Using colors as catalytic objects to explore the mental context of corporate leaders

Some years ago during a psychoanalytic study in corporate companies in Berlin we discovered a method to unveil subconscious mental context of CEOs and managing directors. We asked the managers to associate a color to each of the following 20 terms as spontaneously as possible: Customers, Market, Vacation, Suppliers, Victory, Innovation, Job, Exhaustion, Services, Energy, Offense, Competitor, Employee, Sport, Products, Defense, Self-Fulfillment, Investor, Work Council, Defeat. As more and more interviews had been performed this little exercise turned out to be pretty revealing although it was meant as a preliminary practice only in the first place. We found that within one interview the terms which have been assigned to the same color obviously form a group in which a term is connected stronger to the terms in the same group than to the other terms and that reflects in most of the case also the context of these terms in the mind of that manager. So if the manager assigns i.e. brown to Exhaustion than we found that other terms which have been assigned to brown were connected with exhausting topics for the manager much more than the other terms, which represent other topics in the managers life.


Secondly we did some studies about the mental context of the interviewed group in general. In a matrix we counted how often a term was found in the same color group with each other term. We defined context between the terms considerably higher than pure chance if they were in the same group in more of 25% of all cases (more than 8 of 32 interviews).

We found Exhaustion/Defeat according to the criteria above not in context of corporate terms while Energy is in the center and strongly connected to many terms. As expected the majority of the interviewed corporate leaders are more energetic than depressive. Competitor was not in context of corporate terms probably because the competitor is an outsider and not a part of the company. In general the managers seemed to be more product oriented than competitor oriented. Vacation was not in context of corporate terms since managers work a lot. Therefore it was a surprise that Self-Fulfillment was also not in context to corporate terms. 

Project Status: Published in Socioanalysis 2016. Follow-up studies in preparation.


Mind Institute SE

(right stairs, 1st floor)
Werderscher Markt 12

10117 Berlin



Phone: +49 30 8643 7645

You will reach our office Mon-Fri from 8:30am till 6pm.

Our new book