MindSonar – MetaProfile Analysis
(Originally developed in Dutch, now available in English, Spanish, French, Czech and Polish)
Last but not least: MindSonar, an on line system for measuring meta programs, developed by Dutch psychologist and NLP trainer Jaap Hollander. Like the social panorama and the nano tech deck, MindSonar is used by NLP-practitioners all over the world.
MindSonar is a psychological test that measures people’s meta programs, their criteria (what they find important), the hierarchy in their criteria, and what type of criteria they are. MindSonar is like an x-ray machine for the mind. It is assumed—and this is different from most other psychological tests—that someone’s meta programs and criteria will be different in different situations. For instance, when someone is leading a team, he or she may be thinking completely differently from when they are playing with their children. Therefore MindSonar always measures someone’s thinking style for a specific context.
MindSonar presents the respondent with seventy-two questions and two tasks (criteria sorting and criteria categorisation). It also registers the time it takes the respondent to finish each test item.
The program starts by explaining (in text and audio) how the system works, what the respondent may expect, and the importance of answering the questions based on how they think rather than how they would like to think or ought to think. Next, the program asks the respondent to identify the context in which he or she wants their meta-profile to be measured. Alternatively, this context may be predefined by the professional using the system, in which case the program simply states the context.
Once the context has been defined, the respondent is asked to concentrate on that context for a few moments while a piece of music is played. This process is repeated twice later on, thereby anchoring awareness of the context to that particular piece of music. The respondent can change the music if they wish. A wide range of music styles is offered to choose from. Later on during the questionnaire, the program will play the same music (“fire” the anchor) to stimulate continued awareness of the context.
Next, the program asks for identifying and demographic information: name, birth date, educational level, work area, work function level, and marital status.
Then the program asks the respondent to define four things they find important in the chosen context (four criteria) and then to order their criteria from most to least important (hierarchy of criteria). He or she is then shown the four criteria and asked to define the opposites (e.g., the opposite of “vigour” might be “weakness” for a given respondent). Different respondents will define different opposites for the same criteria, thereby clarifying the meaning (complex equivalence) of that criterion.
The hierarchy (top two positions) is tested in the following way. The respondent is asked whether or not he or she would accept a small loss of criterion #2 in return for a large gain in criterion #1. For example: is he or she willing to accept a little loneliness in return for a lot of creativity? If the respondent does not accept the offer, they are directed back to their list of criteria and encouraged to make changes. Sometimes criteria are components of or conditions for other criteria. MindSonar resolves this by encouraging respondents to combine criteria. For instance, if a respondent believes that they can only be creative together with other people, they cannot accept some loneliness to get a lot more creativity, because the loneliness will in turn decrease their creativity. The respondent is then advised to combine “creativity” and “communication” into one new criterion (e.g., “creative communication”). This enables the respondent to create a “clean” set of criteria (without direct dependencies) which can then be sorted.
Next, the respondent is shown one criterion and seven groups of two words representing seven Graves categories. After doing the Graves categorisation, the respondent is presented with seventy-six questions related to meta-programs. The number of questions per meta- program varies between four and seven, depending on how many questions are needed to achieve the desired statistical reliability (Cronbach’s Alpha = 0.7 or higher).
There are six types of test items for meta-programs:
- Identification items: Photographs showing people thinking different things (in text balloons). The respondents indicate which person thinks most like them.
- Symbolic items: The respondent chooses from a set of symbols.
- Avoidance items: An avoidance question is asked (“What do you want to prevent?”).
- Key word items: The respondent chooses from different key word combinations.
- Proverb items: The respondent chooses from two or three proverbs.
- Straightforward items: The respondent is asked directly about the meta-program in question (“Do you think more like this or more like this?”).
MindSonar also measures response times (i.e., how long it takes the respondent to answer the questions).
Meta programs are patterns in people’s thinking. In the term neuro-linguistic programming, the term “programming” refers to mental strategies (sequences of inner images, sounds, and feelings). Meta-programs are “meta” to these strategies; they describe general trends in the content of these strategies. Since most NLP-readers will be familiar with meta-programs, they will be described here only briefly. The following meta-programs are measured by MPA MindSonar:
- Proactive (preference for acting quickly and taking the initiative) versus
- Reactive (preference for waiting, considering, and reflecting).
- Toward (focus on achieving goals) versus
- Away From (focus on avoiding problems).
