Are You the Kind of Person Who Divides the World into Two Kinds of People–Or the Other Kind?

Every Wednesday is Tip Day, or Quiz Day, or List Day.

This Wednesday: a list of quizzes to help you categorize yourself.

I love taxonomies, categories, ways of dividing people into groups. If you’re the same way, take these quizzes to find out what categories describe you:

1. Are you an under-buyer or an over-buyer? I’m an under-buyer.

2. Are you an abstainer or a moderator? I’m an abstainer, 100%.

3. Are you an alchemist or a leopard? I’m an alchemist.

4. Are you a radiator or a drain? I try to be a radiator.

5. Are you a finisher or an opener? I’m a finisher.

6. Are you a satisficer or a maximizer (yes, these are real words). I’m a satisficer.

7. Are you more drawn to simplicity or to abundance? I’m more drawn to simplicity.

8. Are you a Tigger or an Eeyore? I’m a bit of both, but writing about happiness has definitely brought out my Tigger qualities. (I write a lot about the conflict between these two categories in Happier at Home.)

9. Are you a marathoner or a sprinter? (categories formerly known as “tortoises and hares,” but I changed the terms). I’m a marathoner.

Putting myself into categories is fun, and I think it also gives me insight into my own nature. When I see myself more clearly, I can more easily see ways that I might do things differently, to make myself happier.

Categories can be unhelpful, however, when they become too all-defining, or when they become an excuse. “Oh, I can’t be expected to resist eating the cookies in the cupboard, I’m an abstainer.”

Do you find it helpful to consider these kinds of categories? Or too constraining?

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  • Ellison

    Categeries is fun and give us insight into our own nature. When we see ourself more clearly, we can more easily see ways we can do things differently, to make ourself happier.

  • Felicity

    I love dividing into categories! More, please!
    I’m in the same categories as you, Gretchen, except I’m an opener, not a finisher. Also, though I am an abstainer, I think I’m more 95%.
    I think these categories do give us insight into ourselves and others. At least, they prompt us to think more about people’s motivations and differences.

  • Nicola Hanna

    Hey Gretchen,

    I just finished reading “The Happiness Project”, I thought it was thoroughly interesting and I love how there’s a further reading list at the back of the book. I just wanted to say how much I appreciated every aspect of the book, from the writing style to the many quotes from your research. I myself am going through a bit of a life change at the moment, so finding this book has really helped me to home in on the things (big and small) that I can change in my life.

    Cheers :)

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks so much for your kind words! I’m thrilled to hear that it struck a chord with you.

  • Jill Brown

    I’m like you in all of these, Gretchen! But I’m an abstainer when it comes to alcohol (well, white wine anyway) and a moderator when it comes to sweet treats. I find it easy to have just 2 squares of chocolate 2 or 3 times a week, but very hard to have just 1 glass of wine at a time. And like a good alchemist, I’m always dissatisfied about that!

  • Todd Lohenry

    Do you prefer Veronica or Betty? I’m a Betty…

  • peninith1

    Yes, I love all these ‘Sorting Hat’ categories, and have been able to put myself clearly in every one of your either-or camps. I guess I began being intrigued by systems of this kind as a teenager. Archetypes tend to come more in fours than in twos–any deck of cards, but especially a Tarot deck, offers the four suits. Native American spiritual systems offer the four directions. The four ‘humors’ of medieval thought, and so forth. I have to say that my favorite ever has been the Myers Briggs four-way combination, that seems to describe so much. I guess that preferring the fours to the twos is just another indication that I’m an Abundance person and happily complicate almost anything!

  • Jess

    Categories are very hard for me because I see parts of myself, majority of the time, in both categories. Do you have a category for that? :)

  • Tara

    If you like learning about yourself and what makes your mind tick, have you ever tried out any of the quizzes at Project Implicit (https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/research/)? The tests themselves were developed by researchers at Harvard to try and measure the implicit biases people have in their thinking that they might not even be aware of – knowledge is power when it comes to the self!

  • Kenii

    I find that categorizations of myself are sometimes fun to think about, but I generally prefer not to put too much weight on them. I like to think people tend to be rather nuanced. For example, sometimes I’m more of a marathoner, while other times I’m more of a sprinter, and yet other times I’m more of a light jogger, etc. I feel like if I forced myself into one side of a dichotomy even though the other side is also applicable, then I’m not being true to who I am as a whole individual.

    On the other hand this observation, in itself, provided valuable insight into who I am as a person, so thank you Gretchen!

