Book Review: The Four Tendencies

BOOK REVIEW: The Four Tendencies

The indispensable personality profiles that reveal how to make your life better (and other people’s lives too) 

by Gretchen Rubin


This book is a clean and crisp view of how we are motivated. Using insight from personal experiences Rubin breaks down “the four tendencies”. She includes a quiz at the beginning to assess which tendency you are: Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel, which you can also take online here.

The Four Tendencies is incredibly accessible, straight forward, and readable. Armed with an abundance of anecdotes, Rubin clearly explains all of the terms and concepts making this the perfect book for people who rarely and regularly read a like.

If you struggle to get things accomplished, or can’t work out why you achieve some goals with ease and energy and others are impossible to get done, then this book is a worthwhile read.

I studied psychology in school and am a massive fan of all things personality typologies and tests. So, there is a chance that this has skewed my view of this book. That being said, I did not find any of the ideas to be new or revolutionary; for the most part they are simplified versions of concepts taught in introductory psychology classes.

But it’s important to remember that the Four Tendencies framework is meant to help us understand ourselves more deeply, not limit our sense of identity or possibility...I think systems of self-definition are very helpful—because they serve as a starting point for self knowledge.
— The Four Tendencies, Page 18

Additionally, I think it is important to note that this book/personality system is simply based on Gretchen Rubin’s observations and a survey given to her readers. She is an attorney turned biographer turned happiness expert who was inspired by her readers struggles achieving their goals to write this book, not a psychologist conducting scientific studies.

I went into this book a little skeptical and definitely rolled my eyes a few times, (I am a Questioner after all) but months later I am still thinking and talking about the four tendencies, which is really the best test of its impact and value. While it is easy to criticize the simplicity of the four tendencies, that is also what makes it so easy to use, discuss, and share with others.

I would also like to emphasize that while there is plenty of information on her website/blog about the four tendencies, I definitely think it is worth it to read the actual book. It is such a quick and easy read and provides a much better and more comprehensive look at each type and the different ways that we can work well with those of other tendencies.

Rating: 3.5/5

For Fans of: What color is your parachute, The Five Love Languages, Reading People.

If you have read The Four Tendencies, I would love to discuss it with you! Comment below your tendency and what you felt about this book.