Which “tendency” are you?

Here’s a fun little quiz to help you get over Hump Day ;)

Maybe you’ll learn something about yourself?

Hi J$,

I’ve been listening to Gretchen Rubin’s audiobook “The Four Tendencies” (are you familiar?) and I’ve been completely obsessed with determining what tendency people are.

The framework is fascinating. Basically it breaks everyone down by how they handle expectations internally and externally.

  • Upholder
  • Obliger
  • Questioner
  • Rebel

There is a quiz on her website if you wanted to take it and see what you are. Myself, I’m a questioner. After digging into this framework, I would love to know what you are.

I expect that many in the (FI)RE community are Rebels or Questioners. (The things that keep us up at night, am I right?)

– Samantha

Ask and ye shall receive, friend!

And I’ll admit – the results totally took me by surprise… I’m not the “Questioner” I thought I was all this time! I’m actually an “Upholder!” (*gasp*)

What exactly does that mean?

That I basically do what others expect of me, but I also do what *I* expect of me too.

In other words,

Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations. They wake up and think: “What’s on the schedule and the to-do list for today?” They want to know what’s expected of them, and to meet those expectations. They avoid making mistakes or letting people down—including themselves…

They’re self-directed and have little trouble meeting commitments, keeping resolutions, or hitting deadlines (they often finish early). They generally want to understand the rules, and often they search for the rules beyond the rules—as in the case of art or ethics.

And I’ll be honest – a lot of that really is me, haha… I get made fun of ALL THE TIME for following rules! Even if they seem ridiculous to people! And I’m really good at knocking items off my to-do lists too and following my “little man” inside of me.

But on the flip side I’m very slow at changing my routine or even expanding my mind/potential since I follow these “rules” so often – which are the down sides of being an “Upholder.” For example, there’s a lot of things I consciously do NOT do on this blog, even though I know it could double my income or growth, as well as a ton of things I DO do, but might make no sense at time-management or profit-wise.

I’ve tried to break free from some of these in the past, and often have, but I’ve also come to the realization that a lot of it is just part of “my code,” and therefore focus on ways to use my traits FOR me vs AGAINST me ;)

And this very much works in personal finance too! Do you know how many “rules” there are with this stuff? Spend less than you make. Don’t go into debt. Save for a rainy day. Make sure to have insurance. NEVER PULL FROM YOUR INVESTMENTS!

It’s a haven for Upholders! Haha…

So it just may be that we have more of those here than Rebels or Questioners indeed ;)

And the Rebels, btw, just gives me so much anxiety! They don’t like to do stuff as soon as someone tells them they need to do it, even if it’s *themselves* telling them so! I’d be a hot mess always trying to fly in the face of everyone, haha… With maybe the exception of hair and clothes, as I’m good at ignoring everyone there ;)

four tendencies - gretchen rubin

But enough about me – let’s talk about you now! Where do you fall within these 4 tendencies? Take the quiz and find out –> The Four Tendencies Quiz

Or if you’d rather skip it and guess based on the synopses, you can do that too, however you might find there’s more to it like I did:

  • UPHOLDER: “I do what others expect of me – and what I expect from myself.”
  • QUESTIONER: “I do what I think is best, according to my judgment. If it doesn’t make sense, I won’t do it.”
  • OBLIGER: “I do what I have to do. I don’t want to let others down, but I may let myself down.”
  • REBEL: “I do what I want, in my own way. If you try to make me do something – even if I try to make myself do something – I’m less likely to do it.”

(Reading these alone I would have 100% considered myself a “Questioner” as I definitely do what I think is best for me, however the key to this tendency is *research and analyzation* which are certainly not my strong suits… And then there are all those “rules” I didn’t even know I enjoyed following! :))

The point of all this, of course, is that the more you know about yourself the better prepared you’ll be in reaching your goals – whether financial or otherwise.

“Knowing our Tendency can help us set up situations in the ways that make it more likely that we’ll achieve our aims. We can make better decisions, meet deadlines, meet our promises to ourselves, suffer less stress, and engage more deeply with others. Just as important, knowing other people’s Tendencies helps us to work with them more effectively. Managers, doctors, teachers, spouses, and parents already use the framework to help people reduce conflict and make significant, lasting change”

So big thanks to Samantha for passing this over to us today, and hopefully you learn something good about yourself too! To learn more about Gretchen and these tendencies click here, or to pick up her book on these tendencies, click here.

Let’s see what the most popular tendency here is indeed!

PS: You do have to enter your email to get your results at the end (gah), but at least there are check boxes you can uncheck if you don’t want to be signed up to her newsletters…. which is what I did, even though I love her stuff, fwiw.

