Dr Katherine Benziger is a true pioneer and leading expert in her field. Her work has for the past 25 years focused on the proper and ethical development and application of personality assessing in the global business environment. Significantly, Dr Benziger prefers the term personality assessing, rather than personality testing, to describe her approach. Katherine Benziger is keen to distance herself from the ‘personality testing’ industry, for which ‘falsification of type’, and the interests of the individual – rather than the organisation – are not generally seen as a priority concerns.
Also importantly, Benziger’s systems are not psychometric tests. Many non-scientific people now use the term ‘psychometrics’ to cover the wide range of systems and tools used in testing, measuring and assessing all kinds of attributes in people, but strictly speaking this is incorrect. The term ‘psychometrics’ actually means the psychological theory or technique of mental measurement. Psychometrics and psychometric tests in this pure sense are often (and in certain countries necessarily) practiced and administered only by people holding a PhD in psychology. This inherently can cause ‘pure’ psychometrics theory and testing tools to be less accessible for typical business and organisational applications.
Benziger’s work, model and assessment systems are instead based on the measurement of brain function and energy consumption in the brain.
This study of brain function is a different science, and a more recent one than psychology and psychometrics (the study of brain function has for instance been particularly aided by the advent of recent brain scanning technologies such as PET and MRI). The accessibility and application of Benziger’s work and systems do not suffer the same restrictions and limitations as pure psychometrics, and as such offer potentially enormous benefits to organisations.
Benziger is keen to focus on the common tendency of people in work, whether being assessed or not, to ‘falsify type’. She rightly says that when people adapt their natural thinking and working styles to fit expectations of others, normally created by work and career, tension and stress results. People are not happy and effective if they behave in unnatural ways, and much of Benziger’s work focuses on dealing with these issues and the costs of falsifying.
- Relating directly to this is the work Arlene Taylor PhD, a leading specialist in ‘wellness’ since 1980, and collaborator with Benziger for much of that time.
- Arlene Taylor’s work has confirmed, and builds on, Benziger’s observations about the cost of falsifying type, notably the identification anecdotally of a collection of symptoms (in persons who were falsifying type) which Taylor has labelled Prolonged Adaption Stress Syndrome (PASS).
- PASS initially featured in the 1999 Taylor and Benziger paper ‘The Physiological Foundations of Falsification of Type and PASS’, and remains central to Benziger’s and Taylor’s work.
The complete family of symptoms which Dr Arlene Taylor identified within PASS (Prolonged Adaption Stress Syndrome), as linked to Benziger’s Falsification of Type, are:
- Immune system alterations
- Memory impairment
- Altered brain chemistry
- Diminished frontal lobe functions
- Discouragement and or depression
- Self-esteem problems
Benziger’s principal assessment system is called the BTSA (Benziger Thinking Styles Assessment), and it’s also available online as the eBTSA from the Benziger website, where you can learn more about Katherine Benziger and her ideas. I’d also strongly recommend you read Katherine’s book, Thriving in Mind, available via her website. The book enables the reader to perform a basic personality assessment using the Benziger model, which is highly illuminating.
Here is a brief overview of Katherine Benziger’s model: The brain has four specialized areas. Each is responsible for different brain functions (which imply strengths, behavior and thinking style). The specialized areas are called ‘modes’:
Brain assessment – personality assessing
Each of us possesses natural strengths in only one of these specialised areas, which causes us to favour and use a certain style ahead of others. (Outside of that one style, we may have strengths and weaknesses which are based on what competencies we have been exposed to, or developed, and indeed which competencies we have not been exposed to.) Dr Benziger refers to the natural specialised area as the preferred thinking and behavioural mode. If you buy the book there’s an excellent and simple assessment to illustrate this point, although it relies on complete honesty when answering – if you are ‘falsifying your type’ then you will distort the analysis.
Dr Benziger illustrates a person’s brain dominance (preferences and tendencies) in terms of a brain diagram (viewed from above) when the relative strengths for each specialised area are plotted using scores from an assessment to produce a rhombus or kite shape. There is no right or wrong shape. The diagram is simply a way of visualising the bias of a person’s brain, and the parts used more and better than the others.
Brain type, friendships, marriage and mating
Dr Benziger also makes interesting observations about relationships: Most of us select friends who mirror our brain types. We do this because we feel comfortable with people whose mental preferences are like our own. If we find a friend with a near-identical brain type they are likely to become a ‘best friend’.
The four most common brain developed patterns are: Double Basal, Double Left, Double Frontal and Double Right. As a rule people with such developed patterns find and make friends easiest, because there are simply more of them around than any other developed brain patterns. Single-brained people and multi-dominant triple- and whole-brained people find it more difficult to find friends, especially close friends because, simply there are not many people who have developed so many modes.
The search for a marriage and mating partner is different. Rather than try to ‘mirror’, we tend to choose marriage and mating partners with brain types that will complement our own, that will cover our weaknesses. Understanding your own brain type, and therefore strengths and weaknesses, is helpful for self-development, managing relationships, managing teams, and generally being as fulfilled in life as we can be. Knowing your own strengths gives you confidence to take on responsibilities and projects in your own skill areas, and knowing your own weaknesses shows you where you need to seek help and advice.
The Brain Type model also explains very clearly that hardly anyone is good at everything, and even those who are, have other issues and challenges that result from their multi-skilled nature.