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THE FOUR TENDENCIES

THE INDISPENSABLE PERSONALITY PROFILES THAT REVEAL HOW TO MAKE YOUR LIFE BETTER (AND OTHER PEOPLE'S LIVES BETTER, TOO)

A sometimes–thought-provoking but ultimately insubstantial assessment of human behavior. For devoted followers of this...

An exploration of human behavior patterns as viewed through the lens of four specific tendencies.

With data garnered from more than 600,000 participants in her online quiz, bestselling self-help author Rubin (Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, 2015, etc.) contends that when individuals were asked the question, “how do I respond to expectations?” their responses aligned within four tendencies: upholders, questioners, obligers, and rebels. Upholders desire knowing what should be done and respond well to both outer expectations and inner expectations. Questioners question both outer and inner expectations and avidly seek out justifications before meeting an expectation. Obligers desire accountability and respond more readily to outer expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations. Rebels, who desire the freedom to do things their own way and on their own schedule, tend to resist all expectations. The author, a self-proclaimed Upholder, lays out plausible examples within sections devoted to each tendency, with consideration given to relationships, workplace dynamics, and family. She offers the lofty assurance, “with wisdom, experience, and self-knowledge from the Four Tendencies, we can use our time more productively, make better decisions, suffer less stress, get healthier, and engage more effectively with other people.” Rubin’s study provides some interesting food for thought, and readers may find relatable examples from their own lives. Yet her analysis lacks psychological or scientific grounding, and it can lead to questionable conclusions—for instance, her assertion that these tendencies are hard-wired: “They don’t change depending on whether we’re at home, at work, with friends. And they don’t change as we age.” Furthermore, the author fails to provide adequate attention to socio-economic influences; the quotes and case examples all seem to come from middle-class white Americans, primarily women.

A sometimes–thought-provoking but ultimately insubstantial assessment of human behavior. For devoted followers of this popular author.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6091-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harmony

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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MASTERY

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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BRAVE ENOUGH

These platitudes need perspective; better to buy the books they came from.

A lightweight collection of self-help snippets from the bestselling author.

What makes a quote a quote? Does it have to be quoted by someone other than the original author? Apparently not, if we take Strayed’s collection of truisms as an example. The well-known memoirist (Wild), novelist (Torch), and radio-show host (“Dear Sugar”) pulls lines from her previous pages and delivers them one at a time in this small, gift-sized book. No excerpt exceeds one page in length, and some are only one line long. Strayed doesn’t reference the books she’s drawing from, so the quotes stand without context and are strung together without apparent attention to structure or narrative flow. Thus, we move back and forth from first-person tales from the Pacific Crest Trail to conversational tidbits to meditations on grief. Some are astoundingly simple, such as Strayed’s declaration that “Love is the feeling we have for those we care deeply about and hold in high regard.” Others call on the author’s unique observations—people who regret what they haven’t done, she writes, end up “mingy, addled, shrink-wrapped versions” of themselves—and offer a reward for wading through obvious advice like “Trust your gut.” Other quotes sound familiar—not necessarily because you’ve read Strayed’s other work, but likely due to the influence of other authors on her writing. When she writes about blooming into your own authenticity, for instance, one is immediately reminded of Anaïs Nin: "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Strayed’s true blossoming happens in her longer works; while this collection might brighten someone’s day—and is sure to sell plenty of copies during the holidays—it’s no substitute for the real thing.

These platitudes need perspective; better to buy the books they came from.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-101-946909

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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