the science behind flowprofiler®

extracts from the flowprofiler® technical manual

The flowprofiler® family

The flowprofiler Global Limited flowprofiler® product family are a range of online self-report questionnaires that measures the emotional and social intelligence of an individual, as well as how they cope when faced with challenge or setbacks and how they are motivated at work. There are four products within the flowprofiler® family, these are:

  • the flowprofiler®
  • eqflow®
  • resilienceflow®
  • motivationflow®

The flowprofiler® measures 18 dimensions of emotional intelligence, resilience and motivation, whilst the sub questionnaires, eqflow®, resilienceflow® and motivationflow® look at these factors in isolation. The questionnaires produce a computer-generated report that can be used as part of the assessment process for recruitment, development or coaching.

flowprofiler® assessments are state based. The dimensions measure observable behaviours. These behaviours are situation based and driven by preference. For example, behavioural traits such as sociability will likely show a preference and impact a person’s ‘regard for others’. Like all intelligences, the dimensions measured both change and develop over time. As a result we recommend that the questionnaire has a 12-to-18 month shelf-life and that the assessments should be retaken after this time. This family of assessments are also available in a verbal format.

A history of emotional and social intelligence,
resilience and motivation research

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Social Intelligence (SQ) is a commonly used term to describe an individual’s awareness and capacity to control, and express their emotions, including their interpersonal relationships (Boyatzis, Goleman & Rhee, 2000). As well as involving the ability to recognise and understand your own emotions and the impact they have on others. EQ is also the ability to recognise the emotions of others, therefore having high EQ enables a greater understanding of yourself and others, allowing you to manage relationships more effectively.

Historically EQ has been viewed as a singular concept but nowadays it is explained as multiple constructs and splits out interpersonal (SQ) and intrapersonal (EQ) elements (Goleman 1998). In 1990, Salovey and Mayer explained four types of EQ:

  1. Being able to understand your own emotions
  2. Being able to understand other’s emotions
  3. The ability to handle your emotions
  4. The ability to handle other’s emotions

There has also been conflicting debate over whether EQ and SQ should be considered as an ability or personality trait.  In 2000, Bar-On presented a model of mixed emotional and social intelligence, concluding that EQ and SQ are abilities related to our competence to interact with others and manage our emotions. The model separates EQ and SQ into four elements; Intrapersonal Skills, Interpersonal Skills, Adaptability and Stress Management. However, other models such as Petrides and Furham (2001), argued that it is more trait based and indicated that there are 15 facets of emotional and social intelligence.

As a result, EQ has accumulated an impressive amount of attention; both from within the Organisational Behaviour, Human Resources, and Management literature, from within the broader scientific community (O’Boyle, Humphrey, Pollack, Hawver & Story, 2011) and popular culture (Boyatzis, McKee & Goleman 2000). In Goleman’s seminal paper, ‘Working with Emotional Intelligence’, (Goleman, 1998), EQ was proposed to be linked to on-the-job success, as a product of an individual’s potential for mastering the skills of self-awareness, self-management, social-awareness, and relationship management. Emotional competencies are job skills that are obligatory for high standards of excellence within the workplace that can and indeed must be learned in order to achieve success. Goleman presented a total of twenty competencies (1998). SQ is a newer concept and is often discussed as being an element of EQ rather than a separate entity.

Emotional and social intelligence


In the past, resilience at work has been considered as easy temperament, good Self-Esteem, planning skills and having a supportive environment (Werner & Smith, 1992). The majority of research into resilience either explains the concept as trait or as a process. Block & Block (1980), made an initial argument for resilience being trait-based using the term ‘ego resilience’ describing a set of traits that looked at resourcefulness, strength of character and flexibility. These characteristics, or protective factors, consisted of:

  • Optimism
  • Curiosity
  • Conceptualising problems
  • Ability to detach

Galli and Vealey (2008) presented a counter argument by concluding that an important aspect of resilience is the process of agitation, whereby individuals use a range of coping strategies to deal with a combination of unpleasant emotions, and mental struggles. Importantly, it was reported that positive adaptation occurred gradually, often requiring numerous shifts of thought for the duration of the adversity or daily stressor.

These findings support the notion that resilience is a mental capability that develops over time in the context of person-environment interactions (Egeland, Carlson, & Sroufe, 1993).

Fletcher & Scott (2010), conducted a meta-analysis which provided a model for the process of resilience. It proposes that stressors within an environment are moderated by coping strategies, perception, Self-Esteem, self-efficacy, positive affect and appreciation. The result of this moderation is either a positive or negative response from the individual. This suggests that multiple factors make up an individual’s ability to cope with stress.

