The Highlands Company Blog

Strong Observation and Your 2-D Visual Ability

observation natural ability

The Highlands Ability Battery (HAB) objectively measures two natural abilities specifically related to two-dimensional visual tasks. In fact, when a person’s scores are strong in both of these abilities simultaneously, it typically means there is a need to use them in one of the scientific, technical, artistic, medical, design, or engineering careers. Those with this gift often key into how things “look”.

What Are the 2-D Visual Abilities?

The first of these, Design Memory, relates to being able to remember the overall pattern or layout of visually represented material. This could mean the blueprints of an engineering plan, the sketch of a fashion design, the arrangement of a display or furniture in a room. It could also mean remembering the placement of physical organs during surgery, the technical drawings for a machine or the seating arrangement at a gathering.

A very common application of strong design memory is looking at a map and then once you look away, being able to see the map in your mind. At home, it could be noticing the furniture has been rearranged. Remember, this is the overall layout or pattern, not the visual details.

What You Need to Remember Visual Details

observation natural abilityTo remember the visual details, you need strong Observation; the ability to notice and remember small visual discrepancies, details, and to make visual comparisons. Alone, Observation is quite useful in tasks such as product, building, and safety inspection, insurance adjustment, appraising, quality control, radiology, lab work, and jewelry making and repair.

In these cases, it’s the details that are quite important. And, for those who are especially interested in people, strong Observation is related to automatically noticing body language and facial expressions, a new haircut or outfit, or those shifty eyes during an interview.

Strong Observation could result in remembering details on a map (“We’ll be crossing the Mississippi River…”) even if you don’t recall where it is on the map (…at some point.”). At home, it could be noticing a new picture in that newly arranged living room (you know, the one that you didn’t notice had been rearranged).

What Happens When You Combine Design Memory and Observation Natural Abilities

The combination of strong Design Memory and Observation means that a person is attuned to both the layout and the detail. When studying new material, a strong 2-D visual combination is helpful for classes in which the content is visual. In the workplace, in addition to traditional “visual” tasks described above, this combination is useful in creating presentations or reading an audience.

The 2-D visual combination primarily applies to the layout or details in your visual environment, for example, the layout of a building and the placement of the windows, or the arrangement of a slide and the type and size of fonts and graphics. The Visual Proficiency related to handling paperwork (hard copy or electronic) is different and described in a previous blog post. It is quite possible to be strong in one type of visual combination and not in the other.

As with most of the abilities measured by the HAB, if 2-D visual tasks do not come naturally to you, it doesn’t mean you cannot do it. Just know that you will need to spend more time, effort, and energy accomplishing those tasks and manage your time accordingly.