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How Do You Think?

Since returning to the States back in February and settling in our new place, I am slowly unpacking a mountain of boxes. Some of these boxes I packed and put in storage back in 2006 when I left to volunteer overseas, which is providing me an incremental stroll down memory lane.

Last weekend I came across a test I took as part of an Introduction to Psychology course during my senior year in high school. This was one of the first test of its kind I can remember taking. I have been hooked on such personal reflection tests and exercises ever since. This is a great personal growth exercise for anyone open to reflecting on how to move through the world with more intention and purpose. I wish I had come across it when I started my own long-and-ongoing process nine years ago.

A copy of the test form from my Intro to Psych high school class.

As I understand it, Dr. Anthony Gregorc created this test. It shows a person's dominant thinking/learning style - the way in which each person likes to learn, the environments in which they learn best, and the environments they find most challenging are all different.

One of the most difficult tasks I can face as a Project Manager is understanding my team members; their preferences, talents, needs, styles, habits, behaviors, and tendencies. This tool, like a Myers-Briggs or Enneagram test can be useful in determining into which role team members naturally fit, or do not fit, which is almost more important.

Before explaining the four thinking types, I want to give you an opportunity to try the exercise yourself. I have converted the paper exercise into a spreadsheet you can use that will automatically tabulate your results. Here is what you do:

2. Once open, you will see columns of adjectives. Type 1, 2, 3, or 4 in each box. Assign 4 to the box that you most identify with in that group, 3 for the second most, and so on. Only use each number one time in each column. Here's an example of my grouping:

3. You will see totals to the right of the columns, in between the boxes and the radar graph. If you have done the exercise correctly, the "Check" at the bottom of the sums will say "OK." If not, it will say "Recalculate."

4. See the radar graph to the right. It will show your dominate, intermediate, and low thinking styles.

According to this test there are four types of learning styles: Concrete Sequential,Abstract Sequential, Concrete Random, Abstract Random. See the below graphic for some insight as to how each one operates in the world:

This should give you an introduction to how you think, learn, and process as you move through the world. This is just a brief introduction. Many resources exist online that provide lot more detail than I do here. If you want to learn more details about the background of the test and the characteristics of the categories, I recommend looking here, here, here, here, and here.

Fun noticing: my numbers have not changed that much since high school. I seem to have evened out between Concrete Random and Abstract Sequential, with Concrete Sequential and Abstract Random being about as proportionately behind now as they were then.

My results in 1993 (left) versus my results in 2014 (right).

I hypothesized that my numbers would have changed radically given my experiences and the ways in which I know I have grown since high school. That leads me to the next big wondering: if how we think/learn does not changed, but how we view the world changes significantly given our numerous experiences, how does that affect how we move through the world now and going forward?


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