Motivation theories have been present in employee engagement research since the early 1950s. Weiner’s Attribution Theory suggests that there are three main attribution characteristics that can affect future motivation, namely ‘Locus of Control’ (attributing events to an internal or external factor), ‘Controllability’ (event caused by controllable or uncontrollable factors) and ‘Stability’ (event caused by stable or unstable factors) (Weiner, 1972).

Expectancy Theory suggests that an individual will be motivated and chooses to behave in a certain way, due to what they expect the outcome of that behaviour to be. There are three components affecting motivation, namely ‘Expectancy’, ‘Instrumentality’, and ‘Valence’. Expectancy refers to the belief that an individual’s effort will lead to increased performance, which can be affected by resources available, skills, support, self-efficacy.  Instrumentality refers to the belief that increased performance will result in the outcome, and valence is the value the individual places on the expected outcome (Vroom, 1964).

Porter & Lawler (1968), split motivation into intrinsic and extrinsic factors, intrinsic being people doing an activity because they find it interesting, whereas an extrinsic motivator must have separate consequences, such as tangible reward.

However, it was later found that tangible extrinsic motivators undermine intrinsic motivation, whereas verbal rewards enhanced them (Gagne & Deci, 2005).  It also suggests that competency in the role was also highly important in motivation.

When people received negative feedback, this decreased their perceived competence leaving people feel motivated (Deci & Ryan, 1985a)

Cognitive Evaluation Theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985) suggested that extrinsic factors tend to decrease feelings of autonomy, and shifted locus of control from internal to external. This was supported by later meta-analysis, which concluded that if rewards were unexpected this did not undermine intrinsic motivation.

Self Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan, 2011) separates motivation into autonomy and control, these factors are influenced by different extrinsic motivation regulations, which underlies a control-autonomy continuum. It is also suggested that basic psychological needs provided the foundation for intrinsic motivation and internalisation.  These factors were also found to have an impact on health and well-being. These are:

  • Autonomy
  • Relatedness
  • Competence

The job characteristics model suggests that five task design characteristics affect work motivation. These include ‘skill variety’ required for the job; ‘task identity’ regarding the completion of a whole task; the ‘task significance’ on other’s lives; ‘autonomy’ for completing the task; and clear ‘feedback’ on task performance. These characteristics are suggested to affect three psychological states of ‘experienced meaningfulness’, ‘experienced responsibility’ and ‘knowledge of results’, which cause outcomes including internal work motivation, performance and satisfaction. The model also suggests those who have a higher need for growth, respond more positively to motivational characteristics (Hackman & Oldham, 1976).


The development of flowprofiler®

Based on the research presented in the above section, the flowprolier® Global Limited flowprofiler® product family was developed through reviewing this research. As a result of the literature review, 20 dimensions were determined across emotional and social intelligence, resilience and motivation. These were then validated down to 18 dimensions after a pilot study was conducted. The definitions of the 18 dimensions are shown below:

