The woman who is responsible for the compatibility questionnaire on Match.com that has been taken by more than 14 million people across the globe, has developed a similar product for the workplace.
Helen Fisher is a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University and her research sheds light on the neurological basis for personality.
Dr. Fisher spent years combing through all the medical literature, noting any correlations between biology and personality, reports Philip Perry for Big Think.
Her research found that we all express at least one of four personality styles, which are activated by one of four brain circuits, either the dopamine, serotonin, testosterone, or estrogen system.
Each particular brain circuit corresponds with what she calls a trait of temperament and is applicable to both men and women.
Here are the four types as they relate to neurotransmitters:
- These people express the dopamine system. They tend to be intellectual, creative, open-minded, curious, easily bored, outward-looking, spontaneous and are less likely to plan.
- These people express the serotonin system. These people tend to be prudent, conventional, detail-oriented, sociable, law-abiding, conscientious and creatures of habit. They are planners, but not risk takers.
- Directors express the testosterone system. They’re competitive, confident, analytical, and assertive. They tend to be good at systems-based enterprises such as chess, music, or math. They’re goal driven and detail-oriented.
- Negotiators express the estrogen system. They are social, nurturing, trusting, and empathetic. They tend to be social. They’re great supporting the ideas of others.
In 2013 Fisher formed a company called NeuroColor, with David Labno. The product they created for the workplace is called the NeuroColor Temperament Inventory and it is drawn from her original questionnaire for Matchcom. In a NeuroColor report the four brain systems are represented as follows: estrogen (green), serotonin (blue), dopamine (yellow) and testosterone (red).
For companies, NeuroColor produces a 22-page profile of every employee based on the completed questionnaires.
Why does this matter?
The questionnaire reveals what thinking style people operate from and tells them how to communicate with people from a different thinking style. This knowledge valuable when you’re building a team, Fisher told Perry. With this knowledge a project team, or board can quickly pinpoint a crucial gap in skills that might sabotage its goals.
This is what companies do wrong:
Companies hire for diversity, but crucially, not for mental diversity.
Says Fisher: “One of the problems in business is that people tend to hire people like themselves. They might hire someone who looks different or comes from a different culture, but in fact, probably thinks exactly the way they think. They’re hiring for cultural diversity, which I very much approve of, but they are not hiring mental diversity, which is probably what they need.
Here is the key point:
If you are aware of the traits others display, you can adjust your own behavior accordingly. Taking your own thinking style into account, you could communicate differently with each of the other three thinking styles and get the best out of every interaction.