- Internal Reference (using one’s own standards in evaluations) versus
- External Reference (using other people’s standards in evaluations).
- Options (preference for many different possibilities) versus
- Procedures (preference for step-by-step plans).
- Maintenance (preference for things staying the same) versus
- Development (preference for gradual change) versus
- Change (preference for fast and radical change).
- Global (focus on broad overview) versus
- Specific (focus on details).
- People (focus on people) versus
- Activities (focus on activities) versus
- Information (focus on information).
- Concept (focus on concepts and principles) versus
- Structure (focus on relationships between elements) versus
- Use (focus on practical applications).
- Together (preference for working closely together with shared responsibility) versus
- Proximity (preference for mutual support with individual responsibility) versus
- Solo (preference for working alone).
- Matching (focus on what is good and correct) versus
- Mismatching (focus on what is bad and incorrect).
- Internal locus of control (focus on how someone influences their circumstances) versus
- External locus of control (focus on how someone’s circumstances influence them).Past (focus on the past) versus
- Present (focus on the “here and now”) versus
- Future (focus on the future).
- Visual (focus on images and movies) versus
- Auditory (focus on sounds and words) versus
- Kinaesthetic (focus on feelings and movement).
(These last three distinctions are sensory modalities rather than meta programs. They are measured together with the meta-programs for the sake of convenience.)
Criteria are values. They indicate what someone finds important in a given context. In the TOTE (Test–Operate–Test–Exit) Model of goal-directed behaviour, the present situation is compared with a criterion to determine whether operations (actions) are necessary.3 Meta-programs can be understood as ways in which people handle their criteria. MPA MindSonar asks the respondent to define:
- Four criteria (four things they find important in the context their profile is measured for).
- A meta-criterion (what happens when the first four criteria are met).
- The opposites of all criteria (e.g., for a particular person, the opposite of “inspiration” might be “dullness”).
- The hierarchy of the criteria (their order of importance).
Originally, MPA MindSonar simply took stock of people’s criteria by storing their verbal descriptions. This made it difficult to compare criteria, since different people attach different meanings to the same words. We wanted to be able to accurately define and compare criteria based on numbers. To achieve this, we needed a typology of values, and we chose the Graves (Spiral Dynamics®) model. Graves theorised that there are eight value systems which evolved over the course of human history.4 He assumed that each value system flows from the previous one as a response to ever more complex living circumstances and the problems which are inherent in the last system. MPA MindSonar now measures the extent to which criteria are associated with seven of the eight Graves categories, using colours derived from Spiral Dynamics5 theory:
- Purple Drive: When someone has a strong purple drive, their criteria in that particular context have to do primarily with security and safety. Other key words for this drive are: belonging, tradition, feeling at home, togetherness, and seniority.
- Red Drive: When someone has a strong red drive, their criteria primarily relate to power and respect—to getting respect in particular, but also to showing respect. They act impulsively, quickly, and forcefully without thinking of the consequences. Other key words for this drive are: reputation, power, strength, honour, and courage.
- Blue Drive: When someone has a strong blue drive, their criteria have to do primarily with order and security. Other key words for this drive are: discipline, reliability, duty, and control.
- Orange Drive: When someone has a strong orange drive, their criteria have to do primarily with competition and winning. Other key words for this drive are: success, achievement, results, progress, and influence.
- Green Drive: When someone has a strong green drive, their criteria have to do primarily with ideals and loyalty to the group. Other key words for this drive are: harmony, community, connectedness, love, social contact, and consensus.
- Yellow Drive: When someone has a strong yellow drive, people criteria have to do primarily with learning and independence. Other key words for this drive are: creativity, analysis, and personal growth.
- Turquoise Drive: When someone has a strong turquoise drive, their criteria primarily have to do with the big picture and a holistic vision. Other key words for this drive are: responsibility for the earth as a whole, spirituality, balance, and integration.
MindSonar works with a gradual responding system, meaning that the respondent does not have to make absolute yes-or-no choices. He or she indicates to what extent an alternative applies to him or herself by moving a ball.
Respondents take the test via a website on the Internet. The report is available to the professional administering the test one minute after the respondent finishes the test. No reports are sent to respondents directly.
The report describes thirty-two elements distributed over thirteen meta-programs and seven criteria dimensions (Graves categories). The scores are expressed in numbers, graphs, and interpretive texts.