With all modesty, I do think my Four Categories of Personality may be one of my finest contributions to the study of human nature. Right up there with my abstainer/moderator split and under-buyer/over-buyer distinction.
In a nutshell, under this scheme, people fall into one of four categories: Upholder, Questioner, Rebel, or Obliger, depending on how they respond to external rules and internal rules.
Upholders respond to both inner and outer rules; Questioners question all rules, but can follow rules they endorse (effectively making all rules into inner rules); Rebels resist all rules; Obligers respond to outer rules but not to inner rules. To read more, go here.
I’m still refining this idea, and I’d be very interested to hear people’s thoughts on my further analysis.
One important question is: what is the main desire or motivation driving the people in the four categories? Here’s what I currently believe. Does it ring true to you?
Upholders wake up and think, “What’s on the schedule and the to-do list for today?” They’re very motivated by execution, getting things accomplished. They really don’t like making mistakes, getting blamed, or failing to follow through (including doing so to themselves).
Questioners wake up and think, “What needs to get done today?” They’re very motivated by seeing good reasons for a particular course of action. They really don’t like spending time and effort on activities they don’t agree with.
Rebels wake up and think, “What do I want to do today?” They’re very motivated by a sense of freedom, of self-determination. (I used to think that Rebels were energizing by flouting rules, but I now I suspect that that’s a by-product of their desire to determine their own course of action. Though they do seem to enjoy flouting rules.) They really don’t like being told what to do.
Obligers wake up and think, “What must I do today?” They’re very motivated by accountability. They really don’t like being reprimanded or letting others down.
Understanding this is important, because if you want to motivate yourself (or someone else) to do something, it’s key to know how a person will consider and act upon that request or order.
What do you think? Also, what should I call this category of personality typing? I haven’t been able to think of a good name. “The Four Categories of Rules Acceptance” isn’t very catchy.
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