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Highlands Whole Person Method Definitions

list of whole person method definitions

list of whole person method definitionsThis is our epic list of natural ability definitions commonly used throughout the process of The Highlands Whole Person Method, which includes the Highlands Ability Battery (HAB), our career aptitude test.

Analytical Thinking

Analytical thinkers recognize a logical structure among related ideas. People with strong analytical ability may turn to fields like engineering, computer programming, accounting-finance, and editing. See also Diagnostic Thinking.

Bar Chart

An image found in your Highlands Ability Battery Report that divides your abilities into three basic components: Personal Style, Driving Abilities, and Specialized Abilities.

Career Aptitude Test

Aptitude is another word for natural ability. The Highlands Ability Battery is a test that assesses your natural abilities and then applies those abilities to the work world.

Career Development Stage

Each individual confronts critical stages or transition in her life. Some of these are work- or career-related. These career issues are sometimes self-created and sometimes caused by external forces (e.g., company downsizing). By defining and discussing the issues confronting the individual, we can help her through these transitions.


The ability to see relationships among seemingly unrelated events, situations, or information. The relative ability to move from the specific to the more general, to detect a common thread that joins individual objects into a pattern, i.e., inductive reasoning.

Concept Organization

The ability to arrange ideas, information, or objects in their most logical order. The ability to move from the general to the specific in solving problems. People high in Concept Organization are strong in linear, logical problem solving, i.e., going from A to Z. People low in Concept Organization can be helped to organize their tasks by external aids such as diaries, lists, budgets, etc.

Convergent Thinking

Zeroing in on a conclusion or solution.

Design Memory

The ability to learn through graphic representations, i.e., to see and place new data into graphic form, as through charts, maps, diagrams, drawings, “doodles,” and photos. People in the low range will be uncomfortable in work depending on the use of graphics. They can be helped by translating graphic material into words or actions. People in the high range should find work in which this Ability is predominant, e.g., science or art.

Diagnostic Thinking

Diagnostic thinkers have an aptitude for recognizing a common relationship among seemingly discrete or unrelated notions or ideas. Diagnostic thinkers may be more comfortable as lawyers, doctors, or psychologists. See also Analytical Thinking.

Divergent Thinking

Using a single point to generate a multitude of ideas.

Driving Abilities

Driving Abilities are measured using the HAB and include Classification; Concept Organization; Idea Productivity; Spatial Relations Theory; and Spatial Relations Visualization.


Extroverts score in the upper percentiles of the extrovert/introvert scale. An extrovert gets energy from interacting with other people. An extrovert may not enjoy a project on which he or she is required to work alone, e.g., writing a long report. Extroverts process information by talking about it.

Family of Origin

An individual’s background and family shape her life and her work ethic. We encourage the individual to examine and to understand how her family’s history and her intra-family relationships have influenced her.

Four Key Dimensions

These include the environment in which you are most satisfied and successful, the way you take in new information best, how you make decisions and solve problems most effectively, and how you communicate ideas to others.


A generalist is an individual in the upper percentiles of the generalist/specialist scale. Generalists derive energy from working in groups and are intuitive about the reactions of others. They like to undertake a variety of tasks and enjoy contributing to the execution of a group project.


Every person has goals that control and drive her activities, both every day and over the foreseeable future. The individual may wish to modify these goals in light of her innate abilities. The results of the time-frame work-sample may show, for example, that she may be happiest pursuing short-term goals.

Highlands Ability Battery (HAB)

The Highlands Ability Battery (also called the HAB) is the first step in the Highlands Whole Person Method, which is a four-step program for students and adults on their journey of self-discovery. The HAB is a timed, online career aptitude test that has been taken by tens of thousands of individuals since the early 1990s. Learn how to take the HAB.

Idea Productivity

Measures the number of ideas that spring to a person’s mind over a measured period of time in response to a new set of facts or stimuli, i.e., the quantity of ideas, not the quality. Individuals in the upper percentiles can generate one idea after another, enjoy brainstorming sessions and may prefer to be working on several projects at one time. People in the lower percentiles are more focused and prefer to examine one idea in detail before moving to another.


Over the years, a person develops interests unique to her. When these are identified and recognized, the individual can be helped to combine these with her abilities to achieve a fuller and more integrated use of both.


Introverts score in the lower percentiles in the scale measuring extroversion/introversion. Introverts prefer either to work alone or to work with other people one-on-one or in clearly structured circumstances. Introverts process information by thinking about it.

Natural Abilities

These are identified and measured by the HAB. A person is happiest and performs best when her natural abilities are employed to the fullest. Click here to see how natural abilities show up in day-to-day life.

Number Memory

The relative ability to learn, remember and use non-associated material such as raw data and numbers. People in the high range remember numerical data without apparent effort and are happy in work that requires manipulation of numbers. People in the low range should be encouraged to use compensatory skills in dealing with numbers and miscellaneous data.


The ability to focus on one detail among many, to remember visual details and to detect changes and irregularities as they occur. People in the high range find this ability useful in work that requires close attention to detail, as in many artistic and diagrammatic tasks, or in work that requires recall of visual detail. People in the low range are less distracted by changes in the environment.

Personal Style

Every individual has developed speech patterns, body language, social devices, and personality traits unique to her. Because other individuals respond either more or less favorably to a person’s personal style, it’s important to identify its ingredients in each individual to enable that individual to relate better to other people. These are measured using the HAB and include Generalist/Specialist; Extrovert/Introvert; Time Frame.

