Review: “Questioning” the Four Tendencies with Gretchen Rubin podcast episode

A few months ago I subscribed to a handful of podcasts centered around psychology and human behviors; I have an amateur interest in this area. I like to think about why people are the way they are and observe their actions. I enjoy finding out how people think and discover how they see the world. A recent episode of The Psychology Podcast sounded interesting: Questioning the Four Tendencies with Gretchen Rubin. Having never listened to this podcast before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was about four tendencies that Gretchen Rubin discovered and wrote about in her book.

While the tendencies were interesting to learn about, what I enjoyed more about this episode was hearing Scott Kaufman and Rubin have an intellectual conversation and in some cases talk through their clarities and disagreements. It wasn’t as if I was watching a fight where I was rooting for one person to win, but simply listening to both perspectives and trying to understand the context from which both were presenting. The two of them were very cordial and demonstrated intellectual hospitality as they spoke out their differences.

The discussion went through three phases: establishment of platforms, identifying differences, clarifying perspectives. The second phase was a bit rocky as each of them was grappling with understanding each other’s context. As they talked them out openly, honestly, and without judgement, the conversation became more fluid and well understood by both. It was a great evolution that unfolded before the listener.

Kaufman demonstrated well his Questioner tendency as he looked at just about everything with skepticism unless fully qualified. The latter is where Rubin was struggling in clarifying her point as she didn’t see the need — nor did I — to follow scientific rules of statement for a layman book and discussion. Kaufman seemed to struggle for most of the episode stepping out of his perspective into her view until the very end. I saw and agreed where Rubin was coming from — probably because I’m her target audience — when she was describing that a framework doesn’t have to be valid because the scientific method proves that it is, but it can simply be useful because someone finds it useful. With this in mind, it was a bit easier for Kaufman to accept the premise of her book yet still struggled without qualifications.

The framework was intriguing and definitely one I can immediately see value in. I may read Rubin’s book to learn more about how to work with the tendency one has — which was ultimately her point. Additionally, it will be interesting to see if Kaufman ends up doing any research around her framework.

You may find the show’s notes and episode on Scott Kaufman’s website:

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