The Highlands Company Blog

Spatial Reasoning – The Blend Of Spatial Relations Theory and Visualization

spatial reasoning abilities spectrum

Which of the following statements do you relate to best?

  • I relate well to the descriptor “engineer.”
    I am happiest when I can figure out something tangible that needs to be built and then build it. I feel like something is missing when I can’t do that.
  • I relate well to the descriptor “builder.”
    I am happiest when I produce a concrete result, a product, a piece of art or something. Without that things just don’t seem “real.”
  • I relate well to the descriptor “theoretician.”
    I am happiest when I can figure out how something works (tangible or intangible) and appreciate others who can build what I think of.
  • I relate well to the descriptor “executor.”
    I am happiest when I know what needs to be done. I don’t necessarily need to know why it needs to be done or how it’s going to be used.

Our last two blog pieces in our series on Natural Abilities spelled out two important driving abilities objectively measured on the Highlands Ability Battery (HAB) – Spatial Relations Visualization (SRV) and Spatial Relations Theory (SRT). Together, we refer to these as Spatial Reasoning. These abilities might become easier to understand when we combine them. So, let’s look at the four primary combinations.

Engineer: A person strong in both Spatial Reasoning abilities is a natural engineer. Traditional engineering roles require something tangible front and center.

This was captured in the first statement above. In order to engineer the creation of something, a person has to know the theory behind it so the tangible creation will work or do what it is intended to do.

People with strong Spatial Relations gravitate toward careers in engineering, architecture, computer engineering, hardware development, the tangible arts, and even some area of mathematics and finance. Having a connection to the concrete, tangible world makes things feel real.

natural abilities engineer

Builder: The second statement above describes a person strong in SRV alone. Those with this pattern relate most easily to the concrete, tangible world. While working with or producing “things,” this combination of abilities emphasizes the construction of, building of, or producing of physical results. It can even mean working with provable or concrete facts.

natural ability to build

Theoretician: People strong in SRT and low in SRV are described by the third statement above. They have the natural capacity to understand the theoretical underpinnings of the mechanical universe. They don’t experience the same draw toward using physical tools, equipment, or objects day in and day out. This ability pattern emphasizes the theoretical and intangible world of relationships, systems and interconnectedness. It facilitates hypothetical thinking. Like the engineering combination, understanding the why is effortless to those with this pattern.

However, those with this relate best to the intangible world of ideas, words, policy, and interpersonal systems rather than to the tangible concrete world.

The theorizer knows how things work without touching them.

Executor: The fourth statement above describes a person low in both spatial reasoning abilities. Those with this pattern often appreciate others who create or engineer things. They may even enjoy working with their hands as a hobby or as part of their leisure time. They will feel a good deal of pressure, however, if the majority of their job responsibilities related to doing so.

Most at home with intangibles, those with this combination frequently shy away from hands-on, product work and gravitate toward service, people-oriented, policy, and word-oriented responsibilities such as law.

executing natural ability

The Continuum of Abilities

Of course, all abilities are on continuums and we may all enjoy activities “outside” our natural range. Knowing your spatial reasoning abilities can help you target the amount of time you’d enjoy spending doing certain activities and whether or not you would want your income to depend on it!