Behavioral Science and the 6 Universal Categories of Perceptual Style
If you've been following our special article series on Perceptual Style Theory then you are already in the thick of exploring this very important study of behavioral science. If you're just now tuning in here's a refresh on the first two principles of PST and then we're on to explore PST #3. Principle #1: People perceive the world differently. Principle #2: Differences in perception result in psychological diversity, and psychological diversity is the most profound diversity there is.
Principle #3: Perceptual Differences Can Be Grouped Into 6 Perceptual Styles
In the process of gathering knowledge and striving to understand our world and our lives, human beings categorize. We do this as part of science - think of plant classifications, animal classifications, cloud types, soil types, food groups, etc. Creating categories is akin to shorthand. Each category has certain detailed characteristics that allow us to quickly understand commonalities and take action based on knowledge of the category. Without the existence of categories, we all would be left to gathering our own knowledge through trial and error on a situation-by-situation basis. And we'd have no way to discuss common experience or facts.
The same is true about understanding human behavior. Plato created the first written categories of behavior over 2300 years ago. Since then there have been many approaches to creating categories to explain - in shorthand - why people behave differently. Some of these approaches address social behaviors, some address pathology, and some attempt to describe destiny. The key to the usefulness of any approach to categorization is the ease of use to explain every day experience.
PST recognizes that everyone has aspects of who they are that are truly unique; however, there are high-level commonalities in perception that can be grouped together into six Perceptual Styles. These Perceptual Styles each describe a different perceptual experience of the world and the many characteristic behaviors that are a result of that perception.
The differences between Perceptual Styles are real, meaning they truly reflect differences in how the world is perceived; so acknowledging that the differences exist leads to understanding and appreciation of different points of view.
6 Universal Psychological Experiences
Our research supports that Perceptual Style is innate and unchanging. It describes who a person is rather than surface level traits that change from circumstance to circumstance. The six Perceptual Styles do not exist on a continuum in which one gradually slides into the next, but reflect six distinctly different perceptually based psychological experiences of the world, each supporting an incredible range of natural capacities, skills, and abilities.
The 6 Perceptual Styles are:
No Negative Labels Allowed
We chose these names as the best single words that capture the essence of the complex perceptual experience each represents. In keeping with our strength-based approach, we made a conscious decision that in PST we were going to describe the positive side of each of the Perceptual Styles. We have experienced the positive and negative power of labels and have seen the damage that occurs when style labels are used as weapons to limit and exclude rather than as tools to understand and explain. Based on this last condition, we worked hard to choose labels that could not easily be used maliciously.
PST, like other behavioral science theories, is a tool for understanding ourselves and others. We'll present more about each style in future articles.