do you view your obligation, if any, to contribute? Who does what work in your household?
- Do you find yourself researching issues that other people make with much less knowledge? Or do you make decisions with less knowledge than others might wish to have? E.g., picking a summer camp or a travel destination.
- Do you believe that it’s very important that people keep their commitments to themselves—to go to an exercise class, to make time for their friends?
- Do you feel a sense of accountability to your own calendar? So that you'll do something if it's on your calendar?
Here's something that's a bit hard to pose as a question. I've noticed what seems to be a pattern of Obligers sometimes "snapping" and refusing to do something they're expected to do, or stubbornly and uncharacteristically not obliging in a particular matter, though they oblige in general. Has anyone noticed this themselves or in others? Is this pattern peculiar to Obligers or do Questioners and Upholders also do this occasionally? (Not an issue for Rebels.) I suspect not, but would be curious to hear from others on this question.
I welcome all observation and insight!
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The Four Tendencies explain why we act and why we don’t act. Our Tendency shapes every aspect of our behavior, so understanding your Tendency lets us make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress and burnout, and engage more effectively.