Getting Started: The Four Tendencies

It’s easier to become happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative when you find the way that’s right for you. Created by Gretchen Rubin, the Four Tendencies personality framework is designed to help you know yourself better, understand others, and create the life you want.

Understanding the Four Tendencies Framework​

We all face two kinds of expectations—outer expectations (meet work deadlines, answer a request from a friend) and inner expectations (keep a New Year’s resolution, start meditating). Your response to expectations determines your “Tendency”—that is, whether you’re an UpholderQuestionerObliger, or Rebel.

  • Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations—“Discipline is my freedom”
  • Questioners question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense; essentially, they make all expectations into inner expectations—“I’ll comply—if you convince me why”
  • Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves—“You can count on me; and I’m counting on you to count on me”
  • Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike—“You can’t make me, and neither can I”

Knowing your Tendency can help you set up situations in ways that make it more likely that you’ll achieve your aims. You can make better decisions, meet deadlines, meet your promises to yourself, suffer less stress, and engage more deeply with others.

The Four Tendencies circle

Discover Your Tendency

More than 3 million people have taken this short, easy quiz and discovered their Tendency.

Whatever Your Tendency, You Can Learn to Harness Its Strengths​

Whether you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel, you can learn to harness the strengths and counterbalance the negative aspects of your Tendency to achieve your aims. In these interviews, Gretchen Rubin talks with notable people from each Tendency about the Four Tendencies framework, and how they’ve found success in ways that work for them.

Watch the interviews with the Four Tendencies:

Ramit Sethi


Personal finance expert Ramit Sethi discusses the tension between systems and creativity, and how Upholders find routines comforting, not restricting.

Carla Hall​


World-renowned chef Carla Hall discusses her sense of identity and how she manages her ambitious career as a Rebel.

Jordan Harbinger


Hugely popular podcast host Jordan Harbinger discusses his decision-making process and getting in trouble at school as a Questioner.

Ron Lieber


Award-winning New York Times journalist Ron Lieber discusses being an Obliger, how it has shaped his career, and how he achieves his own personal aims.

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The Happier™ app is a revolutionary new tool that offers concrete, actionable steps to help you build a happier life. Get personalized recommendations for habit-change strategies based on your Tendency.

Gretchen Rubin Courses

The Four Tendencies Video Course

To learn more strategies and tips, sign up for the Four Tendencies video course.

Applying the Four Tendencies​

Learn more about the Four Tendencies framework and get practical tips to become happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative, in the ways that work for you.

Get the Four Tendencies Companion Guide [PDF Download]

The Four Tendencies Companion Guide includes a collection of never-before-published interviews with each Tendency, as well as journal prompts to help you find new ways to harness your Tendency.

Nutshell Guide to the Four Tendencies

The Four Tendencies Flash Evaluation