Category Archives: Resources

Understanding Human Consciousness: Theory and Application

Maretha Prinsloo
October 08, 2018

The study of consciousness attracts the attention of psychologists, philosophers and scientists. It is, however, mostly dealt with in a descriptive and speculative manner, without explaining the nature of the subjective experience and the dynamics involved.
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The Assessment and Development of Analytical and Systems Thinking Skills in the Work Environment

Maretha Prinsloo & Riana Prinsloo
October 08, 2018

Human survival is premised on the capacity to continuously ascribe meaning to stimuli and acting on these perspectives in order to achieve certain goals. This involves a full range of integrated cognitive processes referred to as, inter alia, thinking skills, intellectual functioning, reasoning, problem-solving, perceptual frameworks, creativity and judgement.
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Towards an Integrated Assessment of Leadership Potential

M Prinsloo
August 15, 2018

This paper focuses on the assessment of leadership potential in terms of a number of related philosophical, theoretical, and technical considerations. A critical evaluation of current assessment practice is followed by the introduction of alternative assessment methodologies and techniques aimed at measuring consciousness, cognition, and motivation. Practical guidelines for integrated and holistic leadership assessment, as well as the future of assessment, are also addressed.
Introduction The issue of leadership is central to the practice of industrial psychology and psychometrics, the purpose of which include realising human potential and transforming counter-productive cultural patterns in order to enhance sustainability, integration, and evolution within the realm of organisational and other social systems. Leadership research includes a focus on the individual (for purposes of personal development); an organisational orientation (to enhance performance and value add in the work environment); or an existential-philosophical perspective (focused on the evolution of consciousness). The aim of this paper is to contextualise the construct of leadership potential in terms of complexity, collective consciousness, and personal traits. Factors related to cognition, levels of consciousness, and motivation are integrated in terms of a Jungian perspective based on the work of Mindell in particular. Given the shortcomings of current psychometric offerings, alternative assessment methodologies and techniques are proposed for the measurement of the following:
  • cognition by the Cognitive Process Profile (CPP);
  • levels of consciousness by the Value Orientations (VO); and
  • motivational factors by means of the Motivational Profile (MP).
This paper is the first in a series of four on leadership, including:
  • this discussion of leadership assessment solutions;
  • a second article describing a theoretical model of cognitive processing;
  • a third contribution proposing an integrative theoretical framework of levels of consciousness; and
  • a fourth paper explaining the development of consciousness and cognition within the leadership context.
These four aspects represent a holistic perspective on the assessment and development of leadership potential.
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VO Case Studies – Organisational Culture

April 07, 2017

Research on the Value Orientations in the form of 20 case studies. The research provides insight into the worldview and organisational cultures of diverse industries. The qualitative interpretations are useful to people familiar with the VO or interested in Spiral Dynamics.
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Research Study in Linguistics using the CPP

February 24, 2017

Read this interesting research study, Successful vs. Less Successful Iranian EFL Learners: Cognitive Styles, Cognitive Flexibility, and Experience Evaluation by Avarzamani & Farahian as published in the International Journal of English Linguistics.
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Case studies: Predicting the academic and work performance of accountants using the CPP

By Maretha Prinsloo on February 8, 2017

The following seven studies were conducted in two of the big four accounting firms in South Africa. The goal was to evaluate the degree by which the CPP predicts the academic and work performance of trainee and qualified accountants.


The following seven studies were conducted in two of the big four accounting firms in South Africa. The goal was to evaluate the degree by which the CPP predicts the academic and work performance of trainee and qualified accountants. More specifically:

  • Do cognitive results as measured by the CPP predict the results of the financial qualifying exam (FQE I and II) as well as the work performance of postgraduate accounting students? (Note that at the time of these studies, the FQE I & II were the final qualifying chartered accountant exam in South Africa but has since been replaced by the PPE / QE II Financial Management exam.)
  • Does the CPP predict the work performance of trainee accountants as indicated by 360 degree performance appraisal outcomes?
  • Is there any adverse impact involved with CPP assessment, and can the CPP be used in an unbiased and fair manner to evaluate the cognitive preferences and capabilities across different gender and race groups in South Africa?
  • Does the use of the CPP in selecting accounting bursars and placing young accountants, add value to the business?

