Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, Rebel?

September 11, 2017

Revised 23 September 2017.

The Parade newspaper supplement, September 10, 2017, on page 4 introduced The Four Tendencies, a book by Gretchen Rubin. This book is said to explore the ways we are “hard-wired” to act or behave as we do. By following this exploration online at  Parade.com/tendencies, further introduction sets up a quiz to “get a clearer reading on yourself.” Even though “this quiz isn’t dispositive” (that is, directed toward or affecting disposition – temperament, character, personality – it means to gain greater understanding of yourself and relationships with others and their tendencies.

The quiz consists of a four part series of parallel situations that intend to focus on the type or tendency that best describes you. I am always curious about the outcomes of such quizzes in coming to grips with my own typology. The diligent consideration of tendency statements helps determine which ones most clearly fit oneself.

Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike. Here I agreed to one statement: “I do what I want to do; I’m true to myself, not other people’s expectations.” Personally I’m high on self-examination to better understand myself and to do what is in my best interest. I cannot imagine doing something that I do not understand, regard as marginal, or is contrary to the best interests of myself and others. I even deplore supposed jokes that depend upon denigrating others to get a laugh. I am committed to seriousness to the extent that I understand and accept the worth of beliefs and actions.

Obligers respond to outer expectations, but struggle to meet inner expectations. I do experience obligations in a couple areas. “People often turn to me for help.” These are usually family members, close friends or other associates with whom I have bonding and shared relationships. Over the years, I have tried to drop or cut back on what I regard as social responsibilities in order to prioritize and accomplish more projects of my own interest. Failing that, I think about moving away to separate myself from others’ expectations. Accordingly also, “I’ve adopted some good habits, but I often struggle without success to form others.” That is, I do not always or often carry through with matters or projects that I really and deeply want to accomplish.

Questioners question all expectations, but meet only those justified, that is by inner expectations. I am generally a thinker, primarily a theorist: I want to do those things that I understand as valuable to myself and others. In short, my decisions are carefully considered, not automatic. I thereby agree to two statements. “I like to hear from experts, but I decide for myself … according to my own judgement.” And, alas, “I question the validity of the Four Tendencies framework.” I question the limitation to four areas which seem to have overlap and in this presentation do not follow from necessary evidence.

Upholders respond readily to both outer expectations and inner expectations. In this tendencies quiz, the four areas have five or six determinative statements. Of the five for upholders, I agree in some measure with three. “I feel uncomfortable if I’m with someone who’s breaking a rule.” Yes, I am for law and order and appreciate rules, regulations, and social mores when they make sense, provide consistency, and benefit the common good. “I can meet a self-imposed deadline.” Actually, deadlines take priority for me even though I long for getting my own interests satisfied first: alas, I feel a losing struggle against time. “It’s just as important to keep promises to myself as to others.” Well, perhaps more to my self, but here the obligation to others overlaps with my own interests and prevails.

In the upholder category, I could not agree with a statement on fulfilling New Year’s resolutions because in past experience resolutions persist to turn out beyond my satisfaction in accomplishing them. Also, I could not agree that others are annoyed over my self-discipline. Everyone else seem ignorant of my level of discipline, therefore no one accuses me. Rather, I’m the one who is annoyed with myself. Basically, I found these two statements internally conflicted because of stated conditions that may or may not be pertinent to the issue.

Rubin’s book may give a better explanation of the tendencies and our alignment with them. Otherwise, I remain with Meyers-Briggs that I am your 100% INTJ which convincingly encompasses my conjunction of tendencies.

I (Introvert): I tend to live within myself, renewed in strength from day to day, a life of constant examination that mulls and decides how I should focus, believe and act. I do not follow ideas, values, behaviors or routines unless they make sense and satisfy me. Most of my waking hours are mental, reflective and rooted at being home.

N (Intuitive): I live by principles that I find basic, trustworthy, and fundamental to profitable and beneficial common interest.

T (Thinking): Thought and the formation of theory are the core of my active life,  dependent upon constant pursuit of inquiry and knowledge, as I endeavor to widen my intellectual reach and form foundations for rational (if not accurate) bases for action and practice.

J (Judging): I come to closure on most things with the proviso that further experience or information may lead to reexamination and revision. Also some areas remain tentative or open where decisions are largely based more on valuing than evidence.

Alas, these are my expectations, the ones I try to profit from the most.

© Copyright 2017 by Roger Sween.

I welcome comments on this article.