    • Heidi

      I also find that I don’t always fit into one of the choices given, so I insist that I get to add categories if necessary, or just say “I’m not either one.”

  • Jeanne

    These sorting categories are fun and interesting because they inspire me to take a look at my behaviors, maybe in a new way from a fresh angle. The big one for me is, “Are you a thrower or a saver?” Most people are savers, hence they live with tons of clutter. I am primarily a thrower, and mostly things need to have an obvious use later for me to save them. I love magazines and newspapers, and as I’m reading them, I tear out anything I want to save (I have hanging file folders and notebooks for these), and recycle the rest right away. The things I save are very well organized, and though my studio looks like someone’s brain blew up in it (it did – MINE!), I know what I have and where everything is. I live in a little post-WWII cottage and circulation is a must. No room for anything else. But being a thrower can have its downside. There have been more than a few instances where I wanted something later that I had tossed. Oh well… better than living in a hoarder house.

  • Lindsey

    Gretchen, did you get any comments or do any more thinking on the quote from “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” that you mention in the Tigger/Eeyore quiz? (I’ve pasted your comment for others below.)

    I am currently reading the story to my daughter as our bedtime book, and I am astonished at how good a read it is for adults. I loved it as a child. I didn’t remember the quote below, but it stopped me reading aloud – literally – and I’ve been thinking about it for the last week. It seems to be relevant to my marriage, to times when my daughter is tired and cranky and sassy as all get out (ignore her? kindly, and with love? rather than fight back and inflame the situation?), office politics, and so much more. If there is a thread on this quote, please direct me!

    “Referring to Winnie-the-Pooh perhaps put me in mind to recall one of my favorite scenes in all of children’s literature – the delicious defense of Lucy in C. S. Lewis’s Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Lucy has told her brothers and sister that she’s traveled through a wardrobe into the magical kingdom of Narnia. They think that she’s either lying or going mad. The two oldest children consult with the elderly Professor:

    “But what are we to do?” said Susan. She felt that the conversation was beginning to get off the point.
    “My dear young lady,” said the Professor, suddenly looking up with a very sharp expression at both of them, “there is one plan which no one has yet suggested and which is well worth trying.”
    “What’s that?” said Susan.
    “We might all try minding our own business,” said he. And that was the end of that conversation.

    I’m still thinking this through and may not be understanding the dynamic clearly. If you’re so inclined, please comment about your experiences; I so appreciate hearing them.”

  • abcde

    I don’t find these helpful, just divisive. Especially considering the debilitating political partisanship that gridlocks our government. Like the 4’s option mentioned below. Aren’t we all a bit more complicated than these either or categories suggest?

  • Heidi

    I like to consider people in categories, and I don’t think it’s constraining because I always remember that any system of categories does not tell the whole story (not even close!). I think it is useful to remember my (and others’) tendencies. For example, I think I tend to be an over-buyer. So when I’m at the store, deviating from my list, I can ask myself, “Am I over-buying right now, or is this something that should have been on my list in the first place?” (I insist that stuff like baking soda never counts as an impulse buy, and I do forget to write things down.)

    But my favorite thing about these categories is that they usually imply that there is more than one valid way to be. We don’t all have to be the same, and the world is a better place for the variety.

  • Marjorie

    I’m coming late to this as I’ve been out of town (http://www.howisavedmoneytoday.com/2013/07/31/get-in-the-water/ for some blatant blog promotion).
    Anyway, I definitely do this dividing thing. One of my nearest and dearest divisions is “two dimensional vs. three dimensional”. I’m completely two dimensional, living most comfortably with words and numbers (ie. letters, spelling, manuscripts, reading, books, spreadsheets, maps, computer programs, sudokus etc.) Even the crafts I (used) to enjoy were two dimensional – drawing, needlepoint, embroidery, macrame (I know I’m dating myself).
    I’m not comfortable with the physical – building, fixing, cleaning. I can frame and hang pictures (sort of two dimensional). But I can’t back my car down the driveway. I’m spatially hopeless. Three dimensional tasks inspire anxiety. I’m uncoordinated and consistently bad at sports involving any kind of ball, but I can swim. ;) I come by this honestly. The only tool my father ever owned was a hammer (to hang pictures).
    My husband is the complete opposite. He can fix/build anything. Our garage looks like Ace Hardware. He understands the mechanics/physics of how things operate. Yet he’s pretty terrible at all the things I’m good at.
    Does this resonate with anyone?