MindSonar What Is It?

MindSonar is like an X-ray Machine for the Mind
MindSonar measures Meta Programs and Graves Drives. Meta Programs are the building blocks of how people think. Someone’s unique personal thinking style is made up of a combination of Meta Programs. Graves Drives describe what people find important. Their Meta Programs determine people’s emotions and behaviour in a given situation.

Who Uses MindSonar?
MindSonar is being used all over the world mostly by consultants, coaches, trainers and organisational developers. MindSonar helps them get to the heart of their clients thinking. They use MindSonar in prestigious organisations like the armed forces of the Netherlands (leadership development), a top European automobile manufacturer (sales), an Olympic Dressage team (teambuilding), one of Europe’s premier banks (marketing) and several multinational corporations in America and Latin America (teambuilding). And there have been non-commercial applications as well, like in volunteer groups, day care centres and schools.

MindSonar is a Different Kind of Test
MindSonar is not a personality test. Personality tests will tell you what you are like as a person; always and under any circumstances. Many people feel ‘put in a box’ by these kinds of tests. MindSonar measures how you think in a specific situation. It assumes that you will think differently in different situations. MindSonar does not assume that any thinking style is good or bad either. Every thinking style has a time and place were it can be benificial.

Used by Professionals Only
MindSonar is offered exclusively through a network of trained and certified MindSonar Professionals. The combination of the refined measurement and the knowledgable Professional gives MindSonar solutions their unique power.

Sample Graph
This is what a MindSonar profile looks like:


  • Looking at the top part of the graph, you see the Sonar Diagram (green sonar image) with the four most prominent Meta Programs and the three most prominent Graves Drives.
  • On the top of the page on the right side, above the Sonar Diagram, you see the criteria and their opposites. This is literally what the respondent finds important.
  • Under the criteria (the colored circles) the Graves Drives are shown. They are ordered from smallest to largest.
  • The bottom half of the diagram page (bar graph) shows the Meta Program scores.
  • Under the Meta Program bars there is a second bar graph. This graph shows the response time. Red bars indicate exceptionally long response times, green bars indicate exceptionally short response times.

How does the MindSonar measurement work?
MindSonar presents the respondent with 75 questions and two tasks (sorting values and values categorization, i.e. what kind of values are they?). It also keeps track of the time it takes the respondent to finish each question or task.

What do we mean when we talk about ‘thinking’?
In MindSonar, the word ‘thinking’ refers to a combination of self-talk, images, and feelings (emotions and sensations), what is important (criteria and values), and what is true (beliefs or convictions).

Where does the name MindSonar come from?
The term ‘MindSonar’ uses sonar technology as an analogy. Sonar shows us objects that cannot be seen by observing the surface of the water, and it requires an expert to understand the exact nature of those objects.

“Those who have tried to develop instruments
have based them on what people think, do or believe,
which is not the proper base for assessment devices.
They should be based not on what the person thinks but how he thinks”.

Dr. Clare W. Graves
Inventor of the categories used in Spiral Dynamics


  1. This is the first I’ve heard of MindSonar. It sounds like a very intriguing psychological test. I work as a clinical therapist and was wondering how it compares to the MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory). This is another popular test administered by trained professionals to assist in identifying personality structure and psychopathology. Perhaps this could be a topic for a future blog article? Thanks!

    • Hi Quinton!
      Good idea, posts about comparisons with other tests. I’ll keep it in mind. The question comes up a lot (with different counterpart tests, MBTI, Lifo, Enneagram-tests). Short answer: MMPI is – as you say – based on categories of psychopathology, developed in the sixties and seventies. MindSonar is based on informal categories of personal growth, developed in the seventies and eighties. MMPI presupposes and measures stable traits (personality), MindSonar measures thinking style in a given context; MMPI should ideally return the same result for any context. MindSonar will usually return different results for different contexts, often markedly different.

  2. Hello. I was wondering once someone is trained and certified to interpret MindSonar reports, how subjective are the results? In other words, if three different certified Mindsonar professionals were looking at the same profile results, would they all interpret it the same way? Would there be any variation at all in what the data means? Thanks for your time.

    • Hi Karen. The results the test shows will be the same of course, and also the interpretation of the thinking style itself will be pretty much the same. Although, which metaprograms and especially which combinations of metaprograms the MindSonar professional chooses to focus on, that will almost certainly vary. And also how that applies to the issue at hand, how these values and metaprograms will interact with the context, there we can have different interpretations too. Also see

  3. How long does it take to become a certified MindSonar professional? Is there a set course one can take or would it vary on a person to person basis? Also, would I be right to assume that the techniques you learn on MindSonar could be used on everyday interaction with people?

    • Hi Alma, It takes 6 training days. What MindSonar measures, metaprograms, can be used very well in daily life. Metaprograms are happening all the time and metaprograms are everywhere. However it would be impossible to MindSonar profile everyone around you…. So if you want to use it in daily life mostly, I think you’d be better off doing a course in metaprograms only. The MindSonar training is about metaprograms, but it is also about how to measure them, how to interpret the graphs, how to coach people with metaprograms and how to use metaprograms in teams.

  4. Previously I have heard this technology being used to identify if a particular person was racist in attempt to identify if this particular crime was of a racist nature, it is truly fascinating.

  5. It is one of the best innovation of science which helps to find out how people think and how people use their mind.

  6. if you want to use it in daily life I think you’d be better off doing a course in metaprograms only. The MindSonar training is about metaprograms, but it is also about how to measure them, how to interpret the graphs, how to coach people with metaprograms and how to use metaprograms in teams. this is my personal opinion

  7. It’s a great invention, hope it will help people to choice their proper activity & will reduce the uncertainty of human’s thought.

  8. This is pretty interesting. Do you see any applications of MindSonar being used on unwilling subjects? Such as in crime investigations or criminal evaluations? I could see it becoming very useful in the law enforcement and criminal forensics fields. Very interesting!

  9. How long is the test? Could you do it in an afternoon? Over a coffee break? Or does it require repeat assessments for quality of data? Just curious! Great article!

  10. I stumbled on this article doing some research for alternative psychology – where can I learn a little more about MindSonar? I’d like to add it to my paper; seems like an interesting direction and one worth bringing up with my class.

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