Which habit tendency are you?

I recently read and enjoyed Gretchen Rubin’s book Better Than Before. She developed a quiz to determine which “tendency” you are, or how you respond to inner and outer expectations. From the quiz link, briefly, Gretchen says the following:

Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations (I’m an Upholder, 100%)
Questioners question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense–essentially, they make all expectations into inner expectations
Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves
Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike

I’m wondering which type(s) Beeminder users are likely to be. I’m guessing that if you’re an Upholder, you might not need beeminder, or can use it very successfully. Beeminder is probably appealing to many Questioners (including myself) in part because Beeminder is based on research on motivation and commitment contracts, and we can test it out and see if it works for us. Obligers seem like they could benefit a lot from Beeminder, should they find that Beeminder provides enough “external” accountability. Rebels are probably the folks who think everyone who uses Beeminder is ridiculous because they wouldn’t want to tie themselves down that way.

Which type are you? Curious to hear what other folks think about this.


Interesting! I took the quiz and got “Questioner”, which was not surprising after reading the descriptions of the four types.


I’m a Rebel.
I use Beeminder because it is the only thing that does get me to do the things I want to do - I get to choose all the parameters. But I often get into lively discussions with @dreev about things not being customisable enough.


It tells me I’m an Obliger but there were so many questions where nothing seemed to fit that I don’t have much faith in that conclusion. Questioner sounds better from the description.

Maybe only superficially relevant but this seems like a good excuse to point to The Type Bee Personality.


One thing Gretchen says is that anyone who questions the test and/or their results is probably a Questioner :smile:

I’ve found knowing I’m a Questioner to be useful for both beeminding and interacting with others. If I don’t really believe I should maintain a habit, I just stop doing it, even with money on the line (to a point, which for me is ~$90). My partner is now less frustrated when I ask questions about things because she knows I’m a Questioner. It’s also made me realize that part of the reason I’ve been stubborn about pursuing certain research paths my professor or sponsors want me to is because if I don’t think it makes sense, I won’t do it.


i knew i was going to be an obliger and then i was an obliger.

beeminder would DEFINITELY bee more effective for me if i shared my goals with everyone i know and put a lot of public pressure on myself to stay on track, keep my graphs green, avoid certain other friends’ ridicule for paying $90 after derailing, etc.

unfortunately, i’m really not that oversharing person at all, and so my beeminding/beeminder effectiveness TOTALLY comes and goes based on how much i am prioritizing those commitments/goals at the time. (currently: not as much, i am focused on one big “project” where i haven’t needed much extra motivation – which is probably because there’s some serious incentives, both internal and external, for me to keep making progress! ooooh psychology!)


I thought I was a Rebel, but it said I’m just an Obliger. I’m really not sure I agree, and I had difficulty answering the questions, so I may be actually be a Questioner. Either way, I think I’m less of a Rebel when others are depending on me, so Obliger makes sense. But just telling people about me changing habits isn’t enough, they would actually have to depend on my new habits succeeding. I think I would benefit more from forcing myself to follow through (Beeminder is somewhat helpful) or changing my mindset regarding the thing (as a Questioner).


Obliger, although there is quite an element of questioning, and I definitely don’t do something just because someone asks me to.

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No Upholders yet, I guess they are the one type that don’t need Beeminder.

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I am a questioner which makes a lot of sense. I generally have no problem doing things that I am motivated to do(e.g. reading). I mostly beemind outer expectations because I can’t get myself to do them.

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I got Questioner, but I also questioned the validity of the test/taxonomy. I would say that Questioner slightly fits me better than the others, but I have shades of Upholders and Obligers. One reason I am a Questioner, not an Upholder or an Obliger, is that I fail to meet some outer expectations as well as some inner expectations. That would seem to rule me out as both an Upholder and an Obliger, but not as a Questioner, who internalizes expectations but also doesn’t always uphold them. On the other hand, I don’t get less likely to do something the more someone expects me to do it like a Rebel would.

It’s interesting to note that this taxonomy leaves no room for people who don’t respond to outer expectations but meet their inner expectations. That is, someone who intrinsically resists outer expectations (vs. questioners who are selective, but objective). Yet I know some people like that. In fact, I think the label of “Rebels” would better fit this type of person than someone who resists all expectations.

I’m curious to hear how many Obligers you have ever known in your life. I can only think of a handful, and that’s being a little broad and including some people who fit the criteria but still suffer from akrasia and lack of willpower.

Besides the taxonomy, here’s how being a Questioner affects how I beemind:

  • I tend to first think of a potential goal to beemind, mull over whether it’s worth it and how to track it in Beeminder, then start tracking it as an experimental goal.I don’t feel guilty if I later decide I don’t care enough about the goal or have trouble keeping up.

  • For the goals that survive the initial test phase, I generally have no problem keeping way in the green. I have 20 active goals, and only 5 are under 7 days of safety buffer (one very tough goal, one hard goal, and three goals that ordinarily would be over 7d in safety buffer). As an aside, I have a feature request: Tweak the “Amounts due by day” sidebar table so that instead of simply showing the next 7 days, it shows the next 7 days where some progress is needed.

  • Part of the reason most of my goals are way in the green is that I don’t use Beeminder to impose a strict external accountability as an Obliger might, but rather use Beeminder to simply track my adherence to my inner expectations. As such, I typically set a relatively easy rate. Instead of using a high rate to motivate me to do more (or do less), I set the rate to the base rate at which I think is the minimum level of adherence I think I should have. Any extra is bonus (although I do occasionally retro-ractchet, but only ever manually and after a large safety buffer has developed and I am in a position to work on that goal more in the coming few days; never automatically). In other words, I use Beeminder as a signpost of my progress or a warning sign or alert/reminder that I’ve been neglecting a goal, not as a stick.