The results of the various studies are briefly summarised here:


Study 1: CPP and the FQE I examination results (2001)
(n = 300)

The CPP results of a sample of 300 accounting students that managed to write their FQE I exams in 2001 were compared to their academic results.

It was found that a large number of the CPP dimensions significantly correlated with the examination results of the candidates, in particular those of: Analytical Skills, Logical Reasoning, Quick Insight Learning, Memory and Metacognitive awareness. Significant correlations of around 0.4 – 0.6 (p < 0.0001) were largely achieved between the exam pass rate and the above mentioned CPP dimensions. This study provides evidence that the CPP predicts the academic results of accounting students.


Study 2: CPP and pass rate for candidates from diverse socio-economic backgrounds (2005)
(n = 752)

The sample used for the purposes of this study was pre-selected using the CPP. Only those that showed the cognitive potential to deal with the complexity of the Tactical Strategy (SST level 3) or higher levels, were included: in other words, those who showed the cognitive capability to go beyond linear thinking in order to deal with interactive effects within tangible systems. A large number of individuals included in the study also showed the capacity to move beyond this tangible systems level of complexity to deal with intangible, fuzzy and dynamic systems.

In addition to the complexity preferences and capabilities of applicants, cognitive stylistic preferences were also used as a selection criterion. This was based on previous CPP research findings, which indicated that 73% of accountants show Logical-Analytical cognitive styles on the CPP.

Of the test candidates that were selected as bursars based on the above mentioned cognitive criteria, 651 of the total sample of 752 individuals passed and 101 of the 752 failed the FQE I exam. In other words, 86.5% of those selected based on their CPP results passed this challenging exam.

In terms of the exam results of students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds in South Africa, this particular firm historically achieved pass rates of 4% on the FQE II exam. After implementing CPP assessment for purposes of selecting bursars from previously disadvantaged backgrounds, their pass rates improved to 64% on the FQE II – which was significantly higher than the national average pass rate of around 50% on the FQE II.


Study 3: CPP and Work Performance appraisals (2006)
(n = 752)

In a study using this same sample of trainee accountants in Assurances, multiple regression analysis was conducted to investigate CPP predictors of general work performance as indicated by the 360 degree evaluations of managers. The results indicate that the work performance of trainee accountants is best predicted by the following CPP dimensions:

  • Potential for Level 3 functioning (positive correlation), plus
  • Absence of Level 1 functioning (negative correlation), plus
  • Absence of the tendency toward Quick Closure (negative correlation).


Study 4: CPP and Work Performance appraisals (2005)
(n = 40)

The purpose of the study was to identify guidelines for future selection and training initiatives in the accounting environment. CPP results were compared to the performance appraisal scores of trainee accountants. These performance scores were allocated by their mentors in terms of the following competencies and/or criteria: Business and financial acumen; Motivation; Interpersonal skills; Work performance; Academic achievement; Logical-analytical skills; Judgement capability; Self-improvement; and Learning.

Particular CPP scores differentially correlated with these dimensions and results of r = .4 to r = .61 were obtained. These correlations were mostly significant at a p < 0.01 level.


Study 5: CPP and differences between performance groups (2006)
(n = 69)

Using ANOVAs, the degree to which CPP results differentiated between competency-based performance groups was analysed. The competency dimensions were evaluated by the employer on a 5-point rating scale. Although many CPP dimensions correlated with the competency ratings, the only ones that differentiated between performance groups at a p < 0.01 significance level were Structuring and Metacognitive processes.

In other words, differences in the way in which performance groups understood, ordered and represented information, thus appear to significantly affect their performance within the accounting environment.


Study 6: CPP and job-related performance and competence in Tax (2005)
(n = 39)

A small qualitative and quantitative research study, in which the CPP results were correlated with job performance criteria, was undertaken in the Tax (n = 39) division in a big four accounting firm. The goal was to identify core cognitive dimensions that significantly predict job performance within the Tax environment in this organisation.

