The 29 Dimensions

Most people know that the key to success in a long-term relationship is compatibility. But what does that mean? If you both like foreign movies and Mocha ice cream, will you still feel the magic in 25 years?

The 29 dimensions mentioned below are scientifically proven to predict happier and healthier relationships. To help you better understand these 29 dimensions, they’ve been grouped into Core Traits and Vital Attributes.

Core Traits are defining aspects of who you are that remain largely unchanged throughout your adult life.

Vital Attributes are based on learning and experience, and are more likely to change based on life events and decisions you make as an adult.

These key areas paint a powerful portrait of who you are at the deepest level.

Core Traits

1. Emotional Temperament

How do you feel about yourself and about the world? While specific day-to-day and moment-to-moment events play a major role in our emotions, deep seated patterns of emotion are also a fundamental part of who you are and how people perceive you. The following members of the 29 Dimensions are considered as part of your Emotional Temperament:

i. Self Concept
ii. Emotional Status
iii. Energy: Emotional
iv. Obstreperousness
v. Passion: Romantic

Self Concept

Self Concept refers to how you perceive yourself. Do I believe strongly and implicitly that I am a good and worthwhile person, or do I have a strong need to be supported and bolstered in this belief by other people in my life? It is important that your self-concept be accurate, positive and strong in order for you to be most successful in your relationships with other people.

A strong self concept is both accurate and positive. An accurate self concept is one that is consistent with the way that other (healthy) people see you. A positive self concept is based on a core belief in your own value and worth. Minor failures and difficulties can have huge emotional repercussions for people who lack a strong self concept. One of the benefits of a strong self concept is the capacity to control the various parts of your emotional world in a way that provides consistency and balance to your life.

Emotional Status

There are certain factors which almost guarantee that any marriage is going to have a very low probability of success. For instance, if a person has an addiction of any kind, or has a serious emotional condition which chronically disrupts their life, or a tendency to be unreliable. These should be recognized as serious red flags. More than one of these red flags should definitely signal a need to slow down in any search for a life partner, and even one red flag should encourage a delay in getting married until the condition can be remedied.

Having a solid emotional composition is the essence of the Emotional Status dimension. Feeling happy, fulfilled and hopeful are crucial elements of this dimension. Conversely, being depressed, anxious and fearful about the future are aspects that are negatively associated with this dimension. If someone has an extremely low score on this dimension, it is unlikely they have the emotional reserves to currently engage in a healthy intimate relationship.

Emotional Energy

Emotional energy relates to how energetic your emotional temperament is. Key indicators of emotional energy are how spontaneous, vivacious, outgoing and adventurous you feel on a regular basis. Although all of us have our ups and downs, people with a lot of emotional energy rarely need to “recharge” and are almost always happiest when they are actively doing something.

Obstreperousness

Obstreperousness refers to a person’s tendency to find fault, to attribute blame to someone else, to make other persons wrong, and to portray them self as always right. The obstreperous person is someone who has a consistently critical attitude. The more pessimistic a person is, the more likely they are to be obstreperous.

Passion: Romantic

Your level of Romantic Passion reflects the degree to which the romantic and emotional aspects of a relationship are an important part of your emotional temperament. The desires to share and experience warmth, affection and a sensual connection with a partner are all important aspects of your level of Romantic Passion. 

2. Social Style

How do you relate to other people? Do you crave company, or prefer to be alone? Are you more comfortable leading, or do you prefer to go along with the group? Basic feelings such as these comprise an important aspect of who you are, and who you will be most compatible with. The elements of the 29 Dimensions which define your Social Style are:

i. Character
ii. Kindness
iii. Dominance
iv. Sociability
v. Autonomy
vi. Adaptability

Character

The Character dimension relates primarily to issues of integrity. How honest are you? How fair are you? How committed are you to being honest and fair at all times, and at all costs? A person has a strong character if they relentlessly tell the truth, refuse to take advantage of another person in any situation, and use their best judgment even under the most intense circumstances.

Anyone can do the “right thing” when the going is easy and challenges are few and far between. Character ultimately relates to how you behave when life gets difficult. When the going gets tough, people with high character are the ones you really want by your side!

People who have a high score on the Character dimension are experienced by others as consistently genuine and trustworthy. They can be relied upon to act according to their best judgment. Furthermore, people with high Character scores are consistently more likely to be a good partner in a successful relationship.

Kindness

The dimension of Kindness relates to that capacity of an individual to treat other people with consistent sensitivity and empathy. Almost everybody on earth is looking for friends and partners who are high on the dimension of kindness. There is a lack of self-centeredness when kindness is present. Kindness is the very opposite of selfishness.

