Interpreting Proactive and Reactive

Behavioral variance depending upon environmental factors

"Proactive" numbers are predicative of preferences and interests in situations that are familiar and where there is an option to react without pressure or stress. The "reactive" section is predictive of preferences and interests in situations that are unfamiliar and performance is "off the cuff". These are analogous to the difference between "ordinary" or "at rest" circumstances and "pressure" or "when challenged" circumstances. If there is a change in direction between the PROACTIVE and REACTIVE standard deviations in the columns on the number sheets or in a graph, use of that preference or interest may change depending on the environmental context. We sometimes substitute the terms "Presentation" and "Reaction" to describe Proactive and Reactive scores. Proactive scores are reflective of the "most" selections when the individual completed the instrument. Reactive scores are reflective of the "least" selections. Proactive can indicate the aspirations for behavior...those attributes that have been taught to the individual as "good". Reactive can indicate the "reversion to type" that occurs under pressure. It can also indicate some repressed or denied features; especially if it is marked as a switch on the number sheet. When Proactive and Reactive are in the same direction and of similar force, there will be an internal and external consistency in the use of that feature. This highly sensitive and nuanced portrait of an individual can be useful for coaching and developmental discussions with people who have completed the instrument. The coach should not "over-interpret" these differences. Instead, the coach should invite the subject to offer his/her own hypothesis as to why these shifts or switches are occurring within the feature under discussion.


A. Laffoley

Academic Program Director Raleigh- Durham, NC

I used the Human Patterns Inventory in the development program for high potential senior leaders and recommend it as an effective tool as part of any comprehensive employee development program. In my opinion an important differentiator of this tool is the light it shines on the switches that may occur in our behavior when we are in reaction mode (e.g. in a stressful situation). Bringing awareness to where this occurs is invaluable to an individual’s personal development.

K. Jobe

Executive Recruiter Charlotte, North Carolina Area

I have used the Human Patterns as an internal recruiter as well as during client “coaching” engagements. It is the most comprehensive psychometric test that I have ever worked with. I highly recommend this tool to any organization that is committed to talent optimization.

F. Christian

Managing Director Chicago, IL

Human Patterns is a rare exception among assessment tools. Most are simplistic and slipshod, more mirrors of their creators' craniums than windows into one's own. Human Patterns has a richness that allows me to start meaningful conversations with the hidden high potentials I work with, who after years of severe underemployment have lost sight of themselves and their unique ways of working with the world. I'm so enthusiastic I now require it for new clients to shortcut to solutions.