Correlations between CPP processing dimensions and General Job Performance indicated that job-related functioning seems to covary with the depth and effectiveness of exploration processes; the structuring and categorisation of information; and the integration and meaningful interpretation of fragmented information. An interpretation of the results indicated:

  • The somewhat operational nature of the currently applied general performance rating, with an emphasis on tangible information and practical implications. Significant correlations between performance ratings and CPP results, namely exploration (r = .454; p < 0.015) and categorisation of tangible information (r = 0.41; p < 0.027) in particular, were found.
  • A high correlation of 0.881 (p < 0.000) was found between the overall competency rating and the Potential Level of Work indication of the CPP
  • Specific competency dimensions significantly correlated with particular CPP dimensions. The results showed correlations between r = 0.393 and r = 0.431, which met significance levels of p < 0.038 to p < 0.022 and indicated:
    • a strong element of cognitive functioning involved with Business Development competence
    • a verbal skills aspect involved with the People Development competency
    • the apparent non-cognitive nature of the Client Relations competency.

In an independent cross-cultural study of the CPP profiles, the academic performance and the work performance of 752 candidates from diverse backgrounds, ANOVA results of group differences show no significant differences between race and gender groups in terms of their potential for cognitive functioning as measured by the CPP.



The CPP thus seems to effectively predict the academic, work performance and competence of trainee and practicing accountants. No adverse impact was found. The CPP can therefore be used to prevent failure and manage risks involved with the selection of accounting bursary students and staff.


Investigating the reliability and validity of the Cognitive Process Profile (CPP).

May 20, 2014

How do we assess the reliability of an assessment which, by its very nature, precludes re‐assessment within a period of time where familiarity of what was undertaken previously will distort future performance on the assessment? This is the conundrum facing investigation of reliability of the CPP.
When we investigate validity, we have two questions to answer, the first is concerned entirely with measurement, the second with meaning:
  • Does the test measure what it claims to measure?
  • Does the test score show the expected relationships with other theoretically‐relevant scores, behaviours, and outcomes?
But, from consideration of an alternative perspective on validity, another simple question arises for which an answer can be sought: Do clients find substantive value in using the CPP? For the full article in .pdf click the icon below. Investigating the reliability and validity of the Cognitive Process Profile (CPP)

Consciousness Models in Action: Comparisons.

M Prinsloo
May 20, 2014

This paper discusses various theoretical models of the evolution of consciousness as well as critically evaluates and integrates the models into a single organising framework, which is then applied to leadership theory.
The construct of consciousness as described by the Spiral Dynamics (SD) model of Clare Graves is linked to the work of other developmental and consciousness theorists, namely Wilber, Gebser, Piaget, May, Kohlberg, Perry, Loevinger, Maslow and Kegan. The spiritual perspectives of Wilber, Myss, Tolle, Atmananda and Hurtak as well as the work of McTaggart, Pribram and Hawkins representing a physics perspective of consciousness development, are discussed. The spiritual and scientific perspectives are addressed to contextualise the consciousness models. In addition, current leadership theory which primarily seems to focus on individual, group and organisational behaviour, is reviewed from an integral perspective to emphasise the relevance of consciousness theory within the leadership domain.
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Cognition: Theory, Measurement and Implications

M Prinsloo & P Barrett
May 15, 2014

This article focuses on cognition, which is of critical importance within educational and work environments, as well as within the context of leadership assessment and development. Up to a point, cognitive factors enable the emergence of consciousness, and very importantly, the implementation of one’s world view, or level of awareness, as covered in a previous article in this journal. This does not imply a linear relationship between cognition and consciousness.
People with high levels of cognitive capability, for example, can be found at any of the various levels of consciousness as hypothesised by various consciousness theorists and developmental psychologists (Prinsloo, 2012). Here, cognition is also not merely regarded as intellectual “ability”, which has been the dominant perspective within psychology and psychometrics for more than a century.   The view proposed here involves an integration of various scientific questions posed by different research traditions within the field of intelligence and cognition, aimed at addressing the:
  • “what” of intelligence as embraced by Differential psychology and the IQ tradition.
  • “how” of thinking as reflected by the Information Processing paradigm, and cognitive and computational neuroscience;
  • “when” of cognitive capacity explored by Developmental psychologists such as Piaget and Vygotsky; and the…
  • “where” of competence as researched by the Contextualist school
While focusing on a theoretical model of cognitive processes and a methodological approach for the measurement of cognitive capabilities and preferences, as well as contextualising cognition within the real world and the broader spectrum of consciousness.
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