  • Similarly, I don’t get any value from social accountability like the declaration of goals in the 2016 Planning (aka Resolutions) thread.

  • I occasionally indulge myself by taking an extended break from making progress on a goal or splurging on a “do less” goal. I don’t feel guilty about this at all and see it as natural. Perhaps Upholders would be uncomfortable with this and I would think Obligers would rarely have the high safety buffer to “spend” (since they rely on the fear of impending derailment).

  • As a consequence of the above factors, I tend not to pay much money to Beeminder in the form of penalties, but I do create lots of new goals (at 10 cents a pop). I’m also planning on upgrading to at least Plan Bee soon, partially to take advantage of the custom autosum methods for some goals I have planned, but also just to express my thanks for the value Beeminder has provided me.


They made me a rebel, true or not. The strategies from other “resisters” resonate with me. And that’s the value of this thread: customized advice.

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Fascinating! Quick reply to your feature request:

I don’t think I like this, at least not the naive implementation of it, because I think it’s rare to care about building a safety buffer beyond 7 days and for the rest of us it’s reassuring to see a whole column of checkmarks if you do have that much safety buffer. Maybe the way to have the best of both worlds is if you could scroll down or click something to jump to the next amount due. So by default it would focus on the next 7 days but you could choose to look ahead further.

But I’m not convinced that even that is so valuable because the Bare Min section above the graph already tells you how much you need to get an additional day of safety buffer, no matter how much buffer you already have. Is your use case about easily seeing the actual calendar date of the next beemergency?

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Let me put in my 2 cents, because I am exactly the rare person caring to build safety buffer beyond 7 days :slight_smile:
I am now trying to keep my do-more and whittle-down and odometer goals (I mean, basically anything apart from do-less) at 10 days’ buffer. This means, if it is 9, I consider it to be the day I should do something about it. (Well, currently a glance at my gallery won’t prove this, but only because I am recovering after a trip).
This feels less stressfull than when the edge is the 0 days because I can leave some goals for a while (but guaranteed not a too long “while”) and then recover during a weekend. And this still ensures I am making the same rate of progress on average. I chose 10 because it is the first beautiful round number beyond akrasia horizon, and it is easy to distinguish from anything less than it, at sight.
I mean, for people like me it might be important to know how much more exactly it is needed to proceed from 7, 8 or 9 “days left” to 10 “days left”, just like it for proceeding from e.g. 1 day left to 3 days left.
Currently, even in order to know how much more I need to gain 1 days beyond 7 days, I need to go to gallery, because on the goal page, it shows a whole day’s amount. I might have understood what you wrote in a wrong way, but I think the following does not apply when you have a buffer>akrasia horizon.

So, I support the idea that the “Amounts due by day” table should accomodate the needs of users like @andrewlu and me :slight_smile: And, probably indeed in a way that it doesn’t change anything for people who don’t usually care that far, like you said:


At least for some of my goals, the “bare min” section doesn’t actually show what I need for an additional day. The goal that comes to mind for me is my Fitbit autodata goal that just shows the daily step count rate, not the actual incremental # of steps needed for one more day of safety buffer. I think I’ve noticed this with other goals of mine that are NOT autodata though. Perhaps the code for that particular section is broken beyond a certain # of days? It sounds like @scarabaea has noticed that this starts to happen beyond 7 days, which seems right. I know 7 days has a special significance in Beeminder because that’s the Akrasia horizon for changing weekly rates, pausing a goal, etc, but I don’t see why this’d carry over to the “bare min” section.

This probably sounds absurd to some of you, but for me, seeing the whole column of checkmarks isn’t actually reassuring, because for me, 7 days of safety buffer feels like a pretty short and “dangerous” amount. I’m not sure about the UI, but maybe making the area scrollable like you suggest would be a better solution than my original idea. It’d hide everything beyond the next 7 days from most users, and for users like me, the act of scrolling down to my date would give me a more visceral sense of how much safety buffer I have left.

If the “bare min” section always worked, then I’d say tweaking the “amounts due” table would still be nice, but I agree that it’s a marginal improvement for a minority of users. Originally, I pointed this out as an example of how a normally useful feature is useless for users with my use profile, but I’m not sure if there is a good solution here. My use case is seeing when the next few days of data are needed, the amount needed to get one more day (or 2 days, or 3 days, etc of safety buffer, and then the daily rate for the days after that. I realize that most of this same information can be seen elsewhere on the page (# of days until derailment, “cur daily rate”), but I’ve found that I tend to go to the “amounts due” table because it’s all together there (and because it’s above the "cur daily rate).

Also, something that is NOT available elsewhere is the exact amount needed to get 2, 3, 4, etc days of safety buffer. Particularly for “chunky” goals, this is a nice motivator. For example, if I have a goal to make my way through a book sporadically or write a blog post every now and again, then when I’m trying to increase the buffer, I’m not interested in increasing it by one day (which would be too little a jump given the infrequency of working on the goal), but what it’ll take to get to 2, 3, 4, etc. days of safety buffer. It sounds like @scarabaea does something similar. Again, this isn’t hugely important, because by definition, if I have a huge safety buffer, then obviously I can probably afford to fall between say 9 days of safety buffer and 10. However, it’s nice to have an arbitrary Schelling point to shoot for.

Again, I could continue happily beeminding indefinitely without ever having this feature request implemented. I just thought I’d throw it out there for consideration.


Oh well it says I am rebel…that should answer the procrastination problem I have.