The Three Core Dimensions of the Attribute Index

by | Attribute Index, DISC University


In the realm of psychological assessments, few tools are as comprehensive as the Attribute Index, especially when it comes to understanding an individual’s decision-making process. This tool evaluates decision-making styles through three core dimensions: Intrinsic, Extrinsic, and Systemic Thinking. Each of these dimensions provides unique insights into how individuals process information and make decisions, which is crucial for aligning roles and responsibilities in organizational settings.

Intrinsic Thinking

Intrinsic thinking relates to how individuals value people and intangible aspects of their environment. It reflects a person’s ability to perceive and empathize with others, making it a critical dimension for roles that require strong interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence. Those who score high in intrinsic thinking are typically excellent at understanding others’ needs and motivations. They tend to excel in leadership, counseling, and customer service roles where empathy and relationship management are paramount.

Intrinsic thinkers are often viewed as the emotional backbone of a team, offering support and understanding that help maintain a positive and collaborative work environment. They are crucial in managing conflicts and ensuring that the workplace remains a harmonious environment conducive to everyone’s growth and well-being.

Extrinsic Thinking

Extrinsic thinking focuses on the tangible, practical aspects of situations. It measures an individual’s ability to handle tasks, manage workflows, and produce measurable outcomes. This dimension assesses one’s capacity to see the practical implications of a decision and to act accordingly. High scorers in extrinsic thinking are adept at managing projects, optimizing workflows, and ensuring that operational efficiencies are met.

Individuals strong in extrinsic thinking are results-driven and excel in roles that require attention to detail and a hands-on approach. They are the doers in any organization, often found in fields such as project management, engineering, and other roles where practical results are valued above theoretical outcomes.

Systemic Thinking

Systemic thinking pertains to an individual’s ability to understand complex systems and structures. This dimension evaluates how well a person can conceptualize and work within established systems, whether they are technical, organizational, or conceptual. High systemic thinkers are good at recognizing patterns, analyzing complex data sets, and understanding the underlying structures that govern the systems they work with.

These thinkers are indispensable in roles that require strategic planning, data analysis, and complex decision-making. They thrive in environments where they can apply their skills in system optimization, strategic development, and innovation management. Systemic thinkers help organizations navigate complex challenges by developing sophisticated frameworks that others can follow.

Integrating the Dimensions in the Workplace

Understanding these three core dimensions allows organizations to better position their employees in roles that match their natural strengths. For instance, a team leader might need strong intrinsic qualities to effectively manage their team, while a data analyst would benefit from systemic thinking skills to excel in their role. Recognizing and cultivating each employee’s dominant decision-making style not only enhances job satisfaction and performance but also contributes to a more dynamic and versatile workforce.


The Attribute Index’s approach to categorizing decision-making into intrinsic, extrinsic, and systemic dimensions offers a nuanced understanding that is crucial for personal development and organizational effectiveness. By leveraging this tool, companies can maximize their human capital, ensuring that the right people are in the right roles, thus driving success and innovation in an increasingly complex business environment. In our next exploration, we will delve into the applications of these core dimensions in specific organizational functions and their impact on business outcomes.

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