No Image Available

Garry Platt


Senior Consultant

Read more from Garry Platt

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

HBDI – Validity and Experiences?


We have a client who has approached us to undertake the Herman Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI). I have heard of the tool and come into contact with this questionnaire only indirectly but know very little of its credibility and value. Wikipedia publishes some highly critical reviews on the underpinning concepts on which this questionnaire appears to be based.
Does anyone have any further references or first hand experiences of this tool and what are their views on the merits or otherwise of this instrument?

11 Responses

  1. Use the HBDI

    Hi Garry–I’d be glad to help.  I started using HBDI in 1988 when I worked for a financial advisory firm and watched the advisor in the next office turn his career and life around by using the tool.   He was in the bottom 20% in production until the HBDI turned the light on for him and showed him that he was disposed to do the business differently.  He changed his approach literally over a weekend and was in the top 10% in a year.

    I used it for myself and changed careers (got into training).  Since then I’ve used the HBDI to help hundreds of salespeople on four continents.  Occasionally I’ll use DISC or Myers Briggs–but the HBDI is easier to grasp, is great for team building and does a better job helping people think about how to communicate more effectively.  It’s also been vetted for validity more than most instruments with which I’m familiar.

    I’m not affiliated with the Herrmann folks, but have found them to be very smart and very helpful.  I know they’ve had some trouble with a competitor causing problems on Wikipedia–I’m sorry that’s impeded your process.

    Good luck,

    Hap Cooper

    President, Prospect Street Consulting

  2. HBDI


    I’ve used the HBDI a few times, though not for a few years. Hermann’s book makes for interesting reading and I was keen to give it a go in the context of an innovation programme. To be honest, I made a working assumption that it was probably not as valid and reliable as, say, MBTI. I used it more as a working tool to offer some general insights rather than presenting it as a accurate psychometric. On that basis, I found it quite useful in helping explore the range of preference in the group and as a medium for discussing how we might build and use different strengths. Hope that helps.

    All the best


  3. Carolyn May MD Stillmuchtooffer Ltd.

    Good morning Garry

    I would say that your anxieties concerning the HBDI are completely unfounded. The tool is fully validated by Victor Bundersen and is highly effective with individuals, teams and companies. I have not only undertaken academic research on improving learning effectiveness using the HBDI,  I have also used it for personal and professional development and have seen it, quite literally,  transform attitudes, working relationships and communication within and across teams. It is more complex, more subtle and more illuminating than Myers Briggs, yet is easily understood by all. My company, Stillmuchtooffer Ltd., offers expertise in a range of instruments but I do not think there is a better tool than the HBDI either for management analysis and development or for individual, team and company growth. Your client will not be disappointed by the results he/she will achieve if he utilises the HBDI.

    Carolyn May

  4. 20 years of excellent experience and results from HBDI!

    I’m glad to serve as a reference for HBDI.  We have used this instument with our Clients for many years (since 1990) with excellent return on investment.  We have done several thousand HBDI’s for individuals, teams and large organizations.  We have found it to be to easiest for our Clients to understand and to have the most long lasting value of any on the market.  Myers Briggs can be confusing to our Clients and DISC is a bit simplistic and is measuring different attributes.  HBDI has helped in terms of growing each leader, improving team work, creating more sustainable solutions, and measuring outcomes.  We can’t say enough good things about this product.  We have worked with engineers, accountants, marketing firms, airlines, the government, educators, sales, health care and huge, complex construction projects, all with stellar results.  We have found that HBDI has also helped marriages and family dynamics.  I am also aware that the research behind HBDI is some of the most comprehensive and carefully validated of any assessment of this kind.  If I can provide further information don’t hesitate to contact me personally.  [email protected]  Ann McGee-Cooper, Ed.D.

  5. HBDI

    Hello, Garry.

    I am a huge supporter of the instrument!  In fact, the HBDI is my favorite diagnostic instrument.  I have been using it since 1996, have brought it into many organizations, taking both individuals and groups at all levels of the organization through it for personal or team development.  I like it because it doesn’t carry the stigma of "personality" for my clients, most of whom have been through other instruments and found them to be too complex and, in the end, useful for them.  

    I use it to help people understand the power of being "whole-brained", and how to do just that.  It is physiologically possible to train your brain to become more whole-brained, so it gives people optimism about their ability to grow.  Others have spoken to it’s validity, so I’ll speak to why I like it so much and how I’ve used it. 

    I consider it an incredibly robust instrument, it’s enjoyable for people and is easy to understand.  Feedback workshops are fun, interactive leave participants with practical next steps.  I’ve used it both inside my companies when I was an internal Organizational Effectiveness leader, and with my clients in my current Organizational Effectiveness consulting and Executive/Leadership coaching practice:

     – with teams for self-awareness and to build team effectiveness

    –  for Inclusion initiatives to help people recognize, value and seek out the perspectives of others

    –  for increased Communication effectiveness

    –  within Change Management around small and large scale initiatives

    As with any instrument, the caliber of the feedback giver is paramount.  An experienced HBDI practitioner can help individuals, teams and organizations leverage the learning in quantifiable ways.

