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Introducing The Brain Types

Elle Whitehead | 28th July 2021

If you’ve been engaging with our content for a while, you probably know that we bang on about neuroscience a lot. In fact, we use it to underpin every decision we make on our platform and in our company. We don’t just love neuroscience, we live it. 

In this post, we’re going to talk about the four brain types. 

  • Instinctive
  • Emotional
  • Reflective
  • Rational

Although we often call these brain types, they actually refer to different ways of reacting and engaging with our work and environment. 

Instinctive

Pretty much as it sounds, our instinctive brain is the part that responds to our environment innately. 

Our instinctive brain relies on one of the oldest brain structures, called the Basal region. This area of the brain is often the quickest to react. 

It’s associated with the following kinds of behaviours and ways of thinking:

Knowing, Hunch, Conviction, Certainty, Arrogance, Speed, No Fuss, Decisive, Territorial, Gut Feel. 

Emotional 

Our emotional brain is the part of the brain that responds to other people. In the world of work, it’s often related to relationships both with each other and how you feel about yourself.

Our emotional brain relies on the limbic system, which is also used for the survival responses showing how vital it is to our lives.

It’s associated with the following kinds of behaviours and ways of thinking:

Feelings, Sensory, Volatile, Expressive, Empathic, Creative, Subjective, Body and Heart.

Reflective

When it comes to our ability to mentally “step back” and dispassionately consider our own response, this is the reflective part of the brain talking. 

When we’re engaging our reflective brain type, we’re using our prefrontal cortex. It’s associated with the more complex tasks we use our brains for, like planning, but it’s also linked to personality. 

This brain type is associated with the following kinds of behaviours and ways of thinking:

Intuitive, Self- aware, Big Picture, Patterns, Observational, Insightful, Visionary, Indulgent

Rational 

Our rational brain type springs into action whenever we need to slow down and consider our options. 

This brain type is associated with our cerebral cortex. This is the part of the brain that is linked to what is called “high-order brain functions” including memory, association and perception. 

This brain type is associated with the following kinds of behaviours and ways of thinking:

Thinking, Rational, Structures, Logical, Evidence, Rules, Method, Organised, Objective, Process, Systems, Data, Cerebral.

Brain types mapped on the brain

Neuroscience Brain types
Neuroscience Brain types

Neuroscience and your team

You will use all of these brain types every single day, sometimes at the same time. But many people have one brain type that they tend to rely on more often or have a preference for. Some people naturally tend towards a reflective brain type for example, while others prefer the logical evidence and rules of the rational brain. 

You might feel like you know which brain type your team tends towards. Knowing this can help you to design and implement a people strategy that is appealing to them. 

However, it’s important to remember that you need to appeal to all of the brain types. This is because everyone uses all of them. In order to have a successful people strategy and thriving culture, you need to balance all of the brain types. 

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