Around the world, organizations use personality tools to increase team effectiveness and gain insight into client needs. Previously, these assessments were based on psychology, linguistic studies, intuition, and even mysticism. Given that many popular tools are based on century-old theories, stereotypes, sweeping generalizations, and flawed models, a healthy skepticism toward personality inventories has developed.
Modern scientific research has since expanded understanding of communication and motivation in the workplace. NeuroColor is the world’s first and only personality assessment created from a comprehensive examination of traits found in hundreds of peer-reviewed studies published in biological and neuroscience literature, and validated by statistical methods and fMRI studies in internationally respected scientific journals.
In 2005, Match.com invited Dr. Helen Fisher to identify the biological foundation of personality. When she discovered a lack of data in modern scientific literature, she undertook a deep dive into peer-reviewed research in genetic, biological, pharmaceutical, neuroscience, and other medical fields.
Across those disciplines, Dr. Fisher found 400 studies connecting personality with biology that all showed traits clustered in a similar fashion. She identified four broad brain systems that each linked to a constellation of specific personality traits. Dr. Fisher became the first scientist to discover and publish this finding in well-known, peer-reviewed science journals, as well as Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, and Business Insider.
The systems Dr. Fisher found to be related to personality include two neurotransmitters—dopamine and serotonin—as well as two hormones: testosterone and estrogen. Each of these four systems are universally present in all people to different degrees, existing as fundamental building blocks that aid human survival.
Dr. Fisher hypothesized that a personality questionnaire could measure the degree to which a person expresses the traits associated with the four brain systems. Over 100,000 responses to her questionnaire were collected and analyzed, using traditional statistical factor analysis and a three-dimensional Eigenanalysis pioneered by Ivy League mathematicians and population geneticists.
After Dr. Fisher’s team statistically validated the work, she and a group of scientists created two studies at Albert Einstein College of Medicine that provided her questionnaire—known as an “inventory” in the scientific community—to subjects prior to placing them in the college’s fMRI scanner. The fMRI enabled the scientists to measure the intensity of activity associated with each of the systems discovered by Dr. Fisher. The team predicted they would be able to see levels of activity in the brain circuitry that closely matched personality questionnaire results.
Indeed, participants whose answers indicated that they were high in personality traits linked to the dopamine system showed higher activity in the right substantia nigra, a part of the brain with extensive dopamine cells and receptors. Similarly, study participants whose inventory answers indicated that they were high in personality traits linked to another brain system showed higher activity in brain regions associated with that neurochemical or hormone. Lower scores in certain personality traits were found to correlate with lower activity in associated brain regions. The fMRI studies confirmed that the questionnaire scores closely matched the findings on the brain scans, accurately reflecting the brain circuitry associated with basic aspects of personality.
Dr. Fisher’s inventory has now been taken by more than 16 million people in 40 countries. While Match.com originally used Dr. Fisher’s questionnaire to create an algorithm for measuring relationship compatibility, her findings measure the degree to which the brain expresses the traits associated with each of the four systems. The neuroscience behind her research, the traits she identified, and the questions in the inventory are applicable across all human interactions—including the workplace.
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