Underlying Cognitive Processes of Leadership Behavior & Development

Period of Performance: 09/03/2002 - 03/02/2003


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

THE Davis Nelson Company
810 Polk Street
Port Townsend, WA 98368
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Research Institution

Institute of Cognitive & Decision
1227 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403
Institution POC


A serious problem in leader selection, training, and development is that certain tendencies (such as ego defense mechanisms and biased processing of self-related information) present significant barriers to accurate self-awareness hindering new learning, improvement, and effective decision-making. Seventeen years of field research indicate that barriers to accurate self-awareness have roots in non-verbal reasoning habits. This proposal delineates the research plan for evaluating the accuracy and effectiveness of the Davis Non-verbal (DNV) assessment of reasoning habits and the context(s) for which each habit-pattern is most effective. Since reasoning habits are non-verbal, people rarely know how they arrive at a decision or judgment, making it difficult to independently change or adapt these ingrained habits, even when desiring to do so. Self-insight about these habits rarely occurs without information gained from the application of our measurement instrument (DNV). This research plan aims to establish the feasibility of applying the DNV tool (used 20+ years in business and education) to the domain of leadership development in the U.S. Army. This proposal aims to scientifically evaluate: 1) the reliability of the DNV; 2) its ability to assess habitual reasoning styles; 3) its ability to predict leadership behavior beyond standard measures of intelligence and personality. Phase I will validate the DNV's ability to predict leadership behavior, and produce the necessary validation for commercialization of the DNV assessment tool. We anticipate wide commercial application of the Phase II end product in its use as a tool in situations where the outcome of implemented decisions have significant impact. For example, DNV assessment results can be (and have been) used for self-development, leader training, career planning, hiring decisions for executive positions, for reducing worker-injury, for increasing teacher effectiveness, and to facilitate problem-specific interventions for persons with developmental disabilities. The variety of applications of the DNV are limited only by available resources.