How to Guess Someone's Core Values Index Profile

Steve Williamson, VP Digital Marketing and Content, eRep, Inc.
Monday, October 4, 2021
How to Guess Someone's Core Values Index Profile

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The Core Values Index psychometric assessment provides two primary benefits: understanding yourself, and understanding others. Many additional benefits come from these insights, such as improved communications, more efficient learning, happier professional and personal lives, and more.

Learning to identify the likely CVI profile of others takes a bit of knowledge, and even some practice, but once you've gotten the hang of it, you'll be amazed at how it expands and improves your life.

Understanding others by guessing their Core Values Index profile will help you be a better communicator.

In order to determine the Core Values Index profile of another person, you must first know some basics about the four core value energies. If you don't know what constitutes a Builder's core value energy, for example, you won't know if the person you're talking to is a Builder or not.

The first step is to learn about the four core value energies. We've written about them on our blog, so here are some quick reads to get you started:

The second step is to look for likely indicators in the other person's behavior. Before we go any further, however, we need to make some important points and disclaimers.

Before You Get Started

First, a person's CVI profile is private information. If someone has taken the CVI, they may choose to share their profile with others and many people like to talk openly about the CVI, but some like to keep it entirely to themselves. Please respect that.

Even if someone has not taken the CVI, or if they don't even know what the CVI is, you can still use your knowledge of the four core value energies to get a pretty good idea of what their primary and maybe even their secondary energies are.

Finally, it is challenging to identify someone's tertiary or minor core value energies except through a process of elimination. The third and fourth core values, respectively, don't influence the individual's personality very much, so don't worry about determining what they are.

By learning about the Core Values Index and practicing the use of that knowledge, you will be able to effectively adapt your own perspective and expectations appropriately based on the circumstance.

Understanding Others

Human beings share two qualities: they are both complex and incredibly diverse. Although there are 1.8 million different combinations of CVI profile score sets, each person's life experiences combine with their CVI profile to truly make them unique. The CVI makes understanding yourself and others much simpler and surprisingly accurate, but in the end every person is unique. Keep this in mind as you try to better understand other people.

Human beings share two qualities: they are both complex and incredibly diverse.

The following tips are generalizations about the four core value energies. They exist in different amounts within each individual. Because these personality categories are generalizations, they should be treated as directions on the compass, not precise GPS coordinates. These characteristics are generally true, but won't always be present or apparent in every situation.


To start, let's talk about Builders. If you are meeting someone for the first time, how would you know if their primary CVI score was Builder? That individual might exhibit the following personality traits and behaviors.

The likely Builder will be to-the-point in their communications. They won't ramble or tell long-winded stories that are entertaining but don't seem to have an obvious conclusion (see Merchants below). Builders can sometimes come across as impatient, but that's because they prefer results and action over processes. They're all about the destination, not the scenic journey.

Builders also have a catalytic energy of faith. They have faith in themselves that they will intuitively know how to act and behave in any situation, all toward the goal of getting things done. You're not likely to see much self-doubt or hesitation in a Builder.

Speaking of getting things done, few things make a Builder happier than completing tasks. They may even exhibit impatience toward people or processes they feel might delay their ability to get something done. "Move out of the way and let me do it," has been spoken by many Builders throughout the centuries.

Builders like to feel powerful, so few things stress them out or upset them quicker than being made to feel weak or ineffective. This triggers their stress response as weakness is their deepest fear.

Every core value energy has a Conflict Resolution Strategy, and Builders resolve their conflict through intimidation. A raised voice or a challenging physical posture can be presented. Make them feel powerful again and watch that intimidation disappear.


The folks who have Merchant energy in their primary spot are the story tellers and organizers in a group. They love to communicate and share their enthusiasm with others. They are excellent at getting groups motivated to pull toward a common goal. Since they only need about 30% of available information before they're eager to begin, they excel at getting things kicked off. Just remember that Merchants, unlike Builders, aren't nearly as concerned with finishing as they are with starting.

Merchants love to tell stories. They won't bore you with a long list of facts like a Banker might, nor communicate in bullet points like a Builder. Their story will be personal and engaging.

After meeting a Merchant, you may not remember what they said but you will definitely remember how they made you feel.

Merchants are the most intuitive of all core value energies, and they excel at reading non-verbal cues. You aren't likely to get away with lying to a Merchant.

When communicating with a Merchant, remember that their primary motivation in this world is to be the source of love and connectedness in the room. This means their greatest fear is to be unworthy of love.

