This filter is about how we make meaning of relationships between things – it is sometimes called ‘Sameness and Difference’ or ‘Match/mismatch’.
When presented with a group of items, some people will first notice the similarities between those elements that are similar. Other will first notice the differences.
Someone who likes going to the same place on holiday every year, or who looks for the familiar items on a dinner menu, is probably running a Sameness filter. Someone like me, who notices spelling errors rapidly and easily, or who looks for unusual items on a dinner menu, is probably running a Difference filter.
To be accepted, does a new idea need to be related to pre-existing evidence or examples – or is it understandable as an absolutely novel, stand-alone?
If we want to initiate an organisational change, does the audience who will be affected need to see how it is similar to previous initiatives or are they open to the new and different? One of the best known advertising slogans “new and improved” manages to stimulate both ends of the continuum in just three words.
Some tension may arise as a consequence of extremes in this pattern. For example, someone who is very much at the Difference end of the continuum may well interrupt a meeting with “yes but … “ and go on to show how the idea will not work. They may also do the exact opposite of what’s been asked (a polarity response). Equally, someone with a very strong Similarity preference may find any kind of surprise or change challenging.