The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too)

Gretchen Rubin. Harmony, $22 (320p) ISBN 978-1-5247-6091-5
Rubin (The Happiness Project) sorts personalities into four “tendencies”—upholders, questioners, obligers, and rebels—according to people’s motivations for undertaking actions in this breezy but unconvincing work of pop psychology. Each tendency gets two separate chapters devoted to understanding and dealing with people with a specific trait. There’s even a Venn diagram and brief, if arbitrary, quiz. The simplicity of the profiles is comforting, but the science is questionable. The author commissioned a survey and uses anecdotal evidence to bolster the framework’s worth, but her attempts to find proof smack of confirmation bias. The author diagnoses her friends and social-media followers using her framework, sometimes sounding wise, at other times smug. Supposedly there’s no hierarchy to the tendencies, but the author, an upholder, can’t quite hide her preference for her own tendency, with her husband’s questioner tendency running a near second. Even the author admits that personality frameworks can’t “capture human nature in all of its depth and variety,” but nevertheless argues for utilizing her ideas to improve one’s life. In its best moments, the book reminds readers that not everyone approaches the world from the same perspective. Agent: Christy Fletcher, Fletcher and Co. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/03/2017
Release date: 09/12/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-0-525-49626-7
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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