“Impressive scientific advances have been made in every field of endeavor. But nowhere seemingly is there a greater challenge to the creativity and ingenuity of man than that which personality measurement presents.”
– Dr. Birkman, 1961, Dissertation: Development of a Personality test Using Social and Self-Perception Inventories
Positive Psychology at Work
In 1951, Dr. Roger W. Birkman created the Test of Social Comprehension. His inspiration for the instrument was driven by his war-time experiences, where he saw first-hand that individual differences in visual and interpersonal perceptions impacted pilot performance and learning.
Today, the Test of Social Comprehension is now known as The Birkman Method® and has been completed by millions of people and used by thousands of companies worldwide. Dr. Birkman developed the instrument to measure human characteristics (in the form of one’s perceptions of self and others) he saw influencing behaviour and motivation. Describing these deeply rooted perceptions is a core differentiator of The Birkman Method, as the instrument can tap into how someone is likely to behave and also why.
The Birkman Method reports on both behavioral and occupational data and leverages a unique methodology for assessing personality through positive psychology. “Positive Psychology” has become a popular term of late in “pop” psychology. Positive Psychology is the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive.
The goal of positive psychology is to help people live and flourish rather than merely exist and is a “view within scientific psychology that aims to achieve a balanced and empirically grounded body of research on human nature and social relations” (Keyes & Haidt, 2003, p. 3). In 1951, Roger Birkman started down a proactive, positive path with the development of his assessment, The Birkman Method, as a true humanistic psychological assessment.
Continuing Roger’s legacy, we have continued down this same path in our products, research, and development.
Four Perspectives of Personality
Birkman’s data on Motivation measures passion and interest for different roles and initiatives in the workplace and is described through the Birkman Interests. This aspect of The Birkman Method measures broad interest themes that are characteristic of many occupations. Birkman Interests provide awareness into the activities that foster greater engagement and enjoyment and those which can drain one’s energy and result in fatigue. Motivation is a critical factor in finding a fulfilling career path, being engaged in the workplace, and ensuring long-term workplace satisfaction.
Self-Perception reveals how we see ourselves and drives much of how we show up in the world around us. It’s driven largely by how we have learned to use certain styles to get positive results in past situations. We report this as Usual Behavior, and what is measured on the assessment is typically how a person feels they approach tasks, manage relationships, and contribute to their community.
Social Perception is an individual’s underlying context or filter used to determine if a current situation or environment feels comfortable for them. Because this is a measure of an internal state, it is not always apparent to others how someone will act (or react) when circumstances change. Reported as Needs, this information allows a person to anticipate their reaction to new or changing situations in their lives, and thus avoiding the resulting Stress Behavior that might result if they do not manage these expectations. These Needs and expectations are an invisible driving force behind an individual’s behavior.
Birkman Mindset data provides insights into an individual’s belief system concerning themselves and others. Birkman addresses specific aspects of Mindset that address interpersonal, intrapersonal, and work alignment of individuals. On a macro-level, these meta-scales allow individuals to see new ways of thinking and confront the pros and cons of their perspectives. These perspectives dive deep into an individual’s subconscious and help explain the why behind one’s actions and behavior patterns.
Commitment to Science and Validity is the Foundation
The soundness of The Birkman Method is defined through:
- Multiple types of reliability and validity criteria
- Development based on data from workplace-specific and other representative samples
- Strong theoretical basis from the organisational psychology field as well as cross-discipline literature (e.g., educational psychology, management, social psychology)
- Empirically demonstrated model-data fit (e.g., structural equation modeling)
- Job-specific, EEOC compliant selection profiles based on performance criteria (e.g., work satisfaction, tenure, performance reviews)