Dimensions of the flowprofiler® family

Factor Dimension Definition
Emotional Intelligence Emotional Awareness Reflective and intuitive, you are in touch with your emotions. You understand how you are feeling and how this can impact your performance; maintaining a moment-by-moment consciousness of your thoughts, feelings, body language and surrounding physical environment. You are able to discern between different feelings and label them appropriately. You use this emotional information to guide your thinking and actions. You seek opportunities to develop and learn more about yourself, positively acting upon any constructive feedback received.
Emotional Intelligence Emotional Regulation Taking time to manage and control your emotions, you are able to regulate your behaviour by identifying how you are feeling about a particular event or situation. Emotionally resilient, you manage and regulate your emotions during difficult and stressful situations and therefore can effectively deal with the stressor. You perform to the best of your ability in any given situation, by controlling your emotional response first. You demonstrate consistent emotional responses during difficult times.
Emotional Intelligence Self-Confidence Self-assured, you have a high level of belief in yourself and your ability in both positive and negative situations. You are unfazed by challenges and rely on your personal abilities to achieve results. Confident no matter what the circumstances are, you believe that your contributions add value to any given situation. Independent in your actions you are happy to complete tasks without the input of others, taking a self-reliant approach to both your work and personal life. You are certain about who you are and the value you bring to a team.
Social Intelligence Regard for Others Expressing belief and confidence in others, you are accepting and understanding, believing that people will make their very best effort to complete a task or project to the best of their abilities. You trust your colleagues, believing that they are inherently reliable and will take ownership for their actions. Seeing others through a positive lens, you value your colleagues and their contribution. You actively look for opportunities to support your colleagues both with their work and in their personal lives.
Social Intelligence Social Awareness Aware of the feelings, behaviours and emotions of others, you identify and pick up on emotional signals from your colleagues and will build hypotheses to test and validate with these people. You identify changes in mood by paying attention to the emotional cues of others. You are aware of others, responsive, empathic and seek to understand what a person is really thinking or feeling, rather than what they are saying. You are observant and interested in other people and what they require from you.
Resilience Optimism Remaining positive in all circumstances, you have a tendency to look on the ‘brighter side’ of a situation and display a consistently positive attitude and mindset, which assists you and others to deal with adversity or stress. You focus on the aspects of your work that are going well in order to motivate yourself to keep trying. You prioritise what you enjoy and energises you as you tend to get excited by new possibilities and ideas. You remain upbeat and engaged even when things are not going your way.
Resilience Unbiased Calm in your reactions, you are able to easily disconnect yourself from situations by emotionally removing yourself in order to remain objective and reflect on the most suitable response to the situation. You spend time objectively focusing on tasks at work, consciously taking time away from an emotional problem, which helps you to find a clear and coherent solution. Having separation between your decisions and your emotions allows you to compartmentalise and solve different issues in a more objective and calm way.
Resilience Self-Esteem With a high regard for your own self-worth, you understand your place in the world. You understand yourself, your core strengths and have a clear sense of purpose. This sense of clarity has been shaped by your past experiences. You think positively about yourself, attending to positive feedback and messages from others. You practise positive self-talk on a regular basis. In social interactions, you feel comfortable speaking highly of yourself, focusing on the aspects of yourself that you perceive to be your best qualities.
Resilience Perseverance Easily able to bounce back from negative situations, you are able to endure difficult challenges and complex change. You are able to endure difficulty, ambiguity and large amounts of change. You persist through obstacles that appear to be immovable when others would normally give up, showing commitment to succeed at all costs. You understand that in some situations you are not able to control all of the facts and take steps to deal with what is directly in front of you in a step-by-step matter of fact way.
Resilience Adaptability Adjustment to new circumstances comes naturally to you, viewing change as a way to make improvements to the current methods of working. You are open to alternative routes to success and constantly seek colleagues’ views and ideas to test your assumptions. You enjoy completing tasks and projects that have variety within them and spend time anticipating and preparing for the unknown. This proactive nature allows you to perform and deliver despite having missing information, limited guidance or lack of clarity.
Resilience Assertiveness Certain in your actions, you are happy to articulate your strong opinions and views to others. You command respect and deliver messages with authority and impact. You arrive at decisions quickly and follow through on your proposed actions. You are able to take control and lead conversations with others through your powerful presence, which allows you to effectively engage with others, leaving an impact on those with whom you interact. You have an aura of authority which means you use your power to influence others to adopt your ideas.
Motivation Autonomy Having a preference to retain personal control, you value having a strong influence over how you structure your work and your day. You are energised by having control over how and when you complete your work, organising your workload in a way that suits you. Preferring to make your own decisions about what to do, rather than being influenced by others, means that you thrive when given complete control over projects. Having this sense of choice results in you feeling empowered to make independent decisions.
Motivation Purpose Motivated by meaning and purpose, you gain satisfaction from directly impacting the performance of the organisation. You care about making a difference, seeking to understand how your work relates to the goals and purpose of the organisation. You are motivated to work within a business where your views and ideas are heard by your colleagues, and, appreciate any feedback that you may receive. You monitor your activities and results to make sure that the best outcomes are achieved for the organisation and that you maintain your relevance.
Motivation Growth By actively seeking new opportunities to grow and develop, you are energised by being stretched and challenged. You look for opportunities for learning and development, and actively enrol in courses or events to challenge your thinking. You actively spend time seeking activities that will challenge you and will help you to develop new skills and techniques to aid you in the future. You learn from high performing colleagues and seek guidance from these individuals to understand what you need to develop in order to progress and grow.
Motivation Recognition Driven by a sense of achievement, you are hardworking and committed. You consistently deliver high quality work which is driven by your motivation to be appreciated by your colleagues and to receive positive feedback and praise. You gain satisfaction from being respected by your peers as a professional and seek for your contributions to be appreciated by the business. Personally motivated by recognition, you actively spend time praising others as you do not want your efforts or the efforts of the team to go unnoticed.
Motivation Reward By seeking to establish personal security, you are energised and motivated by financial incentives. You actively seek to work in organisations that have clear financial incentives and rewards, as you are motivated to achieve goals that have financial benefits in return for your achievements and performance. As a result of this drive, you can be competitive and single minded in your pursuit of your goals. You will take calculated steps in order to improve your performance and results to achieve your targets.
Motivation Well-Being Motivated by personal well-being, you aim to achieve a positive and healthy balance in your personal and work life. You actively seek organisations, activities and roles that will enable you to have a healthy lifestyle, both physically and mentally. You therefore actively seek roles and organisations which allow you the flexibility to work from home or to be active at work. You also encourage your colleagues to find a healthy balance between work and personal commitments in order to achieve a stimulating and fulfilling lifestyle.
Motivation Collaboration By placing importance on being part of a group or team, you gain your energy from focusing on building and maintaining close relationships with your work colleagues. You have a desire to understand others at more than a surface level and therefore ask questions in order to form strong connections by recognising the views and opinions of others. You enjoy being around your colleagues on a regular basis and actively spend time promoting group activities, both within and outside of work, as you value spending time with your colleagues

