With which of the following do you tend to agree the most?

  1. I don’t mind breaking rules or violating convention.
  2. I do what I think makes the most sense, according to my judgment, even if it means ignoring the rules or other people’s expectations.
  3. Commitments to others should never be broken, but commitments to myself can be broken.
  4. I take my commitments to myself as seriously as my commitments to others.

According to Gretchen Rubin’s framework for the four tendencies, your choice to the above question helps indicate your own tendency. In The Four Tendencies, Rubin posits that how people respond to internal and external expectations determines their type:

  • Upholders tend to meet both internal and external expectations (choice 4 above).
  • Questioners tend to meet inner expectations, but resist outer expectations (choice 2 above).
  • Obligers tend to meet outer expectations, but resist inner expectations (choice 3 above).
  • Rebels tend to resist both inner and outer expectations (choice 1 above).

Rubin unpacks each of these tendencies including information about the pros and cons of each tendency, understanding of the tendency, and how to deal with each type. The latter also includes information for healthcare professionals about how to approach patients of each tendency.

Rubin makes the point that we tend to speak to others in a way that would work for our own tendency, but that way is not necessarily going to work for someone of another tendency. For example, Rubin points out that someone who is an obliger is likely to respond better to external accountability when it comes to implementing a healthy lifestyle, such as an exercise regimen; whereas, a questioner will more often respond to an explanation of the benefits because they are more responsive to internal expectations.

The book also includes a tendency quiz, tips for quickly assessing another person’s tendency, and additional resources.

Find out more or order the book today:

Materials in this section are updated as new information and vaccines become available. The Vaccine Education Center staff regularly reviews materials for accuracy.

You should not consider the information in this site to be specific, professional medical advice for your personal health or for your family's personal health. You should not use it to replace any relationship with a physician or other qualified healthcare professional. For medical concerns, including decisions about vaccinations, medications and other treatments, you should always consult your physician or, in serious cases, seek immediate assistance from emergency personnel.