The Process (Finding Your Model, Part 4)

The first steps to finding your brain's natural conceptualization model.

Today, I’m going to take you through a process to get closer to your ideal conceptualization model. To how your mind naturally wants to process Chess information.

When we conceptualize in ways that align with our brain’s strengths, our training becomes much smoother.

Normally, I do a version of this process as part of my one-on-one coaching sessions. And there’s a lot of listening, feedback, and individual attention that goes into getting it right.

Obviously, we can’t get that level of depth in an article- but this should get you started.

Before we get into it, I strongly recommend you read the first three parts of this series again.

There’s a lot to get through, so I won’t be explaining things very much as we go. The information in those other articles is critical!

I’ve broken the process into 2 articles. You’ll get the second part tomorrow.

The steps we’ll go through today will help you find your brain’s natural thinking style outside of Chess. Tomorrow, I’ll introduce you to some exercises and techniques to match your conceptualization model to that natural thinking style.

It’s not an exact science, especially not over email, and it will require a good deal of self-reflection. The goal is to watch and notice what your mind does, not to force it to do anything in particular. It’s a tricky balance to strike.

As you go through each step, pay attention to what your mind is doing. If it helps, journal on the experience or draw out a mindmap. Tracking and reviewing that data might prove useful.

Go slow. It’ll end up better for you in the long run if you give yourself time to explore and reflect on each part of the process. If you go slow, you’ll actually end up with a better result in less time.

As the Navy SEALs say, “slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.”

Ok, strap in. Let’s do this!

Step One: The Visualizer-Verbalizer Questionnaire

In Part Two, I showed you my take on Linda Silverman’s spectrum of thinking styles.

The Visual-Verbal Spectrum. 33% of players are strongly visual. 30% lean towards visuals. 12% lean towards verbal methods. 25% are strongly verbal.

Silverman created an 18-question test to help her identify roughly where an individual falls on the spectrum.

Each question requires a yes or no answer. Write down your answers as you go. You may be unsure exactly which way you fall with some of them, but just go with the option that feels most correct.

I recently took Hannah Sayce through the questionnaire on stream and she made a YouTube video out of it.

Step Two: Object vs Spatial Visualization Test

As a Visual thinker, you will likely be either an Object or a Spatial Visualizer. There are tests to check this, but they’re too detailed to do here. So I’ll show you one exercise that will give you a sense of which you are.

It’s called the “Paper Folding Test” and has been used in cognitive tests for decades.

You’ll be shown an image of a piece of transparent paper with various markings on it, and told how it will be folded. Your job is to pick the answer that shows what the folded image would look like.

Whether you’re an Object or Spatial Visualizer, you’ll probably be able to do it. But the Spatial Visualizers will likely find it quite simple, and Object Visualizers will have to put in some effort.

Click here to try the paper folding test for yourself.

If you feel this test was a breeze, you may be a Spatial Visualizer. If you found that it took some effort or you struggled, you may be an Object Visualizer.

When you complete this, unless you fell mid-spectrum in Step One, you can skip to Step Four (which you will receive tomorrow).

Step Three: Vividness of Visual Imagery Questionnaire

As primarily a Verbalizer, it can be useful to determine how “vivid” your visual imagery is as well. How much you use it to augment your verbal thinking.

If you have standard visual “vividness”, you may be a mid-spectrum Verbalizer like me, preferring your inner monologue but able to use visuals when you need to. If you have below average visual vividness, or have aphantasia, you’re likely a strong Verbalizer.

The Vividness of Visual Imagery Questionnaire is a great tool to test how strong and distinct your mental pictures are. And it’s available for free from the Aphantasia Network website.

(There is a paid upgrade with the Aphantasia Network for more information if you’d like, but the free version will work for our purposes.)

​Click here to try the VVIQ.

When you’re done with that, you can skip to Step Five (which you’ll find in Part Five).

Now take some time to think through your results.

Try things out and see what feels right. When you go about your day or play Chess today, pay attention to what your brain is doing.

That reflection will assist in the rest of the process.

See you in Part Five.

About the author

Aiden Rayner writes about how to make the adult brain better at Chess. Using science-backed insights, he works to change the narratives around adult improvement, and help adults discover the power of their Chess brains.

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