What Is It?

An X-ray machine for the mind
Imagine you had a device that could actually measure how people think, what would you do with it? How would you use it to help people better their lives and achieve their goals? How could you make use of it to develop groups and organizations?

MindSonar is a web based psychological system that measures NLP Meta Programs (thinking styles) and criteria (what someone finds important). Metaprograms are the building blocks of the way people think, things like thinking ‘towards’ (focus on goals) versus thinking ‘away from’ (focus on problems). A person’s thinking style is made up of a combination of Meta Programs, making up a unique personal system. Your Meta Programs often have a strong influence on how you behave and your emotional response to a given situation.

What does it measure?
MindSonar measures:

  1. People’s Meta Programs (= their thinking style).
  2. Their criteria (= their values; what they find important).
  3. The hierarchy in their criteria (= what they find most important, what comes next and so on).
  4. What type of criteria they are (Graves category).

Who uses it?
MindSonar is being used all over the world by consultants, coaches, trainers and organizational developers. The MindSonar system helps them get to the heart of their clients thinking. They make use of MindSonar in prestigious organizations like the armed forces of the Netherlands (in their leadership development course), a top European automobile manufacturer (sales), an Olympic Dressage team (teambuilding), which actually won 20% of all Dutch medals in the London Olympics of 2012 and in one of Europe’s premier banks (marketing). And there have been many non-commercial applications of MindSonar as well; it is also used in volunteer groups, day care centres and schools.

A different kind of test
MindSonar is different from almost all other psychological tests. Personality tests will tell you what you are like as a person; always and under any circumstances. Quite a few people feel limited or forced into a rigid category by these kinds of tests. Some older but still frequently used personality tests will even say how ’healthy or sick’ your personality is in terms derived from psychiatry. Luckily, MindSonar is not like that. MindSonar measures how you think in a specific situation. It assumes that you may think differently in different situations. So you will not be ‘put in a box’ or ‘pinned to a type’. MindSonar doesn’t presuppose either that a given thinking style is good or bad. MindSonar assumes that just about any thinking style has their time and place were they can be helpful.

Used by professionals only
You will not find MindSonar as a do-it-yourself test on the web. MindSonar is offered exclusively through a network of trained and certified professionals. There is an important added value in the guidance that a trained MindSonar expert} can offer. It has been our experience that the combination of the measurement and the professional is much more powerful than just the measurement by itself and vice versa. A MindSonar license can only be obtained by completing the MindSonar Certification course and passing a certification test.

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 number of seconds it takes the respondent to finish each question or task.

Once the situation has been defined, the respondent is asked to fully focus their attention on that context a few moments while a piece of music is playing. This music is repeated later on, in order to anchor the respondents’ focus on the target situation. For the next step, the system asks the respondent to define four things they find important in the chosen context. After that, they are asked to rank order their values from most to least important.

The person filling out MindSonar is then shown their four values again and asked to come up with the counterparts (e.g., the opposite of ”honesty” might be “misdirection” and the counterpart of ”appreciation” might be “being ignored” for a given respondent. Different people will identify different opposites for the same criteria and thereby they are clarifying the meaning of that criterion for them.

Next, the hierarchy of values is tested in the following way. The respondent is asked whether or not he or she would accept a small loss of criterion number 2 in return for alarge gain of criterion number 1. If the respondent does not accept the offer, they are sent back to their list of criteria and asked to make some changes. After which they are offered the same test: will they now accept a small loss of criterion number 2 in return for a large gain of criterion number 1?

The next activity is that the respondent is shown one criterion and 7 groupings of two words or phrases representing 7 categories based on the values theory of Graves. They are instructed to indicate, for each of their values, with which Graves category it is connected. This way a Graves value score is determined for that person.

After doing the Graves categorization, the respondent is presented with 76 questions that are asking about NLP Meta Programs}. The number of questions per Meta Program varies between four and seven depending on the number of questions how many questions are necessary to achieve the minimum statistical reliability.

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). It is assumed – and this is different from most other psychological measurements – 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.

Where does the name MindSonar come from?
MPA stands for Meta Profile Analysis. The term ‘MindSonar’ uses physical sonar technology as an analogy. Sonar shows us objects that cannot be seen by observing the surface of the water, and sonar requires an expert to understand the exact nature of those objects. Both elements in this description are important; the idea of looking below the surface of language and behaviour, as well as the fact that it takes a trained professional to read the instrument well.

Name history
Until 2002, MindSonar was called ‘Meta Profile Analysis’ (MPA), indicating that it analyzes Meta Programs. Metaprograms – a term originating from Neuro-Linguistic Programming – are trends in human thinking. So, for instance, if I tend to think a lot about small details, then ‘specific’ would be one of my Meta Programs. And if I also focus often on what I want to achieve, then ‘towards’ would be another one. The system analyses these thinking trends or thinking styles. The term ‘MetaProfile Analysis’ (MPA), however, is spelled differently in different languages. In Romanic languages (like French or Spanish) it is ‘AMP’, rather than ‘MPA’. It was, therefore, complicated and expensive to register as a trademark internationally. This was one reason we changed the name to ‘MindSonar’. Also we thought the term ‘MindSonar’ would be understood more easily by people who are not familiar with the concept of Meta Programs. In 2012, we started to gradually ‘fade out’ the term ‘MetaProfile Analysis’.

“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, not on what
people do or what they believe but how they do what they do, and how they
believe that which they do believe”.

Dr. Clare W. Graves