UPDATE: Turns out you’ll still get emails even after unchecking, but once you unsubscribe from *that* one it should be the end…. unless you see another update here ;)

// Links to books above are Amazon affiliate links

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  1. [HCF] February 6, 2019 at 6:17 AM

    Reading just the four tendencies I expected Rebel, but the quiz told me I am a Questioner and now reading the definition pretty much makes sense and fits me. Maybe the daily algorhytmical/logical thinking determines me to this tendency :)

    1. J. Money February 6, 2019 at 6:30 AM

      You’re like a contained rebel, haha…

  2. Dave @ Accidental FIRE February 6, 2019 at 6:36 AM

    I’m the questioner and it doesn’t surprise me. I actually question putting people in bins like that, but neat quiz nonetheless ;)

    1. J. Money February 6, 2019 at 10:00 AM

      yeah yeah, haha…

  3. Stephanie February 6, 2019 at 7:03 AM

    I’m an upholder too! Still struggle to exercise regularly though…

  4. whiskey February 6, 2019 at 7:12 AM

    Dont tell me to take a quiz. Ill do it if I feel like it … maybe.

    According to your answers, your dominant Tendency is Rebel.
    Best sentence I read in the whole explaination:
    “At the same time, Rebels often frustrate others, because they can’t be asked or told to do anything. Unless it’s a matter of living up to their values and identity, they aren’t persuaded by an argument such as: “People are counting on you,” “You said you’d do it,” “Your brother will be upset,” “This is the deadline,” or “Everyone has to do this.”

    1. J. Money February 6, 2019 at 10:01 AM

      Remind me to not count on you for anything ;)

  5. A. Money February 6, 2019 at 7:21 AM

    Like you, J. Money, I thought I’d be a Questioner, but the quiz says I’m an Upholder.

    1. J. Money February 6, 2019 at 10:01 AM

      Interesting!! Was it the researching part that changed it for you too, or you think something else?

  6. Suz February 6, 2019 at 7:46 AM

    Upholder here. Slow and steady wins the race….. and substantially increases net worth over time. :)

  7. Jessy February 6, 2019 at 7:49 AM

    I thought I would be an Upholder, but the quiz says I am a Rebel. When I read the description, I had to admit it sounded like me. That was fun! Thanks, J!

    1. J. Money February 6, 2019 at 10:02 AM

      Your 1 thing learned today is complete! Check it off the list! ;)

  8. Robin February 6, 2019 at 8:10 AM

    I tested as an Obliger. Not too surprised however didn’t realize or thought about the accountability to others aspect. Recently decided not to participate in a group focused on weight loss – i’d done that before and was successful at losing but when group died I went back to eating habits that resulted in me gaining half the weight back. Apparently being accountable to members in the group was the important. This time though I felt like I needed to do it by myself – make a commitment to myself and perhaps i’ll keep the weight off.

    1. J. Money February 6, 2019 at 10:03 AM

      That will be good if you can pull it off for future so it’s not tied to others! Even though I agree it helps having accountability.

  9. MK February 6, 2019 at 8:14 AM

    I’m an Obliger. At first, I was like “What??” Then, after some thought, it is correct. I do run myself ragged taking care of things for everyone else (work, kids) and then don’t have the energy/enthusiasm to do things I want/need/should do.

    1. J. Money February 6, 2019 at 10:03 AM

      Have you ever tried the “waking up an hour early” route and using it 100% for YOU time? It really transformed my mornings (and amount of time to do whatever I please w/out distractions :))

  10. Elyse Kelly February 6, 2019 at 8:22 AM

    I’m an upholder too. Description is very accurate as to my tendencies.

  11. DNN February 6, 2019 at 8:37 AM

    I would probably say the upholder and rebel is me because I’m all about setting and meeting inner expectations. And sometimes resisting. That’s the entrepreneurial spirit in me :-)

  12. Samantha February 6, 2019 at 9:01 AM

    Initially I thought I was an obliger. As a mom, it’s easy to answer the questions while thinking of yourself “as a parent,” where of course you have to put others before yourself, when often times there’s nothing left for yourself. But I’ll never forget, I was at a catholic funeral and I was warned that there will be communion at the end and you have to put your hands a certain way or they won’t give it to you. What? Why? That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. My response? Well then I’m not doing it. If my hands have to be a certain way to receive it than I don’t want it.

    Boom. Questioner. If I decide that a rule doesn’t make sense, I won’t follow it. Questioners enjoy spreadsheets (yup!) and while I don’t enjoy researching (like for making purchasing decisions) I find a source I trust (Wirecutter) and use them to make my decisions by looking at the top 3 and then choosing. I love to be a resource Sherpa, giving people tidbits of what I learned (If I had a nickel for every time I recommended a blog or a podcast to someone…)

    I heard the author say, Questioners often say that they hate waiting in lines. I literally laughed out loud. We got had just gotten back from Chicago the prior weekend and it was one of my first comments about the trip. How does everyone wait in line all the time?

