The list of thinking patterns that MindSonarmeasures

DefinitionMeta Programs are thinking patterns. You can find them in how somebody says things and in their nonverbal expressions. For instance: are they focussed on the details or on ten big picture? Or: do they want to achieve things, or do they want to avoid problems?

Meta Programs are an important part of someone’s mindset. Their mindset determines their  behaviour and their emotions. And those, in turn, determine their results.


  • Meta Programs
  • Thinking patterns
  • Thinking Style Qualities
  • Ways of thinking
  • Mindset elements
  • Cognitive-perceptual preferences

List of Meta Programs measured in MindSonar

Set 1: Proactive versus ReactiveProactive = a preference for acting quickly and taking the initiative. Reactive = a preference for waiting, considering, and reflecting.

Set 2: Towards versus Away fromTowards = a focus on achieving goalsAway From = a focus on avoiding problems.

Set 3: Internal Reference versus External ReferenceInternal Reference = using one’s own standards in evaluations.External Reference = using other people’s standards in evaluations.

Set 4: Options versus ProcedureOptions = a preference for many different possibilities.Procedure = a preference for step-by-step planning.

Set 5: General versus SpecificGeneral  = a focus on the broad overviewSpecific = a focus on the small details.

Set 6: Matching versus MismatchingMatching = a focus on what is good and correct.Mismatching =  a focus on what is bad and incorrect).

Set 7: Internal locus of control versus External locus of controlInternal locus of control = a focus on how someone influences their circumstances) versusExternal locus of control (focus on how someone’s circumstances influence them).

Set 8: Maintenance versus Development versus ChangeMaintenance = a preference for things staying the same. Development = a preference for gradual change.Change = a preference for fast and radical change.

Set 9: People versus Activity versus InformationPeople = a focus on people and what moves themActivities = a focus on activities being doneInformation = focus on information; facts and figures.

Set 10: Concept versus Structure versus UseConcept = a focus on essentials and principles.Structure = a focus on relationships between elements.Use = a focus on practical applications.

Set 11: Together versus Proximity versus SoloTogether = a preference for working closely together with shared responsibility.Proximity = a preference for mutual support with individual responsibility.Solo = a preference for working alone).

Set 12: Past versus Present versus FuturePast = a focus on past events.Present = a focus on the “here and now”.Future = a focus on future events.

Set 13: Visual versus Auditory versus Kinesthetic Visual = a focus on images and movies.Auditory = focus on sounds and words.Kinesthetic = focus on feelings and movement.

If you want to see examples of these patterns in famous quotes, click here.

How thinking style, filters, feelings and actions work togetherThere is a dynamic relationship between thinking (meta programs and Graves drives), perception, emotion and behaviour.

  • How your mindset strengthens your perceptionMindset, consisting of thinking style (Meta programs) plus motivational types (Graves drives), determines perceptual filters. What is a perceptual filter? Basically it is what someone does or does not notice. And the other way around: once in place, these filters tend to strengthen the thinking style and the motivational type they are based on. For example: Someone uses the meta program ‘Procedure’ in a given context. They think in terms of sequences that need to be run in a certain order. So when they look at a bookcase they will notice a row of manuals. Manuals are full of the kind of procedural information that they like. If they would have had the meta program ‘Options’ active, instead of ‘Procedure’, they would probably not even have noticed these manuals.
  • How mindset and perception determine your how you feelMindset plus the resulting perceptual filters affect somebody’s mood and emotions and vice versa. For example: Someone is working with a particular household appliance and they are focused on ‘Procedure’. They encounter a problem. They feel frustrated. Then they notice the appliances manual on the bookshelf. They start to feel better: “Ah, there must be a solution somewhere in there!”
  • How your mindset, perception and mood determine your behavior In the same example: The person sees the manual. Because they are focusing on ‘Procedure’, a manual with step-by-step how-to information makes them feel better. So with a sigh of relief they take it off the shelf and start reading (behaviour). They figure out how to solve the problem. Now they feel satisfied. At the same time this emotion reinforces their meta program (Procedure) and their Graves Drives (Blue for ‘doing things as they ought to be done’  and orange for ‘Being successful and winning’).

Meta programs and NLPMeta Programs originated from NLP (‘Neuro-Linguistic Programming’), a model for studying and transforming subjective experience. NLP was developed from the late seventies of the last century in the USA, by Richard Bandler and John Grinder. They in turn borrowed concepts from: 

  • Fritz Perls (Gestalt Therapy)
  • Milton H. Erickson (Hypnotherapy)
  • Virginia Satir (Family therapy)
  • Alfred H. Korzybski (Linguistic Philosophy)
  • Vaihinger (Philosophy of ‘As-if’)
  • Miller, Galanter and Pibram (Cybernetics)
  • Gregory Bateson (Human evolution)