394: Fifth Anniversary of “The Four Tendencies!” We Discuss This Personality Framework, & Insights

Update: Introducing Gift Boxes!

In honor of the fifth anniversary of my book The Four Tendencies, I’ve created gift boxes curated for each Tendency. Whether you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or a Rebel, each Tendency box contains:

  • a mug and a sticker to put your Tendency on display
  • a Tackle Box with a set of five sticky pads with different approaches to tackle your day, designed with the Four Tendencies in mind.
  • The new “Four Tendencies Companion Guide,” a collection of exclusive interviews with each Tendency and insights from Gretchen. The guide includes journal prompts to help you gain more self-knowledge and find new ways to harness your Tendency.

If you also want a copy of The Four Tendencies book with a box, get 10% off when you buy them together (discount applied automatically at checkout). Visit happiercast.com/4TCollection.

Try This at Home: Use the Four Tendencies personality framework to make your life happier, healthier, more productive, or more creative, and to help you deal with other people with less stress, less strife, less confusion, and less resentment.

The Four Tendencies book came out five years ago! Hard to believe.

In a nutshell, the Four Tendencies personality framework sorts people into four categories, based on how they tend to respond to expectations: outer expectations (a deadline, a request from a friend) 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
  • Questioners question all expectations, and they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense; they respond to inner expectations
  • Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves
  • Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike

The Four Tendencies circle

If you’d like to take the new-and-improved quiz, to learn your Tendency and get a report, it’s here. More than 3.2 million people have taken the quiz.

We mention the Tackle Box.

Photo of the Tackle Box against a blue background
In our Bonus Episodes on Mad Men and Game of Thrones, we discuss the Tendencies of the characters.

If you find more examples of the Tendencies in TV, books, movies, plays, etc., please post on social media, #tendencyspotting! I’m keeping a list.

I have a great new hub: gretchenrubin.com/fourtendencies/. There you can find all kinds of resources, articles, and interviews about using the framework at work, with children, in healthcare, or with sweethearts. And, of course, to change a habit. If you want to go even deeper, check out my Four Tendencies course. Videos, interviews, and more. Learn more at courses.gretchenrubin.com/4tc.

Happiness Hack

If you want to figure out someone’s Tendency without asking them to take the quiz, use the “Flash Evaluation.” It’s on the hub.

Four Tendencies Tip

A QUESTIONER/Rebel suggests three ways to get yourself to do things, especially things you don’t particularly want to do:

  1. Do something at the “wrong” time
  2. Mise en place — that is, assemble items needed for whenever you do decide to tackle a task
  3. Think about undesirable consequences

The listener mentions my book The Happiness Project.

Demerits & Gold Stars

  • Elizabeth’s Demerit: She hasn’t dealt with all the beginning-of-school paperwork.
  • Gretchen’s Gold Star: I give a gold star to Elizabeth, who has become a true Four-Tendencies expert.


  • Happier app: It’s easier to become happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative when you find the way that’s right for you. All month long, the award-winning Happier app will feature content designed to help you build self-knowledge and put it to use. You’ll find Four Tendencies-related audio clips, tips, 5-minute challenges, and more. Click here to learn more and download the app.
  • Bookplates: If you want to personalize your copy of The Four Tendencies book or want to give a copy as a gift, you can request a personalized, signed bookplate. U. S. and Canada only, alas. Feel free to request as many as you like (within reason). (And the bookplates work for any book, not just The Four Tendencies.)

What we’re reading

  • Elizabeth: The Bestseller Code by Jodie Archer and Matthew L Jockers (Amazon)
  • Gretchen: The Fortnight in September by R. C. Sherriff (Amazon, Bookshop)




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