Understanding Your Brain Preferences

February 2, 2011

Recently, at the close of a DecisionClarity presentation at CMHA in North Vancouver, I noticed a lot of interest in the Hermann Brain Profiling information I had presented. Hermann’s theory of brain preferences suggests that each of us have aspects of the brain with which we are more comfortable. I have observed that when faced with a critical decision many people respond from their dominant preference: for example people with dominant feelings can be swamped by the emotions associated with the decision while those with a strong analytical preference can get stuck in researching and analyzing the decision to death. It is helpful to recognize your own nature.

The model, developed by Ned Herrmann, an eminent physicist at General Electric, starts with the generally accepted principle that the brain is divided into left and right hemispheres.  The right hemisphere is the creative and emotional centre and the left is more associated with the rational processes.  Herrmann suggests each hemisphere has two quadrants and that in total there are four quadrants in the brain, each of which relates to different preferences (not abilities). Most of us will have at least three preferences with one inferior aspect and one dominant aspect.

The Left cerebral is the mathematical/analytical aspect of the brain and you can recognize a preference in this area is by asking how comfortable you are with numbers.  For example, can you balance your cheque book?  The Left limbic is the organizing and planning aspect of the brain and a way to recognize this preference is the need to make lists. The Right limbic is the interpersonal and emotional quadrant and one way to recognize this preference is in one’s desire to connect with others.  The Right cerebral is the home of the subconscious/synthesizing part of the brain and you can recognize a preference in this area by the desire to let answers just come to you rather than work at it. Our dominance effects how we behave in a crisis and impacts the way we approach challenging decisions.

So how does understanding how our brain works impact decision-making?  It helps to explain why we all approach this process differently and why some people find it much more difficult to make decisions than others. When facing a critical choice, the dominant aspect of our preferences will initially drive our behaviour. For example: Right limbic dominance may result getting swamped by emotion or in the endless processing of their dilemma with other people. Left cerebral dominance can result in information overload and the paralysis of analysis. Left limbic dominance could result in over-planning and organizing without ever coming to grips with the decision. Right cerebral dominance could lead to failing to ever focus or define the question clearly. Recognizing our patterns makes it easier to move forward with the decision-making process.  Although there is nothing inherently wrong with permitting your dominant preference to dictate your initial response, it is important to observe when get stuck. In addition if we have two opposing preferences they can conflict and result in the battleground between thoughts and feelings and we can feel paralysed.  The key is to know yourself and respond accordingly. If you would like to test yourself, go to http://www.hopellc.com/bdsi.html