    Again, I am a strong proponent of the instrument, and please let me know if I can be of any further assistance as you research the HBDI.

    Best Regards,

    Cindy Huey

  6. HBDI Is the Best Tool I’ve Used

    We have been using HBDI for 15 years with high rates of success.  We have participated in many other assessment tools–Myers Briggs, DISC, Human Synergistics and while they can provide interesting insights, I find that HBDI is the most practical, useful, and meaningful assessment to help individuals learn why they make the decisions they do, priortize work they way they do, and relate to others in the organization.  I am a "hard sell" on gimmicky tools…but I have seen HBDI profile results not only help individuals perform at higher levels, but help teams perform at signficantly higher levels.  I am not employed by Herrmann International but would whole-heartedly make a commercial for them because I believe in their product and services so strongly.  Their company is well-run and has done miraculous turn-around times for us for senior executives who have waited until the eleventh hour to complete an assessment.  They have also been wonderful about answering questions, researching language challenges, and providing data when needed.  We will always use this assessment as our "Profile of Choice" in our senior executive leadership development programs.

     Duane Trammell

  7. Happy to provide any information on HBDI’s Validity Research to

    Hello Garry,

    I am CEO of Herrmann International, the publisher of the HBDI and the daughter of it’s creator Ned Herrmann, who developed the HBDI and the Whole Brain Thinking construct while at GE in the early 80’s. We can provide you with any validity info you need. I would be happy to personally respond to any validation questions or concerns you may have. I noted in your post that you have seen the consistently negative reviewer on Wikipedia. We have been trying to address that issue for some time as this person obviously has some agenda and re-works the description every time it is corrected. Your post has brought to light how important it is we resolve this issue once and for all. Thanks for bringing this up! Again I am happy to provide you with anything you might need, references etc.


    Ann Herrmann-Nehdi

    I can be reached via my first name


  8. This thread is like waiting for a bus…

    Nothing for a while then one endorsement after another.


  9. Was not at the station until this weekend…

    The bus (Google alerts) picked this up over the weekend. That is how I found it…

  10. HBDI

    I was listening recently to someone, who’d by every standard be considered a professional news journalist, speaking about the importance of doing good research. They made the distinct point to never use Wikipedia as a research source. There is absolutely no vetting of the data’s source or the accuracy of the information contained there was the journalist’s point and she added, "Professionals need to concern themselves with the accuracy of the information they present."

    Over the last 20 years in the professional work I’ve done in areas of leadership, strategy, teamwork, communication, problem solving, and career management I’ve used both the MBTI and HBDI.  Both in my opinion are top notch professional instruments.  I have used other instruments but none compare to the consistent accuracy of the data that the MBTI and HBDI present about a person’s actual thinking style and preference.  I prefer to use the HBDI.  People relate to it quicker, it’s easier for me to explain, defend, and then synthesize with what I am trying to teach them about Critical Thinking and Problem Solving.

  11. HBDI & Wikipedia?

    The Google Alerts explains the proliferation of posters with no prior posting history, content or even profile details. I must admit I was beginning to wonder why that was.

    I have no personal experience nor have I yet formed a view on the HBDI. And I agree, you must read Wikipedia entries with caution, however the critiques are referenced and I am following these up to examine their validity and reliability. Wikipedia quote:


    Self Reporting

    Measurements that require people to state preferences between terms have received criticism. Researchers C. W. Allinson and J. Hayes, in their own 1996 publication of a competing cognitive style indicator called Cognitive Style Index[15] in the peer reviewed Journal of Management Studies, noted that "there appears to be little or no published independent evaluation of several self-report measures developed as management training tools. [including] Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument."[16]

    However, some find usefulness in self reporting measurements. Researchers G.P. Hodgkinson and E. Sadler-Smith in 2003 found cognitive style indicators generally useful for studying organizations.[15] However in a critique of the Cognitive Style Index indicator they opined that progress in the field had been "hampered by a proliferation of alternative constructs and assessment instruments" many unreliable with a lack of agreement over nomenclature.[15]

    To measure self-report consistency, a differential item functioning review of HBDI was published in 2007 by Jared Lees. However, his tests were supported by EduMetrics, a company on contract with Herrmann International to evaluate the system, and were therefore not completely independent.[17]


    Herrmann International describes an underlying basis for HBDI in the lateralization of brain function theory championed by Gazzaniga and others that associates each of the four thinking styles with a particular locus in the human brain.[18] Analytical and sequential styles are associated with left brain and interpersonal and imaginative styles are associated with right brain, for example. Ned Herrmann described dominance of a particular thinking style with dominance with a portion of a brain hemisphere.[7]

    The notion of hemisphere dominance attracted criticism from the neuroscience community, notably by Terence Hines who called it "pop psychology" based on unpublished EEG data.[19][20] He asserts that current literature instead found that both hemispheres are always involved in cognitive tasks[19] and attempting to strengthen a specific hemisphere does not improve creativity, for example.[21] Hines stated "No evidence is presented to show that these ‘brain dominance measures’ measure anything related to the differences between the two hemispheres. In other words, no evidence of validity [of hemisphere dominance] is presented."[9]