    1. J. Money February 6, 2019 at 10:05 AM


      I bet Questioners make excellent bloggers too :) Them and Rebels…

      Maybe you should consider it since you’re already sharing all your finds with people anyways?! Just pass them all the link to your blog 10x a day, haha…

  13. Ms. Liz February 6, 2019 at 9:09 AM

    I’m sooo glad you covered this J! Gretchen’s work was mind blowing for me.

    I’m an obliger. You wouldn’t expect an obliger to be good at saving for their future but I’ve decided looking after future me must provide the accountability I need.

    When I taught financial wellness last summer, I covered the four tendencies first because I think it’s foundational work to understand what you need to meet your goals. With the four tendencies and your “why” you can make great progress.

    This framework helps me in my marriage (questionner grrrrr), my other relationships and my own goals. Great summary J!

    1. J. Money February 6, 2019 at 10:06 AM

      Excellent!!! Love that you’ve used it to better your understanding/relationships! She would be so happy to hear that!!

  14. ThomH February 6, 2019 at 9:23 AM

    Quit telling me to take a quiz! (Lol!) …REBEL…

    Makes total sense…I hate being told what to do, and my own achievement of FIRE was entirely about freedom and choices. I love options and can’t stand restraints or forced activities! I even unsubscribed from Getchen’s email immediately after receiving her first auto email after the quiz…even though I liked her work. (Sorry Gretchen, but you probably already expected it from at least one fourth of the respondents!)

    J. Money, keep up your daily posts. It’s weird, but I’ve actually enjoyed your new daily posts. (You’re the only auto subscription that I allow! So you must be doing something right to get through to a rebel like me!) –Free 21 months and counting!–

    1. J. Money February 6, 2019 at 10:07 AM

      Haha awesome!!!

      I feel like I just won some sort of award – thanks :)

      And even more so for crossing that Freedom finish line!! That’s hard to do, especially for rebels I’d imagine?!

  15. Fred Leamnson February 6, 2019 at 9:35 AM

    This is pretty cool. I took the quiz. I’m a questioner. Here’s what it says my strong tendency is:

    “Questioners question all expectations, and they respond to an expectation only if they
    conclude that it makes sense—in essence, they meet only inner expectations.”

    YUP! Kinda stubborn, huh?

    1. J. Money February 6, 2019 at 10:08 AM

      That too, yes haha…

  16. Joe February 6, 2019 at 9:40 AM

    My result said Upholder. I guess that’s pretty accurate. I’d rather follow rules than break them, but I don’t mind being unconventional. My families have expectations and I want to meet them. Other people, I don’t have to meet their expectations.

    1. J. Money February 6, 2019 at 10:10 AM

      yeah – I feel like it can be different with *daily* actions vs *longterm thought* too.

      I’m 100% an upholder day in and day out doing stuff, however my brain – and vision for myself/goals/life – is totally a Questioner or even partial Rebel. I do what I want as a whole, but also make sure I’m not hurting anyone in the process where I believe the Upholder part comes in :)

  17. Adam @ Minafi February 6, 2019 at 9:51 AM

    Got Questioner too here. The description makes sense and doesn’t surprise me. Whenever I’m assigned work during my jobs I always tried to dig into “why”, sometimes ending in us realizing we shouldn’t do it.

    This no doubt can come off wrong, so doing it with a truth-seeking attitude rather than once of rebeliousness is key.

    1. J. Money February 6, 2019 at 10:14 AM

      Yup, totally… All teams need a questioner in there to make sure they stay on focus!

  18. Winnie February 6, 2019 at 9:53 AM

    I fully expected to get Obliger, but I’ve called myself a rebel without a cause for more than a decade now. Rebel was stronger lol. I hate being told what to do. That’s the fastest way for me not to do it! Lol but I know that about myself and so do my family and friends. I think if I took this quiz 5 years ago, I would have been an Obliger. But I grew a hell of a backbone at that time and now I joke that it’s made of steel. Now my entrepreneurial aspirations make even more sense, I even chose a non traditional business just because it’s unusual and unexpected of an auditor lol.

    1. J. Money February 6, 2019 at 10:15 AM

      Well now you gotta tell us what the business! Haha…

      Don’t leave us hanging there, pseudo-rebel!

  19. Jen February 6, 2019 at 10:24 AM

    Questioner. I can’t say I’m surprised by my results. It overlaps nicely with my INTJ personality. It might be interesting to see how the results from the Four Tendencies theory overlap with the Briggs-Myers personality test results for the general population.

  20. Terri T. February 6, 2019 at 10:39 AM

    I’m a huge Gretchen Rubin fan. If you’re interested in her habit info, I highly recommend starting with Better Than Before and then reading The Four Tendencies. She has a new book coming out in March.

