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Background of Whole Brain Technology and the HBDI™

A physicist by training, Ned Herrmann began researching and developing Whole Brain Thinking and the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (the HBDI™) in the 1960s in his role as Manager, Management Education with General Electric (GE) whom he was employed by for 35 years. He was fascinated with the creative aspects of art and was searching for ways to inspire creativity in a broad spectrum of his company’s employees. 

Over 25 years of research and innovation stand behind the validity of the HBDI™ with over 2 million people in 45 countries having completed the HBDI™ assessment. It has been the subject of independent validations, over 250 dissertations, more than 30 books, over 100 articles / publications and numerous scientific papers. A summary of HBDI™ validations can be found in Ned Herrmann’s world-renowned book, “The Creative Brain”.
Theory behind Whole Brain Technology™ and the HBDI™

Dominance, such as handedness, can occur between two parts of a physically living whole. Dominance is perfectly normal and natural.  It is part of the human condition and all human beings experience its consequences everyday. For example, most people have a dominant arm and hand, a dominant leg and foot and a dominant eye. For most of us, this choice is made early in life and continues to gain strength through usage. It stands to reason that if we prefer to use our right arm and hand, we will use it more often and use it in a variety of ways, all of which will add to the strength of the right arm and hand and its capability to perform tasks such as carpentry, drawing and writing. In addition to these physical examples of body preferences and the consequences of dominance are many other paired structures that are located internally and not visibly obvious. These include our two lungs and kidneys.  Of major importance are the paired structures that exist in the brain. These are comprised of the two big hemispheres and the two halves of the limbic system, both of which are connected together by powerful links that allow the four of them to function on a co-ordinated basis. Just as in the case with our hands, feet and eyes, these paired brain structures are asymmetrical. They are different physically and chemically as a result of being specialised to think in different ways and to do different things. 

In the case of hands, feet and eyes, these dominances are quite obvious.  For example, we use our dominant hand more frequently than our non-dominant hand and therefore it becomes stronger and more capable. In the case of the brain, our preference to think in particular ways results in more frequent use of that particular brain part (one hemisphere or one limbic half) with the resulting development of greater competency for that set of mental activities that are located in those specialised parts. Just as our less developed non-dominant hand assists our stronger, more skilful dominant hand, the less developed brain structures collaborate with the more preferred (and therefore dominant) thought processes of our brain in order to more fully apply our best mental ability to everyday tasks and events. It is natural for our brain to forma a coalition of the specialised structures in order to deal with complex situations. 

At birth, the brain is without developed preferences and is therefore essentially whole. As the brain matures, it acquires preferences as a result of the individuals’ life experiences.  The developing brain is, therefore, an evolving coalition of many different preferences. 

Whole Brain technology provides a basis for measuring these different preferences by determining the degree of dominance that has developed among the four thinking structures of the brain. These parts consist of the two cerebral pairs (hemispheres) and the two limbic pairs (limbic halves). All four of which are massively interconnected.  Taken together, these represent a whole brain divided into four equal quadrants, designated as A,B,C and D as shown in the Whole Brain Model.

The HBDI™, through its scientifically designed questions, is capable of isolating out and measuring the strength of preference for each of these four thinking parts.  These consist of the left and right cerebral hemispheres and the left and right halves of the limbic system. The two left side structures combine to represent what is popularly called left brain thinking. The two right side structures combine to represent right brain thinking.  The two cerebral structures combine to represent cerebral thinking and the two limbic structures combine to represent limbic thinking. The HBDI is capable of measuring the degree of preference between each of the four individual thinking structures (quadrants) and each of the four paired structures (modes).

This thinking assessment is accomplished through a 120-question survey instrument, the responses to which asses the strength of the four different thinking quadrants and compares each to one another.  This results in a four-quadrant profile which displays the degree of preference for each of the four quadrants.  In other words, our brain dominance leads to our thinking style preferences with subsequent impacts and outcomes.

Kind acknowledgement of Herrmann International Australia Pty Ltd for content on this site pertaining to Whole Brain Technology™ and HBDI™