Left Loop Stability and the Challenge of Behavior Change

Tom GibbonsLearning, Preference Assessments, Sustainability, TMS ApplicationsLeave a Comment

In the last post I talked about the left loop of our interaction model. It is this left loop, our patterns of interaction that become stable over time. Stable enough that these patterns do not often really need to be thought about. This is what makes behavior change difficult and the point was made – ‘Heck, it’s not even easy to simply be aware of our patterns of behavior, let alone change them!’

So let’s try something. Think back to last Friday and quickly list what you did that day.

My guess is that if you did this here is what happened:

  • First your eyes rose from the screen and you looked somewhere else; a typical behavior to change our focus and reflect on something not immediately present.
  • You then tried ‘thinking back’ to last Friday and might have traced your way back one day at a time.
  • You then tried to remember what actually happened on that day.
  • You were hard pressed to remember much (you might still be thinking as I am!) until you landed on something concrete that happened and then you thought to yourself, ‘Oh yeah, that happened!’
  • You then tried to remember some other things since you now had something concrete that you could ‘place’ within the day and with that placement other things that happened that day were remembered.

So now you have a somewhat objective listing of some of the things that occurred last Friday.  I always find it surprising how hard it actually is to simply remember the occurrences of just a few days ago.

Another guess is that it is even harder to remember why you did those things. Not just the immediate causal ‘why’ but the why of the more significant drivers of your behavior. And not just the global more significant drivers of your behavior but those that were at play in the specific context of Friday, the people you might have been with, the things you were focused on and all the other contextual aspects of that moment.

This is probably a good thing, more or less. After all, imagine if you had to think through all that stuff before you acted! You would probably still be in bed trying to figure out the ‘why’s’ of simply getting up! Not having to think about these things much is the ‘more’ of the more or less of this. It is efficient. The less of this dynamic is that it makes behavior change very challenging.

Behavior change takes time and lots of new interactions as we create a new left loop; no matter how small that new left loop might seem. This means that if you are using the TMP, sustainable use means using it over an extended time frame. So what do we actually have in the use of a TMP that can enable us to use it over an extended period of time?

The model of use of the TMP is similar to almost every other well researched assessment on the market today. This model of use is the left loop of how assessments are typically used.  There are 3 components to this model:

  1. The assessment itself. In our case we are focusing on the TMP and other TMS assessments/profiles
  2. An accredited or certified user of the assessment who provides what is typically called a debrief with the person(s) they are using the assessment with.
  3. The end user.


For simplicity we could call these 3 components, the product, the expert and the user.

Over the next few posts we will look at each of these components that make up the usage model of an assessment and see how they can contribute to extended use, to creating new patterns of behavior and a new left loop.

For now though, I would ask you to think about and perhaps respond to the question:

How would you rank, in order of importance, the three components of assessment use in terms of contributing to sustainable use and why?

It would be great to see some lively discussion on this!


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