”What is good?…A thing is ‘good’ when it fulfills its concept.” – Robert S. Hartman

What is Axiology, Formal Axiology & Axiological Profiling?

Axiology is the name for “value theory.” It is derived from the Greek word “axios” meaning “worth.” Formal axiology is the logic-based science of value anchored in a “hierarchy of meaning” from the most meaningful or richest value to the most destructive or greatest value loss. The logic specifies 18 different levels of richness. Hartman’s “hierarchy of value” is the mathematical measuring standard for human evaluative judgment and decision-making in life and in all social sectors of life in our culture.

Axiological profiles are constructed by selecting linguistic examples for each of the 18 levels of the mathematical hierarchy. These examples are mixed up and the respondent is asked to rank them from best to worst. Their ranking of the items is then compared to the mathematical value norm, producing a pattern representing the mental clarity and emotional quality of their decisions.

When people make value judgments, they use both their mental and emotional capacities to arrive at their decision. Some people have very solid and reliable decision-making abilities – while others routinely make wrong or inaccurate choices. Our profiles measure the quality of the respondent’s judgment and decision-making by gauging both their mental clarity and their emotional orientation & conditioning.

Research has shown that using the targeted profiles present very strong face validity, because respondents recognize and identify with language pertaining to their specific field(s). Our profiles also fulfil the great market need for industry-specific applications. For example, a sports coach is mainly interested in finding out how an athlete will play the game and engage with teammates on the field, court or ice, especially under pressure, versus how they may feel, act or think about life in general. The same principle applies to business, finance, relationships, fitness, tennis, golf, dentistry and health care, among other industries.

How do we Target Success?

These days, the rules for work engagements are changing – employees are being judged by a new standard – not just by how smart and talented they are, or by their training or expertise, but also by how well they handle themselves and each other. As Daniel Goleman, author of Working with Emotional Intelligence, 1998, says, “the new measure takes for granted having enough intellectual ability and technical know-how to do our jobs; it focuses instead on personal qualities, such as initiative and empathy, adaptability and persuasiveness.”

This measure has been referred to as “soft skills” in the past, but emotional intelligence is no passing fad. We now have 35 years of empirical studies that tell us precisely just how much emotional intelligence matters for success, especially in management and leadership positions. Although many are still skeptical of “soft skills measurement” in psychology, neuroscience makes crystal clear why emotional intelligence matters so much. The skills necessary for managing ourselves effectively and for being socially adept are grounded in our evolutionary history for survival and adaptation. To quote Goleman again, “Our research reveals deplorable weaknesses in how businesses train people in skills from listening and leadership to team building and handling change. Most training programs have embraced an academic model – but this has been a drastic mistake, wasting millions of hours and billions of dollars. What’s needed is an entirely new way of thinking about what it takes to help people boost their emotional intelligence.”

What do our’ Assessments Measure?

Our assessments can, and do measure the following traits associated with emotional intelligence, as well as standard competencies for specific jobs, management skills, job identification, problem solving, and compliance, among others. They include social competencies, like empathy and sensitivity to others, understanding and developing others, service orientation, listening capacity, communication, conflict management, collaboration and cooperation, team capabilities, etc. Personal competencies include: self-management, emotional stability, self-worth awareness, self-assessment, self-confidence, self-regulation, self-control, self-discipline, personal accountability, adaptability, motivation, drive, commitment, initiative and optimism, among others.

How are Axiological Assessments Different from Psychological Assessments?

Psychology has been very valuable in our culture and is based on inductive logic grounded in empirical foundations. It is an instance of reasoning from a part to the whole, from particulars to generals, or from the individual to the universal. The general validity of a “law” is inferred from its observed validity by showing that if a proposed law holds true in certain cases, it must also hold in the next and succeeding cases.

Axiology, on the other hand, has the distinctive difference of being based on deductive reasoning, a method by which concrete applications and interpretative detail are deduced from axioms, definitions and postulates. Hartman’s “Axiom of Value” provides us with a formal mathematical norm which can be applied to any field of study to structure the value parameters of that field. It weighs or measures individuals or teams against that scientific norm. Dr. Leon Pomeroy in his book, The New Science of Axiological Psychology (Pomeroy, 2005), has shown that formal axiology is also empirically valid. Thus, in our axiological assessment profiles we have the solid support of both scientific methods: the deductive logic-based axiomatic method and the inductive, empirical method. Dr. Pomeroy spent over 20 years collecting statistical data for his book cross-nationally, from numerous and diverse eastern and western countries and cultures, and proving that cultures all over the world make value judgments in the same way.

Formal axiology is a discipline that can enhance and improve the effectiveness of psychology – by merging it with the axiomatic method. We see the marriage of psychology and axiology as the very best approach to coaching and improving the skills and talents of teams and individuals. Our targeted Value Assessments are consistent and non-discriminatory. Since the value profiles are based on formal value science, rather than psychology, responses are compared to mathematical norms, rather than to group or population norms. Race, gender, age, and creed have no bearing on these instruments whatsoever.

How are the Value Assessments Administered?

Usually, the assessments are taken on-line through our website using a designated pass-code. This facilitates quick turn-around for our clients. Then the questionnaire would be entered into the system to produce the electronic report. To obtain the best results that satisfies all sides, we recommend in-house position benchmarking, because this enables employers to introduce the axiological assessment profile to a job applicant by informing them that completing the assessment is routine procedure for all prospective employees, and should they be hired, the results will be shared with them.

Why do Most Client Companies use our Assessments?

Most managers use the profiles to help determine which job applicants are best suited for a particular position, and which employees would make the best supervisors, as well as who may need training or coaching to better develop and apply their potential. We can also help you determine the “can do”- “will do” factor – many people have the talents and skills necessary to do the job, but lack the internal desire and motivation to follow through (this is the distinction between talent and emotional stability).

This process will improve the retention rate and reduce employee turnover. Our profiles should not be considered “tests” because there are no right and wrong answers; but a person’s judgment responses do reveal his or her strengths and development areas. Our assessments have proven to be astonishingly effective in evaluating individual professional and personal value areas, such as drive, ambition, loyalty, capacity for work, people skills and honesty. In fact, our profiles have been termed “linguistic polygraphs” by several of our clients. Both the polygraph and the value profiles work by measuring emotional responses to questions and phrases. Polygraphs generally reveal whether a person has formerly engaged in dishonest activity, but the value profiles can reveal the degree of a person’s emotional programming and intellectual regard for law, order and authority, which can point to a person’s potential for illegal activity. In addition, our profiles will tell you how much stress a person may be under, how well they are coping with it, and the degree to which they may be accident-prone.

Is there Validity and Reliability to these Assessments?

Concerning reliability, each axiological assessment has a built-in rank order correlation (Rho) measure indicating the consistency of the responses. If the life and working conditions of the respondent have not changed significantly from one completion to another, the “test-retest” reliability is extremely high.

The validity of the Robert S. Hartman’s original Hartman Value Profile (HVP) upon which the Axces Solutions’ parallel forms for special applications are based has been confirmed by extensive research at the University of Tennessee, Vanderbilt University, and at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in New York. The two main sources of validity information are the following.

1. Billie Cannon Elliot, Ph.D., “Factor and Cluster Analyses of The Hartman Value Inventory: A Study of Item Homogeneity and Factorial Invariance for Normative and Ipsative Scales,” a doctoral dissertation presented in the Department of Education at the University of Tennessee, June, 1969.
2. Leon Pomeroy, Ph.D., The New Science of Axiological Psychology, Rodopi Press, 2005.