Use the ‘Four Tendencies’ Quiz to Be More Productive

Use the ‘Four Tendencies’ Quiz to Be More Productive
Photo: fizkes, Shutterstock

From Myers-Briggs types to Enneagram numbers, it’s natural to want to try and understand ourselves better (even if these often lead to bullshit personality “types”). While I don’t believe an online quiz really says anything definitive about who you are, that doesn’t meant these kinds of tests are totally useless. One example of how a personality quiz can still help you gain useful insight into how to motivate yourself: the Four Tendencies framework.

We’ve previously interviewed Gretchen Rubin, the creator of this quiz. If you’re like me and don’t put a lot of stock into personality quizzes, here’s how to use the four tendencies as a fun exercise to rethink your productivity, and maybe even find the motivation technique that finally works for you.

What is the four tendencies quiz?

According to Rubin, knowing your tendency can help you make better decisions, meet deadlines, and follow through on promises you make yourself. The major selling point of the quiz is about gaining insight into why we act and why we don’t act.

First off, the quiz works around the idea that there are two types of expectations: outer (like deadlines from your boss) and inner (like sticking to a new hobby). Rubin has the theory that when it comes to how we respond to expectations, we fall into four types, or “tendencies.” The quiz is meant to help you identify an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel.

The free version of Rubin’s Four Tendencies quiz here takes less than five minutes, and you do need to enter your email to get your results.

How the quiz can help you become more productive

My newfound interest in the four tendencies was inspired by this Tiktok, in which creator @erica_mallett shares how knowing their tendency as an Obliger helped them realise they need an “accountability partner” to get them to stick to internal expectations (like making their bed every morning).

Although I expected my habit of people-pleasing would make me an Obliger as well, I got Questioner. This apparently means that I’m motivated by reason, logic, and fairness — in essence, I’m better at meeting inner expectations over outer ones, because my inner needs make sense to me. Here’s how I apply this insight to my productivity (I’m pulling some examples from the free report that comes with the quiz):

  • Questioners need a lot of justification. Arguments such as “Everyone has to do this,” “You said you’d do this,” or “Because I say so,” or “I’m the doctor” aren’t compelling to a Questioner.
  • Say your car needs an inspection. To motivate myself to get it done as a Questioner, I need to focus on tangible reasoning like “You need to get the car inspected or else you’ll have to pay a big fine, or you’ll risk a breakdown during our upcoming road trip.”

Your tendency can also help you understand what’s holding you back. For instance, I definitely resonated with the Questioner diagnosis of “analysis-paralysis.” All too often, I struggle to make a decision or move forward because I keep wanting more and more information. To overcome this analysis-paralysis, my productivity hacks include setting deadlines, establishing limits, or consulting trusted authorities.

The bottom line

Whatever your stance on personality quizzes in general, they can provide you with an interesting framework to self-reflect and overcome hurdles to your own motivation. And if you call bullshit, that’s your prerogative. It also means your tendency is probably the Rebel.

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