The list of thinking
patterns that MindSonar

Meta Programs are thinking patterns. They can be observed how people say things and in their nonverbal expressions. Meta Programs are an important part of someone's mindset. Their mindset determines their  behaviour and emotions.  Behaviour and emotions determine results.


  • Thinking patterns
  • Ways of thinking
  • Mindset elements
  • Cognitive-perceptual preferences

List of Meta Programs measured in MindSonar

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

Set 2: Towards versus Away from
Towards = a focus on achieving goals
Away From = a focus on avoiding problems.

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

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

Set 5: General versus Specific
General  = a focus on the broad overview
Specific = a focus on the small details.

Set 6: Matching versus Mismatching
Matching = 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 control
Internal locus of control = a focus on how someone influences their circumstances) versus
External locus of control (focus on how someone’s circumstances influence them).

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

Set 9: People versus Activity versus Information
 = a focus on people and what moves them
Activities = a focus on activities being done
Information = focus on information; facts and figures.

Set 10: Concept versus Structure versus Use
 = 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 Solo
Together = 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 Future
Past = 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 
 = 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 together
There is a dynamic relationship between thinking (meta programs and Graves drives), perception, emotion and behaviour.

  • Interaction with perceptual filters
    Meta programs plus Graves drives determine perceptual filters (the things someone does or does not notice). And the other way around: once in place, these filters tend to strengthen the thinking style they are based on.
    For example: someone’s meta program is ‘Procedure’ in a given context, so when they look at a bookcase they notice a shelf with manuals (procedural information). If they would have had the meta program 'Options’ active, they probably wouldn’t have noticed these manuals.

  • Interaction with mood and emotion
    Meta programs plus Graves drives affect mood and emotion and vice versa.
    For example: someone is working with a particular appliance and is focused on 'Procedure'. They encounter a problem. They feel frustrated. Then they notice the manual on the bookshelf. They start to feel better: “Ah, there must be a solution somewhere in there!”

  • Interaction with behaviour
    Meta programs plus Graves drives plus emotions, together affect behaviour, and vice versa.
    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. 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 NLP
Meta Programs are part of ‘Neuro-Linguistic Programming’, a model for studying and transforming subjective experience. NLP was developed from the late seventies in the USA by Richard Bandler and John Grinder, borrowing concepts from

  • Fritz Perls’ Gestalt Therapy
  • Milton H. Erickson’s Hypnotherapy
  • Virginia Satir’s family therapy
  • Alfred H. Korzybski’s linguistic philosophy
  • Vaihinger's philosophy of 'As-if'
  • Miller, Galanter and Pibram’s cybernetics
  • Gregory Bateson's ideas about human evolution