Expressing support and concern for your partner, and expecting your partner to do the same, is the underlying characteristic of this dimension. The ability to express kindness through all types of situations is measured by this dimension.

Dominance

A person who is consistently dominant needs to be in control. A person who is consistently submissive needs to be controlled. Neither of these qualities is necessarily good or bad. But in any relationship there needs to be a general agreement about who will be dominant and who will be submissive. Relationships work best when both people can be dominant at different times and submissive at other times.

This dimension evaluates if you have a tendency to be more comfortable as a leader or as a follower. Those who are dominant tend to be somewhat aggressive and outspoken while those who are more submissive prefer to defer to someone else.

Sociability

Some people are extremely eager to be involved with other people in a social context. Others find social involvement anxiety provoking and painful. If a person is high on sociability, they are usually seen to be eager for social engagement. Shy persons typically are seen as low on sociability, but there needs to be a careful assessment of shy people for any differences between interest and ability.

The degree of enjoyment you take in actively engaging in social situations reflects the basic element of this dimension. Hosting parties, mingling at social functions and making new friends all contribute to this dimension.

Autonomy

The Autonomy dimension represents the degree to which you desire to maximize your time spent with a partner, versus your desire to pursue independent activities and interests. Although a high desire for closeness can be confused with low Self Concept in some situations, the truth is that your desire for autonomy or closeness is an important and separate aspect of your Emotional Temperament which it is important to consider when looking for your ideal mate.

Adaptability

Adaptability is a personal characteristic which allows an individual to change their way of being in order to better relate to another person or persons. If an individual can maintain their authenticity, the ideal is for their adaptability to be at a maximum level. This ability to adapt makes all other relationships more likely to be meaningful.

Being able to make compromises and to adjust to changing circumstances defines this dimension. Being able to consistently consider your partner’s needs is also an positive aspect of Adaptability.

3. Cognitive Mode

How do you think about the world around you? Are you motivated by an insatiable curiosity about the world and events around you? Are you constantly looking for intellectual challenges? Do you find humor to be your favorite coping strategy when dealing with the world? Although Feelings and Social Style can impact on this trait, your Cognitive Mode is an important separate aspect of who you are, and defines a lot of the ways in which you interact with people. The elements of the 29 Dimensions which define your dominant Cognitive Mode are:

i. Intellect
ii. Curiosity
iii. Humor
iv. Artistic Passion

Intellect

How interested are you in learning about and understanding the world around you? Do you prefer seeing the “big picture?” Or are you someone who likes to know all the details? How do you approach solving problems in your day to day life? Do you like to know all the facts before you make a decision? Or are you more comfortable following your intuition? These are some of the many aspects that combine to form the intellectual component of your Cognitive Style.

Curiosity

Perhaps the most important component of your cognitive style is your level of curiosity about the world. If a person has an intense need for stimulation, along with a personal strategy to pursue additional information through inquisitiveness, they are thought to be high on the curiosity dimension. If a person is easily satisfied with relatively limited information about anything, they are low in curiosity.

Humor

Everyone thinks that they have a “good sense of humor.” But how strongly does your sense of humor affect your cognitive style? Are you constantly finding humor in the situations around you? Do your friends count on you to make them smile or laugh when you join a conversation. Is humor something you enjoy, or a major component of your personality? These elements define the dimension of humor, and comprise an important component of your cognitive style. 

Artistic Passion

Some people are, right to the center of themselves, artistically inclined. This is for them a primary personal trait. Sometimes, these persons are skillful as artists. They may play an instrument, write music or poetry, paint, sculpt, or sing. Other people cannot perform, but they have a strong interest in observing, listening, reading, and feeling.

Your drive for creativity and artistic expression define your level of Artistic Passion. The enjoyment of art and culture is an essential part of life for individuals who score highly on this dimension. This dimension also incorporates the desire to have creative outlets such as music and writing. How you view the importance of art and culture is an important aspect of your cognitive style.

4. Physicality

How do you relate physically with the world? How do you relate physically with yourself? Are you energetic, athletic and constantly in motion? Or are you more comfortable and happy walking than running? Feelings and thoughts which revolve around your physical life form an important aspect of who you are. The components of the 29 Dimensions which deal with your Physicality include:

i. Physical Energy
ii. Passion: Physical
iii. Vitality and Security
iv. Industry
v. Appearance

Physical Energy

A person has both an ordinary energy capacity and a peak energy capacity. The Physical Energy dimension refers to the amount of physical energy you characteristically have across the scope of your day to day life. The amount of enjoyment you take in pursuing physically challenging activities, whether you prefer physically active or physically passive forms of recreation, your feelings and level of physical activity are all strongly reflected in this dimension.

