Gretchen Rubin’s 4 Tendencies: Which One Are You?

Gretchen Rubin’s 4 Tendencies: Which One Are You?
Carly Jacobs

It was a Saturday morning and I was walking down the street holding Mr Smaggle’s hand. We’d just spent the morning eating eggs on toast and binge watching Star Trek Discovery (because we’re super cool and fun like that) and then we’d headed down the street to our local cafe.

Mr Smaggle ordered two coffees. I stopped him and said I didn’t want one. He shot me a quizzical look and finished paying. When he came back over to me, I told him I’d read some stuff on coffee and I wanted to cut back to see if it helped with my sleep issues.

‘Where did you read that?’ He asked.

I was very well prepared for this. I showed him a variety of studies I’d found, including peer reviewed papers. I also let him know that I was aware that none of these studies were 100% conclusive but many people had seen positive results. Giving up coffee wasn’t going to harm me so I was just going to give it a try. Satisfied with that response, he slipped his hand back into mine and we continued down the street in our usual Saturday morning manner.

I’m not usually the type of person who subscribes to personality tests but this was an extremely typical interaction between an Upholder and a Questioner, two of Gretchen Rubin’s tendency types. I don’t generally dedicate much time to analysing our personalities as a couple but sometimes when potential arguments arise, it helps to remind myself that he’s a Questioner because sometimes Questioners can be real butt heads. If you live with or are close to a Questioner, you’ll know how exhausting it can be. As an Upholder, I can deal very well with Questioners but Obligers can be made to feel like failures by particularly tenacious Questioners. Questioners aren’t assholes, they just want you to explain yourself which can make the other tendencies feel like they’re under the microscope. Rebels can deal well with Questioners but a Rebel would drive a Questioner bonkers. If none of this is making sense, read on.

The reason why I’m not really into personality tests is because most of the time they’re made up. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just something to be aware of if you’re in danger of ascribing too rigidly to any kind of personality testing or categorisation. For example, I know that astrology is bullshit but it still doesn’t stop me identifying very strongly as a Virgo because I’m organised, methodical and critical of myself and others. Geez, Virgos are a barrel of laughs aren’t they? Don’t invite me to your party, I’ll ruin it. As long you as you take any personality testing with a grain of salt and don’t do things like put your kids up for adoption because their personality type clashes with yours, you’ll be fine.

I like the concept of the four tendencies because they only deal with expectations. That’s it. There’s nothing about sleep patterns, introvert/extrovert traits or anything to do with when you were born. It’s a simple theory that Gretchen Rubin came up with when she noticed the different ways people respond to expectations and she noticed that people generally fall neatly into one of these four tendencies.


Gretchen Rubin

Upholders – Meet internal and external expectations.

Obligers – Meet external expectations but resist inner expectations.

Questioners – meet internal expectations and resist external expectations but will sometimes meet external expectations once they’ve been convinced they’re a good idea.

Rebels – Resist meeting internal and external expectations.

That’s a very quick and basic outline of the four tendencies but you’ll probably already be categorising yourself as one of them. If you want to do the quiz you can find it here. 

This isn’t a big advertisement for Gretchen Rubin and I’m not about to start constantly referring to the tendencies in everything I write but I do find the concept very fascinating. I did the quiz and it came back as Upholder which was a surprise to no-one. Mr Smaggle is a Questioner and this makes us quite compatible as a couple. He requires proof or solid data before agreeing to anything. Knowing he’s a Questioner makes me a lot less frustrated when he questions me. As an Upholder, I always have the answers he requires. Also, as an Upholder, we care very little about what other people do as long as it doesn’t affect us, so I never question him. This makes for a peaceful union because ironically, Questioners don’t love being Questioned.  I have no idea how either of us would cope with dating a rebel… maybe it would be amazing? Who knows?

This week on Straight & Curly it’s the first episode of our new Book Club. The very wonderful Lauren Osborne has created a self improvement book club under the banner of Straight & Curly. It’s for anyone who wants to read and discuss self help books. Each season, we’ll read one book and discuss it on the podcast. You don’t even really need to have read the book, these episodes will be a way of reading the books without actually reading them!

This week, we’re discussing The Four Tendencies and how they affect our lives, our work and our relationships. You can listen above or on your favourite podcast app.

We’ve also set up a Patreon account so if you want to support the podcast that would be amazing. We only set it up a week ago and we already have 12 monthly supporters. The podcast is just growing and growing and we want to be able to do events and get guest speakers on the podcast and we need our listerners support to do that. Our goal is have 1000 Patreon supporters by next year. 

Don’t forget to join the Book Club if you want to have a chat about this week’s episode. 

So tell me… are you an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger or Rebel? Tell me everything!

P.S Also you should totally sign up for my newsletter. It’s full of cool stuff.
P.P.S Don’t forget Crochet Coach has a free trial offer period at the moment so make sure you sign up!


  1. MissyD 2 years ago

    I’m a Questioner. And yeah, I really do hate being questioned, but ask a lot of questions. 😉 I work in Comms so it’s kinda my job to find out all the things…I’m sticking with that explanation. ?

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 2 years ago

      Bloody questioners. They’ll ask the questions, but you dare ask them one!

  2. Michaela 2 years ago

    I got Obliger – and when I really stop to look at it, it fits pretty much perfectly. Ugh.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 2 years ago

      It’s not a bad thing to be an Obliger! Obligers are also the biggest group – most people are obligers.


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