Implications and Applications of Relational Thinking Styles

Implications and Applications of Relational Thinking Styles

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0972-3.ch008


Over the past thirty-five years, the Davis Non-Verbal Standardized Assessment has been applied within many different fields and business applications including education, social and counseling services, criminal justice, risk management, hiring, succession planning, and so on. RTS provides a platform for further study of the relationships between inference styles and temperament, and the correspondence of these patterns to Peirce’s methodeutic, which resembles elements identified by the RTS model. Action patterns from the DNV are observable in real-time standardized testing situations from which predictions are made based upon the effects of the interactions of elements that indicate a particular style. No other research has thus far addressed the inherent non-linguistic nature of inferencing. Because the DNV assessment functions as a standard for making observations objective during test situations (in the same way a thermometer makes possible observations of temperature) the DNV has specific predictive capabilities. Formal reliability and discriminate validity studies performed at the University of Oregon in 2002-2003 demonstrated high inter-rater reliability and good retest reliability, as well as a strong relationship between the DNV and certain instruments used for discriminate validity studies. However, operational studies (probably by means of computational modeling and/or game theory) will be required to determine the long-term predictive validity of this assessment.
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Over the past 35 years, the Davis-Nelson Company and others have applied Relational Thinking Styles (RTS) and the Davis Non-Verbal Assessment (DNV) tool in several fields, including education, social services, and business settings. The results of the DNV cannot guarantee that a particular individual will be successful within a given situation; there are many variables, such as intelligence, aptitude, temperament, education, training, character, and so on, that limit the ability of the DNV alone to predict successful performance. The results of the DNV are similar to an assessment of weather patterns, both assessments can be used to predict characteristic trends in performance with a degree of accuracy.

The more important application, however, is that DNV results identify habitual reasoning patterns, which are incompatible with, or inappropriate for, the requirements of particular jobs or tasks. Thus, DNV is most useful in identifying when it is highly likely that an individual will fail, or cause a system to fail.

We suspect that DNV may be the first tool devised to detect unlearned, non-verbal, instinctive thinking habits; and the first to attempt to link detected patterns to long-term capacities, which have measurable bearing on performance.

While our suggestion that instinctive thinking habits exist is plausible, the further claim that this tool identifies several distinct types may raise eyebrows. An obvious objection against the very idea of a project such as this succeeding is that any pattern finding tool, will tend to confirm its built-in biases. The standard way to avoid confirmation bias though is to make one’s biases explicit—which RTS does—and to remain open to revision in light of further testing.

As background for this chapter, we review the findings of the Chiasson, Malle, and Simmons (2003) study, reliability, and validity research on the DNV at the University of Oregon that supplements our 35 years of site-specific experience. Both our experience and the Chiasson et al. (2003) study suggest that the Direct thinking style has the greatest implications for the performance of human systems because there are more Direct thinkers (or Direct/Analytical combinations) than any of the other types or combinations of thinking patterns.

The main objective of this chapter is to discuss previous and future applications of RTS and the DNV, particularly in reference to Direct thinking, the most pervasive instinctive inferencing pattern of RTS. In addition to the social impact of having a majority of Direct thinkers, we discuss and actual and potential applications of RTS and the DNV, including the first applications of the DNV in education, social services, and business settings. We also discuss potential applications in the military.

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