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The Emergenetics Profiling Tool is an instrument based research by Dr. Geil Browning and Dr. Wendell Williams. It has roots in SocioAnalytic theory which proposes that people have evolved specific preferences necessary to maintain a viable society.

Started in 1991, the Emergenetics instrument recognizes that human personality traits are shaped by both a person's mind-brain-body and life experience.[1]

The Emergenetics Profile is not a personality instrument. It does not profile people and it does not classify them into boxes or types. The seven Emergenetics preferences were identified by reviewing academic research looking for trends in the data. Individual scores are compared to a continually evolving global database and candidates are presented with percentile scores allowing them to compare themselves to others.

Theory and Framework[edit]

The Emergenetics Profile uses four basic colours to minimize social desirability – blue, green, red and yellow to represent the four Thinking Attributes (Analytical, Structural, Social, and Conceptual) and three shades of purple to represent the three Behavioral Attributes (Expressiveness, Assertiveness, and Flexibility).

Thinking Attributes:
Analytical (Blue): Persons with a preference in analytical thought usually rely on reasoning ability, logical analysis, rigorous problem solving, and financial calculation, and they may have an interest in higher mathematics. People who have a strong leaning in this area tend to enjoy technology, mental analysis, working alone, numbers, pursuit of knowledge and theoretical concepts. Words they use to describe themselves may include the following: factual, rational, clear thinker, critical thinker and objective.

Structural (Green): Persons with a preference in structural thought often like guidelines, methodical progress, organization and planned agendas. They describe themselves as orderly, dependable, implementers, practical-minded, predictable, and often cautious of new or untried ideas.

Social (Red): Persons with a preference in social thought generally reflect an interest in getting along with people, reliance on the opinion of others, sensitivity to others and visceral intuition. Those who prefer social thought describe themselves as empathic, sympathetic, kinesthetic and intuitive about people. They like learning a new task by having someone show them and often use personal examples in conversation.

Conceptual (Yellow): Persons with a preference in conceptual thought often search for new ways to solve old problems, get excited when something is new and different and enjoy producing ideas more than drawing conclusions. People who have a conceptual preference are intuitive about concepts and ideas. They jump from one task to another, enjoy metaphoric problem-solving and take risks. Words they use to describe themselves include global, imaginative, unconventional and aesthetic.

Behavioral Attributes:
These attributes are measured along a continuum and a person’s score reflects how they answered the questions compared to a statistically selected group of people who represent the behavior of the population at large.

The Expressiveness attribute indicates the amount of social interest people show for others and the world around them. Those who fall in the first-third (0-33%ile) of the percentile scale enjoy working with things more than people and often are seen as being quiet and reserved. They hope they won’t be singled out in any group situation and are less dependent on others for their own amusement. Those score in the third-third (67-100%ile) of the percentile scale often openly express affection for others, easily start conversations with strangers and are comfortable attracting attention to themselves. They are energized by being with others.

The Assertiveness attribute reflects the degree of energy invested in expressing thoughts, feelings and beliefs. Those who fall in the first-third (0-33%ile) of the Assertiveness spectrum are peacekeepers. Their goal is to be amiable and to be a pacifier. People who rate in the third-third (67-100%ile) of the scale in Assertiveness express a strong desire to convince others of their point of view, easily handle uncertain situations and find it hard not to be competitive. They prefer to keep a fast pace and enjoy challenging others.

The Flexibility attribute measures a willingness to accommodate the thoughts and actions of others. The Flexibility score measures the degree to which people try to meet the needs of others. People who score in the first-third (0-33%ile) of the population in Flexibility are typically seen as focused and enjoy defined situations. They enjoy working on one project until it is completed. People who fall within the third-third (67-100%ile) are open to ambiguous situations and often put other’s needs before their own. They enjoy working on many projects at the same time and are usually looking for more.

Format and Administration[edit]

Emergenetics is a self-descriptive or self-scoring on-line test. This means that people answer a series of questions about themselves; responses are tallied and then their results are compared with a group norm. There are several factors affecting the accuracy of self-descriptive tests:

a. They are always filtered by personal bias (i.e. their answers indicate how they choose to describe themselves to others).
b. Test developers are expected to follow the technical test-development guidelines published in the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing [2].
c. Each test factor measured should be comprised of 5 to 7 individual test items to maximize reliability.
d. Test results represent “patterns” and should never be considered “cast in stone”.
e. As a general rule, the traits and behaviors measured by a robust test should remain consistent over time.

Additional Format[edit]

There is a sub-tool, based also on Emergenetics theory, geared specifically for schools and students aged 9-18, called STEP (Student/Teacher Emergenetics Profile)®. The STEP Model has been the focus of two Ph.D. studies concerning educational achievement. [3][4]


Reliability refers to the ability of the test to produce consistent scores over time.[5] Statistical procedures used in development of the Emergenetics profile include inter-item reliability (item by item), split-half (overall) reliability, and test/re-test reliability. [6]

The measure of Split-half (overall reliability) used for the Emergenetics profile is coefficient alpha. Coefficient alpha refers to the average of all possible inter-item and split-half correlations, both good and bad. The coefficient alphas for the Emergenetics Profile are:

Construct Coefficient Alpha
Analytical .83
Structural .76
Social .76
Conceptual .76
Expressiveness .83
Assertiveness .83
Flexibility .80

Test/re-test measures were conducted during the development of the Emergenetics profile. Results indicate that persons who completed the profile over a period of two years, tended to respond in much the same manner. Here are the statistical correlations for each attribute for that study:

Construct Correlation
Analytical .84
Structural .77
Social .74
Conceptual .82
Expressiveness .80
Assertiveness .78
Flexibility .82

This data was examined using the Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) procedure to determine whether change in test scores was due to chance. The ANOVA data showed Conceptual scores increased slightly between the first testing and second testing.


The validity (statistics) of a test refers to how well a test measures what it is supposed to measure. [7]. Emergenetics has been measured using Face Validity, Criterion Validity and Construct Validity.[6]


  1. ^ Ridley, M. (2003) Nature Via Nurture: Genes, Experience, and What Makes us Human. Harper Collins. ISBN 0-00-200663-4
  2. ^ The Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing
  3. ^ The Effect of Thinking Preferences on Laboratory Group Achievement of Inquiry Skills in Introductory Biology. Epperson, Harley Dale, 2007: Applied Dissertation, Nova Southeastern University
  4. ^ Using Group Dynamics and Personality Characteristics to Form Learning Groups in High School Multimedia Courses. Nichols LaPrairie, Kimberly, 2007: Dissertation, Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College
  5. ^ Essentials of a Good Psychological Test - Reliability
  6. ^ a b Emergenetics Research
  7. ^ Essentials of a Good Psychological Test - Validity

Further Reading[edit]

  • Geil Browning, Ph.D. Emergenetics: Tap into the New Science of Success, Harper Collins, 2006.

External Links[edit]

Additional Resources

Official websites