Personal Vision Factors

See Whole Person Model.

Pitch Discrimination

Relative ability to distinguish fine differences in pitch and all external stimuli. People in the high range can detect subtle changes in facial expressions and speech inflection and may find it useful in such activities as gourmet cooking, photography, painting, etc., and in such work as diplomacy and mediation. People in the low range will tend not to draw on this ability.

Primary Learning Channel

We learn through auditory, visual, and kinesthetic activity. You may learn better through one learning channel or a combination of channels.

Rhythm Memory

The relative ease with which you learn through physical movement and sensory experiences, i.e., kinesthetic learning. Persons in the high range can turn to this ability as an important learning channel. They can learn by reducing thought to movement: writing on a blackboard; retyping a text; playing a musical instrument. People in the low range should take advantage of the other learning channels.


These are those function-driven tasks an individual has learned to do well. They develop over time through study, education, application and practice. To the extent an individual takes advantage of her innate abilities in developing a skill, the skill will be acquired more quickly, easily and fully.

Spatial Relations Theory

The relative ability to see and understand how things work. The ability to conceptualize and understand relationships, whether between abstractions or between tangible objects. Persons in the upper percentiles can see how a change in one part of a puzzle or structure will affect the other parts. Persons in the lower percentiles tend to concentrate on the individual parts of a whole–to want to know the “what” of a problem, not the “why” or “how.”

Spatial Relations Visualization

The degree of need for tangible/concrete examples and outcomes. Tangible meaning working with your hands or with concrete facts, and intangible meaning working with ideas, policies, and relationships.


Individuals at the lower end of the generalist/specialist scale are called specialists. Specialists prefer to work and solve problems independently. They like to study a project in depth and to contribute from their own perspectives.

Specialized Abilities

These are measured using the HAB and include Design Memory, Observation, and Visual Speed.

The Highlands Company

The Highlands Company (often referred to as “Highlands”) is the publisher of the HAB and the certifying body of all Highlands Certified Consultants. The company has offices in New York and Georgia. Highlands has transformed careers since 1992. Learn more about the company.

Time-Frame Orientation

Measures the individual’s comfort with future projects and goals. People are divided into short-term, mid-term, and long-term time frames. An individual with short-term orientation will want to work with tasks and problems that can be finished within a short period, i.e. in a few months. An individual with mid-term orientation will seek tasks and problems that have implications for other projects over a longer period, i.e. one-four years. An individual with long-term orientation prefers to work on long-term projects that require strategic planning and execution of more distant goals.

Tonal Memory

The ability to listen to and remember sounds, including verbal content, tunes, and tonal sequences. The ability to learn through listening, as to tapes, recordings, lectures or conversations. This is a primary learning channel. People in the high range have strong musical ability and may be uncomfortable if restricted to non-verbal activities. People in the low range may have difficulty remembering tunes and tonal sequences and should be encouraged to translate aural stimuli into written notes or diagrams.

Typing Speed

A measure of the speed with which an individual enters ideas in the worksample assessing Idea Productivity. A slight indicator of manual dexterity, it is used primarily to adjust for the number of words entered in the Idea Productivity response to assure that slower typists are not penalized when measured against faster typists.


An individual’s values (i.e., her scales for judging good and evil, wise and foolish, moral and immoral) define her reaction to people and events around her. When a sense of her values is combined with knowledge of the other factors in the whole person, the individual is helped to bring her plans and choices into sharper focus.

Verbal Memory

The relative ease with which an individual learns new words and remembers the content of the information presented through the written word. This is sometimes called associative memory. An important learning channel, people in the higher range learn and memorize easily by reading. People in the lower range may need to read a text more than once and can supplement their reading by using the other learning channels, especially the aural channel (e.g., by listening to a tape containing the same text).

Visual Accuracy

Should be construed with the individual’s score in Visual Speed, although they are not necessarily consistent with each other. Together, they measure the ease and the speed with which an individual takes in and processes newly written data. An individual in the high range of both visual speed and visual accuracy can process written information quickly and accurately. An individual in the low range in both should avoid jobs that require extensive work with columns of numbers and words.

Visual Proficiency

Visual Proficiency is a natural ability combination looking at both Visual Accuracy and Visual Speed together, which reveals how well one works with “paperwork” among other things.

Visual Speed

The relative speed at which individuals take in and interpret written symbols. Must be construed along with the score in Visual Accuracy for the impact on the individual.


The range of a person’s vocabulary is a measure of his skill rather than his ability, but it is also an important indicator of his general knowledge. Vocabulary is an important communications tool. People are most comfortable socializing and working with people at similar vocabulary levels. Vocabulary can be improved with study and practice. A mid-range score on the general vocabulary worksample is at the level of a person in the general population who is college-educated.

Whole Person Method

The Highlands Whole Person Method is The Highlands Company’s four-step program that includes the HAB, two reports with results, an assessment debrief with a Highlands Certified Consultant, and education in how the Whole Person Model applies to you.

Whole Person Model

Highlands has identified eight Personal Vision Factors that combine to create the Whole Person Model. These factors are represented as an interlocking wheel. The eight critical factors are Natural Abilities, Skills, Personal Style, Interests, Family of Origin, Values, Goals, Career Development Stage.


There are 19 timed exercises that make up the HAB (our career aptitude test). We call these exercises worksamples.


Are there more natural ability and whole person method definitions you’d like to know? Check out this post on “What Are Natural Abilities?” Or…contact us!