When a Merchant feels unloved or unworthy of love, they go into their conflict resolution strategy of manipulation. They can be perceived as being thin-skinned and when really cornered, they can lash out and emotionally hurt others quite effectively. Obviously this will depend on the maturity level of the individual, but if you are the target of an angry Merchant, you won't soon forget how they made you feel.


Nothing makes an Innovator happier than solving problems. Nothing stresses out an Innovator more than being made to feel incompetent or foolish. The two go hand in hand.

Since an Innovator's primary motivation is to be the source of wisdom in the room, they will be the first to try to solve any problems that come up. They have the most genuine and altruistic sense of compassion of all four core value energies, so helping others really fills their soul.

Innovators communicate by asking a lot of questions. They want to make sure their solution to your problem is the correct one. They can't do this with only a small amount of data. One of their fears is that their proposed solution isn't the right one. They will also never give up until they find the right answer, sometimes to the point of a never-ending pursuit of perfection that leads to not knowing when something is 'good enough.'

Don't communicate your situation to an Innovator if all you want is for someone to just listen and not give advice or suggestions. They won't be able to help themselves.

A stressed-out Innovator is one who has been made to feel foolish or incompetent. When in their conflict resolution mode, Innovators respond through interrogation. They will ask leading questions in an attempt to prove that you're wrong and they are correct.


The person in the room who seems to enjoy learning trivia and facts about something is likely a Banker. Gathering knowledge — all the knowledge — is what makes a Banker happy. They couple this with a sense of justice, eagerly sharing their wealth of knowledge and data with those they deem justly deserving of it — or denying it from those who don't.

Bankers aren't interested in flowery stories, filled with hyperbole and stretched truths like a Merchant. They also don't have the lack of patience and urgent need to get things done like a Builder. In fact, a Banker can be perceived as lacking initiative compared to other profiles. They can follow directions to the finest detail but will rely on others to lead or come up with new ideas.

If gathering knowledge and data is what makes a Banker the happiest, then being made to feel as if they are ignorant is their greatest fear. A Banker's conflict resolution strategy is to aloofly judge. Their catalytic energy is justice, so they will withhold their knowledge from those they feel don't justly deserve to hear it.

General Advice

Most people will exhibit their primary core value energy during the majority of their day.

There are exceptions, however. If two Builders are talking, the one with the higher Builder score will subconsciously dominate the conversation, and the other person will drop down into their secondary core value energy.

For example, if Shari is a 28-Builder and 22-Merchant, and she's having a conversation with Richard who's a 25-Builder and 22-Innovator, Richard will automatically detect that Shari has a higher Builder energy than him. In their conversation, he will act more like an Innovator. This will be natural and the two individuals likely won't even be aware it is happening.

If you meet someone who has a well-rounded CVI profile that has scores within a few points of each other, it will be a challenge to identify which core value is primary. They may unconsciously adapt to align with your personality. In this case, you don't need to worry too much about what their primary core value is, just be yourself. Shape your communication style based on the topic and situation and rely on the other person's well-rounded CVI to adapt as needed.

Just One of Four?

These are guidelines and generalizations about the four core value energies. People are complex beings that are made up of different ratios of these personality types, so treating others as if they are just "one of four" may lead to some missteps.

Listening to what the other person has to say and seeking to understand their meaning is always valuable.

Perhaps most importantly, be aware that you see the world through your own CVI lens. This means you will hear and perceive what others communicate through that lens. Even if you correctly discern what the other person's primary and secondary core value energies are, you will still receive their words and mannerisms and intent from the perspective of your own core values profile.

By learning about the Core Values Index and practicing the use of that knowledge, you will be able to quickly and correctly shift your own perspective and expectations appropriately based on the circumstance.

If you are a Banker and you read this far, that's no surprise. That's who you are and it's what you do. If you are a Builder, congratulations for stepping out of your comfort zone by reading past the first three paragraphs.

Go to to learn more about the CVI or to take the Core Values Index assessment.

Employees hired with a CVI that closely matches a Top Performer Profile often outperform candidates hired without a TPP match by 200% or more. → Learn more

Steve Williamson

Steve Williamson

Innovator/Banker - VP Digital Marketing and Content, eRep, Inc.

Steve has a career in project management, software development and technical team leadership spanning three decades. He is the author of a series of fantasy novels called The Taesian Chronicles (, and when he isn't writing, he enjoys cycling, old-school table-top role-playing games, and buzzing around the virtual skies in his home-built flight simulator.

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