    Herrmann offered creativity workshops based on strengthening particular thinking styles and strengthening the right hemisphere, which received critiques that creativity is not localized to a particular thinking style nor to a particular hemisphere.[22][23]

    A study published in the peer reviewed Creativity Research Journal in 2005 by J. Meneely and M. Portillo agreed that creativity is not localized into a particular thinking style, such as a right-brain dominance resulting in more creativity. They did however find correlation between creativity in design students based on how flexible they were using all four thinking styles equally as measured by the HBDI. When students were less entrenched in a specific style of thinking they measured higher creativity using Domino’s Creativity Scale (ACL-Cr). Therefore, they found training thinking styles associated by Herrmann as right hemisphere did not necessarily improve creativity, but training in thinking styles that measured less strongly in the instrument would produce greater creativity.[24]


    1. ^ DeWald, R. E. (1989) abstract
    2. ^ Krause, M. G. (1987, June) abstract
    3. ^ Bentley and Hall (2001) p.3961
    4. ^ Wilson (2007) pp. 1079
    5. ^ Deardorff, Dale S. (2005) p.1
    6. ^ European Herrmann Institute FAQ
    7. ^ a b Herrmann, Ned (1999) pp.1-3
    8. ^ Lees (2007) pp.11-15
    9. ^ a b Terence (1987) p.604
    10. ^ Lees (2007) p.32
    11. ^ C. Victor Bunderson, ‘Dissertation: The Validity of the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument’, published by Herrmann International, 1985
    12. ^ HBDI Services
    13. ^ Herrmann International web site
    14. ^ Herrmann Institute web site
    15. ^ a b c Hodgkinson and Sadler-Smith (2003) pp.1-2
    16. ^ Allinson & Hayes (1996) pp. 119–135.
    17. ^ Lees (2007) pp.20,32
    18. ^ Herrmann-Nehdi, Ann (2003) Coaching With Style
    19. ^ a b Hines (1985) p.1
    20. ^ Terence Hines (1987) p.600
    21. ^ Hines (1991) pp. 223–227
    22. ^ Hines (1987) p.603
    23. ^ McKean (1985) Discover pp.30-41.
    24. ^ Meneely and Portillo (2005) p.1
    • Allinson, C.W., & Hayes, J. (1996) ‘Cognitive Style Index: A measure of intuition-analysis for organizational research’, Journal of Management Studies, 33:1 January 1996
    • Bentley, Joanne and Hall, Pamela (2001) Learning Orientation Questionnaire correlation with the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument: A validity study Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences, Vol 61(10-A), Apr 2001. pp. 3961.
    • Deardorff, Dale S. (2005) An exploratory case study of leadership influences on innovative culture: A descriptive study Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, Vol 66(4-B), 2005. pp. 2338.
    • DeWald, R. E. (1989). Relationships of MBTI types and HBDI preferences in a population of student program managers (Doctoral dissertation, Western Michigan University, 1989). Dissertation Abstracts International, 50(06), 2657B. (University Microfilms No. AAC89-21867)
    • Herrmann, Ned (1999) The Theory Behind the HBDI and Whole Brain Technology pdf
    • Hines, Terence (1991) ‘The myth of right hemisphere creativity.’ Journal of Creative Behavior, Vol 25(3), 1991. pp. 223–227.
    • Hines, Terence (1987) ‘Left Brain/Right Brain Mythology and Implications for Management and Training’, The Academy of Management Review, Vol. 12, No. 4, October 1987
    • Hines, Terence (1985) ‘Left brain, right brain: Who’s on first?’ Training & Development Journal, Vol 39(11), Nov 1985. pp. 32–34. [Journal Article]
    • Hodgkinson, Gerard P., and Sadler-Smith, Eugene (2003) Complex or unitary? A critique and empirical re-assessment of the Allinson-Hayes Cognitive Style Index., Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 09631798, 20030601, Vol. 76, Issue 2
    • Holland, Paul W. and Wainer, Howard (1993) Differential Item Functioning
    • Krause, M. G. (1987, June). A comparison of the MBTI and the Herrmann Participant Survey. Handout from presentation at APT-VII, the Seventh Biennial International Conference of the Association for Psychological Type, Gainesville, FL.
    • Lees, Jared A. (2007) Differential Item Functioning Analysis of the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument Masters Thesis, BrighamYoungUniversitypdf
    • McKean, K. (1985) ‘Of two minds: Selling the right brain.’, Discover, 6(4), pp.30-41.
    • Meneely, Jason; and Portillo, Margaret; (2005) The Adaptable Mind in Design: Relating Personality, Cognitive Style, and Creative Performance. Creativity Research Journal, Vol 17(2-3), 2005. pp. 155–166. [Journal Article]
    • Wilson, Dennis H. (2007) A comparison of the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument(TM) and the extended DISCMRTM behavior profiling tool: An attempt to create a more discerning management perspective. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences, Vol 68(3-A). pp. 1079. “
No Image Available
Garry Platt

Senior Consultant

Read more from Garry Platt

Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!