Using HBDI

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Dominate Thinking Preferences

Preferences are thought to develop from our genetic predispositions but also be highly influenced by the environment in which we live. For example, if we were encouraged not to use our left hand we became right-handed. We have preferences so that we don’t have to exert as much energy when completing daily tasks and it makes us more efficient.

Preferences can change over time due to environmental factors, contextual factors as well as a willingness to change. Sometimes, however, our preferences remain the same and we learn to operate with competence with our less-preferred hand. Both options are equally valid.

Within each of the quadrants, we have a preference for thinking for various clusters, this explains why we can appear different to someone who has the same preferences as ourselves.


The Preference code is used to generalise more the nature of different profiles. It helps you see the family of profiles to which you may belong and some of the general similarities. You will have a number of 1,2,3 in these boxes. If you have a 3 this means your score in that quadrant was between 0-32 and indicates a low preference in that quadrant (It is often important to remind participants at this point, this refers to preference NOT competence). If you have a preference code of 2 this means you scored between 33-66 and indicates an intermediate preference for that quadrant. If you have a preference code of 1  this means you have a score of 67 and above and indicates a strong (or very strong preference) in that quadrant. Take your profile page and place it on top of the front page of the interpretation booklet. You will notice that descriptors indicate a low, intermediate, strong or very strong preference. Although we don’t differentiate between strong and very strong preferences (they both have a preference code of 1) we notice anecdotally that scores of 100 or more can often be observed in the individual.

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An Example 

Here is a snapshot of a profile provided here. This profile is the most commonly found profile in our database and represents around 18% of the 2.5 million profiles globally. Our statistics reveal that only 5% of our population have a single dominant preference (one quadrant as preferred); 58% have a double dominant preference (two quadrants preferred); 34% have a triple dominant preference (three quadrants preferred) and 3% have a quadruple dominant preference (four quadrants preferred). As previously mentioned there are no better or worse profiles however, there are consequences for each of us. For example, a consequence for a quadruple dominant thinker could be that they take more time to make decisions.

The difference between the HBDI and the Whole Brain® Model is that one is the instrument and the other is the premise or model upon which the tool is based. 

The Whole Brain® Model is like a map and the HBDI is like the GPS locator. You can guess your profile before receiving your report to predict how your thinking preferences may manifest.

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Profile Scores

You will notice on the profile page some percentages, there are called the mode scores which indicate the degree of tilt to left, right, cerebral or limbic types of thinking. Each percentage is calculated against the total when you add up your profile scores. The AB mode score is calculated by taking the score in the A quadrant, adding it to the score in the B quadrant, dividing it by the total and times by 100 to generate a percentage. If the percentages between left and right are similar this indicates a small degree of shift. It can be interpreted as an individual having no difficulty shifting between certain modes eg left versus right thinking. Similarly, for the upper and lower mode scores, this indicates the ease of shifting between cerebral and limbic types of thinking. This can often play itself out as an individual’s shift between thinking and doing. 

Imagine this profile of your brain sitting plat in my hand (demonstrate). If you were whole-brained, 1,1,1,1 the mode scores would be around 50% each. This means that if something landed on your brain (demonstrated using an object on the page), you would either deal with it from all perspectives or from the quadrant in which it fell. However, if your mode scores were different (eg 1122) and your percentages may be 80% to the left and 20% to the right, with generally even top and bottom then the object would quickly run towards the left (analysis, facts, structure, planning) and away from the right (conceptual, feeling, creative, intuitive). The higher the percentages the quicker it would run. 

Similarly, if your profile code was 2112 and percentages were 80% to the limbic and 20% to cerebral, this may indicate that when something dropped onto your brain you are more likely to have an instinctive reaction, focusing on actions, feelings, doing, rather than thinking, conceptualising, hypothesising about it. Sometimes when the tilt is stronger it can be more difficult for us to shift into the other gear.

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Pressure Shifts

The dotted line (known as adjective pairs)  illustrates how your thinking changes when you are under pressure or in a state of stress. For some this shift will be dramatic for others, it will be subtle. For most, it’s enough to notice a change in the way you think.

We know thinking drives our reactions and behaviours, so if our thinking preference actually changes when we are under pressure or stress, it’s likely that our behaviours, the things we do and say will change too.

I wonder what impact this has on you!

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When we have preferences we spend more time focusing on a particular area, which means we naturally spend less time focusing on other areas. This opens up opportunities for blind spots, areas we don’t consider. What do you think yours could be?

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Notice the sequence of your thinking over the week; 

  • What’s the sequence of your thinking?
  • Notice how you communicate from your thinking preferences?
  • Notice how you behave from these preferred places?
  • How does your thinking focus shift when you are under stress?

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Your next step this week is to review your HBDI profile, read through your profile description and all of the supportive information within your profile book. 

This week’s Action focus is to:

  • Review your profile
  • Read your profile description
  • Reflect in the Awareness Journal

Notice in your profile what aligns with you and what you feel perhaps doesn’t.

To learn more and mobile, download the free HBDI® app please go to herrmann.com.au/get-hbdi-app

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