The Highlands Company Blog

What Are Natural Abilities?


The Highlands Ability Battery (HAB) is made up of 19 worksamples, 18 of which measure a different Natural Ability and one that measures a skill—Vocabulary.

We define Natural Abilities as aptitudes that stabilize around age 14, that make certain tasks or activities easy to complete, and that require relatively less time, effort, or energy to perform. When we operate in an environment where we can employ these Natural Abilities, we are happiest and perform our best. Skills are learned and don’t always come easily and take relatively more time, effort, or energy to complete.

Natural Abilities are categorized into three areas: Personal Style, Driving Abilities, and Specialized Abilities. What follows is the list of each ability and their definitions.

Personal Style

Generalist and Specialist

The breadth and depth of information with which you are comfortable as well as your preference for working alone or with others. Specialists often are drawn to professions like law, engineering, music, the sciences, and other fields where there are jobs that require specific training and knowledge, and where you must work autonomously or develop a niche or an area of expertise. As a specialist, you like knowing the details of your area of interest. If you are a Generalist, you are drawn to roles where you can work through or with others sharing responsibilities, recognition, and results. You like knowing the executive summary.

Extrovert and Introvert

This is the one self-report measure on the HAB, and it assesses the amount and type of people interaction that is energizing and your optimal way to think through ideas, problems, and plans. If you score on the Extrovert side of the continuum, you may prefer environments where you can work in the presence of others, do your thinking out loud, and take breaks to be around others when having to work on projects or study on your own. If you score on the Introvert side of the continuum, you may want more time to work alone, have time to think reflectively before speaking, and take breaks away from people when continuously working or studying around others.

Time Frame

Time Frame measures how you naturally plan, the length of time it is comfortable to wait for results and still feel motivated, the length of time comfortable between accomplishments and rewards, and your natural Time Frame for expectations. If you score low, you likely prefer environments that focus on the here and now, a few months out, even up to a year into the future. You place a premium on getting the work done. If you score high, you are likely comfortable planning years in advance or setting long-range targets. You place a premium on planning the work.

Driving Abilities


Classification refers to the ability to solve problems diagnostically, to identify a unifying principle, and for synthesizing. It influences your natural ability to evaluate and critique, your contribution to problem-solving, and the pace and structure of your preferred work environment. It is one type of convergent reasoning.

If you score high on the Classification continuum, you likely prefer environments that move at a continuous rapid pace, are chaotic, or provide few parameters for finding solutions. People with high Classification are often drawn to fast-paced roles in politics, marketing, emergency medicine, litigation, and counseling among other roles that require continuous troubleshooting. If you score low, your natural patience fits with a moderately-paced, predictable, or structured environment.

Concept Organization

Concept Organization refers to your ability to reason analytically. It is the ability to organize mentally or create order and influences your orientation toward process, decision-making time, and communication. It is one type of convergent reasoning.

If you score in the high range on the Concept Organization continuum, you likely prefer responsibilities that emphasize processes and procedures, careful analysis and thoroughness, or easy-to-follow communications and explanations often found in careers in law enforcement, writing, training or computer programming. If you score low, you are comfortable without structure and are likely decisive.

Idea Productivity

Idea Productivity is the ability to generate a lot of ideas at any one time. It influences how you self-manage multiple tasks and the type of contributions you make to group decisions. It is divergent reasoning.

If you score in the low range of Idea Productivity, you likely prefer responsibilities that require focus and follow through. Careers like air traffic control and engraving could be rewarding since they allow for a more sequential approach to accomplishing tasks. If you score in the high range, you enjoy brainstorming, finding new angles to persuade, or generating multiple ways of teaching or explaining information to others.

Spatial Relations Theory

Spatial Relations Theory measures three-dimensional abstract reasoning and recognizing the interrelationships between entities (systems thinking). It influences the way you work with information and data; pragmatic or practical vs. theoretical or hypothetical. It also describes your preferences to focus on the relationship between objects or things (systems thinking) or to focus on singular entities. The stronger this ability, the more you can naturally theorize about and study interactions in a subject for a future or hypothetical solution.

Spatial Relations Visualization

Spatial Relations Visualization measures three-dimensional “structural” reasoning. It influences the types of work and results that feel real and the degree of need for tangible/concrete examples and outcomes. If you score in the high range on the Spatial Relations Visualization continuum, you likely prefer responsibilities related to the tangible world, working with your hands or with concrete facts. Scoring low indicates a natural ability to work in the intangible world, for example with people, ideas, policies, and relationships.

Specialized Abilities

Design Memory

Ability to recall overall graphic patterns or two-dimensional designs and influences visual learning. The stronger your Design Memory, the more easily you recall overall graphic patterns or designs.


This HAB worksample measures your ability to notice and remember small visual details. The stronger your Observation, the more naturally you make visual comparisons quickly or automatically, recall details, or notice body language and facial expressions.

Verbal Memory

Verbal Memory is the ability to memorize new words and influences learning through reading and learning the vocabulary of foreign languages. The stronger your Verbal Memory, the more naturally you retain and recall information you read (does not necessary apply to comprehending the information) and to master vocabulary of languages and other specialized vocabularies such as medical terminology, legal terminology, and scientific terms.

Tonal Memory

The ability to listen to and remember sounds, including verbal content, tunes, and tonal sequences. In other words, the ability to learn through listening. This is a primary learning channel. People in the high range have the foundation for a 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.

Rhythm Memory

Rhythm Memory is the ability to remember the cadence, beat, or rhythm of what you hear, and it influences kinesthetic learning and movement-based work roles. The stronger your Rhythm Memory, the more naturally you learn kinesthetically, by large muscle movement and by going through the motions. If you score high in Rhythm Memory, you may do well in athletics or job roles that require physical activity, like firefighting.

Pitch Discrimination

This worksample measures the ability to make fine auditory discriminations in frequencies and pitch and influences your sensitivity in many sensory areas. The stronger your Pitch Discrimination, the easier it is for you to notice the tiniest of differences in what you hear, smell, feel (tactile), and/or taste. Pitch Discrimination supports roles where small tolerances are critical like dentistry or watch repair.

Number Memory

The stronger your Number Memory, the more easily you memorize multiple sequences of numbers related to an area of focus. Number Memory supports roles that require having statistical and/or numerical information at your fingertips.

Visual Speed and Accuracy

Visual Speed and Accuracy measures the ability to handle clerical or paperwork and influences the ability for your eyes to scan tables of numbers or symbols accurately and quickly.

For even more on Natural Abilities measured by the HAB, visit our official definitions page and see this list of images illustrating each ability.