Passion: Physical

Physical passion refers to the amount of interest and enjoyment a person associates with the physical act of making love. Your basic attitudes and feelings regarding physical passion are an important part of your core trait of physicality.

Vitality and Security

Vitality refers to a person’s attitude towards their general state of physical health. Security refers to a person’s ability and desire to both earn a living and provide a safe and secure environment in which to raise a family.

Industry

A person who most enjoys being “lazy” and relaxing is low on Industry, while someone who needs to be on the go constantly and doing something is high on Industry. Efficiency, productivity and a drive to constantly improve one’s self and surroundings are characteristics of this dimension. Persistence in achieving goals and taking great pleasure in doing high quality work also distinguished people with high scores on Industry. 

Appearance

The core element assessed by this dimension is the extent to which you consider yourself to be a physically attractive person. This includes ratings of physical attributes such as fitness, weight, and athleticism. While this can be thought of as part of your “physical temperament,” how you feel about your appearance also speaks to your emotional temperament.

Vital Attributes

1. Relationship Skills

The amount of effort and skill that you devote to making a relationship work are key elements of who you are, and what type of person you are most likely to succeed with in a relationship. The key attributes that we measure as part of your Relationship Skills are:

i. Communication Style
ii. Emotion Management: Anger
iii. Emotional Management: Mood
iv. Conflict Resolution

Communication Style

This dimension relates to both interest in communicating and ability to communicate. It summarizes the important matter of how much and how well a person is able to verbalize his or her thoughts and feelings, ask questions of another person, and determine similarities and differences between them.

Emotion Management: Anger

This dimension measures your ability to deal with anger in a manner that is not at the expense of someone else. Being able to express both positive and negative emotions in an honest and constructive manner is an important part of this dimension. Taking anger out on other people, becoming easily upset and blaming others when things go wrong are all examples of poor anger management skills.

Emotional Management: Mood

Every person has some variation of moods. And every person has some degree of control over their moods. When they manage their moods so that their emotional state remains within reasonable limits, they are thought to be good mood managers. However, when their moods vary considerably, or even severely, they score much lower on the dimension of mood management.

Conflict Resolution

This dimension measures how you prefer to resolve conflicts. Being able to understand another’s point of view, being respectful of other people during conflicts and dropping an issue once it is resolved all contribute to a strong score on this dimension.

2. Values and Beliefs

Values and Beliefs are at the center of most of our life experiences. How we feel about spirituality, religion, family and even politics for a enormous part of how we think about the world, and who we are going to be most comfortable sharing our lives with.

i. Spirituality
ii. Family Goals
iii. Traditionalism
iv. Ambition
v. Altruism

Spirituality

The spirituality dimension measures the amount of importance you place in your spiritual expressions and beliefs. The spiritual realm has to do with phenomena that involve matters above and beyond physical explanations. For some people spirituality is expressed in religion and religious beliefs. For other people, spirituality is expressed in more personalized and individual ways.

Family Goals

The Family Goal dimension is defined by your interest in parenting. The desire to have children and dedicate a significant part of your life to the rearing of children is the crucial component of this dimension.

Traditionalism

Society has developed some traditional ways of dealing with most common situations. In simplest terms, this can be thought of as the “road most traveled.” This dimension is heavily related to the importance placed on morality, personal values, church involvement and religious beliefs.

Ambition

Ambition indicates how important it is for you to be recognized as personally successful. This dimension reflects how much emphasis you place on succeeding in your career and in your financial life. It also measures how important it is for you to find and take on new challenges.

Altruism

How strongly do you desire to live your life according to your values? While all of us have values and beliefs that we apply to situations in a reactive manner, the Altruism dimension speaks to how proactive you are in applying what you think is right and putting back into the community in which you live. Having strong values, helping those who are less fortunate, performing volunteer work and participating in community service are all positive aspects of this dimension.

3. Key Experiences

All of your life experiences combine to affect who you are and how you relate to the world. Although many of the effects of these experiences are represented by the other Core Traits and Learned Attributes, the following components of the 29 Dimensions are considered separately as part of your Key Experiences:

i. Family Background
ii. Family Status
iii. Education

Family Background

Did your family history prepare you for being able to form a long lasting and healthy relationship? This dimension measures the quality of your family history based on positive feelings such as supportiveness and negative feelings such as over-involvement and conflict. How you perceive your family when you were growing up and how you relate to your family now are both part of this assessment.

Family Status

Family status is your current family situation (i.e., do you have children from a previous relationship or marriage, do they live with you full time/part time/not at all, are they under the age of 18, etc.).

Education

The dimension of Education is based upon your level of educational achievement and the degree of importance that you attach to educational achievements.

*Source: Harris Interactive study, Fall 2005.

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