These 18 dimensions form the basis of the flowprofiler® family, which was designed in partnership with Psychologists at Zircon Management Consulting Ltd. From the design and validation process two versions of the product range have been created; an ipsative version and a normative version. The validation research is based on the full flowprofiler® questionnaire.

The flowprofiler® normative questionnaire

A global population of 522 Managers and Professionals completed the trial normative version of the flowprofiler® questionnaire over a 3-week period. Table 2 shown example questions asked within the questionnaire.

Concordantly Worded

Reverse Worded
Please respond to the following statements Please respond to the following statements
  (1 = Strongly Disagree, 7 = Strongly Agree) (1 = Strongly Disagree, 7 = Strongly Agree)


Emotional Awareness

I reflect and consider my feelings and emotions

I focus on facts and data to guide my thinking and actions



I take time to acknowledge the views and opinions of others

I can forget to consider the impact of my decisions on other people

The flowprofiler® product family utilises both direct and reverse worded items because this has found in previous research to mitigate response bias (Barnette, 2000).

The normative questionnaire utilises the following scale:

Strongly Disagree

 Disagree Slightly Disagree Neither Agree Nor Disagree Slightly
 Agree Strongly Agree
1 2 3 4 5 6 7


The validity of the questionnaire has been ensured by:

  • Creating the questionnaire items with a neutral tone and with a positivity bias in mind. In this sense, individuals should not feel that any particular item is preferable, rather allowing themselves to consider how they actually are.
  • Using a 7-point rating scale from “1 = Strongly Disagree, 7 = Strongly Agree” that is fully labelled to reduce positive bias and to ensure that the respondents understand the meaning at each point of the scale. A seven-point rating scale was also selected to reduce central tendency bias (Potter, 1995).
  • Including items which have been written in the opposite direction to each targeted motivation in order to reduce respondent complacency.

When interpreting the results of an assessment it is often useful to know how each individual score compares to scores achieved by others. Knowing whether a score is high, low or average compared to others requires that we have a norm group. Norms allow for a comparison of an individual’s score on an assessment to a relevant comparison group. The use of norms ensures that, when comparing the scores of different individuals, you can be sure you are comparing like with like. There are various standard scales that could be used to assess individuals on aptitude and behavioural style assessments. Often different scales are used for aptitude and behavioural assessments to allow for a common, simple language on behavioural style and aptitude tests, ‘Sten’ scores are available. ‘Sten’ stands for ‘Standard to ten’, they provide a score which ranges from 1 to 10 with 5 and 6 straddling the average (mean) score. While this provides a simple scale for users, it is also useful to understand how these scores relate to percentiles in the normal distribution.

Sten Column 2 Column 3
1 Extremely low Performed better than 1% of the comparison group
2 Very low Performed better than 1% of the comparison group
3 Low Performed better than 10% of the comparison group
4 Fairly low Performed better than 25% of the comparison group
5 Average Performed better than 40% of the comparison group
6 Average Performed better than 60% of the comparison group
7 Fairly high Performed better than 75% of the comparison group
8 High Performed better than 90% of the comparison group
9 Very high Performed better than 95% of the comparison group
10 Extremely high Performed better than 99% of the comparison group

For simplicity for users the figures in the above table are rounded to give whole number percentiles (positive integers). Where possible they are provided as multiples of 5 or 10, which are near the centre of each Sten score, this avoids creating the perception of over accuracy in the score particularly as Stens are bands of scores which are subject to a degree of error.

