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Field Theory and Force-field Analysis

Although many assessments measure personality and behavioral characteristics, the INSIGHT Inventory is uniquely different because it emphasizes that behavior may change from one situation to another. This difference initially becomes apparent when participants complete the assessment. They are asked to describe their behavior in two different environments, work and social and they then receive two profiles that reveal how they may change from one setting to the other. This serves as a spring board to later discuss more specific environments such as team membership, leaders/subordinate dynamics, family patterns, etc.

The assessment of behavior in different environments comes from the INSIGHT Inventory’s roots in field theory and force-field analysis. These concepts were developed by Dr. Kurt Lewin at the Center for the Study of Group Dynamics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1940’s. They are built on a simple but revealing formula for understanding why people behave the way they do: B=f (PxE), behavior is a function of the Personality within in an Environment. Change the pressures, expectations, and influences in the environment and typically the behavior changes.

It is important to know that environment includes both external and interior force fields.

Exterior fields include groups, teams, business cultures, family structures, etc.

Interior fields include learned responses, old reactive patterns, messages of “should’s and should not’s,” family dynamics, etc.

People who develop insight into themselves learn to identify the impact of all these different environmental pressures on their personality.

Most personality assessments try to predict behavior by restricting and narrowing their description of personality to drill down to core traits (16-PF, Big 5, etc) or alternatively to identify descriptors that supports a particular creator’s mode (Jung, Myers-Briggs, Marston, etc).

INSIGHT instead strives to e-x-p-a-n-d the understanding of behavior to include the influences of the surrounding force fields. Users understand this immediately although some trainers have difficulty moving away from traditional “test and predict” assessments.

The field theory foundation also makes it possible for users to quickly identify how they can develop skill at changing their behavior in a specific setting to improve communications and relationships. The role of trainers and coaches therefore shifts from interpreting psychometric results to uncovering the inhibitors and enhancers in the user’s force fields and building strategies for better managing behavior in the face of those forces.


 

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