Deciphering How Preferences Cope with Quarantine

Feel boxed in? Feel boxed out? Feel like boxing someone?

Welcome to 2020, where big challenges in the world create big challenges in our relationships.

This is a good time to call on your understanding of FourSight to help you see that your quarantine mates’ reactions are sometimes a function of thinking preferences rather than personality. Look through your FourSight lens, and you may find their actions, decisions and quirks easier to live with. Here’s what research tells us.


Clarifiers love to keep up with the facts and play through worst-case scenarios. Even when the news is horrifically bad, Clarifiers keep reading, watching, clicking and catastrophizing. Why do they do that?!  

How to cope: Gathering and thinking through information helps Clarifiers feel in control. They want to know what’s going on, not out of morbid curiosity, but in order to better understand their world: What’s really happening? Why is it happening? How do we stay safe?

As comedian Kumail Nanjiani said, “There are probably going to be people like me who are reading about this all the time… I would say take breaks and try to make an actual effort to stay away from the news. I can diagnose my own problems and give advice…while doing nothing to affect my own behavior. Don’t do it… I’m doing it for you. I’ll let you know.” 1

But seriously, help your Clarifier by supplying them with high quality sources of information so they don’t make themselves nuts constantly consuming hyped up headlines.


Ideators love big ideas, novelty and variety. With the pandemic upending work and life, Ideators may feel like anything’s possible. They think up one idea after another! So, why doesn’t anything happen?

How to cope: Ideators probably entered lockdown with big dreams of writing that screenplay. Over time, the novelty of quarantine wore off, and they succumbed to binge watching and binge baking, like the rest of us. Without structure, ideas have a hard time taking hold.

Couple that with headlines about social justice, and now the Ideator, who tends toward both idealism and risk-taking, may want to join the demonstrations. Remind them, this is a “yes and” moment: Fight for what’s right, and stay safe.


Developers like to plan out projects (and life) step by step. They like to categorize and analyze and anticipate how each part will fit into the greater whole. During lockdown, all those plans have gone sideways. And you wonder why your Developer is stressed.

How to cope: Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild, said in a recent interview “I’ve realized that planning has always made me feel safe… I make a plan and I see it on the horizon. And I think about the steps I need to take to get there.” 2

When COVID 19 hit, Strayed commented, “What I decided is that the pandemic was going to last about eight weeks… Like, okay everything is cancelled in March and April and maybe May, but June and July and August are totally on, right? And then as the weeks past, and I finally had to do the thing that I have many times advised others to do, when they feel powerless, which is to surrender and to accept what’s true… And so I am trying to accept it and let go of the future, or at least my sense of knowing what is going to happen in the future.”

Good plan.


Implementers like to get results, see progress, move into action and motivate others. No doubt, they’ve already deep cleaned the house, the basement and the garage. Now they’re getting impatient to restart life and work. Why can’t they just relax?

How to cope: Implementers tend to look at the chaos and think, “What needs to get done?” “What should I do?” Their desire to stay active may wear others out, but it’s healthy for them.

New research about FourSight and well-being shows that one of Implementers’ superpowers is their ability to avoid anxiety: the higher the preference for implementing, the lower the likelihood of anxiety. Staying busy is their secret sauce. Implementers can’t just stop doing things.

So support their impulse to get going, just try to steer them away from a crowded office. Why not tackle the garden?

So if you feel yourself getting frustrated with your quarantine mates, think outside the boxing option, and use FourSight to better enjoy your time together.


Author Sarah Thurber is Managing Partner at FourSight and author of The Secret of the Highly Creative Thinker.  



1. Gordon, E. V. & Nanjiani, K. (Hosts). (2020, March 25). End of FOMO (No. 2) [Audio podcast episode]. In Staying in with Emily and Kumail.

2. Millman, D. (Host). (2020, June 1). Cheryl Strayed [Audio podcast episode]. In Design matters.