Sten scores are calculated from a person’s raw scores on an aptitude or behavioural styles assessment. To work out a person’s Sten score, you first need to calculate the Z-score. The Z-score represents how far away a person’s score is from the group mean in standard deviation units. The formula to calculate a person’s Z-score is as follows:

Individuals Raw Score – Mean of the Group

Z-score = ___________________________________________

Standard Deviation

X – X

Z-Score = _______________


From this you can work out a person’s Sten score. The formula for calculating Sten scores is given below:

Sten score = (Z-score x 2) + 5.5

A Sten score gives a rounded representation of a person’s score against a benchmark comparison group. One Sten score covers half of a standard deviation from the bottom of the score to the top of the Sten score.

The reliability of flowprofiler®

Number of cases Cronbach Alpha
The flowprofiler® questionnaire 522 0.82

According to Hulin, Netemeyer and Cudeck (2001), a Cronbach Alpha value of 0.6-0.7 demonstrates an acceptable level of reliability, and 0.8 or above demonstrates a very good level of reliability.

Internal Consistency or Stability Correlation Coefficient
Inadequate r < 0.60
Adequate r 0.60 – 0.70
Good r 0.70 – 0.80

r ≥ 0.80

Measures of test approach

Self report assessment works on the “assumption respondents have enough insight into their own personality characteristics to report on them accurately” (de Waal, 2016, Nisbett & Wilson, 1977; Ottamans & Turheimer 2009 ).

In order to address this, measures of Social Desirability, Self-Deception and Completion Time were introduced in the flowprofiler® reports in March 2023.

Measures include:

  • Social desirability
  • Self-deception
  • Completion time
Social desirability and Self-deception

The original Social Desirability and Self-Deception scales were constructed as a result of Dr Amanda Potter’s (2003) PhD research, which explored removing Social Desirability bias when assessing Type A personality, as a common criticism of popular self-report Type A measures is the reliance on the perceptions of other people. The scales were initially constructed using two types of acquiescence response sets; “agreement acquiescence” and “acceptance acquiescence” (Bentler, Jackson, Messick 1971; Jacobson et al., 1977), the first defined as the tendency to agree with all items regardless of content and the second being defined as the tendency to agree with all self-descriptive items and disagree with items that deny these characteristics.

Using this research, Potter (2003) explored Social Desirability through analysing the degree to which the items were considered to be socially desirable, a total of 13 items were considered to be socially desirable and were turned into a Social Desirability scale. These items were validated, and 7 items were removed as a result of having low reliabilities. Potter (2003) also created an Impression Management/Self-Deception scale made up of 10 items, which was validated using a population of 118 individuals from 8 different organisations. As a result of the analysis, 4 items were removed due to participants correctly identifying these as impression management items.

In June 2022, these items were reviewed and updated based on recent feedback from the British Psychological Society. The Social Desirability and Self-Deception Cronbach Alpha values are shown in Table 2.1. These reliabilities were run with a sample size of 482 in June 2022. Also shown is the SEMeasurement for each scale.

Scale Definition
Social Desirability Social Desirability is the tendency for participants to respond in a way that seems to be socially accepted over choosing responses which are reflective of their true feelings. It is a type of bias wherein individuals try to portray themselves favourably to avoid being evaluated negatively (Grimm, 2010). Some attributes of personality, behaviours or traits could be considered socially appropriate or inappropriate. Hence, participants could fake their answers to respond in a way they feel is best (Anastasi &amp; Urbina, 1997).
Self-Deception Self-deception is the tendency to show oneself in a more positive way based on one’s own potentially skewed perceptions and beliefs (Paulhus, 1986). For example, if an item on a questionnaire is ‘I am happy’ and an individual responds to it as’ Always True’, one could assume that the person would like this to be the case. Hence, self-deception is related to how a person would like to see themselves (Ciccarelli &amp; Meyer, 2016). Researchers assume job applicants engage in self-deception to impress the employer, thereby improving their chances of being hired, which should not be considered to be always true as some people believe the inflated view of themselves(Barrick &amp; Mount, 1996).
Scale Cronbach Alpha SEMeasurement
Social-Desirability 0.692 0.417
Self-Deception 0.617 0.391
Completion time

Completion time is reported next to the average completion time for the population. This information give insights into if the test taker took an excessively long time, average time or completed the assessment quickly.


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❝resilienceflow® was a great way of checking in with ourselves as individuals and checking how we were doing as a team. resilienceflow® gave us insights and language for our day-to-day and under pressure thinking and performance.❞

Fiona Nuttall, Waterfield