NeuroColor is rethinking workplace profiling with Neuroscience
Looking for a valid and reliable tool that has been informed by the latest science into how the brain works?
That has been validated using psychological as well as physiological validation?
That also challenges conventional wisdom on extraversion and introversion?
Well, read on…
To align with our FitToLead mobile learning application we have begun working with an innovative approach to profiling linked to Neuroscience. A tool for a new age that is grounded in more than one measure of statistical validity and reliability. A tool that is linked to how the brain functions at the physiological level.
This tool is called NeuroColor and Mission Performance is one of the first organisations to become qualified to administer it.
First some background and some science:
NeuroColor is rooted in the pioneering research conducted by Helen Fisher and colleagues from 2010. It linked the science of personality (psychological/psychometric) with the architecture of the brain (physiological) Specifically the physiology of behaviour linked to hormones and neurotransmitters in the human brain. Original research began with a review of the academic and general literature. Specifically, the 4 suites of behavioural traits that were associated with the four, broad neural systems.
These four broad neural systems are linked to (1) Dopamine (2) Serotonin (3) Testosterone (4) Estrogen/oxytocin. In turn, these 4 broad neural systems were linked to 4 categories of romantic compatibility: curious/energetic (Dopamine); cautious/social norms (serotonin); analytical/tough-minded (testosterone); pro-social/empathetic (oxytocin).
The Fisher Temperament Inventory (FTI) a 56 item questionnaire that linked to the 4 temperament dimensions was born. The FTI was first used for romantic partner compatibility in Helen’s work for a dating web service and this is the point where the psychometric research met the physiological with the use of a functional MRI scanner (fMRI)
There were two studies involving two groups of 17 and 18 people respectively. The second study reproduced the results of the first. The FTI was administered to participants in the fMRI scanner and scores aligned to specific predetermined regions of the brain. These two independent studies utilised diverse people across a large age range and replicated the results for each.
The correlations were strong and replicable. The findings supported the hypothesis that the 4 broad temperament dimensions measured by the FTI were associated with separable brain systems. In effect, there is a unique neural signature for each temperament dimension.
Using the foundations of the FTI the NeuroColor item questionnaire colour coded the four neural systems and added questions to measure introversion and extroversion together with communication style. In addition, and for each of the 4 broad systems, two further refinements were made to provide a more representative assessment of each system. It also accounted for and gave you feedback on work and home behavioural preferences.
This made the tool accessible memorable and teachable. Providing feedback in a format that could be linked to a wide variety of personal and workplace applications.
How is it different from other tools in the market?
It combines the best of psychometric research with physiological fMRI scanning/testing. The latter has higher tolerances for both validity and reliability requiring a smaller sample size to deliver a more rigorous and robust correlation/degree of significance. It can work alongside existing tools and in fact, separate studies have been conducted to establish strong correlations with tools like NEO.
How does the tool provide feedback based on the brain’s system and subsystem?
Based on Helen Fisher’s research she identified 4 main systems and 8 subsystems detailed below. Each person ‘s brain will have a different combination of each. It is how they are wired and fire together that informs behavioural and motivational preference. This combination, in turn, informs how you build relationships, make decisions, organise yourself and process information. Each is coloured coded to aid retention.
The systems in summary:
Blue Serotonin – Main system summary: Cautious / Measured
- Concrete thinking/structured/cautious/measured/process/stability/follows rules/procedures/calm/predictable/safe/traditional/not fearful/practical/thorough/scheduler ; Values=family orientated/straightforward/caring/trusting/loving. A builder and a guardian of what is right and proper.
- Subsystem: Cautious/measured: feels most comfortable in familiar environments; within established procedures; values tradition; mitigation of risks; provides firm foundations for teams process and people; time to process play to rules and manage risk actively.
- Subsystem: Concrete and structured give them facts not the art of the possible; grounded and practical; ideas must come with implementation plans; follow through and phased approach to goal accomplishment; makes you feel safe and grounded the foundation of team performance.
Red Testosterone- Main system summary: Systems thinking
- Bold and decisive; confident and ambitious; debating, competitive and strategic; status; objective; sceptical; spatially aware and analytical; breakdowns problems and thinks about how things fit together. Assertive directing in style
- Subsystem: Tough-minded/direct: results orientated; challenges others debates points of view; will make a point and may not let points go if not entirely satisfied; approaches problems head-on can be seen as controlling if overdone; keep it to facts and speed of delivery; speak with confidence
- Subsystem: Systems thinking: how does it all fit together not satisfied with sweeping generalisations wants to know what makes it all tick; system thinkers and curiosity to uncover key relationships; be direct and precise no waffling
Yellow – Dopamine – Main system summary: Inventive / Future orientated
- Explorer new ideas and the art of the impossible – get bored very quickly and need exciting things to look forward to, in order to maintain motivation; explore new ideas and approaches at the expense of implementation;
- Subsystem: Curious/energetic: energy spikes in idea creation and new possibilities and horizons; likes challenge of ambiguity. Comfortable with white space and unscripted plans and a general direction of travel as opposed to stepped phased approach; positivity; addicted to new ideas requires conscious effort to stay focused.
- Subsystem: Inventive/future orientated: Creator innovator and excels at idea creation needs to balance external flexibility with internal stability; values flexibility and can upset and derail plans based upon new information and insight at expense of delivering now prefers to innovate now and worry about implementation later
Green – Estrogen/oxytocin – Main system summary: Contemplative / Contextual
- Negotiator and facilitator to bring diverse preferences together – demonstrates care and attention for others and desire to please others at expense of own needs; good nature sometimes abused; sensitive to the needs of others at expense of own needs; unrealistic expectations and serial over commitment; searches for meaning and deeper understanding
- Contemplative/contextual: reflector deep thinker; sees the relationship between people and things; goes out of the way to make connections between people; intuitive and driven by the need to please others
- Empathetic/inclusive: feels pain and joy of others; connects with people and keenness to build rapport and understanding in all aspects of life; can be trodden on and keen to keep everyone on board.
How does this all come together in a summary profile?
The report is succinct and has an intuitive flow providing feedback in a variety of practical sections. From the optimal working environment to a complete rethinking of extroversion and introversion.
For those frustrated by the binary choice between extraversion and introversion offered by 20th-century tools, Neurocolor links it to another dimension called Communication Style. This dimension answers many questions and addresses the many frustrations of outgoing introverts or reserved extraverts.
It also produces colour coded summaries of your brain system and how it all wires together.
A Dopamine orientated person is driven to create and innovate with an eye on the future possibilities. Curious too and keen to explore the ideas and possibilities at length and their future impact. They will like to know how it all fits together and will be keen to explore the structures and figures that sit behind the ideas. Less likely to confront people or ideas and will more than likely roll with the consensus preferring not to upset the flow of the discussion. Sensitive to the needs of others and keen to draw people in he will prefer to spend time with supporting others as opposed to reflecting on the implications for them and their team. The need to innovate will be balanced by the need to do it properly and for the right reasons. Less inhibited by the process they will still need a loose structure to guide action.
In order to build an effective relationship with this person, you will need to build rapport and understanding and win their trust. Once you have taken your time to do this you can move on to develop a creative relationship that is built on sound values and principles. Ignore the need to build rapport and you will be viewed with suspicion. You will not get their full disclosure nor ideas and they will not feel comfortable in sharing their deepest thoughts and ideas and opinions with you. Slow down to speed up and build some firm foundations with this person.
Interested in reading more?
More details and interview with Helen Fischer can be found at:
Find out more about how you can refresh your approach to profiling with a 21st-century tool by contacting us here.