There are four personality types you can fall under.

Melanie Lockert
Jul 06, 2020 @ 5:42 pm
the four tendencies quiz
Credit: Getty Images

Have you ever wondered why it seems impossible to get anything done despite your best efforts? Or why things seem difficult at work, or why sticking to goals is easier for some and harder for others? Motivation is a key component to completing work and achieving goals in your work and personal life, but you can’t just go and buy it at a store (I wish) or have it magically appear. But knowing your motivational style can help you create an environment where motivation comes easier and more naturally. Luckily, we found a quiz that will help you learn just this—and it's called The Four Tendencies.

Author Gretchen Rubin—who also wrote The Happiness Projectcreated The Four Tendencies Quiz several years ago to help people understand why they act the way they do—essentially, what are their motivations and calls to action? To find out, she focused on one question: “How do I respond to expectations?”

Rubin states that we all have to deal with outer expectations, like doing projects for our bosses or doing something for our partners, as well as deal with inner expectations, such as learning a new skill or achieving a personal goal. 

What she found was that most people fall under one of the Four Tendencies: 

  • Obliger
  • Upholder
  • Questioner
  • Rebel

In fact, she wrote a whole book on the subject. A few years ago, I took her Four Tendencies Quiz and it completely changed the way I work and view myself. 

After taking the quiz, I found out I’m an Obliger. Obligers are great at meeting outer expectations but have a resistance to inner expectations. This made a lot of sense, as I’m great at meeting deadlines and doing things for others but struggle with my own goals and work when left to own my devices. 

I found that Obligers need accountability—to get that external expectation feeling—to hack their motivation. I did that with my blog to pay off debt. I now use FocusMate, a virtual coworking site, to get my work done. And I also have started posting about workouts and meditation as a challenge to myself on Instagram. 

Knowing my tendency has been a game-changer for me, and perhaps it could help you and how you relate to others. 

How you can find out your tendency (and why it matters)

The good news is you can actually take The Four Tendencies Quiz for free and get a breakdown of your results, or get the book. Finding out your tendency can change how you work and relate to others. 

Knowing your tendency—as well as that of others—is useful in your professional and personal life. It’s also important to note that these are simply guidelines, so if they don’t resonate with you, no big deal. These types of tests are good for people who are curious to learn more about themselves—and sometimes you might find you defy characterization. On the other hand, you might find out something about yourself and have a breakthrough that changes your life. 

If you’re curious where you might stand, here’s a breakdown of the Four Tendencies, including what characteristics each type has and what they can do to inspire motivation and be more likely to achieve their goals. 


Characteristics: Meets outer expectations, resists inner expectations. 

When it comes to motivation, Obligers need external accountability and structure. As the name suggests, they oblige on what they’re supposed to do for others. Obligations might come easily to them. But doing things on their own, like having personal goals or doing creative projects, may be difficult without any accountability or measurability. 

In Gretchen Rubin’s report, this sentence best sums up Obligers: “I do what I have to do. I don’t want to let others down, but I may let myself down.”

While meeting external expectations and doing things for others may come naturally, it’s important to also focus on your internal needs. 

What Obligers can do: Find an accountability buddy, have an external platform to share progress, publicly post goals. 


Characteristics: Meets outer expectations, meets inner expectations. 

Upholders have the good fortune of meeting both inner and outer expectations. They uphold the expectations that they put on themselves as well as the ones others place on them. 

They don’t struggle as much when it comes to habits and meeting expectations. In fact, they find joy and fulfillment in the process. If there are unclear expectations or deadlines, the Upholder may struggle. So having clarity and being on the same page with what the expectations are is important.

What Upholders can do: Set or ask for clear expectations and deadlines, set specific times for working out, have a daily schedule based on your goals. 


Characteristics: Resists outer expectations, meets inner expectations. 

Questioners are, well, very good at questioning. They are the type of people who are always wondering, “Why do we have to do things this way?”

They tend to question outer expectations and won’t meet an external expectation unless it makes sense to them or feels right, therefore meeting their inner expectations. So if you’re a Questioner, you’re going to want to find answers to your questions so that you understand why things are being asked of you in a specific way. This will help you stay motivated and meet external expectations more easily.

While Questioners can meet their own expectations, they can also struggle with outer expectations if they don't make sense or something they don't want to do. Their motivation is based on logic and reason. 

What Questioners can do: Find answers to questions, understand the reasoning behind something, ask better questions to find shared understanding. 


Characteristics: Resists outer expectations, resists inner expectations.

There are some people who do things their own way, in their own time—and those people are likely Rebels. Rebels, as part of the Four Tendencies, resist both outer and inner expectations. So what motivates Rebels? A sense of freedom, living in the moment, and doing what feels right in the moment. 

As you can imagine, this can be difficult for both Rebels as well as people who work with them. They won’t respond to “your deadline is Monday” like an Obliger would. Rebels tend to resist strict rules and control. 

In order to find their motivational style, Rebels should focus on their values and understand what makes them unique and feel authentic. It’s also good to understand the results of taking action and doing something and how it could be related to being a Rebel. For example, doing this one thing will be really fun, or meeting this goal will make them stand out at the company, etc. 

What Rebels can do: Find their values and goals, and focus on connecting with the results and feelings of their actions.