    1. J. Money February 6, 2019 at 11:55 AM

      Oh cool!

      I tried The Happiness Project – her first book I think? – but wasn’t the target audience anymore so I stopped after the first handful of pages… I bet I’d enjoy the others more :)

  21. Amanda February 6, 2019 at 10:43 AM

    Obliger here. Totally fits. It explains why all my resolutions to get fit have failed. It’s because I do it on my own and while I loathe letting down other people, I have no problem not doing something for myself. The reason I haven’t joined a fitness class or gotten a personal trainer is because I’m afraid of the feeling of wasting people’s time if I sign up, then don’t go! So maybe I should join and that would force me to suck it up and go. I’ve always discounted the power of accountability, but maybe it’s what I need….

    1. J. Money February 6, 2019 at 11:56 AM

      Maybe! Worth at least trying and then stopping if it doesn’t make sense :) Sometimes it takes some experimenting until you find the thing that finally does the trick!

  22. al February 6, 2019 at 10:50 AM

    I’m an obliger; not suprised! Will have to check out the book.

  23. Susan @ FI Ideas February 6, 2019 at 11:07 AM

    Rebel. And as a Rebel, I’d like to say that I think trying to fit people into one of four boxes is too controlling and limited for me! But that’s only because I thought I’d be a Questioner.

    1. J. Money February 6, 2019 at 11:57 AM


  24. Carol in Mpls February 6, 2019 at 11:29 AM

    Rebel, Rebel. And a hat tip to Mr. Bowie. I actually *feel* like a combo of the Rebel & the Questioner. I’m going to look into this more.

  25. Kim February 6, 2019 at 11:40 AM

    I read her book and I seem to recall I was an upholder, but I really don’t put much stock in it. I started out excited about her book, but was quickly unimpressed. There wasn’t really scientific backing to what she’s talking about; it’s more just her personal framework. Also, she comes across super judgey throughout.

    That’s just my two cents, and it’s been a while since I read it, but I had a strong bad impression of it overall.

    1. J. Money February 6, 2019 at 11:59 AM

      I don’t mind the personal opinion stuff since it’s what I do all day myself (hah!), however the judgy part would quickly turn me off… Bound to not be for everybody though once you reach that level of success.

  26. Rebecca February 6, 2019 at 2:19 PM

    Don’t be scared of us rebels! We can harness our powers when we figure it out! It’s why I make exercise bets (cuz someone is betting I can’t), are out of debt (who wants to be in debt like everyone else) and so many other things. Once I figured it out, I just use it to prove people wrong!

    1. J. Money February 6, 2019 at 2:52 PM

      Haha I do like the sound of that!

  27. Frogdancer Jones February 6, 2019 at 4:43 PM

    I’m a questioner… I thought I’d be an upholder.
    The flip-side to you.

    1. J. Money February 7, 2019 at 5:57 AM

      Haha yeah – what’s up with that?

  28. Avicado February 6, 2019 at 6:53 PM

    I’m an Upholder and I love rules as long as I make them. It’s what I do and how I do it, and it works well for me.

    1. J. Money February 7, 2019 at 5:58 AM

      The rules we make for our selves are the best ones :)

  29. Pat February 6, 2019 at 7:17 PM

    Wow. I thought I would be an Obliger but turns out I’m a Questioner. I do do exhaustive research and it often keeps me from moving forward so it makes sense.Thanks for this. I will ponder how to use this information to my benefit :)

    1. J. Money February 7, 2019 at 5:58 AM

      Good!!! It’s fun to learn more about yourself! :)

  30. Missy G February 8, 2019 at 11:27 AM

    How timely! I was discussing the four tendencies with coworkers this morning. I think it’s my favorite personality grouping out there. I’m a Questioner all the way. I think I was reading your blog for at least 2 years before I finally set up tracking my net worth… hahaha!

    1. J. Money February 8, 2019 at 6:08 PM

      Good job finally catching on! ;)

  31. TJ February 8, 2019 at 12:21 PM

    No question, I’m a questioner. Something has to make sense for me to commit to it.

  32. TJ @ Seek The Financial Truth February 18, 2019 at 10:17 AM

    I think I may be an Obliger. I hope that doesn’t mean I’m a total pushover.

    I imagine that people have a primary/secondary tendency. Mine would be Obliger/Upholder.

    1. J. Money February 18, 2019 at 12:58 PM

      I think there’s def. some cross over :)

      And nothing bad about helping out your fellow citizens as long as it doesn’t hold you back from your own dreams!

  33. Alan | Smart Money Journey February 21, 2019 at 9:13 PM

    Reading the synopsis of the four tendencies, I’m definitely a mix of 50% Questioner and 50% Rebel. Thanks for the exercise that provided some time from blogging.

    1. J. Money February 22, 2019 at 4:04 PM

      Your turn now to blog about! :)