The Foundation of Human Patterns and its Construction

Human Patterns and its Construction

In the late seventies and early eighties, David Heise was faculty in the Sociology Department at the University of North Carolina and was spearheading mathematical and statistical innovations, primarily using stochastic computations. He was also constructing a prediction algorithm or set of algorithms that has since evolved into “Affect Control Theory” At that stage, he computed factor loadings on Osgood’s Semantic Differential primary factors as they interacted with additional factors such as locations, roles, and contexts. He would then offer predictions of behavior.

Osgood had found that there were four universal primary factors that loaded onto words or phrases: (1) Evaluation (good-bad), (2) Potency (strong-weak), (3) Activity (fast-slow) and (4) Stability (changing-constant). These occurred in the same ordinal positions regardless of language, except for Arabic and a couple of very small linguistic populations. In the case of Arabic, stability usurped the ordinal position of activity.

Dr. Bernadette Pelissier’s, one of Heise’s students (and my spouse at the time), doctoral dissertation was an exploration of the implications of this difference. Her findings were that for the population of Arabic speakers a good man could not do a bad thing --- a very conservative frame. If a good man did do a bad thing, then he automatically became a bad man and remained a bad man. (This interestingly might account for “good man” Sadat’s assassination because he became a “bad man” by visiting Jerusalem. It may also account for the implacability of jihadists.)

At the time Dr. Pelissier was doing this work, I was working with impacted families as a family counseling clinician and was observing how attributes assigned to family members were retained because reciprocal projections of family members upon one another seemed to last beyond actual behavioral evidence. Self-fulfilling prophesies and so forth are part of this domain of diagnosis and intervention. I developed a hypothesis that patterns of projections would override evidence and that therapeutic interventions developed to undercut projections would enable my clients to “improve.” This is a peculiar skew on what became the cognitive behavioral therapy movement.

When I got interested in psychometrics, I posited that people would project their semantic frames onto language samples congruently with what clinicians often call obsessions. We call these “preferences and interests”. We attempted to build an instrument that was construct or “model” agnostic, but respectful of the factors that fed many constructs in use at the time. Using religious models as an example, we did not necessarily endorse “grace” or “predestination” or “salvation via submission” or “salvation via faith,” but rather we respected that people might have a valence toward one or a combination of any of them and that we might get at their internal construct by offering them sufficient opportunities to select items that also had a valence to the construct (religious premise). An agnostic instrument would capture valences to many of the implicit psychological belief systems that were extant, but stay focused on an individual’s unique construct
Or mental model.

So what is Human Patterns? It is an array of an individual’s pattern of projections fueled by that individual’s obsessions (preferences and interests) reflected by that individual’s choices from stimuli in the form of forced choice items consisting of phrases or words that – in some cases – can be clustered according to analogous extant constructs; and in other cases belong to alternative constructs we have yet to determine or evaluate. It is an array that reflects the unique mental model of the person completing the instrument.


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.